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LINES WRITTEN TO AN AFFLICTED
- In all their affliction he was afflicted."
Ah! who are the blessed? Of whom can w<5 say
That their pleasures are pleasures indeed!
And the joys that shall never recede 1
On their heads the bright diadems wear; O'eraw'd by their grandeur, we fancy them blest,
And strangers to sorrow and care. As the brooks that glide gently,o'ershadow'd with trees,
Whose verdure refreshes the sight; So honour and gaiety, riches and ease,
Are counted the streams of delight.
But hark! by that voice we acknowledge di vine,
A lesson of wisdom is taught; "True bliss to those shadows no longer assign,
"Prepost'rous and vain is the thought.
"The world and its fashions are hasting away,
"Its children pass on to the tomb; "Its honours, tho' brightly they shine for a day,
"Shall quickly be lost in the gloom.
"But bless'd are the souls that have learned to know
«* The sound of the message divine: "Thro' the chill vale of A clior^they feel as they go,
"The radiance of Deity shine.
"As the beams of the sun to enlighten and warm, «' So the beams of his favour descend;
"As a shield to protect the whole body from harm, "So the arm of his pow'r shall defend."
But whence, Great Instructor, (tho' righteous art
thou, ■ Permit us with revVenceto plead,) If saints are the objects of love while below, Ah! whence do their sorrows proceed?
With bread of affliction, how oft are they fed!
Its waters, how often they taste! Thro' floods, and thro' tempests how frequently led,
As wearied, they traverse the waste! The wicked, whr.e insults are daring the skies,
Seem healthy, and prospVous, and gay; Thy children's distresses, extort their deep sighs,
As they pass the dark shadows away!
•' I chasten," he answers, " the souls that I love,
"Induc'd hv affection alone; "Like the gold in the furnace, by trials I prove,
"And the strength of their graces make known.
"When the fire burns intensely, the dross is remov'd,
*' And the metal flows pure from the test; "'Tis thus I will try to the end my belov'd,
"Then shall they ascend to my rest."
But few are the days that we sojourn on earth,
The souls that partake of a heav'nly birth,
Their bodies shall slumber in Jesus awhile,
Then bursting the fetters of death with a smile,
Like them, their Redeemer temptations eudi.r d,
Their cup of affliction was his;
And open'd the way for their bliss.
Like him they shall rise, and triumphantly reign,
Enthron'd in the city of God;
Intrudes on that blissful abode.
When nothing remains to deplore'
Are frail and polluted no mole!
But bright, and immortal, and perfectly pure,
The spirit forgets to complain; Their bliss as the throne of their God shall eiidul e,
Nor can they be wretched again. Withsuchabright prospect thecrosswemav bear,
And welcome the chastening rod:
For rest in the presence of God.
SENSIBILITY THE SOUL OF POETRY. "Which givetli songs in the niglit.n—)oa. * Poets may be said to realize, in some measure, the poetical idea of the nightingale's singing ■with a thorn at her breast: as their most exquisite songs have often originated in the acuteness of their personal sufferings.'"
Haylek's LitfB o» Cowpeb.
There is a ma^lc might in song
The pomp of words can never reach;
There is that bears the heart along,
Tis Feeling gives that sweet controul,
Smoolhlng'the current of the soul
Go, child of fortune! 'lis not you,
'Tis midnight grief which brings to view
Not to the gale in brightest honrs,
But when suffus'd with dews and showers;
"The herbs which scentless whilst entire,*
So wounded hearts endear the lyre.
Oh! give me then those witching strai ns
Tho' nought of pomp or art obtains,
"For precious pearl, In sorrow's stream,**
But, tho' depriv'd of day's brig V beam,
ON VISITING THE AFFLICTED.
In endeavouring to account for the introduction of moral evil into the world, and justify the ways of God to man, curious and speculative men have advanced various" and conflicting opinions, which, instead of elucidating the subject, have, for the most part, only served to "darken counsel by words without knowledge." Of the why and the wherefore we are still ignorant, and should be content so to remain, till "that which is perfect is come, and that which is in part shall be done away!" till we arrive at that blest world, where the mysteries of providence shall be unravelled, and the wonders of grace unfolded to the believer's enraptured mind—where we shall ?< see Jesus as he is, and know even as we are known." Of this we are certain, sin has " entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." It was sin
** That brought into this world a world of woe."
Suffering, then, is a consequence of sin, is co-extensive with, and follows in its train, as naturally as the shadow does the substance. In order, therefore, to awaken the attention, and excite the commiseration of the Christian philanthropist, I will advert to a few of the many ills to which flesh is heir.
We have said that suffering is the effect of sin,—"all have sinned," and all are sufferers in some way, or at some time or another. But of all the maladies incident td us, none are more common, nor are there any more entitled to our commiseration, than those which take
their rise from a disordered state of the nervous system. Poor Cowper. wrote experimentally when he said,
"'Tis not, as heads that never ache suppose,
In all cases, human aid, unaccompanied by a divine blessing, must prove ineffectual, but more especially so here; He that formed the spirit can alone reorganize all its disordered faculties, and restore reason to its wonted empire. Those, however, who are the most deeply imbued with the spirit of their divine Master, will be the most concerned to do all that can be done to soothe the perturbed mind, and thereby lighten the heavy load.
Some are afflicted relatively. The ruthless hand of death strikes a valuable friend, a revered parent, an affectionate partner, a beloved child—they are " carried to their long homes, and the mourners go about the streets." Now although the Saviour has said, (and it should be more than sufficient to silence every objection—hush every murmur—and sustain the drooping mind), "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter;" still, in such circumstances, it is found exceedingly difficult to possess the soul in patience, and number events like these among the "all things" that 3 B
"work together for good." A scene of this description affords a fine opportunity for sympathizing neighbours to go and "weep with those that weep." In what an amiable point of view does the apostle Thomas appear, when saying unto his fellow disciples, "Let us also go that we may die with him." And how exemplary the conduct of those Jews that came to Martha and Mary " to comfort them concerning their brother." They doubtless found, that "it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting," for
"The chamber where the good man meela his fate
Is privileg'd beyond the common walk
Of virtuous life, quite on the verge of heaven."
I am aware that there are some who put it out of the power of their friends to visit them, for as soon as death enters, they quit their dwellings for a time, in order the more effectually to shake off those thoughts that necessarily obtrude at such seasons. But, after all,
"Place may be changed, but who can change his mindr*
Had Martha and Mary acted thus, He, whose cheering voice speaks peace to the troubled breast, and whose powerful word resuscitates the dead, had not in all probability repaired to Bethany, and then Lazarus might not have been "awaked out of sleep." This, however, seldom occurs, except in the higher walks of life.
Others are tried in their circumstances. The world frowns upon them, things run counter to their expectations, one messenger after another announces the loss of their earthly possessions, till at length they find themselves in a state of complete destitution; so true it is, that "riches make to themselves wings and fly away." Now all who duly appreciate their temporal blessings, and are aware of the precarious tenure by which they are held, will "remember those that are bound, as being bound with them, and those who suffer adversity, as being themselves also in the body."
But from bodily afflictions, few, if any are exempted; sooner or later, disease invades their clay tabernacles, and "weakens their strength by the way." Some, it is true, arelmt " lightly afflicted," others "more grievously," waters of a full cup are wrung out to them; some are called just to sip, as it were, of the bitter draught, while others are
compelled to drink it up even to the Very dregs; some are visitea with "pain, and the multitude of their bones with strong pain," who say in the morning, " would to God it were evening; and in the evening, would to God it were morning! day and night His hand is heavy upon them, so that their moisture is turned1 into the drought of summer." But then, they have all that this world can afford to allay their sufferings; kind friends and tender relatives to administer consolation, and wipe the tear of sorrow from their pallid countenances, whose never-ceasing solicitude waits on their tedious days and "wearisome nights." Others are equally afflicted, and the affliction is doubly trying, because they have oftentimes only a morsel of bread, and a cup of water, an insufficiency of firing and clothing to warm their enfeebled and emaciated frames, and whose wretched hovels scarcely serve as a screen from the wintry tempest. No feeling relative to sustain a part of their accumulated sorrows; no kind friend to wipe the tear from their grief-worn cheeks; no, they "pine away, and are stricken Ihrough, for want of the fruits of the field," and that sympathy and aid which many of their fellow mortals have in their power to bestow. "To him that is afflicted, pity should be showed."
If it be true, as the apostle James says, that "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world," those can make out but a slender claim to it, who neglect so obvious and imperative a duty.
There are many benevolent persons who'cannot refuse an alms, when distress and importunity unite in the appeal; but it will frequently be found, that the most abject cases exist in secret, and that the most deserving objects are the least obtrusive. Let those then who are "rich, be ready to communicate, willing to distribute"—let them seek out the abodes of misery—explore the haunts of wretchedness—undertake for the oppressed—converse familiarly with the sufferers—listen to their tales of woe— enter feelingly into their cases—pray with and for them, and read portions of that blessed word which points to a state where there "shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor cry ing, neither
shall there be any more pain." Thus shall we "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."
And where Societies for this specific object do not exist, let Ministers stir up their people to this good work, and exhort all over whom they have any influence, to give according as God hath prospered them, "remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how that he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive;" and let persons be chosen, whose business it shall be, to distribute such contributions, and report the cases visited, for the edification, instruction, and satisfaction of all interested therein. I can anticipate no objection to societies of this kind; and lest they should be abused, would beseech all subscribers not to rest satisfied with merely giving a few penGe per week regularly, but to continue to be their own almoners, and make visits of' mercy themselves, "doing good unto all men, but especially to those who are of the household of faith."
Various qualifications will be found necessary for those to whom the important work of visiting is confided. Love to God, and love to men should be the commanding principles ;—they should know something of the plague of their own hearts—have " tasted that the Lord is gracious," so as to be able to say, " We speak that we know, and testify that we have seen." In the discharge of their duty they will sometimes meet with those who, reckless of consequences, have rushed on the "thick bosses of God's buckler," vainly imagining that he was ''altogether such an one as themselves" — who have sat in the "seat of the scornful," impiously " saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning." But the hand of God now presses heavily upon them—" the arrows of the Almighty are within them, the poison whereof drinketh up their spirit; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against them;"—indubitable proof, that all things do not continue as they were with them—and awful premonition that God is about to call them to an account for the deeds done in the body! What knowledge of the Scriptures and of human nature is required, to detect, expose, and refute the fallacious reasonings of such!—and what meekness, to instruct those who thus oppose themselves !—and, if signs of contrition ap
pear, what prudence and judgment are necessary, that nothing be said to foster presumption on the one hand, or lead to despair on the other.
The self-righteous abound on every side, and often will visitors come in contact with such. They have numerous subterfuges, and deep retrenchments:— they will tell them that "God is merciful"—that "they have not been so bad as others"—that " they have never injured any one"—have "paid every body their own," and numerous other pleas of the same cast, which must all be relinquished before Jesus Christ can be all in all. And in order to this, they must be faithfully and affectionately "warned" and" rebuked," and directed to trust alone in "The Lord Our Righteousness," as the only way whereby they can be saved.
The household of faith will, however, have a prior claim on their attention. Some of these they will find in " heaviness through manifold temptations"— "walking in darkness, and having no light,"—saying, " my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment passed over from my God." Such should be encouraged to " trust in the Lord, and stay themselves upon God;" they must be exhorted to call to mind " the years of the right hand of the Most High." Those who are experienced, and who "have the tongue of the learned," should sedulously improve the talent intrusted to them> by speaking " a word in season to him that is weary."
Others will be found," strong in faith, giving glory to God"—" rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer"—longing to depart, and anxiously inquiring, "Why are his chariot wheels so long in coming f" In visiting such, are ciprocity of benefit will accrue; and visitors will themselves get good, whilst they "rejoice with them that rejoice," and be constrained to "thank God, and take courage," when they hear these his servants recount their trials—point to the numerous pillars reared to the honour of divine grace—-and speak of the glories of that kingdom into which they are about to enter. Their piety will instruct them, how to live—their patience, how to suffer—and their faith, hope, and joy, how to die;
In conclusion, I will fetch one motive from the account of the last great day, as pourtrayed by Him who wiH jtidj;c both "quick and dead," and which is surely sufficient to engage all hearts and hands in this godlike work. "Then shall he say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous say, When saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? &c. And the King shall say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Ewter
YE INTO THE JOY OF YOUR LORD."
Mr. Editor, you will acknowledge, with me, that the subject to which the foregoing paper relates is an important one; but it is one which is, alas! too much neglected; and, consequently, much to be regretted that it had not fallen to abler hands. However, the field is ample, and I hope some one of your correspondents, more competent to do justice to it, will " supply what is lacking on my part." If what I have written does but possess sufficient merit to entitle it to a place in your work, and if from that the least goad should result, the writer's end will be answered.
Salutary, Oct. 16, I8S*.
ON THE NATURE OF SOUND
[Concluded from Page 346.]
Having, in a former article, examined the several texts in which the phrase "sound doctrine" occurs, we have been enabled to ascertain its true scriptural import, and shall therefore close the discussion by laying before the reader the following inferences from what has been previously said.
1. In general, sound doctrine is the pure genuine doctrine of' the gospel, the very doctrine taught by Christ and his apostles:—entire, without the omission of any part of it; unperverted, without being strained or wrested; sincere, unmixed with any thing else, either in the matter, or in the manner of expression; proposed chiefly in the sound words in which Christ and his apostles delivered
it Certainly it can require but little modesty to own that these are the fittest. The words of Christ are the words of God; they were dictated by his divine nature;—the Spirit of God superintended the apostles and prophets, so as to restrain them from using any words which were not significant of the very truth: and, notwithstanding considerable varieties in their style, the language of them all has a certain common character, and general complexion; in respect of which we may affirm, that there is one uniform tenor of scriptural phraseology. This general description of sound doctrine will be, in the main, admitted by all sects. For though their peculiar systems be, in some parts, diametrically opposite, each sect reckons its own system the pure doctrine of the gospel; and though they all employ some technical terms not found in Scripture, each reckons its own set of these perfectly equivalent to the terms of Scripture, but more definite—fit for expressing their real sense so determinately as to guard them against misconception, or misinterpretation.
2. It therefore deserves our most serious attention, That sound doctrine means the pure doctrine of the gospel, particularly as distinguished from all human definitions, limitations, refinements, and superadditions. We have all along seen how explicitly and how anxiously the Apostle sets it in opposition to all these. His expressions are levelled directly against the corruptions of doctrine which prevailed at that time; but they are so chosen as to be likewise, in strict propriety, applicable to all posterior corruptions of it. He foresaw these, and foretold them, and has an eye to them, at least in some of the passages which we have examined. Indeed, all the curious or forced explications of Christian doctrine—all the groundless or precariovis deductions from it—all the subtile controversies about it which have infested the church, demonstrate themselves to be such adulterations as he condemns. They are marked by the very features which he has delineated; they have produced the very effects which he has described.
They had already begun, and they quickly spread wider and wider. Forgetful that the gospel was not given to exercise ingenuity, or gratify curiosity, and desirous of recommending it to unbelievers, particularly the philosophers,