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father, who, when he had trained and guided his offspring so carefully through the season of youth, was called away just as they were becoming old enough to feel how much they owed him; there are dear sisters, with whom we had so frequently walked hand in hand, and enjoyed our childish games, and sat around the social hearth, and knelt side by side at prayer; there are those kindred spirits, whose companionship was so improving and gladdening, and whose absence at first rendered us so desolate, that we were ready to exclaim, “We will go and die with them;" and there are others, whom, though we have never seen them, we know so well from the frequent and glowing reminiscences to which with such untiring and breathless attention we have listened, and whom we admire and love so warmly for their piety and their virtues: can we, then, be so very sad at the thought of bidding farewell to all things here below, when such rapturous scenes await us, and when especially those, whom we leave behind, may so truly say
of us, “Though they return no more, yet we shall go to them?” No; our Christian feelings and hopes forbid us to “love too well that life that keeps us from a better, or to fear that death that leads us to a better life," and incline us rather to follow the example of a celebrated Queen,* who, blaming her ladies and women, when she observed them weeping about her bed, said, “Weep not for me, I pray you; for God, by this sickness, calls me hence to enjoy a better life; and now I shall enter into the desired haven, towards which this frail vessel of mine has been a long time steering." +
* Jane, Queen of Navarre.
† "In our long leisure, all sweet and soothing associations of rest, - of relief from anxiety and wearying thought, - of re-entrance upon society, — (a society how sanctified !) - of the realization of our best conceptions of what is holy, noble, perfect, - all affections, all aspirations, gather round the idea of Death, till it recurs at all our best moments, and becomes an abiding thought of peace and joy .... It is no slight privilege to have that grand idea which necessarily confronts every one of us, all clothed with loveliness instead of horror, or mere mystery.” — Life in the Sick Room.
“I was lately speaking to a tender-hearted woman who had known suffering, but not torment, of more than one case
Thus to the firm Christian believer, what animating prospects present themselves ! We say to the firm believer, for in that word is there a serious import. There is a class of persons, who, though they call themselves Christians, shrink from death just as much as if the day-spring from on high had never visited them; and the reason is, that notwithstanding their glowing and eloquent delineations of a hereafter, they do not really. hold the Christian faith in its power. They know not Christ, and therefore the sting of death is not at all taken away; we see not how any other explanation can be given; for such a dread of death is altogether inconsistent with attaching any admissible signification to Christ's doctrine of immortality, and to those truly consolatory words, “I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God," and “ Because I live, ye shall live also." But
of persons who, dying slowly under a torturing disease, simply and naturally declared, shortly before death, the season of their illness to have been the happiest part of their lives." — Ibid.
it is indeed time that every one of us had learnt that Christianity, to be of any use at all, must mean something in our own minds and hearts; pleasing visions, beautiful poetry, or flitting shadows, will no more sustain and comfort us in adversity, than they will form our characters and animate our lives. We want reality ; reality only can satisfy us; the things around us are realities, – riches are a reality, pleasure is a reality, worldly elevation is a reality; and how can it be supposed we should be willing to leave all these for mere peradventures and longings? The world of spirits, therefore, must be to us as much real as the Continent of Europe or America; and the God who dwells there must be no fiction; and our Saviour must be that Saviour who walked in Palestine eighteen centuries ago, and the saints and the martyrs must be, not images or pictures, but actual beings; and our dear friends, father, mother, children, brothers, sisters, all must be to us, not mere objects of fancy, but as truly alive as they used to be when they were with us on the earth; everything must have the sure stamp of reality upon it, else no wonder that with the fading senses, and the dwindling frame, the heart sinks low indeed. We should feel as the little child did in that admirable poem by Wordsworth, entitled, “We are Seven.” Five were at home, and two lay beneath "the church-yard tree;" yet they were seven still.
5. How many are you, then,' said I,
'If they two are in Heaven ?'
O master! we are seven !'
Their spirits are in Heaven !'
And said, 'Nay, we are seven.'"
And she was right — there were as truly seven then as ever. Do we understand what our Lord meant, when he spoke of
receiving the kingdom of God as a little child?" Such a faith, - a faith which should see the departed living, which should feel no more doubt of their being alive, than of the existence of those who are constantly