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BY REV. B. BAUSMAN, D. D.
The burial of the dead should be decently and devoutly observed. But the practice of some funeral customs renders such an observance impossible. The most of such may have started with a harmless purpose. Even the Irish wake originally sprang from a kindly social feeling. Now it often means a disgraceful drunken row around the corpse of a friend.
"Until within a few weeks past, one man, Mr. John Van Vechten, of Catskill, was living, who remembered the funeral of Dominie Schuneman. The ceremony was in accordance with the customs which the Dutch, a hundred and seventy years before, had brought with them from the mother country. A man, especially deputed for the purpose, met each male comer at the door, and offered him a glass of rum from a flask. A woman waited in like manner upon each female comer. The relatives of the dead sat together around I remember when a little boy I was the corpse; the friends and acquaintaken to the funeral of one of our tances took their seats in another part country neighbors. He was a worthy of the room, or in an adjoining chamman, and the father of a Christian fa- ber. When the services were over-these mily. The house was filled with peo- were in Dutch-they who chose went up ple, and a large crowd stood in the to the coffia to take their last look at barnyard near by. At a certain stage the deceased. The coffin was then of the services, a number of committees closed, put upon a bier, and taken from passed through the crowd by twos, one the house to the grave, the relatives folcarried the waiter with glasses, and lowing, and after them all comers. another held a large bottle or decanter of wine. As they slowly passed along they served every person with a glass of wine. The family in this way meant to show a mark of hospitality to those who helped them to bury their dead. I know of no place in Pennsylvania where this custom is observed any longer.
Not only among the early Germans, but the Scotch Presbyterians, in Europe and America, were addicted to habits of this kind. Men like Chalmers and Guthrie took their glasses of punch or hot toddy in their earlier ministry, but later, when they saw the evil effects of the habit upon others shrank from the cup with horror. It was a feature at hospitable entertainments among the people, even at ministerial assemblies.
Among our Dutch Reformed brethren a similar custom prevailed at funerals. Harper's Magazine reports the following, which happened at the burial of a prominent minister:
When the coffin had been laid in the ground, the procession returned to the house, but in inverse order-the relatives and the empty bier and its bearers coming last.
One room in the house was assigned to the bearers, another to the assembled people. In each room a table had been set with bottles of rum, a jar of tobacco, and long clay pipes. All the men drank and smoked, talking in the meanwhile of the character and virtues of their dead pastor, of their horses, of the spring planting, and of the weather. One or two of the lower sort got tipsy, and amused themselves by singing funeral ditties out of doors."
Fortunately, all this kind of funeral conviviality has ceased in the Protestant Church. In certain localities wellmeaning people prepare large feasts at the burial of their dead. This custom originated. from good motives. We cannot let the people go away hungry, say such persons. Some may have
Very unreasonable is the custom which invests funerals with uncalled for
come a great distance. They cannot with a debt for years by the expenses wait for their meal until they reach of such a funeral feast. Let persons of home. No one can reasonably object wealth and social standing set the examto the feeding of the hungry in such a ple, and abolish this absurd custom, case. The evil of feasting at funerals and others will profit by it. comes from their being made general. Everybody is invited to eat. Some eat out of respect for the bereaved family, gloom. Whilst the colors of mourning others to save the trouble and expense apparel may be a matter of taste, they of preparing a meal at home, and others are also a serious item of expense to because they enjoy the good things many people. The rule to wear black offered. When a death occurs, persons seems to be so firmly fixed that even are at once appointed to provide the the poorest persons feel bound to connecessary help and provision. For days form to it. The house of mourning kind neighbor women work late and must be darkened. All the shutters early at baking and cooking. A large are bowed. The people can scarcely part of the house is in a continuous see to find a seat. I have often had to commotion by the preparations for the stand inside the door, as blind as a bat, funeral feast. The bereaved family are waiting for my eyes just coming from harassed from morning till night about the sunlight to adjust their powers to the perplexing cares of the table, at a the darkness. The minister blunders time when they most need undisturbed through the reading of a Scripture pasquiet and freedom from care sage for the consolation of the mourners, for want of light. Why must the cheering sunlight of heaven be shut out from a home of sorrow? It is hard enough that sorrow's night hangs over the soul, but why must we increase its gloom by producing an artificial night in the house?
The day of burial, which brings to many a bleeding heart unrelieved agony, sets the whole house into an uproar, with the spreading and clearing of tables, and the serving and washing of dishes. Where there is a crowd the inevitable rush for places defies all decency, and dispels the lessons of the Two kinds of preaching are trying to mournful occasion. Sometimes the eat- a pastor: When he is expected to edify ing begins before the religious services; prisoners in jail by preaching to the and sounds of rattling dishes mingle doors of their cells, and to the long, reharshly with the minister's prayer and verberating corridors; and when he sermon. The main part of the feast preaches to the stairway and railings at comes at the close. Sometimes a half a funerals. In other words, the people day is spent before all are supplied. whom he is to comfort and impress are And I have known cases where, after out of sight. In the parlor the best waiting a long time, persons had to go room in the house-a crowd of unrelahome hungry on account of the lateness ted people are seated around the corpse. of the hour. All this takes place in a It may be the corpse of a child, a hushome where there are crushed, bleeding band, a wife, a brother or a sister. Durhearts. Over these hangs the shadow ing this most solemn service, held over of a great sorrow. If they only could and around the body of the dear debe by themselves, or with a few pious parted, those of nearest kin are farthest friends, who might comfort and pray removed from it. Sometimes my heart with them. But their grief must be has been moved fully as much for the aggravated by the staring annoyances dead as for the living, when I saw the of an uncomfortable crowd, and the corpse of a dear one thus lying alone anxieties and worry of entertaining among strangers, while its fondest friends hundreds of people, many of whom were removed to a cold distance. When have no claim upon them, indeed, care the service is held in the church the nothing for them, save to enjoy the feast mourners sit nearest the coffin. Why prepared. Thus, hundreds of dollars can they not do this when it is held at which might feed and clothe the poor. the house? If this were done the pasare needlessly thrown away. And many tor would have the whole family in a family of scanty means is burdened | sight, instead of simply the stairway and
a few people standing around the doors. The service is chiefly intended for the bereaved mourners. Let them all be seated around the corpse, and give the pastor an opportunity to speak to and pray for them where they can hear him and where he can see them.
the privileges of public worship? The touching of a corpse by a Jew rendered him ceremonially unclean, and for a season excluded him from certain privileges of worship. The Gospel knows of no such a rule. Yet almost universally the custom prevails, especially I used to feel very awkward when among ladies, that after the burial of a entering a Jewish synagogue or a member of their family, it would be out Mohammedan mosque I would be com- of place for them to attend any religious manded by an usher to put on my hat. meeting for a certain length of time. For a man to enter their place of worship Thus, many godly people seek and find with uncovered head is by them deemed comfort in the worship of God's house, irreverent. Among Christians the op- during the anxious period of suffering posite is the case. Do we not exhort through which the departed have our people, from boyhood up, that they passed At length, however, when the must always take off their caps or hats worst comes, and by death the dear one in a place of worship, and during wor- is removed out of their sight, leaving ship wherever offered? At funerals, their hearts and home dreary and desohowever, all the male relatives of the late, when they most need comfort, they deceased, however remotely related, are are shut out from the sanctuary of God, expected to keep their hats on during by an unscriptural and unreasonable the whole service, whether at the house custom. Oh the cruel bondage of an of mourning or at the church. In east- ill-timed misguided public sentiment, ern countries people hire paid mourners which in this and other cases rules with to do their wailing for them, who scream the rod of a tyrant over the riven hear's hideously, tear their garments and strew of a bleeding humanity! Every rightashes on their heads. There seems to be neither reason nor religion in their practice; but let me ask as tenderly as the case admits: Is there reason or Scriptural religion in the custom of men, at funerals or anywhere else, however related to the dead or to the living, keeping on their hats during prayer and praise? And especially in times of deep sorrow the soul ought to feel disposed to humble itself not only in spirit, but even in outward posture before God. Does the conduct of a man who keeps his hat on during prayer accord with such a feeling?
thinking person ought not to stay away from public worship one day after the burial of a friend. Then, more than ever, does the stricken one need the Word of God, and the prayer of His house.
When Christ had been crucified, two honorable men, of good repute and godly character, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, carried him to his tomb. The disciples of John the Baptist, took up his body and buried it. And after the martyrdom of Stephen, "devout men carried him to his burial." The bearers of the remains of It is generally conceded by reliable the sainted dead ought to be selected theologians that the Bible teaches that with care. In many cases, neighbors, kneeling and standing are the two only be they good or godless, are selected. proper postures in prayer. Yet people Twice I have seen one of the carriers usually present at a funeral, who would so drunk that he staggered, One was consider it wrong not to stand or kneel at times of ordinary worship, remain seated during the prayers at the funerals of their friends. Why? I do not know. But it seems to me to be a universal custom. Why is it proper and right to assume a posture in prayer, as a bereaved mourner, which would be improper at an ordinary act of worship on Sunday or week day?
Does the Bible exclude mourners from
so shaky in lowering the coffin, that I feared lest he might fall into the grave. One happened to be the funeral of a pious mother in Israel. The tipsy man was chosen solely on the ground of neighborly feeling. Don't let your dear friends be borne to the grave by wicked men, who in principle and practice revile the Saviour, who is our only comfort in life and death. People who were morally unfit to associate with them
while living, are unsuited to carry them a multitude staring through doors and when dead. Beautiful is the sight of pressing around them, and with prayerpious sons, tenderly carrying the re-ful hearts take their leave from their mains of their sainted parents to the dead, and thereafter no more parade quiet, silent tomb. And most becom- their parting ceremonies. ing is it for disciples or learners to bear their teacher or pastor. and devout men to carry their fellow Christians to the grave.
The promiscuous exposure of the dead, save in exceptional cases, seems utterly out of place. To invite a crowd to defile past the open coffin in the churchyard or the cemeteries, violates a delicate sense of propriety. Usually not one half of the people care much for the living or dead. A vulgar, unsympathizing curiosity prompts them to scan the pallid face, the flowers, the shroud, and the coffin; which they will afterwards discuss in the most heartless fashion. If some of these dear departed ones could speak, who in their lifetime shrank from being stared at by such crowds, they would beg not to be made a show of in this public way.
The fools who flocked to see the show,
In some communities mourners make a public parade of their sorrow. Betore the coffin is closed the family surround the corpse and in the presence of a gathered crowd, kiss the remains of the departed one, and pour out their agony in cries and tears. If the funeral services are held in church, after all others present have filed past the coffin before the altar, the family and friends come forward to take another public parting from the dust of their dear one. This public exhibition, and laying bare of bleeding hearts, is contrary to every better feeling of religious propriety. It tears open the wounds of bereavement afresh, and exposes them to the eyes of a curious crowd.
They truly mourn, that mourn without a
Said a Christian lady, returning from a fashionable funeral recently, "Do not bury me under flowers when I die. It is a sin to make so much or such a costly show, when the Lord's poor are pining in want. At least five hundred dollars' worth of flowers were displayed." A few marks of affection, tastefully chosen, and with moderation, are a comfort to the living and au honor to the memory of the dead, but to pile them up like so much hay shows a lack of Christian propriety and good taste. One of the wealthiest and most benevolent old ladies in our city, lately entered into rest. Her heart and hand were open to every good cause. Among the finely dressed mourners around her bier were poor widows in faded garments, who in groans and sobs mourned the loss of their best earthly friend. She was dressed in a neat, plain shroud, and a few nicely arranged wreaths lay on her slumbering form. She wished no money needlessly wasted at her funeral. "In the Lord's name give it to the living poor." Her pastor said, "if all her deeds of charity could be woven into a chaplet it would be one of exceeding beauty."
Some people mourn from a sense of sincere sorrow, others from a sense of duty and propriety. The former elicit our condolence and sympathy, the latter our disgust. As a rule boisterous outbursts of grief indicate insincerity and affectation, and indeed often an utter want of piety. Very rarely do we find people of undoubted faith scream in hideous parade around the remains of their departed. An old neglected father Right-feeling people prefer to do all died lately. He had been an honest, this by themselves. Even from living hard-working man. Often had I pitied friends we do not wish to part before a him as he tottered along our streets, his gaping crowd, but in the privacy of old, worn-out body enfeebled by heavy home. And from the remains of the burdens, borne to provide for and raise departed we had better part before the his children, who now, in his old age, people gather at the house of mourning. cast him off. They treated him worse Solemnly and silently let the family than a servant, so that their unfilial surround the coffin, unembarrassed by cruelty became a matter of notoriety in
the neighborhood. Yet, when the poor man died, money was lavished on his corpse for vain show, which was denied him when living. The children and grandchildren set up a fearful howling, and screamed, "O dear grandfather, must we give you up!"
This sort of mourning is a heathen custom transplanted to Christian soil. Miss West, in her very readable book, entitled, "The Romance of Missions," speaks of a funeral in Asia Minor in this wise:
“The Armenian relatives, women who still adhered to old ideas and customs, gave way to distressing demonstrations of grief; wildly throwing themselves upon the corpse, shrieking, beating their breast, crying out for her to come back, uttering the most doleful lamentations; and it was noticeable that those were most profuse in their outcries, and display of grief, who had shown the least love and care for their relative when she was living! It was custom, as tyrannical as fashion in other lands, that compelled this outward exhibition of a sorrow which in many cases was very little felt.
A friend once dropped in unexpectedly upon a family where the mourning women, and especially the young wife of the deceased, had given way to the most extravagant expressions of grief, when the dead was carried forth, but a few hours before. To her surprise she found them all as merry as though nothing had happened, and the wife, happily relieved of her unloved and unmerciful tyrant, was at ease evidently enjoying her supper, and laughing with the rest. But on seeing the visitor she set up a most unearthly howling, and went into fearful paroxysms and contortions of her physical frame. Some of the younger widows make themselves almost bald at such times, tearing out their hair by handfuls and casting it from the upper windows into the streets below, when the bier is borne from the house. It is a costly, and often an unwilling sacrifice for the women of the east, whose hair is so great an ornament and glory. But we must do it! All the neighbors would talk about us and reproach us, if we did not show this honor to our dead,' said a woman with whom I once argued the foolishness of the practice."
Just as the people acted in the days of Jeremiah. 66 Neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning to comfort them for the dead."
ROUGH ON LAWYERS. "Lord Brougham defines a lawyer as a legal gentleman who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it himself."
THE UNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE.
BY THE EDITOR.
Some time ago, a worthy minister of our acquaintance, at the request of an intelligent member of his congregation, sent us a magazine containing a scientific "Prehistoric Races," and at article on the same time requested our opinion concerning the opinions advanced in it. We found that the author of the article utterly denied the unity of the human race, holding that the different races of men were as far apart as the various genera of animals, and insisting that they could never by any possibility have had a common origin. Indeed, he went so far as to assert that the Scriptures, properly understood, do not teach that all men are descended from a single primeval pair.
We have, unfortunately, not preserved a copy of our reply; but as the subject is at present attracting considerable attention we have determined to reconstruct it as nearly as possible from some notes which have remained in our possession. This explanation will account for any variations that may be observed when the following letter is read in print by its original recipient.
My Dear Brother:-I have read with great pleasure the article you have sent Races of me, entitled "Prehistoric Men." It is able and interesting, and as such, worthy of respect. At your request, I venture to make some remarks on the general subject of which it treats, though the field is so extensive that it is impossible to consider it fully within the limits of a single letter.
The author of this article holds that mankind springs from a number of dif ferent centers, and that the principal races were probably separately created, or evolved, in the countries which they severally inhabit. It is what is sometimes called the autocthonic theory. Though first advanced by La Peyrere, in 1655, it generally, in this country, shelters itself behind the great name of Agassiz.
At first sight this theory appears rea-onable; and, if we could accept it, there would be an end to many of the difficulties that now perplex us. When we, for instance, compare the peculiari