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THE FEARFUL FUNERAL.
T was on the morning of a cold chilly day in the month of April, that I was thus interrupted in my studies by one of my children: "Pa, there is a queer-looking man
in the parlour, who wants to see you.” On entering the room, my eye lit upon a man who was queer-looking indeed, because his dress, face, and whole appearance pro
claimed him a drunkard. He rose on my entering the room, and with that constrained and awkward politeness, amounting to obsequiousness, which the half-intoxicated often assume, he thus addressed me :
“I come, sir, to ask you to attend a funeral this afternoon." “ Who," said I, “is dead?”
“A friend of mine," he replied, “by the name of S, and as he has no particular friends here, I thought I would come and ask you.”
“Where did he live?” I again asked.
“Why," said he," he lived no place in particular, except at the groggery of Mr. H-" This Mr. H— was the keeper of a groggery of the very lowest character, which had often been represented as a nuisance. I again asked, “Of what disease did he die ?”
Why,” said he, dropping his countenance, and lowering his voice almost to a whisper, “I hardly know; but between you and me, he was a pretty hard drinker."
After a few more inquiries, I dismissed him, promising to attend the funeral at five o'clock.
At the hour appointed, I went to the house of death. There were ten or twelve men present, and, with two exceptions, they were all drunkards. I went up to the coarse pine coffin, and gazed upon a corpse, not pale and haggard, but bloated, and almost as black as the raven's wing. There were two brothers present, both inebriates, and as unfeeling as if the body of a beast lay dead before them. From the undertaker I gained the following narrative as to the deceased.
He was the son of respectable but irreligious parents, who, instead of spending the Sabbath in the house of God, either spent it in idleness or in doing “their own work." Whilst yet young, he became a Sabbath vagrant-joined profane companions—acquired the habit of drinking; and so rapidly grew the love of drink into a ruling passion, that at mature years he was a confirmed drunkard. His parents died, and the portion of property that fell to his lot was squandered. “And for years,” said my informant, "he has been drunk every day.”
“But how," I asked, " did he get the money to pay for the
“He has been employed,” he replied, " by Mr. H—to shoot squirrels in the woods, and to catch water-rats in the marshes; and for the skins of these he has been paid in whisky. Nobody would see him starve; and he usually slept in a garret over the groggery. Yesterday he was taken sick, very sick, in the groggery. Mr. H, instead of giving him a bed, turned him out of the house. He was then in a dying state; and, at a short distance from the house, fell in the street. He was taken into a hut, and laid on the floor, where he died in less than an hour. The corpse was carried to a barn. This poor but pious family, hearing the circumstances, took the corpse to their house, and have made these preparations for its burial.”
I read a portion of the Scriptures, and for a few moments discoursed to them on the effects of sin. I dwelt on the hardening and fearful effects of intemperance; but there was no feeling. I prayed with them; but there was no reverence. They all gazed with a vacant stare, as if their minds had evaporated, and as if the fiery liquid had burned out their consciences. They were obviously past feeling. The coffin was closed and placed in the hearse. We proceeded with slow and solemn pace to the house appointed for all living; and a feeling of shame came over me, as I passed along the street, to be followed by half a dozen pair of inveterate topers. The coffin was placed upon the bier, and was carried by four drunkards, who were actually reeling under their load, to a secluded spot in the grave-yard, where, without a tear being shed, without a sigh being uttered, it was covered up under the cold clods of the valley; and the two brothers went back to the house of death, the grog-shop, to drink, and to die a similar death, and to go early down to the same ignoble grave. The others, after lingering for a few moments, as if arrested by the thought that the grave would soon be their house, followed. I stood for a short time over the grave, after all had retired, pondering the deeply impressive scenes through which I had so rapidly passed. “And is this,” said I to myself, “the grave of the drunkard ?” And the prayer almost unconsciously rose from my heart to Heaven,“ O God, save my children's children to their latest generation from making such a contribution as this to the congregation of the dead!”
As I retired from the graveyard, the following lessons were deeply impressed on my mind :
How great is the responsibility of parents! With what moral certainty they form the character of their children after the model of their own! Careless and irreligious themselves, their children copy their example; but because destitute of their firmness of character, they yield to every temptation, until they can commit sin with greediness. Were the parents of this young man, who was laid down in a drunkard's grave, on which no tear of sorrow has ever fallen, truly and consistently pious, how different might have been his life and his death! How many parents lay the foundation for the temporal and eternal ruin of their children !
How degrading is the vice of intemperance! It ruins soul, body, and character. And by elevating a mean appetite above reason, and conscience, and judgment, it degrades man to the level of the brute. Here was a young man, of respectable parentage, who, by taking glass after glass, became a drunkard. Habitual intemperance unfitted him for
business. He became the tenant of a low groggery, the fumes from which, of a winter evening, were sickening ;-to earn a glass of whisky, he would spend the day, and sometimes the night, in the salt marshes catching rats. When no longer able to earn his glass, he was turned out to die. By the charity of the pious was his dead body saved from exposure, and by the hands of drunkards he was carried to an ignoble grave, unwept and unregretted. And all this is only the degradation which it brings on the body! It is an immutable law of Jehovah, that no drunkard shall ever inherit the kingdom of God !
THE ANGELS' SONG.
(Luke ii. 14.)
That glorious song of old,
To touch their harps of gold:
From heaven's all-gracious King :-
To hear the angels sing.
With peaceful wings unfurl'd;
O’er all the weary world :
They bend on hovering wing:
The blessèd angels sing.
Whose forms are bending low-
With painful steps and slow;
Come swiftly on the wing:
And hear the angels sing.
By prophets seen of old,
Shall come the time foretold,
The Prince of Peace their King;
Which now the angels sing.
T is very common to hear people speak of having “made their peace with God.” One day, in a country churchyard, just after the dead whom we came to bury had been lowered into the grave, my eye fell on a neigh
bouring tombstone. The name and occupation and age of the deceased I quite forget; but I remember the wellenclosed quiet churchyard, with the river Tay flowing close
by, and yet more do I remember the following lines on that tombstone which drew my gaze,
" Mourn not, dear friends, for my decease,
For with my God I made my peace." Now, there is at best something very suspicious in this mode of speaking regarding the soul's salvation. Did that man intend to say that he had himself pacified God? Had he, by any of his doings, or by all of them together, made up the quarrel between the Holy God and himself the sinner? Did he mean to say-or when you, reader,"use the same language, do you mean to implythat
you have repaired the wrongs, made up the breach, atoned for the insults, which destroyed peace between you and God? There is deep self-righteousness here. In all such language there is the expression of self-complacency: as if you had the merit of being a Jacob (Gen. xxxii. 13), or an Abigail (1 Sam. xxv. 18), whose gifts and presents had cooled the resentment of the offended one, and won him over to your side.
The word of God declares, on the other hand, that it is God who makes peace for us, God in Christ; we contributed nothing to the peace-making. “Christ made peace by the blood of His cross, says Col. i. 20, and so He became “our peace.” (Eph. i. 14). Before God could be at peace with us, there needed to be satisfaction rendered to His injured justice and holy law; there needed to be atonement made for the sins of the sinner. This satisfaction, this atonement, was given wholly by Christ, God-man; we gave no help whatsoever. “The chastisement of our peace was upon Him” (Isa. liii. 5); all the punishment which must needs be suffered if our peace was to be made, was borne by Him; and so, “by His stripes we are healed.” In Luke ii. 14, the angels sing,
Peace on earth,” and ch. xix. 38, the great multitude on Olivet sing, "Peace in heaven;" and in both cases, the song is sung with reference to Jesus only, as the procurer, the purchaser, the maker of peace.
You may object, that there is one (only one) passage where God deems to ask us to “make peace;” viz., Isa. xxvii. 5. But the context explains the clause most clearly; for it says;
“ Let him take hold of my strength that he may make peace with me.” The sinner is summoned to take what God offers, in order to finding peace; the sinner must accept the outstretched arm of the mighty
Redeemer, as Peter took hold of his Master's arm when ready to sink and perish. It is exactly as we find in Ps. 1. 5, where saints are spoken of as having “made a covenant with God; ” which was done simply by accepting what God had arranged for them.
“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. v. 1). How clear it is that our peace is made by no doing, feeling, suffering of ours. The ground of it is the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which God can be just while justifying the ungodly, and we in believing this find or take the
Suppose,” said one, “I were to go to a provision shop, and buy for you all that would relieve and supply your wants, and should pay for it, and tell you to go and fetch it, would you need to take any money with you?" "No ; it has been paid for." "Would
you need to make any promise about paying back at some future time?'
"No; I was sent to get it for nothing." It is even so with pardon of sin and our peace with God. Go for it to Christ; do not attempt to bribe, or persuade, God to be at peace with you. Speak and think of taking peace, but never more speak or think of making peace.-A. Bonar.
"DIG A WELL." T is related that a disciple of Mohammed came to him
one day, and said, “Oh, prophet, my mother is dead; what is the best alms I can bestow for her good ?” The prophet replied, “Water. Dig a well for her,
and give water for the thirsty.” The man did so, and said, “This well is for my mother."
The idea was an excellent one. Not that the well could
do the mother any good; but in that thirsty desert land it would be the best monument for her that could be erected : it answered the twofold purpose of perpetuating her remembrance, and of giving water to the weary and parched travellers. Thus “ Jacob's Well” for so long a time has not only reminded pilgrims of the patriarch, but refreshed them with water.
The world is a spiritul desert. But there is a Fountain from which every soul may quench its thirst. Our Saviour said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me." This is the Fountain ; and they who labour to bring souls to Christ, “dig a well.”
Would you perpetuate the remembrance of a precious mother ? Dig a well.” In her name set apart a fund for the advancement of the Saviour's kingdom.
Do you wish some enduring monument of a dear departed child ? "Dig a well.” Set apart for the spread of the gospel that which would have been devoted to the maintenance and education of the child. Better expend it thus than in rearing costly monuments of marble.