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in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
We ought to take forethought because we must cross these swellings --we must all cross them. It is appointed unto all men once to die. There is no release in this war. Gold cannot bribe death. He bows not to eminence and honor. His stern, uncompromising features melt not into mercy before the earnest pleadings of youth and beauty. He waits not for the unprepared. Mercilessly, and without respect of persons, he drives all down to the fearful verge, and with uplifted dart urges all into the "swellings of Jordan." This is to us no new truth; we learned, among the first lessons of our childhood, that
Time cuts down all,
And we are constantly reminded of it, by falling leaves, and fading flowers-by funeral trains and opening graves-by tolling bells, by vacant chairs around the hearth; by the fadings and failings of our friends, by the grey hairs, and marks of dissolution which we discover upon our own bodies-and, not least of all, by that spirit of mournful prophesy which at times settles down upon our spirits, like thick shades of evening, proclaiming the coming of a solemn, lonely night.
"Great God! is this our certain doom,
Still marching downward to the tomb,
Not only must we pass these swellings of Jordan, but it may be soon. How soon, we cannot know. A dread uncertainty hangs over every future hour. "For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them."--X Eccl. 9: 12. We know not one moment of the future, and hence we cannot tell the day nor the hour when the son of man cometh.
Not only may it come soon, but it may also come suddenly. How often have persons been cut down as by a clap of thunder from a clear sky. "Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Like the grass before the scythe of the mower, knoweth not that its time is so near-one moment it is green and growing, the next it is cut down and withereth-so suddenly, and without a moment's warning, is man often cut down by death, in all his pride and strength. How solemn is the thought of being arrested suddenly at our labors, in the midst of our life and of our hopes, and ushered into the "swellings of Jordan."
Let me then face the question: "How will we do in the swellings of Jordan?" As we must enter them; and as it may be soon, and may be suddenly, then how will we do?
Will you then, ask for a space more of time, for the purpose of considering and preparing? This will not be granted; and for a good reason; time and opportunity for this had been granted before. Life is the time graciously granted to all, in which to prepare for death. To the living, the voice of mercy says: "Now is the accepted time; be
hold, now is the day of salvation." The path of life never goes backward, and there is no retreat from the grave. There is also no tarrying at the verge of these swellings. "On to the grave, and into it," is the great command. Neither the shiverings and shudderings of the unprepared, nor their cries of despair, can purchase a moment's delay in that fearful crossing. Then how wilt thou do? Will you repent at that time. We answer death-bed repentance has never been popular among those who best understand the scriptures. We may safely say that a want of confidence in death-bed repentance is a common sentiment. However much men differ in other matters, in this there is a kind of general consent. Those who defer their repentance, do it, not because they believe that to be the best time, but because they are unwilling to forsake their evil ways. They regard that, not as the best, but as the last resort. They wish to cling to satan, and his service, as long as they
There is good reason why death-bed repentance is not popular; and why few have confidence in it. There is enough to do in crossing this dark stream when it is calm. Even those who meet it in peace find enough to weary them; how much more will this be the case when it roars and rolls in swellings. These swellings themselves are enough forever to discourage any one from the hope of attending to so important a matter as seeking, at that time, repentance unto life and peace with God!
If we should speak of particular reasons why we ought not to trust to repentance at that time, we might mention many. There has, then, been a long life time of sinful habits formed-the heart is as hard as it can be the conscience is seared. "Can the Ethiopian .change his skin, or a leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."
Then also the mercy and goodness of God, by whose aid alone true repentance is possible, has been abused by a life of sin. To the cries for help, when the swellings gather up around his soul, God answers: "Because I have called and ye refused, I will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh !"
Then too, pain of body is often so great that it is next to impossible to fix the mind for a moment upon one point. Every joint groans, every nerve and muscle writhes, and from every pore issues a flame of burning fever. Is this a time for repentance? There is distress enough, but it is not penitence. There is sorrow, but it is not a godly sorrow. On this point the prophet has truly said: "They have not cried unto me with their hearts, when they howled upon their beds !"-Hos. 7: 14.
There is also frequently more or less abberation of mind. The senses swim, and the person knows scarcely what he is doing. Even when the nature of his sickness does not bring insanity with it, it frequently results from despair. The guilt of a wicked life comes rushing in upon the soul like floods. The person feels himself crowded out upon the fearful verge of an eternal world, for which he is not prepared; and the soul is completely overwhelmed by a sense of its awful condition. Is this a time to repent?
Most of all, death-bed repentance, even when it is done calmly, is
Hence the almost general
almost certain to be from wrong motives. falling back of those who repent on sick beds.
If we had nothing else to discourage us from trusting to it, one consideration would be enough. It is this: When one who has lived a life of sin, is once called to lie down on a bed of death, it is not a call to repentance, but a call to judgment! When the axe once falls upon the roots of the barren fig-tree, it is not that he may become fruitful, but that he may be cut down because he cumbereth the ground! When once the cry is made: "Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him," it is not a call to go and buy oil for the lamps. It is now too late for that. In the eleventh hour the Lord of the vineyard yet hired laborers-but not in the twelfth hour!
But did not the dying thief upon the cross receive pardon? Yes. But there is no reason to believe that he had ever before known any thing of Christ. His case is, therefore, different from the case of those who defer it willfully to that hour; when they have been a thousand times before warned and invited. Besides, there is only one penitent thief; while perhaps thousands died in despair. Would you venture upon dangerous seas, if you knew that one had safely crossed it, when thousands perished in the attempt! Is this wise? Who then, because one person was saved, and that by miracle, and one who had probably no opportunity before to be saved-who, on this account, would venture unprepared into the swellings of Jordan.
Then how wilt thou do in the "swellings of Jordan?" Now is the time to decide so important a matter. Now while the ark waits, and the floods tarry, is the time to enter. While the sun of hope yet rises over Zoar, and the heavens yet withhold their vengeance-now is the time to hasten from the doomed cities of the plain and fly to the mountains. Now, while the Jordan yet swells not; while you hear only in the distance, and faintly, its rushings and roarings-now is the time to think how you will do in its swellings. It is not only these swellings of Jordan that are to be feared; but there are matters of still more fearful import beyond these swelling floods. There are the wide-spread plains of an eternal existence, There is that world of solemn mysteries which has filled the hearts of men in all ages with hopes and fears. There is that world which our own souls gaze upon with the deepest awe, and the most momentous forebodings. There is that world which reason, conscience, and scripture tell us we ought not to enter without preparation. Then, what we do, let us do quickly-for behold the hour is at hand.
Eternity how near it rolls!
Count the vast value of your souls,
Beware! and count the awful cost
What they have gained whose souls are lost.
Eternity is just at hand!
And shall I waste my ebbing sand?
THE FALL FLOWERS.
The royal, velvet Dahlias,
Have come to grace the Autumn hours, 'Mid tender leaves the Salvais,
At last, have ope'd their scarlet flowers.
A richer weight the Fuschia bears,
And beauty's breathing all around.
And twined around the porches too,
Have waited, blossom now-to die.
Since Spring upon the earth appeared
Yet ever as they sunk to earth,
Although so many were entombed.
For many a bud our hands have taken,
Perchance, for other ones more gay.
At last, when Autumn days are here,
While blossoming in the world below.
So fair, so meekly are they waiting
The ruin which will surely come, That Winter stands half hesitating, Reluctant to bring on their doom. Perhaps before another day
Has sent upon the world its light, He'll steal their beauty all away Coming so quietly at night.
And we shall wake, to see the flowers
All sinking, 'neath the power of Death.
TRANSLATED BY THE EDITOR.
WHAT MEEKNESS CAN DO.
A certain man made a bet with another that he could excite Rabbi Hillel to anger. They laid a wager of an hundred shekels. In order to win the prize he went to the house of Rabbi Hillel, who at that time stood nearest the King in honor among all men in Israel, and called out with rude violence "Where is Hillel? Where is Hillel ?" without adding any title of honor to his name. Hillel was just clothing himself for the Sabbath, and without regarding the rudeness of the stranger, he put on his mantle and appeared before him. Then he asked the stranger what his pleasure might be?
"I would like to know," answered the man, "why the Babylonians have round heads !"
"The reason of it
"An important question, truly," answered Hillel. is that they have no experienced midwives!"
Then the man went away in silence; but an hour afterwards he returned again, crying aloud, "Where is Hillel? Where is Hillel?" The wise man again threw his mantle round him, and asked, "What is your pleasure, my son ?"
"I would like to know," exclaimed the stranger, "Why the Termudians have such sore eyes?"
"Because they live in a sandy country, where the sand blows into their eyes and inflames them," said Rabbi Hillel.
The man saw how mild and good natured the Rabbi was, and went away disappointed. Still he determined to make another attempt to excite him to anger. Then he called out again, "Where is Hillel? I want to talk to Hillel." Again the Rabbi answered in a friendly manner, "What now do you desire ?"
"I wish to know why the Africans have such broad feet," he said in an excited manner.
"Because they walk on soft ground," was Hillel's reply.
"I would like to ask you still many other questions," said the man, "but I fear you might become angry !"
"Fear not on that account," answered the friendly Rabbi. Only ask as much as you please, and I will answer you if I can."
When the man wondering at the unconquerable mildness of Hillel, was filled with fear lest he might lose his money, and came to the conclusion that the only means yet left likely to succeed was to speak words