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THE DEATH OF A MOTHER.
"I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother." THE Social obligations of life are largely insisted upon in Scripture, especially those relating to the home circle; and where these are most observed, it will be allowed that the family is best conducted, and the loveliest feelings excited one towards another. Thus, of Abraham, God said, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him;" and of Joshua it is witnessed, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Such are the lives, whether male or female, that are deeply and affectionately remembered in death.
Taken by itself, the supposition of the text is, that of a loving mother, as sincerely loved in return, having finished a life complete in deeds of kindness to her family, at length lost to this world, to the inexpressible grief of all around her. Let us endeavour to contemplate the DEATH OF A MOTHER.
I. The relationship itself is of the most tender and endearing character.
Think of it from the period of the child's earliest recollection. The most tender watchfulness; the most loving and untiring care; going down with it to the gates of the grave-for a mother's affection is most seen in suffering; or, should she go first, spending her last breath in a prayer for its welfare. Such are a child's thoughts of a mother's love.
But higher still. Think of this relationship before the child's recollection. Ere it saw even a dimmed light the mother cared for it-constantly it engrossed her unceasing vigilance. She fed it; imparted to it her own nature; it was herself reproduced-love producing love. "Can a mother forget her sucking child?" To the dishonour of the exceptions be it said, "she may;" to the honour of humanity, however, that it is almost an impossibility. How much more endearing is this relationship when parental affection is directed and guided by God. The child is looked upon as a sacred trust to be trained for His glory. Where shall we find a more beautiful exhibition of sanctified love than in the
conduct and language of Hannah, "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him; therefore, also, I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord." And such is the feeling of every parent who has first given himself, or herself, unto the Lord.
The Scriptures are full of illustrations in reference to this relationship. The mother of Sisera could not believe any evil of her son, but impatiently awaited his return. The utterance of David has touched thousands and tens of thousands of spirits, "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, is one of the most beautiful pictures in the Book. The mother of Zebedee's children is an example of over-anxiety. And then think, in all its bearings, of that passage which assures us, "There stood by the cross of Jesus-his mother." Therein was maternal solicitude made perfect; and it met with an ample reward.
This relationship is never forgotten. A friend may be, but a mother never. A child may leave home at a very early age, or his parent may be removed from him; yet, after an interval of years and years, the picture instantly suggests the living form. The poet Cowper lost his mother at a period when we are in the habit of supposing that circumstances make little or no impression upon the childish mind; yet, upon the presentation of her portrait, fifty-three years afterwards, the following was his language: -"She died when I had completed my sixth year, yet I remember her well, and am an ocular witness of the great fidelity of the copy. I remember, too, a multitude of the maternal tendernesses which I received from her, and which have endeared her memory to me beyond expression.
"Oh that those lips had language! Life has passed
A man may lose himself in the world and in its pleasures, but how frequently the recollection of his mother's action and prayer is instrumental in bringing him back again to reason and to God. Even a mother-in-law may be so kind as to induce one to say, "Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee;" and what multitudes arise individually to call a mother
II. This relationship once dissolved, can never, in any earthly sense, be adequately replaced.
No, never! It is true there may be a secondary relationship. One may come into the family who shall be known as, and called mother, and whose every thought and wish shall be employed in efforts to bless the motherless. Friends and relatives, moreover, may do very much towards repairing the loss. This is more particularly true in the case of young children; and herein every principle of justice and equity requires that the child should be taught to love, reverence, and obey those who are placed over it for its benefit.
But still the maternal character cannot be replaced-it is an impossibility. The mother's feelings-her knowledge of the child's individuality-can never be realised by another. With her, knowledge of her darling is intuitive; and this cannot be true of any one else. She judges of the little one by her own standard, recognises in it her own feelings, and beholds her own likeness. Her measure would not, most probably, be true in reference to a child not her own, but over her own herein is the secret of her influence. The child may be too young-it is well if it is—to understand this. But others know it to be true; and in those who have the motherless confided to their keeping this thought will inspire a prayer for wisdom profitable to direct.
The relationship cannot be replaced, simply because the mother cannot return. A plurality of mothers, thank God, never can be! Cowper speaks of such a thing as existing, certainly; but those who have read his sonnet to Mrs. Unwin, and his poem "On the receipt of his mother's picture," cannot have failed of the conviction of the pre-eminent superiority of maternal affection. All nature utters and asserts this truth-a child can never have, can never love, but one mother. Dear and bereaved one, whose eye shall fall upon and read this page, if you believe your dead mother to be above, strive to go to her, for most decidedly-neither in her own nor in another's person-she shall never, nor would you wish it, return to you.
III. Sorrow at this event is of the most intense and overwhelming character.
Every consideration mentioned in reference to a mother's worth proves this. The wild agonising desolation of the first shock is indescribable. A divinity student—one used to calmer and more logical modes of expression—once wrote to a college companion in the following strain, "She's gone! It is true. My mother is no more." A minister of the Gospel, who but a short time ago was
bereaved of his father, his mother having died many years previously, remarked to a friend, "I feel it deeply, but not so deeply as the death of my mother." And multitudes of mourners will sympathise both with the student and the minister in their sayings.
Indeed, every circumstance is calculated to inspire and deepen the grief felt at the loss of a mother. The most intimate relative gone. The father left with a double service on hand. The eye looking in vain for a comforter. The heart fails-the body gives under the extraordinary pressure. All earthly things fail to solace, "I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother." But, blessed be the Lord, it is still true, "In thee the motherless findeth mercy."
IV. The Scriptures contain consolations, promises, and admonitions suitable to such a state.
Consolations.-Regarding a sainted mother we are permitted to reflect, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord." Jesus saith, "I am the resurrection and the life." "She is not dead, but sleepeth." "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." Beloved mourner, you have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before you!
Promises.—“ I will not leave you comfortless-orphans: I will come to you." I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted." Exceedingly great and precious are the promises unto thee, thou afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted!" 'If thou seek Him, he will be found of thee." Have faith in God-like faith to David's when he said, "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up."
Admonitions." Seek thou the God of thy fathers, and serve Him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind." "Honour
thy father"-and with double affection now that thy mother is gathered to her rest-" that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Children, obey your parent in the Lord: for this is right." That you may be fitted for the death, accept the invitation, and pray God to enable you to live the life of the righteous-then you shall live and die in peace.
How can we better conclude this paper than with the beautiful lines of Dr. Collyer, on the " Funeral of a Mother:”—
"God of the spirits of all flesh,
Behold thy servants here,
With bleeding hearts and streaming eyes
Surround a mother's bier.
"But thou hast to thy people said—
"Remember now thy promise, Lord,
Here let it be fulfill'd:
No word but thine, in such an hour,
“What shall we say to these things? If God be for us,
who can be against us?” 'Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
J. W. S.
BY THE REV. E. W. SHALDERS, ROCHESTER.
"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases," &c.-PSALM ciii. 3-5.
I HAVE proposed to you, as one method of stirring your hearts to grateful feeling, that you should set before your minds your great mercies as they strike you in the mass, and then review them in detail. I might have given weight to this advice, by appealing to the example of the Psalmist in these verses. Having sounded the trumpet-call, and awaked his soul for the duty of praise, he begins to recite the chief benefits he has received at the hand of the Lord. The enumeration is highly suggestive. Each recorded benefit covers many pages in the
history of his past life. Iniquity forgiven, infirmity removed, peril averted, joys lavishly bestowed, wants satisfied, capacities and energies renewed-such a catalogue is almost a perfect summary of blessings. Each item is, as it were, a magic mirror, wherein the scattered memories of the past are gathered into one harmonious and richlycoloured picture. In exploring the wide field of nature, men divide the work. Each labourer proposes to himself a distinct line of investigation. The geologist confines his attention to the structure of the earth's