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“I HAVE BEEN AFFLICTED.”
BY REV. W. D. C. RODROCK. Solomon says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting.” Who, whatever his or her condition and position may be in life, has not felt the truthfulness of the wise man's words? When burdened and perplexed with the cares and trials of our present life, or disgusted with its frivolous pursuits, we go in search of other objects to alleviate our cares and our griefs, and afford us consolation and happiness. And when, after having drank deeply of the cup of affliction, the heart is wounded by its sorrows, and the cold world withdraws its sympathy, then are we best fitted and prepared, to think and reflect seriously upon those high and holy concerns which pertain to our everlasting destiny.
But when the sunshine of prosperity holds forth her ensnaring hand, and the world lavishes all its glory, its honor and allurements, then it is that man is too prone to forget that this earth is but a tarrying place. Then does he cling with a blind affection to that which is perishing and deceitful, and erect his hopes and plans upon unstable foundations. Then too, alas! are the interests of an hereafter banished from the mind as an “idle tale," and as unwelcome guests of another world. For as the true bard of England truly and justly sings:
“Pleasure is deaf wben told of future pain,
Ears long accustomed to the pleasing lute." It may not be out of place to narrate an instance of every day life; we briefly subjoin it for the young lady” readers of the Guardian. Ellen
R w as the gayest of a fashionable and dissipated circle. In early life she was deprived of parental instruction, was brought up without restraint, and suffered to rove at liberty in search of what the world terms pleasure. In her personal appearance she was lovely; her bright and sparkling eyes revealed the intelligent countenance, her smiling lips the light heart that was yet unsoured by mortification and disappointment. And though her "refined education” had imparted much that was ostentatious and superficial, yet she was not by any means deficient in intellectual attainments. Amiable, rich and beautiful, she did not fail to attract admirers, who would pour in her willing ears the words of flattery. Yet, with all that appeared necessary to afford enjoyment, and to confer earthly happiness, she was not in reality what the world called her, or what she herself fain wished to be, truly happy. And while a burst of feeling, an exhilarating flow of spirits, often enlivened her countenance, yet not unfrequently during the vacancy of an idle hour, or the loneliness of solitude, would a bistill small voice” whisper in her ears that there was yet wanting the one thing needful.” And it was for the want of this great requisite, that a gloom was cast over all her seeming joys in one moment, and launched her out into all the wildness and extravagancies of gaiety in the next.
It was during this disturbed period of her life that she was on the eve of being united to one worthy of her, and in every respect her equal. And whatever her feelings might have been with regard to the gaiety and dissipation in which she lived, the fact of uniting her destiny with another, engrossed all her attention, and formed one of the strongest ties which bound her to this world. Without entering into details, it may simply be observed, that when the full consummation of her happiness seemed to be not only in prospect, but almost complete, the hand of affliction was laid heavily upon her. And he, in whom all her earthly felicity was centered, was suddenly cut off and laid in the cold and silent place of the dead.
In those who have been brought up and nurtured in the school of adversity, calamitous events do not excite that unalleviated grief which tears and rends the hearts of those on whom the cup of misery is poured, when they are in the period of their most joyful prosperity. And what christian is not able with David to exclaim, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted;" and with the apostle Paul, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season."
The blow which thus unexpectedly came upon Ellen, caused her to feel deeply. The chastening rod of Providence had torn away the dearest object of her love, that object which had entwined around her heart's inmost joys. She was like some gay and tender flower on the mountain's brow, on which the rude and unfeeling storm has poured the wildness of its fury, that still retains its existence, even when despoiled of its beauty. In secret she pined and wept over the sad misfortune which had befallen her. No one could sympathise with her in her distress, for none could conceive the ardor of her affection. The condolence of the world was as disgusting as it was cheerless; and it made her deeply sensible of the want of One, to whom she could pour out the sorrows of her soul, and who could fill the aching void within her breast.
The skeptic and unbeliever would have murmured and arraigned the decrees of Providence. He would have looked upon the sad bereavement as a scourge, cruel and unjust, and plunged recklessly into the vortex of dissipation and crime. Truly,
“One part, one little part, we dimly scan
Through the dark medium of life's feverish dream,
If but that little part incongruous seem?" But God's thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are his ways our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts." It is good to be afflicted, for “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth;' and so Ellen regarded her afflictions.
To her, the world had lost all its charms and pleasure. Its joys were gone; and all its frivolities had lost their enchanting spell. With a heart bowed down in affliction, and a mind harassed with heavy trials, where else could she go, but to that long neglected source, where alone the comfort she desired could be found? Well would it be, if all did but consider in the day of trial and adversity, and hail the chastening hand as that which brings the lost and wandering soul back to duty, and points it beyond the skies, where “a rest remaineth for the people of God.”
Serious reflection had convinced Ellen of the impropriety of the dissipation in which she lived, and led her to form those resolutions from which she has never since departed. Though the expression of her beautiful features is still somewhat sombre, yet it is that of sincere and heartfelt sorrow. Those bright and sparkling eyes that once flashed with the brilliant coruscations of wit and youthful animation, now reflect from the soul a mild devotional feeling, that indicate the change within, and beam with heavenly light, which is one of the surest indices of the christian heart. She has since shown a bright example to those around her, and by her benevolence and charity to the distressed, and her religious consolation to the afflicted, endeared herself to many an humble child of poverty. Now her heart, in the full persuasion that “God is Love,” can clearly see and adore the mercy of an all-wise Creator, in thus weaning her affections from this world by means of affliction, and bringing her to the realization of those glorious promises contained in his word. :
Truly the cares and pleasures of this present life are all “vanity and vexation of spirit.” And in our sojournings through life, we may well with the Poet sing :
"Oh, where shall rest be found,
Rest for the weary soul !
'Twere vain the ocean's dpth to sound,
Or pierce to either pole.
The bliss for which we sigb ;
Nor all of death to die.
There is a life above;
And all that life is love."
CHRIST'S AGONY IN THE GARDEN.
He knelt-the Saviour knelt and pray'd,
When but His Father's eye
On that dread agony!
The skies might well grow dim,
So to o'ershadow Him!
The faint, perplexing dread,
All darken'd round his head!
Had sunk beneath his tread;
Had yielded up its dead.
With anguish and dismay ?
In the dark, narrow way?
Mrs. HEMANS. **And there appeared an angel from heaven, strengthening him."-St. Luke xxn. 43.
FLOWERS UPON THE CORPSE. Strew flowers upon her corpse, ye blooming maidens! Do ye not bring flowers at birth festivals, and strew them upon the cradle? Now she is holding her highest festival; for the Bier is the cradle of Heaven !
POPULATION OF THE CITIES OF THE WORLD.
LAW OF LIFE.
Live I, so live I,