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ON THE DEATH OF PARENTS.
tionate parents, who are now no more, the remembrance of their love can never cease to be interesting. We have pleasure in believing that we have derived from them our best qualities, or that we can refer to them our success in life. We look back with a melancholy satisfaction on their anxieties for us when we had no care of ourselves; on their solicitude to protect or to warn us; on the affection with which they supplied our want of experience; on the looks of kindness with which they gratified us; on the instruction and the discipline by which they endeavoured to form us for the path of life; on the fervent prayers by which they purified them; on the earnestness with which they spake to us of duties and of godliness, when they admonished us of the evils to come, and strove to fortify or instruct us by “ the labour of love ;' on the sanguine hopes which they delighted to indulge from the progress of our talents or from good conduct or success in the world, or from our duty and affection to them, or from our fidelity to the God of our fathers.
These are the most useful recollections of the human mind. It is the law of our nature, that the parents go down to the grave, and leave their children behind them. But if we can remember our parents with those happy impressions of their affection and fidelity, we have that from them which will interest and admonish us as long as we live. If we have been faithful to the influence of parental love, it will never lose its hold upon us.
Why should not each of us examine himself fairly on the subject? Has my conduct been at all worthy of the faithful discipline of my parents; or of their earnest admonitions to guide and to bless my youth ; or of the last impressive prayer which came from “the love which perished” in the grave? Do I feel the influence still of parental solicitude, to restrain me in the hour of temptation ; or to revive on my conscience my early impressions of godliness and of good works? Or, am I conscious that there is a motive to whatever is pure or estimable, ever returning to my thoughts from the sense of my obligation to justify the hopes, and to be worthy of the examples, which are now 'no more?
It is consolatory, indeed, to be able to answer these questions to the satisfaction of our own minds. If we give thanks to Heaven that those whose love has perished,” died in faith and patience, and “manded their children to keep the way of the Lord,” we must feel that the impressions, to which these questions relate, are rivetted on our hearts; and that for the influence which they preserve on our conduct, we shall one day answer to God.
Ah! what shall those men do, who know that they deliberately trample on the memorials of parents who loved them in the fear of God? The love which lost its influence before it could avail them, and of which they must feel themselves to have been unworthy, though it perished in the grave, shall rise
“ the judgment of the great day” to bear witness against them, “ except they repent." The thought is deep and awful. If they have any tenderness of mind, and God hath not forsaken them, it will reach the bottom of their hearts.
But it is impossible not to feel how much the recollection of parental love, which recals us to prayer or to penitence, ought to suggest to other men with regard to the love which has not yet perished. Their parents admonish them still, and pray for them. Surely this is the time to consider how precious the impressions ought to be of God and of duties, which are produced by their earnest and affectionate endeavours to be faithful to God and to them. “ My son,” said Solomon, “ keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother. Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.”
ON THE DEATH OF A FATHER.
[REV. DR. LINDSAY.] HE first feelings which rise in a good heart, on
the loss of a father who has lived and died in Christ, are feelings of grief. These will be more or less acute, according to the circumstances of the case, and the sensibility of the mourner. But they will be
experienced, in some degree or other, by every son and every daughter, who acknowledges the ties of nature or religion. Those who have long been the objects of our respect and affection cannot be lost, in any circumstances, without some meltings of sorrow. A thousand tender recollections come crowding upon us, which to a generous heart are irresistible. “ He is gone, who laboured for our sustenance, who watched for our safety, who studied for our improvement, who prayed for our success, who lived for our happiness. And shall he go without the tribute of a tear ? without any memorial of that gratitude and love, upon which he had so many urgent claims ! Could I ever again look up to Heaven with those eyes that refused to weep over the ashes of a father? Or will God continue to regard me as his child, if I am a stranger to those emotions, which are the surest indications of filial duty ?"
Such sentiments are congenial to every well-regulated mind. They are felt, even when a father is taken from us in circumstances of infirmity and pain, the continuance of which would render enjoyment hopeless to him, and be to us a source of perpetual anxiety. This, however, is a tone of grief which softens, without oppressing the heart; which inclines it to a devout acquiescence in the appointments of Divine wisdom, and prepares it for those reflections upon Providence and futurity, by which all its best affections are encouraged and invigorated.
But how much is filial sorrow deepened, where a father is cut off in the midst of strength and usefulness, whilst bis children were cherishing the fond expectation of being introduced into life under his paternal protection, and nursed into virtue by bis counsels and example! Here the tears of affection are embittered by the feeling of personal destitution ; by the pang of disappointed hope ; and by all those nameless apprehensions of future evil, which force themselves upon the trembling fancy in this season of his distress.
In such circumstances, the desponding orphan is ready to exclaim in anguish of soul, “ My father, where is he, and where am I without him? Lest in an unpropitious world, at a dangerous age, without experience, and without a guide, to struggle with difficulty, to become the sport of chance, and the child of misery!”
Thus speaks the heart, in the first moments of its deprivation. But pause, O mourner! and ask again, “ My father, where is he?" Not surely in the land of everlasting forgetfulness. Was he not a Christian? Has he not died in faith? and though absent from the body, is he not present with the Lord? You despair not of his happiness; why should you despair of your own safety? Have you forgotten those sources of consolation, to which he directed you, amidst the evils of mortality ? Did you never hear from his lips those lessons of resignation, which he had himself learnt in the school of Christ? If he could now address you, would not the purport of his exhortation be,“ Cease, my child, to arraign the wisdom, or distrust the goodness of that God, whose dispensations, even when they seem to be most grievous, are all mercy and truth to those that love him.