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“The first voice which I uttered, was crying, as all others do." Such is the confession of the Author of the Book of Wisdom. It is the truth with reference to all men. Crying, they begin their earthly career. In this they bear testimony of having entered upon a state of misery. The first sensations upon their visible frame are painful. The uttered "cry' indicates this. The life that follows, often reminds the wanderer, that the signs of suffering in the beginning, were not deceptive. How many tears flow over blooming as well as pallid cheeks, before the wearied pilgrim arrives at his, or her, journey's end. At no time ceases the stream of tears to flow somewhere; at no time are all tears wiped away. There is one place and one state in which this shall be the happy condition of human beings. The place is heaven, and the state is glorification. Neither of these can be found in this “barren land." In the heavenly Jerusalem “God shall wipe away all tears, and there shall be no more sorrow nor crying." In eternity, in the case of saints, are
-" These days of weeping o'er, Past this scene of toil and pain, They shall feel distress no more,
Never, never weep again!" The fact that tears are so common, causes us to regard them but lightly. Witnessing the flowing tear of the babe, or the running streams down the furrowed face of the aged so often, and under circumstances so diversified, we are apt to overlook the significance of all tears. And yet is there a vast difference as to the weight to be attached to these effusions from the eye.
As to the moral worth of tears, much depends upon the cause that produces them. Many, perhaps most tears, have no moral worth whatever. There are tears of dissimulation. Some people seem to be able to weep just when they please. Knowing that there is great force in tears, they will dissemble and weepingly aim at gaining purely selfish ends. Such tears are commonly called crocodile tears. We read of a strong case of this kind in the prophesies: of Jeremiah: 41. “ Ishmael went forth weeping;” but only to make the work of death more certain upon the men of Shechim, and carry out successfully his wicked rebellion. Spoiled children and spoiled youths, and perhaps sometimes spoiled people in the years of manhood or womanhood, practice this kind of dissimula-tion. If the will of such is bent towards some object, and they are opposed by another will with superior authority, tears will be a common refuge with them. They expect to produce a sufficient degree of sympathy in the opposing party, by which they would become ready to yield to their own selfishness.
There are tears caused by “the sorrow of the world” which "worketh death.” A rich man becomes poor by wicked prodigality. Burning tears are, in such cases, often the result. What a fool I was, he says to himself, to be so regardless of my future prosperity, and only bent upon scattering wastefully the plenteous means of temporal prosperity. A poor man becomes dissatisfied with his lot, and begins to say, “The ways of the Lord are not equal." He envies the rich, and weeps for those treasures which moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal. All such tears only increase the size and degree of the cup of bitterness which all must taste in this land of the curse. Such also are the tears of persons who by transgressing the laws of justice and equity, or breaking the code of the law of God, blast their former fame, stain their character, and wither under the gaze of their respectable fellow beings. Many a man of honor has sunk into tearful oblivion, by entering the way of the transgressor. The rosy faces of many young maidens and young men faded into sorrowful paleness, because they broke the seventh commandment. Who can represent, in human language, the tearful pangs of those whose passions rule out of the way decency, chastity, respect, and even the law of God! And yet, what worth in all these tears. They wash no stain from the soul—they expiate no sin, they cry not to heaven for mercy, pardon and peace. It is weeping over self, not over sin.
There are tears of sympathy. Human beings are all of like flesh and blood. They are bound together by the same natures. Every individual is but a part of an immense whole. It is thus that we weep with those who weep, as well as rejoice with those who rejoice. The sorrows of our fellows affect us. Such tears, though they rise not above human nature as it is, have some worth. They evidence the remains of humanity. Stoicism is an abomination in the sight of God and all good men.
Purer and of moral worth are the sympathies of saints. Their sorrows and tears are sacred even in the sight of God, as far as they rest on a christian basis. Angels are poetically represented as weeping over the sins and folly of mortals. The tears of the truly humble christian partake of such a nature. If the faithful do sometimes . weep as the world, it is only in the hour of darkest temptation. The bitterest tears of which they have knowledge, are tears over sin and unrighteousness. “They that sow in tears," in this sense, doubtless shall reap in joy. 6 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law,” says the Psalmist. If these tears are sympathetic, it is a sympathy in the elements of truth, love and holiness. Even the Saviour wept tears of sympathy-once at the grave of Lazarus, and then on his approach towards the doomed city of Jerusalem. A third instance of Christ weeping, we have in the Epistle to the Hebrews. “ He offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears.” Truly, if Jesus wept
over sin and sinners, then should sinners weep for the same reason. They are the cause of Christ's tears; but if he wept over them, then should they also weep over themselves.
“ But drops of grief can ne'er repay
The debt of love I owe;
'Tis all that I can do."
BY THE EDITOR.
WE fear there are very wrong and injurious views prevalent in regard to doing good. Perhaps we should not say views, but feelings; for we apprehend the evil is rather practical than theoretical.
The scriptures teach that good doing, does not merit; but this principle, we fear is so held in unrighteousness by many, as to become à kind of check upon their zeal. We are naturally selfish, and the remains of this narrow spirit, are still, in part, active in us even when we are under the power of the new life in Christ; hence we are slow to do good, while we are confronted with the truth that we cannot merit any thing in this way. We would rather do good for wages, than as a free expression of gratitude. We would rather do good as a duty, than as a privilege. We would rather do good to bring grace, than to exhibit grace. We would rather do good to make ourselves good, than because we are good. Thus, the remains of our selfishness causes us to hold the doctrine of doing good in unrighteousness and to render its power of no effect.
It is, however, a great error to feel, that doing good is of no benefit to us, because it can merit nothing. Is the
growth of leaves, blossoms and fruit, of no benefit to the tree, because that growth cannot change the nature of the tree, or its relations to the soil in which it stands? Is active exercise of no value to our bodies, because it does not become the ground of life to the body, but only the occasion of its healthy activities? Is the outlet of a spring of no benefit to that spring because it is not the source from which the spring is supplied ? In like manner, is activity in doing good of no benefit to a christian, because it does not become the cause of his religious life, but only the condition and mode of its free and selfish development? Thus, he that watereth is himself wateredhe that does good receives good.
Suppose even that doing good did not benefit us, it would still be selfish on that account to grow weary in it. Even if we did not benefit ourselves, we still bless others. This is to be truly benerolent. This is to do service without the hope of wages. This is to be like Christ, who sought not his own, but gave himself and his services for the good of others.
There is another evil existing, as we think, in regard to gooddoing. It is the disposition to bring all our good-doing into a system, and never to attempt it except as it falls into our plan. Thus many little opportunities of doing good pass by unheeded and unembraced. We are ever upon the look-out for chances to do good upon some large general scale-upon a scale that will tell, after some extensive system which we are maturing, and from which we expect wholesale results when we can only once apply and carry it out. We feel in this, as in other respects, as if we did not wish to act until we can begin and carry out our desire right. Thus we are always about to do, but never doing. Thus we act like children going out after berries, who pass by many good ones to find the place where the bushes hang full. Is it not wiser to pick as we pass, thus making sure gain? We venture the opinion that those who take this course will bring home most in the evening.
If we take the Saviour as our pattern in well-doing, we shall find that he pursued the course suggested. If we examine his acts, as they are recorded in the Gospel, we will perhaps be surprised to find that nearly all his acts of good-doing seem to be incidental, occasional, or shall we say accidental. They were but the using of opportunities as they presented themselves in his way, in his daily life. He went about not to do good, but he went about doing good. He does not seem so much to seek opportunities, as to embrace them in his way. We discover not that he followed any plan laid down -rather his whole life was a system of doing good, and every opportunity or occasion that fell in his way made up part of the details of that system carried out. The constant activities of his life were his plan.
The Saviour did not wait to do good upon a large scale; whatever presented itself in his way he blest. With him nothing was small
, and nothing great-rather every thing was great that needed his blessing. Whether children are presented to be blest, or whether “a ruler among the Jews” comes to inquire into the nature of his kingdom, he attends to both with the same simple, natural ease, with the same readiness—doing good as he passes, scattering mercies and conferring kindness and grace, just as cases present themselves.
Would we not accomplish more than we do, did we, in this respect, follow our great example?-if instead of going about to do good, we went about doing good—if, instead of waiting for opportunities, we embraced those we meet with every hour. We would not be at a loss. We are in constant contact with a thousand forms of evil, misery and want—if we are a blessing in truth there will never fail something near us to bless.
We should ever remember that even a little good act done, is better than a hundred great ones only about to be done, and which perhaps never will be done.
POETRY pervades the moral or physical universe. Wherever features of beauty and excellence, of majesty and glory appear, there its elements exist, whether in the variegated dominions of external nature, or in the hidden world of mysteries in the human soul. The earth with its many forms of loveliness and grace, of splendor and sublimity, its verdure and flowers, its plains and mountains, and rivers and oceans; the unchanging glory of the far-off sky, with its countless orbs of light and myriads of unknown worlds; the varied relations of life, the noblest actions and achievements of man, the deep and tender feelings of the heart, the ties of country and of home; the innocent joys of infancy, and the sympathies and sorrows of age; the hopes and fears and memories, and the lofty aspirations of the spirit, which rise above and stretch beyond the present life, and that mysterious crowd of emotions, which burn and agitate the soul through the period of its earthly existence—all these are instinct and living with the spirit of poetry. All these must be destroyed before poetry can be annihilated. The stream will continue to flow while these fountains exist.
Suppose all poetry to disappear; but before this can be, we must suppose all the sources of poetry to be destroyed. Then, let every form of grace and every hue of beauty be removed. Let every breath of sweetness and every tone of melody be still. Let the flowers of fresh verdure of the earth fade away. Let the sun arise, darkened and shorn of his glory, and set without a parting smile to beautify and bless the world. Let Aurora hide her blushing face in clouds, and Vesper tear her crimsoned banner from the sky; and then hang out the sable curtain of despair. And let “the stars, which are the poetry of heaven,” be extinguished; and the moon, sad mourner, ride pale and solitary through a darkened sky, and weave with her beams a winding sheet to enshroud the beauty and glory of the universe. And then let every tie of endearment be torn from the heart of man. Let all the thrilling hopes and beautiful yearnings of his spirit be crushed. Let bim pass through life with nothing around him, but a blasted and barren waste, without an oasis to cheer the gloom; without one sign of life, save the fearful sirocco that sweeps over its surface; and nothing in prospect, but a dull eternity of pulseless and passionless existence. Let all this be done, and then, and not till then, will poetry be banished from the earth; for these are the many fountains that feed this bright and living stream, which gives the bounty of its freshness and the melody of its waters to the world.