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CHAPTER III.

LIGHT IN THE DARK.

"Why do the loveliest of earth

The soonest pass away,-
Like radiant flowers of summer birth,

The earliest to decay?

They come, like angel forms, to bless

Our visions for a while;
They make our daily burden less,

And half our tears beguile.

They grow so deeply in our hearts,

We make them idols there;
Till God, in love, asunder parts,

The ties which bind them here."

“The Christian religion,” exclaims the proud sceptic, “is full of mysteries." We grant this: but we affirm that its very mysteries are amongst its chiefest glories. A religious system without them would most palpably develope its human origin; but one which includes so many things which are infinitely above and beyond man, at once asserts its divinity, and

proclaims its author God. That, therefore, which the enemy of the Bible urges as an objection to a personal and hearty embracement of Christianity, we consider as one of the confirmations of its unearthly origin, and one of the principles of its inherent grandeur.

But mysteries are not confined to religion. There are many in nature which no science can solve, and no philosophy explain. Man, too, is an incomprehensible mystery to himself. And there are mysteries also in the government of the world, which are patent to him who watches the change and current of passing events.

If, say some, there is an all-wise and omnipotent President of the World, why is the “cruel sunshine thrown by fortune on a fool,” whilst the virtuous are oft left to positive indigence? Why is seraphic loveliness and exquisite suffering so frequently companioned together, whilst the wicked “ are not in trouble as other men?” Why, too, are great, bad men permitted to live to a robust and hearty old age, whilst the world's brightest lights and best benefactors die prematurely? And why have we the startling phenomenon of the death of infants, whose brief history is but an epitome of humanity—a short dream of life? We cannot tell. God, and God alone, knows, and “He giveth none account of His matters.” Man has often attempted to reconcile these—to us irreconcilable things—with the existence and government of the Divine Being, but has generally left the enigma where he found it, or, rather, made mystery more mysterious by his erroneous conclusions. And yet, although our great ignorance prevents our giving anything like a full and correct explanation of the divine procedure, we may ever rest assured that the same glorious Being who speaks as a God in the Book of Life, will act as a God in the superintendence and economy of the world. We see only one side—and that but dimlyof life's great scene, and we judge of God's designs by half-finished experiments. Could we see the other and bright side, and judge from the commanding position of the eternal world, we should then behold light chasing away darkness-orderspringing out of chaos—everlasting felicity resulting from terrestrial sorrow; and, doubtless, should exclaim, in the majestic language of inspiration—"The Lord reigneth ; let

the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne.”—PSALM XCVII.

1, 2.

*

* * “ I'm apt to think the man That could surround the sum of things, and spy The heart of God, and secrets of His empire, Would speak but love: with him the bright result Would change the hue of intermediate scenes, And make one thing of all theology."

It is a note-worthy fact, that the most eminent mysteries recorded in the Bible, have been blended with the experienee, and associated with the history of the most eminent saints. Such were regarded as unmistakable and distinguished proofs of divine regard : “for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth,”-HEB. XII. 6— by extraordinary, as well as ordinary afflictive dispensations. It was a very mysterious exaction made by God upon “the Father of the Faithful,” when he commanded him to immolate the bright and hopeful scion of his house--the son of promise. But inexplicable and great as the sacrifice was, Abraham yielded

a ready and sanctified obedience to the stern request; he bowed submissively to the strange ordination of Heaven, and his Christian conduct is memorialized by the Holy Spirit on the imperishable tablet of divine truth, as an example worthy of the notice and imitation of Christian parents to the latest ages. This mysterious part of Abraham's history is its sublimest feature. Now, when God issues the imperative command for the immediate surrender of those bright ornaments of our homes, which He kindly lent us only for a season, He has reasons for so doing of the highest importance-reasons which concern His own glory, and the eternal safety and happiness of the tried disciple. He never permits the poisonous shafts of death to fly at random. And if the bereaved believer will but listen to "the still small voice" succeeding the driving storm, or to the monitions of the prophet in his inner nature, much of the mystery of the premature death of infants will be cleared away, and he will learn that they die for his personal and everlasting benefit; nay, more, that they die for the benefit of the world.

We will now specify a few of the probable

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