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above? What mother, however loving, can feel her sorrow to be so strong as to counterbalance the joy which has accrued to her beloved child who has accepted the loving invitation “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. xix. 14). Since all were made for heaven and all desire to go there—let us think of death as the summons to call us home, and of all the little children who have gone
not lost but gone before.”
They are happy, “wherefore should we fast? Can we bring them back again ? We may go to them, but they cannot return to us.”
These thoughts have been brought to our mind by the departure to heaven, during the past week, of the daughter of two of the members of this congregation. Emily Pickering was known to us all as a Sunday school scholar and a member of the choir. She has now gone to heaven, leaving behind her a large circle of friends who loved her for her kind and affectionate disposition. Her departure at the early age of fourteen will cause a void in many hearts, but she has left behind her many pleasant memories. To be absent from the body must with her be to be present with the Lord.
She has left a world where the cup of life is one of mingled joy and sorrow, to enter upon one where “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Rev. xxi. 4).
She has left many friends behind her—but we must be certain that ere this she will have found many new ones in the better land.
Her place in the class is vacant—but we doubt not that she will now receive the higher instruction given by the wise angels who attend upon
young Her voice is no longer heard in our choir—but she has not ceased to sing
There she stands amid the choir which numbers ten thousand times ten thousand voices, helping to swell those strains of heavenly music in which the redeemed children of God seek to praise and glorify His most Holy Name.
We cannot see her—yet she still lives, in a substantial form, in the full enjoyment of every faculty which is capable of contributing to her happiness, a beautiful angel, in a beautiful home, in a beautiful world. “Wherefore should we now fast? Can we bring her back again ? We may go to her, but she shall not return to us.”
There may be something really saddening and terrifying about the death of those who, having arrived at mature years, have neglected to
obey the warning voice of the Lord; but there is nothing terrible about the death of the young. There cannot be even a doubt as to their welfare—for them “to die is gain” (Phil. i. 21). Let us, therefore, dry up our tears, and seek to regard them as living and happy. Those whom we have loved are not far away from us—their holy influence still remains, and is for ever being fostered. When in our quiet moments sweet and cheering thoughts, and pure and good desires, enter into our minds to induce us to strive to approach the realms of the blest, then we may be sure that we are communing with the loved ones who, having passed on before us, have entered into the rest for which we yet labour. The angels of heaven are God's messengers, "ministering unto them that are heirs of salvation” (Heb. i. 14); whispering to souls that are oppressed with trouble and care of the blessedness of heaven and the necessity of preparing for its enjoyment. Let us not think that those who have gone to the unseen world have ceased to care for us, or that it is no longer in our power to minister to their happiness. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke xv. 7); and since each act of repentance on the part of man adds to the joy of the angels above, we each may, by casting away sin and striving after heaven, do something to make them feel happier, to make their laugh more ringing, and their song more joyous.
This world and the next are intimately connected : our bodies belong to earth and our souls to heaven; and just as the soul permeates the body does the spiritual world commingle with the natural world. At times we are unconscious or forgetful of this close association ; yet we may confirm the fact of its existence by reflecting upon the rise of thoughts and desires in the mind, whose source cannot be otherwise accounted for. All good thoughts come from heaven, and more especially when we are reading the Word with feelings of faith and love, can we discern the angels of heaven descending to hold communion with us, and again ascending to elevate our minds to the regions of bliss. Then indeed we repudiate the notion that heaven is a far distant land, and that those who leave this world must wait in the cold grave for an unknown period of time ere they can partake of its many sweet pleasures. We regard the parted ones as being already angels, spiritual beings in human form and with human faculties, for we feel that a great truth was expressed in the words, “God is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt. xxii. 32).
“ Then very near seem its pearly gates,
And sweetly its harpings fall,
And longs for the angel call.
And the veil is rent away,
To the realms of endless day.
Shall open at once in bliss,
Ere the “farewell " be hushed in this.
Need we say more? Before she went away, every care that could be bestowed was lovingly and lavishly given by a multitude of willing hands; but the Good Father, in His infinite wisdom, overrules our desires, and in His Divine Providence took her to Himself. Surely the Lord knows best; and since His Word assures us that “the righteous are taken away from the evil to come” (Isaiah lvii. 1), "wherefore should we now fast ? Can we bring her back again? We may go to her, but she shall not return to us.”
Let this then be the consolation of those whose little ones have been called home—we may go to them. Think you, if we were sufficiently alive to the fact that each of the dear ones who have entered upon their rest, may become an additional link in that golden chain of love which connects us with heaven, should we be so negligent of heaven and strive so little after its attainment?
My dear friends, let this bereavement teach us forcibly the great lesson which the Word of God is constantly placing before us, that we ourselves ought to prepare for the great change which will come to us we know not how soon. A week prior to her departure their seemed no more probability of her receiving the final summons of life than that any of us should receive it. Now she is gone. Our everyday experience teaches us that "in the midst of life we are in death,” and that we cannot abide long in this world.
“ Beneath our feet and o'er our head
Is equal warning given ;
Above us is the heaven.”
This should not cause us any alarm, but should induce us to prepare. The removal of every friend is a repetition of the Gospel warning, “Be ye ready also, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh” (Luke xii. 40).
If this event should be the means of inducing us to increase our efforts after the home of the happy, it will have served a double end in the promotion of her happiness and ours. The Lord intends this and this alone—ascending to heaven the freed spirit beckons us to follow her.
Then, “wherefore should we fast ? Can we bring her back again? We may go to her, but she shall not return to us." She is safe in the hands of the Saviour, and we would not, even if we could, snatch her from his embrace. Rather would we wait patiently and labour earnestly until the Angel of Death calls upon us to rejoin her in the streets of the City of which she delighted to sing,
“ Jerusalem the golden,
With milk and honey blest,
The home of the oppressed.
What joys await us there
What light beyond compare.
There shaH be no more thirst,
No longer ought accursed.
Thy walls with jasper blaze,
In thee unite their rays.
Oh ! paradise of joy,
Our smiles have no alloy ;
Is balm to the distressed,
SPIRITUAL PRAYERS. The man who is reborn, like a tree, produces leaves, next blossoms, and finally
for he produces such things as are of intelligence, which are signified in the Word by leaves ; next such things as are of wisdom, which are signified by blossoms ; and lastly, such things as are of life, namely the goods of love and charity, which are signified by fruits. (A. C. 5115).
Wooed by the gentle breath of spring,
I saw the bare branch quicken, And work itself a lovely veil,
As the bright leaves did thicken; And my eyes, weary of the Winter's reign,
Did gain, thereon, a higher power of seeingRejoicing did I view a new-born earth,
And feel myself as 'twere a new-born being.
In the warm Summer's golden course
I saw the leaves progressing,
All-jocund and caressing.
They gave-and wisdom to my soul as dower,
Prolonged through many a bright and dewy hour.
Now Autumn over fields and woods
Rules mellow, soft, and peaceful ;
Bends in an arch most graceful.
Revealed here in heaven's own perfect order :
Abound within thy church's sacred border.
And if thou, Lord, extend'st my years,
Still let me trace this story,
Man can approach thy glory.
That when my spirit leaves this home terrestrial,