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Title: Evangelists of Art - Picture-Sermons for Children
Author: Patrick, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Cover art]



  "Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart,
  Lived and laboured Albrecht Dürer, the Evangelist of Art;

  Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand,
  Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land."

  LONGFELLOW, _Nuremberg_.



EVANGELISTS OF ART

_PICTURE-SERMONS FOR CHILDREN_



BY


REV. JAMES PATRICK, B.D., B.Sc.

COUPER UNITED FREE CHURCH, BURNTISLAND



  "Could I have traced one form that should express
    The sacred mystery that underlies
    All Beauty, and through man's enraptured eyes
  Teach him how beautiful is Holiness..."
          Sir J. NOËL PATON



CINCINNATI

JENNINGS & GRAHAM

1903



_Printed by MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED, Edinburgh_



CONTENTS


    I. CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE . . . . . . . . . _W. Holman Hunt_

   II. LUTHER AT ERFÜRT . . . . . . . . . . . _Sir J. Noël Paton, R.S.A._

  III. HERCULES WRESTLING WITH DEATH FOR
       THE BODY OF ALCESTIS . . . . . . . . . _Lord Leighton, P.R.A._

   IV. ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE . . . . . . . . . _G. F. Watts, S.A._

    V. THE LAST SLEEP OF ARGYLL . . . . . . . _E. M. Ward, R.A._

   VI. WISHART DISPENSING THE SACRAMENT
       BEFORE HIS MARTYRDOM . . . . . . . . . _W. Q. Orchardson, R.A._

  VII. THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE . . . . . _G. F. Watts, R.A._

 VIII. THE MAN WITH THE MUCK-RAKE . . . . . . _Sir J. Noël Paton, R.S.A._



CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE

BY W. HOLMAN HUNT


[Illustration: CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE.  By permission of Mr. Holman Hunt,
and of Mrs. Holt, Liverpool]


CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE

_How is it that ye sought Me?  Wist ye not that I must be in My
Father's house?_--LUKE ii. 49 (Revised Version).


The Bible story from which the text is taken has been illustrated by a
famous picture.  The artist is Mr. Holman Hunt, who has painted many
pictures on Bible subjects, and has spent many years in Palestine in
connection with his work.  His painting of "The Finding of Christ in
the Temple" is well worth seeing for the rich beauty of its colouring
and the delicate fineness of its workmanship, and every one who loves
the Bible must feel that it is still more worth seeing for the sake of
the scene which it represents.

As you look at the picture you have before you the interior of a
spacious portico in the Temple at Jerusalem.  The roof is supported on
graceful pillars, and from it there hang many lamps of beautiful
metal-work.  The farther end is closed by an ornamental lattice-screen.
At the right hand side a wide doorway opens on the steps which lead
down to one of the Temple courts.  A beggar sits on the steps just
outside the opening, and beyond him there are workmen busy at the
building of the Temple, which, as you know, was not finished for many
years after the boyhood of Jesus.  You remember that when He had grown
to manhood, the Jews said to Him, _Forty and six years was this Temple
in building_,[1] and even then we know that it was not completed.  In
our picture we see the scaffolding of the masons, and one of the cranes
by which they raised the stones into position.  The workmen themselves
are engaged with a large marble block which is lying on the ground, and
for which there is a vacant space in the wall above.  Beyond the
unfinished building there is a grove of trees, and in the further
distance we get a glimpse of the roofs of the city and of the hills
behind.  Coming back to the interior of the portico we see an
interesting group of figures at the farther end.  A father and mother
have come to present their child in the Temple, and they have bought a
lamb to offer in sacrifice.  The father, with the lamb on his shoulder,
and the mother, with the little one in her arms, are following a priest
and another attendant who are leading the way further into the Temple,
while the man who has sold them the lamb is holding back the
mother-sheep.  Doves are flying in by the doorway or hovering about
inside.  They are among the

  "Happy birds that sing and fly
  Round Thine altars, O Most High."

A boy near one of the pillars is waving a long streamer in the air to
frighten them away.  But our attention is principally drawn to the
foreground of the picture.  This part of the portico is richly
carpeted, and here a number of Jewish Rabbis--the doctors or teachers
of the Law--are sitting in a half-circle, facing the doorway.  They are
grave men, with long beards and flowing robes.  Many of them are old
and grey.  The Rabbi nearest us has a specially withered face, and eyes
that have become sightless with age.  The one next him holds in his
hand a little metal box with leather thongs hanging down from it.  This
is a phylactery, containing texts of Scripture written on parchment,
and the thongs are for fastening it on the forehead.  Another of the
group wears his phylactery in its proper position.  The blind Rabbi
clasps in his arms a great roll of the Law, richly mounted and
carefully wrapped up.  A little boy, with a brush to drive away the
flies, kneels beside him, and another boy behind him is reverently
kissing the covering of the roll, which he has raised to his lips.  One
of the younger Rabbis holds a smaller roll spread out before him.  An
attendant is pouring out wine from a jar under his arm, for one of the
older men to drink.  The Temple musicians, with youthful faces, and
with various instruments in their hands, stand behind the Rabbis and
watch the scene with much interest.  But the central figure in the
picture is the boy Jesus, who has risen from the place where He has
been sitting, and is preparing to go away with Joseph and Mary.  He
stands just inside the doorway, tightening His girdle with one hand,
while the other hand clasps His mother's arm.  His bright, earnest face
is turned a little away from her, and His eyes glance towards the
Rabbis as if He were eager to hear the last of their words.  Mary is
smiling with gladness because she has found Him, and is drawing Him
gently and lovingly away.  Behind her, Joseph, a powerful and
noble-looking man, holds with one hand the broad strap by which his
wallet is slung over his shoulder, while his other hand rests beside
Mary's on the shoulder of Jesus.  Just above his head there is a large
sun-shaped design on the side of the doorway, around which run the
words, both in Latin and in Hebrew, _The Lord whom ye seek shall
suddenly come to His Temple_.[2]

Now there are at least two lessons which the story and the picture
teach us.  There are two things in which the boy Jesus sets an example
to the boys and girls of to-day.


I

First of all, there is _Love of heavenly wisdom_.  You can well
understand that there must have been many places and many things in the
great and ancient city of Jerusalem which would be full of interest for
a boy of twelve, who had just come for the first time from His distant
village home.  But there was no place so attractive to Jesus as the
Temple of God.  There was nothing that pleased Him so much as to hear
what the wise men of the Temple had to say about God's truth and God's
service.  He had thought a great deal about these matters Himself
though He was only a boy.  He had a great many questions to ask.  Three
days had not been long enough for Him to find out all that He wanted to
know.  He thought that Joseph and Mary would have understood what He
liked best, that they would have known exactly where to find Him, that
they would never have thought of looking for Him in any other place
than His Father's house.

You see that the love of heavenly wisdom is as natural and as beautiful
in a young mind as in an older one.  The picture that I have been
describing shows Jesus with a real, bright, boyish face, which is
earnest and thoughtful at the same time.  And you boys and girls who
read these pages will be able to make the best of the happy days of
your youth if you love your Heavenly Father and His house, if you are
eager to know and to obey His will.


II

Secondly, there is _Obedience to earthly parents_.  It was not with any
intention of disobeying Joseph and Mary that Jesus stayed behind in the
Temple.  He did not think of their losing Him, or of their being
anxious about Him.  He did not mean to grieve or vex them.  He was so
carried away by His interest in the teaching of the wise Rabbis that He
thought about nothing else.  This was just like a boy, and Jesus was a
real boy.  But as soon as Joseph and Mary found Him and called Him, He
obeyed them.  He rose from His seat among the doctors and went with His
parents towards the doorway.  He would have liked to stay longer, and
He could not help looking back and listening to the last.  But He never
once dreamed of remaining against Mary's or Joseph's will.  He never
thought of making His love for God's wisdom and truth an excuse for
disobeying them.  _He went down with them, and came to Nazareth: and He
was subject unto them_.[3]

And so the boys and girls who are the most earnest and thoughtful,
those who love God's house and God's Word most deeply, ought to be the
most obedient boys and girls at home.  God does not want to take your
mind and heart away from your parents and from what you owe to them.
He wants you to serve Him by your loving obedience to them.  When you
honour your father and your mother you are honouring God's commandment,
and so honouring God Himself in the very best way.



[1] John ii. 20.

[2] Mal. iii. 1.

[3] Luke ii. 51 (Revised Version).



LUTHER AT ERFÜRT

By THE LATE SIR J. NOËL PATON, R.S.A.


[Illustration: LUTHER AT ERFÜRT.  By permission of the executors of Sir
Noël Paton, and Mr. R. H. Brechin, Glasgow]


LUTHER AT ERFÜRT

_I rejoice at Thy word, as one that findeth great spoil_.--Ps. cxix.
162.


I wish to connect this text with a picture which is thought by many
judges to be among the greatest of the late Sir Noël Paton's works.
Its title is "Dawn," and its subject is a well-known incident in the
life of the famous German Reformer, Martin Luther.

As we see Luther in this picture he is a young man between twenty and
thirty years of age.  He has had a brilliant career at the University
of Erfürt, and has taken his degree with the highest honours, but he
has disappointed all his friends by refusing to become a lawyer, and by
choosing to become a monk instead.  He has already entered the
Augustinian monastery at Erfürt.  Luther's reason for taking this
unexpected step has been anxiety about his soul.  He has begun to do
his best to gain salvation by performing all the duties of a monk.  He
has fasted, and scourged himself, and done without sleep.  He has once
spent three whole days without eating or drinking.  He has been found
fainting on the floor of his cell.  But with all this he does not feel
that God has forgiven his sins.  In this monastery, however, he has
found something which he has never seen before, and that is a Bible.
You would think it strange nowadays if a man were over twenty years
old, and a Master of Arts, and yet had never seen a Bible; but that was
quite common in Luther's time.  Well, in this monastery there is a
Bible, a great Latin book bound in red leather.  The other monks have
shown it to Luther, though they have not cared much about it
themselves.  He has begun to read it eagerly.  The first thing he has
read in it has been the story of Hannah and the little Samuel, and this
has made him think of his own mother Margarethe and himself.  Night and
day he studies this precious book, but at first it only makes him more
anxious.  It seems to speak to him only of the righteous and jealous
God, who hates and punishes sin.  But he gets some advice from a wise
friend, and begins to read the Epistle to the Romans over again.  And
at length the glad meaning of the gospel dawns upon him.  His own
account of it is, _Straightway I felt as if I were born anew.  It was
as if I had found the door of Paradise thrown wide open.  Now I saw the
Scriptures altogether in a new light.  That passage of Paul was to me
the true door of Paradise_.

Sir Noël Paton's picture represents Luther reading the Bible and
finding his restlessness and anxiety giving place to gladness and peace
of heart.  He is sitting at a reading-table with the great
leather-covered book open before him.  He wears his monk's dark robe
and cowl.  His hands are thin and wasted.  His cheeks are pale and
hollow with fasting.  His eyes are bloodshot and fevered with anxiety
and sleeplessness.  Near his left hand a richly carved crucifix stands
on the table, and beside it are an hour-glass and a skull.  An ink-pot
with pens is at the other side.  A lamp hangs from the roof above his
head, but it is giving no light.  Only a thin blue trail of smoke rises
from the wick, showing that the oil has been burnt out.  The fresh
morning air is coming in at a half-opened window above the crucifix.
The bright morning sun shines through the richly stained glass, and
makes a strange blur of coloured light on the wooden shutter behind.
The front of the reading-table is adorned by a picture of the Garden of
Gethsemane, with Christ praying, and the disciples sleeping.  On the
wall behind Luther is a portrait of Pope Alexander VI., who died not
long before this time, and was one of the worst of men.  In a recess
beyond a curtain we see on another stained-glass window, the figure of
Augustine, one of the great teachers of the early Church, after whom
the monastery at Erfürt was named.  A number of old parchment-covered
books are visible, and it is interesting to notice the titles of some
of them, and the places where they lie.  Away on a shelf are the works
of Aristotle, a great philosopher of ancient heathen Greece.  On the
floor beside the reading-table is a book by a man called Thomas
Aquinas, a famous Roman Catholic teacher of the thirteenth century.
And on the table is a book by Augustine about the City of God.  A
rosary, that is, a string of black beads with a cross at the end, has
been thrust between the leaves of this last book, as if to mark the
page.  We seem to see that Luther has come from the heathen philosopher
to the Roman Catholic doctor, and then to the earlier Christian
teacher, and last of all to the Bible itself.  For the Bible is the
only open book; and the pale, worn, young monk, who has been reading it
all night, is still bending over it in the early morning, with a
wonderful earnestness in his look.  The sunrise outside is an emblem of
the light that is beginning to dawn upon his soul.

Now what can this picture teach you?  Two things, I think, at least.


I

The first is _to prize the Bible and study it earnestly_.  You can
understand what a surprising and precious discovery the Bible was to
Luther, how glad he was to read it, how he _rejoiced_ in God's Word _as
one that findeth great spoil_.  And one of the first things he did when
he had an opportunity was to translate the Bible into the common speech
of the German people, that every one might be able to have it, and that
no one might grow to manhood or womanhood without having seen it or
read it.

Bibles are common and cheap in these days, but I am afraid that there
are still some people who are as old as Luther in our picture, and yet
do not know very much about the truths which the Scriptures contain.
Be sure that you do not despise the Bible because it is so familiar.
It is still the best of all books.  Try to take as much interest in it
as if it were a book you had never seen before, and you will always
find something new and fresh in it to reward you.


II

The second is _to discover in the Bible God's message of love and peace
to your own heart_.  Luther's case shows that you cannot win God's
forgiveness by punishing yourself, by fasting, and scourging, and
sleeplessness, and things like these, while you can get forgiveness for
nothing just by taking it from God.  Jesus Christ has won it for you.
He has loved you and given Himself for you.  You simply need to believe
that God pardons you and saves you freely for Jesus Christ's sake.
This was what Luther found in his Bible.  It is the best thing you can
find in yours.  And when you do find it I am sure that you also will
_rejoice as one that findeth great spoil_.



HERCULES WRESTLING WITH DEATH FOR THE BODY OF ALCESTIS

BY THE LATE LORD LEIGHTON, P.R.A.


[Illustration: HERCULES WRESTLING WITH DEATH FOR THE BODY OF ALCESTIS.
By permission of the Fine Art Society, 748 New Bond Street, London, the
owners of the copyright]


HERCULES WRESTLING WITH DEATH FOR THE BODY OF ALCESTIS

_That through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of
death_.--HEB. ii. 14 (Revised Version).


We come now to a picture which represents a scene in one of the most
beautiful stories of ancient Greece.  There was a king of Thessaly
called Admetus, with whom the god Apollo served for a time as herdsman.
Apollo had offended Zeus, the Father of the gods, by killing the
forgers of the thunderbolts with which Zeus had slain Apollo's son
Asclepius--

  "And so, for punishment, must needs go slave,
  God as he was, with a mere mortal lord."

He found Admetus to be a kind master, and when his term of service was
over he showed his gratitude by obtaining from the Fates a promise
that, whenever Admetus should be about to die, his life would be
spared, if only some one of his friends should be found willing to die
instead of him.  The promise was very soon put to the test.  Admetus
was struck down with a deadly disease.  His father Pheres and his
mother were each asked if they would die for their son, but though they
were old, and had not many years of life to hope for at the best,
neither of them was willing to make the sacrifice.  When they refused,
Alcestis, the wife of Admetus, offered herself to Death in the flower
of her youth and beauty.  She was taken, and her husband was spared.
Hercules was the greatest hero of the Greeks--their strong man, like
Samson in the Bible.  And when Alcestis died Hercules came to the
rescue.  He wrestled with Death, overcame him, and gave Alcestis back
to her husband again.  This beautiful tale was taken by the Greek poet
Euripides as the subject of one of his plays, the _Alcestis_, which
some of you may read when you are older.  The story is also found in
English in Browning's _Balaustion's Adventure_, which is just a
translation and explanation of the poem of Euripides.

The fight of Hercules with Death for the body of Alcestis has been
painted as well as sung.  Lord Leighton's large and masterly picture
brings the whole scene before us.  In the centre you see the body of
Alcestis, which has been brought out of doors, and laid on a bier under
the shadow of some ancient trees.  Beyond it, in the background, is the
dark blue sea, flecked with white spots of foam.  The dead body is
covered with pure white drapery.  The beautiful face is pale as marble,
and the brow is crowned with a garland of myrtle leaves.  Roses are
strewn on the white coverlet, and on the ground.  Beside the bier are
the offerings of food and drink which the Greeks used to burn along
with their dead on the funeral pyre.  In the left hand corner lies a
shovel for digging the grave that is to receive the ashes.  Several men
and women are gathered round the bier, mostly in a group near the head
of Alcestis.  They are her friends, and the servants attending her dead
body.  At the right hand side of the picture we see a terrible conflict
going on.  Death has come in bodily form to meet the funeral
procession, and to take Alcestis away.  His limbs are of a ghastly
ashen colour.  His wings are black as night.  He is wrapped in a dark
mantle, which hides almost the whole of his face, and shows only the
fearful gleam of his eyes.  But Hercules is also there, strong and
ruddy, and wearing the skin of a lion which he has slain in one of his
adventures.  He has grasped Death by both wrists, and is forcing him
downwards and backwards over his knee.  He is plainly overcoming his
adversary.  One of the women present is swooning away in fear.  Some of
the others are hiding their faces from the dreadful struggle.  The rest
are gazing on it with awestruck looks, hardly daring to hope that
Hercules will be victorious.

Browning's poem, which was published in the same year[1] in which Lord
Leighton's painting appeared, contains at the end a description of the
picture, which you will be glad to read here.

  "There lies Alkestis dead, beneath the sun,
  She longed to look her last upon, beside
  The sea, which somehow tempts the life in us
  To come trip over its white waste of waves,
  And try escape from earth, and fleet as free.
  Behind the body, I suppose there bends
  Old Pheres in his hoary impotence;
  And women-wailers in a corner crouch
        *        *        *        *        *
  Close, each to other, agonising all,
  As fastened, in fear's rhythmic sympathy,
  To two contending opposite.  There strains
  The might o' the hero 'gainst his more than match,
  --Death, dreadful not in thew and bone, but like
  The envenomed substance that exudes some dew
  Whereby the merely honest flesh and blood
  Will fester up and run to ruin straight,
  Ere they can close with, clasp and overcome
  The poisonous impalpability
  That simulates a form beneath the flow
  Of those grey garments."


Now, of course, the story of Admetus and Alcestis is a fable, but for
all that it is not worthless as some fables are.  Though the god Apollo
never existed, and never lived among men as a servant, yet the old tale
reminds us of Him who was truly the Son of God; who came to this world
and lived a human life like our own--a life of lowly service; who did
this not because of any crime He had committed, since He was perfectly
holy; and not because any one forced Him to do it, but of His own free
and loving choice.  And further, the story shows us how sorrow and
death came to these old Greeks, and awakened in their hearts great
dreams and longings.  These desires seemed vain enough then, because
there was no one who could fulfil them.  But they were the very desires
which Jesus Christ came to fulfil in due time.  The Greeks thought of a
love which was strong enough to make one lay down one's life for a
friend, and they put that idea into the sacrifice of Alcestis.  They
thought, too, of a power which was strong enough to conquer Death, and
to bring lost ones back to life, and they put that idea into the
victory of Hercules.

In Jesus Christ you actually find both such a love and such a power.
He laid down His life for His friends--yes, and for His enemies.  He
loved us, and gave Himself for us.  And, though He died, yet He
conquered Death.  He rose again in victory and glory.  He gives eternal
life to all His disciples.  He has abolished death, and has brought
life and immortality to light.  Must not this picture, and this
old-world story, make us think reverently and lovingly of Him, and of
the verse which tells how He came _that through death He might bring to
nought him that had the power of death_?



[1] 1871.



ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE

BY G. F. WATTS, R.A.


[Illustration: ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE By permission from a photograph by
Mr. Frederick Hollyer]


ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE

_He that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more_.--Job vii. 9.


Our last picture showed us a struggle in which Death was conquered.
This one illustrates another old Greek story--the story of a fight with
Death that failed.  It is by Mr. G. F. Watts, one of the most famous of
living painters, and it is called "Orpheus and Eurydice."

According to the old fable Orpheus was a great musician, so skilful
that he could tame wild beasts, and even make the trees and rocks move
by the sweet melodies which he played.  Eurydice was his wife, and one
day she trod on a snake, which bit her, so that she died, and went down
into the world of ghosts.  Orpheus loved her so much that he followed
her into that gloomy place, taking his lyre with him.  He played such
entrancing music that all the ghosts were spellbound.  Even Persephone,
the stern Queen of the Dead, was so touched that she gave him leave to
take Eurydice back with him to the land of the living.  But she warned
him that he must not look back till they were both safely out in the
upper world.  Orpheus was glad beyond measure, and meant to obey the
warning.  But he was so anxious about Eurydice, that just before they
had passed the gate of the under world he looked round, to make sure
that she was near him.  In an instant she was whirled away back, to
dwell for ever among the dead.  Orpheus came forth alone, twice
bereaved, and more than doubly sad.

Mr. Watts has painted several pictures of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Some
of them show the figures at full length, but the one in our
illustration is less complete.  Still it contains the principal points
that are to be seen in the other companion paintings.  The scene is the
gloomy gateway of the world of the dead.  It is all rough and rocky and
dark.  Through its opening you catch a glimpse of the bright upper
world, and of the blue sky with its white clouds.  Orpheus stands in
the shadow.  His body has the glow of life and health.  He wears his
minstrel's garland on his brow.  But his face is full of anguish.  For
he has looked backwards, and he sees that Eurydice, who is close behind
him, is a pale corpse again.  Her arms, that have just been stretched
out to clasp his neck, have lost their power and are falling down
lifelessly.  Her head is drooping upon her shoulder.  Her eyes are
closed, and her fair face is turned towards the under world.  One of
the pictures shows a lily which has dropped from her hand, and lies
trailing and broken among the stones at her feet.  Her long golden hair
is blowing backwards into the dark.  The right arm of Orpheus is
stretched out in a vain attempt to grasp her, and to hold her back from
being carried away by the resistless power that draws her.  His left
hand holds his lyre, and all its strings save one are broken.  His eye
is fixed on Eurydice's face in a gaze of hopeless pain.  The picture is
terrible rather than beautiful to look upon.  It tells us how, in the
sad, dark heathen world, before Christ came, men thought that though
Love might sometimes seem stronger than Death, Death was really
stronger than Love.

Now the story of Orpheus has an interest for us in more ways than one.
The early Christians liked to think of the resemblance between Orpheus
and Christ.  They saw in the minstrel, who tamed the wild beasts with
his music, a type of the gracious and gentle Saviour who came to subdue
the evil passions of men's hearts, and to change confusion and strife
into harmony and peace.  In the pictures which they have left in the
Roman Catacombs Christ is very frequently represented under the figure
of the fabled musician.  He appears as a young man sitting beneath a
tree, wearing a country cloak and cap, and with a harp on His knee.
The lion, the wolf, the leopard, the horse, the sheep, the serpent, and
the tortoise are gathered round Him, and peacocks and other birds are
perched upon the branches of the tree.

But our picture leads us rather to think of the difference between
Orpheus and Christ.  Christ's love, unlike the love of Orpheus, is
stronger than death.  It brought back to life the little daughter of
Jairus, who had died just before He came to her father's house.  It
brought back the widow's son at Nain, when his body was being carried
to the grave.  It brought back Lazarus of Bethany, after he had been
dead four days.  The love of Christ took Him into the world of the dead
Himself, that He might return as a Conqueror.  It sets free all His
disciples from the power of death.  It brings them all back, not to
this world of sin and sorrow, where they would have to die again, but
into the better world of heaven, where they have everlasting life and
gladness.  What the old heathen Greeks dreamed of hopelessly has come
to pass.  What Orpheus could not do for Eurydice because of his
weakness and forgetfulness, Jesus Christ in His strength and wisdom can
do for you and me.  He will do it if we trust Him.  His disciples need
never be troubled by the old despairing thought, _He that goeth down to
the grave shall come up no more_.



THE LAST SLEEP OF ARGYLL

BY THE LATE E. M. WARD, R.A.


[Illustration: THE LAST SLEEP OF ARGYLL.  By permission of Messrs.
Thomas Agnew & Sons.]


THE LAST SLEEP OF ARGYLL

_Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee,
because he trusteth in Thee_.--ISA. xxvi. 3.


This is a painting which takes us back, not to any legend of pagan
times, nor to any Bible story, nor to any incident of the Reformation
in other lands, but to a scene in the history of our own country, and
it is well worthy of its place among the other historical pictures in
the Commons' Corridor of the Houses of Parliament.

The nobleman who is the subject of the picture is not the great and
famous Marquis of Argyll, but his son, the ninth Earl of Argyll.  The
Marquis was put to death in the year 1661, as one of the first victims
of the cruel government of King Charles II. after the Restoration.  He
was the man who had placed the crown on the head of Charles at Scone,
when the Scottish people were loyal to him, though the English would
not own him as their king.  When Charles came to the throne of both
countries, after ten years of exile, he showed his gratitude to his
faithful servant by sending him to the scaffold.  The first words of
the Marquis, after he received the sentence of death, were, _I had the
honour to set the crown upon the king's head, and now he hastens me to
a better crown than his own_.  And when he was leaving the prison to go
to the place of execution, he said to his friends, I could die like a
Roman, but choose rather to die as a Christian.

The Earl, his son, who appears in our picture, was executed in 1685,
the first year of Charles' successor, James II.  It was the same year
in which John Brown, the carrier of Priesthill, was shot by Claverhouse
in front of his own house, and before his wife's eyes; the year also in
which Margaret Maclachlan and Margaret Wilson--the latter a maiden of
eighteen--were tied to stakes fixed in the sand, and drowned for
Christ's sake in the Solway tide.  The Earl of Argyll was a man who
worthily followed the noble example of his father.  He was condemned to
death on a charge of treason, because he would not swear a certain oath
called the _Test_.  This oath was directed against the Scottish
Covenanters, and all the king's officers and servants were required to
take it.  Argyll did not approve of all that was in the oath, and said
that he could only swear it in so far as it agreed with the Bible and
with itself.  For this he was tried, and sentenced to die, a few years
before the end of the reign of Charles II.  But he escaped from prison,
and fled to Holland, where he remained for a time in safety.  When
James II. came to the throne on the death of Charles, the Earl took
part in a rebellion against him, and came back to Scotland at the head
of an army.  The rebellion failed, and Argyll was taken prisoner at
Inchinnan, near Renfrew.  He was brought to Edinburgh, and though he
might have been tried for his rebellion, he was just treated as a man
already sentenced to death.  On the morning of his execution, he said,
_I have more joy and comfort this day than the day after I escaped out
of the Castle_.  He then wrote some letters, and took his dinner as
cheerfully as usual.  After dinner, as his custom was, he lay down to
rest for a little, and slept for a quarter of an hour as sweetly and
pleasantly as he had ever done.  While he was asleep, an officer of
state, who had been one of his chief enemies, came to the Castle to see
him, with a message from the Council.  He was told that Argyll was
asleep, and was not to be disturbed.  When he refused to believe this
the gaoler softly opened the door and allowed him to look into the
cell.  As soon as he saw the Earl sleeping he turned without a word,
and ran out of the Castle into a friend's house near by.  He was so
agitated that the lady of the house thought he was ill and offered him
wine.  But he declined it, with these words, _I have been in at Argyll,
and saw him sleeping as pleasantly as ever a man did, within an hour of
eternity: but as for me_--and then he could say no more.

Argyll's place of imprisonment may still be seen in Edinburgh Castle.
In Mr. Ward's picture his bed-chamber is before you.  Its thick walls,
its bare floor, and its heavy vaulted roof are all of stone.  Through
an open door you look into another room where you see the table at
which he has just dined.  It is covered with a white cloth, on which
are the remains of the dinner, and you notice that the wine-glass that
stands beside the flagon has not been emptied.  In the nearer room the
Earl is lying on the prison bed in his ordinary clothes.  He wears a
suit of black velvet, with a collar of lace at the neck, and full cuffs
of white linen at the wrists.  His boots have not been removed, and he
is stretched out only as comfortably as his fetters will allow.  His
head rests on a great white pillow, and his brown hair falls smoothly
from beneath his black velvet cap.  A newly written letter has fallen
from his hand to the floor.  You can read the signature, _Argyll_, and
the date, _1685_.  On a chair at the head of the bed there is a large
Bible, and beside it lies an old-fashioned watch, with its hand moving
slowly round to the hour of execution.  The light from a little window
falls on the sleeping prisoner's face, which is fresh coloured and full
of peace, with no trace of paleness or fear.  Near the foot of the bed
the thick outer door, studded with iron, and with a heavy lock, and
many bolts, stands open.  In the background there is a rough gaoler,
holding the door by the key in the lock, while the rest of the bunch of
prison keys hangs from his hand.  In front of him is the officer of
state, fashionably dressed in a rich red cloak, with a tasselled
waist-band.  His cuffs are of fine lace, he wears a jewelled ring, and
his long hair curls down upon his shoulders.  He has let his hat fall
to the floor in his astonishment, and is staring at the sleeping Earl
with remorse and confusion in his face.

Such a picture suggests many thoughts.  It reminds us of the cruel
sufferings our forefathers had to endure for conscience' sake, and of
the great debt we owe to those who were ready to lay down their lives
in the cause of truth and freedom.

It shows also what a terrible thing it is to have a guilty conscience,
as the officer who visited Argyll plainly had.  It teaches that a bad
man's life of remorse and shame is a thing far more miserable, and far
more to be feared, than a good man's undeserved death.

Above all, it tells us that the secret of courage and calmness, both
for living and for dying, is faith in God our Father, and in the Lord
Jesus Christ our Saviour.  It proves how true are the words, _Thou wilt
keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he
trusteth in Thee_.



WISHART DISPENSING THE SACRAMENT BEFORE HIS MARTYRDOM

BY W. Q. ORCHARDSON, R.A.


[Illustration: WISHART DISPENSING THE SACRAMENT BEFORE HIS MARTYRDOM.
From a photograph by J. & R. Annan, Glasgow, by permission of Mr. J. C.
Buist.]


WISHART DISPENSING THE SACRAMENT BEFORE HIS MARTYRDOM

_With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I
suffer_.--LUKE xxii. 15.


Here we have a picture which represents a Communion service, yet a
service which is different in some ways from those which you have been
accustomed to see.  The company is a small one, for there are only
about a dozen people present.  They are met, not in a church, but in a
rather bare and plainly furnished room.  In the centre of the picture
there is a table covered with a white cloth, on which is set a salver
with some bread and three wine cups upon it.  Behind the table a man is
standing and speaking, with his hands stretched out over the bread and
the wine before him.  He is tall and bearded, and wears a simple dress
of dark colour.  His face is pale, and his whole look is full of an
earnest gladness.  Beside him sits a richly dressed lady, with a
countenance of rare beauty and goodness.  Her eyes are fixed on the
speaker, and she is drinking in eagerly every word that he utters.
Beyond her, at one end of the table, sits a gentleman with a refined
and thoughtful face.  He also is leaning forward and listening with the
deepest interest.  Opposite him, at the other end of the table, an old
man is sitting very erect, with one hand resting on a staff, and the
other grasping the arm of his chair.  He too is gazing steadfastly at
the man who speaks.  Beside the old man is a woman, and on her knee is
a little child who is playing with one of the pieces of bread on the
table.  At the side of the table next us there is a chair with a
soldier's round shield set against it and a sword lying upon it.  A
sweet-faced little girl is leaning over the chair and clasping her arms
round the hilt of the sword.  She is another eager listener, and she
seems to understand all that is being said.  Behind her stands the man
to whom the sword and the shield belong.  Beyond them is another man
whose head is bowed down upon the back of the gentleman's chair, and
who appears to be hiding his face in sorrow.  At the further side of
the table are two or three men.  Above them a curtain hangs from the
roof.  The only other bit of ornament in the room is a tall vase which
stands on the floor in front of the table.  Behind the speaker there is
an open doorway, guarded by a soldier with a steel cap on his head.

You will ask when and where this Communion service took place, and who
the people in the picture are.

Well, the time is the year 1546--nearly 360 years ago.  The place is
the Castle of Saint Andrews.  The speaker is George Wishart, one of the
early martyrs of the Scottish Reformation.  The scene took place on the
morning of the day--the 28th of March--when he was burned to death at
the stake in front of the Castle.  The gentleman at the end of the
table is the Governor of the Castle.  The beautiful lady is his wife.
The little girl and the baby boy are their children.  The others
present are their guests, or their servants, or friends of the
prisoner.  And the soldier at the door is there to see that the
condemned man does not escape.

Let me tell you a little more about George Wishart, and about what took
place that March morning.  Wishart was a learned Scottish gentleman,
who had come to believe in the gospel as Luther and the other Reformers
preached it.  He had been banished from his native land by the bishops
for teaching the Greek New Testament at Montrose.  After spending some
years at the University of Cambridge in England he had returned to
Scotland in 1544, and had preached the Reformed doctrines with great
earnestness and success in Montrose, Dundee, Ayrshire, and Haddington.
In the last-named place he had among his followers John Knox, who was
then a young man, and who afterwards became the great leader of the
Scottish Reformation.  Before going to Haddington he had paid a second
visit to Dundee, where the plague was raging at the time, and had
ministered with great fearlessness and tenderness to those who were
suffering from this dreadful disease.  There is still standing in
Dundee one of the old city gates--the Cowgate Port, where Wishart
preached to the healthy on one side, and to the plague-stricken on the
other.  When in Dundee at this time, he narrowly escaped being murdered
by the enemies of the truth; and after he left Haddington he fell into
the hands of Cardinal Beaton, who was the leader of the Roman Catholic
party in Scotland.  He was taken to Saint Andrews, tried for heresy,
sentenced to death, and condemned to be executed the next day.

After spending the night in prayer, he was visited next morning by a
good man called John Winram, who was then the Sub-Prior of the Abbey of
Saint Andrews, and who afterwards joined the Reformed Church.  Winram
had a long talk with him in his prison cell, and asked him if he was
willing to receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.  Wishart
answered, _Most willingly, so I may have it ministered according to
Christ's institution, under both heads, of bread and wine_.  Winram
then went to Cardinal Beaton and the other bishops, and asked that this
might be granted to the prisoner.  But they refused, answering that it
was not reasonable to grant any spiritual benefit to an obstinate
heretic, condemned by the Church.

After Wishart heard this he was invited to breakfast by the Governor of
the Castle, and he accepted readily, saying, _I perceive, you to be a
good Christian, and a man fearing God_.  When they were at breakfast,
Wishart said to his host, _I beseech you in the name of God, and for
the love you bear to our Saviour Jesus Christ, to be silent a little
while, till I have made a short exhortation, and blessed this bread
which we are to eat, so that I may bid you farewell_.  Then he spoke to
the company for about half an hour on the institution of the Lord's
Supper, and the death of Christ, and exhorted them to love one another
and to live holy lives.  Afterwards he blessed and broke the bread, and
gave a portion to every one present.  And in the same way, after
tasting the wine, he passed the cup round them all, bidding them to
remember with thankfulness the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.  _As to
myself_, he said, _there is a more bitter portion prepared for me, only
because I have preached the true doctrine of Christ, which bringeth
salvation.  But pray you the Lord with me that I may take it patiently,
as out of His hand_.  Then he concluded with another thanksgiving, and
went back to his own chamber to wait for the hour of his martyrdom,
which came very soon.

The stake at which he was to be burned was fixed in the ground in front
of the Castle, and the Cardinal and his friends sat on cushions at the
windows, to enjoy the sight of his martyrdom.  Wishart was led to the
place with his hands bound behind his back, a rope round his neck, and
an iron chain about his waist.  He knelt down and prayed thrice, _Oh,
thou Saviour of the world, have mercy on me!  Father of heaven, I
commend my spirit into Thy holy hands_.  The executioner knelt down
before him and asked his forgiveness for what he was about to do.
Wishart said, _Come hither_; and then kissed his cheek, with the words,
_Lo, here is a token that I forgive thee.  My heart, do thine office_.
When the flames leaped up around him, he cried to the Governor of the
Castle, _This fire torments my body, but no way abates my spirit_.
Last of all he warned the Cardinal that his own doom was near at hand,
and then he was strangled by the rope being pulled tightly about his
neck, and his body was burned to ashes.

Now, if we come back to the picture of Wishart's last Communion, we
shall find in it many deep and beautiful lessons, which even boys and
girls can understand and learn.

You see that in the days of the Reformation there were good men and
women, like John Winram, and the Governor of the Castle, and his wife,
who sympathised with the Reformers, even though at first they did not
come out boldly on their side.  And there are still people, in the most
unlikely places, who really love truth and goodness, and show their
secret feeling at times in unexpected and surprising ways.

You see that we do not need bishops and priests to give us the Lord's
Supper, but that this Sacrament can be enjoyed in the simplest way
wherever two or three followers of the Lord Jesus are gathered together
in His name.  George Wishart's last Communion was strangely like the
first Communion of all, which Jesus observed at Jerusalem with His
disciples.  Wishart, like his Master, was about to die for the truth.
He desired to hold this farewell feast with his friends.  And in doing
so he made use just of the food and drink of an ordinary meal.

And you see, lastly, that the Communion in the picture was like our own
Communions in this, that children were present, looking on, and
listening, and understanding something of what was said and done.  I am
sure the Governor's little girl would never forget that Communion, nor
the good man who took such a touching farewell of his friends in the
name of the Lord Jesus.  I think that surely she would always remember
not only George Wishart, but George Wishart's Master and Lord, of whom
he spoke so earnestly, and for whom he was so willing to die.  And I
hope that you boys and girls who look on at the Communion services in
your own church, and see the disciples of Jesus Christ eating the bread
and drinking the wine in remembrance of Him, will understand something
of what all this means, and will learn to love Him and serve Him and
remember Him yourselves, and all your lives long.



THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE

BY G. F. WATTS, R.A.


[Illustration: THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE.  By permission, from a
photograph by Mr. Frederick Hollyer.]


THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE

_And I saw, and behold, a white horse: and he that sat on him had a
bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and
to conquer_.--REV. vi. 2.


The Book of Revelation is full of word-pictures of the wonderful things
which its writer saw in vision.  And it is natural that great artists
should try to turn some of these word-pictures into real pictures for
the eye.  Mr. Watts has done this for the first part of the sixth
chapter, which tells us about the four different horses, white, red,
black, and pale, and about their four riders.  He has made these horses
and riders the subjects of four different paintings, and it is the
first of them--the Rider on the White Horse--which is before us now.
As we look at the picture we are helped to imagine what the vision was
like, and helped perhaps also to understand the truth it was meant to
teach.

The Horse and the Rider are, of course, the principal figures.  The
Horse is a splendid milk-white charger.  Its breast is broad and
powerful.  Its neck is arched proudly.  It has a small but graceful
head, beautiful eyes, widely opened nostrils, and a mouth that seems to
be impatiently champing the bit.  The front portion of its mane is
parted on its brow and streams back round the ears on either side.  The
rest of the mane is erect on its neck.  The Rider is a towering and
terrible figure.  He wears a loose flowing cloak which swells around
and behind him in the wind.  His left arm, strong and bare, is firmly
stretched out, and his left hand holds a thick bow in its iron grasp.
His right arm is out of sight, and only the right hand is seen, drawing
back the bowstring to his breast.  At his left side there hangs a
quiver, full of arrows with feathered shafts.  On his head he wears a
stately winged helmet, and above it a crown.  His face wears a look of
commanding strength, and in the eyes beneath the shadow of the helmet
there is an awful gleam of fixed and pitiless resolve.

These two principal figures are closely surrounded by others.  Three of
these on the left of the Horse first attract our attention.  The
foremost, a dusky form, with head bent forward, and breast and
shoulders bare, leads the Horse with his right hand by the bridle rein.
Behind him, the fair face of a woman appears, framed in the folds of
the mantle that is gathered closely around her neck; and behind this
still another face is seen in the background.  These three are all
marching alongside of the Horse and his Rider.  Just in front of the
figure who leads the Horse there is a figure lying backwards with
closed eyes, as if in death; and on the further side of the Horse two
other lifeless faces come into view.  In the lower left hand corner of
the picture, just in front of the Horse we see the bowed head and
stooping shoulders of one more dark form.  All these figures, the dead
as well as the living, have bright stars on their foreheads, though the
star on the brow of the one furthest back is partly hidden by the bow.
The Rider and his companions move forward under a gloomy sky, with
angry streaks of light showing here and there between the clouds.  A
wind seems to be blowing in their faces.  And high up behind them great
eagles, with spreading wings, are hovering in the air.

Now, what shall we say is the meaning of the Bible vision which this
picture brings afresh before our eyes?  The four Horses with their
Riders represent four kinds of judgment which God sends at times upon
the world.  They are Conquest, Slaughter, Famine, and Death.  The Rider
on the White Horse stands for the first of these.  The picture shows us
the way in which strong nations and their rulers subdue the world, and
build up great Empires by force.  The Rider's stately figure, and
resolute face, and stern, unpitying eyes remind us of famous conquerors
like Alexander the Great and Napoleon.  The bow and quiver make it
clear that it is by the weapons of war that their successes have been
won.  The proud war-horse, forcing its way among the thronging forms
around it, suggests the resistless power with which Conquest goes on
its triumphant way.  The crown on the Rider's head is an emblem of the
glory and dominion which conquerors win.  In the other figures with the
starry brows we may see the different nations, or the kings and queens,
who have been touched and influenced by the spirit of War for Empire's
sake.  The leader of the Horse, and the other two forms behind him, may
represent nations that are marching along on the path of Conquest.  The
prostrate, lifeless figures may be nations that have perished in the
strife.  And the bowed head in front of the Horse's breast may stand
for one of the nations that are subdued, and brought under the power of
those that are stronger than themselves.  The dark, angry sky makes us
feel that the Conqueror's progress is full of dread; and the eagles
give us a hint of the horrors that he leaves behind him, of the dead
bodies that lie in the track of the White Horse and his terrible Rider,
of the other three Riders, more terrible still, who follow in his train.

As we look at this picture we learn that War and Conquest have two
sides.  At first sight we are attracted by the power and majesty of the
Horse and his Rider, and we cannot help admiring them.  There is
something grand and noble in the might of a great nation, in the strong
will and fearless courage of a great conqueror.  We are stirred and
thrilled when we see the march of great armies, and hear the tidings of
great victories.  There is a feeling of pride in belonging to a great
Empire which has proved itself able to subdue the world.  It seems a
glorious thing to lead, or even to take part, in such a conquest.  But
the more closely we look at the picture, the more we feel that it is
not altogether a pleasant and satisfying sight.  The kind of conquest
which the Rider on the White Horse represents is, after all, not a
blessing, but a judgment which God sends on the world.  It is the
victory of strength over weakness.  If it brings glory to some nations,
it brings destruction to others, and humiliation to others still.  It
means the loss of countless lives, and the wrecking of numberless
homes.  It is followed by unspeakable sufferings and bitter sorrows.
It knows nothing of pity or mercy.  Its garlands of triumph are stained
with blood and tears.

And so we gladly turn away from this picture to think of another
Conqueror of whom the Bible tells us, and who is described in these
words: _Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having
salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass....  And the battle-bow shall
be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the nations: and His dominion
shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the
earth_.[1]  This conquering King is the Lord Jesus Christ.  He took
these words of the prophet to Himself when He rode into Jerusalem to
die.  His conquest is of a far nobler kind than that of war and force.
It is the victory of right over wrong.  Its motive is not ambition, but
love.  He is not stern and pitiless, but tender and gracious.  He rides
in majesty _because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness_.[2]  He
is the Prince of Peace.  His triumphs bring no sorrow or hurt or death
in their train.  He blesses those whom He overcomes.  His Empire is the
only one that we can be truly proud to belong to, the only one that
will conquer the whole world and last for ever.


  Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
  Does his successive journeys run;
  His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
  Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

  Blessings abound where'er He reigns:
  The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
  The weary find eternal rest;
  And all the sons of want are blest.



[1] Zech. ix. 9, 10.

[2] Ps. xlv. 4.



THE MAN WITH THE MUCK-RAKE

BY THE LATE SIR J. NOËL PATON, R.S.A.


[Illustration: THE MAN WITH THE MUCK-RAKE.  By permission of Mr. Haydon
Hare.]


THE MAN WITH THE MUCK-RAKE

_Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth_.--COL.
iii. 2.


In the second part of the _Pilgrim's Progress_, Bunyan tells us how
Christiana and her children came to the Interpreter's House, and were
taken by the master of it into one of his Significant Rooms.  In one of
these there was _a man that could look no way but downwards, with a
muck-rake in his hand; there stood also one over his head, with a
celestial crown in his hand, and proffered him that crown for his
muck-rake; but the man did neither look up nor regard, but raked to
himself the straws, the small sticks, and dust of the floor_.

The late Sir Noël Paton has taken this as the subject of one of his
most famous pictures.  The canvas is a large one, and the figures in it
are of life-size.  That of the man with the muck-rake himself first
arrests your eye, and chiefly draws your attention.  He is an old man
with a grey beard.  His face is a handsome one, and you see that he has
gifts and powers which might have made him wise and venerable in his
old age, if only he had made a good use of them.  But instead of the
noble gravity which you might expect to find on such a face, there is
nothing but an eager gleam and a senseless smile of perfectly childish
and foolish delight.  He wears on his head an old broad-rimmed hat,
adorned with a gold chain and a peacock's feather.  At his belt he has
several bags full of gold, and also a dagger with which he is ready to
defend his possessions.  One of the bags has burst, and the coins are
dropping on the ground.  On his back he carries a wallet, crammed with
old law-papers and straw.  He kneels on one knee, and his whole body is
bent downward.  With his left hand he grasps the handle of a rake which
has three long prongs.  He is using the rake to draw towards him a lot
of varied stuff that is littered about in front of him--more straw and
papers, a broken necklace of beads, and a heart-shaped brooch, besides
coins and feathers, and other such things.  A large black beetle creeps
near his feet.  A little further in front of him more rubbish lies in a
heap--a book of fashions, a fan, still more straw, some artificial
roses and withered leaves, an old lamp, a skull, and a king's crown,
all battered and bent and blood-stained.  There is a toad crouching
under the fan.  Among the other things a snake is crawling, and blowing
out of its mouth beautifully coloured bubbles, airy and unsubstantial.
You can see one of them breaking as it touches a stone.  It is on these
bubbles that the eager, delighted gaze of the old man is fixed, and to
grasp them he is stretching out his thin and trembling right hand.  His
left ankle is bound by a strong fetter of gold.  When you have looked
at the picture for a little while, you see that he is in a prison cell.
A faint light glimmers through a grated window at the back, where steps
come down into the cell by the side of a pillar.  Beside the old man a
lantern stands on the ground.  Its glass sides are shaped like church
windows, but the flame of the candle inside is guttering and going out.
The straw on the floor is bursting into red flames and wreaths of
smoke, and the whole pile of rubbish is on the point of being burned up.

Behind the man with the muck-rake is another Figure, tall and straight,
yet bending down in pity.  It is the Figure of Christ.  He stands
motionless, with a look of sorrowful patience on His face.  One of His
hands is laid on the old man's shoulder, and with the other He holds up
a bright crown.  It is a crown of thorns, the same which He wore
Himself, but on the thorns are seven bright stars.  They turn it into a
crown of glory, and shed a radiance over all the picture.  You can see
that the Saviour's hands have been pierced, and that the thorns have
left bleeding marks upon His brow.

Away in the dim background, hovering on many-tinted pinions, and with
hands clasped in prayer, is an angel--the guardian angel of the old
man's soul.  This angel has a face of unspeakable sadness, and eyes in
which you can almost see the trembling of big tears, ready to fall.

These are some of the things that the genius and the exquisite skill of
the painter have put into the picture for our eyes to see.  What did he
mean our minds and hearts to understand by them all?  Perhaps I may
begin to answer that question by reminding you of what John Banyan
meant by the man in his story.

_Then said Christiana_ (to the Interpreter), _I persuade myself that I
know somewhat the meaning of this; for this is a figure of a man of
this world: is it not, good Sir?_

_Thou hast said the right, said he; and his muck-rake doth show his
carnal mind.  And whereas thou seest him rather give heed to rake up
straws and sticks, and the dust of the floor, than to do what he says
that calls to him from above, with the celestial crown in his hand, it
is to show that Heaven is but as a fable to some, and that things here
are counted the only things substantial.  Now, whereas it was also
shewed thee that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let
thee know, that earthly things, when they are with power upon men's
minds, quite carry their hearts away from God._

_Then said Christiana, O deliver me from this muck-rake!_

I think I am not wrong in saying that the story and the picture set
before us two kinds of life--a poor and worthless one which many people
choose, and a high and glorious one from which many people turn away.


I

The man with the muck-rake represents _The worldly life_--the life of
selfishness, of grasping and striving after the good things of this
earth alone.

This is a childish kind of life for any one to spend.  A look at the
old man's face shows us that.  God has given us natures that we can put
to the noblest uses; but if we prize and pursue nothing save the
pleasures and the riches of this world, we shall carry into our old age
the foolishness and senselessness of the youngest children.

Such a life, besides, is a life of bondage and care.  We make the world
into a prison, and we fetter ourselves with chains, when we make its
good things our chief aim and reward.  The battered and blood-stained
crown shows that the highest earthly ambitions have their pains and
miseries even when they are most successful.

Then this kind of life does not satisfy, and does not last.  The varied
rubbish shows that this world's possessions are not worth much after
all.  The bursting bubbles show that their attraction is hollow and
delusive.  The coins escaping from the bags show that we cannot keep
our riches for ever, no matter how hard we try.  The rising flames
remind us that nothing on the earth will endure.

Lastly, a worldly life is an unworthy life.  The toad and beetle and
snake show that there are often vile things hidden among the treasures
of earth.  The bent, crouching form of the old man shows how
selfishness and greed degrade and bow down our nature.  The expiring
flame of the lantern warns us that worldly grasping puts out the light
of love and goodness in the soul.


II

The shining crown which Christ holds out calls us to _The unworldly
life_.  This is a life of love, of giving, of sacrifice like His own.

Such a life is the only one that is truly happy, though it may not seem
so pleasant as the other.  It is far more blessed to give than to
receive.

It is the only life that is truly noble.  There never was such a grand
life as the life of the Lord Jesus on earth, and the more our life is
like His, the nearer will it come to its highest and best.

It is the life, too, that leads to the richest reward.  The thorns are
turned into stars.  The emblem of pain and sacrifice is changed into a
crown of light and glory.

But it is the life of likeness to Christ.  It is a share of His own
crown and of His own glory that He offers to us, and we cannot get
these except by being like Him.  We can only win them by following Him.
He has suffered for us, and given Himself for us.  We need to learn of
Him, and to be filled with His Spirit of self-forgetting, self-denying,
self-sacrificing love.

Some of you may be old enough to feel that your life has already been
too much like that of the man with the muck-rake.  It has been too
selfish and too worldly: it has been a life beneath you; a life of
chains and bondage; a life perhaps touched with vileness; a life spent
in pursuit of worthless trifles; a life degrading and darkened and
foolish and vain.  Well, this patient Saviour stands beside you.  He
bends over you in pity.  He touches you with His pierced hand.  He asks
you to yield to His love, and to be loving like Him.  He offers you the
crown of glory, instead of the rubbish that you have coveted so long.
If you will look up to Him, and meet His look, and take His gift, and
follow Him, you will find true light, true freedom, true riches, true
nobility.  His suffering will be rewarded.  His patience will be
satisfied.  There will be joy in the presence of the angels of God.





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