AN AFTERNOON IN A BLIND SCHOOL.
AT the corner of one of the most important thoroughfares in a densely crowded part of South London, in what still bears the name of St.
George’s Fields, is a range of gray buildings erected in the most unpicturesque style of Gothic architecture. At the corner is a small shop, in the windows of which may be seen displayed a variety of door mats and rugs, of varied sizes, combinations, and prices. There are also ropes and brushes, baskets for trinkets, and bassinets for living toys. Into this shop we enter, .and beg the favor of a “tour of inspection” through the establishment. This application is most cordially acceded to; and accompanied by an intelligent and courteous assistant we are introduced into the Institution at once. The building, which stretches over nearly two acres of land, which has probably doubled its value since it was purchased for the Blind School, is divided into two distinct wings. One wing is entirely used for the males, and the other for females. Whether out of that high chivalrous consideration that still gives the sex the preference in attentions, or from the more sordid motive of convenience, we decline to say, we first enter the wing for the gentler sex. In a long, pleasant, well lighted, admirably ventilated and beautifully clean room we meet with a number of blind girls, of various sizes and ages. Some are engaged at needle-work, others are walking to and fro with steady steps and slow, conversing confidentially and earnestly: while some are seated at forms writing. Writing. did we say? Well, it seemed to us a queer method. We had heard of writing with broom sticks — have some dismal recollection of some such, by no means playful effort at sarcasm by our pedagogue in years gone by. But this was to us quite a new idea. The slate is a board about fourteen inches long, by eight wide, covered on one side with a thick layer of flannel or velvet, and the other of a plain flame-work of horizontal bars about half an inch apart; the two, it appears, being connected by hinges which join them together as a slip of leather does the two covers of a book. The writing paper is placed between the two boards, and the girl takes a peg or pin, which pressed on the paper pricks a letter, just as children prick a pattern in paper, save that each peg pricks one letter. The operation somewhat resembles setting up type, and all the “writing” is in Roman capital letters. Of course, the process is a slow one; but the document is precious to the poor heart far away that beats with affection at the sight of her child’s epistle. What gratitude the sight of every printed page and written sheet should raise in our minds, for truly it .is a pleasant thing to behold the sun, and no inventions can fully recompense the blind for the toss of the sweet light.
It is holiday afternoon with the girls, so we do not see them at work, but we see the tools they use, and have the modus operandi explained to us.
Well, we shall not describe it all, for that would be difficult, and feminine accomplishments are beyond the descriptive powers of man. So we pass into the male wing. The first large lofty room is devoted to basket-making.
Ranged .on each side of this long apartment are a number of boys and men, all blind, save the two teachers; some are kneeling, some bending over unfinished baskets, others seated tailor-fashion, and a few are conveying osiers on then’ backs across the room, depositing them with the utmost precision in the very spot where they are required; while one or two are lounging and conversing pretty loudly with each other. Indeed, one noteworthy feature of the whole arrangements is that conversation is unchecked. In every room there is a hum of voices, tune-whistling, or beating the work with a bar of iron. It is a scene of noisy life. But there is not a single unhappy face; everyone, even the most silent, is cheerful. “It would be a pity,” remarked our guide, “to keep them quiet: it would irritate them beyond measure.” And looking at those sightless eyeballs, who could not admire the elasticity of the society’s rule? Let them chat, and sing, and shout, since the gratification of seeing, one of God’s greatest boons, is denied to them! Gentleness towards all sufferers is a pressing Christian duty. There is enough of sorrow without our adding to it by hard restrictions or thoughtless neglects.
Our inquiries of our guide were spoken in a whisper. We knew how sensitive the blind were with reference to their affliction. Some years ago, we were in the company of a blind person, for days together, without mentioning, or indicating by remote reference, her blindness; and what we frequently observed was the singular way in which her affliction was ignored by herself. Like most blind persons, if they understand anything, they observe, “I see it.” “I have looked at it;” and their mental vision is certainly wonderful. We were glad, therefore, to notice, on our leaving the place, a printed card, requesting visitors not to put questions to the inmates directly referring to their unfortunate deprivation. Of course we obeyed the rule. A slight reference to the matter has often made them unhappy and despondent for hours. In answer to a question, as to how far the blindness of the boys and men was partial or total, we were told that no one was admitted into the school who could distinguish objects by the sight. ‘ They could tell, most of them, the difference between light and darkness, and their perceptions were acute. They know a stranger’s walk, although they are not always able to keep clear of his path. Sometimes in parading the room, they will come across a form somewhat disagreeably; but, then, experience, as in other cases, teaches most persons wisdom; and the same instinct that guides a burnt child to dread the fire, makes these blind boys and girls careful not to knock themselves unnecessarily against objects harder than themselves. The chaplain of the school, whose interesting book on the blind was quoted in our previous paper,* very truly observes, “The blind boy educates his senses of touch and hearing into a state of exceeding acuteness, till they almost begin to atone to him for that which is denied, though, after all, they cannot do for him what a single ray of vision would do by one swift glance. ‘ It’s a long time before you learn to be blind,’ said a shrewd old blind woman.’“ Some learn it more perfectly than others. A blind woman in a strange house will soon learn the whereabouts of every domestic appointment. There was a blind bell-ringer in Dumfries, who, early every motoring, visited the belfry, tripping up the stone steps as nimbly as if possessed of the keenest sight, and rarely missed the key-hole at the firs; trial. An old story is told of a blind messenger, a canny Scot, at Edinburgh, by Mr. Anderson. He says: “I had occasion to send out one of two blind men with a mattress; I gave him the bill with it, that he might receive payment; but, to my surprise, he returned with the account and the mattress too. ‘I’ve brought back baith, ye see, sir,’ said he. ‘How so?’ * Indeed, sir, I didna’ like to leave it yonder, else I’m sure we wad ne’er see the siller; there’s nae a stick of furniture within the door.’ ‘How do you come to know that? O sir, twa taps on the floor wi’ my stick soon tell’t me that.’“ It was a shrewd guess.
One of the young men, conversing by the side of another blind man, engaged at basket-work, was pointed out to us as a remarkable instance of the powers of memory. This man, we were informed, was gifted with a most wonderfully retentive memory. Some time ago, charmed with Milton’s noble poem, “Paradise Lost,” he had it read over to him, a few lines at a time, and learnt the whole of the poem in fewer hours than any ordinary person like ourselves would require to commit to memory one of the twelve books into which it is divided. He has also managed to learn the whole of the hundred and fifty Prayer-book Psalms, and a large number of metrical psalms and hymns, as well as a considerable number of modern poems. Everything seems fish that comes to the net of his memory. “What, this man, whose name is Daniel Brown, has achieved,” remarks the chaplain, “may, to a certain extent, be done, and is done, by his fellow sufferers elsewhere. It must be remembered, too, that the blind youth is compelled to derive nearly all his knowledge from books that are read to him (his embossed books being very. few in number, very expensive, and almost entirely on religious subjects). While his friend reads, he listens most intently: he is now all ear; not a word, not a syllable, escapes him. He cuts off every channel of communication with the outer world, and opens but the one inlet to the wave of sound. Much depends, of course, on the fluency and distinctness of his teacher, but far more on his own habit of fixed and undivided attention. Here, in the mere task of learning by heart, he bas to listen acutely and patiently to all — even to every word — and this by dint of practice becomes comparatively easy.”
A very large number of the blind inmates know most of the Psalms. Indeed, so well do they commit the word of God to memory, that the chaplain would be readily detected in any misquotation: and while we are on this point, we may add, that to attempt to teach such shrewd intellects, which are so well trained, and are always ready to detect a blunder, a man must have no small acquaintance with the subjects on which he speaks, and a facility of expression, combined with literal accuracy. Such men are not to be put off with a merely superficial teacher. “They know how to reason,” said my guide,” and they can reason most logically;” and so prodigious is their memory, that they never require to be told twice; figures seem to enter their heads, and find a permanent lodging there without the smallest difficulty. We heard our guide give orders as to the precise breadth and length of some various sized baskets that were to be made, and the figures were at once received into the memory. “You have to be careful what you say before them,” he shrewdly observed to us; “and especially when you promise them anything, they will never forget it, nor forget to remind you that they still remember it. This sometimes may place you in awkward fixes.”
We have not chosen to interrupt any description of the various industrial handicrafts in which the blind were engaged on the afternoon of our visit.
One employment much interested us, and deserves a notice. Seated on a high stool, a blind weaver was working, with an ordinary loom, a colored rug. One’s first question is, naturally enough, How can he discern the colors? There is a popular idea abroad, that a keen-witted and sensitive blind person has the power of detecting’ colors by the touch; but this notion is against the experience of all who know anything of the blind, and is disbelieved by the blind themselves. The blind weaver at the loom informed us frankly, that he knew the difference of color only in two wax’s — by a difference in substance, or because the red and maroon were each put in a certain place, which he remembered. One of the colored wools was stiffer than the other, and so he knew that was red wool. That was the only method by which he could distinguish them. Colors, too, are sometimes distinguished by their being placed to the tongue.
We also saw some brush-making, and it was interesting to observe how perfectly every brush was turned out of hand. Of course there is, in each department, a seeing man, who finishes off when necessary, and always inspects all the goods. Ascending a flight of steps, we entered the chapel.
The religious services conducted here are according to the forms and usages of the Episcopal church. Some few of the inmates are Dissenters; two boys, indeed, are members of Mr. Spurgeon’s church, and are always permitted to worship at the Tabernacle; but the Institution belongs, as far as a benevolent institution can be said to belong, to the “Church of England.” The chapel is a neat, simple affair, with a plain reading desk, and but for the organ, and, if we remember rightly, a useless table of commandments, etc.; it might be taken for a mission-room. At this organ, a blind man was playing a per, ion of Handel’s famous undying oratorio, “the Messiah;” and never did we hear the Hallelujah Chorus rendered more perfectly. Blind people, all the world over, seem to have a distinguishing passion for music. Few attain great eminence in this art, but few who are educated to it, and have a quick ear for sounds, fail to gain ordinary success. “Music,” a blind tramper, once observed, “is our only enjoyment; we all likes it.” Music, indeed, supplies to the blind the place of light; consequently it forms no insignificant portion of the teaching at the Blind School. They frequently give public concerts, to which the friends of the institution are invited. There is a large blind choir; and sacred music, vocal and instrumental, of the highest class, is performed by the choristers. The chaplain complains, however, that few churchwardens and trustees, in want of an organist, care about employing a blind man; “and in no[a few eases, though his love for it still continues deep and unbroken as ever, once outside the school gates, his practical acquaintance with good music is over; or, possibly, limited to such wooden strains as can be pomaded out of some excruciating instrument which Mozart himself could not make endurable.” Still, there are many blind organists scattered throughout the country, and their services are, in many eases, preferred to those who have the girl of sight, but less passion for music.
We cannot conclude our somewhat rambling sketch of some few things we saw in this commodious institution, without expressing our indebtedness to our guide, Mr. Midwinter, and the pleasure which we felt in witnessing the comfortable home in which one hundred and sixty inmates are placed.
Nothing could exceed the neatness and simplicity, of the arrangements. For cleanliness, the building would have done credit to the most scrupulous Quaker, whose hatred of a spot is proverbial. The dormitories were excessively clean; and we may add, that at the head of each bed a portion of the Scriptures was placed. At an early hour of the morning, as soon as they are awake, the Word is read individually at pleasure. And he who has habituated himself to reading the Scriptures in early morn will have understood the freshness which belongs to them in a way that others can never know. No wonder that the pupils should be young Timothys. We were pleased to observe a shop, opened for out-dour workers, chiefly old pupils of good character; where they obtain decent and fairly remunerative employment. Still, how to find such labor for the blind is one of the most difficult problems which have been presented to the philanthropist’s mind.
To our mind, the blind schools only meet the difficulty up to a certain point. We are inclined to believe that a vast majority of blind persons will always be comprehended within the divine Master’s legacy to his church — “The poor you have with you always.” The following paragraph from the last report of the Society, refers in very modest terms to the good done by the School for the Indigent Blind:— “It is a cause of great satisfaction that a very large majority of those pupils who have left us during the last few years are now working steadily at their trades, and doing what they can, though it may not be much, towards their own support. It must not be forgotten that it is far better for a blind girl or youth, to earn a shilling or even sixpence per week, than to do nothing. Idleness is a positive curse, and always bears a bitter harvest; and if the poorer class of blind can be taught to believe this, and to put their belief into practice, the gain to themselves will be a great one. “The Committee will have done a great and lasting good if only’ they succeed in teaching a large number of blind persons, for the most part ignorant and indigent, habits of patience, care, and industry to prefer work to idleness; to be anxious to do what they can, be it ever so little, to avoid becoming a burden to their friends; to be cleanly and well-behaved, faithful and honest; to read their Bibles with some understanding of their duty to God and to man.
And this much the Committee can most fully claim to be doing. “The harvest may not be so abundant as they could wish, but it is a harvest of the right kind, and, by God’s blessing, well worth the reaping.”
“And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.” — 2 Samuel 21:10.
YOU must read the whole story, or the text will be a fragment without meaning. When the tribes entered Palestine, the Gibeonites with their old shoes and clonted deceived then,, and Israel made a covenant with them that they should not be destroyed with the inhabitants of the land. Although that oath had been obtained by craft, yet it held good, for the Lord would have his people men of honor. The Gibeonites were therefore spared, but justly adjudged to be hewers of wood and drawers of water all their days.
No one appears to have injured the Gibeonites till Saul became king, and then the very man who spared the Amalekites, whom God had bidden him destroy, fell remorselessly upon the unoffending Gibeonites, who were under the protection of a solemn compact. To that unhappy race Saul and his family were known as “a bloody house.” In the days of David, some years after, a great famine came upon the land, and David was divinely informed that this visitation was sent from God as a punishment on account of the wrong done to the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites were brought before the king; they were asked what atonement they would accept for their former wrongs, and they replied that they would accept neither gold nor silver, nor did they wish any one to be put, to death except the children of the guilty person, but they demanded that seven persons of the house of Saul should be given to them, that they might hang them upon as many trees, on an elevated spot near what was once Saul’s palace at Gibeah.
Accordingly seven persons were surrendered to their vengeance, and among them the three children of Rizpah, the heroine of the text. Those seven persons were first hanged, and then, though the Jewish law commanded that a person who was hanged should be buried at the going down of the sun, this was a case beyond and out of the law, and therefore the bodies remained upon the trees month after month, just as the criminals in the much vaunted good old times among ourselves were suspended in chains, and left to rot in the face of the sun. The seven corpses were thus uplifted as a dreadful memorial of the justice of God, and the vengeance of Gibeon for the broken covenant.
This woman Rizpah, though a word is used in connection with her which is full of shame, for she was but Saul’s “concubine,” was yet a woman of noble spirit, for when she found her three sons thus put to death, she took sackcloth, making a little tent of it on the brow of the hill, just underneath the seven gallows-trees, and there she watched all through the burning summer, and the fierce autumn heats, till the Lord’s mercy sent the rain to cool the sun-burnt earth. The carrion birds came to feed upon the corpses, but she chased them away with her wild shrieks and cries; and when the jackals and the bears came by night, she, as if she were some fabled destroyer of dragons, and not a poor timid woman. drove them all away.
Neither by night nor by day did she cease from her dreadful task of love until at last, when the scant harvest was sorrowfully housed, the Lord accepted the atonement made, and made the blessed rain to drop from heaven — the rain which had been withheld so long because sin had bound up the bottles of heaven. Until it was clear that God’s wrath was removed, Rizpah stood to her po-t, protecting as best she could the unburied relics of those who were so dear to her. It is a ghastly picture. It is worthy of the pencil of Gustave Dore, or some artist with a grimmer pencil: the seven corpses hanging up in the pale moonbeams; the wolf howling at the woman’s feet, and the gray-haired mother all alone (for she must have been of great age), battling with the beasts and birds, out of love, unconquerable love to her dear children. We cannot paint, but we can meditate, and it maybe we shall be the better for the lessons which Rizpah shall teach us.
We are led to reflect upon THE TENDER LOVE WHICH WE SHOULD HAVE TOWARDS OUR CHILDREN,AND HOW THAT LOVE SHOULD MANIFESTITSELF.
This woman protected her offspring even after they were dead; she would not suffer their remains to be mutilated by ravenous birds and beasts; much more should we watch with anxious tenderness over our children while yet they live. Their bodies are not exposed to any devouring monster, but their souls are. There is one who goeth about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and when a little of the good seed of truth is sown in those young hearts, birds of the air hasten to devour it. O parents, how should you guard your children against temptation! How should you seek to strengthen them for the battle of life into which they must so soon be thrust! By your prayers, and your teaching, and your example, should you endeavor to the utmost to preserve them from the paths of the destroyer, so that if they perish their blood may not be upon their parents’ skirts, but the rather may the promise be fulfilled to you, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” I am afraid we do not all feel the responsibility of parents as we should do.
Who amongst; us can say, “I am quite clear as to the bringing up of my sons and daughters”? May you never live to see them become your curse!
May you never nourish in your bosom the viper that shall sting you! If you lead them to the throne of grace, if you put their little hands upon the horns of the all. at of the atonement, if’ it be your earnest endeavor to train them up in the fear of God, and to dedicate them while they are yet children to the cause of Christ, you may expect with all confidence that when they are old they shall not depart frown the way in which you have trained them up; nay, they shall succeed you in the ways of truth, and instead of the fathers shall be the children.
I am very thankful that our heavenly Father has saved so many of the children of this church. We rejoice that “Many dear children are gathering here, For of such is the kingdom of heaven.” May the Lord plant in his garden many more of those sweet flowers whose buds and blossoms he loves so well. Ah, mothers! you have not to keep a mournful vigil beneath your sons hanging upon the tree: do not grow weary, then, when you are called diligently to watch against your children’s follies and failings. Have patience with them! Have compassion for them!
What a mercy it is that they are yours! Notwithstanding the trouble they cost you, you would not for all the world lose the prattle of their little tongues, and the music of their merry feet; and as you remember — for perhaps you have already experienced it — how briny are those tears which fall upon little coffin-lids, thank God that you are indulged with the trouble of bringing up your babes; bless God that you have so sweet a weariness as that of caring for their souls. That lesson needs but a hint, for sanctified nature teaches us this.
There are points in Rizpah’s case worthy of the Christian’s imitation. Her case, in certain aspects, runs parallel with our own. She sat. beneath the gibbet, and we watch beneath the cross: she guarded her slain sons. we who love the Lord Jesus defend him from his foes.
NOTICE THIS WOMAN IN THE CONSTANCY OF HERWATCHING. As, in my solitude, I read of Rizpah’s watchfulness, I felt ashamed of myself — so thoroughly ashamed that I thought I heard my Master say to me, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” Here is a woman who watches with the dead, not one hour, nor one day, but weeks and mouths, while we are so unspiritual and so carnal that a little watching with our Lord soon tires us out! Even when we draw near to the Master’s table our thoughts wander. When our minds should concentrate all their faculties upon the one topic of the well beloved’s flowing wounds and purple sweat, his bleeding head, and hands, and feet, our imaginations wickedly ramble abroad, and we cease to keep watch with Jesus; yet here is Rizpah, with undivided heart, faithful to her charge from month to month.
This sorrowful mother’s watch was a very ghastly one. Marvellous must have been her courage and affection. Few women could have endured the dreadful scene, especially at night. Think of it — a lone woman with those seven corpses swinging in the breeze! Brave hearts, would ye be quite so bold in such a case? Every time they creaked to and fro, or the wolf howled, or the owl hooted from the ruined palace, we should have started and been ready to take to our heels; but there she sat watching, sleeplessly watching, mournfully watching, on, on, oil, while the stars and the sun kept guard by turns in heaven! None relieved her at cock-crowing, or took her place at sundown; her ratch was ceaseless and unbroken. Ah, grim and ghastly spectacle for a tender woman’s eye! How different is our watch at the foot of the cross! for there is nothing ghastly there. If’ you had ever seen a sickening picture of Christ upon the cross, you have turned away with abhorrence, for the crucified Savior is never a hideous though ever a saddening sight. In riding through the Tyrol, I saw a long succession of horrible images of our Lord by the roadside, and I felt as if I could fain get out of the carriage and break them all in godly indignation. My conceptions of Christ on his cross bring before me a very painful and awe-inspiring’ scene, but still there is nothing of the hideous and the ghastly there. No, the sight was such that angels, amazed and astounded, might have lingered long and gazed admiringly — “See from his head, his hands, his feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown!” The fair lily of the valley on the cross became red as the rose of Sharon, but his loveliness was all unmarred. No awful tremor and dread seize our souls beneath the tree of Calvary, but rather “Sweet the moments, rich in blessing, Which before the cross 1 spend.” Though Jesus sighs, and cries, and gasps, and dies, yet is the sight delightful to the humbled heart as it reads there the jubilee, the mercy, the love, the pity of the bleeding’ Sou of God.
Poor Rizpah’s watch again was a most miserable one.
She lodged upon the hare rock; her sackcloth was but a scant and wretched shelter, but it was all the protection she had from the heavy night dews or the burning sunbeams. But see where we sit at the foot of Jesus’ cross! we are housed in a pavilion of divine love, fairer than the silken curtains of Solomon. Look up, ye lovers of Christ, and see the purple canopy of the atonement which covers you from the night dews of worldly sorrow, and from the fierce heats of almighty justice. None dwell so royally as those who abide hard by the cross. Though as to our human surroundings, we may dwell in the black tents of Kedar, when we approach the Crucified One, we are introduced to the ivory palaces, wherein our garments are made to smell of aloes and cassia. Let me invite you, then, to come to the foot of the cross, because your vigil will be so much more blessed than that which Rizpah kept. The vision of Calvary is fair, the suffering person is divinely attractive, and even his death surpassingly lovely. Come ye, then, and watch, and wonder, and adore.
Emulate Rizpah’s watching, emulate it in this, that she was an abiding watcher. She did not watch for some few minutes, and then depart, but she made her abode beneath the gallows. She meant to live there till those bodies should be taken down. “Abide in me,” saith Christ, “and I in you,” but ahs! we flit and fir from bough to bough, inconstant in our communion with our best friend, We are too much like the bird we read of in the old Saxon story. When the first missionary was preaching in the royal hall, he told of the peace which the gospel brings to sinners, and the rest which souls find in Jesus. After his sermon, an ancient chieftain spake his mind, and compared himself and his countrymen in their unrest to the bird which just then, attracted by the light, flew into the bright hall through the open window, flitted through the warmth and light, and passed out again into the darkness and the cold by a window on the other side of the banqueting hall.
The simile might well apply to our transient fellowship; we have brief communings and then away we pass into worldliness and indifference. Oh, would it not be blessed if we could abide with Jesus for ever, building our nest in his palace! How heavenly our life if we could walk with him, as Enoch did, in our business, in our families, in all places and at all hours! If instead of now and then climbing the sunny peak of fellowship, and standing near to heaven, and conversing with the Son of God, we could for ever dwell in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, how much more noble a life to lead! Imitate Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, in her abiding unmovingly near her beloved ones — abide with Jesus evermore.
Emulate Rizpah again, and like her make your WATCH ALOVING ONE. If any compassionate traveler had saluted her, he might have said, “Woman with the gray hair, have pity on thyself, and go thy way! Why tarries; thou here alone, on the bleak side of Gibeah’s hill? Why lingerest thou amidst these putrid corpses, which pollute the air? Go, unhappy woman, where there are friends to shelter thee! The night-dews will chill thy marrow, and the fierce sun will parch thy soul; have pity on thyself, and leave the dead, lest thou too soon be one of them. Go home to kinsfolk, who will comfort thee! there are still some left that love thee. The fame of thy deed of love, hath;win thee hearts that will yield respectful homage to thy grief’s. Go home, thou venerable woman; though like Naomi, thou shouldst say, ‘ Call me Mara! Tot the Almighty hath dealt bitterly with me; go thy way, and peace be with thee.’“ Do you not hear her firm reply, “I will not; by the love of God, I will not leave them! for they are my children, my children — the offspring of my bowels. Wherefore bid me leave them? Shall you vultures tear their flesh, which is my flesh as much as theirs. Stroll the grim wolf devour those who once lay on this bosom? Wherefore bid me go? Ye see nothing but ghastliness there, but I see myself in my children yonder.
Would God I had died for them; that I had died for them, and given up this wrinkled form, that their young lives might, have been spared to them! I cannot and I will not]cave them. Till the soft bosom of their mother earth shall give them shelter, their mother’s hand shall defend them.” O love, what canst thou not do? Beloved of the Lord, love is the great force which will keep you dose to Jesus. lf you love him with a deep, passionate love, you will abide with him. If the mere love of nature could keep a woman watching thus, what ought the love of grace to do? for grace should conquer nature, and gratitude, for countless blessings, should create in us a love more deep and impetuous than the love of women — a love which many waters cannot quench, and which the floods cannot drown.
Admire the great love of this afflicted woman; admire her affectionate constancy, and pray for such love to Jesus, that you may resolve and keep the resolution, “I will not leave my Savior: I will hold him and will not let him go. Neither life nor death shall divide me from him.” “Love and grief my heart dividing, With my tears his feet I’ll bathe; Constant still in faith abiding.
Life deriving from his death.” We will now shift, the kaleidoscope a little, and view the matter from another point. As we have commended to you this woman Rizpah in the constancy of her watching, so we now exhort you to imitate her in THE ZEAL WITH WHICH SHE GUARDED HERCHILDREN. As we have already observed, all the day long she chased away the carrion crows, the kites, and vultures, and eagles — no small employment that! — and when the night set in, and fierce eyes glared from the thickets on the hillside, and the bark of the jackal and the howl of the wolf were heard, there still was she to be seen, valiant as a man of war, chasing-away, with lamentable cries, the beasts flint fain would have given her children a living grave. That woman’s love was grand! No classic legend ever stood out more sublimely! I do not believe a man could have loved so much. A man might have taken down the corpses, and by a desperate deed of courage have buried them, in defiance of God and man; but only a woman could have bowed to the stem decree and then have kept up that long night-andday watch for the protection of the bones of her children. I pray that each one of us may guard our blessed Lord against the attacks, the slanders, and blasphemies, and heresies of his enemies. Jesus reigns in our hearts; let us expel from our spirits those foul thoughts which seek a lodging there. Do you tell me that you have none? Oh, if you speak the truth I envy you!
What would I give if I could be rid of every foul and offensive thought!
But alas! they seem to abound within my heart like midges in the evening’s sunbeams. They fly as a cloud, and who can chase them away! The sins which we hate the most we are often the most temtped to, and the mischief’s which we would avoid most anxiously thrust themselves upon us as though they would take our hearts by storm. Watch, then, Christian, watch, watch, watch. “What I say unto you I say unto all — Watch.” Let no foul bird enter your soul to pollute the temple of the Holy Ghost, and destroy your fellowship with Jesus. What do I see? I spoke of wolves just now. Ah! wolfish passions would fain roam in our souls and rend our love to Jesus. Do you never find yourselves near the wolves in your business? I know you do, for I do in mine, and mine, methinks, is more sacred work than yours, yet temptation’s wolves howl in my study, and in the Tabernacle, and in the vestries; they waylay me everywhere. Oh, watch against the attacks of sin! You who are professors of Christ, I beseech you guard carefully your lives. Give up your profession or else sustain it honorably. My brethren and sisters, I speak the truth in God, I lie not; my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I would fain go down upon my knees to you, and say to you, “If you do not mean to be holy, leave off your profession, do not bring dishonor upon my Master’s name. Why should you? What harm has he done you? Oh! if you must be lost, why add to all your other sins that of hypocrisy? If you must be Satan’s servant, are there no other ways of doing him a turn except by playing the Judas? Keep out of your hearts, by the Spirit’s power, everything that would dishonor Christ. I pray you, by the blood of Jesus, chase away the beasts of prey. Whether they come by night or day, do not suffer them to form their lairs within your affections. Jesus deserves to be adored, no; to be dishonored, He deserves that we should live and die for him, not that we should put him to Glen shame, and wound him in the house of his friends.”
Guard your Savior, my brethren, by your holy lives. Beloved friends, we cannot protect our Lord from the blasphemies and injuries which are done him by the world. I wish we could; but there is one thing we can do, we can weep over the dishonor done him, and there is a wonderful power in tears as a guard to our Master’s honor. I cannot stop thy wicked tongue, but I can pray for thee. I cannot prevent thy blasphemy, but my heart shall break because thou wilt blaspheme. I cannot keep thee back, O woman, from giving thyself up to sin; I cannot hold thee back, O man, from bowing before that demon-god, the drink; but I can plead with God on thy behalf, and I can vex my soul because of thy sin. Should not this be the daily occupation of a lover of Immanuel, to keep men back from grieving the Lord; and then, to weep and mourn for the unkindness shown to the Lord of love by those who will not be persuaded to better things? O ye soldiers of the cross, be brave in the day of battle to speak a word \’or Christ in the blasphemer’s teeth. Never hesitate to censure sin, even in the greatest or the proudest of the land. Speak the truth, and fear not. Publish the gospel, and be not afraid. in the midst of the adversaries of Christ lift high the banner of the cross, and defy all the hosts of hell to tear it down. But when ye can do no more, and the malignity of human depravity prevents your staying the hand of man from attacking the crucified One, then sit ye down, and wash his feet with tears, and wipe them with the hairs of your head, and in this way prove how, like Rizpah, ye would guard your Lord even to the death.
Finally,WE COMMEND TO YOU THIS REMARKABLE WOMAN AS AN INSTANCE OF PATIENCE INSUFFERING.
Out of love to those slain children of hers, she bore the heat of the sun, and all the inconveniences of the situation, until the rain dropped from heaven.
Oh! what ought we not to suffer for cur Lord! I feel as though I could blush scarlet that! should have to say a word to any of you about suffering for Christ, because what is it. what is it that we have to suffer? Pshaw! It is not to be talked of! Those were sufferings when women like Blandina were set in the red hot chair, or enveloped in a net, and tossed upon the horns of bulls. Those were sufferings when they scraped the flesh from off the martyrs’ bones. Those were sufferings when every bone was dislocated, and every sinew stretched upon the rack; or when, like the martyrs at Smithfield, men stood upon the burning fagot till each finger blazed like a candle, and vet shouted, “None but Christ.” Yes, those were tribulations indeed! But we are poor feather-bed soldiers. We have comparatively nothing to endure, and yet, young man, last week you were ashamed to own that you are a Christian because — yes, because they chaffed you in the shop! And you, young woman, blushed to own that you had avowed your Lord in the despised ordinance of baptism when your friends were jeering you. O men and women, how little is your faith! And vet my Master is not angry with you. You little ones, he will comfort you, and strengthen you, and give you more faith, but still do you not feel ashamed to think you should ever have been ashamed of him?
Many of you are working in the Ragged-school, others in the Sundayschool.
You are trying to do good in different ways, but you are growing weary of well doing. At this hem’, ye drooping ones, remember Rizpah, and continue in all the inconveniences of the work, since you do it unto the Lord, and not unto men. My brother minister, you who have been disappointed in your work, and are ready to give it up, and shun the arduous labor of ministry, hear thou the Word of the Lord. Wilt then play the Jonah? if so, thou mayst be east overboard and find no whale! Go back to thy work, hasten at once to Nineveh. Behold how Rizpah suffered for her dead children’s sake. and take heed that thou learn to endure as seeing him who is invisible. Brethren, if all the world at once should point the finger of seem at us, if all the devils in hell should hiss at us from their mouths of flame, if God himself for awhile should hide success from us, yet for the wounds of Christ, and for the bloody sweat, and for the precious death of Jesus, we ought still to press on in service and in sacrifice, since Jesus’ sacrifice deserves of us all we are, and more than all; deserves our whole being in its most intensely energetic condition; deserves us evermore toiling at the utmost possibility of diligence, or suffering at the highest imaginable degree of resignation. O come, ye lovers of my Master, come to his cross, and ask him to nail you there, to crucify you with himself. Ask him that he would make your hearts wholly his. Ask to be consecrated, spirit, soul, and body, and henceforth to reckon yourselves not your own, but bought, with a price.
O Holy Spirit, press these truths upon thy people’s hearts, and help them to watch and worship, to watch and suffer, to watch and serve with Jesus, till the rain shall drop from heaven, and thou shalt take them up to dwell with thyself, where they shall see the despised One exalted, the crucified One enthroned, and the buried One for ever living, King of kings, and Lord of Lords.