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word of loving greeting has comforted them.
They have heard nothing from the compas-
sionate Teacher who has been ever faithful
until now. Had He come there, faith so often
vvhispered, Lazarus had not died. Oh, deem
it not indifference to the claims of friendship
that Jesus, when He heard the tidings 01
illness, " abode two days still in the same
place where He was." It was neither indif-
ference to His friends nor fear for His own
safety that kept the Master away.



The Recogjtition of Friends m Heaven.
It is a conscious and social world into



52 LIFE THOUGHTS.

which we are rapidly passing. Heaven is
not a solitude : it is a peopled city — a city
in which there are no strangers, no homeless,
no poor, where one does not pass another in
the street without greeting, where no one is
envious of another's superior minstrelsy, or
of another's more brilliant crown. When God
said in the ancient Eden, " It is not good for
man to be alone," there was a deeper significa-
tion in the words than could be exhausted or
explained by the family tie. It was the decla-
ration of an essential want which the Creator,
in His highest wisdom, has impressed upon
the noblest of His works. That is not life —
you don't call that life — where the hermit, in
some moorland glade, drags out a solitary
existence, or where the captive, in some cell
of bondage, frets and pines unseen ? The life
of solitude about which men boast them-
selves, is not a life of solitude at all. That
man does not understand solitude. Life, all
kinds of life, tend to companionship, and
rejoice in it, from the fecund larvae and the
buzzing insect cloud, up to the kingly lion
and the kinglier man. It is a social state
into which we are to be introduced, as well as
a state of consciousness. Not only, there-



LIFE THOUGHTS. 53

fore, does the Saviour pray for His disciples,
" Father, I will that those whom thou hast
given me be with me where I am, that they
may behold my glory ;" but those who are in
that heavenly recompence are said to have
come " to the general assembly and church
of the first-born written in heaven." Ay, and
better than that, and dearer to some of us,
" to the spirits of just men made perfect."
This is an ancient representation of a social
state, in which all affections are pure, in
which there is conscious recognition of the
friends from whom we have been some time
parted, but with whom we are to abide in
perpetual reunion ; and of a home without a
discord, a home without an illness, a home
without a grave. And this question of the
recognition of departed friends in heaven,
and special and intimate reunion with them,
Scripture and reason enable us to infer with
almost absolute certainty. It is implied in
the fact that the resurrection is a resurrection
of individuals, that it is tJiis mortal that shall
put on immortality. It is implied in the fact
that heaven is a vast and happy society : and
it is imphed in the fact that there is no un-
clothing of the nature that we possess, only



54 LIFE THOUGHTS.

the clothing upon it of the gai-mcuts of a
brighter and more glorious immortality.
Take comfort, then, those of you in whose
history the dearest charities of Hfe have been
severed by the rude hand of death — those
whom you have thought about as lost are not
lost, except to present sight. Perhaps even
now they are angel-watchers, screened by a
kindly Providence from everything about you
that would give them pain ; but if you and
they are alike in Jesus, and remain faithful
unto the end, doubt not that you shall know
them again. It were strange, don't you think ?
if, amid the multitudes of the heavenly hosts
— the multitudes of earth's ransomed ones
that we are to see in heaven, we should see
all but those we most fondly and fervently
long to see ! Strange if, in some of our walks
along the golden streets, we never happen to
light upon them ! Strange if we did not" hear
some heaven-song learned on earth trilled by
some clear-ringing voice that we have often
heard before ! Oh depend upon it, in a
realm of perfect happiness this element of
happiness will not be absent — to know and
love again those we have known and loved
below. And although in heaven there may



LIFE THOUGHTS. 55

be a commonwealth, and although in heaven
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,
yet dearer than all others there will be the
wife to the husband, and the husband to the
v/ife, and the friend to the friend who have
toiled and suffered on earth together. Oh,
what heart is not thrilled by the glorious
prospect ! Ah, but nearer still and dearer, as
every true and loyal believer thinks — heaven
is the home of Jesus,



Viildhood.



Childhood is one of the things that are
behind ; childhood, to which the thoughts of
all men go out, even of those who have no
better hope ; childhood, that season of fresh
hope and of divinest sunshine, with its rush,
and rapture, and ever-new sensation ; child-
hood, with its ignorant blissfulness, to which
all sights are beautiful, and to which all evil
is good ! Oh, there is many a worldling
sickened at the world's craft and hollowness,
sickened far more at the craft and hollowness
of his own heart, who would give the world
if he could but bring back again the coursing



56 LIFE THOUGHTS.

blood that pulsed through his veins in the
comparative innocence of his childish years.
One of our poets sings in simple beauty —

"I remember, I remember, the house where I was bom,
The little window where the sun came peeping in with

morn ;
He never came a wink too soon, nor brought too long

a day,
But now I often wish the night had ta'en my breath

away.

** I remember, I remember, where T was used to swing.
And thought the air would rush as fresh to swallows on

the wing ;
My spirit flew in feathers then, that is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool the fever on my
brow.

*' I remember, I remember, the fir-trees dark and high,
1 used to think their slender tops went close against

the sky ;
It was a childish ignorance, but now 'tis little joy
\o know I 'm further oflF from heaven than when I was

a boy."



The Poor Man's Homes
Man is bom to trouble ever}-\vhere — in
Arab hordes and in Siberian wilds, as well
as in royal courts and teemJng cities. The
fog and the cloud are like the sun— they
are no respecter of persons. Everywhere



LIFE THOUGHTS. S7

disappointment tracks the footsteps ; every-
where sickness steals into the dwelling ;
everywhere death waiteth at the door ; but
all these common ills of life fall with heavier
penalties upon the poor. They have to bear
the penalties in their condition as well as in
their experience. They cannot purchase the
skill of many healers, the comforts which
soothe the sickness, the delicacies which re-
store to health ; and when the wasting sick-
ness seizes them, they have no time to re-
cover thoroughly. The claims of the family
are there ; there is the present want that
must be met and that must be supplied ;
and the recovery is retarded many a time by
the quickened apprehension with which the
invalid sees the wolf of hunger glaring in
upon the loved ones through the pane of the
uncurtained window. And then the main-
tenance of the poor man — the bare mainten-
ance — depends often upon contingencies
which he can neither foresee nor control.
His prospects in life — ^his prospect for daily
supply, for present exigency, as well as for
circumstances which may in future embarrass
and annoy him — all these are derived from

his labour, but that labour — how contingent
C 2



58 LIFE THOUGHTS.

it is ! — contingent upon the state of trade,
contingent upon the measures of Govern-
ment, contingent upon the yield of harvest,
contingent upon the price of money, contin-
gent — as in the case before us — upon the
thoughts, and purposes, and quarrels of
people whom he never saw, and who live
across a wilderness of waters upon whose
breast he never cared to sail. \Vell, if labour
fails, bread fails ; if labour fails, homes fail.
The more provident and thrifty may strug-
gle against the coming calamity for a while,
and live upon the results of their thrift and
their care ; but you can trace, as you may
this day — you can trace, if that famine is
protracted, the inevitable progress down-
ward. One by one the comforts are obliged
to be parted with. The little savings for
vAv\


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Online LibraryWilliam Morley PunshonLife thoughts → online text (page 3 of 11)