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to dispel the gloom, and the pierced hands of Jesus to hold back the fires."
But it is a thorny road, and we need constant support and encouragement in travelling along it. Let us, then, among the other sources of encouragement which the Spirit supplies, take encouragement from the testimony of living Christians who are still upon the road, and from that which those who have already entered into rest, have left behind them. Those who upon the pilgrimage cry to us,
" Come with us and we will do you good.” “Follow us, and let us help each other to follow Christ.” Let us then accept the invitation and resolve, “ We will go
you, for we see that God is with you." And those who have passed through the dark valley of the Shadow of Death, leave a testimony behind them. If any of us have
one whom we loved preparing for the summons with a patient resignation, and even an eager hope, by the tranquil smile with which that spirit set like an evening sun upon this world, -by the holy calm which lifted it above the sorrow of forsaking earthly friends,-by the ardent hopes which buoyed it over the restless waves of pain and anguish,— by the stalwart strength which clothed that wasted form with power above all the healthy group who wept with all the vigour of full life around the couch, let us learn the testimony which they bear to the power of that faith which enabled them to follow Christ through evil and through good report.
What would be the testimony of any one of Christ's faithful followers, could they speak to us from the excellent glory amidst which they dwell? May we not conceive them bearing some such evidence as this? True, I found the road thorny to my feet at first, but Christ stretched out His arm and kept me from falling; true, I found the cross heavy to bear, but as I travelled onward the yoke became easy and the burden light. O how much lighter than the burden of my sins which I had borne before! I found in every trial succour at that cross. I found, when men reviled me, that Christ had been reviled when upon the cross. I found, when I went astray, a refuge in the cross; and even had I been called upon to relinquish every joy that made life sweet, to surrender every pleasure that endeared the world to me, to live in utter wretchedness and misery, the sport and laughingstock of all mankind, I could have done it all to taste one half the joys I now inherit.
Realise, if you can, a man embarking upon life with brilliant prospects ; born in the sunshine of earthly fortune, and borne upon the tide of wealth and prosperity; but he hears an urgent voice within, whose words he dare not disobey, saying “Sell all that thou hast, and take up thy cross, and follow me." He makes the sacrifice, if sacrifice it is, and treads some humble path in poverty alone. Wealth spreads her treasures out before him, and smiles an invitation to him to take back his patrimony; but he hears the echo of Christ's voice in that of conscience crying “ Follow Me.” He follows, he turns his back upon
the proffered heaps of gold, and does his Master's bidding. Men cluster round him, and deride his so-called folly; and the world comes and spreads forth her simpering pleasures at his feet, but conscience gently plucks aside the hand he stretches out to seize them, and points him to the Man of Sorrows, who says, “ Follow Me." He obeys, his path grows rugged, and once more his faith begins to waver and the tempter to entice him into the way of lust and sin. But again the faithful monitor takes him by the hand, and shows him a picture of One upon a pinnacle of the temple, with a retreating shadow flying from Him, and angels ministering round about him, and he fancies he can hear Him cry Follow Me.” He follows, and he holds his course till old age steals over him, and death begins to steal his glance over him; and this friend and that come in to soothe him with hopes of coming health and returning vigour. Still, the same finger points him to a cross, on which is stretched One, who cries “ Follow Me." He follows, and they lay him in the grave. Wealth and the world no more come near him to decoy his steps, but still the sweet familiar voice cries “ Follow Me." And from the damp oblivion of the tomb he rises upon the wings of light amidst the pæans of a host of angels who bear his soaring spirit into the presence of the Lamb. He sits upon a throne, and wears a crown, and joins his voice with all the choristers of Heaven in singing "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.” Farewell for ever the woes of earth — farewell the pangs of hunger and of thirst - farewell the long long nights of sorrow and of gloom — farewell the jeers of men, and the harsh taunts which once beset him round; there is no night here, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun “ For the Lord God giveth them light, and the Lamb is the Light thereof."
What shall we say then? Shall we take up our cross, and follow Christ in the footsteps of those who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises. Come amidst the last resting-places of the dead, and let us decide the question there. Look at the rank grass waving over the thick-clustering graves, strewed with immortal mortality, and paved with incorruptible corruption, and let your fancy give a voice to all those sleepers who are waiting for the last trumpet to call them forth. There, in that distant corner, is a jagged mound, unmarked by any stone, or even by a wholesome shrub or tree to shed its falling leaves upon it, and just beneath a few clods of earth below it, sleep the ashes of one who in life was poor in everything except the grace of God. Let your imagination lift the sod and clothe the mouldering ashes which are then disclosed with the form and comeliness of life. It seems to sleep so tranquilly that the spirit's voice is scarcely audible ; but through the calmness of the happy dream which seems to be entrancing it, we can almost catch the accents of its lips. It says, “I followed Christ through all my life on earth; I heard His precious name in infancy, and His voice said · Follow Me;' and at the altar of a mother's knee I read the touching history of His life, and breathed
my earliest prayer before His throne; I bore His cross in youth; and when, houseless and poor, I wandered here and there, that cross, the cross of Him who had not where to lay His head, was better than the stateliest roof that ever sheltered monarchs. He had no more need to cry to me then * Follow Me,' for I could not live without Him; and when Death came to call me to this grave-- when there was no friend to cheer my dying hour, no hand to smooth my bed — I felt His everlasting arm beneath my head, and heard His voice beside me saying, Though thou walkest through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, thou shalt fear no evil : my rod and my staff shall comfort thee'- and He has been to me even here—here, in this narrow grave, He has lain before me, and I think I hear Him once again cry ‘Follow Me;' I see Him yonder preparing a place for me in those many mansions far away; I see Him still robed in a gathering glory, and waited on by countless seraphim; and now, He speaks again ; I should know that face— 'twas that which cheered me in my first, and latest sorrow— 'twas that which smiled upon me when I prayed, and beamed with invitation from the mercy-seat – 'twas that whose sweet and tender pity won my earliest love and shed its hallowed radiance on my thorny course.
O it is no Dream ! for now He mounts His chariot, and I hear its echoing wheels — I see the dense effulgence of His glory -'0 come Lord Jesus, come quickly!' Why tarry the wheels of Thy chariot!' Ye prison bars, give way, and let this Mortal seize its Immortality. Ye marble gates, set free my panting spirit, and let me meet my Saviour in the air! for lo! He cries to me, • Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.'”
But let us turn to look at that sculptured tomb under those spreading branches in the distance. We can tell whose vault this is, for
« the storied urn records who rests below."
Let Fancy once more descend the vault and listen to the testimony of the dreamer there. The spirit's voice seems to come forth with heavy sighs as it tells its tale. “I followed Pleasure; during youth, I was satisfied with harmless mirth, but such pleasure soon grew dull to me. I plunged more deeply into sin, and Lust and Vice were my boon companions—Conscience tried to speak to me, but I would not hear it- and when I had quite banished it, I became more intimate with sin, who strutted on before me, ever turning back to see that I was following, and a whole train of ghastly pioneers came crowding round me and dragged me on until they dragged me to my death-bed, round which they ranged themselves to mock at my despair; and, standing in the midst was Conscience, the sternest mocker of them all. And now that I am here—that spectral flock still haunts me, and I sometimes think I see a face I never saw before—it wears a crown of thorns to which it points with hands pierced through with nails; it stands before me now, and now it recedes behind a cloud, and now methinks I hear a sound of voices from behind that cloud, a sound of voices singing, and of harpers harping on their harps, but I do not like the sound, it speaks of happiness which I shall never see: yet still I hear the voices drawing nearer, and see the lightnings breaking through the cloud, and over all the noise of tempest and of song, there peals a trumpet-blast which calls me from my grave. I see a Great White Throne and He who sits upon it frowns upon me 0 it is no dream! for it is the face of Him that wore the Crown of Thorns. •Rocks! fall on me! Hills ! cover me! Hide me from the face of Him that sitteth upon the Throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of His wrath is come, and who is able to stand !! :'
One of these two testimonies, my respected friends, will be yours
and mine. Now then while yet the lamp holds out to burn, let us take our stand between those two graves, and make up our minds which we will fill until the day arrives when those that have done good shall come forth to the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation."