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PSALM lvi. 8.
"Put Thou my tears into Thy bottle."
THIS world is often called a vale of tears. The awful mountains of eternity on either side, give a strange appearance to this valley of Time. Adam and Eve first soiled the passage with sinful tears, and all their children, who have crowded the valley all about, have shed tears in abundance. The rocks and hollows of the mountains send forth sad echoes of lamentation, and mourning, and woe. Oh what will be the end of this strange and eventful pass ?
If you take one road, narrow and rough, steep and dangerous, you will come at last to the land of Beulah, whence sorrow and sighing fee away, and the great God wipes away the tears from all faces. This is the land for me, by God's
I have travelled a little the road leading to it, and I assure you, my brethren, that, in spite of the obstacles, there are very great
joys of travel ; "all the ways are ways of pleasantness, and all the paths are paths of peace."
Another road is wide, and easily travelled along. There is more noisy mirth and jollity in it than in the other, and most people, I am sorry to say, prefer this road. God says that it will end in outer darkness, “ where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth ;” and I believe God's Word, for when I was in this way, although I laughed, and sported, my heart was often very sorrowful, and I wished myself out of it, but had not courage to break away
my companions, until God was pleased, in His gracious Providence, to take me by the hand, and leading me to the narrow road, said—“This is the
walk thou in it, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left.” I am so glad that I am in this narrow way, and when I think of the danger I was once in, I cannot help shedding tears of joy. I wish everybody would take to the narrow way, but they will not ; $0 I can only preach, and pray, and move on!
They who travel in the narrow and difficult road have very many trials to meet, and if you could overhear them talking sometimes you would think they were extremely unhappy, but they are not; they are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; their tears shew, but their joy is deep, and no man can meddle with it. Just listen now to some of them giving utterance to their feelings. “ Mine eye poureth out tears unto God”-that's Job.
“Oh, that my head were waters,
and mine eyes a fountain of tears.”—That's Jeremiah ; and why does he utter such plaintive sounds ? Oh! on account of sinners persisting in their evil ways. “ When He was come near, He beheld the city and wept over it.” Who? over what city? Jesus over Jerusalem. “ He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” David prays, and turning his eyes, streaming with big tears, up to heaven, he says to God“ Put Thou my tears into Thy bottle.” We must stop now, and try and find out what the sweet Psalmist of Israel meaneth.
Strange expression! What is it based on ? To what custom does he refer ?
Among the ancient Greeks and Romans, it sometimes happened, that the tears which were shed over the departure of a friend, or relative, were collected into a small bottle, and presented on the tomb of the deceased, as a memorial of affection. This little tear bottle has been called a lachrymatory, from the Latin word lachryma, which means, a tear. Perhaps some such custom as this prevailed among the Israelites, and the sorrowful penitent would wish, above all things, that his Heavenly Father would take notice of his grief, and put his tears into a bottle, as a memorial of repentance on one side, and of love and pardon on the other. What a beautiful figure it is ; realized, I am sure, by the Christian poet, when he said
“He sees my wants, allays my fears,
How wonderful it is, my brethren, that the Almighty Maker of the Universe should be pleased to put Himself in the position, and allow poor mortals such as we, to call Him Father! Our glorious Saviour, when He would make a prayer for the use of His disciples, would have them begin it thus—“Our Father, which art in Heaven.” The Holy Comforter teacheth us to lisp “ Abba, Father,” in the very beginning of His gracious instructions. Realize this, my brethren ; realize this, I say. You know what a father is ; some of
have a father's heart, and it beats with love and anxiety over many a child. When a son of yours is wayward, and obstinate, and goes astray, what sign do you most value of the bending of his heart towards you afresh ?“ tears.” Yes ! those little drops of water from the opened fountain of repentance in your child's heart, would give you more pleasure than gems of crystal
, or even diamond. You have often heard and read the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and do you know the meaning ? God is the Father ; you the prodigal ; and angels the servants. What a marvellous truth; stranger than fiction ; stranger by far! I am sure the Father of our spirits hath a larger heart than all the fathers of our flesh taken together.
David knew that God was his Father. David felt oftentimes that he was a disobedient son, and then he would say—“All the night make I my bed to swim ; I water my couch with my tears.” David found out
the benefits of affliction; he discovered the law of godly
My tears have been my meat day and night,” such was his experience. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,” this was the law. "O Lord, hold not Thy peace at my tears,” he said. Drops of tears, as well as drops of blood, have a voice which sounds to heaven. " What is so shrill as silent tears?": The memorial of the Magdalene is wet with tears. “ I have seen thy tears,” said the Lord to Hezekiah. " Put thou my tears into Thy bottle.” Our gracious and heavenly Father hath a lachrymatory, and will look upon the tears of His saints so long as any of them linger in the vale ; perhaps this tear bottle will be thrown under the chariot of time as it enters the goal of eternity, and be broken, and the contents be spilled, and never gathered up again. For certain, we know there is to be no tear in heaven.
Ah me! what tears are in God's bottle! The tears of our mother Eve, and our father Adam. The tears of Noah and Lot and Jacob. The tears of David, and his son Solomon, the wise king. The tears of Joseph; of Jeremiah ; of Daniel ; of Manasseh also; and Peter, and Thomas.
Above all, the tears of Jesus, shed over the world he came from heaven to redeem. And, oh ! surely your tears and mine, shed in secret, shed in truth, over evil hearts and a countless number of sins. What innumerable drops of precious tears hath God made relics of, and stored away in a sacred vessel, the heavenly lachrymatory!