Sivut kuvina

ing saint can thus meditate with composure upon the past, and turn to profitable consolation the texts of scripture which many years before engaged his attention in the sanctuary. How often have the Psalms of David and other sacred songs acquired in early life thus suggested the most delightful feelings! Has it not seemed as if the heart grew almost young again in dwelling upon those words spoken in season by lips long ago silent in the grave, and as if somewhat of heavenly strength were imparted to the feeble frame as memory brooded over the scenes of early piety!

Let young persons, then, be persuaded to lay up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come. Consider ye, now, what it is that you are most likely to remember with comfort in old age, should you be spared to enter on it, or on your death-bed when you shall bid farewell to time. Not, most assuredly, the indecent jest, the profane sally, the lascivious song. No; it will be the memory of sacred truth, sound doctrine, well-paid vows. When did a man's heart ever reproach him, when he came to die, for having communed too frequently with God, for having stored his mind too richly with scripture truths, for having observed his Sabbaths too religiously, for having performed his closet duties too exactly? If you can produce even one solitary instance of this, walk without scruple or remorse after the counsel of your own hearts; but, if not, now be persuaded to "hearken and hear for the time to come."

Jacob, we also find, spake on that occasion of Rachel's death. "As for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me by the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come onto Ephrath; and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem." It was, indeed, exceedingly natural for Jacob in these circumstances to remember that event. And it may here be remarked, that it is proper enough for the dying to remember the dead. Jacob was now about to rejoin her from whom he had now for many years been divided. Their dust, indeed, was not to be mingled together, but their kindred spirits were shortly to be united beyond the grave. As it is consoling to the living when they commit the bodies of their relatives to the earth, to believe that they are not lost for ever; so is it encouraging to the dying to think that they shall soon be with those whom they once knew intimately and loved tenderly. This is one of those considerations that take away from the bitterness of death. When it seems to the dying man as if the once familiar hand were again extended to grasp his own, and as if the eye, brightened by its admission into glory, looked affectionately down upon him; it is as if a great part of the natural gloom with which death is associated were removed; even as the timid and the weak-hearted feel strong to enter the boat that is to convey them across the river on whose further shore love stands waiting their arrival. It is true, indeed, that there are far higher and holier considerations than these which ought to subdue in a good man's mind the immoderate dread of death. But neither is this to be despised. Perhaps it may even be said, that there are few, indeed, who have not in the hour of their dissolution been somewhat fortified by it. It is well when affection is engaged on the side of Piety. It is cheering to believe that at the Although they cannot predict what shall befal them in the latter days, they are called upon to give them what they have, their counsel and blessing. They may have no temporal inheritance to divide among them; but they may at least bequeath to them the legacy of sound instruction. Surely with truth did the wise man observe, "Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers."

termination of the gloomy valley there are those with whom we once took sweet counsel, who once trod the same path, and now wait side by side with our elder brother to bid us a joyful welcome.

"We fear not now—we fear not,

Though the way through darkness bends;
Our souls are strong to follow them—
Our own familiar friends."

In the discourse of the aged and dying Patriarch there are also prophetic anticipations in regard to his descendants. Having learned that his grandchildren were present, he stretches out his hands and blesses them. Guided by the spirit of heavenly wisdom, he places his right hand on the head of the younger, and his left on that of the elder. To Joseph, who supposed that the thing happened by mistake, it appeared unseemly that Ephraim should be set before Manasseh. But the thing was of God, and Jacob but pronounced the heavenly oracle. We are hence taught that in dispensing his favours, God does not always proceed according to what we deem the order of nature. He looks not on the outward appearance, nor judges according to man's judgment. The sacrifice of Abel, the younger brother, was accepted, while that of Cain, the elder, was rejected. Jacob himself was preferred to Esau. David the youngest of all his father's family was taken to be king of Israel. Thus does he confound the great things of this world, that no flesh should glory in his presence.

Aged saints are not now, as Jacob was, gifted with prophetic lore; but it is proper for them to evince a lively interest in the welfare of their descendants.

[ocr errors]



"Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob: from thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel:) even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts and of the womb; the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.—Genesis xlix. 22-26.

In addressing his beloved son Joseph, the aged and dying Patriarch had abundant reason to admire and adore the good Providence of God. That he actually did so, the words above quoted sufficiently show. First of all, he regards his present flourishing condition in the land of Egypt. "Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall." At another period of his life, however, he had been as a branch torn from the parent



« EdellinenJatka »