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preacher,” how vain earth is, and how empty are its brightest joys. They awake up from their dreamy state, like the repentant Solomon, to find “ the world grown hollow," and “ vanity” stamped broad and deep on all their fancied pleasures. True and lasting happiness is not to be found in an idolized world, but in a crucified world. If we strike the roots of an inordinate attachment into this fading and changeable condition, the hand of a merciful and chastening God will be felt, loosening the tendrils of the alienated heart, which are found clasped round a forbidden object, and binding its strong affections around Himself.
Then the last, but not the least, design in the economy of divine dispensation is to ripen and fit the soul for heaven—to allure and fix the heart where its everlasting treasures are. And what more likely and better plan can Omnipotent Love and Infinite Wisdom adopt, as an instrumental means, to secure such a sanctified and glorious result, than the death of our dear children? Each infant taken to heaven exerts a powerful influence in weaning Christian parents from the carnal and the perishable, and is as a strong cord to bind their hearts to “ the things which are not seen.” The spirits of departed children are gone to heaven to woo us thither. Parts of ourselves have crossed Jordan, and now dwell in the “land flowing with milk and honey” — the region of “everlasting spring” and “never-withering flowers.” They have literally taken possession of the “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.”—1 PETER I, 4, 5. They are forerunners into glory-forepledges that we shall stand in our lot at the end of the days. When the shepherds of large flocks of sheep cannot succeed in separating the dams from the rest, because their young ones are among them, they will carry away the lambs in their arms to a better pasture, and then the dams willingly follow. Ah!“the Good Shepherd” has often to adopt the same method! To separate His chosen ones from the rest of the world, He is compelled to carry away the lambs of the human flock in His warm bosom to heaven; and then bereaved parents gladly
follow. The poet has drawn a very beautiful and touching simile from this well-known practice of pastoral life :
“ A shepherd long had sought in vain
To call a wandering sheep;
Through dangers thick and deep.
But yet the wanderer stood aloof,
And still refused to come;
Or turn to seek her home.
At last the gentle shepherd took
Her little lambs from view!
She turned-and followed too!"
In all the chastening dispensations of our Heavenly Father there is one consideration we too frequently lose sight of, the importance and magnitude of which we cannot at present grasp, but which will be gloriously actualized in our future and eternal condition. St. Paul states it thus—“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”—2 COR. IV. 17. O, our song of immortality—if our earthly trials and bereavements have been
sanctified-will, in heaven, be so much the more sweet and rapturous, our thrones so much the more elevated and glorious, and our diadems so much the more bright and splendid ! The late Dr. Payson, when engaged in paying pastoral visits to his spiritual flock, happened one day to enter “the house of mourning,” and there he found a disconsolate mother, whose darling child had just been “taken from the evil to come,” whom he thus addressed :—“Suppose, now, some one was making a beautiful crown for you to wear; and you knew it was for you; and that you were to receive it, and wear it as soon as it should be done. Now, if the maker of it were to come, and, in order to make the crown more beautiful and splendid, were to take some of your jewels to put into it, should you be sorrowful and unhappy, because they were taken away for a little while, when you knew they were gone to make up your crown?” The sorrowpierced heart of the mourning parent was at once quieted and soothed by this exquisitelybeautiful and simple illustration. It is by the dark seasons of the night which is far spent, that we are prepared for the dazzling effulgence of the eternal day. The undisturbed calm of the celestial world will be valued so much the more after the boisterous and destructive blasts of this; and the perpetual companionships and deep joys of the world to come will be the better prized after the bitter disappointments and painful ruptures of this lower estate !