Imágenes de páginas

sickness, nor to temptation. When they returned home he recommended him to another ship, and where, through the captain's influence, he had a better situation and higher wages; and he assisted him in various ways for many years. Now this boy had a protector who had power, but not sympathy. This boy, however, might have had a friend, who would have sympathized with him fully, but who would have had no power. I might illustrate this case also, by supposing, in the next ship which he should enter, that the captain should feel no interest in him at all, but that he should have with him there a brother, or another boy of his own age, who would be his constant companion and friend,-entering into all his feelings, sympathizing with him in his enjoyments and in his troubles, but yet having no power to protect him from real evils, or to avert any dangers which might threaten. I might have supposed such a case, and following the boy in imagination into the new scene, I might show that sympathy alone is not sufficient. But it is not necessary to do this. All my readers, doubtless, already fully understand the distinction between these two, and the necessity that they should be united in such a protector as we all


The great Friend of sinners unites these. He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him, and he can fully sympathize with us in all our trials and cares, for he has been upon the earth,-suffering all that we have to suffer, and drinking of every cup which is presented to our lips. He became flesh, i. e. he became a man, and dwelt among us, so that, as the Bible most forcibly and beautifully expresses it," we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

It must be borne in mind that our Saviour did not commence his public ministrations till he was thirty years of age. Thirty years he spent-in what? Why, in learning by slow and painful experience what it is to be a human being in this world of trial. Have I a reader who is only ten or twelve years of age? Remember the Saviour was once as young as you,-exposed to just such little difficulties and trials as you are. He has gone through the whole from in

fancy upward, and he does not forget. You may be sure, then, that he will sympathize with you. If any thing is great enough to interest you, you may be sure it is great enough to interest him in your behalf. He remembers his own childhood, and will sympathize with the feelings of yours.

This plan of coming into this world and becoming one of us, and remaining in obscurity so long, that he might learn by experiment what the human condition is in all its details, was certainly a very extraordinary one. It is spoken of as very extraordinary everywhere in the Bible. You have all heard of Howard the philanthropist. When he was thirty or forty years of age, there were everywhere in Europe jails and dungeons filled with wretched prisoners, some of whom were guilty and some innocent. They were crowded together in small, cold, damp rooms. Their food was scanty and bad, dreadful diseases broke out among them, and when this was the case, they were in a vast multitude of cases left to suffer and to die in unmitigated agony. Very few knew their condition, and there were none to pity or relieve them, until Howard undertook the task. He left his home in England, and went forth-encountering every difficulty and every discouragement—until he had explored thoroughly this mass of misery, and brought it to public view, and had done every thing which the case admitted to mitigate its severity.

This was extraordinary enough, and it attracted universal attention. All Europe was surprised that a man should devote years of life to a most arduous and hazardous labour, exposing himself to the most loathsome influences and to the worst diseases, without any prospect of remuneration, and all for the sole purpose of relieving the sufferings of criminals, of men whom the world had cast off as unfit for human society. It was, I acknowledge, extraordinary;-but what would have been the sensation produced if Howard could not have gained admission to these scenes, so as effectually to accomplish his object, without becoming himself a prisoner, and thus sharing for a time the fate of those whom he was endeavouring to save? Suppose he should consent to this. Imagine him approaching for this purpose some dreary pri


He passes its dismal threshold, and the bolts and bars of the gloomiest dungeon are turned upon him. He lays aside the comfortable dress of the citizen for the many-colour

ed garb of confinement and disgrace. He holds out his arm for the manacles, and lies down at night upon his bed of straw, and lingers away months, or perhaps years of wretchedness, for no other purpose than that he may know fully what wretchedness is. He thus looks misery in the face, and takes it by the hand, and he emerges at last from his cell, emaciated by disease, worn out by the gloom of perpetual night, and his heart sickened by the atmosphere of sin and shame. Suppose he had done this, how strongly could he, after it, sympathize with the sufferings of a prisoner; and how cordially, and with what confidence, can the inmates of those abodes come to him with their story of wo.

Now we have such a Saviour as this. He has been among us. He has himself experienced every trial and every suffering which we have to endure. So that if we choose him for our friend, we may come to him on every occasion, sure of finding not only power to relieve us, but sympathy to feel for


No matter what may be the source of our trial, whether great or small. If it is great enough to interest us, it is great enough to interest him for us. Perhaps some young child, who reads this, has been pained to the heart by the unkindness of some one in whom he had reposed all his confidence. The action which showed this neglect or unkindness was so trifling, that perhaps the little sufferer feels that no one can sympathize with him in apparently so small a cause of sorrow. But Jesus Christ was once as young a child as you; he too doubtless had companions and friends, and if he did not experience unkindness and ingratitude at their hands, childhood was the only time of his life in which he was free from these injuries. He doubtless knows them full well: and there is one thing in which the sympathy of our Saviour differs from that of every other friend. He judges not from the magnitude of the cause of sorrow, but from the real effect of that cause upon the heart which suffers it. A child is perplexed with the difficulties of simple division in school. He tries to be patient and quiet in spirit, and if he loves the Saviour, the Saviour will sympathize with him just as much in that trial, as he does in the perplexity of the merchant planning his distant voyages, or of the president of a mighty nation in his various cares. It matters not with our great Friend, whether the object of human solicitude is a plaything, a fortune, or a kingdom. All are equally trifles in themselves

to him. All that he looks at is their moral power over the heart which is influenced by them. If a child is agitated by a trifling cause, he looks at the greatness of the agitation and suffering, not at the insignificance of the cause. But it is not so with men. They judge from external circumstances. Napoleon Buonaparte was imprisoned for his crimes upon an almost solitary island, and the whole civilized world looked upon him with strong compassion. And yet there are hundreds and thousands in every city in Europe who suffer every hour far more than he did, but whose anguish of spirit attracts but little attention because it arises from a less magnificent cause. But our Redeemer looks at the heart, and estimates its feelings. If any thing interests us, therefore, we need never fear that he will regard it as too insignificant to interest him.

In all the greater trials of life, I mean those which come from greater and more permanent causes, we may confidently. expect sympathy and fellow-feeling if we come to the Saviour. Does poverty threaten you? He knows what poverty is, better than you, for years he knew not where to lay his head. Do you suffer from the unkind treatment of others? He has tried this in the extreme, and can fully sympathize with you. Do you weep over the grave of a beloved friend? Jesus wept from this cause long before you. In fact, he went about the world, not only to do good, but to taste of suffering, that he might know, with all the vividness of experience, exactly what suffering in all its variety is.

We all love sympathy when we are suffering,—but there is one occasion on which we feel the need of it still more. I mean in temptation. We need sympathy when we are struggling with temptation, and still more when we have done wrong, and are reaping its bitter fruits. A dreadful murder was once committed, which aroused the alarm and indignation of an extensive community, Every one expressed the strongest abhorrence of the deed, and made the greatest effort to procure the arrest and punishment of the criminal. And this was right. But with this feeling there should have been, in every heart, strong compassion for the miserable criminal.

He was arrested, tried, and condemned to die; and a few hours before the execution of the sentence of the law, I went, with a clergyman who often visited him, to see him in his cell.

When we had entered his gloomy prison, the jailer closed behind us its massive iron door, and barred and locked it. We found ourselves in a spacious passage with a stone floor, and stone walls, and stone roof, and with narrow iron doors on each side, leading to the cells of the various prisoners. We ascended the stairs, and found every story assuming the same rigid features of iron and stone. In a corner of the upper story was the cell of the murderer.


A little grated window opened into the passage-way. jailer tapped softly at the window, and informed the prisoner, in a kind and gentle tone, that the clergyman had come. "Should you like to have us come in?" asked the jailer. The prisoner instantly assented, and the jailer unbolted and unbarred the door. 66 Strange!" thought I. "Here is a man who has outraged the laws of both God and man, and a whole community has arisen in justice, and declared that he is unworthy to live, and to-morrow, by the hand of violence, he is to die. And yet his very keeper treats him so tenderly, that he will not come into his cell without first obtaining permission!"

As we passed through the narrow aperture in the thick stone wall which the iron door had closed, the whole aspect of the room and of the prisoner was one which effectually removed my surprise that he should be treated with kindness and compassion. He was pale and haggard, and he trembled exceedingly. He seemed exhausted by the agony of remorse and terror. A few hours before his wife had been in his cell, to bid him a final farewell, and the next day he was to be led forth to execution in the presence of thousands. In the mean time, the walls, and floor, and roof of his cell, of continued, uninterrupted stone and iron, seemed to say to him, wherever he looked, " You shall not escape." It seemed as if the eye would have rested with a feeling of relief upon a board or a curtain, even if it concealed a stone behind,-with so forbidding and relentless a gripe did this dismal cell seem to hold its unhappy tenant. As I looked between the heavy iron bars of his grated window, upon the distant plains and hills, and thought how ardently he must wish that he were once more innocent and free, I forgot the cold-blooded brutality of the crime, and only mourned over the misery and ruin of the man.

The world does, in some cases, sympathize with one suf

« AnteriorContinuar »