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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
"But thou hast to thy people said-
"Remember now thy promise, Lord,
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.
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
BY THE REV. E. W. SHALDERS, ROCHESTER.
"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases," &c.-PSALM ciii. 3-5.
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
crust, and labours to extract from it the history of the changes through which it has passed. The botanist confines his attention to the vegetation which clothes and adorns the earth's surface. Another part of the great field of natural history is reserved for him who seeks to render an account of the various forms of animal life, and he, in turn, calls to his aid the physiologist, the anatomist, and the chemist. Each traverses the field of nature with a different design, and returns with a distinct set of facts to pour into the lap of human knowledge. Far more knowledge of the power and wisdom of the Creator is acquired in this way, than were every investigator to attempt a complete history of all the various objects comprised within even a small part of the field of nature. In exploring the wider field of God's blessings to man, we may adopt a similar method. Now memory may travel life's path in search of iniquities forgiven; now again for facts, which prove Him Jehovah Rophi-the Lord my healer; or, retracing our steps, we may note our great deliverances in the Valley of the Shadow of Death; or, the days when we have been on the sunny hill-tops of delight. It is whilst engaged in contemplations of this kind, that we may expect the Lord will meet us, and crown His mercies by teaching us some new strain of the melody of thanksgiving.
I cannot make such a review
as this for you. All I can do is to offer some observations suggested by the Psalmist's catalogue of benefits, which may be help
ful to you in making it for yourselves.
"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities." Why is this first in the catalogue?
In recounting the acts of a benefactor, a man will observe some order in his tale. It may be the order of time, or it may be the order of value. He may begin with the earliest he can remember; or strike at once his highest note in celebration of that which he esteems the chief among them all. In a studied composition, intended to produce impression upon others, the good wine is generally kept until last; in the spontaneous effusion of a full heart, that which is most prized, and therefore uppermost in thought, is sure to come out first. David had been healed of diseases, his life had been redeemed from destruction, loving kindness and mercy had crowned him many times before the day when he first knew the blessedness of the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. But it is of forgiveness he speaks first. He esteemed that his chief benefit. Without it, all the rest had had no charm, and awakened no gratitude. It is somewhat singular that Addison's hymn, though evidently suggested by this psalm, follows a different order in surveying all God's mercies. It takes us back to the days of unconscious infancy, and to the slippery paths of youth, to excite our gratitude before it bids us sing,
"When worn with sickness, oft hast thou
With health renewed my face; And, when in sin and sorrow sunk, Revived my heart with grace."
It is no reproach upon the author of that hymn to say, that the order observed in the Psalm bespeaks a tenderer conscience, and a devouter gratitude. Character is often shown in little things. We may play a part passingly well, by imitation of the more striking features appropriate to it; but only the truth of nature can secure perfect accuracy in details. Happy is the man who, among God's benefits, reckons the forgiveness sins the first and most precious. Do you, my readers? You need not have sounded the depths of sin with the plummet of your own experience, to think thus of it. The blessedness of forgiveness may be as truly learnt in following hard after God, as when it comes to us struggling in the miry clay. Light restored gives as much joy to those that have been blind for a season, as light bestowed gives to those who have been blind from their birth. Whether you have been forgiven much or little, so long as you were unforgiven, your soul was not at peace with God. The child's feeling of loving confidence was not possible to you, so long as guilt stopped the way between the outgoings of your soul and God. Your Christian life dates from the hour of your first forgiveness. Your first sacrifice of accepted thanksgiving is no older. Until you were reconciled to God, His benefits only added to your responsibility, and aggravated the guilt of your hostility. All God's blessings intend our good, but when they fall upon those who are not right with Him, they work their ruin. Our first pardon, then, is the first blessing which comes a blessing, and
remains a blessing. It is our first portion of the riches which bring no sorrow. It is right, then, that the first expression of our gratitude should commemorate the mercy that forgiveth all our iniquities.
There are other considerations which enhance the value of this blessing.
It is a pledge of all other blessings. A pardoned sinner is a child of God; a child of God is a brother of Christ; a brother of Christ is an heir of heaven. When the blood of Christ is sprinkled upon the conscience, glory is as sure as though the hand already held the victor's palm, and the head were already crowned. On earth, the peace of God, which a pardoned sinner enjoys, speaks of rest in heaven; in heaven, the joy of the redeemed looks back for inspiration to pardon on earth. Pardon-redemption by blood, is the burden of the new song. Until, then, we sing that song with an unfaltering tongue, let us see that the subject of it give depth and tenderness to all our praise.
Again, this blessing of forgiveness was purchased for us at a costly price.
It had never been ours had God spared His only Son, instead of freely giving Him up for us all. When He created the world and man upon it, and endowed man with innumerable benefits, His treasurehouse of wisdom and power was still full. There was more if needed. But when He gave His Son, it was His only-begotten. After that gift, there was nothing left, for in that He gave Himself. "Great is the mystery of godliness;