« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
and love that cannot fail, while as Christians we walk worthy of our vocation, why should we doubt? In any case, with such a spirit, we shall be led to say, " He doeth all things well."
Mrs. Brassey, in her narrative of a voyage in The Sunbeam, writes: "Thursday, Jan. 11th, had no existence for us, as in the process of crossing the 180th meridian we have lost a day." If, indeed, the actual time had been taken out of life-if, with any of us, twenty-four hours were forcibly extracted, and we were told it, probably we should think ourselves much deprived. The feeling would arise that an injury had been done. One day! Yet how much might it be worth? Take life, with its powers, enjoyments, relationships, thoughts, feelings, hopes, possibilities; how much does only a day mean! Yet, are there not those who often squander whole days, and never seem conscious of their loss? Wasted time, perhaps, may be estimated by months during past years, yet they never reflect seriously on the fact. One might almost wish to wrest violently a day from them, that they might be led more profitably to esteem and employ what remained. If doing good also were the test, it would be well for us, in the spirit of that king who used sometimes to cry, "I have lost a day," to inquire how many we have found.
Humboldt speaks of a palm-tree (Mauritia Flexuosa, the sago tree of South America), that it preserves its beautiful verdure in periods of greatest drought. The mere sight of it gives an agreeable sensation of coolness. Water is constantly found at its foot when one has dug to a certain depth. What an interesting emblem of the Christian who maintains a holy character amid the world's temptations; and who bears affliction well, deriving refreshment and strength from the waters of life. He gives to others an impressive sense of his trust in God. He is supported by unseen supplies, and maintains a dignified serenity. He shows, like the fir-tree to which Scripture compares him, how he requires little of earth, and can grow up straight towards heaven.
"For ills of every shape and every name,
And every moment's calm that soothes the breast
A tradition records that a robber coming into Westminster Abbey by moonlight, was so startled by Roubilliac's figure of Death,
that he fled in dismay. This just suggests how many think of the last event; yet we are told the Chinese seldom mention death, except to say of a man that he "became immortal." Would it not be more becoming in those who have had "life and immortality brought to light through the Gospel," to look forward with calmer and more settled views to the necessary end of the present, which is but the glorious commencement of the future?
The monks of La Trappe live with great severity. They never eat meat, and only once a week speak together. They live shut up in their cells the rest of the time, and if from any accident they meet, they stop an instant, and, instead of all other salutations, one says:"Brother, we must die;" to which the only answer is, "Brother, I know it;" after which they cross and part. Surely it was never intended that piety should be thus clothed with melancholy, and express itself in sighs. How much nobler a summons to earnestness and deligence would be, "Brother, we must live "-live to fulfil our course, to serve our age, to glorify God, to aid the progress and increase the happiness of the world? Alas! that some people should be gloomy on principle, like Leopold, son of Ferdinand II., who was fond of rearing beautiful plants, but refrained from smelling them, that he might inure himself to mortification.
Sins of the tongue may receive reproof from what is related concerning large spaces of grass found, dried by the sun, in Australia. It is stated that whole breadths have been set on fire by rays of heat acting through the bottoms of broken bottles, carelessly thrown away, which served effectively as burning glasses. None ever thought of the conflagration and danger that might arise, but still it came about. Do not many fail to reflect how hasty, casual words, thrown recklessly out, may produce results far more serious than they could have imagined? They may injure the characters of others, or affect the welfare of a Church. They may burst into a flame, spread far and wide, and none can control their disastrous effect. Ponder the Apostle's words :-"The tongue is a fire. It setteth on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell."
Beware of so-called "little sins." A bridge over the Allegheny, near Pittsburg, was recently burnt down. Nobody could understand for a time how the catastrophe came about, until it was discovered that thousands of sparrows had built their nests in the wooden structure underneath, and a spark from one of the steamers passing
below had caught the material they used, and resulted in the calamity. Too often there are various and accumulated weaknesses in human character, suffered unheeded to multiply. They are never conceived to be sources of peril, yet some spark of temptation touches, and the whole is soon helplessly ablaze. There may have been the appearance of strength and security, yet this seeming was delusive. Watch and pray, and seek, by purification of the heart through the Spirit, to be preserved from what otherwise may be the wreck of character and a good conscience. Guard youth against the suggestions of sin. All have seen in the filbert the effects of a consuming insect that has preyed on the kernel, then eaten its way out and departed. The explanation is this. The fly laid its egg in the flower, and when the shell began to form, it was enclosed. At the appointed time in the growth of the nut, it was hatched, and the maggot wrought the havoc noticed. Some evil suggestion has too often secreted itself in the mind and heart of childhood. It has afterwards developed life and power, to the damage, perhaps ruin, of a promising future. The truest and kindest friend says, "My son, give Me thy heart." It will be safe in His keeping, with thoughts and affections nourished and strengthened by His grace. It is related of an apple-tree planted in a farm close, that shortly after the graft had been inserted and had taken, a horse, carelessly passing by, brushed against, and dislodged it. Set again, it seemed to recover from the accident, and became a fine fruitful tree. But one windy day in September, when the fruit was upon every bough, it yielded under the pressure, and fell with its golden burden. When they came to examine, they found that it had broken at the exact spot where it had been injured years before. The old infirmity had left weakness, and catastrophe came in due time. Men have wondered at instances of terrible falls in the midst of years and honours. Probably they had a vital connection with faults in earlier days. It is a sad way in which the words of Job might be illustrated-" Thou makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth."
To regain what seemed irrecoverable, and return in triumph after successful enterprise, is fortune that happens to but few. Yet it occurred once to the Prince de Condé, who, at a critical period in the reign of Philip IV., went forth to war against the enemies of Spain. With admirable skill and brave spirit he encountered his foes and won for himself great renown. On his return, he was welcomed by the King with the words, "I am informed that everything was lost,
and that you have recovered everything." In regard to a greater warfare and a higher cause, we may conceive such grand words to be appropriate. When He who had "spoiled principalities and powers" had "ascended on high, and led captivity captive," how we may thus conceive His approach to the throne, and the plaudit of "well done" as He took His place on the right hand of the Majesty on High! Preeminently then the commendation would rise to its highest-" This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
When some think of their treatment of such a Saviour, after His death on our behalf, justly may they be heart-stricken and subdued? In Kames' "Art of Thinking," an incident is told of two soldiers in the reign of Queen Anne--one an officer, the other a private. After having been friends for years, they quarrelled and became enemies. The officer annoyed the other, and took every opportunity to irritate and insult him. Both were brave men, and some time after were in action together. The officer was struck down by a ball in retreat. As the other rushed past him in flight, he exclaimed, “Ah! will you leave me here to perish?" The man whom he had so much injured heard, returned, raised the unhappy victim, and bore him off to what seemed a place of safety. But just then a chance ball struck the deliverer, and he fell dead. The wounded man rose, tore his hair, flung himself on the body, and burst into lamentations. "Hast thou died for me, who treated thee so barbarously?" He would eat nothing, and, two days afterwards, died of remorse and grief. None have treated fellow-men with the wrong, indignity, and ingratitude with which many have treated Christ. But when, in spiritual discernment and with heartfelt sorrow, we realise our indebtedness to Him, and feel that His death was our life, truly blessed it is to reflect that we need not go to "the grave to weep there," nor need the heart break under its sense of woe. Thank God, He who died, lives again-lives to bind up the broken-hearted, to speak forgiveness for the past, and to show His grace even to the " uttermost, to all who come unto God by Him."
The Song of the Dying Year.*
BY THE LATE REV. JAMES MURSELL.
ARK was the night and drear,
And the feathery snow was flying,
Wailed that the Year was dying.
Fitfully over mountain and dell
Then rising again with a mighty swell,
Like a demon let loose from hell.
Then loud and high as the doleful cry
Yet ever, methought, as it swept along,
"I die, and to my grave
My pall the darkness of the night,
Yet I was cradled on beds of flowers,
And the birds at morning and evening hours
Or fanned me with their wing.
Though cheerless and chill I seem
Yet I have known the enlivening beam
Of the warm, bright Summer's Sun-
And turns the buds to flowers;
* Written in January, 1849, the year which followed the European Revolutions, and when the author was a student in the Baptist College, Stokes Croft, Bristol.