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FLOWERS ON GRAVES.
Leigh Hunt, in his new work, taking his readers through Kensington Church-yard, notices one grave, not because it contains the mortal remains of any dignitary in church or state, in business or literature, but simply because it was the only grave adorned with flowers : and gives a pretty little dissertation on the subject, in which, however, he scarcely does justice to two classes. The Puritans, although necessarily at one period iconoclasts, were not enemies to the beautiful, for they admired it in the robust manliness of virtue, if they were too indifferent to it in the works of nature. Real Puritanism, which is just another name for vital Christianity, flourished in the Principality, and there Mr. Hunt admits that the custom of planting fiowers on the graves was never discontinued. It was scarcely right then, to have such a fling at the Puritans, and it betrays a little prejudice. As for the butchers, we dare say they do not think of taking flowers to the slaughter-house ; but to do them justice, at Christmas seasons at least, you may see the holly, the myrtle, and the laurel decorating their shops; and the garniture of green certainly tends very much te relieve the eye. But without further remark, we allow Mr. Hunt to speak for himself :
The public cemeteries, which we have imitated from the French, appear to have brought back among us this inclination to put flowers on graves. The custom has prevailed nore or less in almost all parts of the world, according as nations and religions have been kindly. It is the Puritans who woulu see itu have done it away in England and Scotland. Wales, we believe, is the only part of the island in which it has never been discontinued. The custom is surely good and desirable. It does not follow that those who are slow to resume it must be unfeeling, any more than that those who are quick to do so, must of necessity be otherwise. A variety of thoughts on the subject of death itself may produce different impressions in this respect on different minds ; but, generally speaking, evidence is in favour of the flowers. You are sure that those who put them, think of the dead somehow. Whatever motives may be mixed up with it, the respectful attention solicited towards the departed is unequivocal; and this circumstance is pleasing to the living, and may benefit their dispositions. They think that their own memories may probably be cherished in like manner, and thoughtfulness is awakened in them, towards' living as well as dead. It is the peculiar privilege, too, of flowers, to befit every place in which they appear, and to contribute to it its best associations. We had almost said, they are incapable of being put to unworthy use. The contradiction would look simply nonstrous, and the flowers be pitied for the insult. No butcher would think of putting them in a slaughter-house ; unless, indeed, they could overpower its odour. No inquisitor (we beg the butcher's pardon for naming two such persons together) was ever, cruel or impudent enough to wreathe flowers about a rack. Flowers, besides being beautiful themselves, are suggestive of every other kind of beauty : of gentleness, of youthfulness, of hope. They are evidences of Nature's good-nature : proofs manifest that she means us well, and more than well; that she loves to give us the beautiful in addition to the useful. They neutralize bad with good : beautify good itself; make life livelier ; human bloom more blooming: and anticipate the spring of Heaven over the winter of the grave. Their very frailty, and the shortness of their lives, please us, because of this their indestructible association with beauty; for while they make us regret our own like transitory existence, they soothe us with a consciousness, however dim, of our power to perceive beauty; therefore
of our link with something divine and deathless, and of our right to hope that immortal thoughts will have immortal realization. And it is for all these reasons that flowers on graves are beautiful, and that we hope to see them prosper accordingly.
But we have two more reasons for noticing the particular grave before us. One is, that when we saw it for the first time, a dog came nestling against it, as if with affection : taking up his bed (in which we left him,) as though he had again settled himself beside a master. The cther, that while again looking at the grave, and thinking how becomingly the flowers were attended to, being as fresh as when we saw them before, a voice behind us said gently, ' Those are my dear children. It was the mother. She had seen us, perhaps, looking longer than was customary, and thus been induced to speak. We violate no delicacy in mentioning the circumstance. Records on tombstones are introducers of the living to the dead : makers of mortal acquaintances ; and one touch of nature,' in making the whole world kin,' gives them th: right of speaking like kindred, to, and of, one another. We expressed to the good pa . rent our pleasure at seeing the flowers so well kept, and for so long a time. She said they would be so as long as she lived.
It is impossible not to respect and sympathise with feelings like these. We should say, nevertheless (and as questions of this kind are of general interest, we address the remark to all loving survivors,) that although a life-long observance of such attentions could do anything but dishonour to living or dead, the discontinuance of it, after a certain lapse of time, could not, of necessity, be a reproach to either; for the practice cca einn this mortis than the memory of the ot?.
COD where it mig atace Open the wounds pronombrarce too long and too sorely, no loving persons, while alive, could wish that their survivors should take such pains to hinder themselves from being relieved. It is natural for some time, often for too long a time, to associate with the idea of the departed, the bodies in which they lived, and in which we loved them. Few of us can so spiritualize their new condition all at once, as to visit them in thought nowhere but in another world. We have been too much accustomed to them bodily, in this. In fact, they are still bodily with us;,still in our world, if not on it; and for a time, we must reconcile that thought to ourselves as well as we can ; warm it with our tears ; put it on an equality with us, by means of our very sorrow, from which, whatsoever its other disadvantages, it is now exempt ; give it earthly privileges of some kind, whether of flowers, or other fondness.
Nothing but urn-burial could help us better ; could shorten the sense of the interval between one world and the other; between the corporeal and spiritual condition ; and to the practice of urn-burial, the nations must surely return. Population will render it unavoidable. But in the meantime, we must gradually let our thoughts of the body decay, even as the body itself decays ; must consent to part with it, and become wholly spiritual, wholly sensible that its best affections were things of the niind and heart; and that as those, while in this world, could triumph over thoughts of death, so they are now ascertaining why they were enabled to do so, in another.
Let flowers, therefore, be put awhile on graves, and contend with the idea of death. Let them contend with it, if we please, as long as we live, provided our. own lives cannot in the nature of things be long; in which case, we are, in a manner, making our own mortal bed with those of the departed, and preparing to sleep sweetly together till the great morning. But under other circumstances, let us learn to be content that the flowers die, and that our companions have gone away; for go we shall ourselves; and.it is fit that we believe them goue into the only state in which they cannot perish,
THE REV. BREWIN GRANT'S LATE MISSION.
Mr. Grant having been engaged for three years in lecturing and preaching with an especial view to the working-classes, and having received many cheering testimonials as to the efficiency of his labours, it will be pleasing to his friends to have a permanent record of the following intelligent, generous, and discriminating summary of his services during that period.
No man has paid more attention to this enterprize than the Editor of the British Banner, and no one is in a better position to form a correct estimate of its importance and its results.
In the British Banner, Dec. 8, 1855, appeared the following article on THE REV. BREWIN GRANT, B. A.:
MR. GRANT'S Mission is now closing, and what a Mission it has been! Who ever before carried on such a war against Infidelity? Who ever travelled so far to meet his adversaries, and came off uniformly conqueror? The Goliaths, each the Commanders of the Infidel Forces of England aud America, respectively have met him in the open plain, and been hopelessly overthrown. He now remains sole possessor of the field; and retires for the want of an adversary.
It is no part of our object, on the present occasion, to attempt to sum up the gains of the three years' campaign to the cause of Christ. Such gains, homa ever, are unquestionably very great. Pretension has been humbled; the mouth of impiety has been stopped; the snare which caught the unwary has been discovered and destroyed the ignorance, the irrationality, the wickedness, and the destructiveness of the Atheistic Systeni, have been demonstrated throughout the land. Thus multitudes have heard who never heard befo e; the blind have been enlightened; the wavering decided; the simple rescued; the upright fortified; reason vindicated; and religion avenged on its adversaries.
But there is another view of the subject : Mr. Grant has not only defended the Gospel; he has abundantly preached it : nearly every Sabbath, we believe, throughout the whole period of his labours—and not seldom three times—he has published the glad tidings, often to multitudes who were never before over the threshold of any place of worship, Who can tell the good which may thus have been accomplished ? May this not, among the inscrutable arrangements of Providence, have been one of the methods of calling his chosen vessels, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God?,
The question now being put, is, What of Mr. Grant? Is he to continue his Mission, or is he to take a pastoral charge? Some incline to the former; others think he ought to be sought after by the Home Missionary Society, under which it is considered he might be rendered the instrument of great good.
There is much to be said for this view of the matter, supposing Mr. GRANT himself to concur; under new arrangements, it might ke attended with the hap piest results. We ourselves, however, are inclined to think, that Mr. GRANT is now entitled, both on intellectual and physical grounds to a little repose. The campaign through which he has passed is, in its own way, something of a Crimean affair. It has been one of a nature which few comprehend. We doubt if there be one man in a multitude that could, or would, have endured it. He has literally lived on the rail, and slept in a strange bed almost every other night, for three long and laborious years! The comforts of home and the pleasures of the study have all been foregone for the accomplishiřent of the noble Mission of truth and love. The exhaustion of social parties, where he was, of course, the lion, and, as such, required to be the chief speaker; late hours and early de partures ; heated rooms and excited efforts, -- these were among the comforts of the enterprise ! Then, there is his family : his excellent wife and children have been in a state of semi-widowhood and orphanage. There is surely something
due to home: public, must not be allowed wholly to override private, duties. Life is short as well as uncertain, and its endearing relations must not be left uncultivated.
The conclusion, then, it strikes us, at which the friends of Mr GRANT will arrive is, that he should now be allowed to return again to pastoral pursuits--to the study he loves so well, and has prosecuted to such purpose. Mr. Grant's capabilities as an author are great; and in that capacity, with due encourage ment and adequate opportunity, he may render great service to his country and mankind. What, then, we would wish to see, is the settlement of Mr. Grant as a pastor in some congenial sphere, which will furnish scope for his rare and peculiar capabilities. Equal eminence in the pulpit as on the platform is within his grasp; let him have time for deepened inquiry—or maturing his own per sonal religion-for taking a daily dip into the old Puritan and Nonconformist Theology, and constant intercourse with the Prophets and the Apostles; and he cannot fail to come out one of the most efficient ministers of the time; and, if he shall fail, the blame will be his own. His recent career has been, in fact, a course of most important study ; his daily reading has been in the Book of Human Life, under the strongest light that experience could furnish for pastoral purposes. The last three years ought to be—and we have no doubt he considers it so-the most important period of his life. Colleges, in their own place, are of great value; but there is no book like the Book of Human Society. By constant preaching, Mr. GRANT has not merely maintained, but, we presume, greatly improved in the matter of pulpit ministration. He ought now to be a thorough business preacher,-the best of all preaching, a man whose every word finds its way to the understanding and the heart. He will not fail to soften Whatever of asperity sti'l reinains, by holy meditation, and to steep his lancet logic in the waters of the sanctuary:
Remembering that the project of Mr. GRANT's Mission was started by his magnanimous friend, the Rev. J. A. JAMES, in the columns of the British Banner,' and sustained by editorial advocacy,-facts to which we look back with unmingled satisfaction,--and that we were thus largely instrumental in drawing him out of the pulpit, we have felt not only free, but bound to step beyond the limits of ordinary observation, and exercise our good offices towards him, now that his noble Mission is so honourably and so satisfactorily completed, to place him in a proper sphere of Pastoral labour.
The question, then, we have to ask, is, WHERE IS THERE A SUITABLE SPHERE FOR THE PASTORAL SETTLEMENT OF THE REV. BREWIN GRANT ? For a reply, we look to the vacant Churches. May He who walks around the golden candlo sticks, and holds the stars in His own hands, and disposes of them at pleasure, guide His people, and point His servant where he will most further the interests of the Kingdom, and promote the glory of his Divine MASTER!'
MORAL ASSIMILATION TO GOD.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lardi' --2 Cor. iii, 18. MAN was cast in the mould of beauty. His body-how beautiful in its lines, its proportions, and the relations of its parts! His mind, how beautiful in its mechanism of perception, understanding, and reason; in its sensibilities and sympathies; in its power of recording the past, and anticipating the future: and in the consciousness of unity amid all the diversity of its operations ! But his Creator made him capable of evoking, by the unfet
THE BIBLE DEFENDER.
tered action of his own free will, a higher, than physical or mental beauty, -the beauty of goodness, of trutn, of worship, of service, of self-sacrifice.
By sin this beauty was effaced; the image of God in his soul was obliterated. The glory departed. The freshness and beauty of life gave place to the corruption and loathsomeness of death. Man no longer reflected the great moral sun of the universe, for dark clouds of distrust had gathered over his heart. He became ungodlike.
The great problem of a religion for humanity is, How shall this lost image be restored—how shall man become Godlike? Holiness, godliness, morality, virtue, soul-beauty, are all names for one and the same thingthe thing without which man is out of harmony with God, himself, and the universe; an alien, an exile, and a curse among the creatures of God.
This problem Christianity solves. It tells him man can be brought back not only to the friendship, but the moral likeness of God. Pardon is in order to purity: The blotting out of the dark cloud of transgressions al. lows the sunshine of heaven to mirror itself in the heart. The religion of the Bible announces a Divine agent to accomplish this wonderful transformation, of which human science and philosophy despair. It is by the Spirit of God that the soul of man is roused from its torpor and quickened to new life. Man without conscious communion with the Great Spirit of the universe may have animal and intellectual life—but he has not that which is the true and proper inic or man, unselfish, spiritual sympathy. It is the Holy Spirit's work to renew the connection between the soul ood God, to retrieve the lost image, and again to embosom man ia the Infinite and the Absolute.
In this assimilation, we are not only worked upon, we must be workers. The Divine agent has a way of carrying out his plan; we must attend to it. There is a chain of connection; we must lay hold of it. By wrongthinking we fell, by right-thinking we must live. Undone by error, we are restored by truth. That truth to effect any moral result in us must be believed. A perfect moral pattern can only be imitated by contemplation. The object, the medium, the manner, and the issue of contemplation, are all set before us in our text.
I. THE OBJECT OF CONTEMPLATION :- The Glory of God. That glory is not omnipotence: the contemplation of mere power can only fill the mind with awe or terror. It is not intelligence; this may awaken admiration without inspiring confidence. It is not infinity, absoluteness, eternity; these may oppress man with a sense of his dependence and littleness, but cannot renovate his nature. It is not justice; this can only agonize sinful being with horror and alarm. It is not holiness; for unfallen beings in the blaze of light that comes from the central throne, veil their faces and feet with their wings, and cry one to another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts.' It is not faithfulness or righteousness; for to violators of the divine law the contemplation of these attributes could only deepen the conviction that heaven was forfeited and hell deserved.
• The glory of God' is that which is the essence of all his moral attributes—his benerolence. • God is love.' His goodness, is his love flowing out in acts of kindness to all whom he can righteously bless. His complacency, is his love smiling upon and approving moral rectitude. His compassion, is his love to the suffering, and his compassions are spoken of as a multitude,"