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In piam Memoriam.

Richard Farqhuar Wise.




















PSALM cvii. 30.

"Then are they glad, because they are at rest, and so He bringeth them unto the haven where they would be."

True of the storm-tossed mariner; true of Israel returned to its own land; true of blessed souls in the Paradise of GOD.

The Hundred and Seventh Psalm evidently was written after the children of Israel returned from the land of their captivity. It has been reckoned that in the last of the five Books of the Psalms--from this one to the end of the Psalter--there are only fifteen written by King David. Who were the authors of the others? We do not know. Ezra probably collected them; we may feel certain that he wrote some of them himself--perhaps the one before us. Nehemiah the devout layman, and Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi the Prophets, very possibly were among the other authors. But their names are not recorded; very likely the writers, in the true modesty which is a part of saintliness, did not wish their names to be appended to these compositions; but were content, and more than content--full of joy and awe, to know that through their means and instrumentality the Holy Spirit of GOD had spoken to His Church.

[4] If you look at this Psalm in your Prayer-book, you will see that it is the last of three long psalms of thanksgiving; the first two plainly historical, as is this one also, though not so evidently. All of them, learned men tell us, the Hundred and Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh, are probably from one hand. The first one gives thanks for God's mercies to Israel in its early history; the second for the mercies in the wilderness; and this one for His goodness in leading them back from Babylon to their own land. Israel is likened to men wandering in a desert, in a pathless waste; hungry and thirsty their soul faints in them; they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and He delivers them, leads them, as a guide might do, to the city which they sought. Again, Israel is like captives set free from prison; captives who had sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and in iron; they cry to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivers them and breaks their bonds in sunder. Once more, the Psalmist gives a third similitude. Foolish men--that is, the ungodly--have the punishment of their own sins, very often, in this world. Here are some whose evil manner of life has brought them to the gates of death. They, too, cry to JEHOVAH, and He saves them from destruction. And once again--there is a fourth picture. Sea-farers are tossed and driven by the tempest; yet at last they reach the desired haven. They have seen the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep. At his word [4/5] the stormy wind arises, lifting up the waves thereof; they mount to heaven, they go down again to the depths, their soul melteth because of the trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' ends. Then they cry to the LORD in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distress. He husheth the storm to a gentle air, so that the waves subside. Then are the mariners glad because they are at rest, and so He bringeth them unto the haven where they would be. And the Psalmist cries, "O that men would therefore praise the LORD for His goodness, and declare the wonders that He doeth for the children of men!"

It is a wonderful picture. The poet Addison says, that no other writing that he ever met with so wonderfully pourtrays a storm at sea. There is the awful tempest, the helplessness of human skill, the gladness of the calm, the safe refuge in the haven. And the Psalm, as we have seen, in this parable as in the three former ones, speaks of God's Church on earth--of the glad return from the Captivity; the time when they who had sowed in tears reaped in joy; when they returned from the hateful land of heathenism to their own dear country, to that Jerusalem which is ever a figure of Heaven. But the Psalmist did not write these words for the returning exiles alone. Whether they knew it or not, the writers of these inspired poems were writing words for all time. And so God's Holy Catholic Church has ever been able to use these jubilant [5/6] Psalms in a fuller, more spiritual sense than could ancient Israel; has been able to rejoice in them, when some great spiritual deliverance, some great victory has been granted to God's people warring with the powers of evil; ay, and individual Members of GOD's Church have been able to make these Psalms their own, when GOD has visited them in joy or sorrow; so that even as the Book of Psalms was the Prayer-Book of JESUS CHRIST our LORD upon earth, so it may be also to the members of His Body, the inheritors through Him of the Kingdom of Heaven.

"Then are they glad because they are at rest: and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be." On Wednesday morning last, as I said these words in the daily service of the Church, the thought of the Rest won, of the Haven gained, by one who was in the minds of all, came instinctively to me. It is a true Easter thought. Our Blessed LORD Himself--He had, during His earthly life, wandered far from His home in Heaven; He had been as one in captivity; Sinless Himself, he had taken on Him the iniquity of "foolish men" to heal them; He had passed through the raging sea of pain and sorrow more fully than we can know or feel. And now all was over. His Bark was safely riding at anchor. The Rest was won, in those calm days of the first Easter. And so there is, is there not? a special beauty in the death of a faithful member of CHRIST, at Easter. We are in Our LORD--parts of [6/7] Him--in Him and through Him we look for the Rest of Paradise, and for the joys of Heaven. And in Easter-tide the lesson is especially pressed upon us, that death in CHRIST is Rest and Calm, and Victory. Only the other day, a godly man, who had lost his father on Easter Eve, told me that ever since there had been a special comfort in that thought; for through the Grave and Gate of Death we pass (GOD willing) to our joyful resurrection at the Last Day. And in the midst of sorrow and bereavement, there is ever present by GOD's grace, the thought of Victory through CHRIST of Rest, of Calm. Calm! calm in the haven of GOD's Paradise!

The Land beyond the Sea!
When will life's task be o'er?
When shall we reach that soft blue shore
O'er the dark strait whose billows foam and roar?
When shall we come to thee,
Calm Land beyond the sea?

And to that land, we firmly and confidently hope, has been taken one who has been for many years a Father to this Parish. As all good deeds are wrought in the power of GOD'S Holy Spirit, there is nothing unbecoming, in dwelling here in this house of GOD, on the good deeds of this His Servant. Good deeds! The very word "good" has a meaning over and above the words "just" or "righteous"; St. Paul in one place notices this difference; it means also one who is kind, and benevolent, and beneficent. "A good man," says the [7/8] Psalmist "is merciful." It comes back into my mind how, years ago, when our departed friend was in the course of making a speech on a public occasion, one in high position turned to me and said "What a good man that is!" Yes, goodness, kindness, marked his every act. Only last week, a poor woman in my own parish said to me, "I was once, years ago, for a long time in the Infirmary, and I remember how glad I always was when it came to be his turn to visit us--he was so good and kind." Goodness and kindness--the very marks of that Good Samaritan, who figures forth to us Our LORD. There are many men who through large means give much and do much for the public good; but it is not everyone who does these things as he who is gone from us did them--with that gentleness and sympathy and goodness (in the Apostle's sense) as he did.

I have purposely spoken of his goodness before speaking of the greatness of his works. And, as the Son of Sirach said "Let us now praise famous men and our fathers that begat us," so you of Ladock will long look back with pride to the great works which he has done for GOD and man. And first, in your own parish. For miles round, people look up to Ladock as in so many ways a model parish. Not only because of this House of GOD which he restored to its pristine beauty; not only because of the reverent worship therein; not only because of Schools built by him, in which children should be [8/9] brought up in GOD'S faith and fear; not only on account of these and kindred benefits, but because of the effects of his long life here among you, on the whole life of the place. And outside this parish, in the rural deanery, in the neighbourhood, in the Cathedral City, in the Diocese, I do not know of any good work in which he had not a share and a prominent one. Respected alike by the Clergy who repeatedly chose him as their Rural Dean, by the laymen who repeatedly chose him to be chief of the Guardians of the Poor, by the Bishops whose counciller he was as Canon, by the civil authorities of Truro, a city whichever counted him as almost its own, by the governors of the Infirmary, where he worked so long and ruled so wisely; one of the chief of those by whom the Cathedral Church was reared and beautified; a preacher of no mean order, an ecclesiastical dignitary of weight and eminence; truly he has gone to his grave full as of years so of honours, not empty honours but honours ratified by the opinion of all men. And while we think sorrowfully that he is taken from us--that never more shall we see that kindly face, or press that kindly hand, we think also on CHRIST who swallows up death in victory; we think of the Rest that remaineth to the people of GOD.

"Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas,
Ease after war, death after life, doth greatly please."

So sang the poet Spenser; and when we think how the happiest of human lives (and he was happy in [9/10] constant doing good) is a life of warfare, if it be a Christian life; when we dwell on the thought that the long and frequent and painful illnesses are now past and gone; when we think that those stormy seas of Death are past and over--we can in truth re-echo the words of Friday's service "We give Thee hearty thanks for that it hath pleased Thee to deliver this our brother out of the miseries of this sinful world;" we pray that he, as well as we, may have the "perfect consolation and bliss both in body and soul," when soul and body are joined together again at the Resurrection Day; and meanwhile, though sorrowing for the bereaved ones and for ourselves, we know that of the blessed ones who in Paradise await that day we can say, "Then are they glad because they are at rest, and so He bringeth them unto the Haven where they would be."

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