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And hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.—Col. i. 18.
All pain, that is passing, and not perpetual, is, in that circumstance, attended with great consolation. This is true of pain, whether its seat be the body or mind; whether it be a dead, or worse still, a living grief; the pangs of disease, the lingering sufferings of a common, or the terrible shock of a violent death. It will soon be over, says a man ; and, with that, he bares his quivering limb for the surgeon's knife; or, eyeing the tall black gallows, walks with firm step and erect mein to stand beneath the dangling noose. Saying to himself, It will soon be over, he closes his eyes, casts away the handkerchief, and takes the leap into eternity.
This feeling enters as an element into Christian as well as common heroism. I knew a precious saint of God who was often cast into the furnace, but always, like real gold, to shine the brighter for the fire; and who, having now left her sorrows all behind her, has joined the company of whom the angel said, " These are they which come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore," in the front rank as the highest peers of heaven, " are they before the throne 01 God." The courage with which she met adversity— one trial after another, shock succeeding shock, billow bursting on the back of billow—was as remarkable as the strength with which, though a bruised reed, she seemed to bear it. Where did her great strength lie? The grand secret of that serene demeanor and uncomplaining patience was, no doubt, a sense of the divine favor. The peace of God kept her heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Yet her sorrows found a solace, life's bitterest hour a sweetness, also, in the simple couplet that was often on her lips—
"Come what, come may:
This prospect of relief, this not distant end of suffering, has often divested even the grave of its horrors. "There'll be no sorrow there." Ah! that sometimes turns our eyes with a longing look on its deep dreamless sleep. Supporting and restraining them by his grace, God with one hand keeps his people up under their sorrows, and with the other keeps them back from anticipating their appointed time. They do not rush on death, nor go unsummoned to the bar of judgment. Unless reason give way, and responsibility cease, they wait his time, and bide it as their own; holding thenpost like a sentinel who, however cold the night, or fierce the storm, or thick the battle, refuses to desert it till he is duly relieved. They say with Job, All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Yet, with whatever bravery trials are met, and with whatever patience they are borne, there are times when the prospect of relief, which even the grave affords, is most welcome. An object of aversion to light-hearted childhood, and to him who is bounding away over a sunny path thickly flowered with the hopes of spring, the grave is not so to many who have lived to see these fair flowers wither away, beneath whose slow and lonely steps the joys of other days lie strewed, like dead leaves in autumn. Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. There is no sorrow for them in the tomb, or beyond it. Thus, from the grassy sod, which no troubled bosom heaves, sorrow plucks blossoms of refreshing odors; thus, weary life grows strong by feeding on the thought of death ; thus, to that grave which remorselessly devours the happiness of the ungodly, Christian faith can apply the language of the strong man's riddle, saying with Sampson, when he found the lion that he-had rent with a hive of honey within its skeleton ribs, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.
Hope may flatter in this common solace of worldlv men, that the longest road has a turning. But, turn or not turn, God's people know that it has a termination; and that the weary journey, with its heaviest trials, shall end in rest. But for this, thousands had sunk beneath their griefs. And when calamity came with the shock of an earthquake, and reason sat stunned and stupified on her tottering throne, how often has that blessed prospect restrained man from turning the wish that he were dead into a daring act; and casting life away from him as a burden—one greater than he could bear.
There have been such cases. I remember in one a scene never to be forgotten. It surpassed anything it had been my fortune ever to witness in the most terrible shapes of mortal agony, and anything also which I had ever seen of the power of Christian endurance. To be hanged, or burned, or broken on the wheel, as the martyrs were—some brief hours of torture, followed by an eternity of rest—how the sufferer would have welcomed that! His was no such enviable, happy fortune. Death struck him—like a tree, which first withers at the top—in the head; and, in excruciating sufferings protracted over weary years, he suffered the pain of a hundred deaths. His endurance was heroic, and never failed but once. Once, for pity's sake, for the love she bore him, he implored his wife to tear out his eyes—an expression of impatience, recalled as soon as uttered; regretted on earth, and forgiven in heaven. Now, never as by that bed, where I have seen him turn, and twist, and writhe, like a trodden worm, have I felt so much the power of the consolation of which I speak. Happy was it that religion was not then to seek; and that, beside a wife struck dumb with grief, and little children who stood still and saddened by the sight of a father's agony, I could bend over a pillow, wet with the sweat of suffering, and implore him to remember that these pains were not eternal, and that the Saviour who loved him, and whom he loved, would, ere long, come to take him to himself. In such a scene what comfort in the words—
"Time and the hour runs through the roughest day."
Nor is this unscriptural comfort. The transient nature of all earthly trials is one important ingredient of that cordial with which Paul comforts sorrowing believers—Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Nay, may not that have been poured by the angel's hand into the very cup of redeeming sorrows? When our Lord was alone in the garden, and death's cold shadow had begun to fall, and the gloom of the approaching storm was settling down upon his soul, an angel sped from heaven to strengthen him. He finds him prostrate before God. His face is on the ground. In an agony of supplication he has thrown himself at his Father's feet; and, shrinking from the pains of the cross, he cries, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. At that eventful moment, with the salvation of the world hung on its issues, may not the angel, reverently approaching this awful and affecting scene, have strengthened onr Saviour, and revived his fainting spirit with this comfort, Lord of Glory, drink; the cup is bitter, but not bottomless? It is no presumption to fancy that, pointing to the moon as she rode in heaven, he had reminded our Redeemer that ere she had set and risen again, his pangs should all be over; and that when next she rose, it should be to shine upon an empty cup. and an empty cross, and Roman sentinels keeping watch beside his sleeping form and peaceful tomb. Something of this, indeed, our Lord seems to intimate in the words he addressed to the traitor's band—" This is your hour, and the power of darkness." They may bind these hands; but they shall soon be free to rend the strongest barriers of the tomb, leaving him to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. With the foul shame of thorns, with spitting, and with scornful rejection, they may hide his glory; but it shall burst forth, like the sun above his dying head, from the shadow of a strange eclipse. Let them put forth their utmost power; its triumph shall be brief—shut up within the limits of a passing hour.