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THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE MOURNER-No. I. THERE are few, who have made any considerable advance in the pilgrimage of life, who have not become practically acquainted with the sorrows incident to that journey. For, though in this earthly scene, there are days of sunshine, and songs of joy, there are, also, nights of gloom and tones of sadness, and every human dwelling. place has been alternately, the scene of festivity, and the house of mourning. Seeing, then, that to all must come the season of sorrow, does not the question-How may that sorrow be alleviated ?force itself on the minds of all who feel they can claim no exemp. tion from the common lot of humanity.
Shall we adopt the harsh creed of the stoic, which teaches a cold indifference to sorrow or joy; which chills all the sweet sympathies and affections of our nature, and forbids alike the smile and the tear? Ah, no! it brings to us no comfort; and if, turning away from this, we explore the entire range of heathen philosophy, and false religion, we shall find no solace for our woe; for it is on the page of Holy Writ alone, the record of true religion, that we read the inspiring words—"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Here, then, is hope and consolation for all who have been sorely tried; and thousands, when all the idols of the heart have been broken, and every earthly trust has prored a broken reed, have been led to cast their eyes upward, and have realized the fulfilment of these gracious words. The very existence of this promise proves a greater knowledge of human wants, and a greater sympathy with human woe, on the part of Him who gave it utterance, than was possessed by any teacher who had preceded him, and is a link in that chain of evidence which proves the high mission of Him who ever desired to be judged by the heavenly character of the lessons he came to impart, and of whom even his enemies said—“Never man spake like this man.” These words, however, are not to be taken in their most unlimited sense, for some there are, who, like Rachel weeping for her children, refuse to be comforted.
The Saviour spake not for the consolation of the sordid miser, inourning the loss of his ill-gotten treasure,—the votary of pleasure, mourning departed health and wasted means,-or of the aspirant after worldly fame, mourning the failure of his schemes of guilty ambition; but to those who have been allured by the promises of the world, and having discovered their hollowness, with tears, desire to return from their wanderings,-to noble, but perverted natures, who SERIES III.VOL. VI.
humbly desire to employ all their powers in the service of Him, whom in the days of their folly and rebellion they despised, -to those who are persecuted for Jesus' sake,-to the humble and obe. dient follower of the Saviour, when overtaken by affliction,--and to the dying saint, are the words of promise given.
That the condition of the mourner is a happy, or blessed one, when compared with that of the gay and thoughtless, in his mirth and frivolity, seems, at first, a contradiction;-tears and deep humiliation mark the former, while smiles and laughter would seem to indicate the happiness of the latter. Thus they seem to us, but how different in the eyes of God!-one is without God and hope in the world, with no star of promise to light up'the future, while the other can look upward, through his falling tears, and claim the promise which declares he shall be comforted. Such is their true condition in the light of the Bible, and the promises of God; these disclose the dangerous self-security to which the one is abandoned, and dispel the gloom which surrounds, and display the bliss which awaits the other.
The sorrowing penitent is doubtless one of the characters to whom these words of consolation are addressed; and the scriptures inform us, that the mourning of such shall be turned into joy; and oh, how great must be the joy of that sinner, who, having felt the burden of his guilt, and wept over the mercies he has slighted, feels that God has pitied him; and that comfort is administered by the hand divine. When the Jews heard the preaching of Peter, on the day of Pentecost, when he boldly vindicated the character of his once crucified Master, and fastened upon them the guilt of his death, feelings of the deepest anguish seized upon their hearts, and in earnest, anxious words, they sought a way of escape from the fearful consequences of the crime of which they now stood convicted. Deeply did they sorrow over their past misdeeds, and bitterly did they lament their blindness, and hardness of heart; and yet before that day's sun had set, they found that he who bore the message which had power thus to wound, was also commissioned to deliver one that could heal, and these mourning ones were made to rejoice in that gospel which bears peace and pardon to all who open their hearts to its words of gladness.
Never was there a more disconsolate mourner than he who was struck down in his guilt and impiety, and blinded by the dazzling glory reflected from the person of the risen Lord, and who, for three days knelt, and wept, and prayed in the city of Damascus. Yes, the once proud Pharisee knelt, and wept in his humiliation; but as soon as the messenger of peace made known the blessing which
God had to bestow, his tears were dried, and the mourner was como forted.
But the Saviour ever gives the best illustrations of his own teachings, and in the parable of the prodigal son we have a most touching exemplification of the blessing pronounced upon the mourner.Behold the prodigal, the true type of the sinner, rushing madly on in his career of folly and crime; then succeeds de dation and des. titution, and in the depth of his misery, the softening influence of early recollections, the tenderness of those who watched over the days of his infancy and his youthful years,—the fountains of feeling are unsealed, the tears of penitence flow down the cheeks of the wanderer; and though grief filled his heart while he retraced his erring steps, yet his tears were wiped away by a Father's hand, and in the glad rejoicing which welcomed him, as alive from the dead, we see the fulfilment of the promise to those that mourn. How blessed, then, to mourn, since it is followed by a knowledge of sins forgiven, of new hopes born, and of new joys begun. Who would have thought that sadness would thus turn to bliss, and smiles efface the lines of grief and mourning!
But thus it is; the bow of God is formed by the falling drops of rain, so the promise of God, seen through the sinner's falling tears, fills the heart with joy, and the mouth with singing. How great the blessing!—the sins of a lifetime cast into oblivion! How great the joy!—not only on earth, but angels above sing, in sweetest strains—There was mourning on earth, but our God has given comfort.'
CONVERSATIONS AT THE CARLTON HOUSE-No. IV.
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, NO. III, CHAPTER 3. Olympas. We shall call upon Henry for a summary of the subjects proposed in the first chapter of this Epistle.
Henry. 1. Paul introduces himself to the Romans as an Apostle of Christ.
2. He alludes to the character of the saints in Rome, and states the great esteem and affection he had for them, and his long cherished desire to visit them.
3. He next gives a summary view of the gospel, and the excellen
cy of it.
4. He then gives a very full description of the condition and vices of the Gentile world.
Olympas. We shall hear you, James, on the contents of the second chapter.
James. 1. The second chapter opens with an indirect address to the Jews, and declares the impartiality of God.
2. The Apostle next sets forth the Christian doctrine of rewards and punishments.
3. He contrasts a Jew with a Gentile-specifies his inconsistencies, and concludes with a beautiful miniature of a true Jew, and sets, in a strong light, the true circumcision.
Olympas. Such, indeed, are the main topics introduced and partially discussed in the two first chapters of this Epistle. We shall then hear the first section of the third chapter, from the New Version. Susan will proceed to read to the end of the twentieth verse.
Susan. “III.—What is the pre-eminence of the Jew, then? or what profit is there in circumcision?
2.-Much, in every respect: chiefly, indeed, because they were entrusted with the Oracles of God.
3.--For what if some did not believe-will not their unbelief destroy the faithfulness of God?
4.-By no means. But let God be true, and every man a liar; as it is written,—"That thou mayest be justified in thy sayings, and mayest overcome when thou judgest.”
5.—But if our unrighteousness display the justice of God, what shall we say? Is not God unjust, who inflicts vengeance?. (I speak after the manner of men.)
6.--By no means: otherwise, how shall God judge the world?
7.-Still, if the truth of God has, through my lie, more abounded to his glory, why am I also yet condemned as a sinner-and not because we have done evil that good may come, as we are slandered, and as some affirm that we teach-whose condemnation is just?
9.- What then? Do we excel?
Not at all. For we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles to be all under sin. As it is written, “Surely there is none righteous; no, not one. There is none that understands; there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way: they are together become unprofitable. There is none that does good; there is not so much as one. Their throat is an open sepulchre: with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery lurk in their paths; but the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and that all the world may be liable to punishment before God. Wherefore, by works of law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; because through law is the knowledge of sin.".
Olympas. We have a species of dialogue in the first ten verses of this chapter. In this dialogue Paul objects as a man, and answers as an Apostle.
He had proved both Jews and Gentiles to be alike under sin, in his reasonings in the second chapter. Hence originates the first question —“What advantage, then, has the Jew, and what profit in circumcision?" You will now severally state and answer the five questions propour.ded by “a man,” and answered by the Apostle.
Susan. Paul having affirmed, “That circumcision profits only when a Jew keeps the lawy, otherwise, his circumcision becomes uncircumcision,” the question, “What advantage, then, hath the Jew,” and "What profit in circumcision," is very natyral. To this Paul responds —"Much, every way, but especially because they had the Oracles of God committed in keeping to them.
James. But one might still object—“Will not their unbelief destroy the truthsulness of God?" A phrase, indeed, I do not well understand.
Olympas. There is, perhaps, some obscurity about it. A fact recorded in these Oracles explains it;-God had made a covenant with the Jewish fathers, in which he promised to be a God to their offspring, as well as to them. Now, if unbelief cuts them off from all the blessings promised in the Oracles, where is the covenant keeping character of God? This was the difficulty,
James. I see it now, but I cannot answer the question.
Henry. This reminds me of an objection I saw stated in a newspaper, against sending the gospel to China. It was alleged it would make the doom of the Chinese worse upon the whole, because more would be lost than saved by it; and because the lost would suffer more because of rejecting it, than they would have done had they never heard it. But, thought I, it is better that some should be saved than all lost.
Olympas. Besides, when we compute all that is gained to a nation through the Bible, besides the eternal salvation of a portion of its population, there appears, in all the civilization which it imparts, “much, every way" an advantage to any people enjoying so rich a boon of heaven. And although arithmetical ratios are no standard of moral advantages, we may always expect, in the long run, an increase of blessings, if only some of a people believe. At all events, comprehend as we may, the present and future blessings to a nation from the Bible and its civilization, we must say, "God forbid," or “Far be it!” The faithfulness of God must not be called into ques. tion. SERIES III.-Vol. VI.