Page images
PDF
EPUB

the young; but to tell you that the rosary among catholics is a chaplet consisting of five or fifteen decads of beads, to direct the recitation of so many Ave Maria's in honor of the virgin. It also denotes a particular mass or form of devotion addressed to the virgin, consisting of fifteen (vain) repetitions of the Lord's prayer, and fifty salutations or Ave Maria's. Now, there are many passages in the Holy Scriptures so beautiful, that in speaking of them to my children, I have been led to compare them to a string of pearls-a necklace of gems-a cabinet of medals-a gallery of pictures; and I propose to lay some of them before you at this time; and in a far superior way to the nun in her cell gazing on her rosary of beads. I trust that you, my dear readers, will never look at this case of jewels, at these gems, without wishing that they may be your own—for it is of such things Solomon has spoken, when he said, "they shall be as an ornament of grace to thy head, and as a chain about thy neck," and whether you bind them upon your arm, or upon your bosom, of this be assured, that you cannot PRAY over them too often.

Romans xii. 10-21. "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another." This is a fit subject for prayer for all, but especially for the young, for though

"Birds in their little nests agree,"

we too frequently have occasion to remark that children quarrel with each other, and exhibit many of those unamiable, selfish, and jealous feelings, which, alas! belong to our nature, and which are to be cast out only by faith and prayer. See then that you tenderly and cordially love one another with unfeigned and ingenuous affection; with that sweet and instinctive kindness that requires no effort either to cherish or express; such as a mother feels towards her children, and brothers ought to feel towards their sisters. This love is the bond of perfectness, it assimilates us to our Father in heaven; it makes us slow to anger, ready to forgive, and leads us to mourn over the faults of others; and wherever it is in pure and constant exercise, brings peacefulness and tranquillity into a

*Pierre and his Family.

school or community, and brings down a type of heaven into the bosom of a christian family. "Let there be no strife, I pray thee between me and thee," said Abraham to his brother, "and my herdmen and thy herdmen, for we be brethren." And when the sons of Job feasted together, they sent for their sisters to partake of their enjoyments and entertainment. Is it not good and pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity? Yes, it is good, amiable, lovely; and as to its pleasantness, the fragrance of Lebanon and the dews of Hermon are not more delightful, nor sweeter, softer, or gentler. There also God commandeth a blessing, even life for evermore. We are not only to love one another with brotherly love, something more is engraved in this gem, respect must mingle with our affection; we must speak more honorably of the gifts, graces, and services of others than of our own, for as we all know our own hearts better than others, so we shall always, if we think right, find enough there to keep us humble, and to lead us in all lowliness of mind, to esteem others better than ourselves.

Verse 11. "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."

The humility or lowliness represented in the preceding gem is not to render us indolent or idle; we are not to presume because others are more eminent than we, more clever, or more highly gifted, that therefore we are to do nothing. Neglect not the gift that is in you, however insignificant it may appear. Be active in those duties to which you are called, and in applying all diligence to your several studies, occupations, or employments, be fervent and frequent in prayer to God to aid you in their discharge. Be zealous for his glory not only in all you do, but in the manner of doing it. Serve your generation according to the talent committed to you. Never suffer the world by your indolence or sloth to say of your religion as the Egyptians, though falsely, said of the Hebrews—“ ye are idle, ye are idle-therefore ye say, let us go and do sacrifice unto the Lord.”

Verse 12. "Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer."

To encourage us in all our works of faith and labors of love, the promises of the everlasting covenant cheer our hearts;

let us confidently expect their fulfilment, rejoicing in the hope which they inspire. Hope is a delightful grace, strongest in the heart of those who are strong in faith: thus Abraham, the father of the faithful, against hope believed in hope. The same gracious Spirit who gives us hope to animate us in our labors, gives us patience to sustain our trials. Patience enables us to bear up under the weight of afflictions, injuries, and reproaches, with meekness, calmness, and submission; and as we have no power in ourselves either to attain or persevere in the exercise of these passive, yet exalted virtues, we have the more need of prayer, instant, importunate prayer, for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that by his divine influence, we may cast our burden on the Almighty burden-bearer of his people, and our care upon him that careth for us. This gem I think contains three more beautiful graces than are to be found in all the cabinets or museums of ancient or modern art-Hope, Patience, and Prayer! and he who possesses them is more to be envied than if he were master of the Louvre, or could call all the treasures of the Vatican his own.

Verse 13. " Distributing to the necessity of saints, given to hospitality."

Here is represented the duty of christian kindness and charity; to give alms, and to receive strangers with courtesy and liberality; to relieve the wants of poor saints especially, and to minister with kindness, to the comfort of the weary traveller or way-faring man, whom God in his providence may bring within our gates. Too few consider the case of the stranger, though no duty is more frequently inculcated in scripture. The Lord knoweth the heart of a strangerit is generally a sad heart.

"The stranger's heart, ah! wound it not,—

A yearning anguish is its lot;

In the green shadow of thy tree,

The stranger finds no rest with thee."

By receiving the stranger with hospitality and kindness, we not only obey the precepts, and exhibit the beauty of christianity, but sometimes are thereby honored to entertain angels unawares, or those who by their exalted piety and nearness to God, may bring down a blessing upon our house, so that the

favor we have shewn them may be returned to us in multiplied benefits; and good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over may be given unto us again. You know who says, "the stranger did not lodge in the street, I opened my doors to the traveller." Abraham has left us an example both of the duty and reward connected with this subject, and the Shunamite had no reason to repent her hospitality to the man of God, any more than the widow of Zeraptha. The manner in which God is pleased to honor the alms-deeds of his people, is seen in the death chamber of Dorcas; and Paul who wrote down the precept, was himself an example of it, working with his own hands that he might be able to minister to the necessities of others; reminding his friends of the only posthumous saying of Christ in the scripture, "that it is more blessed to give than to receive." Pray over this.

Verse 14. curse not."

"Bless them that persecute you; bless, and

While these are the sentiments we are to cherish towards our brethren, towards strangers, and towards the poor, our next gem represents the conduct of christians towards their enemiesfor, alas! the christian has enemies as well as friends. As affliction is the great seal which confirms the validity of his title as an heir of heaven, so the hatred of the world is the badge of his discipleship among men. But while it is written 66 ye shall be hated of all men for my name sake," it is also written there shall not a hair of your head perish." Let us, therefore, bless them that persecute us-bless and curse not. Let us bless them by praying for their conversion, and for their repentance; that God would be pleased to convince them of sin, and to enlighten their darkened understandings. Let us speak civilly of them as far as it is consistent with truth, and behave towards them with forbearance at least if not with courtesy. We are always safe, says a good man, when we are only wronged. Whatever others may do to us, we should never forget that it is due to ourselves to be generous, forgiving, honorable. If an enemy smite us on the one cheek, let us turn to him the other also; if he compel us to go with him a mile, let him see, that rather than have recourse to any thing that is ungenerous or vindictive, we are willing to go

with him twain. Let no unkindness or persecution ever dispossess us of patience and meekness; let it be seen that it is not indifference or insensibility that prevents us from redressing our wrongs, but the precepts of Christ. That we think of his "triumphant ignominy, of his glorious shame," when oppressed, and smitten, and stricken for us, and we glory in tribulations which make us partakers of his sufferings. It is always better to be the oppressed than the oppressor, to suffer wrong than to avenge it. Youth is often haughty and arrogant towards inferiors in strength, in abilities, or acquirements; but let a youth be ever so clever or accomplished, either in school or in college, if he lose sight of moral greatness, and trample upon the weak and defenceless, he is but a booby after all; for he is ignorant of the true wisdom, and his superiority is no more than that of the wolf over the lamb, or the fox over the chickens; intellectual strength without kindness of heart, and generous feeling, will make him wise to do evil rather than good.

Verse 15. 66

Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with

them that weep.”

This gem depicts a sacred duty and heavenly sentiment; it is sympathy-and whether we have to do with enemies or friends, we must sympathise with all; as partakers of the same common nature, we must have a fellow feeling for all. As we ought to mourn for the miseries of our fellow creatures, so we ought to rejoice in their prosperity; this is the most difficult duty of the two. They have lived but few years in this world who have not found that for one friend who will rejoice with them when they rejoice-ten will weep with them when they weep; so much higher is the one grace than the other. A man's afflictions or misfortunes very seldom add to the number of his enemies; a man's prosperity is the real test of friendship; so ungenerous is unsanctified human nature, so inveterate is the baseness of envy. Is it not written," hatred is cruel, anger is outrageous, but who can stand before envy?" Hatred and anger no doubt have slain their thousands, but envy has slain her tens of thousands. In illustration of the duty of pity and compassion, or the exhibition of sympathy with the afflicted, I refer you to the case of Mary and Martha at the grave of

« PreviousContinue »