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SISTERS IN THE FAMILY.
family in Christ. Thus the idea of sister becomes infinitely wider and purer.
Now, which idea of sister ought to be prominent and prevail in the education of a true sisterly spirit and character? Evidently the highest—the mystical—the spiritual. Our first and deepest relation is to the heavenly-the Father of our spirits. The lower relation is only in the flesh, and has neither strength nor purity except in the power of the higher. It is therefore first, and it must be recognized and rested upon as the first and deepest element in the true education of a sisterly spirit. Hence we have placed first in order and importance the education of the hearteducation spiritually—the education which comes through the church.
Is not this the order in fact, and in the history of every human spirit? The very first educational power which a human spirit feels, before the intellect can at all be reached, is in the heart, from a mother's eyes, a mother's tones, and the mysterious influence of a mother's life and love! Next to this, similar to it, only more outward in character, is that of the father. These, being pious, their united faith secures to the infant spirit the motherly zeal, blessing, and care of the church. The intellect is as yet only touched by the softest nurture, such as the warm, moist, genial bosom of the earth affords to the first and feeblest tendrils of the infant plant. The school is not yet-the idea of teaching, instructing and training by aid of extraneous means has as yet neither place nor meaning. As yet the will, the faith, (in the sense of dependence,) the heart, rule and reign. The understanding, the intellect, that which is developed by knowledge, imparted by foreign means and helps, comes gradually and later, and with it the school. Still later in order comes the social; for love, which is the fruit of faith, and that knowledge of the relations between beings which the intellect perceives, lay the foundation, beget the desire and unfold the qualification for social intercourse. The religious is the life, the intellectual is the light, the social is the love, of the true sisterly spirit and character.
Let her, therefore, who would be a sister truly cultivate her heart in the life, power, and grace of piety. A sister without piety is a monster-a wandering star! Being herself sundered from God, whatever her influence binds and holds to herself, it binds and holds away from Him. She may have beauty and polish, but it is mere outward devotion; like the green vines hung with flowers that cover a moldering wall, or creep over doleful ruins. Her heart has no holy of holies, holding us off in reverence, and yet drawing us near in love. The angel' is wanting! We recognize not, hid by the thin veil of the real and human, the ideal and the saintly. She can never nestle herself in our memory or float before our dream-like fancy as "a thing of beauty and a
joy forever.” The mystic charm is not there. We miss “the fragrant blossom that maketh glad the garden of the heart.” The influence of such a sister must be felt. To say nothing of the positive influence of words and acts, a pious sister is in the family as the constant presence of God to her brothers. It is as if heaven breatbed and whispered around them. By silent reprovings her purer spirit quickens their consciences, reminds them softly of the wrong, and allures them gently to the right. The very sympathy which a brother knows dwells in a sister's heart for him, and which, where true confidence exists, he has occasion in many a bitter sorrow of his own to fathom, to his own exceeding comfort, gives her an influence over him which she can use to the highest and holiest purpose. For her sake he will do what will prove to him an everlasting good. When separated, memory will make her to him a present power, restraining him from many an evil, and breathing courage and strength to rise out of it when captured and carried away. Often, too, the impressions made upon the heart by a sister's piety are long latent in the heart, like sentiments written with invisible ink, and are only brought out by future circumstances and events.
We have a case just in hand. But lately we received a letter from a very talented lawyer, who proposes to quit his profession and enter the ministry, and who asks advice in reference to that earnest and solemn step. Hear what he says: “You are probably aware that I was originally intended for the ministry. Youthful follies and vagaries turned the channel of my life into the legal profession. This decision, too, was attended by many marks of rashness and of immature reasoning. Thus it was, till 1848, when a loved sister's departure made a deep impression upon my mind. The subject of the ministry again forcibly presented itself to my mind.”
This is only one case like a thousand others, varied as to the particulars, but in substance the same, showing the powerful and lasting influence of a pious sister. We knew her well, that gentle spirit. Slowly was the power of grace blooming toward her glorification; and long, as from the borders of the land, did she shed the “soft white light" of heaven around her! He was absent from the home circle, and felt not all the power of her piety; yet, to the distant field of his labors, his struggle, and his ambition, did he bear in his heart the image and the memory of that pure white lily in the garden at home. When at last he was called home to see it fade away for ever from the earth, ah, how his strong spirit melted! ah, how he saw that that hope alone was worth living for which had wakened into such smiles even the cold marble of her face, and which breathed around such words of peace and joy, while all the energies of life were sinking like weary, worn-out winds. Oh, how earnestly he vowed at the death-bed to preach
that hope to others, and live only in its life himself. Through many subsequent years does he turn at the beckoning of that angel being. Such is the influence of a pious sister.
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BY REV. RECK KARBAUGO. “That I may bury my dead out of my sight”—the language of an old patriarch, and descriptive of feelings as true to our nature now as when Abraham would barter for the Cave of Macpelah.” Among every people moral and religious, burial out of sight has ever been regarded as the most proper and natural mode of disposing of the dead. The custom of burying the dead is an ancient one; and it was a peculiar feature throughout the whole history of God's chosen people. To them the rights of the sepulchre were considered of indispensable importance; it was deemed not only an act of humanity, but a positive religious duty to pay due honors to the departed.
The funeral ceremonies of the Jews were in many respects similar to those common to the East at the present day. After the sad and solemn ceremony of the last kiss and the closing of the eyes of the corpse, the body was perfumed and subjected to entire ablution with water, as of Dorcas, (Acts ix. 37, “whom, when they had washed, they laid in an upper chamber.”
The process of embalming was peculiar to the ancient Egyptians, and such adepts did these « physicians” become in this preservative art, that there are still found bodies which have resisted the attacks of decomposition for thousands of years. In Genesis (50, 3,) we read that Jacob underwent this eminently Egyptian preparation for burial, “having fulfilled the forty days of those which are embalmed." The Jews, in later times, observed a more simple and expeditious but less successful process, that of wrapping the corpse in numerous folds of linen cloth, having anointed it with a mixture of aromatic substances composed chiefly of aloes and myrrh. There was no higher mark or evidence of respect for the departed than the profuse expenditure of such costly perfumes. By the writers of the Talmud we are told that no less than eighty pounds of spices were used at the funeral of the learned Rabbi Gamaliel. Josephus also tells us that, in the splendid obsequies of Herod, five hundred of his servants attended as spice-bearers.
After the process of wrapping the corpse in folds of linen cloth, the body was placed in an upper chamber in solemn state, when the relatives of the deceased, especially the females, in the violent style of oriental grief, burst out in shrill, loud and plaintive lamentations, the friends and neighbors mingling their outcries with the bereaved. Among the better classes, this duty of sympathising with the family was performed by mercenaries—a class of females—professional mourners, who, by vehement sobs, gesticulation and singing of dirges, eulogized the qualities, virtuous and benevolent, of the deceased.
The period between death and burial was usually shorter than custom sanctions with us, for which there was a twofold reasonthe heat of the climate and, particularly among the Jews, the circumstance of uncleanness for a week of the person who came in contact with a corpse. Two cases of burial immediately after death are recorded in the New Testament those of Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5, 1-10.
A bed or bier was the vehicle commonly used for carrying the dead to the place of burial. This was plain or costly according to the circumstances and position of the deceased. It was from an humble carriage of this kind that our Lord called back from death and the grave, the widow's son of Nain. Luke 7, 11-15. This particular form of funeral rites still obtains among the Jews, Mahommedans and Christians of the East.
The sepulchres, by a prudential arrangement, but lately appreciated by us, were situated without the limits of the cities. They were either of a costly style, with no little architectural display, either excavations in the solid rock, or the humble grave with its simple upright stone over the head and feet. Besides these public cemeteries for the general accumulation of the inhabitants of the cities, there were also fields appropriated for the burial of strangers. Members of the royal family of David, and a few persons of exalted character, only were permitted a burial within the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
It was customary to paint the sepulchres white—the reason of which was to make them plainly discernible to the eye, and thus prevent contact with the same, and the consequent ceremonial defilement-more especially at the annual festivals, when multitudes of strangers visited Jerusalem. From this custom we have the meaning of that sarcasm of our Lord, when he so severely rebuked the hypocrisy of the Parisees. Matthew 23, 27.
The affecting custom still remains of groups of women going daily to the tombs of their relations, strewing them with flowers and weeping there, as was supposed of Mary, that she was going to the grave of Lazarus to weep when Jesus met her. John 11, 31.
Connected with these oriental customs of burial are the mournful associations, that He who is our Saviour underwent most of the same processes with those who have gone to the dead. His death, like his life, was one of untold, unknown humility. Ile chose to die like a thief; his burial was that of a prince. Joseph of Ari.
mathea testified his regard for the sacred body of the Saviour by bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pounds, (John 19, 39,) while the two Marys were prepared to tender the same costly office at the earliest dawn of the first day of the week. But Jesus the crucified needed not the Egyptians' secret art to defy the worm and corruption. Death to him was a calm three days' rest-such a rest as he seldom took, for so long a turn, in his ministry of denial and devotion.
Such is a brief sacred history of the burial custom referred to in the Bible. One thought more: Reader, are you prepared for what the Bible declares is to follow the ceremonies I have just discussed? After death comes the burial, after the burial comes the Judgment!
a brief enial and debe seldon
Sue was a phantom of delight
And now I see with eye serene
| My never-failing friends are they Where'er these casual eyes are cast, I With whom I converse night and day.