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Title: Religious Studies, Sketches and Poems
Author: Stowe, Harriet Beecher
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: cover]



  Riverside Edition

  THE WRITINGS OF
  HARRIET BEECHER STOWE

  _WITH BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTIONS
  PORTRAITS, AND OTHER
  ILLUSTRATIONS_

  IN SIXTEEN VOLUMES
  VOLUME XV

[Illustration]



  The Writings of
  Harriet Beecher Stowe

  Riverside Edition

  [Illustration: large house]

  HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.



  RELIGIOUS STUDIES
  SKETCHES AND POEMS

  BY
  HARRIET BEECHER STOWE

  [Illustration]

  BOSTON AND NEW YORK
  HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
  The Riverside Press, Cambridge

  1896



  Copyright, 1855,
  BY PHILLIPS, SAMPSON & CO.

  Copyright, 1867, 1883, and 1895,
  BY HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.

  Copyright, 1876,
  BY J. B. FORD & CO.

  Copyright, 1896,
  BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.

  _All rights reserved._


  _The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._

  Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.



CONTENTS


                                                   PAGE

  INTRODUCTORY NOTE                                  ix


  RELIGIOUS STUDIES.

  FOOTSTEPS OF THE MASTER.

  Advent

  I. CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT                      1
  II. CHRIST IN PROPHECY                             11

  Christmas

  III. THE CRADLE OF BETHLEHEM                       23
  IV. THE BLESSED WOMAN                              30

  V. THE HOLY CHILDHOOD                              40

  Epiphany

  VI. GENTILE PROPHECIES OF CHRIST                   44
  VII. THE HIDDEN YEARS OF CHRIST                    52

  Lent

  VIII. THE PRAYER-LIFE OF JESUS                     57
  IX. THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS                       62
  X. OUR LORD'S BIBLE                                66
  XI. CHRIST'S FIRST SERMON                          71
  XII. THE FRIENDSHIPS OF JESUS                      75
  XIII. CHRIST'S UNWORLDLY METHODS                   83
  XIV. CHRIST AND THE FALLEN WOMAN                   87
  XV. THE REVEALER OF GOD'S SYMPATHY                 94
  XVI. THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF JESUS                  108
  XVII. THE TOLERANCE OF JESUS                      117
  XVIII. THE SILENCE OF JESUS                       121
  XIX. THE SECRET OF PEACE                          125
  XX. THE CHURCH OF THE MASTER                      130
  XXI. JUDAS                                        143

  Passion Week

  XXII. GOING UP TO JERUSALEM                       150
  XXIII. THE BARREN FIG-TREE                        155
  XXIV. CAIAPHAS                                    159
  XXV. THE JOY OF CHRIST                            162
  XXVI. GETHSEMANE                                  165
  XXVII. THE LAST WORDS OF JESUS                    170
  XXVIII. THE DARKEST HOUR                          174

  Easter

  XXIX. THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS                    177

  Ascension

  XXX. THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD                     183
  XXXI. THE HOLY SPIRIT                              184
  XXXII. CHRIST'S SECOND LIFE, IN HIS FOLLOWERS      186

  EARTHLY CARE A HEAVENLY DISCIPLINE                 194

  THE MINISTRATION OF OUR DEPARTED FRIENDS           202


  RELIGIOUS SKETCHES.

  CHILDREN                                          208
  THE OLD OAK OF ANDOVER                            212
  THE ELDER'S FEAST: A TRADITION OF LAODICEA        217
  A SCENE IN JERUSALEM                              226
  THE OLD MEETING-HOUSE                             234
  LITTLE EDWARD                                     243
  CONVERSATION ON CONVERSATION                      250
  HOW DO WE KNOW                                    258
  HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH MAMMON                   263
  THE SABBATH                                       273


  RELIGIOUS POEMS.

  ST. CATHERINE BORNE BY ANGELS                     301
  THE CHARMER                                       304
  KNOCKING                                          306
  THE OLD PSALM TUNE                                309
  THE OTHER WORLD                                   312
  MARY AT THE CROSS                                 314
  THE INNER VOICE                                   317
  ABIDE IN ME, AND I IN YOU                         319
  THE SECRET                                        321
  THINK NOT ALL IS OVER                             322
  LINES TO THE MEMORY OF "ANNIE"                    323
  THE CROCUS                                        325
  CONSOLATION                                       327
  "ONLY A YEAR"                                     329
  BELOW                                             331
  ABOVE                                             332
  LINES SUGGESTED BY THE DEATH OF THE WIFE OF
        MOSES STUART                                334
  SUMMER STUDIES                                    337
  THE SHEPHERDS' CAROL                              340

  HOURS OF THE NIGHT; OR, WATCHES OF SORROW.

  I. MIDNIGHT                                       342
  II. FIRST HOUR                                    344
  III. SECOND HOUR                                  346
  IV. THIRD HOUR                                    348
  V. FOURTH HOUR                                    350
  VI. DAY DAWN                                      354
  VII. WHEN I AWAKE I AM STILL WITH THEE            356

  PRESSED FLOWERS FROM ITALY.

  A DAY IN THE PAMFILI DORIA                        358
  THE GARDENS OF THE VATICAN                        362
  ST. PETER'S CHURCH                                363
  THE MISERERE                                      364


The frontispiece portrait of Mrs. Stowe is from a photograph taken
in 1862.

The vignette (Mrs. Stowe's home at Andover, Mass.) is from a
painting in 1860 by F. Roundel.



INTRODUCTORY NOTE.


No one can read Mrs. Stowe's writings as a whole without perceiving
how constant is the appeal to the religious sensibilities. Her
greatest book, which took captive the humblest reader and such
a genius in literature as George Sand, was in a marked degree a
religious book; and again and again, even in playful scenes, there
is a quick passage to the religious nature. The explanation is in
the simple fact that Mrs. Stowe herself from early girlhood to her
latest years was governed by religion, and it is not surprising,
therefore, that an entire volume should be gathered from her
writings exclusively given over to direct expression of religious
feeling and thought.

She would gladly, especially in her later life, have confined
herself to writing of this sort, for the realities of faith,
especially the presence of the Divine Master, came to have a
commanding power over her mind and heart, and to make her almost
impatient of much concern about adventures of the ordinary sort.
Even the reminiscence of the racy life of the New England of her
childhood could not absorb her. "I would much rather," she writes
in 1876 to her son Charles, "have written another such a book as
_Footsteps of the Master_, but all, even the religious papers,
are gone mad on serials." The book which she was then writing was
_Poganuc People_, and the reader knows what a thread of religious
experience runs through that lively narrative.

_Footsteps of the Master_ was published in 1877. In its original
form, each section contained interludes of verse, sometimes her own,
more frequently hymns and poems from well-known sources. There were
also scriptural passages illustrative of the great divisions, and
the book was set forth thus as a devotional companion. In reissuing
it in this volume, the poems by the author have been preserved
in the section given to her Religious Poems; the others and the
illustrative scriptural passages have been omitted and Mrs. Stowe's
Meditations preserved in their continuous form. The word "To the
Reader," prefixed to the volume, is as follows:--

     When a city is closely besieged and many of its outworks
     destroyed, the defenders retreat to the citadel. In our day
     there is warm fighting about the outworks of Christianity. Many
     things are battered down that used to be thought indispensable
     to its defense. It is time to retreat to the citadel; and that
     citadel is CHRIST.

     The old mediæval symbol shown above[1] is still more than ever
     good for our day. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is still our King,
     our Light, our Law, our Leader. These names comprise all that a
     human being needs in this transitory, perplexing and dangerous
     pilgrimage of life.

       [1] The familiar combination of Rex. Lux, Lex, Dux.

     We are born to suffer. The very conditions of our mortal
     existence here imply suffering of the most terrible kind as a
     possibility, a probability, or a certainty. We have affections
     absorbing our whole being which are hourly menaced by danger and
     by death--at any moment our sweetest joys may become sources
     only of bitterest remembrance.

     We are born to perplexity. We stand amid the jar and conflict
     of a thousand natural laws, to us inexplicable, and which every
     hour threaten us in ourselves or those dearer than ourselves. We
     stand often in no less perplexity of moral law in ways where the
     path of duty and right is darkened and beset.

     We are born to die. At the end of every possible road of life
     lies the dark River--the unknown future. If we cling to life,
     it is only to see it wither gradually in our hands, to see
     friends dropping from our side, places vacant at our fireside,
     infirmities and pains gathering about us, and a new generation
     with their impetuous energies rising around us to say, Why do
     you wait here? Why are you not gone?

     And the Hereafter? What is it? Who will go with us into that
     future where no friend, however dear, can accompany the soul?
     What hand of power and love will take ours in the last darkness,
     when we have let go all others?

     The dear old book which we call the Bible gives our answer to
     all this. It tells us of a Being so one with the great Author
     of nature and Source of all power that whoso hath seen him hath
     seen the Creator. It tells us that all things that we behold in
     our material world were made by him and for him: that it pleased
     the Father that in him should all fullness dwell, and that to
     him all things in heaven and on earth are made subject. It shows
     him to us from the beginning of time as constantly absorbed in
     the care and education of this world of ours. He has been the
     Desire of all nations--predicted, waited for, come at last!

     And when he came and lived a mortal life what did he show the
     divine nature to be? It may all be told in one word:--LOVE.
     Love, unconquered, unconquerable by human sin and waywardness.
     Love, sympathetic with the inevitable sorrows of human
     existence. Love, expressed in every form by which a God could
     express love. His touch was healing; the very hem of his garment
     had restoring virtue. He lived and loved as we live and love,
     only on a higher ideal,--he gave to every human affection a more
     complete interpretation, a more perfect fullness. And finally,
     as the highest revelation of Love, he died for us, and in
     anguish and blood and dying pains still loved, still prayed for
     us, the ungrateful race of man. He passed through the night of
     death that he might learn not to fear it, and came forth radiant
     and immortal to tell us that we shall never die.

     By a refinement of infinite mercy, the law of our lives is
     written not in hard statutes but in the life of this tender
     and sympathetic friend. Christ is our law. We learn courage,
     patience, fortitude, forgiving love from him. The lesson
     impossible in statute is made easy by sympathy. But lest the
     very brightness of the ideal fill us with despair we have his
     promise, "Lo, _I_ am with you alway to the end of the world!
     I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you." Jesus,
     as an inseparable soul-friend--a consoler, a teacher, an
     enlightener--dwells on earth now in a higher sense than when he
     walked the hills of Palestine.

         "Forever more beside us on our way,
           The unseen Christ doth move,
         That we may lean upon his arm and say,
           'Dost thou, dear Lord, approve?'"

     To that great multitude whom no man can number, who are living
     the hidden life of faith, these studies into the life of our
     Master are dedicated. They have been arranged in the order of
     the seasons of the Christian year, with the hope of aiding the
     efforts of those who wish at these sacred seasons to bring our
     Lord more clearly to mind.

     We hear much of modern skepticism. There is, perhaps, no more
     in the world now than there has always been, only its forms are
     changed. Its answer lies not in argument, but in the lives of
     Christ's followers. It was Christians who lived like Christ that
     won the first battle for Christianity, and it must be Christians
     who live like Christ that shall win the last. The life of faith
     in the Son of God, when fully lived out, always has been and
     always will be a victorious argument.

     But to live this our faith must be firm. We cannot meet a
     skeptical world with weak faith. If we would draw our friend
     out of a swift-rushing current, our own feet must not stand on
     slippery places. We must seek faith in looking to Him who has
     the giving of it. We must keep Him before our minds, and come so
     near Him in daily prayer that we can say: "That which we have
     seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have
     handled, of the Word of Life, declare we unto you."

     And even to those who have no conscious belief in Christ, his
     name can never be a matter of indifference. Whether they believe
     it or not, Christ stands to them in a peculiar relation that no
     other being holds. He is their best Friend, the Shepherd that
     is seeking them, the generous Saviour and Giver that is longing
     to save them from all that they fear and to give exceeding
     abundantly beyond all they can ask or think.

The other _Studies_ and the _Religious Sketches_ which follow are
drawn from the early _Mayflower_ and intimate how instinctively in
the beginning of her career as a writer Mrs. Stowe turned her mind
in this direction. Her poems appeared at irregular intervals and
were gathered into a volume by themselves in 1867. The collection
then issued is here slightly enlarged by the inclusion of one or two
estrays.



RELIGIOUS STUDIES



FOOTSTEPS OF THE MASTER



I

CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

  "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."


Our Lord asserts nothing more frequently than that he came to this
world, not as other men come, but as a voluntary exile from a higher
and purer life. He said in public, speaking to the Jews, "I came
down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that
sent me." When the Jews tauntingly said to him, "Thou art not yet
fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" he answered, "Before
Abraham was, I AM." In fact, while he walked as a brother among men,
there were constant and mysterious flashes from the life of a higher
sphere. Jesus moved about in our life as a sympathetic foreigner
who ever and anon in moments of high excitement breaks out into
his native language. So Christ at times rose into the language of
heaven, and spoke for a moment, unconsciously as it were, in the
style of a higher world.

He did not say, "Before Abraham was, I _was_," but "I AM," using
the same form which in the Old Testament is used by Jehovah when
he declares his name to Moses, "I AM that I am." So, too, when
conversing with Nicodemus, our Lord asserts that he is the only
person competent to bear testimony to heavenly things, because he
came from heaven.

He says, "No man hath ascended into heaven but he that came down
from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." This last is
one of those changes into the language of a higher world which so
often awed and perplexed those who talked with Jesus. It would seem
that he had the power by moments to breathe aside the veil which
separates from the higher state, and to be in heaven. Such a moment
was this, when he was declaring to an honest-minded, thoughtful
inquirer the higher truths of the spiritual life, and asserting
his right to know about heavenly things, because he came down from
heaven--yea, because for the moment he was in heaven.

But in the last hours of his life, when he felt the scenes of his
humiliations and sufferings approaching, he declared this truth, so
often shadowed and intimated, with explicit plainness. He said, "I
came forth from the Father, and am come into the world. Again, I
leave the world, and go to the Father." This was stating the truth
as plainly as human words can do it, and the disciples at last
understood him fully. "Lo! now speakest thou plainly, and speakest
no proverb." And in that affecting prayer that followed our Lord
breathes the language of an exile longing to return to the home of
his love: "And now, O Father! glorify me with thine own self--with
the glory that I had with thee before the world was."

It is then most plain on the face of the New Testament that our
Lord had a history before he came to this world. He was a living
power. He was, as he says, in glory with the Father before the world
was. Are there any traces of this mysterious Word, this divine Son,
this Revealer of God in the Old Testament? It has been the approved
sentiment of sound theologians that in the Old Testament every
visible appearance of an Angel or divine Man to whom the name of
Jehovah is given is a pre-appearance of the Redeemer, Jesus. It is a
most interesting study to pursue this idea through the Old Testament
history, as is fully done by President Edwards in his "History of
Redemption" and by Dr. Watts in his "True Glory of Christ." In
Milton's "Paradise Lost" he represents the Son of God as being "the
Lord God who walked in the Garden of Eden" after the trespass of our
first parents, and dwells on the tenderness of the idea that it was
in the cool of the day,--

            "when from wrath more cool
    Came the mild Judge and Intercessor both."

This sentiment of the church has arisen from the plain declaration
in the first chapter of John, where it is plainly asserted that "no
man hath seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, which is
in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." The Old Testament
records to which our Lord constantly appealed were full of instances
in which a being called Jehovah, and spoken of as God,--the Almighty
God,--had appeared to men, and the inference is plain that all these
were pre-appearances of Christ.

It is an interesting study for the sacred season of Advent to trace
those pre-appearances of our Lord and Saviour in the advancing
history of our race. A series of readings of this sort would be
a fit preparation for the triumphs of Christmas, when he, the
long-desired, was at last given visible to man.

We shall follow a few of these early appearances of the Saviour,
in the hope that some pious hearts may be led to see those traces
of his sacred footsteps, which brighten the rugged ways of the Old
Testament history.

In the eighteenth chapter of Genesis we have an account of a long
interview of Abraham with a being in human form, whom he addresses
as Jehovah, the Judge of all the earth. We hear him plead with him
in words like these;--

     "Behold now, I have taken on me to speak unto Jehovah, which am
     but dust and ashes ... that be far from thee to do after this
     manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the
     righteous should be as the wicked. Shall not the Judge of all
     the earth do right?"

What a divine reticence and composure it was, on the part of our
Lord, when afterwards he came to earth and the scoffing Jews said to
him, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?"
He did not tell them how their father Abraham had been a suppliant
at his feet ages ago, yet he must have thought of it as they thus
taunted him.

Again we read in Genesis xxviii., when Jacob left his father's house
and lay down, a lonely traveler, in the fields with a stone for his
pillow, the pitying Jesus appeared to him:--

     "He dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the
     top of it reached unto heaven; and behold the angels of God
     ascending and descending upon it. And behold, Jehovah stood
     above it, and said, I am Jehovah, God of Abraham, thy father."

As afterwards Jesus, at the well of Samaria, chose to disclose his
Messiahship to the vain, light-minded, guilty Samaritan woman, and
call her to be a messenger of his good to her townsmen, so now he
chose Jacob--of whom the worst we know is that he had yielded to
an unworthy plot for deceiving his father--he chose him to be the
father of a powerful nation. Afterward our Lord alludes to this
vision in one of his first conversations with Nathaniel, as given by
St. John:--

     "Jesus said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under
     the fig-tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than
     these, Verily I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see heaven open
     and the angels of God ascending and descending _upon the Son of
     man_."

This same divine Patron and Presence watches over the friendless
Jacob until he becomes rich and powerful, the father of a numerous
tribe. He is returning with his whole caravan to his native land.
But the consequence of his former sin meets him on the way. Esau,
the brother whom he deceived and overreached, is a powerful prince,
and comes to meet him with a band of men.

Then Jacob was afraid and distressed, and applies at once to his
heavenly Helper. "I am not worthy," he says, "of all the mercy
and all the truth which thou hast shown to thy servant, for with
my staff I passed over this Jordan and now I am become two bands.
Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother Esau, for
I fear him, lest he come and smite me and the mother with the
children." Such things were common in those days--they were possible
and too probable--and what father would not pray as Jacob prayed?

Then follows a passage of singular and thrilling character. A
mysterious stranger comes to him, dimly seen in the shadows of the
coming dawn. Is it that human Friend--that divine Jehovah? Trembling
and hoping he strives to detain him, but the stranger seeks to flee
from him. Made desperate by the agony of fear and entreaty, he
throws his arms around him and seeks to hold him. The story is told
briefly thus:--

     "And Jacob was left alone. And there wrestled A MAN with him
     until the breaking of day. And when he saw that he prevailed not
     he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's
     thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him. And the man
     said, Let me go, for the day breaketh; and he said, I will not
     let thee go except thou bless me. And he said, What is thy name?
     and he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no
     more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince thou hast power with God
     and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob said, I beseech thee
     tell me thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost
     ask after my name? And he blessed him there."

How like is this mysterious stranger to the One in the New Testament
history who after the resurrection joined the two sorrowful
disciples on the way to Emmaus. There is the same mystery, the same
reserve in giving himself fully to the trembling human beings who
clung to him. So when the disciples came to their abode "he made
as though he would go farther," and they constrained him and he
went in. As he breaks the bread they know him, and immediately he
vanishes out of their sight.

In his dying hour (Gen. xlviii.) the patriarch Jacob, after an
earthly pilgrimage of a hundred and forty-seven years, recalls these
blessed visions of his God:--

     "And Jacob said to Joseph, God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in
     the land of Canaan and blessed me."

And again, blessing the children of Joseph, he says:--

     "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God
     which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which
     redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads."

But it was not merely to the chosen father of the chosen nation that
this pitying Friend and Saviour appeared. When the poor, passionate,
desperate slave-girl Hagar was wandering in the wilderness,
struggling with the pride and passion of her unsubdued nature,
he who follows the one wandering sheep appeared and spoke to her
(Gen. xvi.). He reproved her passionate impatience; he counseled
submission; he promised his protection and care to the son that
should be born of her and the race that should spring from her. Wild
and turbulent that race of men should be; and yet there was to be a
Saviour, a Care-taker, a Shepherd for them. "And she called the name
of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me; for she said,
Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?"

Afterwards, when the fiery, indomitable passions of the slave-woman
again break forth and threaten the peace of the home, and she is
sent forth into the wilderness, the Good Shepherd again appears to
her. Thus is the story told (Gen. xxi.):--

     "And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child
     under one of the shrubs, and she went and sat down a good way
     off, for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And
     God heard the voice of the lad, and the angel of the Lord called
     to Hagar out of heaven, saying, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear
     not. God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise,
     lift up the lad, hold him in thy hand, for I will make of him
     a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of
     water."

Thus did he declare himself the Care-taker and Saviour not of the
Jews merely, but of the Gentiles. It was he who afterwards declared
that he was the living bread which came down from heaven, which he
gave for the life of the WHOLE WORLD.

Afterwards, in the history of Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, we
read of a divine Being who talked with him in a visible intimacy:--

     "And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the
     cloudy pillar descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle,
     and Jehovah talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy
     pillar stand at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose up
     and worshiped, each man in his tent door. _And Jehovah spake
     unto Moses, face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend._"

Some record of this strange conversation is given. Moses was a
man of wonderful soul, in whom was the divine yearning; he longed
to know more and more of his God, and at last beseeches to have
the full beatific vision of the divine nature in its glory; but
the answer is: "Thou canst not see my face [in its divine glory],
for there shall no man see me and live." That overpowering vision
was not for flesh and blood; it would dissolve the frail bonds of
mortality and set the soul free, and Moses must yet live, and labor,
and suffer.

What an affecting light this interview of Moses sheds on that scene
in the New Testament, where, just before his crucifixion, the
disciples see their Master in the glory of the heavenly world, and
with him Moses and Elijah, "who spake with him of his decease, which
he should accomplish at Jerusalem,"--Moses, who had been taught by
the divine Word in the wilderness how to organize all that system of
forms and sacrifices which were to foreshadow and prepare the way
for the great Sacrifice--the great Revealer of God to man. We see
these noble souls, the two grandest prophets of the Old Testament,
in communion with our Lord about that last and final sacrifice which
was to fulfill and bring to an end all others.

A little later on, in the Old Testament history, we come to a time
recorded in the Book of Judges when the chosen people, settled in
the land of Canaan, sunk in worldliness and sin, have forgotten the
Lord Jehovah, and as a punishment are left to be bitterly oppressed
and harassed by the savage tribes in their neighborhood. The nation
was in danger of extinction. The stock from which was to come
prophets and apostles, the writers of the Bible which we now read,
from which was to come our Lord Jesus Christ, was in danger of being
trampled out under the heel of barbarous heathen tribes. It was a
crisis needing a deliverer. Physical strength, brute force, was the
law of the day, and a deliverer was to be given who could overcome
force by superior force.

Again the mysterious stranger appears; we have the account in Judges
xiii.

A pious old couple who have lived childless hitherto receive an
angelic visitor who announces to them the birth of a deliverer. And
the woman came and told her husband, saying, "A man of God came unto
me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God,
very terrible; but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he
me his name." This man, she goes on to say, had promised a son to
them who should deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.
Manoah then prays to God to grant another interview with the
heavenly messenger.

The prayer is heard; the divine Man again appears to them and gives
directions for the care of the future child,--directions requiring
the most perfect temperance and purity on the part of both mother
and child. The rest of the story is better given in the quaint and
beautiful words of the Bible:--

     "And Manoah said to the angel of Jehovah, I pray thee let us
     detain thee till we shall have made ready a kid for thee. And
     the angel of Jehovah said to Manoah, Though thou detain me
     I will not eat of thy bread; and if thou wilt offer a burnt
     offering thou must offer it unto Jehovah. For Manoah knew not
     that he was an angel of Jehovah. And Manoah said, What is thy
     name? that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honor.
     And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou my
     name, seeing that it is secret? So Manoah took a kid with a meat
     offering and offered it upon a rock to the Lord; and the angel
     did wonderously, and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came
     to pass, when the flame went up to heaven from off the altar,
     that the angel of Jehovah ascended in the flame on the altar,
     and Manoah and his wife fell on their faces on the ground. And
     Manoah said, We shall surely die, for we have seen God."

This tender, guiding Power, this long-suffering and pitying Saviour
of Israel, appears to us in frequent glimpses through the writings
of the prophets.

Isaiah says, "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the
Angel of his Presence saved them; in his love and his pity he
redeemed them, and he bore and carried them all the days of old."

It is this thought that gives an inexpressible pathos to the
rejection of Christ by the Jews. St. John begins his gospel by
speaking of this divine Word, who was with God in the beginning,
and was God; that he was in the world, and the world was made by
him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own
received him not.

This gives an awful, pathetic meaning to those tears which Christ
shed over Jerusalem, and to that last yearning farewell to the
doomed city:--

     "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and
     stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have
     gathered thy children as a hen doth gather her brood under her
     wings, and ye would not."

It gives significance to that passage of Revelation where Christ is
called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

Not alone in the four years when he ministered on earth was he the
suffering Redeemer; he was always, from the foundation of the world,
the devoted sacrifice: bearing on his heart the sinning, suffering,
wandering race of man, afflicted in their afflictions, bearing their
griefs and carrying their sorrows, the friend of the Jew and the
Gentile, the seeker for the outcast, the guide of the wanderer,
the defender of the helpless, the consoler of the desolate, the
self-devoted offering to and for the sins of the world.

In all these revelations of God, one idea is very precious. He
reveals himself not as a fixed Fate--a mighty, crushing, inexorable
Power--but as a Being relenting, tender, yearning towards the
race of man with infinite tenderness. He suffers himself to be
importuned; he hides himself that he may be sought, and, although he
is omnipotent, though with one touch he might weaken and paralyze
human strength, yet he suffers human arms to detain and human
importunity to conquer him, and he blesses the man that will not let
him go except he bless. On this scene Charles Wesley has written his
beautiful hymn beginning,--

     "Come, O thou Traveler unknown."

The struggles, the sorrows, and aspirations of the soul for an
unknown Saviour have never been more beautifully told.



II

CHRIST IN PROPHECY


In the Old Testament Scriptures we have from the beginning of the
world an advent dawn--a rose sky of Promise. HE IS COMING, is the
mysterious voice that sounds everywhere, in history, in prophecy,
in symbol, type, and shadow. It spreads through all races of men;
it becomes an earnest aspiration, a sigh, a moan of struggling
humanity, crying out for its Unknown God.

In the Garden of Eden came the first oracle, which declared that
the SEED of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. This was an
intimation, vague yet distinct, that there should come a Deliverer
who should break the power of evil. From that hour every mother had
hope, and child-bearing was invested with dignity and blessing. When
the mother of all brought the first son into the world, she fondly
hoped that she had brought forth the Deliverer, and said, "I have
gotten the MAN _Jehovah_."

Poor mother! destined to a bitter anguish of disappointment!
Thousands of years were to pass away before the second Eve should
bring forth the MAN Jehovah.

In this earliest period we find in the history of Job the anguish,
the perplexities, the despair of the helpless human creature,
crushed and bleeding beneath the power of an unknown, mighty Being,
whose ways seem cruel and inexplicable, but with whom he feels that
expostulation is impossible:--

     "Lo, he goeth by me and I see him not; he passeth on also and
     I perceive him not. Behold, he taketh away, and who can hinder
     him? who will say unto him, What doest thou? If God will not
     withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him. How
     then shall I answer him and choose out words to reason with him?"

Job admits that he desires to reason with God to ask some account of
his ways. He says:--

     "My soul is weary of my life. I will speak in the bitterness of
     my soul. I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; show me why
     thou contendest with me. Is it good that thou shouldest oppress,
     that thou shouldest despise the work of thy hands?"

He then goes through with all the perplexing mysteries of life. He
sees the wicked prosperous and successful, and he that had always
been devoted to God reduced to the extreme of human misery; he
wrestles with the problem; he longs to ask an explanation; but it
all comes to one mournful conclusion:--

     "He is not a man as I am, that I should answer him, and we
     should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman
     [arbiter] between us, that might lay his hand on both of us.
     Let him take his rod away and let not his fear terrify me. Then
     would I speak; but it is not so with me."

Here we have in a word the deepest want of humanity: a daysman
between the infinite God and finite man; a Mediator who should lay
his hand on both of them! And then, in the midst of these yearnings
and complainings, the Spirit of God, the Heavenly Comforter, bearing
witness with Job's spirit, breaks forth in the prophetic song:--

    "I know that my Redeemer liveth
    And that he shall stand in the latter days upon the earth.
    And though worms destroy this body,
    Yet in my flesh shall I see God.
    I shall see him for myself and not another.
    My reins are consumed with longing for that day."

As time passes we have the history of one man, called from all
the races of men to be the ancestor of this SEED. Abraham, called
to leave his native land and go forth sojourning as a pilgrim and
stranger on earth, receives a celestial visitor who says: "Abraham,
I am the Almighty God. Walk before me and be thou perfect." He
exacts of Abraham the extremes of devotion--not only to leave his
country, kindred, friends, and be a sojourner in a strange land, but
to sacrifice the only son of his heart. And Abraham meets the test
without a wavering thought; his trust in God is absolute: and in
return he receives the promise, "In THY SEED shall all the nations
of the earth be blessed." How Abraham looked upon this promise we
are told by our Lord himself. The Jews asked him, "Art thou greater
than our father Abraham?" And he answered, "Your father Abraham
rejoiced to see my day--he saw it, and was glad."

The same promise was repeated to Jacob in the self-same words, when
he lay sleeping in the field of Luz and saw the heavenly vision of
the Son of man.

From the time of the first announcement to Abraham his descendants
became the recipients of a special divine training, in which every
event of their history had a forelooking to this great consummation.
They were taken into Egypt, and, after long suffering, delivered
from a deadly oppression. In the solemn hour of their deliverance
the blood of a spotless lamb--"a lamb without blemish"--was to mark
the door-posts of each dwelling with a sign of redemption. "Not a
bone of him shall be broken," said the ancient command, referring
to this typical sacrifice; and when in a later day the Apostle
John stood by the cross of Jesus and saw them break the limbs of
the other two victims and leave Jesus untouched, he said, "that it
might be fulfilled which was commanded, not a bone of Him shall be
broken."

The yearly festival which commemorated this deliverance was a yearly
prophecy in every Jewish family of the sinless Redeemer whose blood
should be their salvation. A solemn ritual was instituted, every
part of which was prophetic and symbolic. A high priest chosen from
among his brethren, who could be touched with the feelings of their
infirmities, was the only one allowed to enter that mysterious Holy
of Holies where were the mercy-seat and the cherubim, the throne
of the Invisible God. There, for the most part, unbroken stillness
and solitude reigned. Only on one memorable day of the year, while
all the congregation of Israel lay prostrate in penitence without,
this high priest entered for them with the blood of atonement into
the innermost presence of the King Invisible. Purified, arrayed in
spotless garments, and bearing on his breast--graven on precious
gems--the names of the tribes of Israel, he entered there, a yearly
symbol and prophecy of the greater High Priest, who should "not by
the blood of bulls and of goats, but by his own blood, enter at once
into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."

Thus, by a series of symbols and ceremonies which filled the entire
life of the Jew, the whole national mind was turned in an attitude
of expectancy towards the future Messiah. In the more elevated and
spiritual natures--the poets and the prophets--this was continually
bursting forth into distinct predictions. Moses says, in his last
message to Israel, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto
you from the midst of your brethren like unto me; unto Him shall ye
hearken." Our Lord referred to this prophecy when he said to the
unbelieving Jews, "Had ye believed Moses ye would have believed me,
for he wrote of me."

The promise made at first to Abraham was afterwards repeated not
only to Jacob, but long centuries afterward to his descendant,
David, in a solemn, prophetic message, relating first to the reign
of Solomon, but ending with these words: "And thy house and thy
kingdom shall be established forever before thee. Thy throne shall
be established forever." That David understood these words as a
promise that the Redeemer should be of his seed is evident from the
declaration of St. Peter in Acts ii. 30, where he says that "David
being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him
that of the fruit of his loins he would raise up Messiah to sit on
his throne, spake thus concerning him."

The Psalms of David are full of heaving, many-colored clouds and
mists of poetry, out of which shine here and there glimpses of the
mystic future. In the second Psalm we have a majestic drama. The
heathen are raging against Jehovah and his anointed Son. They say,
Let us break their bands in sunder and cast away their cords. Then
the voice of Jehovah is heard in the tumult, saying calmly, "Yet
have I set my king on my holy hill of Zion." Then an angelic herald
proclaims:--

    "I will declare the decree.
    The Lord hath spoken:
    Thou art my Son;
    This day have I begotten thee:
    Ask of me and I will give the heathen for thine inheritance,
    And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession."

This mighty king, this glorious defender, is celebrated as the
All-Loving One. His reign is to be a reign of truth and love. All
the dearest forms of human affection are used to shadow forth what
he will be to his people. He is to be the royal bridegroom; his
willing people the bride. So, in the forty-fifth Psalm, entitled "A
Song of Love," we have the image of a mighty conqueror--radiant,
beloved, adored, a being addressed both as God and the Son of God,
who goes forth to victory:--

    "Thou art fairer than the children of men.
    Grace is poured into thy lips.
    Therefore God hath blessed thee forever.
    Gird thy sword on thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and
        majesty.
    And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of thy truth and
        meekness and righteousness.
    Thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
    Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.
    A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
    Thou lovest righteousness and hatest iniquity.
    Therefore God--thy God--hath anointed thee with the oil of
        gladness above thy fellows."

Then follows a description of the royal bride, the king's daughter,
who is all glorious within--her clothing of wrought gold--who with
gladness and rejoicing shall be brought to the king to become mother
of princes.

It is said by some that this is a marriage hymn for the wedding of
a prince. It may have been so originated; but in the mind of the
devout Jew every scene and event in life had become significant and
symbolical of this greater future. Every deliverer suggested the
greater Deliverer; the joy of every marriage suggested the joy of
that divine marriage with a heavenly bridegroom.

So the seventy-second Psalm, written originally for Solomon, expands
into language beyond all that can be said of any earthly monarch.
It was the last poem of David, and the feelings of the king and
father rose and melted into a great tide of imagery that belonged to
nothing earthly:--

    "Yea, all kings shall fall down before him;
    All nations shall serve him.
    He shall deliver the needy when he crieth;
    The poor also, and him that hath no helper.
    He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of
        the needy.
    He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence,
    And precious shall their blood be in his sight.
    And he shall live, and to him shall be given the gold of Sheba.
    Prayer also shall be made for him continually, and daily shall he
        be praised.
    His name shall endure forever.
    His name shall be continued as long as the sun.
    Men shall be blessed in him.
    All nations shall call him blessed."

But in these same Psalms there are glimpses of a divine sufferer. In
the twenty-second Psalm David speaks of sufferings which certainly
never happened to himself--which were remarkably fulfilled in the
last agonies of Jesus:--

    "All they that see me laugh me to scorn.
    They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
    He trusted in God that he would deliver him.
    Let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
    I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint.
    My heart is like wax--it is melted in my bosom.
    My strength is dried up like a potsherd.
    My tongue cleaveth to my mouth.
    Thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
    For dogs have compassed me,
    The assembly of the wicked have inclosed me;
    They pierced my hands and my feet.
    I may tell all my bones. They look and stare on me.
    They part my garments among them
    And cast lots for my vesture."

In this Psalm, written more than a thousand years before he came
into the world, our Lord beheld ever before him the scenes of his
own crucifixion; he could see the heartless stare of idle, malignant
curiosity around his cross; he could hear the very words of the
taunts and revilings, and a part of the language of this Psalm was
among his last utterances. While the shadows of the great darkness
were gathering around his cross he cried, "My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me?" It would seem as if the words so bitterly
fulfilled passed through his mind, as one by one the agonies and
indignities followed each other, till at last he bowed his head and
said, "It is finished."

As time rolled on, this mingled chant of triumph and of suffering
swelled clearer and plainer. In the grand soul of Isaiah, the
Messiah and his kingdom were ever the outcome of every event that
suggested itself. When the kingdom of Judah was threatened by
foreign invasion, the prophet breaks out with the promise of a
Deliverer:--

     "Behold, the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a
     virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son and shall call his
     name Immanuel [God with us]."

Again he bursts forth as if he beheld the triumph as a present
reality:--

    "Unto us a child is born
    Unto us a son is given.
    The government shall be upon his shoulders.
    His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
    Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end,
    Upon the throne of David and his kingdom,
    To establish it with justice from henceforth and forever.
    The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this."

Again, a few chapters further on, he sings:--

    "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse
    A Branch shall grow out of his roots.
    The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him;
    The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    The spirit of counsel and might,
      The spirit of knowledge, and fear of the Lord.
    With righteousness shall he judge the poor,
    And reprove with equity for the meek of the earth."

Then follow vivid pictures of a golden age on earth, beneath his
sway, when all enmities and ferocities even of the inferior animals
shall cease, and universal love and joy pervade the earth.

In the fifty-third of Isaiah we have again the sable thread
of humiliation and sorrow; the Messiah is to be "despised and
rejected of men;" his nation "hide their faces from him;" he "bears
their griefs, and carries their sorrows," is "wounded for their
transgressions," is "brought as a lamb to the slaughter," is "dumb
before his accusers," is "taken from prison to judgment," is "cut
off out of the land of the living," "makes his grave with the wicked
and with the rich in his death," and thence is "raised again to an
endless kingdom."

Thus far the tide of prophecy had rolled; thus distinct and luminous
had grown the conception of a future suffering, victorious Lord and
leader, when the Jewish nation, for its sins and unfaithfulness, was
suffered to go to wreck. The temple was destroyed and the nation
swept into captivity in a foreign land.

But they carried everywhere with them the vision of their future
Messiah. In their captivity and sufferings their religious feelings
became intense, and, wherever they were, the Jews were always
powerful and influential men. Daniel, by his divine skill in
spiritual insight, became the chief of the Chaldean magi, and his
teachings with regard to the future Messiah may be traced in those
passages of the Zendavesta which predict his coming, his universal
dominion, and the resurrection of the dead. Everywhere through all
nations this scattered seed of the Jews touched the spark of desire
and aspiration--the longing for a future Redeemer.

In the prophecies of Daniel we find the predictions of the Messiah
assuming the clearness of forewritten history. The successive
empires of the world are imaged under the symbol of a human
body, with a head of gold, a breast of silver, body and thighs
of brass, legs and feet of iron. By these types were indicated
the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman nations, with their
successive rule. In prophetic vision, also, a stone was without
hands cut out of the mountains, and it smote the feet of the
image, so that the whole of it passed away like the chaff of the
threshing-floor.

How striking this description of that invisible, spiritual force
which struck the world in the time of the Roman empire, and before
which all the ancient dynasties have vanished!

In the ninth chapter of Daniel, verses 25, 26, 27, we find given
the exact time of the coming of the Messiah, of his death, of the
subsequent destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and the cessation
of the Jewish worship and sacrifices. Remembering that Daniel
was the head of the Chaldean magi, we see how it is that their
descendants were able to calculate the time of the birth of Christ
and come to worship him.[2]

  [2] M. Lenormant says in _The Magic of the Chaldees_: "The more one
  advances in the understanding of the cuneiform text, the more one
  sees the necessity of revising the condemnation too prematurely
  uttered against the Book of Daniel by the German Exegetical School.
  Without doubt, the use of certain Greek words serves to show that
  it has passed through the hands of some editor since the time
  of Alexander. But the substance of it is much more ancient--is
  imprinted with a perfectly distinct Babylonian tinge, and the
  picture of life in the court of Nabuchodonosor and his successors
  has an equal truthfulness which could not have been attained at a
  later period."

At length the Jews were recalled from captivity and the temple
rebuilt. While it was rebuilding prophets encouraged the work with
prophecies of the Lord who should appear in it. The prophet Haggai
(ii. 3-9) thus speaks to those who depreciate the new temple by
comparing it with the old:--

     "Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory?
     Yet now be strong, all ye people of the land, and work, for I am
     with you, saith the Lord of Hosts. For thus saith the Lord: Yet
     a little while and I will shake the heavens and earth, the sea
     and the dry land, and the Desire of all nations shall come, and
     I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord. The glory of
     this latter house shall be greater than of the former, for in
     this house will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts."

The prophecies of Zechariah, which belonged to the same period and
had the same object,--to encourage the rebuilding of the second
temple,--are full of anticipation of the coming Messiah. The prophet
breaks forth into song like a bird of the morning:--

    "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;
    Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:
    Behold, thy king cometh unto thee.
    He is just and hath salvation;
    He is lowly, riding upon an ass--
    Upon a colt, the foal of an ass."

Again he breaks forth in another strain:--

    "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd,
    Against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts.
    Smite the Shepherd,
    And the sheep shall be scattered."

We remember that these words were quoted by our Lord to his
disciples the night before his execution, when he was going forth
to meet his murderers. A hundred or so of years later, the prophet
Malachi says:--

    "Behold, I send my messenger.
    He shall prepare the way before me.
    The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple:
    Even the messenger of the covenant, in whom ye delight;
    But who may abide the day of his coming?
    Who shall stand when He appeareth?
    For, like a refiner's fire shall He be,
    And like fullers' soap.
    He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.
    He shall purify the sons of Levi."

How remarkably this prophecy describes the fiery vehemence and
energy of our Lord's first visit to the temple, when he drove
out the money-changers and completely cleansed the holy place of
unseemly traffic!

With this prophet the voice of prediction ceases. Let us for a
moment look back and trace its course. First, the vague promise of
a Deliverer, born of a woman; then, a designation of the race from
which he is to be born; then of the tribe; then of the family; then
the very place of his birth is predicted--Bethlehem-Ephratah being
mentioned to discriminate it from another Bethlehem. Then come a
succession of pictures of a Being concerning whom the most opposite
things are predicted. He is to be honored, adored, beloved; he is
to be despised and rejected--his nation hide their faces from him.
He is to be terrible and severe as a refiner's fire; he is to be
so gentle that a bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax
shall he not quench. He is to be seized and carried from prison to
judgment; he is surrounded by the wicked; his hands and feet are
pierced, his garments divided; they cast lots for his vesture; he
is united by his death both with the wicked and with the rich; he
is cut off from the land of the living. He is cut off, but not for
himself; his kingdom is to be an everlasting kingdom; he is to have
dominion from sea to sea, and of the increase of his government and
of peace there is to be no end.

How strange that for ages these conflicting and apparently
contradictory oracles had been accumulating, until finally came One
who fulfilled them all. Is not this indeed the Christ--the Son of
God?



III

THE CRADLE OF BETHLEHEM


We should have supposed that when the time came for the entrance
of the great Hero upon the stage of this world, magnificent
preparations would be made to receive him. A nation had been called
and separated from all tribes of earth that he might be born of
them, and it had been their one special mission to prepare for the
coming of this One, their Head and King, in whom the whole of their
organization--laws, teachings, and prophecies--was to be fulfilled.
Christ was the end for which the tabernacle was erected and the
temple built, for whom were the Holy of Holies, the altars, and the
sacrifices. He was the Coming One for whom priests and prophets had
been for hundreds of years looking.

What should we have expected of divine wisdom when the glorious hour
approached? We should have thought that the news would be sent to
the leaders of the great national council of the Sanhedrim, to the
High Priest and elders, that their Prince was at hand. Doubtless we
should suppose that the nation, apprised of his coming, would have
made ready his palace and have been watching at its door to do honor
to their newborn King.

Far otherwise is the story as we have it.

In the poorest, most sordid, most despised village of Judæa dwelt,
unknown and neglected, two members of the decayed and dethroned
royal family of Judæa,--Joseph the carpenter and Mary his betrothed.
Though every circumstance of the story shows the poverty of these
individuals, yet they were not peasants. They were of royal lineage,
reduced to the poverty and the simple life of the peasants. The
Jews, intensely national, cherished the tradition of David their
warrior and poet prince; they sang his Psalms, they dwelt on his
memory, and those persons, however poor and obscure, who knew that
they had his blood in their veins were not likely to forget it.

There have been times in the history of Europe when royal princes,
the heirs of thrones, have sojourned in poverty and obscurity,
earning their bread by the labor of their hands. But the
consciousness of royal blood and noble birth gave to them a secret
largeness of view and nobility of feeling which distinguished them
from common citizens.

The Song of Mary given in St. Luke shows the tone of her mind; shows
her a woman steeped in the prophetic spirit and traditions, in the
Psalms of her great ancestor, and herself possessing a lofty poetic
nature.

We have the story of the birth of Christ in only two of the
Evangelists. In Matthew we have all the facts and incidents such as
must have been derived from Joseph, and in Luke we have those which
could only have been told by Mary. She it is who must have related
to St. Luke the visit of the angel and his salutation to her. She it
is who tells of the state of her mind when those solemn mysterious
words first fell upon her ear:--

     "Hail thou, highly favored! The Lord is with thee: Blessed art
     thou among women!"

It is added,--

     "And when she saw him she was troubled and cast about in her
     mind what manner of salutation this should be."

Only Mary could have told the interior state of her mind, the
doubts, the troubles, the mental inquiries, known only to herself.
The rest of the interview, the magnificent and solemn words of the
angel, in the nature of things could have come to the historian only
through Mary's narrative.

     "Thou shalt conceive and bring forth a Son and shalt call his
     name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of
     the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of
     his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob
     forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

In St. Matthew we have the history of the hesitation of Joseph, his
manly delicacy and tenderness for his betrothed wife, and the divine
message to him in a dream; all of which are things that could have
been known only through his own narration.

We find also in this history, whose facts must have come from
Joseph, a table of genealogy tracing his descent back to David,
while in the account given by Mary in St. Luke there is another and
different table of genealogy. The probable inference on the face of
it would be that the one is the genealogy of Joseph and the other
of Mary; and it confirms this supposition to find that she was
spoken of in Rabbinic writings of an early period as the daughter
of Heli,[3] who concludes the genealogy given in Luke, and on this
supposition would be the father of Mary and grandfather of Jesus.
Moreover, as the angel himself in announcing the birth of Christ
laid special stress upon the fact that his mother was of the house
of David, it is quite probable that the genealogy which proved that
descent was very precious in Mary's eyes, and that this is therefore
imbedded in the account which St. Luke derives from her, as the very
chief treasure of her life. That genealogical record was probably
the one hoarded gem of her poverty and neglect--like a crown jewel
concealed in the humble cottage of an exiled queen.

  [3] Lightfoot, in his notes on Luke iii., maintains this theory, and
  quotes in support of it three passages from the Jerusalem Talmud,
  folio 77, 4, where Mary the mother of Jesus is denounced as the
  _daughter of Heli_, and mother of a pretender. The same view is
  sustained by Paulus, Spanheim, and Lange.

When the conviction was brought home to both these hidden souls
that their house was to be the recipient of this greatest of all
honors, we can easily see how it must have been a treasury of secret
and wonderful emotions and contemplations between them. A world of
lofty thought and feeling from that hour belonged to those two of
all the world, separating them far as heaven is above the earth from
the sordid neighborhood of Nazareth. Every tie which connected them
with the royal house of David must have been wakened to intense
vitality. All the prophecies with regard to the future Messiah must
have blazed with a new radiance in the firmament of their thoughts.
The decree from Cæsar that all the world should be taxed, and the
consequent movement towards a census of the Jewish nation, must have
seemed to them a divine call and intimation to leave the village of
Nazareth and go to their ancestral town, where prophecy had told
them that the Messiah was to be born:--

     "And thou Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little among the
     thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come a Governor which
     shall rule my people Israel, whose goings forth have been from
     of old, from everlasting."

On this magnificent mystery were these two poor, obscure, simple
people pondering in their hearts as they took their journey over
the picturesque hill-country towards the beautiful little town of
Bethlehem, the village of their fathers; Bethlehem, the city of the
loving Ruth, and her descendant, the chivalrous poet king, David.

It seems they went there poor and without acquaintance, casting
themselves in simple faith on the protection of God. The
caravanserai of those days bore more resemblance to camping-huts
than anything suggested by our modern inn. There was a raised
platform which gave to the traveler simply space to spread his bed
and lie down, while below this was the portion allotted to the
feeding and accommodation of the animals.

When these two guests arrived the space allotted to travelers was
all taken up, and a shelter had to be arranged in the part allotted
to the animals. We are so accustomed to look at that cradle in
Bethlehem through the mists of reverential tradition that we have
ceased to realize what a trial and humiliation it was to these
children of a royal race to find themselves outcasts and homeless
in the city of their fathers--in the very hour when home and its
comfort were most needed. We must remember they had to live by faith
as well as we. Though an angel had announced this coming child as
the King of Israel, still their faith must have been severely tried
to find themselves, as the hour of his birth approached, unwelcomed,
forlorn, and rejected by men, in the very city of David.

The census in which they came to have their names enrolled was the
last step in the humiliation of their nation; it was the preparation
for their subjugation and taxation as a conquered tribe under the
Roman yoke: and they, children of the royal house of David, were
left to touch the very lowest descent of humiliation, outcasts from
among men, glad to find a resting-place with the beasts of the stall.

Christ is called the Morning Star, and truly he rose in the very
darkest hour of the night. The Friend of the outcast, the Care-taker
of the neglected, the poor man's Helper, must needs be born thus.

But was there no message? Yes. In those very hills and valleys of
Bethlehem where David kept his father's sheep were still shepherds
abiding. The Psalms of David were there the familiar melodies; they
lived by the valley and hill, as when he sang of old,--

    "The Lord is my Shepherd;
    I shall not want.
    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
    He leadeth me beside the still waters."

These shepherds probably were poor men of a devout and simple faith,
men who longed and prayed and waited for the consolation of Israel.
Their daily toil was ennobled by religious associations. Jehovah
himself was addressed as the

    "Shepherd of Israel;
    He that leadeth Joseph like a flock;
    He that dwelleth between the cherubims."

It was to such souls as these, patient, laborious, prayerful, that
the message came; that the Good Shepherd--the Shepherd and Bishop
of Souls--was born. No comment can brighten or increase the solemn
beauty of those simple words in which this story is told:--

     "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the
     field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the
     angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord
     shone round about them; and they were afraid. And the angel said
     unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of
     joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day
     in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And
     this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in
     swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger.

     "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the
     heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the
     highest, and on earth Peace, Good-will toward men.

     "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them
     into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now
     go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to
     pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came
     with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a
     manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the
     saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they
     that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by
     the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them
     in her heart.

     "And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all
     the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto
     them."

They received the reward of faith; having heard the heavenly
message, they believed and acted upon it. They did not stop to
question or reason about it. They did not say, "How can this be?"
but "Let us go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is
come to pass." And so it was that they were rewarded by seeing and
hearing the wonders "as it was told unto them."

The visit of these simple, confiding souls doubtless cheered the
patient hearts of the humble outcasts, and strengthened their faith.

If now it be asked, Why was all this so? we have only to answer that
heaven is a very different world from our earth, and that heavenly
ways of viewing people and things are wholly above those of earth.
The apostle says that the foolishness of God is wiser than man, and
the weakness of God is stronger than man; that the things that are
highly esteemed among men are abominations in the sight of God.

When a new king and a new kingdom were to be set up on earth, no
pomp of man, no palace made with hands, was held worthy of him; few
were the human hearts deemed worthy of the message, and these were
people that the world knew not of--simple-minded, sincere, loving,
prayerful people.

The priests and scribes were full of national pride and bitterness,
burning for revenge on the Romans, longing for conquest and power.
They were impatiently waiting for the Leader whose foot should be on
the necks of their enemies. They had no sense of sin, no longing for
holiness, no aspirations for a Spiritual Deliverer; and therefore no
message was sent to them.

But to the simple-minded Joseph the angel said, "Thou shalt call his
name Jesus (Saviour) for he shall save his people from their sins."
Not from the Romans but from their sins he came to save, and the
message of his coming was to humble souls, who wanted this kind of
salvation.

But there was a fitness furthermore in these circumstances. Up to
this time the poor and the unfortunate had been the despised of the
earth. It had been predicted again and again that the Messiah should
be the especial Friend of the poor:--

    "He shall deliver the needy when he crieth,
    The poor and him that hath no helper.
    He shall spare the soul of the needy,
    And precious shall their blood be in his sight."

As a mother when seeking a lost and helpless child, outcast in some
den of misery, would pass by palaces and refuse the shelter of
luxurious roofs, to share the poverty of her beloved, so the poor
man's Friend and Lord chose to come in the hut and the stable rather
than in the palace, that he might be known forever as the God of the
poor, the Patron of the neglected, and the Shepherd of the lost.



IV

THE BLESSED WOMAN


There was one woman whom the voice of a divine Messenger, straight
from heaven, pronounced highly favored. In what did this favor
consist?

Of noble birth, of even royal lineage, she had fallen into poverty
and obscurity. The great, brilliant, living world of her day knew
her as the rushing equipages and palatial mansions of our great
cities know the daughters of poor mechanics in rural towns.

There was plenty of splendor, and rank, and fashion in Jerusalem
then. Herod the Great was a man of cultivation and letters,
and beautified the temple with all sorts of architectural
embellishments; and there were High Priests, and Levites, and a
great religious aristocracy circling about its precincts, all of
whom, if they thought of any woman as highly favored of heaven,
would have been likely to think of somebody quite other than the
simple country girl of Nazareth. Such an one as she was not in all
their thoughts. Yet she was _the_ highly favored woman of the world;
the crowned queen of women; the One whose lot--above that of all
that have lived woman's life, before or since--was blessed.

The views adopted in the Roman Church with respect to this one Woman
of women have tended to deprive the rest of the world of a great
source of comfort and edification by reason of the opposite extreme
to which Protestant reaction has naturally gone.

John Knox was once taken on board a ship manned, as he says, by
Popish sailors, who gave into his hand an image of the Virgin Mary
and wanted to compel him to kiss it. Stout John tossed it overboard,
saying, "Let our Lady now save herself; she is light enough, let her
learn to swim." To have honored the Virgin Mary, even in thought,
was shrunk from by the Protestants of those times as an approach to
idolatry. An image or a picture of her in a Puritan house would have
been considered an approach to the sin of Achan. Truth has always
had the fate of the shuttlecock between the conflicting battledoors
of controversy.

This is no goddess crowned with stars, but something nobler, purer,
fairer, more appreciable--the One highly favored and blessed among
Women.

The happiness of Mary's lot was peculiar to womanhood. It lay mostly
in the sphere of family affection. Mary had in this respect a lot
whose blessedness was above every other mother. She had as her child
the loveliest character that ever unfolded through childhood and
youth to manhood. He was entirely her own. She had a security in
possessing him such as is not accorded to other mothers. She knew
that the child she adored was not to die till he had reached man's
estate--she had no fear that accident, or sickness, or any of those
threatening causes which give sad hours to so many other mothers,
would come between him and her.

Neither was she called to separate from him. The record shows that
he was with his parents until their journey to Jerusalem, when he
was twelve years old; and then, after his brief absence of three
days when he was left behind, and found in the temple disputing with
the doctors, we are told that "he went down to Nazareth and was
subject unto them."

These words are all that cover eighteen years of the purest
happiness ever given to mortal woman. To love, to adore, to possess
the beloved object in perfect security, guarded by a divine
promise--this blessedness was given to but one woman of all the
human race. That peaceful home in Nazareth, overlooked by all the
great, gay world, how many happy hours it had! Day succeeded day,
weeks went to months, and months into years, and this is all the
record: "Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with
God and man."

Looking at Jesus as a mere human being, a historical character, as
some do, the one great peculiarity of him is the intensity of the
personal affection he has been able to inspire. The Apostles give
him one title which was his above all the other children of men,
"THE BELOVED." Christ has been and now is beloved, as no other human
being ever was. Others have been good men,--true men, benefactors
of their race,--but when they died their personality faded from the
earth.

Tell a Hottentot or a Zulu the story of Socrates, and it excites
no very deep emotion; but, for eighteen hundred years, Hottentots,
Zulus, South Sea Islanders and savages, Greenlanders,--men, women,
and children in every land, with every variety of constitutional
habit,--have conceived such an ardent, passionate, personal love
to Jesus of Nazareth that they have been ready to face torture and
death for his sake.

"It is not for me to covet things visible or invisible," said
Polycarp, on his way to martyrdom, "if only I may obtain Jesus
Christ. The fire, the cross, the rush of wild beasts, the tearing
asunder of bones, the fracture of limbs, and the grinding to powder
of the whole body, let these, the devil's torments, come upon me,
provided only that I obtain Jesus Christ."

So felt the Christians of the first ages, and time does not cool
the ardor. There are at this present hour hundreds of thousands of
obscure men and women, humble artisans, ignorant negroes, to whom
Christ is dearer than life, and who would be capable of just this
grand devotion. It is not many years since that in the Island of
Madagascar Christian converts were persecuted, and there were those
who met death for Christ's sake with all the triumphant fervor of
primitive ages. Jesus has been the one man of whom it has been
possible to say to people of all nations, ages, and languages, "Whom
having not seen ye love, and in whom, though now ye see him not, yet
believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

If we should embody our idea of the Son with whom Mary lived in
secure intimacy for thirty years, we should call him Love, itself.
He was not merely lovely, but he was love. He had a warming,
creative power as to love. He gave birth to new conceptions of love;
to a fervor, a devotion, a tenderness, of which before the human
soul scarcely knew its own capacity.

Napoleon asserted the divinity of Jesus from the sole fact of his
wonderful power of producing love. "I know men," he said, "and
I know Jesus was not a man;--eighteen hundred years ago he died
defeated, reviled, and yet at this hour there are thousands all over
the world who would die for him. I am defeated and overthrown, and
who cares for me now? Who fights, who conquers for me? What an abyss
between my misery and the triumph of Jesus!"

The blessedness of Mary was that she was the one human being who had
the right of ownership and intimate oneness with the Beloved. For
thirty years Jesus had only the task of living an average, quiet,
ordinary human life. He was a humble artisan, peacefully working
daily for the support of his mother. He was called from her by no
public duty; he was hers alone. When he began his public career he
transcended these limits. Then he declared that every soul that
heard the will of God, and did it, should be to him as his mother--a
declaration at which every Christian should veil his face in awe and
gratitude.

We may imagine the peace, the joy, the serenity of that household of
which Jesus was the centre. He read and explained the Scriptures,
and he prayed with them, in such blessed words as those that are
recorded in St. John's Gospel. In this life of simplicity and
poverty he taught them that sweet and sacred secret of a peaceful
daily looking to God for food and raiment that can be learned only
by the poor and dependent. He made labor holy by choosing it as his
lot.

Many little incidents in Christ's life show the man of careful
domestic habits. He was in all things methodical and frugal. The
miraculous power he possessed never was used to surround him with
any profusion. He would have the fragments of the feast picked
up and stored in the baskets, "that nothing should be lost." His
illustrations show the habits of a frugal home. His parable of the
kingdom of heaven, likened to the leaven hidden in three measures
of meal, gives us to believe that doubtless he had often watched
his mother in the homely process of bread-making. The woman,
who, losing one piece of money from her little store, lights a
candle and searches diligently, brings to our mind the dwelling of
the poor where every penny has its value. His illustrations from
husbandry--ploughing, sowing, growing, the lost sheep, the ox fallen
into the pit, the hen and her chickens--all show a familiarity and
a kind sympathy with the daily habits and life interests of the
poor. Many little touches indicate, also, the personal refinement
and delicacy of his habits, the order and purity that extended to
all his ways. While he repressed self-indulgence and the profusion
of extravagant luxury, he felt keenly and justified bravely that
profusion of the heart that delights in costliness as an expression
of love.

There seems to be reason to think that the retirement and stillness
of the peasant life in Nazareth, its deeply hidden character, was
peculiarly suited to the constitutional taste both of Jesus and his
mother.

Mary seems, from the little we see of her, to have been one of those
silent, brooding women who seek solitude and meditation, whose
thoughts are expressed only confidentially to congenial natures.
There is every evidence that our Lord's individual and human nature
was in this respect peculiarly sympathetic with that of his mother.
The prophecy of Isaiah predicts this trait of his character:
"He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard
in the street." In the commencement of his ministry we find the
same avoidance of publicity. He hushed the zeal of his disciples.
He wrought miracles with injunctions of secrecy--"See thou tell
no man." The rush of sensational popularity seemed especially
distasteful to him, and we find him after a little retiring from it.
"Come ye with me into a desert place and rest awhile," he says to
his disciples, "for there were so many coming and going that they
found no leisure so much as to eat."

Thus, the retirement of the Garden of Gethsemane--where it is said
Jesus ofttimes resorted with his disciples--and the quietude of
the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus at Bethany, seemed to be
especially attractive to him. Indeed, so great a desire had he for
quiet and peace, and for the calm of that congenial thought and
communion that can be had with but a few, that his public life must
be regarded as a constant act of self-abnegation. It was as foreign
to him to be out in the hot glare and dust of publicity, and to
battle in the crowded ways of life, as to the most gentle woman.
Divine Love was ever, in this bustling, noisy, vulgar, outward life,
lonely, and a stranger. "He was in the world," says St. John, "and
the world was made by him, but the world knew him not."

There was one woman of all women to whom it was given to know him
perfectly, entirely, intimately--to whom his nature was knit in the
closest possible union and identity. He was bone of her bone and
flesh of her flesh--his life grew out of her immortal nature. We are
led to see in our Lord a peculiarity as to the manner of his birth
which made him more purely sympathetic with his mother than any
other son of woman. He had no mortal father. All that was human in
him was her nature; it was the union of the divine nature with the
nature of a pure woman. Hence there was in Jesus more of the pure
feminine element than in any other man. It was the feminine element
exalted and taken in union with divinity. Robertson has a very
interesting sermon on this point, showing how the existence of this
feminine element in the character of Jesus supplies all that want in
the human heart to which it has been said the worship of the Virgin
Mother was adapted. Christ, through his intimate relationship with
this one highly favored among women, had the knowledge of all that
the heart of man or woman can seek for its needs.

There is in the sacred narrative a reticence in regard to the
mother of Jesus which would seem to bear very significantly upon
any theories of their mutual relations, and especially upon their
present connection in spiritual matters--the idea that Mary, as
Mother of God, retains in heaven authority over her son, and that
he can deny her nothing. St. John takes care to state specifically
the scene in Cana of Galilee where Jesus informs his mother that, in
his divine relations and duties, her motherly relation has no place.
"Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come."

The address, though not in the connection wanting in respect, or so
abrupt as it appears in the translation, was still very decided,
and was undoubtedly one of those declarations meant not only for
her but for mankind. In the same spirit are his words where, in his
public ministration, word was brought to him that his mother and his
brethren stood without, desiring to see him:--

     "Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And he looked around
     on them that sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my
     brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my
     brother and sister and mother."

From that noble utterance, the Song of Mary,--retained by the church
as a Magnificat,--there is evidence of a soul not only exalted by
genius and enthusiasm, but steeped in the traditions of ancient
prophecy. It is so like the Psalms of David that a verse of it,
if read out casually, might seem to be taken from them. There
is no doubt that a soul like this, when possessed of the great
secret of prophecy, devoted itself with ardor to all in the Hebrew
Scriptures which foreshadowed her son's career. She was the first
teacher of the child Jesus in the Law and the Prophets. One of
Raphael's most beautiful conceptions of her represents her sitting
thoughtfully, holding the hand of the infant Jesus, while the roll
of the prophecies lies in her lap, and her eyes are fixed on the
distance as in deep thought. There is a similar picture of her by
Palma Vecchio. The communings of Christ and his mother on these
subjects must have been so long and so intimate that she more calmly
and clearly knew exactly whither his life was tending than did his
disciples. She had been forewarned in Daniel of the time when the
Messiah was to be cut off, but not for himself; she understood,
doubtless, the deep, hidden meaning of the Psalm that describes the
last agonies, the utter abandonment of her son.

There is in her whole character a singular poise and calmness. When
the Angel of the Annunciation appeared to her she was not overcome
by the presence of a spiritual being as Daniel was, who records that
"he fell on his face and there was no strength in him." Mary, in
calm and firm simplicity, looks the angel in the face, and ponders
what the wonderful announcement may mean. When she finds that it
really does mean that she, a poor lonely maiden, is the chosen woman
of all the human race--the gainer of the crown of which every Jewish
woman had dreamed for ages--she is still calm. She does not sink
under the honor, she is not confused or overcome, but answers with
gentle submission, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me
according to his word."

Yet the words of the Magnificat show a keen sense of the honor and
favor done her. She exults in it with an innocent heartiness of
simplicity. "He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaid, for
from henceforth all nations shall call me blessed."

It is remarkable that Mary was never in any one instance associated
in public work with Jesus. She was not among the women who are
mentioned as following and ministering unto him. She was, it seems,
in Jerusalem at the last Passover of our Lord, but it was not
with her, or at her table, that he prepared to eat the Passover.
He did that as master in his own house, with a family of little
children of his own choosing. Mary was not at the first Eucharistic
feast. Undoubtedly there was foreknowledge and divine design in
all this, and doubtless Jesus and Mary were so completely one in
will and purpose that she was of perfect accord with him in all
these arrangements. There are souls so perfectly attuned to each
other, with such an exact understanding and sympathy, that personal
presence no longer becomes a necessity. They are always with each
other in spirit, however outwardly separated. But we find her with
him once more, openly and visibly, in the hour when all others
forsook him. The delicacy of woman may cause her to shrink from the
bustle of public triumph, but when truth and holiness are brought to
public scorn she is there to defend, to suffer, to die.

Can we conceive what this mob was, that led Jesus forth to death?
Mobs in our day are brutal, but what were they then? Consider what
the times must have been when scourging was an ordinary punishment
for criminals, and crucifixion an ordinary mode of execution; what
were the sights, the sounds, the exhibitions of brutality among
which Mary and the women friends of Jesus followed him to the cross!

And Mary did not faint--did not sink. She did not fall to the earth
when an angel predicted her glory; she did not fall now, when the
sword had gone through her heart. It is all told in one word, "Now
there _stood_ by the cross of Jesus his mother." The last word that
Jesus spoke to any mortal ear was to commend her to his dearest
friend.

After the resurrection Mary appears once more among the disciples,
waiting and praying for a descent of the Holy Ghost--and then in the
sacred record we hear of her no more.

But enough is recorded of her to make her forever dear to all
Christian hearts. That Mary is now with Jesus, that there is an
intimacy and sympathy between her soul and his such as belong to no
other created being, seems certain. Nor should we suffer anything to
prevent that just love and veneration which will enable us to call
her Blessed, and to look forward to meeting her in heaven as one of
the brightest joys of that glorious world.



V

THE HOLY CHILDHOOD


In the first recorded public prayer of the Apostles after the
resurrection of our Lord he is called "THY HOLY CHILD JESUS."

The expression is a very beautiful one if we couple it with the
Master's declaration that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is
the most like a little child, and that to become as a little child
is the first step toward fitness for the knowledge of spiritual
things.

There has been in this world one rare flower of Paradise,--a holy
childhood growing up gradually into a holy manhood, and always
retaining in mature life the precious, unstained memories of perfect
innocence. The family at Nazareth was evidently a secluded one.
Persons of such an elevated style of thought as Joseph and Mary,
conscious of so solemn a destiny and guarding with awe the treasure
and hope of a world, must have been so altogether different from the
ordinary peasants of Nazareth that there could have been little more
than an external acquaintance between them. They were undoubtedly
loving, gentle, and tender to every one, full of sympathy for
trouble and of kind offices in sickness, but they carried within
their hearts a treasury of thoughts, emotions, and hopes, which
could not be perceived by those whose spiritual eyes had never been
opened. It is quite evident from the surprise that the Nazarenes
manifested when Christ delivered his first sermon among them that
they had never seen anything unusual in the family, and that Christ
himself had been living among them only as the carpenter's son.
This case is not peculiar. The great artist or poet often grows to
manhood without one of his townspeople suspecting who he is, and
what world he lives in. Milton or Raphael might so have grown up
unknown in a town of obscure fishermen.

The apocryphal gospels have busied themselves in inventing legends
of this child-life of Jesus. Nothing so much shows the difference
between the false and the true as these apocryphal gospels compared
with the real. Jesus is represented there as a miraculous child,
using supernatural power for display among his schoolmates and for
the gratification of childish piques and resentments.

The true gospel gives but one incident of the child-life of Jesus,
and that just at the time when childhood is verging into youth; for
the rest, we are left to conjecture.

We are told that his infancy was passed in the land of Egypt.
Jesus was the flower of his nation,--he was the blossom of its
history,--and therefore it seemed befitting that his cradle should
be where was the cradle of his great forerunner, Moses, on the
banks of the Nile. The shadows of the Pyramids, built by the labors
of his ancestors, were across the land of his childhood, and the
great story of their oppression and deliverance must have filled
the thoughts and words of his parents. So imbued was the Jewish
mind with the habit of seeing in everything in their history the
prophecy and type of the great Fulfiller, that St. Matthew speaks
of this exile in Egypt as having occurred that the type might
find completeness, and that Israel, in the person of its Head and
Representative, might a second time be called out of Egypt:--

     "That it might be fulfilled that was spoken of the Lord by the
     prophet,

     "Out of Egypt have I called my son."

We do not know with any definiteness the length of this sojourn in
Egypt, nor how much impression the weird and solemn scenery and
architecture of Egypt may have made upon the susceptible mind of
the child; but to the parents it must have powerfully and vividly
recalled all that ancient and prophetic literature which in every
step pointed to their wonderful son. The earliest instructions of
Jesus must have been in this history and literature of his own
nation--a literature unique, poetic, and sublime. But we have no
tidings of him till that time in his history when, according to the
customs of his people, he was of age to go up to the great national
festival at Jerusalem.

The young Jewish boy was instructed all the earlier years of his
life in view of this great decisive step, which, like confirmation
in the Christian Church, ranked him as a fully admitted member
of the house of Israel. It was customary to travel to Jerusalem
in large companies or caravans, beguiling the way with hymns of
rejoicing as they drew nigh to the holy city. Jesus, probably, was
one of many boys who for the first time were going up to their great
national festival.

One incident only of this journey is given, but that a very striking
one. After the feast was over, when the caravan was returning,
they passed a day's journey on their way without perceiving that
the child was not among the travelers. This--in a large company of
kinsfolk and acquaintance, and where Jesus might have been, as he
always afterward seemed to be, a great personal favorite--was quite
possible. His parents, trusting him wholly, and feeling that he was
happy among friends, gave themselves no care till the time of the
evening encampment. Then, discovering their loss, they immediately
retraced their steps the next day to Jerusalem, inquiring for him
vainly among their acquaintances. They at last turned their steps
toward the outer courts of the temple, where was the school of the
learned Rabbins who explained the law of God. There, seated at their
feet, eager and earnest, asking them questions and hearing their
answers, the child Jesus had awakened to a new and deeper life, and
become so absorbed as to forget time, place, friends, and everything
else in the desire to understand the Holy Word.

It is a blot upon this beautiful story to speak of Jesus as
"disputing" with the teachers of his nation, or setting himself
up to instruct them. His position was that of a learner; we are
not told that he asserted anything, but that he listened and
asked questions. The questions of a pure child are often the most
searching that can be asked; the questions of the holy child Jesus
must have penetrated to the very deepest of divine mysteries. Those
masterly discussions of the sayings of the Rabbins, which years
after appeared in the Sermon on the Mount, may have sprung from
seeds thus dropped into the childish mind.

But, while he is thus absorbed and eager, his soul burning with
newly kindled enthusiasm, suddenly his parents, agitated and
distressed, lay hold on him with tender reproach: "Son, why hast
thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee
sorrowing."

Jesus answers, as he so often did in after life, as speaking almost
unconsciously out of some higher sphere, and in higher language than
that of earth: "How is it that ye sought me? Did ye not know that I
must be about my Father's business?"

It seemed to say, "Why be alarmed? is not this my Father's house; is
not this study of his law my proper work; and where should I be but
here?"

But immediately it is added, "He went down to Nazareth and was
subject to them." Even Christ pleased not himself; the holiest fire,
the divinest passion, was made subject to the heavenly order, and
immediately he yielded to the father and mother whom God had made
his guides an implicit obedience.

We have here one glimpse of a consuming ardor, a burning enthusiasm,
which lay repressed and hidden for eighteen years more, till the
Father called him to speak.

That simple, natural utterance in the child's mouth--"My
Father"--shows the secret of the holy peace which kept him happy
in waiting. The Father was a serene presence, an intimate and
inward joy. In the beautiful solitudes about Nazareth the divine
benediction came down upon him:--

    "I will be as the dew to Israel:
    He shall grow as the lily,
    And cast forth his roots as Lebanon."

These two natural symbols seem fittest to portray the elements of
that holy childhood which grew to holiest manhood. They give us, as
its marked characteristics, the shining purity of the lily and the
grand strength and stability of the cedars of Lebanon.



VI

GENTILE PROPHECIES OF CHRIST

     "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa, in the days of
     Herod the king, behold there came wise men to Jerusalem, saying,
     Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his
     star in the east, and are come to worship him."


Was the Messiah to be the King of the Jews alone? No; he was for the
world; he was the Good Shepherd of nations, and declared that he
had "other sheep, not of this fold."

It seems to be most striking that, in the poetical and beautiful
account of the birth of Jesus, there is record of two distinct
classes who come to pay him homage--not only the simple-minded and
devout laboring people of the Jews, but also the learned sages of
the Gentiles.

There are constant intimations throughout the Old Testament that
God's choice of the Jews was no favoritism; that he had not
forgotten other races, but was still the God and Father of mankind;
and that he chose Israel not to aggrandize one people, but to make
that people his gift-bearers to the whole world.

There are distinct evidences in the Old Testament that the coming
Saviour was caring for others beside the Jewish race. Witness
his gracious promise to the slave Hagar that he would bless her
descendants. In the very family line from which Messiah was to be
born a loving and lovely Moabite woman was suffered to be introduced
as the near ancestress of King David, and the name of the Gentile
Ruth stands in the genealogy of Jesus as a sort of intimation that
he belonged not to a race but to the world. In a remarkable passage
of Isaiah (xliv. 28, xlv. 1, 4, 5) Jehovah, proclaiming his supreme
power, declares himself to be He

    "That saith of Cyrus--
    He is my shepherd,
    He shall perform all my pleasure.
    Even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built;
    And to the Temple, Thy foundations shall be laid.
    Thus saith the Lord to his anointed,
    To Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden.

      .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

    For Jacob my servant's sake,
    For Israel mine elect,
    I have called thee by my name:
    I have surnamed thee, _though thou hast not known me_.
    I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:
    I girded thee, though thou hast not known me."

The Babylonian captivity answered other purposes beside the
punishment and restoration of the Jewish nation to the worship of
the true God. It was a sort of prophetic "Epiphany," in which the
Messianic aspirations of the Jews fell outside of their own nation,
like sparks of fire on those longings which were common to the human
race. Even the Jewish prophet spoke of the Messiah as "The Desire of
all Nations."

And this desire and the hope of its fulfillment were burning
fervently in the souls of all the best of the Gentile nations; for
not among the Jews alone, but among all the main races and peoples
of antiquity, have there been prophecies and traditions more or less
clear of a Being who should redeem the race of man from the power of
evil and bring in an era of peace and love.

The yearning, suffering heart of humanity formed to itself such
a conception out of its own sense of need. Poor helpless man
felt himself an abandoned child, without a Father, in a scene of
warring and contending forces. The mighty, mysterious, terrible God
of nature was a being that he could not understand, felt unable
to question. Job in his hour of anguish expressed the universal
longing:--

     "Oh that I knew where I might find him! I would come even to his
     seat, I would order my cause before him, I would fill my mouth
     with arguments. Would he plead against me with his great power?
     Nay, but he would put strength in me."

And again:--

     "He is not a man as I am that I should answer him, and that we
     should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman
     that might lay his hand on both of us."

It was for this Mediator, both divine and human, who should
interpret the silence of God to man, who should be his Word to his
creatures, that all humanity was sighing. Therefore it was that the
first vague promise was a seed of hope, not only in the Jewish race,
but in all other nations of the earth.

One of the earliest and most beautiful prophecies of the coming
Messiah is from the heathen astrologer, Balaam:--

    "Balaam the son of Beor saith,
    The man whose eyes are open, saith,
    He which heard the word of God
    And knew the knowledge of the Most High,
    Which saw the vision of the Almighty,
    Falling into a trance and having his eyes open:
    I shall see HIM, but not now.
    I shall behold HIM, but not nigh.
    There shall come a STAR out of Jacob,
    A sceptre shall rise out of Israel.
    Out of Jacob shall come HE that shall have dominion!"

Of late there has been discovered in Nineveh a large work on the
system of magic of the Chaldee soothsayers, written on tiles of
baked clay, in the "arrow-head" characters. Here we have a minute
account, of the Chaldeans--the astrologers and the sorcerers
spoken of in Daniel--with specimens of their liturgic forms and
invocations. M. Lenormant, who has issued a minute account of this
work with translations of many parts of it, gives an interesting
account of the religious ideas of the Chaldees in the very earliest
period of antiquity, as old or older than that of the soothsayer
Balaam.

He says the supreme divinity, whom they called EA, was regarded as
too remote and too vast to be approached by human prayer, and that
he was to be known only through the medium of another divinity,
his first-begotten Son, to whom is given a name signifying the
Benefactor of Man. The prayers and ascriptions to this divinity
remind us of the Old Testament addresses to the Messiah. The Hebrew
poet says:--

    "Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth,
    And the heavens are the work of thy hands."

The ancient invocation upon the tiles of Nineveh addressed to the
Mediator runs thus:--

    "Great Lord of earth! King of all lands,
    First-begotten Son of Ea,
    Director of heaven and earth,
    Most merciful among the gods,
    Thou who restorest the dead to life."

      .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

We see here the reflection of a Being such as the contemporaries of
Abraham in the land of the Chaldees must have looked forward to--an
image of that diffused and general faith which pervaded the world
in the days when the patriarch was called to be the Father of a
peculiar people.

In the Zendavesta--begun about the age of Daniel--also are traces of
the same Being, with prophecies of his future appearance on earth to
restore the human race to peace and goodness.

In one of the Zend books we have a passage strikingly like some of
the prophetic parts of Daniel. As Nebuchadnezzar saw the future
history of the world under the form of an image, made of four
precious metals, so Zoroaster was made to see the same under the
image of a tree in which four trunks proceed from a common root. The
first was a golden, the second a silver, the third a steel, and the
fourth an iron one.

In the same manner as in Daniel, these trees are interpreted as
successive monarchies of the earth. The last, the iron one, was to
be the dominion of demons and dark powers of evil, and after it was
to come the SAVIOUR, or SOSIOSCH (a _Zend_ word), who was to bring
in the restitution of all things from the power of evil, and the
resurrection of the dead.[4]

  [4] These passages are quoted and commented on by Hilgenfeld on
  the _Apocalyptic Literature of the Hebrews_, and Lücke on the
  _Apocalypse of St. John_.

The same ideas were expressed in the Sibylline oracles. The story
of the Sibyl who offered her books to Tarquin, in the early days
of Rome, is known to every child who studies Roman history. From
the remains of these writings, still extant, they appear to contain
predictions of the world's future, much resembling those of Daniel
and Isaiah. They predict the coming of a Great Deliverer of the
human race, a millennium of righteousness, a resurrection of the
dead, and a Day of Judgment.

About forty years before the birth of Christ, Virgil wrote his
beautiful Eclogue of Pollio. The birthplace of Virgil was near the
town of Cumæ, where lived the Cumæan Sibyl, and her traditionary
history and her writings must have deeply impressed his mind.
Possibly he only thought of them as a poet thinks of a fine theme
for the display of poetic imagery; and possibly he may have meant
to make of this eclogue a complimentary prophecy of some patron
among the powerful of his times. But when we remember that it
was published only about forty years before the birth of Christ,
and that no other historical character corresponding to this
prediction ever appeared, it becomes, to say the least, a remarkable
coincidence.

Bishop Lowth says that the mystery of this eclogue has never been
solved, and intimates that he would scarcely dare to express some of
the suppositions which it has inspired.

May not Virgil, like Balaam, have been carried beyond himself in the
trance of poetic inspiration, and seen afar the "Star" that should
arise out of Israel? He too might have exclaimed:--

    "I shall see him, but not now.
    I shall behold him, but not nigh."

The words of Virgil have a fire and fervor such as he seems to have
had in no other composition, as he sings:--

    "The last age of the Cumæan song is come.
    The great cycle of ages hastens to a new beginning.
    Now, too, returns the reign of Justice.
    The golden age of Saturn now returns.
    While thou, Pollio, art consul,
    This glory of our age shall make his appearance.
    The great months begin to roll.
    He shall partake of the life of the gods,
    And rule the peaceful world with his father's virtues."

Then follow a profusion of images of peace and plenty that should
come to the world in the reign of this hero. All poisonous and
hurtful things shall die; all rare and beautiful ones shall grow and
abound; there shall be no more toil, no more trouble. Then, with
a fine burst of imagery, the poet represents the Fates themselves
as singing, to the whirring music of their spindles, a song of
welcome:--

    "Ye ages, hasten!
    Dear offspring of the gods, set forward on thy way to highest honors;
    The time is at hand.
    See, the world with its round weight bows to thee.
    To thee bow the earth, the regions of the sea and heaven sublime.
    See how all things rejoice at the approach of this age!
    O that my life might last to see and sing thy deeds!"

The close of this eclogue has a mysterious tenderness. The poet
predicts that this sublime personage, for whom the world is waiting,
should be born amidst the afflictions of his parents and under a
cloud of poverty and neglect:--

    "Come, little boy, and know thy mother with a smile.
    Come, little boy, on whom thy parents smile not,
    Whom no god honors with a table,
    No goddess with a cradle."

It would seem as if the sensitive soul of Virgil, in the ecstasy of
poetic inspiration, acquired a vague clairvoyance of that scene at
Bethlehem when there was no room for Joseph and Mary at the inn, and
the Heir of all things lay in a manger, outcast and neglected.

Not in Virgil alone, but scattered also here and there through all
antiquity, do we find vague, half-prophetic aspirations after the
divine Teacher who should interpret God to man, console under the
sorrows of life, and charm away the fears of death. In the Phædo,
when Socrates is comforting his sorrowful disciples in view of
his approaching death, and setting before them the probabilities
of a continued life beyond the grave, one of them tells him that
they believe while they hear him, but when he is gone their doubts
will all return, and says, "Where shall we find a charmer then to
disperse our fears?" Socrates answers that such a Charmer will yet
arise, and bids his disciples seek him in all lands of the earth.
Greece, he says, is wide, and there are many foreign lands and even
barbarous countries in which they should travel searching for Him,
for there is nothing for which they could more reasonably spend time
and money.

And in the discourse of Socrates with Alcibiades, as given by Plato,
the great philosopher is represented as saying, "We must wait till
One shall teach us our duty towards gods and men."

Alcibiades asks, "When, O Socrates, shall that time come, and who
will be the Teacher? Most happy should I be to see this man, whoever
he is." The Sage replies, "He is One who is concerned for thee. He
feels for thee an admirable regard."

When one reads these outreachings for an unknown Saviour in the
noblest minds of antiquity, it gives pathos and suggestive power to
that emotion which our Lord manifested only a few days before his
death, when word was brought him that there were certain _Greeks_
desiring to see him. When the message was brought to him he answered
with a burst of exultation, "The hour is come that the Son of man
should be glorified! Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and
die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit,
and I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me!"

He was indeed the "Teacher" who had been "concerned" for Alcibiades,
who had cared for Socrates. He was the "Charmer" whom Socrates bade
his disciples seek above all things. He was the unknown bringer
of good for whom Virgil longed. He was the "Star" of Balaam, the
"Benefactor" of the Chaldee astrologers, the "Saviour" predicted by
the Persian Zoroaster. He was, it is true, the Shepherd of Israel,
but he had a heart for the "other sheep not of this fold," who were
scattered through all nations of the earth. He belonged not to any
nation, but to the world, and hence aptly and sublimely did the last
prophecy proclaim, "The desire of all nations shall come!"



VII

THE HIDDEN YEARS OF CHRIST


One great argument for the divine origin of the mission of Jesus
is its utter unlikeness to the wisdom and ways of this world. From
beginning to end, it ignored and went contrary to all that human
schemes for power would have advised.

It was first announced, not to the great or wise, but to the poor
and unlettered. And when the holy child, predicted by such splendid
prophecies, came and had been adored by the shepherds and magi, had
been presented in the temple and blessed by Simeon and Anna--what
then? Suddenly he disappears from view. He is gone, no one knows
whither--hid in a distant land.

In time the parents return and settle in an obscure village. Nobody
knows them, nobody cares for them, and the child grows up as the
prophet predicted, "As a tender plant, a root out of dry ground;"
the lonely lily of Nazareth.

And then there were thirty years of silence, when nobody thought
of him and nobody expected anything from him. There was time
for Zacharias and Elisabeth and Simeon and Anna to die; for the
shepherds to cease talking of the visions; for the wise ones of the
earth to say, "Oh, as to that child, it was nothing at all! He is
gone. Nobody knows where he is. You see it has all passed by--a mere
superstitious excitement of a few credulous people."

And during these hidden years what was Jesus doing? We have no
record. It was said by the Apostle that "in all respects it behooved
him to be made like his brethren." Before the full splendor of his
divine gifts and powers descended upon him, it was necessary that he
should first live an average life, such as the great body of human
beings live. For, of Christ as he was during the three years of
his public life, it could not be said that he was in all respects
in our situation or experiencing our trials. He had unlimited
supernatural power; he could heal the sick, raise the dead, hush the
stormy waters, summon at his will legions of angels. A being of such
power could not be said to understand exactly the feelings of our
limitations and weaknesses. But those years of power were only three
in the life of our Lord; for thirty years he chose to live the life
of an obscure human being.

Jesus prepared for his work among men by passing through the quiet
experience of a workingman in the lower orders. The tradition of the
church is that Joseph, being much older than Mary, died while Jesus
was yet young, and thus the support of his mother devolved upon
him. Overbeck has a very touching picture in which he represents
Joseph as breathing his last on the bosom of Jesus; it is a sketch
full of tenderness and feeling.

What balance of mind, what reticence and self-control, what peace
resulting from deep and settled faith, is there in this history, and
what a cooling power it must have to the hot and fevered human heart
that burns in view of the much that is to be done to bring the world
right!

Nothing was ever so strange, so visionary, to all human view so
utterly and ridiculously hopeless of success, as the task that Jesus
meditated during the thirty years when he was quietly busy over his
carpenter's bench in Nazareth. Hundreds of years before, the prophet
Daniel saw, in a dream, a stone cut out of the mountain without
hands, growing till it filled the earth. Thus the ideal kingdom
of Jesus grew in the silence and solitude of his own soul till it
became a power and a force before which all other forces of the
world have given way. The Christian religion was the greatest and
most unprecedented reform ever introduced.

In the present age of the world, the whole movement and uneasiness
and convulsion of what is called progress comes from the effort
to adjust existing society to the principles laid down by Jesus.
The Sermon on the Mount was, and still is, the most disturbing and
revolutionary document in the world.

This being the case, what impresses us most in the character of
Jesus, as a reformer, is the atmosphere of peacefulness that
surrounded him, and in which he seemed to live and move and have his
being.

Human beings as reformers are generally agitated, hurried,
impatient. Scarcely are the spirits of the prophets subject to the
prophets. They are liable to run before the proper time and season,
to tear open the bud that ought to unfold; they become nervous,
irascible, and lose mental and physical health: and, if the reform
on which they have set their heart fails, they are overwhelmed with
discouragement and tempted to doubt divine Providence.

Let us now look at Jesus. How terrible was the state of the world at
the time when he began to reflect upon it in his unfolding youth!
How much was there to be done! What darkness, cruelty, oppression,
confusion! Yet he, knowing that that was the work of reorganizing,
showed no haste. Thirty years was by Jewish law the appointed time
at which a religious teacher should commence his career. Jesus
apparently felt no impulse to antedate this period; one incident
alone, in his childhood, shows him carried away beyond himself by
the divine ardor which filled his soul.

Even then, his answers to his mother showed the consciousness of
a divine and wonderful mission such as belonged only to one of
the human race, and it is immediately added, "And he went down
to Nazareth and was subject to them." Eighteen years now passed
away and nothing was known of the enthusiastic spirit. When he
appears in the synagogue at Nazareth, he is spoken of simply as
"the carpenter." "How knoweth this man letters?" was the cry of his
townsmen.

Nothing shows more strongly the veiled and hidden and perfectly
quiet life that Jesus had been leading among them. He had been a
carpenter, not a teacher. The humble, calm, unobtrusive life of a
good mechanic, who does every day's duty in its time and place,
is not a thing that calls out any attention in a community. There
are many followers of Jesus in this world who are living the same
silent, quiet life, who would not be missed in the great world if
they were gone, who, being always in place and time, and working
without friction or jar, come to be as much disregarded as the daily
perfect work of nature.

The life of Jesus must also have been a silent one. Of all the
things that he must have been capable of saying we find not one
recorded. And the wonder of his townsmen at his capacity of speech
shows that there had been no words spoken by him before to accustom
them to it.

In our Saviour's public career we are surprised at nothing so much
as his calmness. He was never in haste. His words have all the
weight of deliberation, and the occasions when he refrains from
speech are fully as remarkable as the things he says.

There seems to be about him none of the wearying anxiety as
to immediate results, none of the alternations of hope and
discouragement that mark our course. He had faith in God, whose
great plan he was working, whose message he came to deliver, and
whose times and seasons he strictly regarded. So, too, did he regard
the mental and spiritual condition of the imperfect ones by whom he
was surrounded. "I have many things to say to you, but ye cannot
bear them now," he said even to his disciples. When their zeal
transcended his, and they longed to get hold of the thunderbolts and
call down fire from heaven, his grave and steady rebuke recalled
them: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of."

We see his disciples excited, ardent,--now coming back with triumph
to tell how even the devils were subject to them, now forbidding
one to cast out devils because he followed not them, now contending
who should be greatest; and among them sits the Master, lowly,
thoughtful, tranquil, with the little child on his knee, or bending
to wash the feet of a disciple, the calmest, sweetest, least
assuming of them all.

This should be the model of all Christian reformers. He that
believeth shall not make haste is the true motto of Christian reform.

And these great multitudes, to whose hands no special, individual
power is given--they are only minute workers in a narrower sphere.
Daily toils, small economies, the ordering of the material cares of
life, are all their lot. Before them in their way they can see the
footsteps of Jesus. We can conceive that in the lowly path of his
life all his works were perfect, that never was a nail driven or a
line laid carelessly, and that the toil of that carpenter's bench
was as sacred to him as his teachings in the temple, because it was
duty.

Sometimes there is a sadness and discontent, a repressed eagerness
for some higher sphere, that invades the minds of humble workers.
Let them look unto Jesus, and be content. All they have to do is to
be "faithful over a few things," and in his own time he will make
them "ruler over many things."



VIII

THE PRAYER-LIFE OF JESUS


The Bible presents us with the personality of a magnificent
Being--the only-begotten Son of God--who, being in the form of God
and without robbery equal with God, emptied himself of his glory and
took upon him the form of a servant; and, being found in fashion as
a man, humbled himself and became obedient to death--even the death
of the cross.

This great Being, we are told, entered the race of mortality,
divested of those advantages which came from his divine origin,
and assuming all those disadvantages of limitation and dependence
which belong to human beings. The Apostle says, "It behooved him
in all respects to be made like unto his brethren." His lot was
obedience--dependence upon the Father--and he gained victories by
just the means which are left to us--faith and prayer.

Now, there are many good people whose feeling about prayer is
something like this: "I pray because I am commanded to, not because
I feel a special need or find a special advantage in it. In my view
we are to use our intellect and our will in discovering duties and
overcoming temptations, quite sure that God will, of course, aid
those who aid themselves." This class of persons look upon all
protracted seasons of prayer and periods spent in devotion as so
much time taken from the active duties of life. A week devoted to
prayer, a convention of Christians meeting to spend eight or ten
days in exercises purely devotional, would strike them as something
excessive and unnecessary, and tending to fanaticism.

If ever there was a human being who could be supposed able to meet
the trials of life and overcome its temptations in his own strength,
it must have been Jesus Christ.

But his example stands out among all others, and he is shown to us
as peculiarly a man of prayer. The wonderful quietude and reticence
of spirit in which he awaited the call of his Father to begin his
great work has already been noticed. He waited patiently, living for
thirty years the life of a common human being of the lower grades
of society, and not making a single movement to display either
what may be called his natural gifts, of teaching, etc., or those
divine powers which were his birthright. Having taken the place of a
servant, as a servant he waited the divine call.

When that call came he consecrated himself to his great work by
submitting to the ordinance of baptism. We are told that as he went
up from the waters of baptism, praying, the heavens were opened and
the Holy Ghost descended upon him, and a voice from heaven said,
"Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased."

Might we not think that now the man Jesus Christ would feel fully
prepared to begin at once the work to which God so visibly called
him? But no. The divine Spirit within him led to a still farther
delay. More than a month's retreat from all the world's scenes and
ways, a period of unbroken solitude, was devoted to meditation and
prayer.

If Jesus Christ deemed so much time spent in prayer needful to his
work, what shall we say of ourselves? Feeble and earthly, with
hearts always prone to go astray, living in a world where everything
presses us downward to the lower regions of the senses and passions,
how can we afford to neglect that higher communion, those seasons of
divine solitude, which were thought necessary by our Master? It was
in those many days devoted entirely to communion with God that he
gained strength to resist the temptations of Satan, before which we
so often fall. Whatever we may think of the mode and manner of that
mysterious account of the temptations of Christ, it is evident that
they were met and overcome by the spiritual force gained by prayer
and the study of God's word.

But it was not merely in this retirement of forty days that our Lord
set us the example of the use of seasons of religious seclusion.
There is frequent mention made in the Gospels of his retiring for
purposes of secret prayer. In the midst of the popularity and
success that attended his first beneficent miracles, we are told by
St. Mark that, "rising up a great while before day, he went out into
a solitary place and there prayed." His disciples went to look for
him, and found him in his retirement, and brought him back with the
message, "All men are seeking for thee." In Luke v. 16, it is said:
"He withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed;" and on another
occasion (Luke iv. 42), he says: "And when it was day, he departed
and went into a desert place." Again, when preparing to take the
most important step in his ministry, the choice of his twelve
Apostles, we read in Luke vi. 12:

"And it came to pass in those days that he went out into a mountain
to pray, and continued _all night_ in prayer to God; and when it was
day, he called unto him his disciples; and of them he chose twelve,
whom also he named apostles."

It was when his disciples found him engaged in prayer, and listened
for a little while to his devotions, that they addressed to him the
petition, "Lord, teach _us_ to pray." Might we not all, in view of
his example, address to him the same prayer? Surely if there is
anything in which Christ's professed disciples need to learn of him
it is in prayer.

Not only in example but in teaching did he exhort to prayer. "Watch
and pray" were words so often upon his lips that they may seem to
be indeed the watchwords of our faith. He bids us retire to our
closets and with closed door pray to our Father in secret. He says
that men "ought always to pray and not to faint," though the answer
be delayed. He reasons from what all men feel of parental longings
in granting the requests of their little children, and says, "If
ye, being evil, are so ready to hear your children, how much more
ready will your Father in heaven be to give good things to them
that ask him." Nay, he uses a remarkable boldness in urging us to
be importunate in presenting our requests, again and again, in the
face of apparent delay and denial. He shows instances where even
indifferent or unjust people are overcome by sheer importunity, and
intimates how much greater must be the power of importunity--urgent,
pressing solicitation--on a Being always predisposed to benevolence.

By all these methods and illustrations our Lord incites us to follow
his prayerful example, and to overcome, as he overcame, by prayer.
The Christian Church felt so greatly the need of definite seasons
devoted to religious retirement that there grew up among them the
custom now so extensively observed in Christendom, of devoting
forty days in every year to a special retreat from the things of
earth, and a special devotion to the work of private and public
prayer. Like all customs, even those originating in deep spiritual
influences, this is too apt to degenerate into a mere form. Many
associate no ideas with "fasting" except a change in articles of
food. The true spiritual fasting, which consists in turning our eyes
and hearts from the engrossing cares and pleasures of earth and
fixing them on things divine, is lost sight of. Our "forty days"
are not like our Lord's, given to prayer and the study of God's
Word. Nothing could make the period of Lent so much of a reality as
to employ it in a systematic effort to fix the mind on Jesus. The
history in the Gospels is so well worn that it often slips through
the head without affecting the heart.

But if, retiring into solitude for a portion of each day, we should
select some one scene or trait or incident in the life of Jesus, and
with all the helps we can get seek to understand it fully, tracing
it in the other evangelists, comparing it with other passages of
Scripture, etc., we should find ourselves insensibly interested, and
might hope that in this effort of our souls to understand him, Jesus
himself would draw near, as he did of old to the disciples on the
way to Emmaus.

This looking unto Jesus and thinking about him is a better way to
meet and overcome sin than any physical austerities or spiritual
self-reproaches. It is by looking at him, the Apostle says, "as in a
glass," that we are "changed into the same image, as from glory to
glory."



IX

THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS


Intimately connected with the forty days of solitude and fasting is
the mysterious story of the Temptation.

We are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews that our Lord was exposed
to a peculiar severity of trial in order that he might understand
the sufferings and wants of us feeble human beings. "For in that he
himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor those
who are tempted." We are to understand, then, that however divine
was our Lord's nature in his preëxistent state, he chose to assume
our weakness and our limitations, and to meet and overcome the
temptations of Satan by just such means as are left to us--by faith
and prayer and the study of God's Word.

There are many theories respecting this remarkable history of the
temptation. Some suppose the Evil Spirit to have assumed a visible
form, and to have been appreciably present. But if we accept the
statement we have quoted from the Epistle to the Hebrews, that
our Lord was tempted in all respects as we are, it must have been
an invisible and spiritual presence with which he contended. The
temptations must have presented themselves to him, as to us, by
thoughts injected into his mind.

It seems probable that, of many forms of temptation which he passed
through, the three of which we are told are selected as specimens,
and if we notice we shall see that they represent certain great
radical sources of trial to the whole human race.

First comes the temptation from the cravings of animal appetite.
Perhaps hunger--the want of food and the weakness and faintness
resulting from it--brings more temptation to sin than any other
one cause. To supply animal cravings men are driven to theft and
murder, and women to prostitution. The more fortunate of us, who
are brought up in competence and shielded from want, cannot know
the fierceness of this temptation--its driving, maddening power.
But he who came to estimate our trials, and to help the race of
man in their temptations, chose to know what the full force of the
pangs of hunger were, and to know it in the conscious possession of
miraculous power which could at any moment have supplied them. To
have used this power for the supply of his wants would have been at
once to abandon that very condition of trial and dependence which he
came to share with us. It was a sacred trust, not given for himself
but for the world. It was the very work he undertook, to bear the
trials which his brethren bore as they were called to bear them,
with only such helps as it might please the Father to give him in
his own time and way.

So when the invisible tempter suggested that he might at once
relieve this pain and gratify this craving, he answered simply that
there was a higher life than the animal, and that man could be
upborne by faith in God even under the pressure of utmost want. "Man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out
of the mouth of God." How many poor, suffering followers of Christ,
called to forsake the means of livelihood for conscience' sake,
have been obliged to live as Christ did on the simple promise of
God, and to wait. Such sufferers may feel that they are not called
to this trial by one ignorant of its nature or unsympathetic with
their weakness. And the same consolation applies to all who struggle
with the lower wants of our nature in any form. Christ's pity and
sympathy are for them.

All who struggle with animal desires in any form, which duty forbids
them to gratify, may remember that God has given them an Almighty
Saviour, who, having suffered, is able to succor those that are
tempted.

The second trial was no less universal. It was the temptation to
use his sacred and solemn gifts from God for purposes of personal
ostentation and display. "Why not," suggests the tempter, "descend
from the pinnacle of the temple upborne by angels? How striking
a manifestation of the power of the Son of God!" To this came
the grave answer, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,"--by
needlessly incurring a danger which would make miraculous
deliverance necessary.

Is no one in our day put to this test? Is not the young minister
at God's altar, to whom is given eloquence and power over
the souls of men, in danger of this temptation to theatric
exhibitions--ostentatious display of self--this seeking for what is
dramatic and striking, rather than what is for God's service and
glory? Whoever is intrusted with power of any kind or in any degree
is tempted to use it selfishly rather than divinely. To all such the
Lord's temptation and resistance of it gives assurance of help if
help be sought.

But finally came the last, the most insidious temptation, and its
substance seemed to be this: "Why not use these miraculous gifts
to make a worldly party? Why not flatter the national vanity of
the Jews, excite their martial spirit, lead them to a course of
successful revolt against their masters, and then of brilliant
conquest, and seize upon all the kingdoms of the world and the glory
of them? To be sure, this will require making concession here and
there to the evil passions of men, but when the supreme power is
once gained all shall go right. Why this long, slow path of patience
and self-denial? Why this conflict with the world? Why the cross
and the grave? Why not the direct road of power, using the worldly
forces first, and afterwards the spiritual?" This seems to be a
free version of all that is included in the proposition: "All this
power will I give thee, and the glory of it; for that is delivered
unto me and to whomsoever I will I give it. If, therefore, thou wilt
worship me all shall be thine."

The indignant answer of Jesus shows with what living energy he
repelled every thought of the least concession to evil, the least
advantage to be gained by following or allowing the corrupt courses
of this world. He would not flatter the rich and influential. He
would not conceal offensive truth. He would seek the society of the
poor and despised. He taught love of enemies in the face of a nation
hating their enemies and longing for revenge. He taught forgiveness
and prayer, while they were longing for battle and conquest. He
blessed the meek, the sorrowful, the merciful, the persecuted for
righteousness, instead of the powerful and successful. If he had
been willing to have been such a king as the Scribes and Pharisees
wanted they would have adored him and fought for him. But because
his kingdom was not of this world they cried: "Not this man, but
Barabbas!" It is said that after this temptation the Devil departed
from him "for a season." But all through his life, in one form or
another, that temptation must have been suggested to him.

When he told his Apostles that he was going up to Jerusalem to
suffer and to die, Peter, it is said, rebuked him with earnestness:
"That be far from thee, Lord; such things shall not happen to thee."

Jesus instantly replies, not to Peter, but to the Invisible Enemy
who through Peter's affection and ambition is urging the worldly and
self-seeking course upon him: "Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art
an offence unto me. Thou savorest not the things that be of God but
of man."

We are told that the temptation of Christ was so real that he
suffered, being tempted. He knew that he must disappoint the
expectations of all his friends who had set their hearts on the
temporal kingdom, that he was leading them on step by step to a
season of unutterable darkness and sorrow. The cross was bitter to
him, in prospect as in reality, but never for a moment did he allow
himself to swerve from it. As the time drew near, he said, "Now is
my soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this
hour? But, for this cause came I unto this hour;--Father, glorify
thy name!"

Is not this lifelong temptation which Christ overcame one that meets
us all every day and hour? To live an unworldly life; never to seek
place or power or wealth by making the least sacrifice of conscience
or principle; is it easy? is it common? Yet he who chose rather to
die on the cross than to yield in the slightest degree his high
spiritual mission can feel for our temptations and succor us even
here.

The Apostle speaks of life as a _race_ set before us, which we are
to win by laying aside every impediment and looking steadfastly
unto Jesus, who, "for the joy that was set before him, endured the
cross." Our victories over self are to be gained not so much by
self-reproaches and self-conflicts as by the enthusiasm of looking
away from ourselves to Him who has overcome for us. Our Christ is
not dead, but alive forevermore! A living presence, ever near to the
soul that seeks salvation from sin. And to the struggling and the
tempted he still says, "Look unto ME, and be ye saved."



X

OUR LORD'S BIBLE


The life of Jesus, regarded from a mere human point of view,
presents an astonishing problem. An obscure man in an obscure
province has revolutionized the world. Every letter and public
document of the most cultured nations dates from his birth, as a
new era. How was this man educated? We find he had no access to
the Greek and Roman literature. Jesus was emphatically a man of
one book. That book was the Hebrew Scriptures, which we call the
Old Testament. The Old Testament was his Bible, and this single
consideration must invest it with undying interest for us.

We read the Bible which our parents read. We see, perhaps,
pencil-marks here and there, which show what they loved and what
helped and comforted them in the days of their life-struggle, and
the Bible is dearer to us on that account. Then, going backward
along the bright pathway of the sainted and blessed who lived in
former ages, the Bible becomes diviner to us for their sake. The
Bible of the Martyrs, the Bible of the Waldenses, the Bible of
Luther and Calvin, of our Pilgrim Fathers, has a double value.

I have in my possession a very ancient black-letter edition of the
Bible printed in 1522, more than three hundred years ago. In this
edition many of the Psalms have been read and re-read, till the
paper is almost worn away. Some human heart, some suffering soul,
has taken deep comfort here. If to have been the favorite, intimate
friend of the greatest number of hearts be an ambition worthy of a
poet, David has gained a loftier place than any poet who ever wrote.
He has lived next to the heart of men, and women, and children, of
all ages, in all climes, in all times and seasons, all over the
earth. They have rejoiced and wept, prayed and struggled, lived and
died, with David's words in their mouths. His heart has become the
universal Christian heart, and will ever be, till earth's sorrows,
and earth itself, are a vanished dream.

It is too much the fashion of this day to speak slightingly of the
Old Testament. Apart from its grandeur, its purity, its tenderness
and majesty, the Old Testament has this peculiar interest to the
Christian,--it was the Bible of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As a man, Jesus had a human life to live, a human experience to
undergo. For thirty silent years he was known among men only as
a carpenter in Nazareth, and the Scriptures of the Old Testament
were his daily companions. When he emerges into public life, we
find him thoroughly versed in the Scriptures. Allusions to them are
constant, through all his discourses; he continually refers to them
as writings that reflect his own image. "Search the Scriptures," he
says, "for they are they that testify of me."

The Psalms of David were to Jesus all and more than they can be to
any other son of man.

In certain of them he saw himself and his future life, his trials,
conflicts, sufferings, resurrection, and final triumph foreshadowed.
He quoted them to confound his enemies. When they sought to puzzle
him with perplexing questions he met them with others equally
difficult, drawn from the Scriptures. He asks them:--

     "What think ye of the Messiah? whose son is he? They say unto
     him, the Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David
     in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit
     thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool?
     If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?"

So, when they ask the question, "Which is the greatest commandment
of all?" he answers by placing together two passages in the Old
Testament, the one commanding supreme love to God and the other
impartial love to man's neighbor. The greatest commandment of all
nowhere stands in the Old Testament exactly as Jesus quotes it,
the first part being found in Deuteronomy vi. 5, and the second in
Leviticus xix. 18. This is a specimen of the exhaustive manner in
which he studied and used the Scriptures.

Our Saviour quotes often also from the prophets. In his first public
appearance in his native village he goes into the synagogue and
reads from Isaiah. When they question and disbelieve, he answers
them by pointed allusions to the stories of Naaman the Syrian and
the widow of Sarepta. When the Sadducees raise the question of a
future life, he replies by quoting from the Pentateuch that God
calls himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and God is not
the God of the dead, but the God of the living, for all are alive
to him. He cites the history of Jonah as a symbol of his own death
and resurrection; and at the last moment of his trial before the
High Priest, when adjured to say whether he be the Christ or not, he
replies in words that recall the sublime predictions in the Book of
Daniel of the coming of Messiah to judgment. The prophet says:--

     "I saw in my vision, and, behold, One like the Son of man came
     with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days;
     and there was given unto him dominion and glory and a kingdom,
     that all people and nations and languages should serve him. His
     dominion is an everlasting dominion, that shall not pass away or
     be destroyed."

When the High Priest of the Jews said to Jesus, "I adjure thee by
the living God that thou tell us whether thou be Messiah or not," he
answered, "I am; and hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting
on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven."

So much was the character of our Lord's teaching colored and
impregnated by the writings of the Old Testament that it is
impossible fully to comprehend Jesus without an intimate knowledge
of them. To study the life of Christ without the Hebrew Scriptures
is to study a flower without studying the plant from which it
sprung, the root and leaves which nourished it. He continually spoke
of himself as a Being destined to fulfill what had gone before.
"Think not," he said, "that I am come to destroy the Law and the
Prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill." He frequently
spoke of himself as of the order and race of Jewish prophets; like
them he performed symbolic acts which were visible prophecies, as
when he knew his nation had finally rejected him he signified their
doom by the awful sign of the blasted fig-tree. Through all the last
days of Jesus, as his death approaches, we find continual references
to the Old Testament prophecies, and quotations from them.

And after his resurrection, when he appears to his disciples, he
"opens to them the Scriptures;" that talk on the way to Emmaus was
an explanation of the prophecies, by our Lord himself. Would that it
had been recorded! Would not our hearts too have "burned within us!"

Now, a book that was in life and in death so dear to our Lord,
a book which he interpreted as from first to last a preparation
for and prophecy of himself, cannot but be full of interest to us
Christians. When we read the Old Testament Scriptures we go along
a track that we know Jesus and his mother must often have trod
together. The great resemblance in style between the Song of Mary
and the Psalms of David is one of the few indications given in Holy
Writ of the veiled and holy mystery of his mother's life. She was
a poetess, a prophetess, one whose mind was capable of the highest
ecstasy of inspiration. Let us read the Psalms again, with the
thought in our mind that they were the comforters, the counselors of
Jesus and Mary. What was so much to them cannot be indifferent to us.

Nor did the disciples and Apostles in the glow of the unfolding
dispensation cease to reverence and value those writings so closely
studied by their Lord. They did not speak of them as a worn-out
thing, that had "had its day," but they alluded to them with the
affectionate veneration due to divine oracles. "The prophecy came
not of old times by the will of man, but holy men of old spake as
they were moved by the Holy Ghost." St. Paul congratulates Timothy
that "from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are
able to make thee wise unto salvation," and adds: "all Scripture is
given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the
man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

Even while the New Testament was being formed, its writers gave this
complete testimony to the Old, as being able to make men "wise unto
salvation," and to complete a man's spiritual education. This book,
then, so dear to Christ and his Apostles, is something that should
be dear to all Christians. Its study will enrich the soul. It is
wonderful, mysterious, unique--there is no sacred book like it in
the world; and in reading it we come nearer to Him who was foretold
by it, and who when he came upon the earth found in it nourishment
for his soul, instruction and spiritual refreshment by the wayside,
comfort even in the extreme agonies of a dreadful death. However
dear to us may be the story of his life in the Gospels and his
teachings through his Apostles and their Epistles, let us in
following his steps forget not "the Scriptures" which he bade us
search, but diligently read and love the Bible of our Lord.



XI

CHRIST'S FIRST SERMON


The first public sermon of the long-desired Messiah--his first
declaration of his mission and message to the world--what was it?

It was delivered in his own city of Nazareth, where he had been
brought up; it was on the Sabbath day; it was in the synagogue where
he had always worshiped; and it was in manner and form exactly in
accordance with the customs of his national religion.

It had always been customary among the Jews to call upon any member
of the synagogue to read a passage from the book of the prophets;
and the young man Jesus, concerning whom certain rumors had vaguely
gone forth, was on the day in question called to take his part in
the service. It was a holy and solemn moment, when the long silence
of years was to be broken. Jesus was surrounded by faces familiar
from infancy. His mother, his brothers, his sisters, were all there;
every eye was fixed upon him. The historian says:--

     "And there was delivered unto him the book (or roll) of the
     prophet Isaiah, and when he had unrolled the book he found the
     place where it is written (Isaiah lxi.):--

    The spirit of the Lord is upon me.
    He hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor;
    He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted;
    To preach deliverance to the captives;
    The recovering of sight to the blind;
    To set at liberty them that are bruised;
    To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."

We may imagine the sweetness, the tenderness, the enthusiasm with
which this beautiful announcement of his mission was uttered; and
when, closing the book, he looked round on the faces of his townsmen
and acquaintances, and said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled
in your ears,"--it was an appeal of Heavenly love yearning to heal
and to save those nearest and longest known.

It would seem that the sweet voice, the graceful manner, at first
charmed the rough audience; there was a thrilling, vibrating
power, that struck upon every heart. But those hearts were cold
and hard. A Saviour from sin, a Comforter of sorrow, was not what
they were looking for in their Messiah. They felt themselves good
enough spiritually, in their observance of the forms of their law
and ritual; they were stupidly content with themselves and wanted
no comforter. What they did want was a brilliant military leader.
They wanted a miracle-working, supernatural Lord and Commander that
should revenge their national wrongs, conquer the Romans, and set
the Jewish people at the head of the world. Having heard of the
miracles of Christ in Cana and Capernaum, they had thought that
perhaps he might prove this Leader, and if so, what a glory for
Nazareth! But they were in a critical, exacting mood; they were in
their hearts calling for some brilliant and striking performance
that should illuminate and draw attention to their town. Although
the congregation were at first impressed and charmed with the
gracious words and manner of the speaker, the hard, vulgar spirit of
envy and carping criticism soon overshadowed their faces.

"Who is this Jesus--is he not the carpenter? What sign does he show?
Let him work some miracles forthwith, and we will see if we will
believe."

It was this disposition which our Lord felt in the atmosphere
around him; the language of souls uttered itself to him unspoken.
He answered as he so often did to the feeling he saw in the hearts
rather than the words of those around him. He said, "Ye will say to
me, Physician, heal thyself. Do here in thy native place the marvels
we have heard of in Capernaum. I tell you a truth; no prophet is
accepted in his own country. There were many widows in Israel in
the time of the prophet Elijah, but he was sent only to a widow of
Sarepta, a city of Sidon. There were many lepers in Israel in the
time of Elisha, yet none of them was healed but Naaman the Syrian."
It would seem as if our Lord was preparing to show them that he
had a mission of love and mercy that could not be bounded by one
village, or even by the chosen race of Israel, but was for the world.

But the moment he spoke of favors and blessings given to the
Gentiles the fierce national spirit flamed up; the speech was cut
short by a tumultuous uprising of the whole synagogue. They laid
violent hands on Jesus and hurried him to the brow of the precipice
on which their city was built, to cast him down headlong. But before
the murder was consummated the calm majesty of Jesus had awed his
persecutors. Their slackened hands dropped; they looked one on
another irresolute: and he, passing silently through the midst of
them, went his way. He had offered himself to them as their Saviour
from sin and from sorrow in the very fullness of his heart. Heavenly
tenderness and sweetness had stretched out its arms to embrace them,
and been repulsed by sneering coldness and hard, worldly unbelief.

Nazareth did not want Him; and he left it. It was the first of those
many rejections which He at last summed up when he said, "How often
would I have gathered thy children, and ye would not."

But, though he thus came to his own and his own received him not,
yet the lovely and gracious proclamation which he made then and
there still stands unfading and beautiful as a rainbow of hope over
this dark earth. The one Being sent into the world to represent
the Invisible Father, and to show us the hidden heart and purposes
of God in this mysterious life of ours, there declared that his
mission was one of pity, of help, of consolation; that the poor, the
bruised, the desolate, the prisoner, might forever find a Friend in
him.

There are times when the miseries and sorrows of the suffering race
of man, the groaning and travailing of this mysterious life of ours,
oppress us, and our faith in God's love grows faint.

Then let us turn our thoughts to this divine Personality, Jesus,
the anointed Son of God, and hear him saying now, as he said at
Nazareth:--

    "The spirit of the Lord is upon ME.
    He hath sent me to preach good tidings to the poor;
    He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted,
    To preach deliverance to the captives,
    The recovering of sight to the blind,
    To set at liberty them that are bruised!"

It is said of him in the prophets: "He shall not fail nor be
discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth. The isles shall
wait for his law. Our Redeemer is mighty; the Lord of Hosts is his
name--our Saviour, the Holy One of Israel!"



XII

THE FRIENDSHIPS OF JESUS


In turning our thoughts toward various scenes of our Lord's life,
we are peculiarly affected with the human warmth and tenderness of
his personal friendships. The little association of his own peculiar
friends makes a picture that we need to study to understand him.

St. John touchingly says: "Now when the time was come that Jesus
should depart out of the world unto the Father, having loved his
own which were in the world he loved them unto the end." When we
think that all that we know of our Lord comes through these friends
of his--the witnesses and recorders of his life and death--we shall
feel more than ever what he has made them to us. Without them we
should have had no Jesus.

Our Lord, with all that he is to us, is represented to us through
the loving hearts and affectionate records of these his chosen
ones. It is amazing to think of, that our Lord never left to his
church one line written by his own hand, and that all his words come
to us transfused through the memories of his friends. How much to
us, then, were these friendships of Jesus--how dear to us, for all
eternity, these friends!

We are told that immediately after the resurrection there was an
associated church of one hundred and twenty, who are characterized
by Peter as "men that have companied with us all the time that the
Lord Jesus went in and out among us."

The account of how these friends were gathered to him becomes
deeply interesting. St. John relates how, one day, John the
Baptist saw Jesus walking by the Jordan in silent contemplation,
and pointed him out to his disciples: "Behold the Lamb of God."
And the two disciples heard him speak and followed Jesus. Then
Jesus turned and said, "What seek ye?" They said, "Master, where
dwellest thou?" He answered, "Come and see." They came and saw
where he dwelt, and abode with him that day. We learn from this
that some of the disciples were those whose spiritual nature had
been awakened by John the Baptist, and who, under his teaching,
were devoting themselves to a religious life. We see the power
of personal attraction possessed by our Lord, which drew these
simple, honest natures to himself. One of these men was Andrew,
the brother of Simon Peter, and he immediately carried the glad
tidings to his brother, "We have found the Messiah;" and he brought
him to Jesus. Thus, by a sort of divine attraction, one brother
and friend bringing another, the little band increased. Some were
more distinctly called by the Master. Matthew, the tax-gatherer,
sitting in his place of business, heard the words, "Follow me," and
immediately rose up, and left all and followed him. James and John
forsook their nets, in the midst of their day's labor, to follow
him. In time, a little band of twelve left all worldly callings and
home ties, to form a traveling mission family of which Jesus was the
head and father. Others, both men and women, at times traveled with
them and assisted their labors; but these twelve were the central
figures.

These twelve men Jesus took to nurture and educate as the expounders
of the Christian religion and the organizers of the church. St.
John, in poetic vision, sees the church as a golden city descending
from God out of heaven, having twelve foundations, and in them the
names of these twelve Apostles of the Lamb. This plan of choosing
honest, simple-hearted, devout men, and revealing himself to the
world through their human nature and divinely educated conceptions,
had in it something peculiar and original.

When we look at the selection made by Christ of these _own_ ones,
we see something widely different from all the usual methods of
earthly wisdom. They were neither the most cultured nor the most
influential of their times. The majority of them appear to have been
plain workingmen, from the same humble class in which our Lord was
born. But the Judæan peasant, under the system of religious training
and teaching given by Moses, was no stolid or vulgar character. He
inherited lofty and inspiring traditions, a ritual stimulating to
the spiritual and poetic nature, a system of ethical morality and of
tenderness to humanity in advance of the whole ancient world. A good
Jew was frequently a man of spiritualized and elevated devotion.
Supreme love to God and habitual love and charity to man were the
essentials of his religious ideal. The whole system of divine
training and discipline to which the Jewish race had been subjected
for hundreds of years had prepared a higher moral average to be
chosen from than could have been found in any other nation.

When Jesus began to preach, it was the best and purest men that
most deeply sympathized and were most attracted, and from them he
chose his intimate circle of followers--to train them as the future
Apostles of his religion.

The new dispensation that Jesus came to introduce was something as
yet uncomprehended on earth. It was a heavenly ideal, and these
men--simple, pure-hearted, and devout as they were--had no more
conception of it than a deaf person has of music. It was a new
manner of life, a new style of manhood, that was to constitute
this kingdom of Heaven. It was no outward organization--no earthly
glory. Man was to learn to live, not by force, not by ambition,
not by pleasure, but by LOVE. Man was to become perfect in love
as God is, so that loving and serving and suffering for others
should become a fashion and habit in this world, where ruling and
domineering and making others suffer had been the law. And Jesus
took into his family twelve men to prepare them to be the Apostles
of this idea. His mode was more that of a mother than a father.
He strove to infuse Himself into them by an embracing, tender,
brooding love; ardent, self-forgetful, delicate, refined. As we
read the New Testament narrative of the walks and talks of Jesus
with these chosen ones, their restings by the wayside, their family
conversations at evening, when he sat with some little child on his
knee, when he listened to their sayings, reproved their failings,
settled their difficulties with one another, we can see no image
by which to represent the Master but one of those loving, saintly
mothers, who, in leading along their little flock, follow nearest in
the footsteps of Jesus.

Jesus trusted more to personal love, in forming his church, than to
any other force. The power of love in developing the intellect and
exciting the faculties is marked, even on the inferior animals. The
dog is changed by tender treatment and affectionate care; he becomes
half human, and seems to struggle to rise out of the brute nature
toward a beloved master. Rude human natures are correspondingly
changed, and he who has great power of loving and exciting love may
almost create anew whom he will.

Jesus, that guest from brighter worlds, brought to this earth the
nobler ideas of love, the tenderness, the truth, the magnanimity,
that are infinite in the All-Loving. What of God could be expressed
and understood by man He was, and St. John says of his ethereal
gentleness and sweetness of nature: "The light shined in the
darkness and the darkness comprehended it not."

The varieties of natural character in this family of Jesus were
such as to give most of the usual differences of human beings. The
Master's object was to unite them to each other by such a love that
they should move by a single impulse, as one human being, and that
what was lacking in one might be made up by what was abundant in
another. As He expressed it in his last prayer: "That they all may
be one, as Thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee, that they also may
be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me."

How diverse were the elements! Simon Peter, self-confident,
enthusiastic, prompt to speak and to decide. Thomas, slow and easily
disheartened; always deficient in hope, and inclined to look upon
the dark side, yet constant unto death in his affections. James and
John, young men of the better class, belonging to a rich family,
on terms of intimate acquaintance with the High Priest. Of these
brothers, John is the idealist and the poet of the little band,
but far from being the weak and effeminate character painters
and poets have generally conceived. James and John were surnamed
Boanerges--"sons of thunder." They were the ones who wanted to call
down fire on the village that refused to receive their Lord. It
was they who joined in the petition preferred by their mother for
the seat of honor in the future kingdom. Young, ardent, impetuous,
full of fire and of that susceptibility to ambition which belongs
to high-strung and vivid organizations, their ardor was like a
flame, that might scorch and burn as well as vivify. Then there
was Matthew, the prosaic, the exact matter-of-fact man, whose call
it was to write what critics have called the _bodily gospel_ of
our Lord's life, as it was that of John to present the inner heart
of Jesus. These few salient instances show the strong and marked
diversities of temperament and character which Jesus proposed to
unite into one whole, by an intense personal love which should melt
down all angles, and soften asperities, and weld and blend the most
discordant elements. It is the more remarkable that he undertook
this task with men in mature life, and who had already been settled
in several callings, and felt the strain of all those causes which
excite the individual self-love of man.

In guiding all these, we can but admire the perfect tolerance of
the Master toward the wants of each varying nature. Tolerance for
individual character is about the last Christian grace that comes
to flower in family or church. Much of the raspings, and gratings,
and complaints in family and church are from the habit of expecting
and exacting that people should be what they never were made to be.
Our Lord did not reprove Thomas for being a despondent doubter,
beset by caution even when he most longed to believe. He graciously
granted the extremest test which his hopeless nature required--he
suffered him to put his finger in the print of the nails and to
examine the wounded side; and there is but a tender shadow of a
reproof in what he said--"Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou
hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen and yet have
believed." In our day there are many disciples of Thomas, loving
doubters, who would give their hearts' blood to fully believe in
this risen Jesus; they would willingly put their hands in the print
of the nails; and for them the Master has a spiritual presence and
a convincing nearness, if they will but seek it. So, again, we
notice the tender indulgence with which the self-confident Peter is
listened to as he always interposes his opinion. We think we can
see the Master listening with a grave smile, as a mother to her
eldest and most self-confident boy. Sometimes he warmly commends,
and sometimes he bears down on him with a sharpness of rebuke which
would have annihilated a softer nature. When Peter officiously
counsels worldly expediency, and the avoidance of the sufferings
for which Jesus came, the reply is sharp as lightning: "Get thee
behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me; for thou savorest
not the things of God, but those that be of man." Yet we can see
that the Master knows his man, and knows just how hard to strike.
That eager, combative, self-confident nature not only can bear sharp
treatment, but must have it at times, or never come to anything. We
see Peter's self-asserting nature spring up after it, cheerful as
ever. He yields to the reproof; but he is Peter still, prompt with
his opinion at the next turn of affairs, and the Master would not
for the world have him anybody else but Peter.

We see also that it was a manner of the Master to deal with the
conscience of his children, and rebuke their faults without
exposing them to the censure of others. When he saw that the sin
of covetousness was growing upon Judas, leading to dishonesty, he
combated it by the most searching and stringent teaching. "Beware
of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the things that
he possesseth;" this and other passages, which will be more fully
considered in another chapter, would seem to have been all warnings
to Judas, if he would but have listened.

So, too, his tenderness for John, whom tradition reports to have
been the youngest of the disciples, marked a delicate sense of
character. To lean on his bosom was not sought by Matthew or Thomas,
though both loved him supremely; it fell to the lot of John,--as in
a family flock, where one, the youngest and tenderest, is always
found silently near the mother; the others smile to see him always
there, and think it well. There are in St. John's narrative touches
of that silent accord between him and Jesus, that comprehension
without words, which comes between natures strung alike to sympathy.
To him Jesus commended his mother, as the nearest earthly substitute
for himself. Yet, after all, when for this one so dear, so accordant
with his own personal feelings, a request was made for station and
honor in the heavenly kingdom, he promptly refused. His personal
affection for his friends was to have no undue influence in that
realm of things which belonged to the purely divine disposal. "The
kingdom of heaven is _within_ you," he taught; and John's place in
the spiritual domain must depend upon John's own spirit.

There is one trait in the character of these chosen disciples of
Christ which is worth a special thought. They were not, as we
have seen, in any sense remarkable men intellectually, but they
had one preparation for the work for which Jesus chose them which
has not been a common one, either then or since. They were wholly
consecrated to God. It is not often we meet with men capable of
an entire self-surrender; these men were. They were so entirely
devoted to God that, when Jesus called on them to give up their
worldly callings and forsake all they had, to follow him, they
obeyed without a question or a hesitating moment. How many men
should we find in the church now that would do the same? Christ
proposed this test to one young ruler,--amiable, reverent, moral,
and religious,--and he "went away sad." He could do a great deal for
God, but he could not _give up_ ALL. Christ's disciples gave ALL
to him, and therefore he gave ALL to them. Therefore he gave them
to share his throne and his glory. The Apocalyptic vision showed
graven on the foundations of the golden city the names of the twelve
Apostles of the Lamb, those true-hearted men who were not only to be
the founders of his church on earth, but were, while he was yet in
the flesh, his daily companions, his friends, "his own."



XIII

CHRIST'S UNWORLDLY METHODS


We are struck, in the history of our Lord, with the unworldliness
of his manner of living his daily life and fulfilling his great
commission. It is emphatically true, in the history of Jesus, that
his ways are not as our ways, and his thoughts as our thoughts.
He did not choose the disciples of his first ministry as worldly
wisdom would have chosen them. Though men of good and honest hearts,
they were neither the most cultured nor the most influential of his
nation. We should have said that men of the standing of Joseph of
Arimathea or Nicodemus were preferable, other things being equal, to
Peter the fisherman or Matthew the tax-gatherer; but Jesus thought
otherwise.

And, furthermore, he sometimes selected those apparently most
unlikely to further his ends. Thus, when he had a mission of mercy
in view for Samaria, he called to the work a woman; not such as we
should suppose a divine teacher would choose,--not a preëminently
intellectual or a very good woman,--but, on the contrary, one of a
careless life, and loose morals, and little culture. The history
of this person, of the way in which he sought her acquaintance,
arrested her attention, gained access to her heart, and made of
her a missionary to draw the attention of her people to him, is
wonderfully given by St. John. We have the image of a woman--such
as many are, social, good-humored, talkative, and utterly without
any high moral sense--approaching the well, where she sees this
weary Jew reclining to rest himself. He introduces himself to her
acquaintance by asking a favor,--the readiest way to open the heart
of a woman of that class. She is evidently surprised that he will
speak to her, being a Jew, and she a daughter of a despised and
hated race. "How is it," she says, "that thou, a Jew, askest drink
of me, a woman of Samaria?" Jesus now answers her in that symbolic
and poetic strain which was familiar with him: "If thou knewest
the gift of God, and who this is that asketh drink of thee, thou
wouldst ask of him, and he would give thee living water." The woman
sees in this only the occasion for a lively rejoinder: "Sir, thou
hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then
hast thou that living water?" With that same mysterious air, as if
speaking unconsciously from out some higher sphere, he answers,
"Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever
shall drink of the water that I shall give shall never thirst. The
water that I shall give shall be a well in him springing up to
everlasting life."

Impressed strangely by the words of the stranger, she answers
confusedly, "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither
come hither to draw." There is a feeble attempt at a jest struggling
with the awe which is growing upon her. Jesus now touches the vital
spot in her life. "Go, call thy husband and come hither." She said,
"I have no husband." He answers, "Well hast thou said I have no
husband; thou hast had five husbands, and he thou now hast is not
thy husband; in that saidst thou truly."

The stern, grave chastity of the Jew, his reverence for marriage,
strike coldly on the light-minded woman accustomed to the easy
tolerance of a low state of society. She is abashed, and hastily
seeks to change the subject: "Sir, I see thou art a prophet;" and
then she introduces the controverted point of the two liturgies and
temples of Samaria and Jerusalem,--not the first nor the last was
she of those who seek relief from conscience by discussing doctrinal
dogmas. Then, to our astonishment, Jesus proceeds to declare to
this woman of light mind and loose morality the sublime doctrines
of spiritual worship, to predict the new era which is dawning on
the world: "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when neither in this
mountain nor yet in Jerusalem shall ye worship the Father. The hour
cometh and now is when the true worshipper shall worship the Father
in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship
him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him
in spirit and in truth." Then, in a sort of confused awe at his
earnestness, the woman said, "I know that Messiah shall come, and
when he is come he will tell us all things." Jesus saith unto her,
"I that speak unto thee am he."

At this moment the disciples returned. With their national
prejudices, it was very astonishing, as they drew nigh, to see that
their Master was in close and earnest conversation with a Samaritan
woman. Nevertheless, when the higher and godlike in Jesus was fully
enkindled, the light and fire were such as to awe them. They saw
that he was in an exalted mood, which they dared not question. All
the infinite love of the Saviour, the shepherd of souls, was awaking
within him; the soul whom he has inspired with a new and holy
calling is leaving him on a mission that is to bring crowds to his
love. The disciples pray him to eat, but he is no longer hungry, no
longer thirsty, no longer weary; he exults in the gifts that he is
ready to give, and the hearts that are opening to receive.

The disciples pray him, "Master, eat." He said, "I have meat to eat
that ye know not of." They question in an undertone, "Hath any one
brought him aught to eat?" He answers, "My meat and my drink is to
do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work." Then,
pointing towards the city, he speaks impassioned words of a harvest
which is at hand; and they wonder.

But meanwhile the woman, with the eagerness and bright, social
readiness which characterize her, is calling to her townsmen, "Come,
see a man that told me all that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?"

What followed on this? A crowd press out to see the wonder. Jesus
is invited as an honored guest; he spends two days in the city, and
gathers a band of disciples.

After the resurrection of Jesus, we find further fruits of the
harvest sown by a chance interview of Jesus with this woman. In the
eighth of Acts we read of the ingathering of a church in a city of
Samaria, where it is said that "the people, with one accord, gave
heed to the things spoken by Philip, and there was great joy in that
city."

One thing in this story impresses us strongly,--the power which
Jesus had to touch the divinest capabilities in the unlikeliest
subjects. He struck at once and directly for what was highest and
noblest in souls where it lay most hidden. As physician of souls he
appealed directly to the vital moral force, and it acted under his
touch. He saw the higher nature in this woman, and as one might draw
a magnet over a heap of rubbish and bring out pure metal, so he from
this careless, light-minded, good-natured, unprincipled creature
brought out the suppressed and hidden yearning for a better and
higher life. She had no prejudices to keep, no station to preserve;
she was even to her own low moral sense consciously a sinner, and
she was ready at the kind and powerful appeal to leave all and
follow him.

We have no further history of her. She is living now somewhere; but
wherever she may be, we may be quite sure she never has forgotten
the conversation at the well in Samaria, and the man who "told her
all that ever she did."



XIV

CHRIST AND THE FALLEN WOMAN


The absolute divinity of Jesus, the height at which he stood above
all men, is nowhere so shown as in what he dared and did for woman,
and the godlike consciousness of authority with which he did it. It
was at a critical period in his ministry, when all eyes were fixed
on him in keen inquiry, when many of the respectable classes were
yet trembling in the balance whether to accept his claims or not,
that Jesus in the calmest and most majestic manner took the ground
that the sins of a fallen woman were like any other sins, and that
repentant love entitled to equal forgiveness. The story so wonderful
can be told only in the words of the sacred narrative:--

     "And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with
     him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and sat down to meat.
     And behold a woman in that city which was a sinner, when she
     knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought
     an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind
     him, weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did
     wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet and
     anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had
     bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if
     he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman
     this is, for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto
     him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. He said unto him,
     Master, say on. There was a certain creditor had two debtors;
     the one owed him five hundred pence and the other fifty, and
     when they had nothing to pay he frankly forgave them both. Tell
     me, therefore, which will love him most. Simon answered and
     said, I suppose he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto
     him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman and
     said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thy house
     and thou gavest me no water for my feet, but she hath washed my
     feet with tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou
     gavest me no kiss, but this woman, since the time I came in,
     hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not
     anoint, but she hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore,
     I say unto you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven her, for
     she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven the same loveth
     little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they
     that sat at meat began to say within themselves, Who is this
     that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith
     hath saved thee; go in peace."

Nothing can be added to the pathos and solemn dignity of this
story, in which our Lord assumed with tranquil majesty the rights
to supreme love possessed by the Creator, and his sovereign power
to forgive sins and dispense favors. The repentant Magdalene became
henceforth one of the characteristic figures in the history of the
Christian Church. Mary Magdalene became eventually a prominent
character in the mythic legends of the mediæval mythology. A long
history of missionary labors and enthusiastic preaching of the
gospel in distant regions of the earth is ascribed to her. Churches
arose that bore her name, hymns were addressed to her. Even the
reforming Savonarola addresses one of his spiritual canticles to St.
Mary Magdalene. The various pictures of her which occur in every
part of Europe are a proof of the interest which these legends
inspired. The most of them are wild and poetic, and exhibit a
striking contrast to the concise brevity and simplicity of the New
Testament story.

The mythic legends make up a romance in which Mary the sister of
Martha and Mary Magdalene the sinner are oddly considered as the
same person. It is sufficient to read the chapter in St. John which
gives an account of the raising of Lazarus, to perceive that such a
confusion is absurd. Mary and Martha there appear as belonging to
a family in good standing to which many flocked with expressions
of condolence and respect in time of affliction. And afterwards,
in that grateful feast made for the restoration of their brother,
we read that so many flocked to the house that the jealousy of
the chief priests was excited. All these incidents, representing
a family of respectability, are entirely inconsistent with any
such supposition. But while we repudiate this extravagance of the
tradition, there does seem ground for identifying the Mary Magdalene
who was one of the most devoted followers of our Lord with the
forgiven sinner of this narrative. We read of a company of women who
followed Jesus and ministered to him. In the eighth chapter of Luke
he is said to be accompanied by "certain women which had been healed
of evil spirits and infirmities," among whom is mentioned "Mary
called Magdalene," as having been a victim of demoniacal possession.
Some women of rank and fortune also are mentioned as members of
the same company: "Joanna the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward, and
Susanna, and many others who ministered to him of their substance."
A modern commentator thinks it improbable that Mary Magdalene could
be identified with the "sinner" spoken of by St. Luke, because women
of standing like Joanna and Susanna would not have received one of
her class to their company. We ask why not? If Jesus had received
her, had forgiven and saved her; if _he_ acknowledged previously her
grateful ministrations,--is it likely that they would reject her? It
was the very peculiarity and glory of the new kingdom that it had a
better future for sinners, and for sinful woman as well as sinful
man. Jesus did not hesitate to say to the proud and prejudiced
religious aristocracy of his day, "The publicans and harlots go
into the kingdom of heaven before you." We cannot doubt that
the loving Christian women who ministered to Jesus received this
penitent sister as a soul absolved and purified by the sovereign
word of their Lord, and henceforth there was for her a full scope
for that ardent, self-devoting power of her nature which had been
her ruin, and was now to become her salvation.

Some commentators seem to think that the dreadful demoniacal
possession which was spoken of in Mary Magdalene proves her not
to have been identical with the woman of St. Luke. But, on the
contrary, it would seem exactly to account for actions of a strange
and unaccountable wickedness, for a notoriety in crime that went far
to lead the Pharisees to feel that her very touch was pollution. The
story is symbolic of what is too often seen in the fall of woman. A
noble and beautiful nature wrecked through inconsiderate prodigality
of love, deceived, betrayed, ruined, often drifts like a shipwrecked
bark into the power of evil spirits. Rage, despair, revenge,
cruelty, take possession of the crushed ruin that should have been
the home of the sweetest affections. We are not told when or where
the healing word was spoken that drove the cruel fiends from Mary's
soul. Perhaps before she entered the halls of the Pharisee, while
listening to the preaching of Jesus, the madness and despair had
left her. We can believe that in his higher moods virtue went from
him, and there was around him a holy and cleansing atmosphere from
which all evil fled away,--a serene and healing purity which calmed
the throbbing fever of passion and gave the soul once more the image
of its better self.

We see in the manner in which Mary found her way to the feet of
Jesus the directness and vehemence, the uncalculating self-sacrifice
and self-abandon, of one of those natures which, when they move,
move with a rush of undivided impulse; which, when they love, trust
all, believe all, and are ready to sacrifice all. As once she had
lost herself in this self-abandonment, so now at the feet of her God
she gains all by the same power of self-surrender.

We do not meet Mary Magdalene again till we find her at the foot
of the cross, sharing the last anguish of our Lord and his mother.
We find her watching the sepulchre, preparing sweet spices for
embalming. In the dim gray of the resurrection morning she is there
again, only to find the sepulchre open and the beloved form gone.
Everything in this last scene is in consistency with the idea of
the passionate self-devotion of a nature whose sole life is in its
love. The disciples, when they found not the body, went away; but
Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping, and as she wept she
stooped down and looked into the sepulchre. The angel said to her,
"Woman, why weepest thou? She answered, Because they have taken away
my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." She then turns
and sees through her tears dimly the form of a man standing there.
"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?
She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou
have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will
go and take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary! She turned herself
and said unto him, Rabboni,--Master!"

In all this we see the characteristic devotion and energy of her who
loved much because she was forgiven much. It was the peculiarity
of Jesus that he saw the precious capability of every nature, even
in the very dust of defilement. The power of devoted love is the
crown jewel of the soul, and Jesus had the eye to see where it lay
trampled in the mire, and the strong hand to bring it forth purified
and brightened. It is the deepest malignity of Satan to degrade and
ruin souls through love. It is the glory of Christ, through love, to
redeem and restore.

In the history of Christ as a teacher, it is remarkable that, while
he was an object of enthusiastic devotion to so many women, while
a band of them followed his preaching and ministered to his wants
and those of his disciples, yet there was about him something so
entirely unworldly, so sacredly high and pure, that even the very
suggestion of scandal in this regard is not to be found in the
bitterest vituperations of his enemies of the first two centuries.

If we compare Jesus with Socrates, the moral teacher most frequently
spoken of as approaching him, we shall see a wonderful contrast.
Socrates associated with courtesans, without passion and without
reproof, in a spirit of half-sarcastic, philosophic tolerance. No
quickening of the soul of woman, no call to a higher life, came from
him. Jesus is stern and grave in his teachings of personal purity,
severe in his requirements. He was as intolerant to sin as he was
merciful to penitence. He did not extenuate the sins he forgave.
He declared the sins of Mary to be _many_ in the same breath that
he pronounced her pardon. He said to the adulterous woman whom he
protected, "Go, sin no more." The penitents who joined the company
of his disciples were so raised above their former selves, that,
instead of being the shame, they were the glory of the new kingdom.
St. Paul says to the first Christians, speaking of the adulterous
and impure, "Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are
sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and
by the Spirit of God."

The tradition of the church that Mary Magdalene was an enthusiastic
preacher of Jesus seems in keeping with all we know of the strength
and fervor of her character. Such love must find expression, and
we are told that when the first persecution scattered the little
church at Jerusalem, "they that were scattered went everywhere,
preaching the word." Some of the most effective preaching of
Christ is that of those who testify in their own person of a great
salvation. "He can save to the uttermost, for he has saved me," is
a testimony that often goes more straight to the heart than all the
arguments of learning. Christianity had this peculiarity over all
other systems, that it not only forgave the past, but made of its
bitter experiences a healing medicine; so that those who had sinned
deepest might have therefrom a greater redeeming power. "When thou
art converted, strengthen thy brethren," was the watchword of the
penitent.

The wonderful mind of Goethe has seized upon and embodied this
peculiarity of Christianity in his great poem of "Faust." The first
part shows the Devil making of the sweetest and noblest affection of
the confiding Margaret a cruel poison to corrupt both body and soul.
We see her driven to crime, remorse, shame, despair, all human forms
and forces of society united to condemn her, when with a last cry
she stretches her poor hands to heaven and says, "Judgment of God, I
commend myself to you;" and then falls a voice from heaven, "She is
judged; she is saved."

In the second part we see the world-worn, weary Faust passing
through the classic mythology, vainly seeking rest and finding
none; he seeks rest in a life of benevolence to man, but fiends
of darkness conflict with his best aspirations, and dog his steps
through life, and in his dying hour gather round to seize his soul
and carry it to perdition. But around him is a shining band. Mary
the mother of Jesus with a company of purified penitents encircle
him, and his soul passes, in infantine weakness, to the guardian
arms of Margaret,--once a lost and ruined woman, now a strong and
pitiful angel,--who, like a tender mother, leads the new-born soul
to look upon the glories of heaven, while angel voices sing to the
victory of good over evil:--

    "All that is transient
    Is but a parable;
    The unattainable
    Here is made real.
    The indescribable
    Here is accomplished;
    The eternal womanly
    Draws us upward and onward."



XV

THE REVEALER OF GOD'S SYMPATHY


The interest inspired by the wonderful character of Jesus rests
especially on those incidents which are most purely human, his
private, personal friendships, his keen sympathy with the suffering
and the afflicted. Among these incidents the story and characters
of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, have been set before us with
a fine individualism of dramatic representation that seems to make
them real to us, even at this distance of time.

The two sisters of Bethany have had for ages a name and a living
power in the church. Thousands of hearts have throbbed with theirs;
thousands have wept sympathetic tears in their sorrows and rejoiced
in their joy. By a few simple touches in the narrative they are
so delicately and justly discriminated that they stand for the
representatives of two distinct classes. Some of the ancient
Christian writers considered them as types of the active and the
contemplative aspects of religion. Martha is viewed as the secular
Christian, serving God in and through the channels of worldly
business, and Mary as the more peculiarly religious person, devoted
to a life of holy meditation and the researches of heavenly truth.
The two were equally the friends of Jesus. Apparently, the two
sisters with one brother were an orphan family, united by the
strongest mutual affection, and affording a circle peculiarly
congenial to the Master.

They inhabited a rural home just outside of Jerusalem; and it seems
that here, after the labors of a day spent in teaching in the
city, our Lord found at evening a homelike retreat where he could
enjoy perfect quiet and perfect love. It would seem, from many
touches in the Gospel narrative, as if Jesus, amid the labors and
applauses and successes of a public life, yearned for privacy and
domesticity,--for that home love which he persistently renounced to
give himself wholly to mankind. There is a shade of pathos in his
answer to one who proposed to be his disciple and dwell with him:
"Foxes have holes; the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of
man hath not where to lay his head." This little orphan circle, with
their quiet home, were thus especially dear to him, and it appears
that this was his refuge during that last week of his life, when he
knew that every day was bringing him nearer to the final anguish.

It is wonderful how sharply and truly, in a narrative so brief,
the characters of Martha and Mary are individualized. Martha,
in her Judæan dress and surroundings, is, after all, exactly
such a good woman as is often seen in our modern life,--a woman
primarily endowed with the faculties necessary for getting on in
the world, yet sincerely religious. She is energetic, businesslike,
matter-of-fact, strictly orthodox, and always ready for every
emergency. She lives in the present life strongly and intensely, and
her religion exhibits itself through regular forms and agencies.
She believes in the future life orthodoxly, and is always prompt
to confess its superior importance as a matter of doctrine, though
prone to make material things the first in practice. Many such
women there are in the high places of the Christian Church, and
much good they do. They manage fairs, they dress churches, they
get up religious festivals, their names are on committees, they
are known at celebrations. They rule their own homes with activity
and diligence, and they are justly honored by all who know them.
Now, nothing is more remarkable in the history of Jesus than the
catholicity of his appreciation of character. He never found fault
with natural organization, or expected all people to be of one
pattern. He did not break with Thomas for being naturally a cautious
doubter, or Peter for being a precipitate believer; and it is
specially recorded in the history of this family that Jesus loved
Martha. He understood her, he appreciated her worth, and he loved
her.

In Mary we see the type of those deeper and more sensitive natures
who ever aspire above and beyond the material and temporal to the
eternal and divine; souls that are seeking and inquiring with a
restlessness that no earthly thing can satisfy, who can find no
peace until they find it in union with God.

In St. Luke we have a record of the manner in which the first
acquaintance with this family was formed. This historian says:
"A woman named Martha received him at her house." Evidently the
decisive and salient power of her nature caused her to be regarded
as mistress of the family. There was a grown-up brother in the
family; but this house is not called the house of Lazarus, but the
house of Martha--a form of speaking the more remarkable from the
great superiority or leadership which ancient customs awarded to the
male sex. But Martha was one of those natural leaders whom everybody
instinctively thinks of as the head of any house they may happen to
belong to. Her tone toward Mary is authoritative. The Mary-nature
is a nature apt to appear to disadvantage in physical things. It
is often puzzled, and unskilled, and unready in the details and
emergencies of a life like ours, which so little meets its deepest
feelings and most importunate wants. It acquires skill in earthly
things only as a matter of discipline and conscience, but is always
yearning above them to something higher and divine. A delicacy
of moral nature suggests to such a person a thousand scruples
of conscientious inquiry in every turn of life, which embarrass
directness of action. To the Martha-nature, practical, direct, and
prosaic, all these doubts, scruples, hesitations, and unreadinesses
appear only as pitiable weaknesses.

Again, Martha's nature attaches a vast importance to many things
which, in the view of Mary, are so fleeting and perishable, and have
so little to do with the deeper immortal wants of the soul, that it
is difficult for her even to remember and keep them in sight. The
requirements of etiquette, the changes and details of fashion, the
thousand particulars which pertain to keeping up a certain footing
in society and a certain position in the world--all these Martha has
at her fingers' ends. They are the breath of her nostrils, while
Mary is always forgetting, overlooking, and transgressing them.
Many a Mary has escaped into a convent, or joined a sisterhood, or
worn the plain dress of the Quaker in order that she might escape
from the exaction of the Marthas of her day, "careful [or, more
literally, _full of care_] and troubled about many things."

It appears that in her way Martha was a religious woman, a sincere
member of the Jewish Church, and an intense believer. The preaching
of Christ was the great religious phenomenon of the times, and
Martha, Mary, and Lazarus joined the crowd who witnessed his
miracles and listened to his words. Both women accepted his message
and believed his Messiahship--Martha, from the witness of his
splendid miracles; Mary, from the deep accord of her heart with
the wonderful words he had uttered. To Martha he was the King that
should reign in splendor at Jerusalem, and raise their nation to an
untold height of glory; to Mary he was the answer to the eternal
question--the Way, the Truth, the Life, for which she had been
always longing.

Among many who urge and press hospitality, Martha's invitation
prevails. A proud home is that, when Jesus follows her--her prize,
her captive. The woman in our day who has captured in her net of
hospitalities the orator, the poet, the warrior--the star of all
eyes, the central point of all curiosity, desire, and regard--can
best appreciate Martha's joy. She will make an entertainment
that will do credit to the occasion. She revolves prodigies of
hospitality. She invites guests to whom her Acquisition shall
be duly exhibited, and all is hurry, bustle, and commotion. But
Mary follows him, silent, with a fluttering heart. His teaching
has aroused the divine longing, the immortal pain, to a throbbing
intensity; a sweet presentiment fills her soul, that she is near One
through whom the way into the Holiest is open, and now is the hour.
She neither hears nor sees the bustle of preparation; but apart,
where the Master has seated himself, she sits down at his feet, and
her eyes, more than her voice, address to him that question and that
prayer which are the question and the one great reality of all this
fleeting, mortal life.

The question is answered; the prayer is granted. At his feet she
becomes spiritually clairvoyant. The way to God becomes clear and
open. Her soul springs toward the light; is embraced by the peace of
God that passeth understanding. It is a soul-crisis, and the Master
sees that in that hour his breath has unfolded into blossom buds
that had been struggling in darkness. Mary has received in her bosom
the "white stone with the new name, which no man knoweth save him
that receiveth it," and of which Jesus only is the giver. As Master
and disciple sit in that calm and sweet accord, in which giver and
receiver are alike blessed, suddenly Martha appears and breaks into
the interview, in a characteristically imperative sentence: "Lord,
dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid
her, therefore, that she help me."

Nothing could more energetically indicate Martha's character than
this sentence. It shows her blunt sincerity, her conscientious,
matter-of-fact worldliness, and her dictatorial positiveness.
Evidently, here is a person accustomed to having her own way and
bearing down all about her; a person who believes in herself without
a doubt, and is so positive that her way is the only right one that
she cannot but be amazed that the Master has not at once seen as
she does. To be sure, this is in her view the Christ, the Son of
God, the King of Israel, the human being whom in her deepest heart
she reverences; but no matter, she is so positive that she is right
that she does not hesitate to say her say, and make her complaint
of him as well as of her sister. People like Martha often arraign
and question the very providence of God itself when it stands in
the way of their own plans. Martha is sure of her ground. Here is
the Messiah, the King of Israel, at her house, and she is getting
up an entertainment worthy of him, slaving herself to death for
him, and he takes no notice, and most inconsiderately allows her
dreamy sister to sit listening to him, instead of joining in the
preparation.

The reply of Jesus went, as his replies were wont to do, to the very
root-fault of Martha's life, the fault of all such natures: "Martha,
Martha! thou art careful and troubled about many things, but _one_
thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall
not be taken from her." The Master's words evidently recognize
that in that critical hour Mary had passed a boundary in her soul
history, and made an attainment of priceless value. She had gained
something that could never be taken from her; and she had gained it
by that single-hearted devotion to spiritual things which made her
prompt to know and seize the hour of opportunity.

The brief narrative there intermits; we are not told how Martha
replied, or what are the results of this plain, tender faithfulness
of reproof. The Saviour, be it observed, did not blame Martha for
her nature. He did not blame her for not being Mary; but he did
blame her for not restraining and governing her own nature and
keeping it in due subjection to higher considerations. A being
of brighter worlds, he stood looking on Martha's life,--on her
activities and bustle and care; and to him how sorrowfully worthless
the greater part of them appeared! To him they were mere toys and
playthings, such as a child is allowed to play with in the earlier,
undeveloped hours of existence; not to be harshly condemned, but
still utterly fleeting and worthless in the face of the tremendous
eternal realities, the glories and the dangers of the eternal state.

It must be said here that all we know of our Lord leads us to
feel that he was not encouraging and defending in Mary a selfish,
sentimental indulgence in her own cherished emotions and affections,
leaving the burden of necessary care on a sister who would have been
equally glad to sit at Jesus' feet. That was not his reading of
the situation. It was that Martha, engrossed in a thousand cares,
burdened herself with a weight of perplexities of which there was
no need, and found no time and had no heart to come to him and
speak of the only, the one thing that endures beyond the present
world. To how many hearts does this reproof apply? How many who call
themselves Christians are weary, wasted, worn, drained of life,
injured in health, fretted in temper, by a class of anxieties so
purely worldly that they can never bring them to Christ, or if they
do, would meet first and foremost his tender reproof, "Thou art
careful and troubled about many things; there is but _one_ thing
really needful. Seek that good part which shall never be taken away."

What fruit this rebuke bore will appear as we further pursue the
history of the sister. The subsequent story shows that Martha was
a brave, sincere, good woman, capable of yielding to reproof and
acknowledging a fault. There is precious material in such, if only
their powers be turned to the highest and best things.

It is an interesting thought that the human affection of Jesus for
one family has been made the means of leaving on record the most
consoling experience for the sorrows of bereavement that sacred
literature affords. Viewed merely on the natural side, the intensity
of human affections and the frightful possibilities of suffering
involved in their very sweetness present a fearful prospect when
compared with that stony inflexibility of natural law, which goes
forth crushing, bruising, lacerating, without the least apparent
feeling for human agony.

The God of nature appears silent, unalterable, unsympathetic,
pursuing general good without a throb of pity for individual
suffering; and that suffering is so unspeakable, so terrible! Close
shadowing every bridal, every cradle, is this awful possibility
of death that may come at any moment, unannounced and inevitable.
The joy of this hour may become the bitterness of the next; the
ring, the curl of hair, the locket, the picture, that to-day are a
treasure of hope and happiness, to-morrow may be only weapons of
bitterness that stab at every view. The silent inflexibility of God
in upholding laws that work out such terrible agonies and suffering
is something against which the human heart moans and chafes
through all ancient literature. "The gods envy the happy," was the
construction put upon the problem of life as the old sages viewed
it.

But in this second scene of the story of the sisters of Bethany
we have that view of God which is the only one powerful enough to
soothe and control the despair of the stricken heart. It says to us
that behind this seeming inflexibility, this mighty and most needful
unholding of law, is a throbbing, sympathizing heart,--bearing with
us the sorrow of this struggling period of existence, and pointing
to a perfect fulfillment in the future.

The story opens most remarkably. In the absence of the Master, the
brother is stricken down with deadly disease. Forthwith a hasty
messenger is dispatched to Jesus. "Lord, he whom thou lovest is
sick." Here is no prayer expressed; but human language could not be
more full of all the elements of the best kind of prayer. It is the
prayer of perfect trust--the prayer of love that has no shadow of
doubt. If only we let Jesus know we are in trouble, we are helped.
We need not ask, we need only say, "He whom thou lovest is sick,"
and he will understand, and the work will be done. We are safe with
him.

Then comes the seeming contradiction--the trial of faith--that
gives this story such a value: "Now Jesus loved Martha and her
sister and Lazarus. When, therefore, he heard that he was sick, he
abode two days in the same place where he was." Because he loved
them, he delayed; because he loved them, he resisted that most
touching appeal that heart can make,--the appeal of utter trust. We
can imagine the wonder, the anguish, the conflict of spirit, when
death at last shut the door in the face of their prayers. Had God
forgotten to be gracious? Had he in anger shut up his tender mercy?
Did not Jesus love them? Had he not power to heal? Why then had he
suffered this? Ah! this is exactly the strait in which thousands of
Christ's own beloved ones must stand in the future; and Mary and
Martha, unconsciously to themselves, were suffering with Christ in
the great work of human consolation. Their distress and anguish and
sorrow were necessary to work out a great experience of God's love,
where multitudes of anguished hearts have laid themselves down as on
a pillow of repose, and have been comforted.

Something of this is shadowed in the Master's words: "This sickness
is not unto death, but for the glory of God,--that the Son of God
might be glorified thereby." What was that glory of God? Not most
his natural power, but his sympathetic tenderness, his loving heart.
What is the glory of the Son of God? Not the mere display of power,
but power used to console, in manifesting to the world that this
cruel _death_--the shadow that haunts all human life, that appalls
and terrifies, that scatters anguish and despair--is _not_ death,
but the gateway of a brighter life, in which Jesus shall restore
love to love, in eternal reunion.

In the scene with the sisters before the Saviour arrives, we are
struck with the consideration in which the family is held. This
house is thronged with sympathizing friends, and, as appears from
some incidents afterwards, friends among the higher classes of the
nation. Martha hears of the approach of Jesus, and goes forth to
meet him.

In all the scene which follows we are impressed with the dignity
and worth of Martha's character. We see in the scene of sorrow that
Martha has been the strong, practical woman, on whom all rely in
the hour of sickness, and whose energy is equal to any emergency.
We see her unsubdued by emotion, ready to go forth to receive
Jesus, and prompt to meet the issues of the moment. We see, too,
that the appreciation of the worth of her character, which had led
him to admonish her against the materialistic tendencies of such
a nature, was justified by the fruits of that rebuke. Martha had
grown more spiritual by intercourse with the Master, and as she
falls at Jesus' feet the half-complaint which her sorrow wrings
from her is here merged in the expression of her faith: "Lord, if
thou hadst been here my brother had not died; but I know that even
now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it to thee.
Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again." Like every
well-trained religious Jew of her day, Martha was versed in the
doctrine of the general resurrection. That this belief was a more
actively operating motive with the ancient Jewish than with the
modern Christian Church of our day is attested by the affecting
history of the martyrdom of the mother and her seven sons, in the
Book of Maccabees. Martha therefore makes prompt answer, "I know
that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus
answered her in words which no mere mortal could have uttered--words
of a divine fullness of meaning--"I am the Resurrection and the
Life: he that believeth in me, though dead, shall live, and
whosoever believeth in me is immortal."

In these words he claims to be the great source of Life,--the
absolute Lord and Controller of all that relates to life, death, and
eternity; and he makes the appeal to Martha's faith: "Believest thou
this?" "Yea, Lord," she responds, "I believe thou art the Christ of
God that should come into the world." And then she runs and calls
her sister secretly, saying, "The Master is come and calleth for
thee." As a majestic symphony modulates into a tender and pathetic
minor passage, so the tone of the narrative here changes to the most
exquisite pathos. Mary, attended by her weeping friends, comes and
falls at Jesus' feet, and sobs out: "Lord, if thou hadst been here
my brother had not died!"

It indicates the delicate sense of character which ever marked
the intercourse of our Lord, that to this helpless, heart-broken
child prostrate at his feet he addresses no appeal to reason or
faith. He felt within himself the overwhelming power of that tide
of emotion which for the time bore down both reason and faith in
helpless anguish. With such sorrow there was no arguing, and Jesus
did not attempt argument; for the story goes on: "When Jesus saw her
weeping, and the Jews also weeping that came with her, he groaned in
spirit and was troubled; and he said, Where have ye laid him? And
they said, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept." Those tears interpreted
for all time God's silence and apparent indifference to human
suffering; and wherever Christ is worshiped as the brightness of
the Father's glory and the express image of his person, they bear
witness that the God who upholds the laws that wound and divide
human affections still feels with us the sorrow which he permits.
"In all our afflictions he is afflicted."

And now came the sublime and solemn scene when he who had claimed
to be the Resurrection and the Life made good his claim. Standing
by the grave he called, as he shall one day call to all the dead,
"Lazarus, come forth!" And here the curtain drops over the scene of
restoration.

We do not see this family circle again till just before the final
scene of the great tragedy of Christ's life. The hour was at hand,
of suffering, betrayal, rejection, denial, shame, agony, and death;
and with the shadow of this awful cloud over his mind, Jesus comes
for the last time to Jerusalem. To the eye of the thoughtless,
Jesus was never so popular, so beloved, as at the moment when he
entered the last week of his life at Jerusalem. Palm branches and
flowers strewed his way, hosannas greeted him on every side, and
the chief priests and Scribes said, "Perceive ye how ye prevail
nothing? Behold the world is gone after him!" But the mind of Jesus
was wrapped in that awful shade of the events that were so soon to
follow.

He passes out, after his first day in Jerusalem, to Bethany, and
takes refuge in this dear circle. There they make him a feast,
and Martha serves, but Lazarus, as a restored treasure, sits at
the table. Then took Mary a pound of ointment, very precious, and
anointed the head of Jesus, and anointed his feet with the ointment,
and wiped them with her hair.

There is something in the action that marks the poetic and sensitive
nature of Mary. Her heart was overburdened with gratitude and love.
She longed to give something, and how little was there that she
could give! She buys the most rare, the most costly of perfumes,
breaks the vase, and sheds it upon his head. Could she have put
her whole life, her whole existence, into that fleeting perfume
and poured it out for him, she gladly would have done it. That was
what the action said, and what Jesus understood. Forthwith comes
the criticism of Judas: "What a waste! It were better to give the
money to the poor than to expend it in mere sentimentalism." Jesus
defended her with all the warmth of his nature, in words tinged with
the presentiment of his approaching doom: "Let her alone; she is
come aforehand to anoint my body for the burial." Then, as if deeply
touched with the reality of that love which thus devoted itself to
him, he adds, "Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout
the world, there shall what this woman hath done be had in
remembrance." The value set upon pure love, upon that unconsidering
devotion which gives its best and utmost freely and wholly, is
expressed in these words. A loving God seeks love; and he who thus
spoke is he who afterward, when he appeared in glory, declared his
abhorrence of lukewarmness in his followers: "I would thou wert cold
or hot; because thou art lukewarm I will spue thee out of my mouth."
It is significant of the change which had passed upon Martha that no
criticism of Mary's action in this case came from her. There might
have been a time when this inconsiderate devotion of a poetic nature
would have annoyed her and called out remonstrance. In her silence
we feel a sympathetic acquiescence.

After this scene we meet the family no more. Doubtless the three
were among the early watchers upon the resurrection morning;
doubtless they were of the number among whom Jesus stood after the
resurrection, saying, "Peace be unto you;" doubtless they were of
those who went out with him to the Mount of Olives when he was taken
up into heaven; and doubtless they are now with him in glory: for it
is an affecting thought that no human personality is ever lost or to
be lost. In the future ages it may be our happiness to see and know
those whose history has touched our hearts so deeply.

One lesson from this history we pray may be taken into every
mourning heart. The Apostle says that Jesus upholds all things by
the word of his power. The laws by which accident, sickness, loss,
and death are constantly bringing despair and sorrow to sensitive
hearts are upheld by that same Jesus who wept at the grave of
Lazarus, and who is declared to be Jesus Christ, the same yesterday
and forever. When we see the exceeding preciousness of human love
in his eyes, and realize his sympathetic nature, and then remember
that he is RESURRECTION AND LIFE, can we not trust him with our
best beloved, and look to him for that hour of reunion which he has
promised?

The doctrine of the resurrection of the body is a precious
concession to human weakness and human love. How dear the outward
form of our child,--how distressing to think we shall never see it
again! But Christ promises we shall. Here is a mystery. St. Paul
says, that as the seed buried in the earth is to the new plant or
flower, so is our present mortal body to the new immortal one that
shall spring from it. It shall be our friend, our child, familiar
to us with all that mysterious charm of personal identity, yet
clothed with the life and beauty of the skies; and then the Lord God
will wipe away all tears from all faces.



XVI

THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF JESUS


There was one great characteristic in the life of Jesus which his
followers succeed in imitating less than any other, and that is a
singular sweetness and attractiveness which drew toward him even the
sinful and fallen. There are the most obvious indications in all
the narrative that Christ's virtue was not of the repellent kind
that drove sinners away from him, but that there was around him a
peculiar charm and graciousness of manner which affected the most
uncongenial characters.

We are all familiar with a style of goodness quite the reverse of
this--a goodness that is terrible to evil-doers--a goodness that is
instinctively felt to have no sympathy with the sinner. Such was the
virtue of Christ's great forerunner, John the Baptist. He commanded,
but did not charm; the attraction that drew men toward him was
that of mingled fear and curiosity, but there was no tenderness in
it. When the Scribes and Pharisees flocked to his baptism, he met
them with a thunderbolt: "O generation of vipers! who hath warned
_you_ to flee from the wrath to come?" He declined all social joys;
he would not eat or drink at men's tables; he dwelt alone in the
deserts, appearing as a _Voice_--a voice of warning and terror! His
disciples were few; he took no pains to make them more.

But even this stern and rugged nature felt the charm and sweetness
of Jesus, as something different from himself. It is very touching
to read how the peculiar demeanor of Jesus impressed this hardy old
warrior: "And looking on Jesus as he walked, he said, Behold the
Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." The words seem
as if they might have been said with tears in the eyes. Immediately
two of his few disciples left him and followed Jesus; and he was
content. "He must increase and I must decrease," he said humbly. "He
that is from Heaven is above all."

We find that Jesus loved social life and the fellowship of men.
Though he spent the first forty days after his mission began in
the solitude of the desert, yet he returned from it the same
warm-hearted and social being as before. The first appearance that
he made was at a wedding-feast, and his very first miracle was
wrought to enhance its joy. A wedding-feast in those lands meant
more than with us. It was not merely an hour given to festivity,
but lasted from three to seven days. There were large gatherings
of relations and friends from afar; there were dances and songs,
and every form of rejoicing; and at this particular feast in Cana
it seems Jesus and his mother were present as honored and beloved
guests. His gentleness and affability led his mother to feel that
she might perhaps gain from him an aid to the inadequate provision
made for the hospitality of the occasion. His reply to her has been
deemed abrupt and severe. That it was not so understood by his
mother herself is evident from the fact that she did not accept it
as a refusal, but expected a compliance, and gave orders to prepare
for it. It was necessary when among relatives in his family circle
to express with great decision the idea that his miraculous powers
were not to be considered as in any way under the control of his
private and human affections, and that he must use them only as a
Higher Power should direct.

His presence at this wedding was significant of that divine love
which ever watches over the family, and the wine that he gave
symbolized that cheer and support which God's ever-present love and
sympathy pours through all the life of the household. We gather
incidentally from many seemingly casual statements that Jesus was
often invited to feasts in the houses of both rich and poor, and
cheerfully accepted these invitations even on the Sabbath day.

He seems to have been also especially attractive to little children;
he loved them and noticed them; and it would seem from some parts of
the Gospel narrative as if the little ones watched for his coming
and ran to his arms instinctively. Their artless, loving smiles,
their clear, candid eyes, reminded him of that world of love where
he had dwelt before he came to our earth, and he said, "Of such
is the kingdom of heaven." It was the sense that he loved little
ones that led mothers to force their way with their infants through
reproving and unsympathetic disciples; there was that about Jesus
which made every mother sure that he would love her child, and that
the very touch of his hands would bring a blessing upon it; and when
his disciples treated the effort as an intrusion it is said "Jesus
was much displeased." He did not merely accept or tolerate the
movement, but entered into it with warmth and enthusiasm; he did not
coldly lay the tips of his sacred fingers on them, but took them up
in his arms and laid his hands on them and blessed them; he embraced
them and held them to his heart as something that he would make
peculiarly his own.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Jesus was the children's favorite,
and that on his last triumphal entrance into Jerusalem the hosannas
of the children in the temple should have been so loud and so
persistent as to excite the anger of the priests and Scribes. They
called on him to silence the little voices, as if they felt sure
that he could control them by a word; but that word Jesus refused
to speak. The voices of these young birds of paradise were dear to
him, and he said indignantly, "If these were forbidden to speak the
very stones would cry out."

But still more remarkable is the fact that Jesus was attractive to a
class who as a general thing hate and flee from religious teachers.
The publicans and sinners, the disreputable and godless classes,
felt themselves strangely drawn to him. If we remember how intensely
bitter was the Jewish sense of degradation in being under Roman
taxation, and how hardly and cruelly the office of collecting that
tribute was often exercised, we may well think that only Jews who
cared little for the opinions of their countrymen, and had little
character to lose, would undertake it. We know there are in all our
cities desperate and perishing classes inhabiting regions where it
would be hardly safe for a reputable person to walk. Yet in regions
like these the pure apparition of Jesus of Nazareth walked serene,
and all hearts were drawn to him.

What was the charm about him, that he whose rule of morality was
stricter than that of Scribes or Pharisees yet attracted and drew
after him the most abandoned classes? They saw that he loved them.
Yes, he really loved them. The infinite love of God looked through
his eyes, breathed in his voice, and shed a persuasive charm through
all his words. To the intellectual and cultured men of the better
classes his word was, "Ye must be born again;" but to these poor
wanderers he said, "Ye may be born again. All is not lost. Purity,
love, a higher life, are all for you,"--and he said it with such
energy, such vital warmth of sympathy, that they believed him.
They crowded round him and he welcomed them; they invited him to
their houses and he went; he sat with them at table; he held their
little ones in his arms; he gave himself to them. When the Scribes
and Pharisees murmured at this intimacy, he answered, "The whole
need not the Physician, but those that are sick; I came not to call
the righteous, but sinners." His most beautiful parables, of the
lost sheep, the lost coin, and the Prodigal Son, were all poured
out of the fullness of his heart for them--and what a heart! What
news indeed, to these lost ones, to be told that their Father cared
for them the more because they were lost; that he went after them
because they wandered; and that all around the pure throne of God
were pitying eyes watching for their return, and strong hands of
welcome stretched out to aid them back. No wonder that the poor lost
woman of the street had such a courage and hope awakened in her that
she pressed through the sneering throng, and under the very eyes of
Scribe and Pharisee found her refuge and rest at the gracious feet
of such a Master. No wonder that Matthew the publican rose up at
once from the receipt of custom and left all to follow that Jesus,
who had taught him that he too might be a son of God.

And we read of one Zaccheus, a poor worldly little man, who had
lived a hard, sharp, extortionate life, and perhaps was supposed to
have nothing good in him; but even he felt a singular internal stir
and longing for something higher, awakened by this preacher, and
when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing he ran and climbed
a tree that he might look on him as he passed. But the gracious
Stranger paused under the tree, and a sweet, cheerful voice said,
"Zaccheus, make haste and come down, for to-day I must dine at thy
house." Trembling, scarce able to believe his good fortune, we are
told he came down and received Jesus joyfully. Immediately, as
flowers burst out under spring sunshine, awoke the virtues in that
heart: "Lord, half my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken
anything by false accusation I restore fourfold." This shows that
the influence of Jesus was no mere sentimental attraction, but a
vital, spiritual force, corresponding to what was said of him: "As
many as received him to them gave he power to become sons of God."

It is a mistake to suppose that wicked people are happy in
wickedness. Wrong-doing is often a sorrowful chain and burden,
and those who bear it are often despairingly conscious of their
degradation.

Jesus carried with him the power not only to heal the body but to
cure the soul, to give the vigor of a new spiritual life, the joy
of a sense of recovered purity. He was not merely able to say, "Thy
sins be forgiven thee," but also, "Go in peace;" and the peace was
real and permanent.

Another reason for the attractiveness of Jesus was the value he
set on human affections. The great ones of the earth often carry
an atmosphere about them that withers the heart with a sense of
insignificance. Every soul longs to be something to the object of
its regard, and the thought, "My love is nothing to him," is a
chilling one. But Christ asked for love--valued it. No matter how
poor, how lowly, how sinful in time past, the love of a repentant
soul he accepted as a priceless treasure. He set the loving sinner
above the cold-hearted Pharisee. He asked not only for love, but for
intimacy--he asked for the whole heart; and there are many desolate
ones in this cheerless earth to whom it is a new life to know that a
godlike Being cares for their love.

The great external sufferings of Christ and the prophetic prediction
that he should be a "man of sorrows" have been dwelt upon so much
that we sometimes forget the many passages in the New Testament
which show that the spiritual atmosphere of Christ was one of joy.
He brought to those that received him a sense of rest and peace and
joy. St. John speaks of him as "LIGHT." He answered those who asked
why his disciples did not fast like those of John, by an image which
showed that his very presence made life a season of festivity: "Can
the children of the bride-chamber mourn while the bridegroom is with
them?" What a beautiful picture of a possible life is given in his
teaching. God he speaks of as "your Father." All the prophets and
teachers that came before spoke of him as "the Lord." Christ called
him simply "THE FATHER," as if to intimate that Fatherhood was the
highest and most perfect expression of the great Invisible. He
said, therefore, to the toiling race of man: "Be not anxious, your
Father in Heaven will take care of you. He forgets not even a little
sparrow, and he certainly will not forget you. Go to him with all
your wants. You would not forget your children's prayers; and your
Father in Heaven is better than you. Be loving, be kind, be generous
and sweet-hearted; if men hate you, love and pray for them; and you
will be your Father's children."

See how the man Jesus, who was to his disciples the Master, Christ,
had power to comfort them in distress, and how not only his own
followers, but also those of his great forerunner, John, were
naturally drawn to confide their troubles to him.

These disciples who took up the Baptist's disfigured body after
spite and contempt and hate had done their worst on it, who paid
their last tribute of reverence and respect amid the scoffs of a
jeering world, were men--men of deep emotions and keen feelings; and
probably at that moment every capability of feeling they had was
fully aroused.

It appears from the first chapter of John, that he and others were
originally the disciples of the Baptist during the days of his
first powerful ministry, and had been by him pointed to Jesus. We
see in other places that the Apostle John had an intense power
of indignation, and was of that nature that longed to grasp the
thunderbolts when he saw injustice. It was John that wanted to bring
down fire from heaven on the village that refused to shelter Christ,
and can we doubt that his whole soul was moved with the most fiery
indignation at wrong and cruelty like this? For Christ himself had
said of the martyr thus sacrificed: "Among those that are born of
women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist." He had
done a great work; he had swayed the hearts of all his countrymen;
he had been the instrument of the most powerful revival of religion
known in his times. There had been a time when his name was in every
mouth; when all Jerusalem and Judæa, and beyond Jordan, thronged to
his ministry--even the Scribes and Pharisees joining the multitude.
And now what an end of so noble a man! Seized and imprisoned at the
behest of an adulterous woman whose sin he had rebuked, shut up
in prison, his ministry ended, all his power for good taken away,
and finally finishing his life under circumstances which mark more
than any other could the contempt and indifference which the great
gay world of his day had for goodness and greatness! The head of a
national benefactor, of a man who had lived for God and man wholly
and devotedly from his birth, was used as a football, made the
subject of a court jest between the courtesan and the prince.

Oh that it had pleased God to give us the particulars of that
interview when the disciples, burning, struggling under pressure of
that cruel indignity, came and told Jesus! Can we imagine with what
burning words John told of the scorn, the contempt, the barbarity
with which the greatest man of his time had been hurried to a bloody
grave? Were there not doubts--wonderings? Why did God permit it?
Why was not a miracle wrought, if need were, to save him? And what
did Jesus say to them? Oh that we knew! We would lay it up in our
hearts, to be used when in our lesser sphere we see things going in
the course of this world as if God were not heeding. Of one thing we
may be sure. Jesus made them quiet; he calmed and rested them.

And all that Jesus taught, he was. This life of sweet repose, of
unruffled peace, of loving rest in an ever-present Father, he
carried with him as he went, everywhere warming, melting, cheering;
inspiring joy in the sorrowful and hope in the despairing; giving
peace to the perplexed; and, last and best of all, in his last
hours, when he sought to cheer his sorrowful disciples in view of
his death and one of them said, "Lord, show us the Father and it
will suffice," he answered, "He that hath seen me hath seen the
Father." The Invisible Jehovah, the vast, strange, mysterious Will
that moves all worlds and controls all destinies, reveals himself to
us in the Man Jesus--the Christ.

We are told of an Old Testament prophet that sought to approach
God. First there was a mighty tempest; but the Lord was not in
the tempest. There was a devouring fire; but the Lord was not in
the fire. There was an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the
earthquake. Then there came at last a "still, small voice:" and when
the prophet heard that he wrapped his face in his mantle and bowed
himself to the earth.

The tempest, the earthquake, the fire, are the Unknown God of
Nature; the still, small voice is that of Jesus!

It is to this Teacher so lovable, this Guide so patient and so
gracious, that our Heavenly Father has committed the care and
guidance of us through this dark, uncertain life of ours. He came
to love us, to teach us, to save us; and not merely to save us, but
to save us in the kindest and gentlest way. He gives himself wholly
to us, for all that he can be to us, and in return asks us to give
ourselves wholly to him. Shall we not do it?



XVII

THE TOLERANCE OF JESUS

     "We saw one casting out devils, and he followed not us; and we
     forbade him. And Jesus said, Forbid him not."


There is nothing in which our Lord so far exceeds all his followers
as in that spirit of forbearance and tolerance which he showed
toward every effort, however imperfect, which was dictated by a
sincere spirit. Human virtue as it grows intense is liable to grow
narrow and stringent; but divine love has an infinite wideness of
allowance.

We are told of the first triumphant zeal of the twelve Apostles
when, endued with miraculous power, they went forth healing the
sick, casting out devils, and preaching the good news of the kingdom
to the poor. They came back to Jesus exulting in their new success,
and we are told they said unto him, "Lord, we saw one casting out
devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followed not us."

Jesus said unto them, "Forbid him not, for there is no man that will
do a miracle in my name that will lightly speak evil of me. For he
that is not against us is on our side."

Here our Lord recognizes the principle that those who seek what he
is seeking, and are striving to do what he is doing, are in fact on
his side, even although they may not see their way clear to follow
the banner of his commissioned Apostles and work in their company.
Christ's mission as he defined it was a mission of healing and
saving, a mission of consolation and the relief of human misery; and
this man who was trying to cast out the devils in his name was doing
his work and moving in his line, although not among his professed
disciples.

Jesus always recognized the many "sheep not of this fold" which
he had in this world--people who were his followers by unity of
intention with what he intended, though they might never have known
him personally. He tells the Jews, who believed in a narrow and
peculiar church, that "many shall come from the East and the West,
and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom
of heaven," and in his pictures of the last Judgment he makes the
final award turn on the simple unity of spirit and purpose with Him
in his great work of mercy for mankind.

We see intimated that the accepted ones are amazed to find
themselves recognized as having shown personal regard to Christ,
and say, "Lord, when saw we thee hungry or athirst or in prison and
ministered to thee?" And the reply is, "Inasmuch as ye did it to
one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me." A more
solemn declaration cannot be given, that our Lord accepts the spirit
which is in unison with his great work of mercy for mankind, as the
best offering of love to himself; and in this sense it is true that
no man who would seek to do miracles of mercy in His spirit could
lightly speak evil of him.

In this case our Lord might have seen that the arrogant, dictatorial
temper which had come upon his followers in the flush of their first
success might have disgusted and repelled a sincere man who was
really trying to help on the good work in which Christ was engaged;
and perhaps he may now see, as he looks down among our churches here
and there, some good man in his own peculiar way seeking to do the
work of the Lord, yet repelled from following in the train of his
professed disciples. Instead of forbidding such "because they follow
not us," he would have us draw them towards us by sympathy in the
good they are doing, trusting in our Lord to enlighten them wherever
they may need more distinct light.

The Protestant must not forbid the Romanist mission whose plain
object seems to be to call sinners to repentance, and to lead
professing Christians to a higher and holier life; nor must the
Romanist in the pride of ancient authority forbid the Protestant
evangelist that is seeking to make known the love of Jesus. And
there are men in our times, of pure natures and of real love for
mankind, whose faith in divine revelation is shaken, who no longer
dare to say they believe with the "orthodox," but who yet are
faithfully striving to do good to man, to heal the sick and cast out
the devils that afflict society. Sad-hearted men are they often,
working without the cheer that inspires the undoubting believer,
often under a sense of the ban of the professed followers of Christ;
yet the infinite tolerance of our Lord is leading them as well as
those who more formally bear his name.

It was Cyrus, the Persian king, who worshiped the Zoroastrian gods,
that is called in the prophecy "God's shepherd;" to whom God says,
"Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, I girded thee, though thou
hast not known me."

Let us hope that there are many whose right hand Christ is holding,
though they as yet know him not; for He it is who says:--

     "I will bring the blind by a way they know not. I will make
     darkness light before them, and crooked things straight: these
     things will I do unto them and not forsake them."

It pleased our Lord to number among the twelve Apostles one of
those natures which are constitutionally cautious and skeptical.
Thomas had a doubting head but a loving heart; he clung to Christ
by affinity of spirit and personal love, with a slow and doubting
intellect. Whether Jesus were the Messiah, the King of Israel,
destined to reign and conquer, Thomas, though sometimes hoping,
was somewhat prone to doubt. He was all the while foreboding that
Christ would be vanquished, while yet determined to stand by him to
the last. When Christ announced his purpose to go again into Judæa,
where his life had been threatened, Thomas says,--and there seems
to be a despairing sigh in the very words,--"Let us also go, that
we may die with him." The words seemed to say, "this man may be
mistaken, after all; but, living or dying, I must love him, and if
he dies, I die too."

Well, the true-hearted doubter lived to see his Lord die, and he it
was, of all the disciples, who refused to believe the glad news of
the resurrection. No messenger, no testimony, nothing that anybody
else had seen could convince him. He must put his own hand into the
print of the nails or he will not believe. The gracious Master did
not refuse the test. "Reach hither thy finger and behold my hand,
and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not
faithless but believing," he said, and the doubter fell at his feet
and cried, "My Lord and my God!"

There was but a gentle word of reproof: "Thomas, because thou hast
seen me thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen
and yet have believed." It is this divine wideness of spirit, this
tolerance of love, that is the most characteristic element in
the stages which mark the higher Christian life. Such spirits as
Fénelon, Francis de Sales, John Woolman, and the apostle Eliot, seem
to have risen to the calm regions of clear-sighted love. Hence the
maxim of Fénelon: "Only perfection can tolerate the imperfect." But
we, in our way to those regions, must lay down our harsh judgments
of others; we must widen our charity; and, as we bless our good
Shepherd for his patience with our wanderings and failures, must
learn to have patience with those of our neighbors.



XVIII

THE SILENCE OF JESUS


In the history of our Lord's life nothing meets us more frequently
than his power of reticence. It has been justly observed that
the things that he did _not_ say and do are as just a subject of
admiration as the things that he said and did.

There is no more certain indication of inward strength than the
power of silence. Hence the proverb that speech is silver and
silence is golden. The Church of the middle ages had her treatises
on "The Grace of Silence."

In the case of our Lord we have to remember first the thirty years
of silence that preluded his ministry; thirty years in which he
lived the life of a humble artisan in the obscure town of Nazareth.
That he was during those years revolving all that higher wisdom
which has since changed the whole current of human society there
is little doubt. That his was a spirit from earliest life ardent
and eager, possessed with the deepest enthusiasm, we learn from
the one revealing flash in the incident recorded of his childhood,
when he entered the school of the doctors in the temple and became
so absorbed in hearing and asking questions that time, place,
and kindred were all forgotten. Yet, eager as he was, he made no
petulant objection to his mother's recall, but went down to Nazareth
with his parents and was subject to them. This ardent soul retreated
within itself, and gathered itself up in silence and obedience.

When, at the age of thirty, he rose in the synagogue of his native
place and declared his great and beautiful mission it is quite
evident that he took everybody by surprise. No former utterances,
nothing in his previous life, had prepared his townsfolk for
this. They said, "How knoweth this man letters? Is not this the
carpenter?" What habitual silence and reticence is here indicated!
For this was the same Jesus whose words, when he did speak, had
that profound and penetrating power that stirred the hearts of
men, and have gone on since stirring them as no other utterances
ever did. But when he did speak his words were more mighty from
the accumulated force of repression. They fell concentrated and
sparkling like diamonds that had been slowly crystallizing in those
years of silence; they were utterances for time and for eternity.

In like manner we see numerous indications that he withdrew from all
that was popular and noisy and merely sensational with a deep and
real distaste. So far as possible he wrought his miracles privately.
He enjoined reticence and silence on his disciples. He said, "The
kingdom of God cometh not with observation." He pointed to the grain
of mustard seed and the hidden leaven as types of its power.

In the same way we see him sometimes receiving in silence prayers
for help which he intended to answer. When the Syro-Phoenician woman
cried to him to heal her daughter, it is said "he answered her never
a word;" yet healing was in his heart. His silence was the magnet
to draw forth her desire, to intensify her faith and reveal to his
disciples what there was in her.

So, too, when word was sent from the sisters of Bethany, "Lord,
behold he whom thou lovest is sick," he received it in the same
silence. It is said, "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus;
when he had heard, therefore, that he was sick, he abode two days
still in the same place where he was." In those two days of apparent
silent neglect, how many weary hours to the anxious friends watching
for him who _could_ help, and who yet did not come! But the silence
and the wailing ended in a deeper joy at the last. The sorrow
of one family was made the means of a record of the Saviour's
tenderness and sympathy and his triumphant power over death, which
is for all time and for every mourner. As he gave Lazarus back whole
and uninjured from the grave, so he then and there promised to do
for every one who believes in him: "He that believeth on me shall
never die."

In the family of the Saviour was a false friend whose falseness was
better known to the Master than perhaps to himself. He knew the
falsity of Judas to his trust in the management of the family purse,
yet he was silent. He sought the sympathy of no friend; he did not
expose him to the others. From time to time he threw out general
warnings that there was one among them that was untrue--warnings
addressed to _his_ conscience alone. But he changed in no degree
his manner toward him; he did not withhold the kiss at meeting
and parting, nor refuse to wash his feet with the others; and the
traitor went out from the last meeting to finish his treachery,
leaving his brethren ignorant of his intended crime. This loving,
forbearing silence with an enemy--keeping him in his family,
treating him with unchanging love yet with warning faithfulness,
never uttering a word of complaint and parting at last in sorrow
more than anger--was the practical comment left by Jesus on his
own words: "Love your enemies, that ye may be the children of
your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to shine
on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on
the unjust." This, the last, the highest grade in the science
of love, is one that few Christians even come within sight of.
To bear an enemy near one's person, perfectly to understand his
machinations, and yet feel only unchanging love and pity, carefully
to guard his character, never to communicate to another the evil
that we perceive, to go on in kindness as the sunshine goes on in
nature--this is an attainment so seldom made that when made it is
hard to be understood. If the example of Jesus is to be the rule by
which our attainments are finally to be measured, who can stand in
the judgment?

The silence of Jesus in his last trial before Herod and Pilate is no
less full of sublime suggestion. We see him standing in a crowd of
enemies clamorous, excited, eager, with false witnesses distorting
his words, disagreeing with each other, agreeing only in one thing:
the desire for his destruction. And Pilate says, "Answerest thou
nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee." It
was the dead silence that more than anything else troubled and
perplexed the Roman governor. After he has given up his victim to
the brutalities of the soldiery, to the scourging and the crown of
thorns, he sends for him again for a private examination. "Whence
art thou? Speakest thou not to me? Knowest thou not that I have
power to crucify thee and power to release thee?" In all the brief
replies of Jesus there is no effort to clear himself, no denial
of the many things witnessed against him. In fact, from the few
things that he did say on the way to the cross, it would seem
that his soul abode calmly in that higher sphere of love in which
he looked down with pity on the vulgar brutality that surrounded
him. The poor ignorant populace shouting they knew not what, the
wretched scribes and chief priests setting the seal of doom on their
nation, the stolid Roman soldiers trained in professional hardness
and cruelty--he looked down on them all with pity. "Daughters of
Jerusalem," he said to the weeping women, "weep not for me, but weep
for yourselves and for your children." And a few moments later,
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

We are told by the Apostles that this Jesus is the image of the
invisible God. The silence of God in presence of so much that moves
human passions is one of the most awful things for humanity to
contemplate. But if Jesus is his image this silence is not wrathful
or contemptuous, but full of pity and forgiveness.

The silence and the great darkness around the cross of Calvary were
not the silence of gathering wrath and doom. God, the forgiving,
was there, and the way was preparing for a new and unequaled era of
forgiving mercy. The rejected Jesus was exalted to the right hand of
God, not to fulfill a mission of wrath, but to "give repentance and
remission of sins."



XIX

THE SECRET OF PEACE


Peace! Is there in fact such a thing as an attainable habit of mind
that can remain at peace, no matter what external circumstances
may be? No matter what worries; no matter what perplexities, what
thwartings, what cares, what dangers; no matter what slanders, what
revilings, what persecutions--is it possible to keep an immovable
peace? When our dearest friends are taken from us, when those we
love are in deadly danger from hour to hour, is it possible still
to be in peace? When our plans of life are upset, when fortune
fails, when debt and embarrassment come down, is it possible to be
at peace? When suddenly called to die, or to face sorrows that are
worse than death, is it possible still to be at peace?

Yes, it is. This is the peculiarity of the Christian religion--the
special gift of Christ to every soul that will receive it from
him. In his hour of deepest anguish, when every earthly resort was
failing him, when he was about to be deserted, denied, betrayed,
tortured even unto death, he had this great gift of peace, and he
left it as a legacy to his followers:--

     "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you. Not as the
     world giveth give I unto you."

He says himself that his peace is not what the world giveth. It does
not come from anything in this life; it cannot be taken away by
anything in this life; it is wholly divine. As a white dove looks
brighter and fairer against a black thunder-cloud, so Christ's peace
is brightest and sweetest in darkness and adversity.

Is not this rest of the soul, this perfect peace, worth having? Do
the majority of Christians have it? Would it not lengthen the days
and strengthen the health of many a man and woman if they could
attain it? But how shall we get this gift? That is an open secret.
St. Paul told it to the Philippians in one simple direction:--

     "Be not anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
     supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known
     unto God; and the peace of God that passeth understanding shall
     keep your heart and mind."

There we have it.

Now if we look back to the history of these Philippians, as told in
the Book of Acts, we shall see that when Paul exhorted them never
to be anxious about anything, but always with thanksgiving to let
their wants be known to God, he preached exactly what they had seen
him practice among them. For this Philippian church was at first a
little handful of people gathered to Jesus by hearing Paul talk in
a prayer-meeting held one Sunday morning by the riverside. There
Lydia, the seller of fine linen from Thyatira, first believed with
her house, and a little band of Christians was gathered. But lo! in
the very commencement of the good work a tumult was raised, and Paul
and Silas were swooped down upon by the jealous Roman authorities,
ignominiously and cruelly scourged, and then carried to prison and
shut up with their feet fast in the stocks. Here was an opportunity
to test their serenity. Did their talisman work, or did it fail?
What did the Apostles do? We are told: "At midnight Paul and Silas
prayed and sang praises to God, and the prisoners heard them." That
prayer went up with a shout of victory--it was as Paul directs,
prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Then came the opening of
prison doors, the loosing of bonds, and the jailer fell trembling
at the feet of his captives, saying, "Sirs, what must I do to be
saved?" And that night the jailer and all his house were added to
the church at Philippi. So, about eleven years after, when Paul's
letter came back from Rome to the Philippian church and was read out
in their prayer-meeting, we can believe that the old Roman jailer,
now a leading brother in the church, said, "Ay! ay! he teaches just
what he practised. I remember how he sung and rejoiced there in
that old prison at midnight. Nothing ever disturbs him." And they
remember, too, that this cheerful, joyful, courageous letter comes
from one who is again a prisoner, chained night and day to a Roman
soldier, and it gives all the more force to his inspiring direction:
"Be anxious for nothing--in everything, by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God."

If Paul had been like us, now, how many excuses he might have had
for being in a habitual worry! How was he shut up and hindered in
his work of preaching the gospel. A prisoner at Rome while churches
that needed him were falling into divers temptations for want of
him--how he might have striven with his lot, how he might have
wondered why God allowed the enemy so to triumph.

But it appears he was perfectly quiet. "I know how to be abased,
and how to abound," he says; "everywhere, and in all things, I am
instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and
suffer need. I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth
me."

But say some, "Do you suppose if you go to God about everything that
troubles you it will do any good? If you do ask him for help, will
you get it?"

If this means, Will God always give you the blessing you want, or
remove the pain you feel, in answer to your prayer? the answer must
be, Certainly not.

Paul prayed often and with intense earnestness for the removal of
a trial so sharp and severe that he calls it a thorn in his flesh.
It was something that he felt to be unbearable, and he prayed the
Lord to take it away, but the Lord did not; he only said to him,
"My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in
weakness."

The permission in all things to let our requests be made known to
God would be a fatal one for us if it meant that God would always
give us what we ask. When we come to see the record of our life as
it is written in heaven, we shall see some of our best occasions of
thankfulness under the head of "prayers denied."

Did you ever see a little child rushing home from school in hot
haste, with glowing cheeks and tearful eyes, burning and smarting
under some fancied or real injustice or injury in his school life?
He runs through the street; he rushes into the house; he puts off
every one who tries to comfort him. "No, no! he doesn't want them;
he wants mother; he's going to tell mother." And when he finds her
he throws himself into her arms and sobs out to her all the tumult
of his feelings, right or wrong, reasonable or unreasonable. "The
school is hateful; the teacher is hard, and the lessons are too
long; he can't learn them, and the boys laugh at him, and won't she
say he needn't go any more?"

Now, though the mother does not grant his foolish petitions, she
soothes him by sympathy; she calms him; she reasons with him; she
inspires him with courage to meet the necessary trials of school
life--in short, her grace is sufficient for her boy; her strength
perfects his weakness. He comes out tranquilized, calm, and
happy--not that he is going to get his own foolish wishes, but that
his mother has taken the matter in hand and is going to look into
it, and the right thing is going to be done.

This is an exact illustration of the kind of help it is for us
"in everything by prayer to make known our requests to God." The
very act of confidence is in itself tranquilizing, and the divine
sympathy meets and sustains it.

A large class of our annoyances and worries are extinguished or
lessened by the very act of trying to tell them to such a person as
Jesus Christ. They are our burning injuries, our sense of wrong and
injustice done us. When we go to tell Jesus how cruelly and wickedly
some other Christian has treated us, we immediately begin to feel as
a child who is telling his mother about his brother--both equally
dear. Our anger gradually changes to a kind of sorrow when we think
of Him as grieved by our differences. After all, we are speaking of
one whom Christ is caring for and bearing with just as he is caring
for us, and the thought takes away the edge of our indignation; a
place is found for peace.

Then there is still another class of troubles that would be cut off
and smothered altogether by the honest effort to tell them to our
Saviour. All the troubles that come from envy, from wanting to be
as fine, as distinguished, as successful as our neighbors; all the
troubles that come from running races with our neighbors in dress,
household show, parties, the strife "who shall be the greatest"
transferred to the little petty sphere of fashionable life--ah,
if those who are burdened with cares of this kind would just once
honestly bring them to Jesus and hear what he would have to say
about them! They might leave them at his feet and go away free and
happy.

But whatever burden or care we take to Jesus, if we would get the
peace promised, we must _leave_ it with Him as entirely as the
little child leaves his school troubles with his mother. We must
come away and treat it as a finality. We must say, Christ has taken
that. Christ will see about it. And then we must stop thinking and
worrying about it. We must resolve to be satisfied with whatever
may be his disposal of the matter, even if it is not at all what we
would have chosen.

Paul would much sooner have chosen to be free and travel through
the churches, but Christ decided to allow him to remain a chained
prisoner at Rome, and there Paul learned to rest, and he was happy
in Christ's will. Christ settled it for him, and he was at peace.

If, then, by following this one rule we can always be at rest, how
true are the lines of the hymn now so often sung:--

    "Oh, what joy we often forfeit!
      Oh, what needless pain we bear!
    All because we do not carry
      Everything to God in prayer."



XX

THE CHURCH OF THE MASTER


What is the true idea of a Christian church, and what the temper and
spirit in which its affairs should be conducted?

For this inquiry certainly we are not to go back to New England
or Cotton Mather primarily, nor yet to the earlier Anglican
authorities, or the long line of Roman precedent, and the Fathers of
the Church, nor even to the Apostolic churches, but to Jesus Christ
himself, and to the earliest association that could be called a
Christian church.

There is a difference in this discussion between _the_ Church and
_a_ church. _The_ Church is the great generic unity or outside
organization; _a_ church is a society related to the whole, as a
private family to the State.

In the time of our Lord the generic body--_the_ Church of God--was
the Jewish church. Jesus was a regularly initiated member of that
church, and very careful never to depart from any of its forms or
requirements. He announced in the Sermon on the Mount that, in
regard to the Jewish law, he was not come to destroy but to fulfill.
He said distinctly to his disciples: "The Scribes and Pharisees
sit in Moses' seat: all things therefore whatsoever they bid you
observe, that observe and do; but do ye not after their works, for
they say and do not." The Apostles never separated formally from
the Jewish church. They were so careful in this regard that they on
one occasion induced St. Paul, who was reported to be a schismatic,
to go in a very marked and public manner into the Jewish temple
and conform to the Jewish ritual; and when he addressed a company
of Jews on one occasion he commenced with the words: "Men and
brethren, I am a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee." He elsewhere
speaks of the perfectness of this initiation into all the customs
and privileges of the national church--that he was a Hebrew of the
Hebrews.

The Christian Church arose inside the Jewish church, exactly as the
Methodists arose inside the Church of England. They were a society
professing subjection and obedience to the national church in all
respects where the higher law of God did not require them to go
against earthly ordinances. Thus, when the Jewish Sanhedrin forbade
the Apostles to preach in the name of Jesus, they answered, "Whether
it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto
God, judge ye." In like spirit did John Wesley and his ministers
answer the bishops when they tried to shut their mouths from
preaching the gospel to the poor of England.

But in the mean time it is to be remembered that the Lord Jesus
gradually formed around himself as a personal centre an organization
of disciples, both men and women. This band of disciples may be
looked upon as the seed form of the Christian Church, and the order
of their union having been administered immediately by the Master
must be studied as conveying the best example of the spirit and
temper, though not necessarily the exact form, in which all churches
should be constituted.

That this company of believers was regularly organized, and
perfectly recognized as an organization, appears from a passage in
Acts, where it is said that after the ascension of our Lord this
little church came together and abode together for several days. The
names of many of them are given--the eleven Apostles, the mother of
Jesus, his brethren, and several others, called in the enumeration
"the women," are mentioned, and it is further stated that "the
number of them was about one hundred and twenty."

St. Paul indeed speaks of an occasion on which Christ, after his
resurrection, appeared to five hundred disciples at once, of whom
he says the greater part were living when he wrote. This hundred
and twenty were probably such a portion of the whole company of
disciples as had their residence in and about Jerusalem, and could
therefore conveniently assemble together. We first see them called
together to perform a corporate act in filling a vacancy among their
officers. The twelve by the appointment of the Lord had occupied a
peculiar position of leadership. The place of one of these being
vacated by the death of Judas, the little church is summoned to
assist in the election of a successor. The speech of Peter is
remarkable as showing that he considered the persons he addressed
as a body competent to transact business and fill vacancies. After
relating the death and fate of Judas, he ends by saying, "Wherefore,
from these men that have companied with us all the time that the
Lord Jesus went in and out among us must one be ordained to be
a witness with us of his resurrection." Here, then, are all the
evidences of a regularly trained church already in existence when
our Lord left the world.

But if we look at the twentieth chapter of John we shall see that
the little company that performed this act had been previously
ordained and inspired by Jesus, and wisdom had been promised to
guide their proceedings.

It is said that immediately after Christ's resurrection--after he
had appeared to Mary Magdalene--he suddenly appeared in an assembly
of the disciples, showed them his hands and his side, said to them,
"Peace be unto you," breathed on them, and said, "Receive ye the
Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them,
and whosesoever sins ye retain they are retained." The disciples
spoken of here were the whole company of believers who yet remained
faithful--not merely the eleven, since one of the eleven at least
was absent.

The words of the promise are not to be superstitiously interpreted,
as they have been, as giving an arbitrary, irresponsible power to an
aristocracy in the church, but as expressing this great truth: that
whenever a body of Christians are acting under the influence of the
Holy Spirit, under a high and heavenly state of Christian feeling,
their decisions will be in sympathy with God and be ratified in
heaven. It is only to those who receive the Holy Ghost that such
power pertains.

Having shown, then, that Christ left a trained, inspired, ordained
church of believers to perpetuate his work on earth, it now becomes
interesting to go back and watch the process by which he trained
them.

The history of the formation and gradual education of this church
is interesting, because, although the visible presence of the
Master made it differ from any subsequent church, yet the spirit
and temper in which he guided it are certainly a model for all.
Christ's visible presence relieved them from all responsibility as
to discipline. He governed personally, and settled every question
as it rose. In this respect no other church can be like it. But the
invisible Christ, the Christ in the heart of all believers, ought
to be with every church, that it may be carried on in _spirit_ as
Christ conducted his.

In the first place, then, Christ carried on this his first church as
a family, of which he was the father, and in which the law was love.
He said to his disciples, "All ye are brethren;" he addressed them
habitually as "children," sometimes as "little children," and laid
on them with emphasis a _new_ commandment, that they should love one
another as he had loved them. The old commandment, given by Moses,
was, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; the new commandment of
Christ was, Love one another as I have loved you--better than self.
St. John interprets this thus: Hereby we perceive the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us. We ought also to lay down our
lives for the brethren.

This church or family of Christ was very wide and free in its
invitation to any to join, and many did join themselves, so that at
times portions of them traveled with him as a missionary family from
place to place.

Thus, in Luke viii., we read that "it came to pass that he went
through every city and village preaching and showing the glad
tidings of the kingdom; and the twelve were with him, and certain
women whom he had healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary,
called Magdalene, and Joanna, the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward,
and Susanna, and many others, who also ministered unto him of their
substance."

This coöperation of women in the missionary church would in some
countries have given an occasion of offense and scandal. But the
laws and institutions of Moses had prepared a nation in which
the moral and religious mission of woman was fully recognized.
Prophetesses and holy women, inspired by God, had always held an
important place in its history, and it was in full accord with the
national sense of propriety that woman should hold a conspicuous
place in the new society of Jesus. It is remarkable, too, that the
bitterest and most vituperative attacks on the character of Jesus
which appeared in early centuries never found cause of scandal in
this direction.

These pious women exercised, for the benefit of our Lord and his
disciples, the peculiar gifts of their sex--they ministered to them
as women best know how. One of them was the wife of a man of high
rank in Herod's court. Several of them appear to have been possessed
of property. Some of them, however, were reclaimed women of formerly
sinful life, but now redeemed. The wife of Herod's steward, and
the spotless matron, the mother of James and John, did not scruple
to receive to their fellowship and sisterly love the redeemed Mary
Magdalene, "out of whom went seven devils."

The contributions for the support of this mission church became so
considerable, and the care of providing for its material wants so
onerous, as to require the services of a steward, and one of the
twelve, who had a peculiar turn for financial cares, was appointed
to this office. Judas made all the purchases for the company,
dispensed its charities, and, as financier, felt at liberty to
comment severely on the "waste" shown by the grateful Mary.

It seems that Judas was a type of that class of men who seek the
church from worldly motives. The treatment of this treacherous
friend by Jesus is a model that cannot be too earnestly studied
by every Christian. St. John says, "Jesus knew from the beginning
who they were that believed not, and who should betray him." But
he carried himself towards him with the same unvarying and tender
sweetness that he showed to all the rest. He was Love itself. He
could not possibly associate with another without love, and there
was something peculiarly delicate and forbearing in his treatment of
Judas (as is more fully considered in our next chapter).

He might easily have exposed him before his brethren, but he would
not do it. It seems from the narrative that even when Judas left the
little company to complete his crime, the simple-hearted disciples
knew not where he was going.

There was no calling him to account, no exposure, no denunciation,
no excommunication. Why this care, this peculiar reticence, on
the Master's part? It was a part of his system of teaching his
family what he meant when he said, Love your enemies. It was a
way of teaching that, when they came to understand it fully, they
never would forget. Moreover, during his whole life, in all his
teachings to this little church, his main object was that they
should be rooted and grounded in that kind of love which no injury,
or cruelty, or perfidy can change, the kind of love which he showed
when he prayed for those who were piercing his hands and feet. But
he found them not apt scholars. They were apt and ready in the
science of wrath. With them the way of anger and what is called
righteous indignation went down hill, but he always held them back.
When a village refused to receive the Master, it was James and John
who were ready to propose to call down fire from heaven, as Elias
did. But he told them they knew not what manner of spirit they were
of; the mission of the Son of man was to save--not to kill.

As a delicate musician shudders to strike a discord, so Jesus
would not excite among his little children the tumult of wrath and
indignation that would be sure to arise did they fully know the
treachery of Judas. He so carried himself that the evil element
departed from them without a convulsion, by the calm expulsive
force of moral influences. He bore with Judas patiently, sweetly,
lovingly, to the very last. He kept the knowledge of his treachery
in his own bosom till of his own free will the traitor departed.

There is something so above human nature in this--it is such
unworldly sweetness, such celestial patience, that it is difficult
for us at our usual level of life to understand it. It is difficult
to realize that these expressions of love which Jesus continued
to Judas were not a policy, but a simple reality, that he loved
and pitied the treacherous friend as a mother loves and pities the
unworthy son who is whitening her hair and breaking her heart, and
that the kiss he gave was always sincere.

It is an example, too, that may with advantage be studied in
conducting the discipline of a church. Here was the worst of
criminals meditating the deepest injuries, the worst of crimes, in
the very bosom of the infant church, yet our Lord so bore with him,
so ruled and guided his little family that there was no quarrel
and struggle,--that the very best and most was made of his talents
as long as they could be used for good,--and when he departed the
church was not rent and torn as a demoniac by the passage from them
of an evil spirit.

But there were other respects in which Jesus trained his church,
besides that of managing a discordant element within it. There were
many who would become disciples from sudden impulse or sympathy, who
had not the moral stamina to go on to spiritual perfection. Aware
of this, the Master, while ever gracious, ever ready to receive,
exacted no binding pledge or oath. He displayed no eagerness to
get men to commit themselves in this way, but rather the reverse.
Whoever came saying, "Lord, I will follow thee," met a gracious
reception. Yet the seeker was warned that he must take up his
cross, and that without this he could not be a disciple. He was
admonished to count the cost, lest he should begin to build and not
be able to finish. In some cases, as that of the young nobleman, the
tests proposed were so severe that the man went away sorrowful; and
yet, for all this, the heart of the Master was freely open to all
who chose to follow him.

But as Jesus would take none without full warning of the stringency
of his exactions, so he would retain none a moment beyond the time
when their hearts were fully in it. Free they were to come as God's
love is free--free also to go, if on trial they found the doctrine
or discipline too hard for them. Christ gathered his spiritual army
on the principles on which Moses commanded that the army of Israel
should be gathered for battle, when proclamation was made that any
one who for any reason was not fully in good heart should go home,
"What man is fearful or faint-hearted, let him go and return to his
house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his."

There is a very striking passage in the sixth chapter of John's
Gospel, where Jesus, in the most stringent and earnest manner, spoke
of the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood; or, in
other words, of an appropriating and identifying union of soul with
himself as constituting true discipleship. This exposé of the inner
depths of real spiritual life repelled some, as it is written:--

     "Many, therefore, of his disciples said: This is a hard saying.
     Who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples
     murmured, he said: Doth this offend you?... But there are some
     of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who
     they were who believed not and who should betray him."

From that time, we are told, _many_ of his disciples went back
and walked no more with him. They left the church; and we read of
no effort to discipline or retain them. The spiritual life of the
church expelled them by the law of moral repulsion; they felt they
were not of it, and they left, and were suffered to leave. The only
comment we read of as being made by the Lord was this: "Then said
Jesus to the twelve: Will ye also go away?" There was the door,
freely open, would they, too, go? Then said Peter: "Lord, to whom
should we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe
and are sure that thou art the Christ."

We can see here what was the sifting process by which our Lord kept
his little church pure. It was the union of vivid spirituality with
perfect freedom. The doors of entrance and of exit were freely open;
and those who could not bear the intense and glowing spiritual life
were at all times free to depart; in the words subsequently used
by the Apostle, "they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life."
Hence, like a vigorous human body, Christ's little church threw out
from itself the unvital members, and kept itself healthy and strong.
This perfect freedom to depart at any time constituted the strength
of the little order. Its members were held together, not by a dead
covenant, not by a conventional necessity, not by past vows uttered
in high excitement--but by a living choice of the soul, renewed from
moment to moment. Even the twelve had presented to them the choice
to go away, and took anew their vow of constancy. Hence it was that
even the astounding horrors of the sudden fall--the crucifixion of
the Master--did not break their ranks. There were none left but
those so vitally united to him, so "one with him" that, as he said,
they "lived by him." He was their life; they followed him to the
cross and to the grave; they watched the sepulchre, and were ready
to meet him in the resurrection morning. It was this tried and
sifted remnant to whom he appeared when the doors were closed, after
the resurrection, on whom he breathed peace and the Holy Ghost,
and whose spiritual judgments and decisions he promised should
thereafter be ratified in heaven.

This little company were, as nearly as human beings can be, rooted
and grounded in perfect love. The lesson of their lives had been
love, taught them by precept from day to day, as he harmonized their
contentions and repressed their selfish ambitions; and by example,
as he persistently tolerated, loved, bore with a treacherous friend
in his own family.

It was necessary that they should be prepared to exercise power, for
power was about to be intrusted to them. It was necessary to prepare
them to be the governors of the future Christian Church. But he was
unwearied in efforts to make them understand that superiority must
only be a superiority in doing and suffering for others. When the
mother of James and John asked the highest two offices for her two
sons, he looked at her with a pathetic sadness. Did she know what
she was asking? Did she know that to be nearest to him was to suffer
most? He answered: "You know not what you ask. Can you drink of
the cup that I shall drink, and be baptized with my baptism?" And
when they ignorantly said, "We are able," he said that the place of
superiority was not his to give by any personal partiality, but was
reserved for the appointment of the Father. But the ambitious spirit
now roused had spread to the other disciples. It is said that when
the ten heard it they were indignant with James and John. But Jesus
called them to him and said:--

     "Ye know that they that are accounted to rule over the Gentiles
     exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise
     authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but
     whosoever shall be great among you let him be your minister,
     and whosoever will be the chiefest let him be servant of all;
     for even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to
     minister, and give his life a ransom for many."

One of the very last acts of his life, and one of the most affecting
comments on these words, was his washing his disciples' feet as a
menial servant--a last significant act, which might almost be called
a sacrament, since by it he, in view of his dying hour, put this
last impressive seal on his teaching of humanity and brotherly love.

The contest which should be the greatest, in spite of all his
efforts, all his teachings, all his rebukes, had only smouldered,
not been extinguished, and was ready at any moment to flame out
again, and all the way up to Jerusalem when he came to die they
walked behind him quarreling over this old point. As a dying mother
calling her children around her confirms her life-teaching by
some last act of love never to be forgotten, so this Master and
Friend before the last supper knelt in humility at the feet of each
disciple and washed and wiped them, and then interpreted the act as
a sign of the spirit in which leadership in his church should be
sought: "If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought
also to wash one another's feet." In after years the disciples could
not but remember that Jesus knelt at the feet of Judas and washed
them as meekly as those of all the rest; and then they saw what he
meant when he said, "Love your enemies."

From first to last the teaching of Christ was one long teaching of
the doctrine and discipline of perfect love. When the multitudes
followed him, and he went into a mountain to give his summary of
the new dispensation, we hear of no high, mystical doctrines. We
hear doctrines against censoriousness, against the habit of judging
others. We hear men cautioned to look on their own faults, not on
those of others. We hear love like the perfect love of God set up
as the great doctrine of the new kingdom--love which no injury, no
unworthiness, no selfishness can chill, or alter, or turn aside;
which, like God's providence, shines on the evil and unthankful, and
sends rain on the just and the unjust--this mystery of love, deeper
than the mystery of the Trinity, was what, from first to last, the
Master sought to make his little church comprehend.

This love to enemies, this forgiveness, was the hardest of hard
doctrines to them. "Lord, how often shall my brother transgress
and I forgive him?" says Peter; "till seven times?" "Nay," answers
Jesus, "till seventy times seven." "If thy brother trespass
against thee seven times a day, and seven times turn again saying,
'I repent,' thou shalt forgive him." The Master taught that no
religious ordinance, no outward service, was so important as to
maintain love unbroken. If a gift were brought to the altar, and
there it were discovered that a brother were grieved or offended,
the gift was to be left unoffered till a reconciliation was sought.

It is not merely with the brother who has given us cause of offense,
but the brother who, however unreasonably, deems himself hurt by us,
that we are commanded to seek reconciliation before we can approach
a Heavenly Father.

A band of men and women thus trained in the school of Jesus,
careful to look on their own faults, refraining from judging those
of others, unselfish and lowly, seeking only to do and to serve,
so perfected in a divine love that the most bitter and cruel
personal injuries could not move to bitterness or revenge--such a
church is in a fit state to administer discipline. It has the Holy
Spirit of Jesus with it; and it may be said, without superstitious
credulity, of a church in that spirit that its decisions will be so
in accordance with the will of God that "whosesoever sins they remit
are remitted, and whosesoever sins they retain are retained."

But where have we such a church?

The church of the Master was one of those beautiful ideals, fair
as the frost-crystals or the dew-drops of morning. It required a
present Jesus to hold it, and then with what constant watchfulness
and care and admonition on his part was it kept! We can only study
at his marvelous training, and gather some humble inspiration. It
was this church of Jesus, the Master, this tried, sifted, suffering
body of faithful men and women whose prayers brought down the Holy
Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and inaugurated the Apostolic Church.



XXI

JUDAS


It is one of the mysteries in the life of our Lord that he was led
by the immediate direction of the Father to incorporate into his
little family, and to bring into the closest personal relations with
himself, an unsympathetic and adverse element that must have been a
source of continual pain to him.

It was after a whole night spent in prayer for the divine direction
that the first twelve Apostles were chosen; and Judas also was
one of them. The history of this man is a wonder and a warning.
That there could possibly be a human being who could have such
advantages, could rise to such a height of spiritual power and joy,
and yet in the end prove to be utterly without any true spiritual
life seems fearful.

It would appear that Judas had at first a sort of worldly enthusiasm
for Christ and his kingdom; that he received the divine gift of
miracle-working; that he went forth preaching and healing, and felt
all the exultation and joy which the sense of spiritual power and
influence gives. Judas was among those who returned from the first
missionary tour in triumph, saying, "Lord, even the devils were
subject unto us!" The grave answer of Jesus reminded them that it
was of far more importance to be really accepted of God as true
Christians than to have the most brilliant gifts and powers.

In our Lord's first Sermon on the Mount, which may be considered as
an ordaining charge to his Apostles, he had said to them that in
the great final day of Judgment there would be many who would say
unto him, "Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name
cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? and then
will I say to them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work
iniquity." Everywhere in the New Testament these miraculous powers
are spoken of as something of far less value than the true Christian
spirit, and, if we may trust the word of our Master, many had them
whom he will never acknowledge for his own.

But the warning fell on the ear of Judas unheeded. Perhaps he did
not himself know how selfish and self-seeking was his zeal for
the coming kingdom. Generally speaking, the first person deceived
by a man who plays a false part is himself. Judas appears not to
have excited the suspicions of the little company of brethren.
His shrewdness and tact in managing financial matters led them to
appoint him the treasurer of the common family purse. Without doubt,
what he saw of the enthusiastic love which Jesus excited, the ease
with which he could make people willing to lay their fortunes at his
feet, opened to his view dazzling golden visions. He saw himself
treasurer of a kingdom unequaled in splendor and riches, when all
the kingdoms of the world should be subject to his master. It was
more than the reign of Solomon, when gold was to be as the stones of
the street.

If we notice our Lord's teachings delivered in the hearing of Judas,
we must be struck with the explicit and forcible manner in which he
constantly pointed out the danger of the worldly spirit which was
growing upon that disciple. How solemn the picture of the rich man,
absorbed in plans and calculations how to bestow his great wealth
until God says to him, "Thou fool! this night shall thy soul be
required of thee--then whose shall those things be that thou hast
provided?" "So," he adds, "is every one that layeth up riches, and
is not rich towards God." Again, he tells them that it is easier for
a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter
into the kingdom of God. He asks them, What shall it profit a man if
he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?

We hear nothing of any replies that Judas makes to these teachings.
He seldom is represented dramatically. Peter, James, John, and
Thomas, all present themselves vividly to our mind by the things
that they say; but Judas is silent. The Master, who knew him so
well, did not expose him to the others. He did not lessen their
brotherly regard or interrupt the peace of his little family by
any effort at expulsion. As his Father had chosen this member to
be in intimate nearness to himself, Jesus accepted him, bore with
him, loved him, and treated him to the last with the same unvarying
sweetness that he showed to the more congenial natures. It is
affecting to remember that the very act by which Christ was betrayed
was one that showed that all the external habits of affection
remained still unbroken between him and the traitor. The kiss of
Jesus was sincere; he loved this wretched man as heavenly beings
love, and followed him with love to the last.

It would seem that towards the last part of the life of Jesus the
moral antagonism between himself and Judas grew more pronounced and
intense.

As the spiritual life of Jesus waxed brighter and stronger, so much
the more vivid became the contrast between it and the worldly aims
of the traitor. Judas saw the kind of worldly prosperity to which
he had aspired receding. He saw that Jesus, instead of using his
splendid miraculous powers to draw towards him the chiefs of his
nation, was becoming every day more in antagonism with them. Instead
of meeting the popular desire to make him a king he had drawn back
from it, and by that very act lost many followers. His extreme
spiritual teachings had disgusted many of his disciples and led them
to go back and walk no more with him. And now the talk of Jesus was
more and more of persecutions and sufferings and death, as lying
just before him. To a worldly eye all this looked like a fanatical
throwing away of the very brightest opportunity for fame and fortune
and dominion that ever was given to a leader. Judas became sullenly
discontented, not yet ready openly to throw off all hopes of what
might be got by adhering to his Master, but yet in a critical and
fault-finding spirit surveying all his actions.

It is an awful thought that it was possible for a man to share the
daily bread of Jesus, to be in his family, treated as a beloved
child, to hear all his beautiful words, to listen to his prayers
day after day, and yet, instead of melting, to grow colder and
harder--to grow more earthly as his Master grew more heavenly, and
to find this want of sympathy slowly hardening into a sullen enmity
which only waited its hour to declare itself openly. Christ said to
the unbelieving Jews, "Ye have both seen and hated both Me and my
Father." Judas was fast preparing to join that party.

According to the narrative of St. Matthew, it was after this rebuke
in the matter of Mary that Judas went into negotiations with those
who were plotting the destruction of Jesus. He was a disappointed
man. He had joined a party which he confidently expected to lead to
triumph, success, and wealth. Instead of this, Jesus had lost every
opportunity, lost the favorable hour of popularity, and concentrated
on himself the hatred of the most powerful men of the nation, and
now was talking only of defeat and rejection.

The presence of Judas with the household was now that of a spy,
watching his occasion, but making no outward demonstration. He was
in the little family circle that gathered in the upper room to eat
the last passover supper. His Master bent at his feet and washed
them, as he did those of the faithful ones, in that sacramental
action when he showed them what he meant by true love. It was
directly after this last act of affection that Jesus openly declared
his knowledge of the meditated treachery, for he said: "I speak not
of you all, I know whom I have chosen; but the Scripture must be
fulfilled which saith, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up
his heel against me." Then with a deep sigh he adds in plain words,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, one of _you_ shall betray me."

It is a most lovely comment on the goodness of heart of these simple
men that in so solemn a moment no one of them thought of criminating
the other. Each one said tremblingly, "Lord, is it I?"

John, leaning down on his Master's breast, inquired privately who it
was; and Jesus gave him a private sign that it should be he to whom
he gave a sop when he had dipped it. He dipped the sop, and gave it
to Judas. Then Judas, still keeping up the show of innocence, said,
like the rest, "Master, is it I?" Jesus answered, "Thou hast said
it."

It is said that "Satan entered into him" at this moment. All the
smouldering elements of meanness, disgust, dislike of Jesus, his
teaching, his spirit, and his mission were quickened by the presence
of that invisible enemy who comes to the heart of man only when he
is _called_ by the congenial indulgence of wicked passions.

Judas rose hastily, and our Lord added, "That thou doest, do
quickly." He flung himself out and was gone.

The miserable sum for which he sold his Master, though
inconsiderable in itself, was probably offered as first wages in a
new service. His new masters were the heads of Israel: all avenues
of patronage and power were in their hands, and the fortune that
he could not make on the side of Jesus he might hope to gather on
that of his enemies. He may have compounded with his conscience by
believing that the miraculous power of our Lord was such that there
was no danger of a fatal termination. In fact, that his being taken
might force him to declare himself and bring on the triumphant
moment of victory. He might possibly have said to himself that he
was at any rate acting the part of a mediator in bringing matters to
a crisis, and perhaps forcing a favorable result. For, when he found
that Jesus was indeed a victim, he was overwhelmed with remorse and
despair. He threw the wretched money at the feet of his tempters and
departed and hanged himself, and went, as we are told, "to his own
place."

He went to the place for which _he_ had fitted himself, who, living
in the very bosom of Jesus, had grown more and more unlike him every
day. He left Christ--driven by no force but his own wicked will. To
the last the love of God pursued him: his Master knelt and washed
the very feet that were so soon to hasten to betray him. It was with
a sorrowful spirit, a troubled heart, that Jesus said, "Woe unto
that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed: good were it for that
man if he never had been born."

Without attempting to solve the mysteries of this deepest of all
tragedies, we may yet see some of the uses and purposes of it in
regard to ourselves.

Our Lord was appointed to suffer in all respects as his brethren;
and the suffering of bearing with antagonistic and uncongenial
natures is one that the providence of God often imposes on us. There
are often bound to us, in the closest intimacy of social or family
ties, natures hard and ungenial, with whom sympathy is impossible,
and whose daily presence necessitates a constant conflict with an
adverse influence. There are, too, enemies--open or secret--whose
enmity we may feel yet cannot define. Our Lord, going before us in
this hard way, showed us how we should walk.

It will be appropriate to the solemn self-examination of the period
of Lent to ask ourselves, Is there any false friend or covert
enemy whom we must learn to tolerate, to forbear with, to pity and
forgive? Can we in silent offices of love wash their feet as our
Master washed the feet of Judas? And if we have no real enemies,
are there any bound to us in the relations of life whose habits and
ways are annoying and distasteful to us? Can we bear with them in
love? Can we avoid harsh judgments, and harsh speech, and the making
known to others our annoyance? Could we through storms of obloquy
and evil report keep calmly on in duty, unruffled in love, and
commending ourselves to the judgment of God? The examination will
probably teach us to feel the infinite distance between us and our
divine Ideal, and change censoriousness of others into prayer for
ourselves.



XXII

GOING UP TO JERUSALEM

_Palm Sunday_


Nothing in ancient or modern tragedy is so sublime and touching as
the simple account given by the Evangelists of the last week of our
Lord's earthly life.

The church has since his ascension so devoutly looked upon him as
God that we are in danger of losing the pathos and the power which
come from a consideration of his humanity. The Apostle tells us
that, in order that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest,
he was made in all respects like unto his brethren. He was a Jew.
His national and patriotic feeling was intense. To him the sacred
nation, the temple service, with all its hymns and prayers and
ancient poetic recollections, were more dear than to any other man
of his nation. The nation was his own, his peculiar, chosen people;
he was their head and flower, for whom the whole gorgeous ritual had
been appointed, for whom the nation had been for centuries waiting.
Apart from his general tenderness and love for humanity was this
special love of country and countrymen. Then there was the love of
his very own--the little church of tried, true, tested friends who
had devoted themselves to him; and, still within that, his family
circle, for whom his love was strong as a father's, tender and
thoughtful as a mother's. And yet Jesus went through life bearing
in his bosom the bitter thought that his nation would reject him
and instigate one of his own friends to betray him, and that all
seeming success and glory was to end in a cruel and shameful death.
He foresaw how every heart that loved him would be overwhelmed and
crushed with a misery beyond all human precedent.

It is affecting to read in the Evangelists how often and how
earnestly Jesus tried to make his disciples realize what was coming.
"Let this saying sink down into your ears," he would say: "the Son
of man shall be delivered into the hands of men;" and then would
recount, item by item, the overthrow, the agonies, the insults, the
torture, that were to be the end of his loving and gentle mission.
At various times and in various forms he took them aside and
repeated this prophecy. And it is said that they "understood not his
word;" that "they were astonished;" that they "feared to ask him;"
that they "questioned one with another what this should mean." It
seems probable that, warmed with the flush of present and increasing
prosperity and popularity, witnessing his victorious miracles, they
had thrown this dark prophecy by, as something inexplicable and
never literally to be accomplished. What it could mean they knew
not, but that it could have a literal fulfillment they seem none of
them to have even dreamed. Perhaps they were like many of us, in our
religion, in the habit of looking only on the bright, hopeful, and
easily comprehensible side of things, and letting all that is dark
and mysterious slide from the mind.

Up to the very week before his crucifixion the power and popularity
of Jesus seemed constantly increasing. His miracles were more
open, more impressive, more effective. The raising of Lazarus from
the dead had set the final crown on the glorious work. It would
appear that Lazarus was a member of a well-known, influential
family, moving in the higher circles of Jerusalem. It was a miracle
wrought in the very heart and centre of knowledge and influence,
and it raised the fame of the new prophet to the summit of glory.
It is an affecting comment on the worth of popular favor that
the very flood-tide of the fame and glory of Jesus was just five
days before he was crucified. On Monday--the day now celebrated
in the Christian Church as Palm Sunday--he entered Jerusalem in
triumph, with palms waving, and garlands thrown at his feet, and the
multitudes going before and after, shouting Hosanna to the Son of
David; and on Friday of the same week the whole multitude shouted,
"Away with him! Crucify him! Release unto us Barabbas! His blood be
upon us and upon our children!" and he was led through those same
streets to Calvary. On these six days before the death of Jesus the
historians have expended a wealth of detail, so that the record of
what is said and done is more than that of all the other portions of
that short life.

There are many touches of singular tenderness conveyed in very brief
words. Speaking of his final journey from Galilee to Judæa, says
one: "When the time came that he should be received up he set his
face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem." Another narrates that when
he was going up to Jerusalem he walked before his disciples, and
as they followed him they were afraid. Evidently he was wrapped
in an electric cloud of emotion; he was swept along by a mighty
influence--tides of feeling deeper than they could comprehend were
rolling in his soul, and there was that atmosphere of silence and
mystery about him by which the inward power of great souls casts an
outward sphere of awe about them. Still, as they walked behind, they
had their political dreams of a coming reign of power and splendor,
when the Judæan nation should rule the world, and they, as nearest
to the Master, should administer the government of the nation--for
it is said, by the way they "disputed who should be the greatest."

He hears their talk, as a dying mother, who knows that a few hours
will leave her children orphans, listens to the contentions of the
nursery. He turns to them and makes a last effort to enlighten
them--to let them know that not earthly glory and a kingdom are
before them, but cruelty, rejection, shame, and death. He recounts
the future, circumstantially, and with what deep energy and solemn
pathos of voice and manner may be imagined. They make no answer, but
shrink back, look one on another, and are afraid to ask more. It
would seem, however, that there was _one_ in the band on whom these
words made an impression. Judas evidently thought that, if this was
to be the end of all, he had been taken in and deceived: a sudden
feeling of irritation arises against One who having such evident
and splendid miraculous power is about to give up in this way and
lose his opportunity and suffer himself to be defeated. Judas is all
ready now to make the best terms for himself with the winning party.
The others follow in fear and trembling. The strife who shall be
greatest subsides into a sort of anxious questioning.

They arrive at a friendly house where they are to spend the Sabbath,
the last Sabbath of his earthly life. There was a feast made for
him, and we see him surrounded by grateful friends. By the fact
that Martha waited on the guests and that Lazarus sat at the table
it would appear that this feast was in the house of a relative of
that family. It is said to have occurred in the house of "Simon
the Leper"--perhaps the leper to whom Jesus said, "I will--be thou
clean."

Here Mary, with the abandon which marks her earnest and poetic
nature, breaks a costly vase of balm and sheds the perfume on the
head of her Lord. It was an action in which she offered up her
whole self--her heart and her life--to be spent for him, like that
fleeting perfume. Judas expostulates, "To what purpose is this
waste?" There is an answering flash from Jesus, like lightning from
a summer cloud. The value that our Lord sets upon love is nowhere
more energetically expressed. This trembling, sensitive heart has
offered itself up wholly to him, and he accepts and defends it.
There is a touch of human pathos in the words, "She is anointing me
for my burial." Her gift had all the sacredness in his eyes of a
death-bed act of tenderness, and he declares, "Wheresoever through
the world this gospel shall be preached, there also shall what this
woman hath done be told for a memorial of her."

Judas slinks back, sullen and silent. The gulf between him and his
Master grows hourly more palpable--as the nature that cannot love
and the nature to whom love is all come in close collision. Judas
and Christ cannot blend any more than oil and water, and the nearer
approach only makes the conflict of nature more evident.

On Monday morning, the day that we now celebrate as Palm Sunday,
Jesus enters Jerusalem. We are told that the great city, now full
of Jews come up from all parts of the world, was moved about him.
We have in the Book of Acts an enumeration of the varieties in
the throng that filled Jerusalem at this time: "Parthians, Medes,
Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia and in Judæa and Cappadocia, in
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and in the parts
of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes,
Cretes and Arabians." When all these strangers heard the shouting,
it is said the "whole city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the
multitude said, This is Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth in Galilee."

And what was He thinking of, as he came thus for the last time to
the chosen city? We are told "And when he drew near and beheld the
city, he wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou in
this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace! but now they
are hid from thine eyes." Then follows the prophetic vision of the
destruction of Jerusalem--scenes of horror and despair for which his
gentle spirit bled inwardly.

One feature of the picture is touching: the children in the temple
crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" The love of Jesus for
children is something marked and touching. When he rested from his
labors at eventide, it was often, we are told, with a little child
in his arms--children were his favorite image for the heavenly
life, and he had bid the mothers to bring them to him as emblems
of the better world. The children were enthusiastic for him, they
broke forth into rapture at his coming as birds in the sunshine,
loud and noisily as children will, to the great discomfiture of
priests and Scribes. "Master! bid them hush," they said. He turned,
indignant--"If these should hold their peace the very stones would
cry out." These evidences of love from dear little children were the
last flower thrown at the feet of Jesus on his path to death. From
that day the way to the cross was darker every hour.



XXIII

THE BARREN FIG-TREE

_Monday in Passion Week_


During the last week of the life of Jesus we see him under the most
awful pressure of emotion; the crisis of a great tragedy, which has
been slowly gathering and growing from the beginning of the world,
is now drawing on. The nation that he had chosen--that he had borne
and carried through all the days of old--was now to consummate her
ruin in his rejection. All his words and actions during the last
week of his life were under the shadow of that cloud of doom which
overhung the city of Jerusalem, the temple, and the people whom he
had loved, so earnestly and so long, in vain.

When going up to Jerusalem he walked before his disciples, silent
and absorbed; and they dared scarcely speak to him. Amid the
triumphant shouts of the people that welcomed him to the city he
paused on the verge of Olivet and wept over it. He saw the siege,
the famine, the terror of women and helpless children, the misery
and despair, the unutterable agonies of the sacking of Jerusalem,
which has been a world's wonder; and he broke forth in lamentation.
"Oh, that thou hadst known--even thou in this thy day--the things
that belong to thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes."

All his discourses of this last week are shaded with the sad
coloring and prophetic vision of coming doom, of a crime hastening
to fulfillment that should bring a long-delayed weight of wrath and
vengeance.

His parables now turn on this theme. One day they tell of a
husbandman intrusting a vineyard to the care of faithless servants;
he sends messengers to overlook them; they beat one and stone
another, till finally he sends his only and beloved son, and then
they say, "Let us kill him;" and they catch him and cast him out
of the vineyard and slay him. "What," he asks, "shall the Lord of
the vineyard do to these husbandmen?" Again, he speaks of a feast
to which all are generously invited, and all neglect or reject the
invitation, and not only reject but insult and despise and ill-treat
the messengers who bear the invitation; and tells how the insulted
King sends the invitation to others, and decrees, "None of these
men shall taste of my supper." He tells of a wedding feast, and of
foolish virgins who slumber with unfilled lamps till the door of
welcome is shut. He tells of a king, who, having intrusted talents
to his servants, comes again to reckon, and takes away the talent of
the unfaithful one and casts him to outer darkness.

All these themes speak of the approaching rejection of the nation on
whom God has heaped so many favors for many years. The thought of
their doom seems to press down the heart of the Redeemer.

The twenty-third chapter of Matthew contains Christ's last sermon
in the temple--his final words of leave-taking of his people; and
a most dreadful passage it is. It is awful, it is pathetic, to
compare those fearful words with his first benignant announcement at
Nazareth. Nothing in human language can be conceived more terrible
than these last denunciations of the rejected Lord and Lover of the
chosen race. He exposes with scathing severity the hypocrisy, the
greed, the cruelty of the leaders of the nation; he denounces them
as the true descendants of those who of old killed God's prophets
and stoned his messengers, and ends by rising into the very majesty
of the Godhead in declaring their final doom:--

     "Fill ye up the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents! Ye
     generation of vipers! How can ye escape the damnation of hell?
     Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets and wise men and
     scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some
     of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues and persecute from
     city to city. That upon you might come all the righteous blood
     shed upon earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood
     of Zacharias,[5] the son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the
     temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you all these shall come
     upon this generation!

     "O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets and
     stonest those that are sent unto thee--how often would I have
     gathered thy children together, even as a hen doth gather her
     brood under her wings--and ye would not. Behold, your house is
     left unto you desolate, for I say that ye shall see me no more
     henceforth till ye say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of
     the Lord."

  [5] See 2 Chronicles xxiv. 20, 21.

"And the spirit of the Lord came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoida
the priest, who stood among the people, and said, Why transgress ye
the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? Because ye
have forsaken the Lord he also hath forsaken you. And they conspired
against him and stoned him with stones in the court of the house of
the Lord."

These two instances, of Abel and Zacharias, cited by our Lord from
the very first and very last of the sacred historic books, seemed
to cover the whole ground of their history. The variation as to the
name of the prophet's father has many theories to account for it,
any one of which is satisfactory.

This was Christ's last farewell--his valedictory to those whom he
had loved and labored for, and who would not come to him that he
might give them life.

To all these awful words was added the language of an awful symbol.
In one of his parables our Lord had spoken of the Jewish nation
under the figure of a tree which, though carefully tended year by
year, bore no fruit. At last the word goes forth, "Cut it down!" But
the keeper of the vineyard intercedes and prays that it may have a
longer space of cultured care, and so be brought to fruit-bearing.
This last week of our Lord's life he sets forth the solemn close
of that parable by one of those symbolic acts common among the old
prophets and well understood by the Jews.

Approaching a fair and promising tree on his way into the city, he
seeks fruit thereon, but finds it barren. There is a pause, and then
a voice of deep sadness says, "No fruit grow on thee henceforth and
forever!" and immediately the fig-tree withered away.

It was an outward symbol of that doomed city whose day of mercy was
past. The awfulness of these last words and of this last significant
sign is increased by the tenderness of Him who gave them forth.
It is the Fountain of Pity, the All-Loving One, that uttered the
doom--a doom made certain and inevitable not by God's will but by
man's perversity.

The lesson that we have to learn is the reality and awfulness of
sin, the reality of that persistence in wickedness that can make
even the love of Jesus vain for our salvation. For what hope, what
help, what salvation can there be for those who cannot be reached by
His love? If they have seen and hated both him and his Father--what
remains?



XXIV

CAIAPHAS

_Tuesday in Passion Week_


The thought may arise to many minds, if Jesus was so lovely, so
attractive, and so beloved, how could it have been possible that he
should be put to so cruel a death in the very midst of a people whom
he loved and for whom he labored?

The sacred record shows us why. It was this very attractiveness,
this very power over men's hearts, that was the cause and reason
of the conspiracy against Jesus. We have a brief and very dramatic
account of the meeting of the Sanhedrim in which the death of Christ
was finally resolved upon, and we find that very popularity urged
as a reason why he cannot be permitted to live. In John xi. 47, we
are told that after the raising of Lazarus the chief priests and
Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What do we? this man doeth
many miracles. If we let him thus alone all men will believe on him,
and the Romans will come and take away our place and nation."

There is the case stated plainly, and we see that these men talked
then just as men in our days talk. Do they ever resolve on an act
of oppression or cruelty, calling it by its right name? Never. It
is a "sacrifice" to some virtue; and the virtue in this case was
patriotism.

Here is the Jewish nation, a proud and once powerful people,
crushed and writhing under the heel of the conquering Romans. They
are burning with hatred of their oppressors and with a desire of
revenge, longing for the Messiah that shall lead them to conquest
and make their nation the head of the world.

And now, here comes this Jesus and professes to be the
long-promised leader; and what does he teach? Love and forgiveness
of enemies; patient endurance of oppression and wrong; and supreme
devotion to the pure inner life of the soul. If Roman tax-gatherers
distrain upon their property and force them to carry it from place
to place, they are to meet it only by free good will, that is,
willingness to go two miles when one is asked. If the extortionate
officer seizes their coat, they are to show only a kindliness that
is willing to give even more than that.

They are to love their bitterest enemies, pity and pray for them,
and continue in unbroken kindness, even as God's sunshine falls in
unmoved benignity on the just and the unjust!

It must have inflamed these haughty, ambitious leaders to fury to
see all their brilliant visions of war and conquest and national
independence melting away in a mist of what seemed to them the mere
impossible sentimentalism of love. And yet this illusion gains
ground daily; Christ is received in triumph at Jerusalem, and the
rulers say to each other, "Perceive ye how we prevail nothing?
behold the whole world is gone out after him."

Now, in the Jewish Sanhedrim Christ had friends and followers.
We are told of Joseph of Arimathea, who would not consent to the
deeds of the council. We are told of Nicodemus, who before now had
spoken boldly in the council, demanding justice and a fair hearing
for Jesus. We may well believe that so extreme a course as was now
proposed met at first strong opposition. There seems to have been
some warm discussion. We may imagine what it was: that Jesus was a
just and noble man, a prophet, a man all of whose deeds and words
had been pure and beneficent, was doubtless earnestly urged. The
advocates, it is true, were not men who had left all to follow
him, or enrolled themselves openly as his disciples, but yet they
could not consent to so monstrous an injustice as this. That the
discussion produced strong feeling is evident from the excited
manner in which Caiaphas sums up: "Ye know nothing at all, nor
consider that it is better that one man should die than that the
whole nation should perish." That was the case as he viewed it,
and he talked precisely as men in our days have often talked when
consenting to an injustice or oppression: Say what you will of this
Jesus; I will not dispute you. Admit, if you please, his virtues and
good works; still, he is a wrong-headed man, that will be the ruin
of our nation. Either he must perish or the nation be destroyed.

And so, on the altar of patriotism this murder was laid as a
sacrifice. And it was this same burning, impatient national spirit
of independence that slew Christ which afterwards provoked the Roman
government beyond endurance, and brought upon Jerusalem wrath to the
uttermost.

The very children and grandchildren of Caiaphas died in untold
miseries in that day of wrath and doom. The decision to reject
Christ was the decision which destroyed Jerusalem with a destruction
more awful than any other recorded in history.

We are apt to consider the actors in this great tragedy as sinners
above all others. But every day and every hour in our times just
such deeds are being reënacted.

There were all sorts of sinners in that tragedy: Caiaphas, who
sacrificed one whom he knew to be a noble and good man to political
ambition; Pilate, who consented to an acknowledged wrong from dread
of personal inconvenience; Judas, who made the best of his time in
selling out a falling cause to the newcomers; Peter, the impetuous
friend suddenly frightened into denial; the twelve, forsaking
and fleeing in a moment of weakness; the multitude of careless
spectators, those tide-waiters who turn as the flood turns, who
shouted for Jesus yesterday because others were shouting, and turn
against him to-day because he is unpopular. All these were there.
On the other hand, there were the faithful company of true-hearted
women that went with Jesus weeping on his way to the cross; that
beloved disciple and the Mother that stood by him to the last; all
these, both friends and foes, represent classes of people who still
live and still act their part in this our day.

    "For, when under fierce oppression,
    Goodness suffers like transgression,
        Christ again is crucified;
    But if love be there true-hearted,
    By no pain or terror parted,
        Mary stands the cross beside!"



XXV

THE JOY OF CHRIST

_Wednesday in Passion Week_


The last chapters of St. John--in particular from the thirteenth to
the seventeenth--are worthy, more than anything else in the sacred
writings, of the designation which has been given them, The Heart of
Jesus. They are the language of the most intimate love, to the most
intimate friends, in view of the greatest and most inconceivable
of human sorrows. For, though the disciples--poor, humble, simple
men--were dazed, confused, and misty up to the very moment when they
were entering upon the greatest sorrow of their life, the Master who
was leading them saw it all with perfect clearness. He saw perfectly
not only the unspeakable humiliation and anguish that were before
himself, but the disappointment, the terror, the dismay, the utter
darkness and despair that were just before these humble, simple
friends who had invested all their love and hope in him.

When we think of this it will seem all the more strange, the more
unworldly and divine to find that in these very chapters our Lord
speaks more often, and with more emphasis, of JOY than in any other
part of the New Testament. In the fifteenth he says, "These things
have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that
your joy might be full." And again, in his prayer for them, he says,
"And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world that
they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves." He speaks of his
joy as a treasure he longed to impart--as something which overflowed
his own soul, and sought to equalize itself by flowing into the
souls of his friends. He was not only full of joy, but he had
fullness of joy to give away.

This joy of Christ in the approach of extremest earthly anguish and
sorrow is one of the beautiful mysteries of our faith. It is a holy
night-flower, opening only in darkness, and shedding in the very
shadow of death light and perfume; or like the solemn splendor of
the stars, to be seen only in the deepest darkness.

In the representations made of our Lord as a man of sorrows we
are too apt to forget the solemn emphasis with which he asserts
this fullness of joy. But let us look at his position on the mere
human side. At the hour when he thus spoke he knew that, so far
as the salvation of his nation was concerned, his life-work had
been a failure. His own people had rejected him and had bargained
with a member of his own family to betray him. He knew the exact
details of the scourging, the scoffing, the taunts, the torture,
the crucifixion; and to a sensitive soul the hour of approach to
a great untried agony is often the hour of bitterest trial. It is
when we foresee a great trouble in the dimness of to-morrow that
our undisciplined hearts grow faint and fail us. But he who had
long foreseen--who had counted in advance--every humiliation,
every sorrow, and every pain, spoke at the same time of his joy as
an overflowing fullness. He spoke of his peace as something which
he had a divine power to give away. The world saw that night a new
sight--a sufferer who had touched the extreme of all earthly loss
and sorrow, who yet stood, like a God, offering to give Peace and
Joy--even fullness of joy. For our Lord intensifies the idea. He
wants his children not to have joy merely, but to be full of joy.
This is the meaning of the words to "have my joy fulfilled in them."

We shall see in the affecting history of the next few hours of the
life of Jesus that this heavenly joy was capable of a temporary
obscuration. He was aware that a trial was coming from a direct
collision with the Evil Spirit. "The Prince of this world cometh,
but hath nothing in me."

Yet we cannot but feel that the mysterious agonies of Gethsemane,
that wrung the blood-drops from his heart, were in part due to
that conflict with cruel and malignant spirits. It is the greatest
possible help to our poor sorrowful nature that these struggles,
these strong cryings and bitter tears of our Lord, have been
recorded, because it helps us to feel that he was not peaceful
because he was passionless--that his joy and peace did not come
from the serenity of a nature incapable of sorrow and struggles
like ours. There are passages in the experience of such saints as
Madame Guyon that seem like the unnatural exaltations of souls
exceptionally indifferent to circumstances; nothing makes any
difference to them; one thing is just as good as another. But
in the experience of Jesus we see our own most shrinking human
repellencies. We see that there were sufferings that he dreaded with
his whole soul; sorrows which he felt to be beyond even his power of
endurance; and so when he said, "Not my will, but Thy will," he said
it with full vision of what he was accepting; and in that unshaken,
that immovable oneness of will with the Father lay the secret of his
joy and victory.

It is a great and solemn thing for us to think of this joy of Christ
in sorrow. It is something that we can know only in and by sorrow.
But sorrows are so many in this world of ours! Griefs, sickness,
disappointment, want, death, so beset our footsteps that it is worth
everything to us to think of that joy of Christ that is brightest as
the hour grows darkest. It is a gift. It is not in us. We cannot get
it by any human reasonings or the mere exercise of human will, but
we can get it as a free gift from Jesus Christ.

If in the hour of his deepest humiliation and suffering he had
joy and peace to give away, how much more now, when he is exalted
at the right hand of God, to give gifts unto men! Poor sorrowful,
suffering, struggling souls, Christ longs to comfort you. "I will
give to him that is athirst the water of life freely." "Come unto
me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."



XXVI

GETHSEMANE

_Thursday in Passion Week_


There are times in life when human beings are called to sorrows that
seem so hopeless, so cruel, that they take from the spirit all power
of endurance. There are agonies that overwhelm, that crush,--their
only language seems to be a groan of prostrate anguish. There are
distresses against which the heart cries out, "It is too much. I
cannot, cannot bear it. God have mercy on me!"

It was for people who suffer thus, for those who are capable of
such depths and who are called to go through them, that the great
Apostle and High Priest of our profession passed through that
baptism of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Apostle says, "It
became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in
bringing many sons and daughters unto glory, to make the Captain
of their salvation perfect through suffering." And it was at this
hour and time that he was to pass through such depths that no child
of his could ever go deeper. Alone, and without the possibility of
human sympathy, he was to test those uttermost distresses possible
to the most exceptional natures. Jesus suffered _all_ that he could
endure and live. The record is given with great particularity by
three Evangelists, and is full of mysterious suggestion. Up to this
period all the discourses of our Lord, in distinct view of his final
sufferings, had been full of calmness and courage. He had consoled
his little flock, and bid them not be troubled, speaking cheerfully
of a joy that should repay the brief anguish of separation. He not
only was wholly at peace in his own soul, but felt that he had peace
in abundance to give away. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give
unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your
heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Yet he went forth from speaking these very words, and this is
the account of the scene that followed, collated from the three
Evangelists:--

     "Then cometh Jesus with them unto the place that is called
     Gethsemane, and said to his disciples, Sit ye here while I go
     and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and James and John,
     and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy (in extreme
     anguish). And he said unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful,
     even unto death; tarry ye here and watch with me, and pray that
     ye enter not into temptation. And he went forward a little, and
     fell on his face and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour
     might pass from him, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let
     this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou
     wilt. And he cometh unto his disciples and findeth them asleep,
     and saith unto Peter, What! could ye not watch with me one hour?
     Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit
     indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the
     second time, and prayed, and said, Abba, Father, all things are
     possible unto thee; take away this cup from me; nevertheless,
     not what I will, but what thou wilt. O my Father, if this cup
     may not pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done.
     And he came and found them asleep again; for their eyes were
     heavy, neither wist they what to answer him. And he left them
     and went away the third time, and prayed, saying the same words.
     And, being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat
     was as it were great drops of blood, falling down to the ground,
     and there appeared to him an angel from heaven strengthening him.

     "And when he rose up from prayer and was come to his disciples,
     he findeth them sleeping for sorrow, and saith unto them, Sleep
     on now--rest."

There seems here evidence that the anguish, whatever it was, had
passed, and that Jesus had returned to his habitual peace. He looks
with pity on the poor tired followers whose sympathy had failed him
just when he most needed it, and says, "Poor souls, let them sleep
for a little and rest."

After an interval he rouses them. "It is enough--the hour is come;
the Son of man is betrayed into the hand of sinners. Rise up; let us
go: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me."

The supposition that it was the final agony of the cross which Jesus
prayed to be delivered from is inconsistent with his whole life and
character. He had kept that end in view from the beginning of his
life. He said, in view of it, "I have a baptism to be baptized with,
and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" He rebuked Peter
in the sharpest terms for suggesting that he should avoid those
predicted sufferings. Going up to Jerusalem to die, he walked before
the rest, as if impelled by a sacred ardor to fulfill his mission.
Furthermore, in the Epistle to the Hebrews we are taught thus: the
writer says, speaking of the Saviour, "Who in the days of his flesh
offered up prayers with strong crying and tears to him that was able
to save him from death, and _was heard_ in that he feared." Whatever
relief it was that our Lord supplicated with such earnestness, it
was given; and he went forth from the dreadful anguish in renewed
and perfect peace.

We may not measure the depths of that anguish or its causes. Our
Lord gives some intimation of one feature in it by saying, as he
prepared to go forth to it, "The Prince of this World cometh, and
hath nothing in me;" and in warning his disciples, "Pray that ye
enter not into temptation." The expression employed by St. Mark
to describe the anguish is indicative of a sudden rush--of an
amazement, as if a new possibility of suffering, overwhelming and
terrible, had been disclosed to him, such a sorrow as it seemed must
destroy life--"exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."

Let these words remain in all their depths, in all their mystery,
as standing for that infinite possibility of pain which the one
divine Man was to taste for every man. There have been facts in
human experience analogous. We are told that the night before his
execution, Jerome of Prague, in his lonely prison, condemned and
held accursed by the proud Scribes and Pharisees, the Christian
Sanhedrim of his times, fainted and groaned and prayed as Jesus in
Gethsemane. Martin Luther has left on record a wonderful prayer,
written the night before the Diet of Worms, when he, a poor, simple
monk, was called before the great Diet of the Empire to answer for
his faith. Such strong crying and tears--such throbbing words--that
seem literally like drops of blood falling down to the ground,
attest that Luther was passing through Gethsemane. Alone, with all
the visible power of the Church and the world against him, his
position was like that of Jesus. A crisis was coming when he was
to witness for truth, and he felt that only God was for him, and
he appeals to him: "Hast thou not chosen me to do this work? I ask
thee, O God, O thou my God, where art thou? Art thou dead? No, thou
canst not die; thou art only hiding thyself."

In many private histories there are Gethsemanes. There are
visitations of sudden, overpowering, ghastly troubles,--troubles
that transcend all ordinary human sympathy, such as the helpless
human soul has to wrestle with alone. And it was because in this
blind struggle of life such crushing experiences are to be meted out
to the children of men that Infinite Love provided us with a divine
Friend who had been through the deepest of them all, and come out
victorious.

In the sudden wrenches which come by the entrance of death into
our family circles, there is often an inexplicable depth of misery
that words cannot tell. No outer words can tell what a trial is to
the soul. Only Jesus, who, as the Head of the human race, united in
himself every capability of human suffering, and proved them all, in
order that he might help us, only he has an arm strong enough and
a voice tender enough to reach us. The stupor of the disciples in
the agony of Jesus is a sort of parable or symbol of the inevitable
_loneliness_ of the deepest kind of sorrow. There are friends,
loving, honest, true, but they cannot watch with us through such
hours. It is like the hour of death--nobody can go with us. But
he who knows what it is so to suffer; he who has felt the horror,
the amazement, the heart-sick dread--who has fallen on his face
overcome, and prayed with cryings and tears and the bloody sweat of
agony--he can understand us and can help us. He can send an angel
from heaven to comfort us when every human comforter is "sleeping
for sorrow." It was Gethsemane which gave Jesus the power to bring
many sons and daughters unto glory.

And it may comfort us under such trials to hope that as he thus
gained an experience and a tenderness which made him mighty to
comfort and to save, so we, in our humbler measure, may become
comforters to others. When the experience is long past, when the
wounds of the heart are healed, then we may find it good to have
drank of Christ's cup, and gone down in that baptism with him. We
may find ourselves with hearts tenderer to feel, and stronger to
sustain others; even as the Apostle says, he "comforteth us in all
our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them that are in
any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of
God."



XXVII

THE LAST WORDS OF JESUS

_Good Friday_


A peculiar sacredness always attaches to the words of the dying.
In that lonely pass between the here and the hereafter the meanest
soul becomes in a manner a seer, and a mysterious interest invests
it. But the last utterances of great and noble spirits, of minds of
vast feeling and depth, are of still deeper significance. The last
utterances of great men would form a pathetic collection and a food
for deep ponderings. It is no wonder, then, that the traditions of
the Christian Church have attached a special value to the last words
of Jesus on the cross.

The last words of Socrates, reported by Plato, have had an undying
interest. These words were spoken in the bosom of sympathizing
friends and in the enjoyment of physical quiet and composure. Death
was at hand; but it was a death painless and easy, and undisturbing
to the flow of thought or emotion.

The death of Jesus, on the contrary, was death with every
aggravation and horror which could make it fearful. There was
everything to torture the senses and to obscure the soul. It was
a whirl of vulgar obloquy and abuse, confusing to the spirit,
and following upon protracted exhaustion from sleeplessness and
suffering of various kinds for long hours.

In the case of most human beings we might wish to hide our eyes from
the sight of such an agony; we might refuse to listen to what must
be the falterings and the weaknesses of a noble spirit overwhelmed
and borne down beyond the power of human endurance. But no such
danger attends the listening to the last words on Calvary. They
have been collected into a rosary embodying the highest Christian
experience possible to humanity, the most signal victory of love
over pain and of good over evil that the world's history presents.

During Passion Week in Rome no services are more impressive than
those of the seven "last words," with the hymns, prayers, and
exhortations accompanying them. To us the mere quotation of them,
unattended by sermon or hymn or prayer, is a litany of awful power.
Have we ever pondered these as they were spoken in their order in
the words of the simple Gospel narrative?

"And when they came to the place that is called Calvary, there they
crucified him and the malefactors, the one on his right hand and
the other on his left. Then said Jesus, _Father, forgive them; they
know not what they do_." This is the first word. Against physical
violence and pain there is in us all a reaction of the animal nature
which expresses itself often in the form of irritation. Thus, in
strong, undisciplined natures, the first shock of physical torture
brings out a curse, and it is only after an interval that reason
and conscience gain the ascendency and make the needed allowance. In
these strange words of Jesus we feel that there is the sharp shock
of a new sense of pain, but it wrings from him only prayer. This
divine sweetness of love was unvanquished; the habit of tenderness
and consideration for the faults of others furnished an instant
plea. The poor brutal Roman soldiers--they know not what they do!
The foolish multitude who three days before shouted "Hosanna," and
now shout "Crucify"--they know not what they do! How strange to the
Roman soldiers must those words have sounded, if they understood
them! "What manner of man is this?" It is not surprising that
tradition numbers these poor soldiers among the earliest converts to
Jesus.

The second utterance was on this wise:--

     "And the people that stood beholding, and the rulers also
     with them, derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save
     himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers
     also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar; and one
     of the malefactors railed on him, saying, If thou be the Son of
     God, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him,
     saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing that thou art in the same
     condemnation?--and we, indeed, justly, for we receive the reward
     of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said
     to Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
     And Jesus said unto him, _Verily, I say unto thee, to-day thou
     shalt be with me in Paradise_."

Still unvanquished by pain, he is even with his last breath
pronouncing words of grace and consolation for the guilty and
repentant! He is mighty to save even in his humiliation!

The third utterance is recorded by St. John as follows:--

     "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his
     mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
     When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother standing, and the
     disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, _Woman, behold
     thy son_, and to the disciple, _Son, behold thy mother_."

Thus far, every utterance of Jesus has been one of thoughtful
consideration for others, of prayer for his enemies, of grace and
pardon to the poor wretch by his side, and of tenderness to his
mother and disciple. But in tasting death for every man our Lord was
to pass through a deeper experience; he was to know the sufferings
of the darkened brain, which, clogged and impeded by the obstructed
circulation, no longer afforded a clear medium for divine communion.
He was to suffer the eclipse which the animal nature in its dying
state can interpose between the soul and God. Three hours we are
told had passed, when there was darkness over all the land, like
that that was slowly gathering over the head of the suffering Lord.
"And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, _Eloi,
Eloi, lama sabacthani_, which is, being interpreted, My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Those words, from the Psalm of
David, come now as the familiar language expressive of that dreadful
experience to which the whole world looks as its ransom:--

     "After that, Jesus said, _I thirst_. And one ran and filled a
     sponge full of vinegar and put it on a reed and gave him to
     drink. And when he had received the vinegar, he said, _It is
     finished_, and he bowed his head."

What we read of his last utterance is that "he cried with a loud
voice, and gave up the ghost." This last loud utterance was in the
words, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

It is the interpretation that the church has given to these last
words that they betokened a sudden flame of joyful perception,
such as sometimes lights up the brain at the dying moment, after
it has been darkened by the paralysis of death. As he said, "It is
finished," light, and joy, and hope, flushed his soul, and with
this loud cry of victory and joy, it departed like a ray of heavenly
light to the bosom of the Father.

Such were the seven "last utterances" of Jesus--and when can we
hope to attain to what they teach? When shall _we_ be so grounded
in Love that no tumult or jar of outward forces, no insults, no
physical weariness, exhaustion, or shock of physical pain, shall
have power to absorb us in selfishness, or make us forgetful of
others? When shall pity and prayer be the only spontaneous movement
of our hearts when most hurt and injured--pierced in the tenderest
nerve? When shall thoughtfulness for others, and divine pity for
degraded natures, be the immovable habit of our souls? How little of
_self_ and its sufferings in these last words; how much of pity and
love--the pity and love of a God!

Could we but learn life's lessons by them, then will come at last to
us the final hour, when, _our_ trial being completed, we shall say
"It is finished," and pass like him to the bosom of the Father.



XXVIII

THE DARKEST HOUR

_Good Friday Evening_


What is the darkest hour to us when our friends die? Not the dying
hour; for then love has some last act, some last word to receive,
some comfort to give, some service to render, that diverts from the
bitterness of pain. Not even when the eyes are closed forever, and
the face is fixed in marble stillness; for still we gather at the
side of the cold clay and feel as if there were something left us of
our love. But when we have carried our dear ones to the grave, and
seen the doors of the sepulchre shut between them and us, and come
back to the house where they are no more--where they never more may
be--_then_ is indeed the darkest hour.

There is a very touching picture by Delaroche entitled "The Return
from the Cross," in which the mother of Jesus, leaning on the arm
of the beloved John, is seen just entering a lowly dwelling. A few
faithful friends, men and women, are with them; they have seen him
die--seen him laid in the sepulchre and a great stone rolled against
the door; and now they are come to their desolate home to think it
all over, and to weep.

Do we ask, Why did they not remember the words of Jesus, that he
should rise again? Ah! because they had just such hearts as we have,
and their faith was overpowered by sight just as ours is.

They may have thought they believed that they should see their Lord
risen from the dead; but at the sight of the death agonies, and the
lifeless form, and the dark, cold stone of the sepulchre, all this
poor faith died in darkness. It was like carrying a taper out into
a tempest. And we, when we lay our dear ones in the grave, say in
solemn words that we do it "in sure and certain hope of a blessed
and glorious resurrection," when what is sown in weakness shall be
raised in power, what is sown in dishonor shall be raised in glory.
We say it, and we think we believe it; but does it really then cheer
us? Does it dry our tears? Does it make the return to our desolated
home any less dreadful?

Still we remember the death-bed, the pains, the dying eyes, the
weakness, the sinking--we are overwhelmed by sorrow, and our souls
ache as with a wound. Our hearts throb and yearn towards the form
we can no longer see or embrace, as if the loved one were a portion
of our own selves that had been violently torn away, leaving us
fainting and bleeding to death. All this--more than all this--was
in the sorrow of the home of Mary and John that darkest of all
nights.

He they mourned was not merely friend, but Lord and Leader, the Hope
of Israel; the hope of the world; and God had let him suffer and die
thus!

It was true that Jesus had made special efforts to provide against
the sinking of this hour. He warned his friends of it beforehand.
He admitted four of his chosen disciples upon the Mount of
Transfiguration to look into the heavenly world and see him in glory
and hear him speaking with Moses and Elijah of his coming death.
All this was given that their faith might not fail. Then, just
before his death, at the grave of Lazarus, he declared himself the
Resurrection and the Life, and showed them in the restored form of
a well-known friend what he meant by rising from the dead--for it
is said, "They questioned among themselves what the rising from the
dead should mean."

But all appeared to be gone now. Love still kept watch. Spices were
prepared to embalm the precious form with no hope, apparently, of
its resurrection. It had faded out from their minds as it seems to
fade out of the minds of us Christians when we bewail our dead and
speak of them as "lost." Their Jesus was to them dead and gone; and
why this thing was permitted was a dark, insoluble mystery. "We
trusted that it had been he that should have redeemed Israel," said
the two disciples, sadly walking on the way to Emmaus. "We trusted!"
All in the past tense. Not a word of any hope or faith in the
resurrection! And yet their Lord and Master was even at that moment
walking with them and comforting their hearts.

Surely, in this respect, we modern Christians too often tread in the
footsteps of the saints and suffer as they did. But our Lord knows
our weakness; he knows the physical faintness which comes from long
watching, the obscuration of mind which comes from sorrow, and he
is at hand to comfort us in our blind weeping. Mary Magdalene knew
him not, because her eyes were full of tears, till his well-known
voice called her name. The mourning disciples as they walked to
Emmaus knew not that Jesus was walking by them. And so, ever since,
to weary hearts and lonely homes the comforting Christ still comes
invisibly, with sweetness and rest, if only we of little faith would
remember his promises and recognize his presence. Still now, as he
first announced himself, he comes "to heal the broken-hearted," and
is beside them ever in the darkest and most dreadful hour of their
afflictions.



XXIX

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS

_Easter Sunday_


There is something wonderfully poetic in the simple history given
by the different Evangelists of the resurrection of our Lord. It
is like a calm, serene, dewy morning, after a night of thunder and
tempest. One of the most beautiful features in the narrative is the
presence of those godlike forms of our angel brethren. How can it be
possible that critics with human hearts have torn and mangled this
sacred picture for the purpose of effacing these celestial forms--so
beautiful, so glorious! Is it superstition to believe that there are
higher forms of life, intellect, and energy than those of earth;
that there are races of superior beings between us and the throne of
God, as there are gradations below us of less and lessening power
down to the half-vegetable zoöphytes? These angels, with their
power, their purity, their unfading youth, their tender sympathy for
man, are a radiant celestial possibility which every heart must long
to claim as not only probable but certain.

The history of our Lord from first to last is fragrant with the
sympathy and musical with the presence of these shining ones. They
announced his coming to the Blessed among Women. They filled the air
with songs and rejoicings at the hour of his birth. They ministered
to him during his temptations in the wilderness. When repentant
sinners thronged about him and Scribes and Pharisees sneered, it was
to the sympathy of these invisible ones that he turned, as those
whose hearts thrilled with joy over the repenting sinner. In the
last mysterious agony at Gethsemane it was an angel that appeared
and strengthened him. And now with what godlike energy do they
hasten upon their mission to attend their king's awaking!

     "And, behold, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the
     Lord descended from heaven, and rolled back the stone from the
     door of the sepulchre, and sat upon it. His countenance was like
     lightning, and his raiment was white as snow, and for fear of
     him the keepers did shake and became as dead men."

In another Evangelist we have a scene that preceded this. These
devoted women, in whose hearts love outlived both faith and hope,
rose while it was yet dark, and set out with their spices and
perfumes to go and pay their last tribute of affection and reverence
to the dead.

They were under fear of persecution and death; they knew the grave
was sealed and watched by those who had slain their Lord, but still
they determined to go. There was the inconsiderate hardihood of love
in their undertaking, and the artless helplessness of their inquiry,
"Who will roll away the stone from the door?" shows the desperation
of their enterprise. Yet they could not but believe that by prayers
or tears or offered payment--in some way--that stone should be
rolled away.

Arrived on the spot, they saw that the sepulchre was open and empty,
and Mary Magdalene, with the impulsive haste and earnestness which
marks her character, ran back to the house of John, where were the
mother of Jesus, and Peter, and astonished them with the tidings.
"They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not
where they have laid him."

Nothing is said of the Mother in this scene. Probably she was
utterly worn out and exhausted by the dreadful scenes of the day
before, and incapable of further exertion. But Peter and John
started immediately for the sepulchre. Meanwhile, the two other
women went into the sepulchre and stood there perplexed, till
suddenly they saw a vision of celestial forms, radiant in immortal
youth and clothed in white. One said:--

     "Be not afraid. I know ye seek Jesus of Nazareth that was
     crucified. Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not
     here. He is risen as he said. Behold where they laid him.
     Remember how he spake unto you of this when he was in Galilee,
     saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of
     sinful men and be crucified, and the third day rise again."

And they remembered his words.

Furthermore, the friendly spirit bids them to go and tell the
disciples and Peter that their Master is risen from the dead, and
is going before them into Galilee--there shall they see him. And
charged with this message the women had fled from the sepulchre just
as Peter and John came up.

The delicacies of character are strikingly shown in the brief
record. John outruns Peter, stoops down and looks into the
sepulchre; but that species of reticence which always appears in
him controls him here--he hesitates to enter the sacred place. Now,
however, comes Peter, impetuous, ardent, determined, and passes
right into the tomb.

There is a touch of homelike minuteness in the description of the
grave as they found it--no discovery of haste, no sign of confusion,
but all in order: the linen grave-clothes lying in one place; the
napkin that was about his head not lying with them, but folded
together in a place by itself; indicating the perfect calmness and
composure with which their Lord had risen--transported with no
rapture or surprise, but, in this supreme moment, maintaining the
same tranquillity which had ever characterized him.

It is said they saw and believed, though as yet they did not fully
understand the saying that he must rise from the dead; and they left
the place and ran with the news to the disciples.

But Mary still lingers weeping by the empty tomb--type of too many
of us, who forget that our beloved ones have arisen. Through her
tears she sees the pitying angels, who ask her as they might often
ask us, "Why weepest thou?" She tells her sorrowful story--they have
taken away her Lord and she knows not where they have laid him; and
yet at this moment Jesus is standing by her, and one word from his
voice changes all.

It is not general truth or general belief that our souls need in
their anguish; it is one word from Christ to us, it is his voice
calling us by name, that makes the darkness light.

We mark throughout this story the sympathetic touches of interest
in the angels. They had heard and remembered what Christ said in
Galilee, though his people had forgotten it. They had had sympathy
for the repentant weeping of Peter, and sent a special message of
comfort to him. These elder brethren of the household seem in all
things most thoughtful and careful of human feelings; they breathe
around us the spirit of that world where an unloving word or harsh
judgment is an impossible conception.

The earlier Christian tradition speaks of our Lord's first visit to
his mother. It may be that in that space of time while Peter and
John were running to the sepulchre Jesus himself chose to draw near
to his mother. To her he gave one of his last dying words, and we
cannot but believe that one of his earliest risen messages of hope
and blessing was for her. But over an interview so peculiar and so
blessed the sacred narrative has deemed it wise to leave the veil of
silence.

The time after our Lord's resurrection is one full of mysteries.
But few things are told us of that life which he lived on earth. He
no longer walked the ways of men as before--no longer lived with
his disciples, but only appeared to them from time to time, as
he saw that they needed comfort, counsel, or rebuke. We have the
beautiful story of the walk to Emmaus. We have accounts of meetings
of the disciples with closed doors, for fear of the Jews, when Jesus
suddenly appeared in the midst of them, saying, "Peace be unto you!"
and showing to them his hands and his side; and it is added, "Then
were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord."

We have an account of how he suddenly appeared to them by the Lake
of Genesareth, when they had been vainly toiling all night--how he
stood on the shore in the dim gray of morning and said, "Children,
have ye any meat?" They answered him "No;" and he said, "Cast the
net on the right hand and ye shall find." And then John whispers to
Peter, "It is the Lord!" and Peter, impetuous to the last, casts
himself into the water and swims to the shore. They find a fire
prepared, a meal ready for them, and Jesus to bless the bread,--and
very sweet and lovely was the interview.

How many such visits and interviews there were--when and with
whom--we have no means of knowing, though St. John indicates that
there were many other things which Jesus said and did worthy of
record besides those of which we are told. We learn from St. Paul
that he appeared to more than five hundred of his followers at
once--a meeting not described by any of the Evangelists.

It is believed by many Christians that Christ is yet coming to reign
visibly upon this earth. That Christ should reign in any one spot or
city of this earth, as earthly kings reign, with a court and human
forms of administration, is suggestive of grave difficulties. The
embarrassments in the way of our Centennial Exhibition this year,
the fatigue and disturbance and danger to health and life of such
crowds coming and going, might suggest what would be the effect
on human society if in any one earthly place the universal object
of all human desire were located. But it may be possible that the
barrier between the spiritual world and ours will be so far removed
that the presence of our Lord and his saints may at times be with
us, even as Christ was with the disciples in this interval. It may
become a lawful subject of desire and prayer and expectation. It may
be in that day that in assemblies of his people Jesus will suddenly
stand, saying, "Peace be unto you!" Such appearances could take
place in all countries and lands, according to human needs, without
deranging human society.

But whether visibly or by the manifestation of his Spirit, let us
hasten and look forward to that final second coming of our Master,
when the kingdoms of this world shall be the kingdoms of our Lord
and his Christ.



XXX

THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD

_Ascension Day_


At length the visible and mortal pilgrimage of our Lord was over,
and the time come when he must return to his home in heaven, to the
glory with the Father which he had before the world was.

We cannot fail to notice the calmness, brevity, and simplicity with
which this crowning act of his life is recorded. He had before told
his disciples that it was better for them that his visible presence
should be withdrawn from them, and that when ascended to the Father
he should be with them as an intimate spiritual presence and power.
He now speaks to them of a baptism of the Holy Spirit that they
should receive after his ascension, and bids them tarry in Jerusalem
till they be endued with this power from on high.

Then the narrative says: "And he led them out as far as Bethany;
and he lifted up his hands and blessed them, and while he blessed
them he was parted from them and taken up into heaven; and a cloud
received him out of their sight. And while they were looking
steadfastly to heaven, as he went up, behold two men stood by them
in white apparel, who said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing
up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken from you into heaven
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go. And they
worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy from the
Mount of Olives, and were continually in the temple praising and
blessing God."

The forty days that Jesus lingered on earth had, it seems, not been
in vain. His mourning flock were consoled and brought to such a
point of implicit faith that the final separation was full of joy.

They were at last convinced that it was better for them that he go
to the Father--that an ascended Lord, seated at the right hand of
power and shedding down spiritual light and joy, was better than
any earthly presence, however dear. Christ, as a living power of
inspiration in the soul, was henceforth to be nearer, dearer, more
inseparable, more consoling and helpful than the man of Nazareth had
ever been.

Let us all with one heart unite in the beautiful prayer of the
church for this day: "O God, the King of Glory, who hast exalted
thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy Kingdom in
Heaven, we beseech thee leave us not comfortless; but send to us thy
Holy Ghost to comfort and exalt us to that same place whither our
Saviour Christ is gone before us, who liveth and reigneth with Thee
and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen."



XXXI

THE HOLY SPIRIT

_Whitsuntide_


When our Saviour was to go forth on his great mission he spent
forty days in prayer; and so now his little church were to spend
forty days of waiting and devotion till they should receive the
gift from on high. What that gift was we can see in their history.
How dark, how confused, how unspiritual their views, how low their
faith, how easily upset by the storms of persecution! But when the
divine influence came upon them, what a change! What clearness, what
insight, what courage, what power! When brought before kings and
rulers they bore joyous testimony; when beaten ignominiously they
went out rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for
his sake.

Do not all ministers of Christ, all Christians to whose keeping his
honor and cause is confided, need such a baptism as this, such a
new birth in spiritual things? For the gift came not merely on the
twelve Apostles, but on the whole company of believers, both men
and women. We read the names of the twelve, and then are told that
"these all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication
with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brethren,"--a
company of a hundred and twenty persons.

They were united day after day in prayer--their whole souls, with
one accord, were lifted heavenward; all earthly scenes and interests
were put aside, and the attitude of their minds was one of ardent
desire and expectancy.

It was to souls so raised, so enkindled, that at last the glorious
gift came--the spiritual power that made every Christian man and
woman among them an inspired and convincing witness for Christ.
The world witnessed that day a new sight--an invisible spiritual
power, before which thousands bowed at the name of that Jesus whom
but a few weeks before they had seen crucified. And why have we
not such a baptism and such a power? Is our faith what it should
be,--our zeal, our devotion? If all Christians were like us, would
the world ever be converted to God? Is there a gift of spiritual
power and constancy of faith to be had in answer to fervent prayer?
and should we not seek it as they did? Of late there have been in
Europe and in this country large conventions of Christians of all
names and denominations to pray and seek for this gift of the Holy
Spirit, to enable them to witness for Christ as these witnessed; it
is a most joyful sign of our times. Let us hope that such prayers
may be answered in bringing back to the modern church something of
the fervor, the simplicity, the entire devotion that characterized
these first Christians. It is not by arguing with skeptics, but by a
divine and holy life, that Christians are to convince the world of
the truth of our religion. It is "Christ in us, the hope of glory,"
that is to be the power that shall convert the world.



XXXII

CHRIST'S SECOND LIFE, IN HIS FOLLOWERS


In a moment of profound emotion, when our Lord contemplated the near
approach of the last tragedy in his life, he said: "Except a corn of
wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die
it bringeth forth much fruit."

Accordingly, it was but little more than a month after the scenes of
Calvary before Jerusalem was filled with a harvest of men and women
who were born into the Christ-life, and were living and acting in
his spirit.

At the feast of Pentecost Jerusalem was full of strangers, devout
Jews from every nation under heaven, and three thousand in one day
bowed at the feet of the Jesus whom they had crucified. The chief
priests were enraged and terrified, for everywhere the Apostles of
this crucified Jesus, inspired with a supernatural courage, were
working miracles and preaching with an energy even more overcoming
than that of the Master. Jesus had been among them but as one man;
he had come back as twelve men, every one of whom was full of him,
working his works and preaching him with overwhelming power.

It is most impressive to read in the Book of Acts how Peter and
John were called before Annas and Caiaphas--the very tribunal before
which Jesus so lately stood, the tribunal before which Peter denied
him and John stood in trembling silence. Now these same men face
high priests and elders with heads erect and flashing eyes, and
say:--

     "If we be this day examined of the good deed done to the
     impotent man, be it known unto you that by the name of Jesus
     Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified and whom God raised from
     the dead, doth this man stand before you whole. This is the
     stone which was set at naught of you builders, which has become
     the head of the corner; neither is there salvation in any other."

We can imagine the dismay of the Sanhedrim when such men and such
sermons met them at every corner. The record says that, perceiving
the boldness of Peter and John, and knowing that they were unlearned
men, they marveled, and took knowledge of them that they had been
with Jesus!

It is not likely that the high priest had forgotten the recent
time when Jesus stood bound before him. Evidently even then his
manner had inspired a secret misgiving awe; and here were these
disciples now looking and speaking just like him, with the same
certainty, the same majesty. It was Jesus of Nazareth returning in
his followers. It was a terror to them all. But we are told the
word of God grew and prevailed, the converts increased in crowds
daily, "a great company of the priests were obedient" to the word.
Of course persecution raged. To confess Christ was to lose place,
patronage, and daily bread. The Christians, in their new joy, met
this by throwing all their worldly possessions into a common stock
and apportioning support to each.

There were rich men like Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and many
others, and we read of men who sold all they had and laid the money
at the Apostles' feet. Thus those who daily were thrown out of
employment for Christ's sake were supported and relieved. A great
financial and administrative business grew up out of this state
of things, and we are told that there arose a murmuring among
the foreign-born Jews that their widows were neglected in the
apportionment of aid.

The Jews have been in all ages a trading nation. Palestine was a
little country situated in the very heart of the ancient civilized
world. It was a centre of emigration. Colonies of Jews, bearing
their religion, their synagogue, their national zeal, had foothold
and maintained Jewish worship in almost every leading city of Greece
and Rome. They were called, according to their country, Greeks or
Romans, while as to religion and race they were Jews.

It appears that the proportion of Greek-born Jews among the converts
was so great as to warrant the appointment of seven deacons, all
of whom bear names which show their Grecian origin. Stephen was
evidently a noted man among them. He is described as full of faith
and the Holy Ghost. For aught we know, Stephen may have been one
of those Greeks who, during the last week of Christ's life in
Jerusalem, came to his disciples, saying, "Sir, we would see Jesus."
He may have been among the first-fruits of that harvest which Christ
then foresaw when he said, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men
unto me." He seems to have been of a nature peculiarly receptive
and lovely--a beautiful medium through whom the Christ-spirit could
reveal itself. If he had been in Jerusalem at the time of Christ's
death, and witnessed the scenes of Calvary, we may well believe what
a fervor was enkindled in his soul, and with what zeal he devoted
himself to him. His activity was not confined to the temporal
ministrations which were committed to him. He is described as "full
of faith and power, and doing great miracles." He maintained the
cause of Jesus in word as well as deed. Certain leaders in a Jewish
synagogue, of Greek extraction like himself, who still clung to
Jewish prejudices, disputed with him, and we are told they were not
able to resist the wisdom and power with which he spoke. A tumult
was stirred up, and Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrim, and
stood in the place where his Master had stood before him. Again,
as before, it was the Jewish national pride and bitterness that
were arrayed against him. Stephen had shown the glories of that
new spiritual kingdom which Christ was bringing in, where there
should be neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free,
but Christ should be all in all. So the accusation was formulated
against him:--

     "We have heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this
     place and shall change the customs which Moses delivered unto
     us."

The High Priest probably felt that now he had got a leading
Christian at advantage. He would meet now and expose this sect that
threatened to overthrow their country and destroy their venerable
religion. He said to Stephen, with a semblance of moderation and
justice, "Are these things so?"

There was a pause, in which Stephen seems to have been so filled by
the vision of the glory and beauty of the new life which was opening
before the world, that he could not speak. It is said:--

     "And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him,
     saw his face as it had been the face of an angel."

Then began that noble speech, evidently the speech of a Greek-born
Jew, who had studied the Hebrew history from a different standpoint
from the Rabbins. It is clear from the fragment of this address
that it was designed to show, even by their past history, that
God's dealings with his people had been irrespective of the temple
of Jerusalem and the worship there. He dwelt on God's calling of
Abraham, his sojourn in Canaan before he possessed it; of God's
suffering the chosen race to sojourn in Egypt; of Moses, born and
nurtured in a Gentile court, and educated in the wisdom of the
Egyptians. This man, who lived to the age of forty years as an
Egyptian prince, begins to offer himself as a guide and teacher to
his oppressed people, but they reject his mission with scorn. Then
comes the scene of the appearance of Jehovah for their rescue and
the appointment of Moses to accomplish their deliverance, and he
drives home the parallel between Moses and the rejected Jesus.

This Moses, whom they refused, saying, "Who made thee a ruler and a
judge?" the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer. "This
is that Moses who said, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up
unto you like unto me: him shall ye hear." He then shows how the
Jewish nation disobeyed Moses and God, and turned back to the golden
calf of Egypt. He traces their history till the time of the building
of the temple, but adds that "the Most High dwelleth not in temples
made with hands, as saith the prophet: Heaven is my throne and earth
is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord. Hath
not my hand made all these things?" We may imagine the fervor, the
energy of this brief history, the tone, the spirit, the flashing eye
that gave point to every incident. It was perfectly evident what he
was coming to, what use he was going to make of this recital--that
the Jews were not God's favorites _per se_; that they were and
always had been an ungrateful, rebellious people; that God had
chosen them, in spite of their sins, to be the unworthy guardians
and receivers of a great mission for the whole world; that the
temple was not a necessity, that it came late in their history, and
that God himself had declared his superiority to it. It was easy to
see that he was coming round to the mission of Jesus, the prophet
whom Moses had predicted, and whom they had rejected as they did
Moses. But there was evidently a tumult rising, and Stephen saw that
he was about to be interrupted, and therefore, suddenly, leaving the
narrative unfinished, he breaks forth:--

     "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do
     always resist the Holy Ghost--as your fathers did so do ye.
     Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? They
     slew them which prophesied the coming of that Just One of whom
     ye have been the betrayers and murderers; who have received the
     law by the dispensation of angels and have not kept it."

These words were as coals dropping upon naphtha. They were cut to
the heart; they gnashed on him with their teeth; they raved round
him as wild beasts who collect themselves for a deadly spring.

     "But he, full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into
     heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right
     hand of God."

There was something in his rapt appearance, his pale, upturned face
and eager eyes, that caused a moment's silence.

In a voice of exultation and awe he said:--

     "Behold! I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on
     the right hand of God."

The Son of man!--the very words that Christ had used when he stood
before Caiaphas about fifty days before, when he said, "Hereafter ye
shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven!"

There was a frantic shriek of rage. The court broke up and became a
blind, infuriate mob. All consideration was forgotten in the blind
passion of the hour. Though they had no legal right to take life
without a Roman sentence, they determined to have the blood of this
man, cost what it might.

They hurried him out of the city with curses and execrations. The
executioners stripped off their outer garments to prepare for the
butchery, and laid them down at the feet of a young zealot named
Saul of Tarsus.

There are many paintings of this scene in the galleries of Europe.
We may imagine him, pale and enraptured, looking up into the face
of that Jesus whom he saw in glory, and as they threw him violently
down he cried, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Rising to his knees,
wounded and bleeding, he added, "Lord, lay not this sin to their
charge." And then, says the narrative, "He fell asleep."

The sweetness and tenderness of this expression shows more than
anything else how completely the faith of Christ had conquered
death. Christians spoke of death simply as a sleep. And here amid
the hootings and revilings of a mob, the crash of stones and insult
and execration, nothing could hinder Christ's beloved from falling
asleep. At peace within, with a heaven of love in his soul, he
pitied and prayed for the wretched creatures who were murdering him,
and passed to the right hand of Jesus--the first who had sealed his
testimony with his blood.

Thus was sown again the first perfected seed of the new wheat
which rose from the grave of Christ! Jesus was the first whom the
world ever saw praying with his dying breath for his murderers;
and Stephen, who had risen to the same majesty of denunciation
and rebuke of sin which characterized his master, was baptized
into the same tenderness of prayer for the miserable mob who were
howling like wild beasts around him. Heavenly love never shrinks
from denouncing sin; but it has a prayer for the sinner ever in its
breast, and the nearer it comes to the higher world the more it
pities this lower one.

But though the orator was crushed the cause was not lost.

Jesus, standing at the right hand of God, had only to reach forth
and touch that Saul of Tarsus who stood consenting to his death, and
he fell down at his feet trembling, crying, "Lord, what wilt thou
have me to do?"

The noble work which Stephen had begun, the message of universal
love to Jew and Gentile, passed from the hands of dying Stephen to
the living Paul, who from that hour spoke the sentiment that must
be the animating spirit of every true lover and follower of the
Master's footsteps: "I am crucified with Christ; and now it is no
more I that live, but Christ that liveth in me."



EARTHLY CARE A HEAVENLY DISCIPLINE

    "Why should these cares my heart divide,
      If Thou, indeed, hast set me free?
    Why am I thus, if Thou hast died--
      If Thou hast died to ransom me?"


Nothing is more frequently felt and spoken of, as a hindrance to the
inward life of devotion, than the "cares of life;" and even upon the
showing of our Lord himself, the cares of the world are the thorns
that choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

And yet, if this is a necessary and inevitable result of worldly
care, why does the providence of God so order things that it forms
so large and unavoidable a part of every human experience? Why is
the physical system of man arranged with such daily, oft-recurring
wants? Why does his nature, in its full development, tend to that
state of society in which wants multiply, and the business of supply
becomes more complicated, and requiring constantly more thought
and attention, and bringing the outward and seen into a state of
constant friction and pressure on the inner and spiritual?

Has God arranged an outward system to be a constant diversion from
the inward--a weight on its wheels--a burden on its wings--and then
commanded a strict and rigid inwardness and spirituality? Why placed
us where the things that are seen and temporal must unavoidably have
so much of our thoughts, and time, and care, yet said to us, "Set
your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth.
Love not the world, neither the things of the world"? And why does
one of our brightest examples of Christian experience, as it should
be, say, "While we look not on the things which are seen, but on
the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are
temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal"?

The Bible tells us that our whole existence here is a disciplinary
one; that this whole physical system, by which our spirit is
inclosed with all the joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, and wants
which form a part of it, are designed as an education to fit the
soul for its immortality; and as worldly care forms the greater
part of the staple of every human life, there must be some mode
of viewing and meeting it, which converts it from an enemy of
spirituality into a means of grace and spiritual advancement.

Why, then, do we so often hear the lamentation, "It seems to me
as if I could advance to the higher stages of Christian life, if
it were not for the pressure of my business and the multitude of
my worldly cares"? Is it not God, O Christian, who, in ordering
thy lot, has laid these cares upon thee, and who still holds them
about thee, and permits no escape from them? And as his great,
undivided object is thy spiritual improvement, is there not some
misapprehension or wrong use of these cares, if they do not tend
to advance it? Is it not even as if a scholar should say, I could
advance in science were it not for all the time and care which
lessons, and books, and lectures require?

How, then, shall earthly care become heavenly discipline? How shall
the disposition of the weight be altered so as to press the spirit
upward towards God, instead of downward and away? How shall the
pillar of cloud which rises between us and him become one of fire,
to reflect upon us constantly the light of his countenance, and to
guide us over the sands of life's desert?

It appears to us that the great radical difficulty is an
intellectual one, and lies in a wrong belief. There is not a genuine
and real belief of the presence and agency of God in the minor
events and details of life, which is necessary to change them from
secular cares into spiritual blessings.

It is true there is much loose talk about an overruling Providence;
and yet, if fairly stated, the belief of a great many Christians
might be thus expressed: God has organized and set in operation
certain general laws of matter and mind, which work out the
particular results of life, and over these laws he exercises a
general supervision and care, so that all the great affairs of the
world are carried on after the counsel of his own will; and in a
certain general sense, all things are working together for good
to those that love God. But when some simple-minded, childlike
Christian really proceeds to refer all the smaller events of life to
God's immediate care and agency, there is a smile of incredulity,
and it is thought that the good brother displays more Christian
feeling than sound philosophy.

But as life for every individual is made up of fractions and minute
atoms--as those things which go to affect habits and character
are small and hourly recurring, it comes to pass that a belief in
Providence so very wide and general is altogether inefficient for
consecrating and rendering sacred the great body of what comes
in contact with the mind in the experience of life. Only once in
years does the Christian with this kind of belief hear the voice
of the Lord God speaking to him. When the hand of death is laid
on his child, or the bolt strikes down the brother by his side,
then, indeed, he feels that God is drawing near; he listens humbly
for the inward voice that shall explain the meaning and need of
this discipline. When by some unforeseen occurrence the whole of
his earthly property is swept away,--he becomes a poor man,--this
event, in his eyes, assumes sufficient magnitude to have come from
God, and to have a design and meaning; but when smaller comforts are
removed, smaller losses are encountered, and the petty every-day
vexations and annoyances of life press about him, he recognizes no
God, and hears no voice, and sees no design. Hence John Newton says,
"Many Christians, who bear the loss of a child, or the destruction
of all their property, with the most heroic Christian fortitude, are
entirely vanquished and overcome by the breaking of a dish, or the
blunders of a servant, and show so unchristian a spirit, that we
cannot but wonder at them."

So when the breath of slander, or the pressure of human injustice,
comes so heavily on a man as really to threaten loss of character,
and destruction of his temporal interests, he seems forced to
recognize the hand and voice of God, through the veil of human
agencies, and in time-honored words to say:--

    "When men of spite against me join,
    They are the sword; the hand is thine."

But the smaller injustice and fault-finding which meet every one
more or less in the daily intercourse of life, the overheard
remark, the implied censure, too petty, perhaps, to be even spoken
of, these daily recurring sources of disquietude and unhappiness
are not referred to God's providence, nor considered as a part
of his probation and discipline. Those thousand vexations which
come upon us through the unreasonableness, the carelessness, the
various constitutional failings, or ill adaptedness of others to
our peculiarities of character, form a very large item of the
disquietudes of life; and yet how very few look beyond the human
agent, and feel these are trials coming from God! Yet it is true, in
many cases, that these so-called minor vexations form the greater
part, and in many cases the only discipline of life; and to those
that do not view them as ordered individually by God, and coming
upon them by specified design, "their affliction 'really' cometh
of the dust, and their trouble springs out of the ground;" it is
sanctified and relieved by no divine presence and aid, but borne
alone and in a mere human spirit, and by mere human reliances; it
acts on the mind as a constant diversion and hindrance, instead of a
moral discipline.

Hence, too, come a coldness, and generality, and wandering of mind
in prayer: the things that are on the heart, that are distracting
the mind, that have filled the soul so full that there is no room
for anything else, are all considered too small and undignified to
come within the pale of a prayer and so, with a wandering mind and
a distracted heart, the Christian offers up his prayer for things
which he thinks he ought to want, and makes no mention of those
which he does. He prays that God would pour out his spirit on the
heathen, and convert the world, and build up his kingdom everywhere,
when perhaps a whole set of little anxieties, and wants, and
vexations are so distracting his thoughts, that he hardly knows what
he has been saying: a faithless servant is wasting his property; a
careless or blundering workman has spoiled a lot of goods; a child
is vexatious or unruly; a friend has made promises and failed to
keep them; an acquaintance has made unjust or satirical remarks;
some new furniture has been damaged or ruined by carelessness in
the household; but all this trouble forms no subject matter for
prayer, though there it is, all the while lying like lead on the
heart, and keeping it down, so that it has no power to expand and
take in anything else. But were God known and regarded as the
soul's familiar friend, were every trouble of the heart as it rises
breathed into his bosom, were it felt that there is not one of the
smallest of life's troubles that has not been permitted by him, and
permitted for specific good purpose to the soul, how much more
would these be in prayer! how constant, how daily might it become!
how it might settle and clear the atmosphere of the soul! how it
might so dispose and lay away many anxieties which now take up their
place there, that there might be room for the higher themes and
considerations of religion!

Many sensitive and fastidious natures are worn away by the constant
friction of what are called little troubles. Without any great
affliction, they feel that all the flower and sweetness of their
life have faded; their eye grows dim, their cheek care-worn, and
their spirit loses hope and elasticity, and becomes bowed with
premature age; and in the midst of tangible and physical comfort,
they are restless and unhappy. The constant undercurrent of little
cares and vexations, which is slowly wearing on the finer springs of
life, is seen by no one; scarce ever do they speak of these things
to their nearest friends. Yet were there a friend of a spirit so
discerning as to feel and sympathize in all these things, how much
of this repressed electric restlessness would pass off through such
a sympathizing mind.

Yet among human friends this is all but impossible, for minds are so
diverse that what is a trial and a care to one is a matter of sport
and amusement to another; and all the inner world breathed into
a human ear only excites a surprised or contemptuous pity. Whom,
then, shall the soul turn to? Who will feel that to be affliction
which each spirit feels to be so? If the soul shut itself within
itself, it becomes morbid; the fine chords of the mind and nerves
by constant wear become jarring and discordant; hence fretfulness,
discontent, and habitual irritability steal over the sincere
Christian.

But to the Christian that really believes in the agency of God in
the smallest events of life, that confides in his love, and makes
his sympathy his refuge, the thousand minute cares and perplexities
of life become each one a fine affiliating bond between the soul
and its God. God is known, not by abstract definition, and by
high-raised conceptions of the soul's aspiring hours, but known
as a man knoweth his friend; he is known by the hourly wants he
supplies; known by every care with which he momentarily sympathizes,
every apprehension which he relieves, every temptation which he
enables us to surmount. We learn to know God as the infant child
learns to know its mother and its father, by all the helplessness
and all the dependence which are incident to this commencement of
our moral existence; and as we go on thus year by year, and find in
every changing situation, in every reverse, in every trouble, from
the lightest sorrow to those which wring our soul from its depths,
that he is equally present, and that his gracious aid is equally
adequate, our faith seems gradually almost to change to sight; and
God's existence, his love and care, seem to us more real than any
other source of reliance, and multiplied cares and trials are only
new avenues of acquaintance between us and heaven.

Suppose, in some bright vision unfolding to our view, in tranquil
evening or solemn midnight, the glorified form of some departed
friend should appear to us with the announcement, "This year is to
be to you one of especial probation and discipline, with reference
to perfecting you for a heavenly state. Weigh well and consider
every incident of your daily life, for not one shall fall out by
accident, but each one is to be a finished and indispensable link in
a bright chain that is to draw you upward to the skies!"

With what new eyes should we now look on our daily lot! and if we
found in it not a single change,--the same old cares, the same
perplexities, the same uninteresting drudgeries still,--with what
new meaning would every incident be invested! and with what other
and sublimer spirit could we meet them? Yet, if announced by one
rising from the dead with the visible glory of a spiritual world,
this truth could be asserted no more clearly and distinctly than
Jesus Christ has stated it already. Not a sparrow falleth to the
ground without our Father. Not one of them is forgotten by him; and
we are of more value than many sparrows; yea, even the hairs of
our head are all numbered. Not till belief in these declarations,
in their most literal sense, becomes the calm and settled habit of
the soul, is life ever redeemed from drudgery and dreary emptiness,
and made full of interest, meaning, and divine significance. Not
till then do its groveling wants, its wearing cares, its stinging
vexations, become to us ministering spirits, each one, by a silent
but certain agency, fitting us for a higher and perfect sphere.



THE MINISTRATION OF OUR DEPARTED FRIENDS

A NEW YEAR'S REVERIE

    "It is a beautiful belief,
      That ever round our head
    Are hovering on viewless wings
      The spirits of the dead."


While every year is taking one and another from the ranks of life
and usefulness, or the charmed circle of friendship and love, it is
soothing to remember that the spiritual world is gaining in riches
through the poverty of this.

In early life, with our friends all around us,--hearing their
voices, cheered by their smiles,--death and the spiritual world
are to us remote, misty, and half fabulous; but as we advance in
our journey, and voice after voice is hushed, and form after form
vanishes from our side, and our shadow falls almost solitary on the
hillside of life, the soul, by a necessity of its being, tends to
the unseen and spiritual, and pursues in another life those it seeks
in vain in this.

For with every friend that dies, dies also some especial form of
social enjoyment, whose being depended on the peculiar character of
that friend; till, late in the afternoon of life, the pilgrim seems
to himself to have passed over to the unseen world in successive
portions half his own spirit; and poor indeed is he who has not
familiarized himself with that unknown, whither, despite himself,
his soul is earnestly tending.

One of the deepest and most imperative cravings of the human
heart, as it follows its beloved ones beyond the veil, is for
some assurance that they still love and care for us. Could we
firmly believe this, bereavement would lose half its bitterness.
As a German writer beautifully expresses it, "Our friend is not
wholly gone from us; we see across the river of death, in the
blue distance, the smoke of his cottage;" hence the heart, always
creating what it desires, has ever made the guardianship and
ministration of departed spirits a favorite theme of poetic fiction.

But is it, then, fiction? Does revelation, which gives so many hopes
which nature had not, give none here? Is there no sober certainty
to correspond to the inborn and passionate craving of the soul? Do
departed spirits in verity retain any knowledge of what transpires
in this world, and take any part in its scenes? All that revelation
says of a spiritual state is more intimation than assertion; it has
no distinct treatise, and teaches nothing apparently of set purpose;
but gives vague, glorious images, while now and then some accidental
ray of intelligence looks out,--

        "like eyes of cherubs shining
    From out the veil that hid the ark."

But out of all the different hints and assertions of the Bible we
think a better inferential argument might be constructed to prove
the ministration of departed spirits than for many a doctrine which
has passed in its day for the height of orthodoxy.

First, then, the Bible distinctly says that there is a class of
invisible spirits who minister to the children of men: "Are they
not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who
shall be heirs of salvation?" It is said of little children, that
"their angels do always behold the face of our Father which is in
heaven." This last passage, from the words of our Saviour, taken
in connection with the well-known tradition of his time, fully
recognizes the idea of individual guardian spirits; for God's
government over mind is, it seems, throughout, one of intermediate
agencies, and these not chosen at random, but with the nicest
reference to their adaptation to the purpose intended. Not even the
All-seeing, All-knowing One was deemed perfectly adapted to become
a human Saviour without a human experience. Knowledge intuitive,
gained from above, of human wants and woes was not enough--to it
must be added the home-born certainty of consciousness and memory;
the Head of all mediation must become human. Is it likely, then,
that, in selecting subordinate agencies, this so necessary a
requisite of a human life and experience is overlooked? While around
the throne of God stand spirits, now sainted and glorified, yet
thrillingly conscious of a past experience of sin and sorrow, and
trembling in sympathy with temptations and struggles like their own,
is it likely that he would pass by these souls, thus burning for the
work, and commit it to those bright abstract beings whose knowledge
and experience are comparatively so distant and so cold?

It is strongly in confirmation of this idea, that in the
transfiguration scene--which seems to have been intended purposely
to give the disciples a glimpse of the glorified state of their
Master--we find him attended by two spirits of earth, Moses and
Elias, "which appeared with him in glory, and spake of his death
which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." It appears that these
so long departed ones were still mingling in deep sympathy with
the tide of human affairs--not only aware of the present, but also
informed as to the future. In coincidence with this idea are all
those passages which speak of the redeemed of earth as being closely
and indissolubly identified with Christ, members of his body, of his
flesh and his bones. It is not to be supposed that those united
to Jesus above all others by so vivid a sympathy and community of
interests are left out as instruments in that great work of human
regeneration which so engrosses him; and when we hear Christians
spoken of as kings and priests unto God, as those who shall judge
angels, we see it more than intimated that they are to be the
partners and actors in that great work of spiritual regeneration of
which Jesus is the head.

What then? May we look among the band of ministering spirits for our
own departed ones? Whom would God be more likely to send us? Have we
in heaven a friend who knew us to the heart's core? a friend to whom
we have unfolded our soul in its most secret recesses? to whom we
have confessed our weaknesses and deplored our griefs? If we are to
have a ministering spirit, who better adapted? Have we not memories
which correspond to such a belief? When our soul has been cast down,
has never an invisible voice whispered, "There is lifting up"? Have
not gales and breezes of sweet and healing thought been wafted over
us, as if an angel had shaken from his wings the odors of paradise?
Many a one, we are confident, can remember such things--and whence
come they? Why do the children of the pious mother, whose grave has
grown green and smooth with years, seem often to walk through perils
and dangers fearful and imminent as the crossing Mohammed's fiery
gulf on the edge of a drawn sword, yet walk unhurt? Ah! could we
see that attendant form, that face where the angel conceals not the
mother, our question would be answered.

It may be possible that a friend is sometimes taken because the
divine One sees that his ministry can act more powerfully from the
unseen world than amid the infirmities of mortal intercourse. Here
the soul, distracted and hemmed in by human events and by bodily
infirmities, often scarce knows itself, and makes no impression on
others correspondent to its desires. The mother would fain electrify
the heart of her child; she yearns and burns in vain to make her
soul effective on its soul, and to inspire it with a spiritual and
holy life; but all her own weaknesses, faults, and mortal cares
cramp and confine her, till death breaks all fetters; and then,
first truly alive, risen, purified, and at rest, she may do calmly,
sweetly, and certainly, what, amid the tempests and tossings of
life, she labored for painfully and fitfully. So, also, to generous
souls, who burn for the good of man, who deplore the shortness of
life, and the little that is permitted to any individual agency on
earth, does this belief open a heavenly field. Think not, father or
brother, long laboring for man, till thy sun stands on the western
mountains,--think not that thy day in this world is over. Perhaps,
like Jesus, thou hast lived a human life, and gained a human
experience, to become, under and like him, a saviour of thousands;
thou hast been through the preparation, but thy real work of good,
thy full power of doing, is yet to begin.

But again: there are some spirits (and those of earth's choicest)
to whom, so far as enjoyment to themselves or others is concerned,
this life seems to have been a total failure. A hard hand from the
first, and all the way through life, seems to have been laid upon
them; they seem to live only to be chastened and crushed, and we
lay them in the grave at last in mournful silence. To such, what a
vision is opened by this belief! This hard discipline has been the
school and task-work by which their soul has been fitted for their
invisible labors in a future life; and when they pass the gates of
the grave, their course of benevolent acting first begins, and they
find themselves delighted possessors of what through many years they
have sighed for--the power of doing good. The year just past, like
all other years, has taken from a thousand circles the sainted,
the just, and the beloved; there are spots in a thousand graveyards
which have become this year dearer than all the living world; but
in the loneliness of sorrow how cheering to think that our lost
ones are not wholly gone from us! They still may move about in our
homes, shedding around an atmosphere of purity and peace, promptings
of good, and reproofs of evil. We are compassed about by a cloud
of witnesses, whose hearts throb in sympathy with every effort and
struggle, and who thrill with joy at every success. How should this
thought check and rebuke every worldly feeling and unworthy purpose,
and enshrine us, in the midst of a forgetful and unspiritual world,
with an atmosphere of heavenly peace. They have overcome--have
risen--are crowned, glorified, but still they remain to us, our
assistants, our comforters, and in every hour of darkness their
voice speaks to us: "So we grieved, so we struggled, so we fainted,
so we doubted; but we have overcome, we have obtained, we have seen,
we have found--and in our victory behold the certainty of thy own."



RELIGIOUS SKETCHES



CHILDREN

  "A little child shall lead them."


One cold market morning I looked into a milliner's shop, and there
I saw a hale, hearty, well-browned young fellow from the country,
with his long cart whip, and lion-shag coat, holding up some little
matter, and turning it about on his great fist. And what do you
suppose it was? _A baby's bonnet!_ A little, soft, blue satin hood,
with a swan's-down border, white as the new-fallen snow, with a
frill of rich blonde around the edge.

By his side stood a very pretty woman, holding, with no small pride,
the baby--for evidently it was _the_ baby. Any one could read that
fact in every glance, as they looked at each other, and then at the
large, unconscious eyes, and fat, dimpled cheeks of the little one.

It was evident that neither of them had ever seen a baby like that
before.

"But really, Mary," said the young man, "isn't three dollars very
high?"

Mary very prudently said nothing, but taking the little bonnet, tied
it on the little head, and held up the baby. The man looked, and
without another word down went the three dollars--all the avails of
last week's butter; and as they walked out of the shop, it is hard
to say which looked the more delighted with the bargain.

"Ah," thought I, "a little child shall lead them."

Another day, as I was passing a carriage factory along one of our
principal back streets, I saw a young mechanic at work on a wheel.
The rough body of a carriage stood beside him, and there, wrapped up
snugly, all hooded and cloaked, sat a little dark-eyed girl, about
a year old, playing with a great, shaggy dog. As I stopped, the man
looked up from his work, and turned admiringly towards his little
companion, as much as to say, "See what I have got here!"

"Yes," thought I; "and if the little lady ever gets a glance from
admiring swains as sincere as that, she will be lucky."

Ah, these children, little witches, pretty even in all their faults
and absurdities. See, for example, yonder little fellow in a naughty
fit. He has shaken his long curls over his deep blue eyes; the fair
brow is bent in a frown, the rose leaf lip is pursed up in infinite
defiance, and the white shoulder thrust angrily forward. Can any but
a child look so pretty, even in its naughtiness?

Then comes the instant change; flashing smiles and tears as the
good comes back all in a rush, and you are overwhelmed with
protestations, promises, and kisses! They are irresistible, too,
these little ones. They pull away the scholar's pen, tumble about
his paper, make somersets over his books; and what can he do? They
tear up newspapers, litter the carpets, break, pull, and upset, and
then jabber unheard-of English in self-defense; and what can you do
for yourself?

"If I had a child," says the precise man, "you should see."

He does have a child, and his child tears up his papers, tumbles
over his things, and pulls his nose like all other children; and
what has the precise man to say for himself? Nothing; he is like
everybody else; "a little child shall lead him."

The hardened heart of the worldly man is unlocked by the guileless
tones and simple caresses of his son; but he repays it in time, by
imparting to his boy all the crooked tricks and callous maxims which
have undone himself.

Go to the jail, to the penitentiary, and find there the wretch most
sullen, brutal, and hardened. Then look at your infant son. Such as
he is to you, such to some mother was this man. That hard hand was
soft and delicate; that rough voice was tender and lisping; fond
eyes followed him as he played, and he was rocked and cradled as
something holy. There was a time when his heart, soft and unworn,
might have opened to questionings of God and Jesus, and been sealed
with the seal of Heaven. But harsh hands seized it; fierce goblin
lineaments were impressed upon it; and all is over with him forever!

So of the tender, weeping child is made the callous, heartless man;
of the all-believing child, the sneering skeptic; of the beautiful
and modest, the shameless and abandoned; and this is what the world
does for the little one.

There was a time when the divine One stood on earth, and little
children sought to draw near to him. But harsh human beings stood
between him and them, forbidding their approach. Ah, has it not
always been so? Do not even we, with our hard and unsubdued
feelings, our worldly and unspiritual habits and maxims, stand like
a dark screen between our little child and its Saviour, and keep
even from the choice bud of our hearts the sweet radiance which
might unfold it for paradise? "Suffer little children to come unto
me, and forbid them not," is still the voice of the Son of God;
but the cold world still closes around and forbids. When, of old,
disciples would question their Lord of the higher mysteries of his
kingdom, he took a little child and set him in the midst, as a
sign of him who should be greatest in heaven. That gentle teacher
remains still to us. By every hearth and fireside Jesus still sets
the little child in the midst of us.

Wouldst thou know, O parent, what is that faith which unlocks
heaven? Go not to wrangling polemics, or creeds and forms of
theology, but draw to thy bosom thy little one, and read in that
clear, trusting eye the lesson of eternal life. Be only to thy God
as thy child is to thee, and all is done. Blessed shalt thou be,
indeed, "when a little child shall lead thee."



THE OLD OAK OF ANDOVER

A REVERIE


Silently, with dreamy languor, the fleecy snow is falling. Through
the windows, flowery with blossoming geranium and heliotrope,
through the downward sweep of crimson and muslin curtain, one
watches it as the wind whirls and sways it in swift eddies.

Right opposite our house, on our Mount Clear, is an old oak, the
apostle of the primeval forest. Once, when this place was all
wildwood, the man who was seeking a spot for the location of the
buildings of Phillips Academy climbed this oak, using it as a sort
of green watch-tower, from whence he might gain a view of the
surrounding country. Age and time, since then, have dealt hardly
with the stanch old fellow. His limbs have been here and there
shattered; his back begins to look mossy and dilapidated; but,
after all, there is a piquant, decided air about him, that speaks
the old age of a tree of distinction, a kingly oak. To-day I see
him standing, dimly revealed through the mist of falling snows;
to-morrow's sun will show the outline of his gnarled limbs--all
rose color with their soft snow burden; and again a few months,
and spring will breathe on him, and he will draw a long breath,
and break out once more, for the three hundredth time, perhaps,
into a vernal crown of leaves. I sometimes think that leaves are
the thoughts of trees, and that if we only knew it, we should find
their life's experience recorded in them. Our oak! what a crop of
meditations and remembrances must he have thrown forth, leafing
out century after century. Awhile he spake and thought only of red
deer and Indians; of the trillium that opened its white triangle in
his shade; of the scented arbutus, fair as the pink ocean shell,
weaving her fragrant mats in the moss at his feet; of feathery
ferns, casting their silent shadows on the checkerberry leaves, and
all those sweet, wild, nameless, half-mossy things, that live in the
gloom of forests, and are only desecrated when brought to scientific
light, laid out and stretched on a botanic bier. Sweet old forest
days!--when blue jay, and yellowhammer, and bobolink made his leaves
merry, and summer was a long opera of such music as Mozart dimly
dreamed. But then came human kind bustling beneath; wondering,
fussing, exploring, measuring, treading down flowers, cutting down
trees, scaring bobolinks--and Andover, as men say, began to be
settled.

Stanch men were they--these Puritan fathers of Andover. The old
oak must have felt them something akin to himself. Such strong,
wrestling limbs had they, so gnarled and knotted were they, yet so
outbursting with a green and vernal crown, yearly springing, of
noble and generous thoughts, rustling with leaves which shall be for
the healing of nations.

These men were content with the hard, dry crust for themselves,
that they might sow seeds of abundant food for us, their children;
men out of whose hardness in enduring we gain leisure to be soft
and graceful, through whose poverty we have become rich. Like
Moses, they had for their portion only the pain and weariness of
the wilderness, leaving to us the fruition of the promised land.
Let us cherish for their sake the old oak, beautiful in its age as
the broken statue of some antique wrestler, brown with time, yet
glorious in its suggestion of past achievement.

I think all this the more that I have recently come across the
following passage in one of our religious papers. The writer
expresses a kind of sentiment which one meets very often upon this
subject, and leads one to wonder what glamour could have fallen
on the minds of any of the descendants of the Puritans, that they
should cast nettles on those honored graves where they should be
proud to cast their laurels.

"It is hard," he says, "for a lover of the beautiful--not a
mere lover, but a believer in its divinity also--to forgive the
Puritans, or to think charitably of them. It is hard for him to keep
Forefathers' Day, or to subscribe to the Plymouth Monument; hard to
look fairly at what they did, with the memory of what they destroyed
rising up to choke thankfulness; for they were as one-sided and
narrow-minded a set of men as ever lived, and saw one of Truth's
faces only--the hard, stern, practical face, without loveliness,
without beauty, and only half dear to God. The Puritan flew in
the face of facts, not because he saw them and disliked them, but
because he did not see them. He saw foolishness, lying, stealing,
worldliness,--the very mammon of unrighteousness rioting in the
world and bearing sway,--and he ran full tilt against the monster,
hating it with a very mortal and mundane hatred, and anxious to see
it bite the dust that his own horn might be exalted. It was in truth
only another horn of the old dilemma, tossing and goring grace and
beauty, and all the loveliness of life, as if they were the enemies
instead of the sure friends of God and man."

Now, to those who say this we must ask the question with which
Socrates of old pursued the sophist: What is beauty? If beauty be
only physical, if it appeal only to the senses, if it be only an
enchantment of graceful forms, sweet sounds, then indeed there might
be something of truth in this sweeping declaration that the Puritan
spirit is the enemy of beauty.

The very root and foundation of all artistic inquiry lies here.
What is beauty? And to this question God forbid that we Christians
should give a narrower answer than Plato gave in the old times
before Christ arose, for he directs the aspirant who would discover
the beautiful to "consider of greater value the beauty existing
_in the soul_, than that existing in the body." More gracefully
he teaches the same doctrine when he tells us that "there are two
kinds of Venus (beauty); the one, the elder, who had no mother, and
was the daughter of Uranus (heaven), whom we name the celestial;
the other, younger, daughter of Jupiter and Dione, whom we call the
vulgar."

Now, if disinterestedness, faith, patience, piety, have a beauty
celestial and divine, then were our fathers worshipers of the
beautiful. If high-mindedness and spotless honor are beautiful
things, they had those. What work of art can compare with a lofty
and heroic life? Is it not better to be a Moses than to be a Michael
Angelo making statues of Moses? Is not the life of Paul a sublimer
work of art than Raphael's cartoons? Are not the patience, the
faith, the undying love of Mary by the cross, more beautiful than
all the Madonna paintings in the world. If, then, we would speak
truly of our fathers, we should say that, having their minds fixed
on that celestial beauty of which Plato speaks, they held in slight
esteem that more common and earthly.

Should we continue the parable in Plato's manner, we might say
that the earthly and visible Venus, the outward grace of art and
nature, was ordained of God as a priestess, through whom men were
to gain access to the divine, invisible One; but that men, in their
blindness, ever worship the priestess instead of the divinity.

Therefore it is that great reformers so often must break the shrines
and temples of the physical and earthly beauty, when they seek to
draw men upward to that which is high and divine.

Christ says of John the Baptist, "What went ye out for to see? A
man clothed in soft raiment? Behold they which are clothed in soft
raiment are in kings' palaces." So was it when our fathers came
here. There were enough wearing soft raiment and dwelling in kings'
palaces. Life in papal Rome and prelatic England was weighed down
with blossoming luxury. There were abundance of people to think of
pictures, and statues, and gems, and cameos, vases and marbles,
and all manner of deliciousness. The world was all drunk with the
enchantments of the lower Venus, and it was needful that these men
should come, Baptist-like in the wilderness, in raiment of camel's
hair. We need such men now. Art, they tell us, is waking in America;
a love of the beautiful is beginning to unfold its wings; but what
kind of art, and what kind of beauty? Are we to fill our houses
with pictures and gems, and to see that even our drinking cup and
vase are wrought in graceful pattern, and to lose our reverence for
self-denial, honor, and faith?

Is our Venus to be the frail, ensnaring Aphrodite, or the starry,
divine Urania?



THE ELDER'S FEAST

A TRADITION OF LAODICEA


At a certain time in the earlier ages there lived in the city of
Laodicea a Christian elder of some repute, named Onesiphorus. The
world had smiled on him, and though a Christian, he was rich and
full of honors. All men, even the heathen, spoke well of him, for he
was a man courteous of speech and mild of manner.

His wife, a fair Ionian lady but half reclaimed from idolatry,
though baptized and accredited as a member of the Christian Church,
still lingered lovingly on the confines of old heathenism, and
if she did not believe, still cherished with pleasure the poetic
legends of Apollo and Venus, of Jove and Diana.

A large and fair family of sons and daughters had risen around these
parents; but their education had been much after the rudiments of
this world, and not after Christ. Though, according to the customs
of the church, they were brought to the font of baptism, and sealed
in the name of the Father, and the Son, and Holy Ghost, and although
daily, instead of libations to the Penates, or flower offerings to
Diana and Juno, the name of Jesus was invoked, yet the _spirit_ of
Jesus was wanting. The chosen associates of all these children,
as they grew older, were among the heathen; and daily they urged
their parents, by their entreaties, to conform, in one thing after
another, to heathen usage. "Why should we be singular, mother?" said
the dark-eyed Myrrah, as she bound her hair and arranged her dress
after the fashion of the girls in the temple of Venus. "Why may we
not wear the golden ornaments and images which have been consecrated
to heathen goddesses?" said the sprightly Thalia; "surely none
others are to be bought, and are we to do altogether without?" "And
why may we not be at feasts where libations are made to Apollo
or Jupiter?" said the sons; "so long as we do not consent to it
or believe in it, will our faith be shaken thereby?" "How are we
ever to reclaim the heathen, if we do not mingle among them?" said
another son; "did not our Master eat with publicans and sinners?"

It was, however, to be remarked, that no conversions of the heathen
to Christianity ever took place through the means of these complying
sons and daughters, or any of the number who followed their example.
Instead of withdrawing any from the confines of heathenism, they
themselves were drawn so nearly over, that in certain situations and
circumstances they would undoubtedly have been ranked among them by
any but a most scrutinizing observer. If any in the city of Laodicea
were ever led to unite themselves with Jesus, it was by means of a
few who observed the full simplicity of the ancient faith, and who,
though honest, tender, and courteous in all their dealings with the
heathen, still went not a step with them in conformity to any of
their customs.

In time, though the family we speak of never broke off from the
Christian Church, yet if you had been in it, you might have heard
much warm and earnest conversation about things that took place
at the baths, or in feasts to various divinities; but if any one
spoke of Jesus, there was immediately a cold silence, a decorous,
chilling, respectful pause, after which the conversation, with a
bound, flew back into the old channel again.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now night; and the house of Onesiphorus the Elder was
blazing with torches, alive with music, and all the hurry and stir
of a sumptuous banquet. All the wealth and fashion of Laodicea
were there, Christian and heathen; and all that the classic
voluptuousness of Oriental Greece could give to shed enchantment
over the scene was there. In ancient times the festivals of
Christians in Laodicea had been regulated in the spirit of the
command of Jesus, as recorded by Luke, whose classical Greek had
made his the established version in Asia Minor. "And thou, when thou
makest a feast, call not thy friends and thy kinsmen, nor thy rich
neighbors, lest they also bid thee, and a recompense be made thee.
But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, and the maimed, and
the lame, and the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot
recompense thee, but thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection
of the just."

That very day, before the entertainment, had this passage been
quoted in the ears of the family by Cleon, the youngest son, who,
different from all his family, had cherished in his bosom the
simplicity of the old belief.

"How ridiculous! how absurd!" had been the reply of the more
thoughtless members of the family, when Cleon cited the above
passage as in point to the evening's entertainment. The dark-eyed
mother looked reproof on the levity of the younger children, and
decorously applauded the passage, which she said had no application
to the matter in hand.

"But, mother, even if the passage be not literally taken, it
must mean something. What did the Lord Jesus intend by it? If we
Christians may make entertainments with all the parade and expense
of our heathen neighbors, and thus spend the money that might be
devoted to charity, what does this passage mean?"

"Your father gives in charity as handsomely as any Christian in
Laodicea," said his mother warmly.

"Nay, mother, that may be; but I bethink me now of two or three
times when means have been wanting for the relieving of the poor,
and the ransoming of captives, and the support of apostles, when we
have said that we could give no more."

"My son," said his mother, "you do not understand the ways of the
world."

"Nay, how should he," said Thalia, "shut up day and night with that
old papyrus of St. Luke and Paul's Epistles? One may have too much
of a good thing."

"But does not the holy Paul say, 'Be not conformed to this world'?"

"Certainly," said the elder; "that means that we should be baptized,
and not worship in the heathen temples."

"My dear son," said his mother, "you intend well, doubtless; but
you have not sufficient knowledge of life to estimate our relations
to society. Entertainments of this sort are absolutely necessary
to sustain our position in the world. If we accept, we must return
them."

But not to dwell on this conversation, let us suppose ourselves in
the rooms now glittering with lights, and gay with every costly
luxury of wealth and taste. Here were statues to Diana and Apollo,
and to the household Juno--not meant for worship--of course not--but
simply to conform to the general usages of good society; and so far
had this complaisance been carried, that the shrine of a peerless
Venus was adorned with garlands and votive offerings, and an
exquisitely wrought silver censer diffused its perfume on the marble
altar in front. This complaisance on the part of some of the younger
members of the family drew from the elder a gentle remonstrance, as
having an unseemly appearance for those bearing the Christian name;
but they readily answered, "Has not Paul said, 'We know that an idol
is nothing'? Where is the harm of an elegant statue, considered
merely as a consummate work of art? As for the flowers, are they
not simply the most appropriate ornament? And where is the harm of
burning exquisite perfume? And is it worse to burn it in one place
than another?"

"Upon my sword," said one of the heathen guests, as he wandered
through the gay scene, "how liberal and accommodating these
Christians are becoming! Except in a few small matters in the
temple, they seem to be with us entirely."

"Ah," said another, "it was not so years back. Nothing was heard
among them, then, but prayers, and alms, and visits to the poor and
sick; and when they met together in their feasts, there was so much
of their talk of Christ, and such singing of hymns and prayer, that
one of us found himself quite out of place."

"Yes," said an old man present, "in those days I quite bethought
me of being some day a Christian; but look you, they are grown so
near like us now, it is scarce worth one's while to change. A little
matter of ceremony in the temple, and offering incense to Jesus,
instead of Jupiter, when all else is the same, can make small odds
in a man."

But now, the ancient legend goes on to say, that in the midst of
that gay and brilliant evening, a stranger of remarkable appearance
and manners was noticed among the throng. None knew him, or whence
he came. He mingled not in the mirth, and seemed to recognize no one
present, though he regarded all that was passing with a peculiar air
of still and earnest attention; and wherever he moved, his calm,
penetrating gaze seemed to diffuse a singular uneasiness about
him. Now his eye was fixed with a quiet scrutiny on the idolatrous
statues, with their votive adornments--now it followed earnestly the
young forms that were wreathing in the graceful waves of the dance;
and then he turned toward the tables, loaded with every luxury and
sparkling with wines, where the devotion to Bacchus became more
than poetic fiction; and as he gazed, a high, indignant sorrow
seemed to overshadow the calmness of his majestic face. When, in
thoughtless merriment, some of the gay company sought to address
him, they found themselves shrinking involuntarily from the soft,
piercing eye, and trembling at the low, sweet tones in which he
replied. What he spoke was brief; but there was a gravity and tender
wisdom in it that strangely contrasted with the frivolous scene, and
awakened unwonted ideas of heavenly purity even in thoughtless and
dissipated minds.

The only one of the company who seemed to seek his society was
the youngest, the fair little child Isa. She seemed as strangely
attracted towards him as others were repelled; and when,
unsolicited, in the frank confidence of childhood she pressed to
his side, and placed her little hand in his, the look of radiant
compassion and tenderness which beamed down from those eyes was
indeed glorious to behold. Yet here and there, as he glided among
the crowd, he spoke in the ear of some Christian words which, though
soft and low, seemed to have a mysterious and startling power; for
one after another, pensive, abashed, and confounded, they drew aside
from the gay scene, and seemed lost in thought. That stranger--who
was he? Who? The inquiry passed from mouth to mouth, and one and
another, who had listened to his low, earnest tones, looked on each
other with a troubled air. Erelong he had glided hither and thither
in the crowd; he had spoken in the ear of every Christian--and
suddenly again he was gone, and they saw him no more. Each had
felt the heart thrill within--each spirit had vibrated as if the
finger of its Creator had touched it, and shrunk conscious as if an
omniscient eye were upon it. Each heart was stirred from its depths.
Vain sophistries, worldly maxims, making the false look true, all
appeared to rise and clear away like a mist; and at once each one
seemed to see, as God sees, the true state of the inner world, the
true motive and reason of action, and in the instinctive pause that
passed through the company, the banquet was broken up and deserted.

"And what if their God were present?" said one of the heathen
members of the company, next day. "Why did they all look so blank?
A most favorable omen, we should call it, to have one's patron
divinity at a feast."

"Besides," said another, "these Christians hold that their God is
always everywhere present; so, at most, they have but had their eyes
opened to see Him who is always there!"

       *       *       *       *       *

What is practically the meaning of the precept, "Be not conformed
to the world"? In its every-day results, it presents many problems
difficult of solution. There are so many shades and blendings of
situation and circumstances, so many things, innocent and graceful
in themselves, which, like flowers and incense on a heathen altar,
become unchristian only through position and circumstances, that the
most honest and well-intentioned are often perplexed.

That we must conform in some things is conceded; yet the whole
tenor of the New Testament shows that this conformity must have its
limits--that Christians are to be transformed, so as to exhibit to
the world a higher and more complete style of life, and thus "prove
what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."

But in many particulars as to style of living and modes of social
intercourse, there can be no definite rules laid down, and no
Christian can venture to judge another by his standard.

One Christian condemns dress adornment, and the whole application of
taste to the usages of life, as a sinful waste of time and money.
Another, perceiving in every work of God a love and appreciation
of the beautiful, believes that there is a sphere in which he is
pleased to see the same trait in his children, if the indulgence do
not become excessive, and thus interfere with higher duties.

One condemns all time and expense laid out in social visiting as
so much waste. Another remembers that Jesus, when just entering
on the most vast and absorbing work, turned aside to attend a
wedding feast, and wrought his first miracle to enhance its social
enjoyment. Again, there are others who, because some indulgence of
taste and some exercise for the social powers are admissible, go all
lengths in extravagance, and in company, dress, and the externals of
life.

In the same manner, with regard to style of life and social
entertainment--most of the items which go to constitute what is
called style of living, or the style of particular parties, may
be in themselves innocent, and yet they may be so interwoven and
combined with evils, that the whole effect shall be felt to be
decidedly unchristian, both by Christians and the world. How, then,
shall the well-disposed person know where to stop, and how to strike
the just medium?

We know of but one safe rule: read the life of Jesus with
attention--study it--inquire earnestly with yourself, "What sort of
a person, in thought, in feeling, in action, was my Saviour?"--live
in constant sympathy and communion with him--and there will be
within a kind of instinctive rule by which to try all things. A
young man, who was to be exposed to the temptations of one of the
most dissipated European capitals, carried with him his father's
picture, and hung it in his apartment. Before going out to any of
the numerous resorts of the city, he was accustomed to contemplate
this picture, and say to himself, "Would my father wish to see me
in the place to which I am going?" and thus was he saved from many
a temptation. In like manner the Christian, who has always by his
side the beautiful ideal of his Saviour, finds it a holy charm,
by which he is gently restrained from all that is unsuitable to
his profession. He has but to inquire of any scene or employment,
"Should I be well pleased to meet my Saviour there? Would the trains
of thought I should there fall into, the state of mind that would
there be induced, be such as would harmonize with an interview with
him?" Thus protected and defended, social enjoyment might be like
that of Mary and John, and the disciples, when, under the mild,
approving eye of the Son of God, they shared the festivities of
Cana.



A SCENE IN JERUSALEM


It is now nearly noon, the busiest and most bustling hour of the
day; yet the streets of the Holy City seem deserted and silent
as the grave. The artisan has left his bench, the merchant his
merchandise; the throngs of returned wanderers which this great
national festival has brought up from every land of the earth, and
which have been for the last week carrying life and motion through
every street, seem suddenly to have disappeared. Here and there
solitary footfalls, like the last pattering rain-drops after a
shower, awaken the echoes of the streets; and here and there some
lonely woman looks from the housetop with anxious and agitated face,
as if she would discern something in the far distance.

Alone, or almost alone, the few remaining priests move like
white-winged, solitary birds over the gorgeous pavements of the
temple, and as they mechanically conduct the ministrations of the
day, cast significant glances on each other, and pause here and
there to converse in anxious whispers.

Ah, there is one voice which they have often heard beneath those
arches--a voice which ever bore in it a mysterious and thrilling
charm--which they know will be hushed to-day. Chief priest, scribe,
and doctor have all gone out in the death procession after him; and
these few remaining ones, far from the excitement of the crowd, and
busied in calm and sacred duties, find voices of anxious questioning
rising from the depths of their own souls, "What if this indeed were
the Christ?"

But pass we on out of the city, and what a surging tide of life and
motion meets the eye, as if all nations under heaven had dashed
their waves of population on this Judæan shore! A noisy, wrathful,
tempestuous mob, billow on billow, waver and rally round some
central object, which it conceals from view. Parthians, Medes,
Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia and Egypt, strangers of Rome,
Cretes and Arabians, Jew and Proselyte, convoked from the ends of
the earth, throng in agitated concourse one on another; one theme in
every face, on every tongue, one name in every variety of accent and
dialect passing from lip to lip--

"Jesus of Nazareth."

Look on that man--the centre and cause of all this outburst! He
stands there alone. The cross is ready. It lies beneath his feet.
The rough hand of a brutal soldier has seized his robe to tear it
from him. Another with stalwart arm is boring the holes, gazing
upward the while with a face of stupid unconcern. There on the
ground lie the hammer and the nails: the hour, the moment of doom
is come! Look on this man, as upward, with deep, sorrowing eyes, he
gazes towards heaven. Hears he the roar of the mob? Feels he the
rough hand on his garment? Nay, he sees not, feels not: from all
the rage and tumult of the hour he is rapt away. A sorrow deeper,
more absorbing, more unearthly seems to possess him, as upward
with long gaze he looks to that heaven never before closed to his
prayer, to that God never before to him invisible. That mournful,
heaven-searching glance, in its lonely anguish, says but one thing:
"Lo, I come to do thy will, O God."

Through a life of sorrow the realized love of his Father has shone
like a precious and beautiful talisman in his bosom; but now, when
desolation and anguish have come upon him as a whirlwind, this last
star has gone out in the darkness, and Jesus, deserted by man and
God, stands there alone.

Alone? No; for undaunted by the cruel mob, fearless in the strength
of mortal anguish, helpless, yet undismayed, stands the one blessed
among women, the royal daughter of a noble line, the priestess
to whose care was intrusted this spotless sacrifice. She and her
son, last of a race of kings, stand there despised, rejected, and
disavowed by their nation, to accomplish dread words of prophecy,
which have swept down for far ages to this hour.

Strange it is, in this dark scene, to see the likeness between
mother and son, deepening in every line of those faces, as they
stand thus thrown out by the dark background of rage and hate, which
like a storm-cloud lowers around. The same rapt, absorbed, calm
intensity of anguish in both mother and son, save only that while
he gazes upward towards God, she, with like fervor, gazes on him.
What to her is the deriding mob, the coarse taunt, the brutal abuse?
Of it all she hears, she feels nothing. She sinks not, faints not,
weeps not; her whole being concentrates in the will to suffer by
and with him to the last. Other hearts there are that beat for him;
others that press into the doomed circle, and own him amid the scorn
of thousands. There may you see the clasped hands and upraised eyes
of a Magdalen, the pale and steady resolve of John, the weeping
company of women who bewailed and lamented him; but none dare press
so near, or seem so identical with him in his sufferings, as this
mother.

And as we gaze on these two in human form, surrounded by other human
forms, how strange the contrast! How is it possible that human
features and human lineaments essentially alike can be wrought into
such heaven-wide contrast? Man is he who stands there, lofty and
spotless, in bleeding patience! Men also are those brutal soldiers,
alike stupidly ready, at the word of command, to drive the nail
through quivering flesh or insensate wood. Men are those scowling
priests and infuriate Pharisees. Men, also, the shifting figures
of the careless rabble, who shout and curse without knowing why.
No visible glory shines round that head; yet how, spite of every
defilement cast upon him by the vulgar rabble, seems that form to be
glorified! What light is that in those eyes! What mournful beauty in
that face! What solemn, mysterious sacredness investing the whole
form, constraining from us the exclamation, "Surely this is the Son
of God." Man's voice is breathing vulgar taunt and jeer: "He saved
others; himself he cannot save." "He trusted in God; let him deliver
him if he will have him." And man's, also, clear, sweet, unearthly,
pierces that stormy mob, saying, "Father, forgive them; they know
not what they do."

But we draw the veil in reverence. It is not ours to picture what
the sun refused to shine upon, and earth shook to behold.

Little thought those weeping women, that stricken disciple, that
heartbroken mother, how on some future day that cross--emblem to
them of deepest infamy--should blaze in the eye of all nations,
symbol of triumph and hope, glittering on gorgeous fanes,
embroidered on regal banners, associated with all that is revered
and powerful on earth. The Roman ensign that waved on that mournful
day, symbol of highest earthly power, is a thing mouldered and
forgotten; and over all the high places of old Rome, herself, stands
that mystical cross, no longer speaking of earthly anguish and
despair, but of heavenly glory, honor, and immortality.

Theologians have endlessly disputed and philosophized on this great
fact of atonement. The Bible tells only that this tragic event was
the essential point without which our salvation could never have
been secured. But where lay the necessity they do not say. What was
that dread strait that either the divine One must thus suffer, or
man be lost, who knoweth?

To this question answer a thousand voices, with each a different
solution, urged with equal confidence--each solution to its framer
as certain and sacred as the dread fact it explains--yet every
one, perhaps, unsatisfactory to the deep-questioning soul. The
Bible, as it always does, gives on this point not definitions or
distinct outlines, but images--images which lose all their glory
and beauty if seized by the harsh hands of metaphysical analysis,
but inexpressibly affecting to the unlettered human heart, which
softens in gazing on their mournful and mysterious beauty. Christ is
called our sacrifice, our passover, our atoning high priest; and he
himself, while holding in his hands the emblem cup, says, "It is my
blood shed for many, for the remission of sins." Let us reason on it
as we will, this story of the cross, presented without explanation
in the simple metaphor of the Bible, has produced an effect on
human nature wholly unaccountable. In every age and clime, with
every variety of habit, thought, and feeling, from the cannibals of
New Zealand and Madagascar to the most enlightened and scientific
minds in Christendom, one feeling, essentially homogeneous in its
character and results, has arisen in view of this cross. There is
something in it that strikes one of the great nerves of simple,
unsophisticated humanity, and meets its wants as nothing else
will. Ages ago, Paul declared to philosophizing Greek and scornful
Roman that he was not ashamed of this gospel, and alleged for his
reason this very adaptedness to humanity. _A priori_, many would
have said that Paul should have told of Christ living, Christ
preaching, Christ working miracles, not omitting also the pathetic
history of how he sealed all with his blood; but Paul declared that
he determined to know nothing else but Christ crucified. He said
it was a stumbling-block to the Jew, an absurdity to the Greek;
yet he was none the less positive in his course. True, there were
many then, as now, who looked on with the most philosophic and
cultivated indifference. The courtly Festus, as he settled his
purple tunic, declared he could make nothing of the matter, only a
dispute about one Jesus, who was dead, and whom Paul affirmed to
be alive; and perchance some Athenian, as he reclined on his ivory
couch at dinner, after the sermon on Mars Hill, may have disposed
of the matter very summarily, and passed on to criticisms on Samian
wine and marble vases. Yet in spite of their disbelief, this story
of Christ has outlived them, their age and nation, and is to this
hour as fresh in human hearts as if it were just published. This
"one Jesus which was dead, and whom Paul affirmed to be alive," is
nominally, at least, the object of religious homage in all the more
cultivated portions of the globe; and to hearts scattered through
all regions of the earth this same Jesus is now a sacred and living
name, dearer than all household sounds, all ties of blood, all
sweetest and nearest affections of humanity. "I am ready not only to
be bound, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus," are words
that have found an echo in the bosoms of thousands in every age
since then; that would, if need were, find no less echo in thousands
now. Considering Christ as a man, and his death as a mere pathetic
story,--considering him as one of the great martyrs for truth, who
sealed it with his blood,--this result is wholly unaccountable.
Other martyrs have died, bravely and tenderly, in their last
hours "bearing witness of the godlike" that is in man; but who so
remembers them? Who so loves them? To whom is any one of them a
living presence, a life, and all? Yet so thousands look on Jesus at
this hour.

Nay, it is because this story strikes home to every human bosom
as an individual concern. A thrilling voice speaks from this scene
of anguish to every human bosom: This is thy Saviour. Thy sin hath
done this. It is the appropriative words, thine and mine, which make
this history different from any other history. This was for _me_,
is the thought which has pierced the apathy of the Greenlander, and
kindled the stolid clay of the Hottentot; and no human bosom has
ever been found so low, so lost, so guilty, so despairing, that
this truth, once received, has not had power to redeem, regenerate,
and disenthrall. Christ so presented becomes to every human being a
friend nearer than the mother who bore him; and the more degraded,
the more hopeless and polluted is the nature, the stronger comes on
the living reaction, if this belief is really and vividly enkindled
with it. But take away this appropriative, individual element, and
this legend of Jesus' death has no more power than any other. He is
to us no more than Washington, or Socrates, or Howard. And where is
there not a touchstone to try every theory of atonement? Whatever
makes a man feel that he is only a spectator, an uninterested
judge in this matter, is surely astray from the idea of the Bible.
Whatever makes him feel that his sins have done this deed, that he
is bound, soul and body, to this Deliverer, though it may be in many
points philosophically erroneous, cannot go far astray.

If we could tell the number of the stars, and call them forth by
name, then, perhaps, might we solve all the mystic symbols by
which the Bible has shadowed forth the far-lying necessities and
reachings-forth of this event "among principalities and powers,"
and in "ages to come." But he who knows nothing of all this, who
shall so present the atonement as to bind and affiance human souls
indissolubly to their Redeemer, does all that could be done by the
highest and most perfect knowledge.

The great object is accomplished, when the soul, rapt, inspired,
feels the deep resolve:--

                "Remember Thee!
    Yea, from the table of my memory
    I'll wipe away all trivial, fond records,
    All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past
    That youth and observation copied there,
    And thy commandment all alone shall live
    Within the book and volume of my brain,
    Unmixed with baser matter."



THE OLD MEETING-HOUSE

SKETCH FROM THE NOTE-BOOK OF AN OLD GENTLEMAN


Never shall I forget the dignity and sense of importance which
swelled my mind when I was first pronounced old enough to go to
meeting. That eventful Sunday I was up long before day, and even
took my Sabbath suit to the window to ascertain by the first light
that it actually was there, just as it looked the night before. With
what complacency did I view myself completely dressed! How did I
count over the rows of yellow gilt buttons on my coat! how my good
mother, grandmother, and aunts fussed, and twitched, and pulled, to
make everything set up and set down, just in the proper place! how
my clean, starched white collar was turned over and smoothed again
and again, and my golden curls twisted and arranged to make the most
of me! and, last of all, how I was cautioned not to be thinking of
my clothes. In truth, I was in those days a very handsome youngster,
and it really is no more than justice to let the fact be known,
as there is nothing in my present appearance from which it could
ever be inferred. Everybody in the house successively asked me if
I should be a good boy, and sit still, and not talk, nor laugh;
and my mother informed me, _in terrorem_, that there was a tithing
man, who carried off naughty children, and shut them up in a dark
place behind the pulpit; and that this tithing man, Mr. Zephaniah
Scranton, sat just where he could see me. This fact impressed
my mind with more solemnity than all the exhortations which had
preceded it--a proof of the efficacy of facts above reason. Under
shadow and power of this weighty truth, I demurely took hold of my
mother's forefinger to walk to meeting.

The traveler in New England, as he stands on some eminence, and
looks down on its rich landscape of golden grain and waving
cornfield, sees no feature more beautiful than its simple churches,
whose white taper fingers point upward, amid the greenness and bloom
of the distant prospects, as if to remind one of the overshadowing
providence whence all this luxuriant beauty flows; and year by
year, as new ones are added to the number, or succeed in the place
of old ones, there is discernible an evident improvement in their
taste and architecture. Those modest Doric little buildings, with
their white pillars, green blinds, and neat inclosures, are very
different affairs from those great, uncouth mountains of windows
and doors that stood in the same place years before. To my childish
eye, however, our old meeting-house was an awe-inspiring thing.
To me it seemed fashioned very nearly on the model of Noah's ark
and Solomon's temple, as set forth in the pictures in my Scripture
Catechism--pictures which I did not doubt were authentic copies; and
what more respectable and venerable architectural precedent could
any one desire? Its double rows of windows, of which I knew the
number by heart, its doors with great wooden quirls over them, its
belfry projecting out at the east end, its steeple and bell, all
inspired as much sense of the sublime in me as Strasbourg Cathedral
itself; and the inside was not a whit less imposing.

How magnificent, to my eye, seemed the turnip-like canopy that
hung over the minister's head, hooked by a long iron rod to the
wall above! and how apprehensively did I consider the question,
what would become of him if it should fall! How did I wonder
at the panels on either side of the pulpit, in each of which
was carved and painted a flaming red tulip, bolt upright, with
its leaves projecting out at right angles! and then at the
grapevine, bas-relieved on the front, with its exactly triangular
bunches of grapes, alternating at exact intervals with exactly
triangular leaves. To me it was an indisputable representation of
how grapevines ought to look, if they would only be straight and
regular, instead of curling and scrambling, and twisting themselves
into all sorts of slovenly shapes. The area of the house was divided
into large square pews, boxed up with stout boards, and surmounted
with a kind of baluster work, which I supposed to be provided for
the special accommodation of us youngsters, being the "loopholes
of retreat" through which we gazed on the "remarkabilia" of the
scene. It was especially interesting to me to notice the coming in
to meeting of the congregation. The doors were so contrived that on
entering you stepped down instead of up--a construction that has
more than once led to unlucky results in the case of strangers. I
remember once when an unlucky Frenchman, entirely unsuspicious of
the danger that awaited him, made entrance by pitching devoutly
upon his nose in the middle of the broad aisle; that it took three
bunches of my grandmother's fennel to bring my risibles into
anything like composure. Such exhibitions, fortunately for me,
were very rare; but still I found great amusement in watching the
distinctive and marked outlines of the various people that filled
up the seats around me. A Yankee village presents a picture of the
curiosities of every generation: there from year to year, they live
on, preserved by hard labor and regular habits, exhibiting every
peculiarity of manner and appearance, as distinctly marked as when
they first came from the mint of nature. And as everybody goes
punctually to meeting, the meeting-house becomes a sort of museum of
antiquities--a general muster ground for past and present.

I remember still with what wondering admiration I used to look
around on the people that surrounded our pew. On one side there
was an old Captain McLean, and Major McDill, a couple whom the
mischievous wits of the village designated as Captain McLean and
Captain McFat; and, in truth, they were a perfect antithesis,
a living exemplification of flesh and spirit. Captain McLean
was a mournful, lengthy, considerate-looking old gentleman,
with a long face, digressing into a long, thin, horny nose,
which, when he applied his pocket-handkerchief, gave forth a
melancholy, minor-keyed sound, such as a ghost might make, using a
pocket-handkerchief in the long gallery of some old castle.

Close at his side was the doughty, puffing Captain McDill, whose
full-orbed, jolly visage was illuminated by a most valiant red nose,
shaped something like an overgrown doughnut, and looking as if it
had been thrown at his face, and happened to hit in the middle.
Then there was old Israel Peters, with a wooden leg, which tramped
into meeting, with undeviating regularity, ten minutes before
meeting time; and there was Jedediah Stebbins, a thin, wistful,
moonshiny-looking old gentleman, whose mouth appeared as if it had
been gathered up with a needle and thread, and whose eyes seemed
as if they had been bound with red tape; and there was old Benaiah
Stephens, who used regularly to get up and stand when the minister
was about half through his sermon, exhibiting his tall figure, long,
single-breasted coat, with buttons nearly as large as a tea plate;
his large, black, horn spectacles stretched down on the extreme end
of a very long nose, and vigorously chewing, meanwhile, on the bunch
of caraway which he always carried in one hand. Then there was Aunt
Sally Stimpson, and old Widow Smith, and a whole bevy of little,
dried old ladies, with small, straight, black bonnets, tight sleeves
to the elbow, long silk gloves, and great fans, big enough for a
windmill; and of a hot day it was a great amusement to me to watch
the bobbing of the little black bonnets, which showed that sleep
had got the better of their owners' attention, and the sputter and
rustling of the fans, when a more profound nod than common would
suddenly waken them, and set them to fanning and listening with
redoubled devotion. There was Deacon Dundas, a great wagon load
of an old gentleman, whose ample pockets looked as if they might
have held half the congregation, who used to establish himself just
on one side of me, and seemed to feel such entire confidence in
the soundness and capacity of his pastor that he could sleep very
comfortably from one end of the sermon to the other. Occasionally,
to be sure, one of your officious blue flies, who, as everybody
knows, are amazingly particular about such matters, would buzz into
his mouth, or flirt into his ears a passing admonition as to the
impropriety of sleeping in meeting, when the good old gentleman
would start, open his eyes very wide, and look about with a resolute
air, as much as to say, "I wasn't asleep, I can tell you;" and then
setting himself in an edifying posture of attention, you might
perceive his head gradually settling back, his mouth slowly opening
wider and wider, till the good man would go off again soundly
asleep, as if nothing had happened.

It was a good orthodox custom of old times to take every part of
the domestic establishment to meeting, even down to the faithful
dog, who, as he had supervised the labors of the week, also came
with due particularity to supervise the worship of Sunday. I think
I can see now the fitting out on a Sunday morning--the one wagon,
or two, as the case might be, tackled up with an "old gray" or an
"old bay," with a buffalo skin over the seat by way of cushion, and
all the family, in their Sunday best, packed in for meeting; while
Master Bose, Watch, or Towser stood prepared to be an outguard, and
went meekly trotting up hill and down dale in the rear. Arrived at
meeting, the canine part of the establishment generally conducted
themselves with great decorum, lying down and going to sleep as
decently as anybody present, except when some of the business-loving
bluebottles aforesaid would make a sortie upon them, when you might
hear the snap of their jaws as they vainly sought to lay hold of the
offender. Now and then, between some of the sixthlies, seventhlies,
and eighthlies, you might hear some old patriarch giving himself a
rousing shake, and pitpatting soberly up the aisles, as if to see
that everything was going on properly, after which he would lie
down and compose himself to sleep again; and certainly this was as
improving a way of spending Sunday as a good Christian dog could
desire.

But the glory of our meeting-house was its singers' seat--that
empyrean of those who rejoiced in the divine, mysterious art of
fa-sol-la-ing, who, by a distinguishing grace and privilege, could
"raise and fall" the cabalistical eighth notes, and move serene
through the enchanted region of flats, sharps, thirds, fifths, and
octaves.

There they sat in the gallery that lined three sides of the house,
treble, counter, tenor, and bass, each with its appropriate
leaders and supporters; there were generally seated the bloom
of our young people; sparkling, modest, and blushing girls on
one side, with their ribbons and finery, making the place where
they sat as blooming and lively as a flower garden, and fiery,
forward, confident young men on the other. In spite of its being
a meeting-house, we could not swear that glances were never given
and returned, and that there was not often as much of an approach
to flirtation as the distance and the sobriety of the place would
admit. Certain it was, that there was no place where our village
coquettes attracted half so many eyes or led astray half so many
hearts.

But I have been talking of singers all this time, and neglected
to mention the Magnus Apollo of the whole concern, the redoubtable
chorister, who occupied the seat of honor in the midst of the middle
gallery, and exactly opposite to the minister. Certain it is that
the good man, if he were alive, would never believe it; for no
person ever more magnified his office, or had a more thorough belief
in his own greatness and supremacy, than Zedekiah Morse. Methinks I
can see him now as he appeared to my eyes on that first Sunday, when
he shot up from behind the gallery, as if he had been sent up by a
spring. He was a little man, whose fiery red hair, brushed straight
upon the top of his head, had an appearance as vigorous and lively
as real flame; and this, added to the ardor and determination of all
his motions, had obtained for him the surname of the "Burning Bush."
He seemed possessed with the very soul of song; and from the moment
he began to sing, looked alive all over, till it seemed to me that
his whole body would follow his hair upwards, fairly rapt away by
the power of harmony. With what an air did he sound the important
fa-sol-la in the ears of the waiting gallery, who stood with open
mouths ready to seize their pitch, preparatory to their general _set
to_! How did his ascending and descending arm astonish the zephyrs
when once he laid himself out to the important work of beating
time! How did his little head whisk from side to side, as now he
beat and roared towards the ladies on his right, and now towards
the gentlemen on his left! It used to seem to my astonished vision
as if his form grew taller, his arm longer, his hair redder, and
his little green eyes brighter, with every stave; and particularly
when he perceived any falling off of time or discrepancy in pitch;
with what redoubled vigor would he thump the gallery and roar at the
delinquent quarter, till every mother's son and daughter of them
skipped and scrambled into the right place again!

Oh, it was a fine thing to see the vigor and discipline with which
he managed the business; so that if, on a hot, drowsy Sunday, any
part of the choir hung back or sung sleepily on the first part of a
verse, they were obliged to bestir themselves in good earnest, and
sing three times as fast, in order to get through with the others.
'Kiah Morse was no advocate for your dozy, drawling singing, that
one may do at leisure, between sleeping and waking, I assure you;
indeed, he got entirely out of the graces of Deacon Dundas and one
or two other portly, leisurely old gentlemen below, who had been
used to throw back their heads, shut up their eyes, and take the
comfort of the psalm, by prolonging indefinitely all the notes. The
first Sunday after 'Kiah took the music in hand, the old deacon
really rubbed his eyes and looked about him, for the psalm was sung
off before he was ready to get his mouth opened, and he really
looked upon it as a most irreverent piece of business.

But the glory of 'Kiah's art consisted in the execution of those
good old billowy compositions called fuguing tunes, where the four
parts that compose the choir take up the song, and go racing around
one after another, each singing a different set of words, till, at
length, by some inexplicable magic, they all come together again,
and sail smoothly out into a rolling sea of song. I remember the
wonder with which I used to look from side to side when treble,
tenor, counter, and bass were thus roaring and foaming,--and it
verily seemed to me as if the psalm was going to pieces among the
breakers,--and the delighted astonishment with which I found that
each particular verse did emerge whole and uninjured from the storm.

But alas for the wonders of that old meeting-house, how they are
passed away! Even the venerable building itself has been pulled
down, and its fragments scattered; yet still I retain enough of my
childish feelings to wonder whether any little boy was gratified
by the possession of those painted tulips and grapevines, which my
childish eye used to covet, and about the obtaining of which, in
case the house should ever be pulled down, I devised so many schemes
during the long sermons and services of summer days. I have visited
the spot where it stood, but the modern, fair-looking building that
stands in its room bears no trace of it; and of the various familiar
faces that used to be seen inside not one remains. Verily, I must be
growing old; and as old people are apt to spin long stories, I check
myself, and lay down my pen.



LITTLE EDWARD


Were any of you born in New England, in the good old catechising,
church-going, school-going, orderly times? If so, you may have
seen my Uncle Abel; the most perpendicular, rectangular, upright,
downright good man that ever labored six days and rested on the
seventh.

You remember his hard, weather-beaten countenance, where every line
seemed drawn with "a pen of iron and the point of a diamond;" his
considerate gray eyes, that moved over objects as if it were not
best to be in a hurry about seeing; the circumspect opening and
shutting of the mouth; his down-sitting and up-rising, all performed
with conviction aforethought--in short, the whole ordering of his
life and conversation, which was, according to the tenor of the
military order, "to the right about face--forward, march!"

Now, if you supposed, from all this triangularism of exterior, that
this good man had nothing kindly within, you were much mistaken.
You often find the greenest grass under a snowdrift; and though my
uncle's mind was not exactly of the flower garden kind, still there
was an abundance of wholesome and kindly vegetation there.

It is true, he seldom laughed, and never joked himself; but no man
had a more serious and weighty conviction of what a good joke was
in another; and when some exceeding witticism was dispensed in his
presence, you might see Uncle Abel's face slowly relax into an
expression of solemn satisfaction, and he would look at the author
with a sort of quiet wonder, as if it was past his comprehension how
such a thing could ever come into a man's head.

Uncle Abel, too, had some relish for the fine arts; in proof of
which, I might adduce the pleasure with which he gazed at the plates
in his family Bible, the likeness whereof is neither in heaven,
nor on earth, nor under the earth. And he was also such an eminent
musician, that he could go through the singing-book at one sitting
without the least fatigue, beating time like a windmill all the way.

He had, too, a liberal hand, though his liberality was all by the
rule of three. He did by his neighbor exactly as he would be done
by. He loved some things in this world very sincerely; he loved his
God much, but he honored and feared him more. He was exact with
others; he was more exact with himself, and he expected his God to
be more exact still.

Everything in Uncle Abel's house was in the same time, place,
manner, and form, from year's end to year's end. There was old
Master Bose, a dog after my uncle's own heart, who always walked
as if he was studying the multiplication table. There was the old
clock, forever ticking in the kitchen corner, with a picture on
its face of the sun, forever setting behind a perpendicular row of
poplar-trees. There was the never failing supply of red peppers
and onions hanging over the chimney. There, too, were the yearly
hollyhocks and morning-glories blooming about the windows. There
was the "best room," with its sanded floor, the cupboard in one
corner with its glass doors, the ever green asparagus bushes in
the chimney, and there was the stand with the Bible and almanac
on it in another corner. There, too, was Aunt Betsey, who never
looked any older, because she always looked as old as she could;
who always dried her catnip and wormwood the last of September, and
began to clean house the first of May. In short, this was the land
of continuance. Old Time never took it into his head to practice
either addition, or subtraction, or multiplication on its sum total.

This Aunt Betsey aforenamed was the neatest and most efficient piece
of human machinery that ever operated in forty places at once. She
was always everywhere, predominating over and seeing to everything;
and though my uncle had been twice married, Aunt Betsey's rule and
authority had never been broken. She reigned over his wives when
living, and reigned after them when dead, and so seemed likely to
reign on to the end of the chapter. But my uncle's latest wife
left Aunt Betsey a much less tractable subject than ever before
had fallen to her lot. Little Edward was the child of my uncle's
old age, and a brighter, merrier little blossom never grew on the
verge of an avalanche. He had been committed to the nursing of his
grandmamma till he had arrived at the age of _in_discretion, and
then my old uncle's heart so yearned for him that he was sent for to
come home.

His introduction into the family excited a terrible sensation.
Never was there such a contemner of dignities, such a violator of
high places and sanctities, as this very Master Edward. It was all
in vain to try to teach him decorum. He was the most outrageously
merry elf that ever shook a head of curls, and it was all the same
to him whether it was "Sabba' day" or any other day. He laughed
and frolicked with everybody and everything that came in his way,
not even excepting his solemn old father; and when you saw him,
with his fair arms around the old man's neck, and his bright blue
eyes and blooming cheek peering out beside the bleak face of Uncle
Abel, you might fancy you saw spring caressing winter. Uncle Abel's
metaphysics were sorely puzzled by this sparkling, dancing compound
of spirit and matter; nor could he devise any method of bringing it
into any reasonable shape, for he did mischief with an energy and
perseverance that was truly astonishing. Once he scoured the floor
with Aunt Betsey's very Scotch snuff; once he washed up the hearth
with Uncle Abel's most immaculate clothes-brush; and once he was
found trying to make Bose wear his father's spectacles. In short,
there was no use, except the right one, to which he did not put
everything that came in his way.

But Uncle Abel was most of all puzzled to know what to do with
him on the Sabbath, for on that day Master Edward seemed to exert
himself to be particularly diligent and entertaining.

"Edward! Edward must not play Sunday!" his father would call out;
and then Edward would hold up his curly head, and look as grave as
the Catechism; but in three minutes you would see "pussy" scampering
through the "best room," with Edward at her heels, to the entire
discomposure of all devotion in Aunt Betsey and all others in
authority.

At length my uncle came to the conclusion that "it wasn't in natur'
to teach him any better," and that "he could no more keep Sunday
than the brook down in the lot." My poor uncle! he did not know
what was the matter with his heart, but certain it was, he lost all
faculty of scolding when little Edward was in the case, and he would
rub his spectacles a quarter of an hour longer than common when Aunt
Betsey was detailing his witticisms and clever doings.

In process of time our hero had compassed his third year and arrived
at the dignity of going to school. He went illustriously through the
spelling-book, and then attacked the Catechism; went from "man's
chief end" to the "requirin's and forbiddin's" in a fortnight, and
at last came home inordinately merry, to tell his father that he had
got to "Amen." After this, he made a regular business of saying over
the whole every Sunday evening, standing with his hands folded in
front and his checked apron folded down, occasionally glancing round
to see if pussy gave proper attention. And, being of a practically
benevolent turn of mind, he made several commendable efforts to
teach Bose the Catechism, in which he succeeded as well as might be
expected. In short, without further detail, Master Edward bade fair
to become a literary wonder.

But alas for poor little Edward! his merry dance was soon over. A
day came when he sickened. Aunt Betsey tried her whole herbarium,
but in vain: he grew rapidly worse and worse. His father sickened
in heart, but said nothing; he only stayed by his bedside day and
night, trying all means to save, with affecting pertinacity.

"Can't you think of anything more, doctor?" said he to the
physician, when all had been tried in vain.

"Nothing," answered the physician.

A momentary convulsion passed over my uncle's face. "The will of the
Lord be done," said he, almost with a groan of anguish.

Just at that moment a ray of the setting sun pierced the checked
curtains, and gleamed like an angel's smile across the face of the
little sufferer. He woke from troubled sleep.

"Oh, dear! I am so sick!" he gasped feebly. His father raised him in
his arms; he breathed easier, and looked up with a grateful smile.
Just then his old playmate, the cat, crossed the room. "There goes
pussy," said he; "oh, dear! I shall never play any more!"

At that moment a deadly change passed over his face. He looked up
in his father's face with an imploring expression, and put out his
hand as if for help. There was one moment of agony, and then the
sweet features all settled into a smile of peace, and "mortality was
swallowed up of life."

My uncle laid him down, and looked one moment at his beautiful
face. It was too much for his principles, too much for his
consistency, and "he lifted up his voice and wept."

The next morning was the Sabbath,--the funeral day,--and it rose
with "breath all incense and with cheek all bloom." Uncle Abel
was as calm and collected as ever; but in his face there was a
sorrow-stricken appearance touching to behold. I remember him at
family prayers, as he bent over the great Bible and began the psalm,
"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations."
Apparently he was touched by the melancholy splendor of the poetry,
for after reading a few verses he stopped. There was a dead silence,
interrupted only by the tick of the clock. He cleared his voice
repeatedly, and tried to go on, but in vain. He closed the book,
and kneeled down to prayer. The energy of sorrow broke through his
usual formal reverence, and his language flowed forth with a deep
and sorrowful pathos which I shall never forget. The God so much
reverenced, so much feared, seemed to draw near to him as a friend
and comforter, his refuge and strength, "a very present help in time
of trouble."

My uncle rose, and I saw him walk to the room of the departed one.
He uncovered the face. It was set with the seal of death; but oh,
how surpassingly lovely! The brilliancy of life was gone, but that
pure, transparent face was touched with a mysterious, triumphant
brightness, which seemed like the dawning of heaven.

My uncle looked long and earnestly. He felt the beauty of what
he gazed on; his heart was softened, but he had no words for his
feelings. He left the room unconsciously, and stood in the front
door. The morning was bright, the bells were ringing for church, the
birds were singing merrily, and the pet squirrel of little Edward
was frolicking about the door. My uncle watched him as he ran first
up one tree, and then down and up another, and then over the fence,
whisking his brush and chattering just as if nothing was the matter.

With a deep sigh Uncle Abel broke forth, "How happy that cretur' is!
Well, the Lord's will be done."

That day the dust was committed to dust, amid the lamentations of
all who had known little Edward. Years have passed since then, and
all that is mortal of my uncle has long since been gathered to his
fathers; but his just and upright spirit has entered the glorious
liberty of the sons of God. Yes, the good man may have had opinions
which the philosophical scorn, weaknesses at which the thoughtless
smile; but death shall change him into all that is enlightened,
wise, and refined, for he shall awake in "His" likeness, and "be
satisfied."



CONVERSATION ON CONVERSATION

     "For every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give
     account thereof in the day of judgment."


"A very solemn sermon," said Miss B., shaking her head impressively,
as she sat down to table on Sunday noon; then giving a deep sigh,
she added, "I am afraid that if an account is to be rendered for all
our idle words, some people will have a great deal to answer for."

"Why, Cousin Anna," replied a sprightly young lady opposite, "what
do you mean by _idle words_?"

"All words that have not a strictly useful tendency, Helen," replied
Miss B.

"I don't know what is to become of me, then," answered Helen, "for I
never can think of anything useful to say. I sit and try sometimes,
but it always stops my talking. I don't think anything in the world
is so doleful as a set of persons sitting round, all trying to say
something useful, like a parcel of old clocks ticking at each other.
I think one might as well take the vow of entire silence, like the
monks of La Trappe."

"It is probable," said Miss B., "that a greater part of our ordinary
conversation had better be dispensed with. 'In the multitude of
words there wanteth not sin.' For my own part, my conscience often
reproaches me with the sins of my tongue."

"I'm sure you don't sin much that way, I must say," said Helen;
"but, cousin, I really think it is a freezing business sitting still
and reflecting all the time when friends are together; and, after
all, I can't bring myself to feel as if it were wrong to talk and
chatter away a good part of the time, just for the sake of talking.
For instance, if a friend comes in of a morning to make a call, I
talk about the weather, my roses, my canary-birds, or anything that
comes uppermost."

"And about lace, and bonnet patterns, and the last fashions," added
Miss B. sarcastically.

"Well, supposing we do; where's the harm?"

"Where's the good?" said Miss B.

"The good! why, it passes time agreeably, and makes us feel kindly
towards each other."

"I think, Helen," said Miss B., "if you had a higher view of
Christian responsibility, you would not be satisfied with merely
passing time agreeably, or exciting agreeable feelings in others.
Does not the very text we are speaking of show that we have an
account to give in the day of judgment for all this trifling,
useless conversation?"

"I don't know what that text does mean," replied Helen, looking
seriously; "but if it means as you say, I think it is a very hard,
strait rule."

"Well," replied Miss B., "is not duty always hard and strait?
'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,' you know."

Helen sighed.

"What do you think of this, Uncle C.?" she said, after some pause.
The uncle of the two young ladies had been listening thus far in
silence.

"I think," he replied, "that before people begin to discuss, they
should be quite sure as to what they are talking about, and I am
not exactly clear in this case. You say, Anna," said he, turning to
Miss B., "that all conversation is idle which has not a directly
useful tendency. Now, what do you mean by that? Are we never to say
anything that has not for its direct and specific object the benefit
of others or of ourselves?"

"Yes," replied Miss B., "I suppose not."

"Well, then, when I say, 'Good-morning, sir; 'tis a pleasant day,' I
have no such object. Are these, then, idle words?"

"Why, no, not exactly," replied Miss B.; "in some cases it is
necessary to say something, so as not to appear rude."

"Very well," replied her uncle. "You admit, then, that some things,
which are not instructive in themselves considered, are to be said
to keep up the intercourse of society?"

"Certainly; some things," said Miss B.

"Well, now, in the case mentioned by Helen, when two or three people
with whom you are in different degrees of intimacy call upon you, I
think she is perfectly right, as she said, in talking of roses, and
canary-birds, and even of bonnet patterns, and lace, or anything
of the kind, for the sake of making conversation. It amounts to
the same thing as 'good-morning,' and 'good-evening,' and the
other courtesies of society. This sort of small talk has nothing
instructive in it, and yet it may be useful in its place. It makes
people comfortable and easy, promotes kind and social feelings; and
making people comfortable by any innocent means is certainly not a
thing to be despised."

"But is there not great danger of becoming light and trifling if one
allows this?" said Miss B. doubtfully.

"To be sure; there is always danger of running every innocent thing
to excess. One might eat to excess, or drink to excess; yet eating
and drinking are both useful in their way. Now, our lively young
friend Helen, here, might perhaps be in some temptation of this
sort; but as for you, Anna, I think you in more danger of another
extreme."

"And what is that?"

"Of overstraining your mind by endeavoring to keep up a constant,
fixed state of seriousness and solemnity, and not allowing yourself
the relaxation necessary to preserve its healthy tone. In order to
be healthy, every mind must have variety and amusement; and if you
would sit down at least one hour a day, and join your friends in
some amusing conversation, and indulge in a good laugh, I think,
my dear, that you would not only be a happier person, but a better
Christian."

"My dear uncle," said Miss B., "this is the very thing that I have
been most on my guard against; I can never tell stories, or laugh
and joke, without feeling condemned for it afterwards."

"But, my dear, you must do the thing in the testimony of a good
conscience before you can do it to any purpose. You must make up
your mind that cheerful and entertaining conversation--conversation
whose first object is to amuse--is useful conversation in its place,
and then your conscience will not be injured by joining in it."

"But what good does it do, uncle?"

"Do you not often complain of coldness and deadness in your
religious feelings? of lifelessness and want of interest?"

"Yes, uncle."

"Well, this coldness and lifelessness is the result of forcing your
mind to one set of thoughts and feelings. You become worn out--your
feelings exhausted--deadness and depression ensue. Now, turn your
mind off from these subjects--divert it by a cheerful and animated
conversation, and you will find, after a while, that it will return
to them with new life and energy."

"But are not foolish talking and jesting expressly forbidden?"

"That text, if you will look at the connections, does not forbid
jesting in the abstract; but jesting on immodest subjects--which
are often designated in the New Testament by the phraseology there
employed. I should give the sense of it--neither filthiness, nor
foolish talking, nor indelicate jests. The kind of sprightly and
amusing conversation to which I referred, I should not denominate
foolish, by any means, at proper times and places."

"Yet people often speak of gayety as inconsistent in
Christians--even worldly people," said Miss B.

"Yes, because, in the first place, they often have wrong ideas as to
what Christianity requires in this respect, and suppose Christians
to be violating their own principles in indulging in it. In the
second place, there are some, especially among young people, who
never talk in any other way--with whom this kind of conversation
is not an amusement, but a habit--giving the impression that they
never think seriously at all. But I think, that if persons are
really possessed by the tender, affectionate, benevolent spirit
of Christianity--if they regulate their temper and their tongue
by it, and in all their actions show an evident effort to conform
to its precepts; they will not do harm by occasionally indulging
in sprightly and amusing conversation--they will not make the
impression that they are not sincerely Christians."

"Besides," said Helen, "are not people sometimes repelled from
religion by a want of cheerfulness in its professors?"

"Certainly," replied her uncle, "and the difference is just this:
if persons are habitually trifling and thoughtless, it is thought
that they have _no_ religion; if they are ascetic and gloomy it
is attributed to their religion; and you know what Miss E. Smith
says--that 'to be good and disagreeable is high treason against
virtue.' The more sincerely and earnestly religious a person is, the
more important it is that he should be agreeable."

"But, uncle," said Helen, "what does that text mean that we began
with? What are idle words?"

"My dear, if you will turn to the place where the passage is
(Matt. xii.) and read the whole page, you will see the meaning of
it. Christ was not reproving anybody for trifling conversation at
the time; but for a very serious slander. The Pharisees, in their
bitterness, accused him of being in league with evil spirits. It
seems, by what follows, that this was a charge which involved
an unpardonable sin. They were not, indeed, conscious of its
full guilt,--they said it merely from the impulse of excited and
envious feeling,--but he warns them that in the day of judgment God
will hold them accountable for the full consequences of all such
language, however little they may have thought of it at the time of
uttering it. The sense of the passage I take to be, 'God will hold
you responsible in the day of judgment for the consequences of all
you have said in your most idle and thoughtless moments.'"

"For example," said Helen, "if one makes unguarded and unfounded
assertions about the Bible, which excite doubt and prejudice."

"There are many instances," said her uncle, "that are quite in
point. Suppose in conversation, either under the influence of envy
or ill will, or merely from love of talking, you make remarks and
statements about another person which may be true or may not,--you
do not stop to inquire,--your unguarded words set reports in
motion, and unhappiness, and hard feeling, and loss of character
are the result. You spoke idly, it is true, but nevertheless you
are held responsible by God for all the consequences of your words.
So professors of religion often make unguarded remarks about each
other, which lead observers to doubt the truth of all religion;
and they are responsible for every such doubt they excite. Parents
and guardians often allow themselves to speak of the faults and
weaknesses of their ministers in the presence of children and
younger people--they do it thoughtlessly--but in so doing they
destroy an influence which might otherwise have saved the souls of
their children; they are responsible for it. People of cultivated
minds and fastidious taste often allow themselves to come home from
church, and criticise a sermon, and unfold all its weak points in
the presence of others on whom it may have made a very serious
impression. While the critic is holding up the bad arrangement, and
setting in a ludicrous point of view the lame figures, perhaps the
servant behind his chair, who was almost persuaded to be a Christian
by that very discourse, gives up his purposes, in losing his respect
for the sermon; this was thoughtless--but the evil is done, and the
man who did it is responsible for it."

"I think," said Helen, "that a great deal of evil is done to
children in this way, by our not thinking of what we are saying."

"It seems to me," said Miss B., "that this view of the subject will
reduce us to silence almost as much as the other. How is one ever to
estimate the consequences of their words?--people are affected in so
many different ways by the same thing."

"I suppose," said her uncle, "we are only responsible for such
results as by carefulness and reflection we might have foreseen.
It is not for ill-judged words, but for idle words, that we are
to be judged--words uttered without any consideration at all, and
producing bad results. If a person really anxious to do right
misjudges as to the probable effect of what he is about to say on
others, it is quite another thing."

"But, uncle, will not such carefulness destroy all freedom in
conversation?" said Helen.

"If you are talking with a beloved friend, Helen, do you not use an
instinctive care to avoid all that might pain that friend?"

"Certainly."

"And do you find this effort a restraint on your enjoyment?"

"Certainly not."

"And you, from your own feelings, avoid what is indelicate and
impure in conversation, and yet feel it no restraint?"

"Certainly."

"Well, I suppose the object of Christian effort should be so to
realize the character of our Saviour, and conform our tastes and
sympathies to his, that we shall instinctively avoid all in our
conversation that would be displeasing to him. A person habitually
indulging jealous, angry, or revengeful feeling, a person habitually
worldly in his spirit, a person allowing himself in skeptical and
unsettled habits of thought, _cannot_ talk without doing harm. This
is our Saviour's account of the matter in the verses immediately
before the passage we were speaking of--'How _can_ ye, being
evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart
the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of his
heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil
treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things.' The highest flow
of animal spirits would never hurry a pure-minded person to say
anything indelicate or gross; and in the same manner, if a person
is habitually Christian in all his habits of thought and feeling,
he will be able without irksome watchfulness to avoid what may be
injurious even in the most unrestrained conversation."



HOW DO WE KNOW


It was a splendid room. Rich curtains swept down to the floor in
graceful folds, half excluding the light, and shedding it in soft
hues over the fine old paintings on the walls, and over the broad
mirrors that reflect all that taste can accomplish by the hand of
wealth. Books, the rarest and most costly, were around, in every
form of gorgeous binding and gilding, and among them, glittering
in ornament, lay a magnificent Bible--a Bible too beautiful in its
appointments, too showy, too ornamental, ever to have been meant to
be read--a Bible which every visitor should take up and exclaim,
"What a beautiful edition! what superb bindings!" and then lay it
down again.

And the master of the house was lounging on a sofa, looking over a
late review--for he was a man of leisure, taste, and reading--but,
then, as to reading the Bible!--that forms, we suppose, no part
of the pretensions of a man of letters. The Bible--certainly he
considered it a very respectable book--a fine specimen of ancient
literature--an admirable book of moral precepts; but, then, as
to its divine origin, he had not exactly made up his mind: some
parts appeared strange and inconsistent to his reason--others
were revolting to his taste: true, he had never studied it very
attentively, yet such was his general impression about it; but, on
the whole, he thought it well enough to keep an elegant copy of it
on his drawing-room table.

So much for one picture. Now for another.

Come with us into this little dark alley, and up a flight of
ruinous stairs. It is a bitter night, and the wind and snow might
drive through the crevices of the poor room, were it not that
careful hands have stopped them with paper or cloth. But for all
this carefulness, the room is bitter cold--cold even with those
few decaying brands on the hearth, which that sorrowful woman is
trying to kindle with her breath. Do you see that pale, little,
thin girl, with large, bright eyes, who is crouching so near her
mother?--hark!--how she coughs. Now listen.

"Mary, my dear child," says the mother, "do keep that shawl close
about you; you are cold, I know," and the woman shivers as she
speaks.

"No, mother, not very," replies the child, again relapsing into that
hollow, ominous cough. "I wish you wouldn't make me always wear your
shawl when it is cold, mother."

"Dear child, you need it most. How you cough to-night!" replies
the mother; "it really don't seem right for me to send you up that
long, cold street; now your shoes have grown so poor, too; I must go
myself after this."

"Oh, mother, you must stay with the baby--what if he should have one
of those dreadful fits while you are gone! No, I can go very well; I
have got used to the cold now."

"But, mother, I'm cold," says a little voice from the scanty bed in
the corner; "mayn't I get up and come to the fire?"

"Dear child, it would not warm you; it is very cold here, and I
can't make any more fire to-night."

"Why can't you, mother? There are four whole sticks of wood in the
box; do put one on, and let's get warm once."

"No, my dear little Henry," says the mother soothingly, "that is all
the wood mother has, and I haven't any money to get more."

And now wakens the sick baby in the cradle, and mother and daughter
are both for some time busy in attempting to supply its little
wants, and lulling it again to sleep.

And now look you well at that mother. Six months ago she had a
husband, whose earnings procured for her both the necessaries and
comforts of life; her children were clothed, fed, and schooled,
without thoughts of hers. But husbandless, friendless, and alone in
the heart of a great, busy city, with feeble health, and only the
precarious resource of her needle, she has gone down from comfort
to extreme poverty. Look at her now, as she is to-night. She knows
full well that the pale, bright-eyed girl, whose hollow cough
constantly rings in her ears, is far from well. She knows that cold,
and hunger, and exposure of every kind, are daily and surely wearing
away her life. And yet what can she do? Poor soul! how many times
has she calculated all her little resources, to see if she could
pay a doctor and get medicine for Mary--yet all in vain. She knows
that timely medicine, ease, fresh air, and warmth might save her;
but she knows that all these things are out of the question for
her. She feels, too, as a mother would feel, when she sees her once
rosy, happy little boy becoming pale, and anxious, and fretful; and
even when he teases her most, she only stops her work a moment, and
strokes his little thin cheeks, and thinks what a laughing, happy
little fellow he once was, till she has not a heart to reprove him.
And all this day she has toiled with a sick and fretful baby in her
lap, and her little shivering, hungry boy at her side, whom Mary's
patient artifices cannot always keep quiet; she has toiled over the
last piece of work which she can procure from the shop, for the man
has told her that after this he can furnish no more; and the little
money that is to come from this is already portioned out in her own
mind, and after that she has no human prospect of support.

But yet that woman's face is patient, quiet, firm. Nay, you may even
see in her suffering eye something like peace. And whence comes it?
I will tell you.

There is a Bible in that room, as well as in the rich man's
apartment. Not splendidly bound, to be sure, but faithfully read--a
plain, homely, much worn book.

Hearken now while she says to her children, "Listen to me, dear
children, and I will read you something out of this book. 'Let not
your heart be troubled; in my Father's house are many mansions.' So
you see, my children, we shall not always live in this little, cold,
dark room. Jesus Christ has promised to take us to a better home."

"Shall we be warm there all day?" says the little boy earnestly;
"and shall we have enough to eat?"

"Yes, dear child," says the mother; "listen to what the Bible says:
'They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; for the Lamb
which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them; and God shall
wipe away all tears from their eyes.'"

"I am glad of that," said little Mary, "for, mother, I never can
bear to see you cry."

"But, mother," says little Henry, "won't God send us something to
eat to-morrow?"

"See," says the mother, "what the Bible says: 'Seek ye not what ye
shall eat, nor what ye shall drink, neither be of anxious mind. For
your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.'"

"But, mother," says little Mary, "if God is our Father, and loves
us, what does he let us be so poor for?"

"Nay," says the mother, "our dear Lord Jesus Christ was as poor as
we are, and God certainly loved him."

"Was he, mother?"

"Yes, children; you remember how he said, 'The Son of man hath not
where to lay his head.' And it tells us more than once that Jesus
was hungry when there was none to give him food."

"Oh, mother, what should we do without the Bible?" says Mary.

Now, if the rich man, who had not yet made up his mind what to
think of the Bible, should visit this poor woman, and ask her on
what she grounded her belief of its truth, what could she answer?
Could she give the arguments from miracles and prophecy? Could she
account for all the changes which might have taken place in it
through translators and copyists, and prove that we have a genuine
and uncorrupted version? Not she! But how, then, does she know
that it is true? How, say you? How does she know that she has warm
life-blood in her heart? How does she know that there is such a
thing as air and sunshine? She does not believe these things--she
knows them; and in like manner, with a deep heart consciousness, she
is certain that the words of her Bible are truth and life. Is it by
reasoning that the frightened child, bewildered in the dark, knows
its mother's voice? No! Nor is it only by reasoning that the forlorn
and distressed human heart knows the voice of its Saviour, and is
still.



HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH MAMMON


It was four o'clock in the afternoon of a dull winter day that Mr.
H. sat in his counting-room. The sun had nearly gone down, and,
in fact, it was already twilight beneath the shadows of the tall,
dusky stores, and the close, crooked streets of that quarter of
Boston. Hardly light enough struggled through the dusky panes of
the counting-house for him to read the entries in a much-thumbed
memorandum-book, which he held in his hand.

A small, thin boy, with a pale face and anxious expression,
significant of delicacy of constitution and a too early acquaintance
with want and sorrow, was standing by him, earnestly watching his
motions.

"Ah, yes, my boy," said Mr. H., as he at last shut up the
memorandum-book. "Yes, I've got the place now; I'm apt to be
forgetful about these things; come, now, let's go. How is it?
Haven't you brought the basket?"

"No, sir," said the boy timidly. "The grocer said he'd let mother
have a quarter for it, and she thought she'd sell it."

"That's bad," said Mr. H., as he went on, tying his throat with a
long comforter of some yards in extent; and as he continued this
operation he abstractedly repeated, "That's bad, that's bad," till
the poor little boy looked quite dismayed, and began to think that
somehow his mother had been dreadfully out of the way.

"She didn't want to send for help so long as she had anything she
could sell," said the little boy in a deprecating tone.

"Oh yes, quite right," said Mr. H., taking from a pigeonhole in the
desk a large pocketbook, and beginning to turn it over; and, as
before, abstractedly repeating, "Quite right, quite right!" till the
little boy became reassured, and began to think, although he didn't
know why, that his mother had done something quite meritorious.

"Well," said Mr. H., after he had taken several bills from the
pocketbook and transferred them to a wallet which he put into his
pocket, "now we're ready, my boy." But first he stopped to lock up
his desk, and then he said abstractedly to himself, "I wonder if I
hadn't better take a few tracts." Now, it is to be confessed that
this Mr. H., whom we have introduced to our reader, was, in his way,
quite an oddity. He had a number of singular little _penchants_ and
peculiarities quite his own, such as a passion for poking about
among dark alleys, at all sorts of seasonable and unseasonable
hours; fishing out troops of dirty, neglected children, and fussing
about generally in the community till he could get them into schools
or otherwise provided for. He always had in his pocketbook a note
of some dozen poor widows who wanted tea, sugar, candles, or other
things such as poor widows always will be wanting. And then he had
a most extraordinary talent for finding out all the sick strangers
that lay in out-of-the-way upper rooms in hotels, who, everybody
knows, have no business to get sick in such places, unless they have
money enough to pay their expenses, which they never do.

Besides this, all Mr. H.'s kinsmen and cousins, to the third,
fourth, and fortieth remove, were always writing him letters, which,
among other pleasing items, generally contained the intelligence
that a few hundred dollars were just then exceedingly necessary to
save them from utter ruin, and they knew of nobody else to whom to
look for it.

And then Mr. H. was up to his throat in subscriptions to every
charitable society that ever was made or imagined; had a hand in
building all the churches within a hundred miles; occasionally gave
four or five thousand dollars to a college; offered to be one of six
to raise ten thousand dollars for some benevolent purpose, and when
four of the six backed out, quietly paid the balance himself, and
said no more about it. Another of his innocent fancies was to keep
always about him any quantity of tracts and good books, little and
big, for children and grown-up people, which he generally diffused
in a kind of gentle shower about him wherever he moved.

So great was his monomania for benevolence that it could not at
all confine itself to the streets of Boston, the circle of his
relatives, or even the United States of America. Mr. H. was fully
posted up in the affairs of India, Burmah, China, and all those
odd, out-of-the-way places, which no sensible man ever thinks of
with any interest, unless he can make some money there; and money,
it is to be confessed, Mr. H. didn't make there, though he spent an
abundance. For getting up printing-presses in Ceylon for Chinese
type, for boxes of clothing and what-not to be sent to the Sandwich
Islands, for schoolbooks for the Greeks, and all other nonsense of
that sort, Mr. H. was without a parallel. No wonder his rich brother
merchants sometimes thought him something of a bore, since, his
heart being full of all these matters, he was rather apt to talk
about them, and sometimes to endeavor to draw them into fellowship,
to an extent that was not to be thought of.

So it came to pass often, that though Mr. H. was a thriving
business man, with some ten thousand a year, he often wore a pretty
threadbare coat, the seams whereof would be trimmed with lines of
white; and he would sometimes need several pretty plain hints on the
subject of a new hat before he would think he could afford one.
Now, it is to be confessed the world is not always grateful to those
who thus devote themselves to its interests; and Mr. H. had as much
occasion to know this as any other man. People got so used to his
giving, that his bounty became as common and as necessary as that of
a higher Benefactor, "who maketh his sun to rise upon the evil and
the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust;" and so it
came to pass that people took them, as they do the sunshine and the
rain, quite as matters of course, not thinking much about them when
they came, but particularly apt to scold when they did not come.

But Mr. H. never cared for that. He did not give for gratitude;
he did not give for thanks, nor to have his name published in the
papers as one of six who had given fifty thousand to do so and so;
but he gave because it was in him to give, and we all know that it
is an old rule in medicine, as well as morals, that what is in a
man must be brought out. Then, again, he had heard it reported that
there had been One of distinguished authority who had expressed the
opinion that it was "more blessed to give than to receive," and he
very much believed it--believed it because the One who said it must
have known, since for man's sake he once gave away _all_.

And so, when some thriftless, distant relation, whose debts he had
paid a dozen times over, gave him an overhauling on the subject
of liberality, and seemed inclined to take him by the throat for
further charity, he calmed himself down by a chapter or two from
the New Testament and half a dozen hymns, and then sent him a
good, brotherly letter of admonition and counsel, with a bank-note
to enforce it; and when some querulous old woman, who had had a
tenement of him rent free for three or four years, sent him word
that if he didn't send and mend the water-pipes she would move right
out, he sent and mended them. People said that he was foolish, and
that it didn't do any good to do for ungrateful people; but Mr. H.
knew that it did _him_ good. He loved to do it, and he thought also
on some words that ran to this effect: "Do good and lend, hoping
for nothing again." He literally hoped for nothing again in the way
of reward, either in this world or in heaven, beyond the present
pleasure of the deed; for he had abundant occasion to see how favors
are forgotten in this world; and as for another, he had in his own
soul a standard of benevolence so high, so pure, so ethereal, that
but One of mortal birth ever reached it. He felt that, do what he
might, he fell ever so far below the life of that spotless One--that
his crown in heaven must come to him at last, not as a reward, but
as a free, eternal gift.

But all this while our friend and his little companion have been
pattering along the wet streets, in the rain and sleet of a bitter
cold evening, till they stopped before a grocery. Here a large
cross-handled basket was first bought, and then filled with sundry
packages of tea, sugar, candles, soap, starch, and various other
matters; a barrel of flour was ordered to be sent after him on a
dray. Mr. H. next stopped at a dry goods store and bought a pair of
blankets, with which he loaded down the boy, who was happy enough to
be so loaded; and then, turning gradually from the more frequented
streets, the two were soon lost to view in one of the dimmest alleys
of the city.

The cheerful fire was blazing in his parlor, as, returned from his
long, wet walk, he was sitting by it with his feet comfortably
incased in slippers. The astral lamp was burning brightly on the
centre-table, and a group of children were around it, studying their
lessons.

"Papa," said a little boy, "what does this verse mean? It's in my
Sunday-school lesson. 'Make to yourselves friends of the mammon
of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into
everlasting habitations.'"

"You ought to have asked your teacher, my son."

"But he said he didn't know exactly what it meant. He wanted me to
look this week and see if I could find out."

Mr. H.'s standing resource in all exegetical difficulties was Dr.
Scott's Family Bible. Therefore he now got up, and putting on his
spectacles, walked to the glass bookcase, and took down a volume
of that worthy commentator, and opening it, read aloud the whole
exposition of the passage, together with the practical reflections
upon it; and by the time he had done, he found his young auditor
fast asleep in his chair.

"Mother," said he, "this child plays too hard. He can't keep his
eyes open evenings. It's time he was in bed."

"I wasn't asleep, pa," said Master Henry, starting up with that air
of injured innocence with which gentlemen of his age generally treat
an imputation of this kind.

"Then can you tell me now what the passage means that I have been
reading to you?"

"There's so much of it," said Henry hopelessly, "I wish you'd just
tell me in short order, father."

"Oh, read it for yourself," said Mr. H., as he pushed the book
towards the boy, for it was to be confessed that he perceived at
this moment that he had not himself received any particularly
luminous impression, though of course he thought it was owing to his
own want of comprehension.

Mr. H. leaned back in his rocking-chair, and on his own private
account began to speculate a little as to what he really should
think the verse might mean, supposing he were at all competent
to decide upon it. "'Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of
unrighteousness,'" says he: "that's money, very clearly. How am
I to make friends with it or of it? Receive me into everlasting
habitations: that's a singular kind of expression. I wonder what it
means. Dr. Scott makes some very good remarks about it--but somehow
I'm not exactly clear." It must be remarked that this was not an
uncommon result of Mr. H.'s critical investigations in this quarter.

Well, thoughts will wander; and as he lay with his head on the back
of his rocking-chair, and his eyes fixed on the flickering blaze of
the coal, visions of his wet tramp in the city, and of the lonely
garret he had been visiting, and of the poor woman with the pale,
discouraged face, to whom he had carried warmth and comfort, all
blended themselves together. He felt, too, a little indefinite
creeping chill, and some uneasy sensations in his head like a
commencing cold, for he was not a strong man, and it is probable his
long, wet walk was likely to cause him some inconvenience in this
way. At last he was fast asleep, nodding in his chair.

He dreamed that he was very sick in bed, that the doctor came and
went, and that he grew sicker and sicker. He was going to die. He
saw his wife sitting weeping by his pillow--his children standing
by with pale and frightened faces; all things in his room began to
swim, and waver, and fade, and voices that called his name, and sobs
and lamentations that rose around him, seemed far off and distant
in his ear. "Oh, eternity, eternity! I am going--I am going," he
thought; and in that hour, strange to tell, not one of all his good
deeds seemed good enough to lean on--all bore some taint or tinge,
to his purified eye, of mortal selfishness, and seemed unholy before
the All Pure. "I am going," he thought; "there is no time to stay,
no time to alter, to balance accounts; and I know not what I am, but
I know, O Jesus, what thou art. I have trusted in thee, and shall
never be confounded;" and with that last breath of prayer earth was
past.

A soft and solemn breathing, as of music, awakened him. As an infant
child not yet fully awake hears the holy warblings of his mother's
hymn, and smiles half conscious, so the heaven-born became aware of
sweet voices and loving faces around him ere yet he fully woke to
the new immortal Life.

"Ah, he has come at last. How long we have waited for him! Here he
is among us. Now forever welcome! welcome!" said the voices.

Who shall speak the joy of that latest birth, the birth from death
to life! the sweet, calm, inbreathing consciousness of purity and
rest, the certainty that all sin, all weakness and error, are at
last gone forever; the deep, immortal rapture of repose--felt to be
but begun--never to end!

So the eyes of the heaven-born opened on the new heaven and the
new earth, and wondered at the crowd of loving faces that thronged
about him. Fair, godlike forms of beauty, such as earth never knew,
pressed round him with blessings, thanks, and welcome.

The man spoke not, but he wondered in his heart who they were, and
whence it came that they knew him; and as soon as the inquiry formed
itself in his soul, it was read at once by his heavenly friends.
"I," said one bright spirit, "was a poor boy whom you found in the
streets: you sought me out, you sent me to school, you watched over
me, and led me to the house of God; and now here I am." "And we,"
said other voices, "are other neglected children whom you redeemed;
we also thank you." "And I," said another, "was a lost, helpless
girl: sold to sin and shame, nobody thought I could be saved;
everybody passed me by till you came. You built a home, a refuge
for such poor wretches as I, and there I and many like me heard of
Jesus; and here we are." "And I," said another, "was once a clerk
in your store. I came to the city innocent, but I was betrayed by
the tempter. I forgot my mother, and my mother's God. I went to the
gaming-table and the theatre, and at last I robbed your drawer. You
might have justly cast me off; but you bore with me, you watched
over me, you saved me. I am here through you this day." "And I,"
said another, "was a poor slave girl--doomed to be sold on the
auction-block to a life of infamy, and the ruin of soul and body.
Had you not been willing to give so largely for my ransom, no one
had thought to buy me. You stimulated others to give, and I was
redeemed. I lived a Christian mother to bring my children up for
Christ--they are all here with me to bless you this day, and their
children on earth, and their children's children are growing up to
bless you." "And I," said another, "was an unbeliever. In the pride
of my intellect, I thought I could demonstrate the absurdity of
Christianity. I thought I could answer the argument from miracles
and prophecy; but your patient, self-denying life was an argument
I never could answer. When I saw you spending all your time and
all your money in efforts for your fellow men, undiscouraged by
ingratitude, and careless of praise, then I thought, 'There is
something divine in that man's life,' and that thought brought me
here."

The man looked around on the gathering congregation, and he saw
that there was no one whom he had drawn heavenward that had not
also drawn thither myriads of others. In his lifetime he had
been scattering seeds of good around from hour to hour, almost
unconsciously; and now he saw every seed springing up into a
widening forest of immortal beauty and glory. It seemed to him that
there was to be no end of the numbers that flocked to claim him as
their long-expected soul friend. His heart was full, and his face
became as that of an angel as he looked up to One who seemed nearer
than all, and said, "This is thy love for me, unworthy, O Jesus. Of
thee, and to thee, and through thee are all things. Amen."

Amen! as with chorus of many waters and mighty thunderings the sound
swept onward, and died far off in chiming echoes among the distant
stars, and the man awoke.



THE SABBATH

SKETCHES FROM A NOTE-BOOK OF AN ELDERLY GENTLEMAN


The Puritan Sabbath--is there such a thing existing now, or has it
gone with the things that were, to be looked at as a curiosity in
the museum of the past? Can any one, in memory, take himself back
to the unbroken stillness of that day, and recall the sense of
religious awe which seemed to brood in the very atmosphere, checking
the merry laugh of childhood, and chaining in unwonted stillness
the tongue of volatile youth, and imparting even to the sunshine
of heaven, and the unconscious notes of animals, a tone of its own
gravity and repose? If you cannot remember these things, go back
with me to the verge of early boyhood, and live with me one of the
Sabbaths that I have spent beneath the roof of my uncle, Phineas
Fletcher.

Imagine the long sunny hours of a Saturday afternoon insensibly
slipping away, as we youngsters are exploring the length and breadth
of a trout stream, or chasing gray squirrels, or building mud
milldams in the brook. The sun sinks lower and lower, but we still
think it does not want half an hour to sundown. At last, he so
evidently is really going down, that there is no room for skepticism
or latitude of opinion on the subject; and with many a lingering
regret, we began to put away our fish-hooks, and hang our hoops over
our arm, preparatory to trudging homeward.

"Oh, Henry, don't you wish that Saturday afternoons lasted longer?"
said little John to me.

"I do," says Cousin Bill, who was never the boy to mince matters in
giving his sentiments; "and I wouldn't care if Sunday didn't come
but once a year."

"Oh, Bill, that's wicked, I'm afraid," says little conscientious
Susan, who, with her doll in hand, was coming home from a Saturday
afternoon visit.

"Can't help it," says Bill, catching Susan's bag, and tossing it
in the air; "I never did like to sit still, and that's why I hate
Sundays."

"Hate Sundays! Oh, Bill! Why, Aunt Kezzy says heaven is an eternal
Sabbath--only think of that!"

"Well, I know I must be pretty different from what I am now before
I could sit still forever," said Bill in a lower and somewhat
disconcerted tone, as if admitting the force of the consideration.

The rest of us began to look very grave, and to think that we must
get to liking Sunday some time or other, or it would be a very
bad thing for us. As we drew near the dwelling, the compact and
businesslike form of Aunt Kezzy was seen emerging from the house to
hasten our approach.

"How often have I told you, young ones, not to stay out after
sundown on Saturday night? Don't you know it's the same as Sunday,
you wicked children, you? Come right into the house, every one of
you, and never let me hear of such a thing again."

This was Aunt Kezzy's regular exordium every Saturday night; for
we children, being blinded, as she supposed, by natural depravity,
always made strange mistakes in reckoning time on Saturday
afternoons. After being duly suppered and scrubbed, we were enjoined
to go to bed, and remember that to-morrow was Sunday, and that we
must not laugh and play in the morning. With many a sorrowful look
did Susan deposit her doll in the chest, and give one lingering
glance at the patchwork she was piecing for dolly's bed, while
William, John, and myself emptied our pockets of all superfluous
fish-hooks, bits of twine, popguns, slices of potato, marbles,
and all the various items of boy property, which, to keep us from
temptation, were taken into Aunt Kezzy's safe-keeping over Sunday.

My Uncle Phineas was a man of great exactness, and Sunday was the
centre of his whole worldly and religious system. Everything with
regard to his worldly business was so arranged that by Saturday noon
it seemed to come to a close of itself. All his accounts were looked
over, his workmen paid, all borrowed things returned, and lent
things sent after, and every tool and article belonging to the farm
was returned to its own place at exactly such an hour every Saturday
afternoon, and an hour before sundown every item of preparation,
even to the blacking of his Sunday shoes and the brushing of his
Sunday coat, was entirely concluded; and at the going down of the
sun, the stillness of the Sabbath seemed to settle down over the
whole dwelling.

And now it is Sunday morning; and though all without is fragrance,
and motion, and beauty, the dewdrops are twinkling, butterflies
fluttering, and merry birds caroling and racketing as if they never
could sing loud or fast enough, yet within there is such a stillness
that the tick of the tall mahogany clock is audible through the
whole house, and the buzz of the blue flies, as they whiz along up
and down the window-panes, is a distinct item of hearing. Look into
the best front room, and you may see the upright form of my Uncle
Phineas, in his immaculate Sunday clothes, with his Bible spread
open on the little stand before him, and even a deeper than usual
gravity settling down over his toil-worn features. Alongside, in
well-brushed Sunday clothes, with clean faces and smooth hair, sat
the whole of us younger people, each drawn up in a chair, with hat
and handkerchief, ready for the first stroke of the bell, while
Aunt Kezzy, all trimmed, and primmed, and made ready for meeting,
sat reading her psalm-book, only looking up occasionally to give
an additional jerk to some shirt-collar, or the fifteenth pull to
Susan's frock, or to repress any straggling looks that might be
wandering about, "beholding vanity."

A stranger, in glancing at Uncle Phineas as he sat intent on
his Sunday reading, might have seen that the Sabbath was in his
heart--there was no mistake about it. It was plain that he had put
by all worldly thoughts when he shut up his account-book, and that
his mind was as free from every earthly association as his Sunday
coat was from dust. The slave of worldliness, who is driven, by
perplexing business or adventurous speculation, through the hours of
a half-kept Sabbath to the fatigues of another week, might envy the
unbroken quiet, the sunny tranquillity, which hallowed the weekly
rest of my uncle.

The Sabbath of the Puritan Christian was the golden day, and all
its associations, and all its thoughts, words, and deeds, were so
entirely distinct from the ordinary material of life, that it was
to him a sort of weekly translation--a quitting of this world to
sojourn a day in a better; and year after year, as each Sabbath set
its seal on the completed labors of a week, the pilgrim felt that
one more stage of his earthly journey was completed, and that he
was one week nearer to his eternal rest. And as years, with their
changes, came on, and the strong man grew old, and missed, one after
another, familiar forms that had risen around his earlier years, the
face of the Sabbath became like that of an old and tried friend,
carrying him back to the scenes of his youth, and connecting him
with scenes long gone by, restoring to him the dew and freshness of
brighter and more buoyant days.

Viewed simply as an institution for a Christian and mature mind,
nothing could be more perfect than the Puritan Sabbath: if it had
any failing, it was in the want of adaptation to children, and to
those not interested in its peculiar duties. If you had been in the
dwelling of my uncle of a Sabbath morning, you must have found the
unbroken stillness delightful; the calm and quiet must have soothed
and disposed you for contemplation, and the evident appearance of
single-hearted devotion to the duties of the day in the elder part
of the family must have been a striking addition to the picture.
But, then, if your eye had watched attentively the motions of us
juveniles, you might have seen that what was so very invigorating
to the disciplined Christian was a weariness to young flesh and
bones. Then there was not, as now, the intellectual relaxation
afforded by the Sunday-school, with its various forms of religious
exercise, its thousand modes of interesting and useful information.
Our whole stock in this line was the Bible and Primer, and these
were our main dependence for whiling away the tedious hours between
our early breakfast and the signal for meeting. How often was our
invention stretched to find wherewithal to keep up our stock of
excitement in a line with the duties of the day! For the first
half hour, perhaps, a story in the Bible answered our purpose very
well; but, having dispatched the history of Joseph, or the story
of the ten plagues, we then took to the Primer: and then there
was, first, the looking over the system of theological and ethical
teaching, commencing, "In Adam's fall we sinnéd all," and extending
through three or four pages of pictorial and poetic embellishment.
Next was the death of John Rogers, who was burned at Smithfield;
and for a while we could entertain ourselves with counting all his
"nine children and one at the breast," as in the picture they stand
in a regular row, like a pair of stairs. These being done, came
miscellaneous exercises of our own invention, such as counting all
the psalms in the psalm-book, backward and forward, to and from the
Doxology, or numbering the books in the Bible, or some other such
device as we deemed within the pale of religious employments. When
all these failed, and it still wanted an hour of meeting time, we
looked up at the ceiling, and down at the floor, and all around
into every corner, to see what we could do next; and happy was he
who could spy a pin gleaming in some distant crack, and forthwith
muster an occasion for getting down to pick it up. Then there was
the infallible recollection that we wanted a drink of water, as an
excuse to get out to the well; or else we heard some strange noise
among the chickens, and insisted that it was essential that we
should see what was the matter; or else pussy would jump on to the
table, when all of us would spring to drive her down; while there
was a most assiduous watching of the clock to see when the first
bell would ring. Happy was it for us, in the interim, if we did not
begin to look at each other and make up faces, or slyly slip off and
on our shoes, or some other incipient attempts at roguery, which
would gradually so undermine our gravity that there would be some
sudden explosion of merriment, whereat Uncle Phineas would look up
and say, "Tut, tut," and Aunt Kezzy would make a speech about wicked
children breaking the Sabbath day. I remember once how my Cousin
Bill got into deep disgrace one Sunday by a roguish trick. He was
just about to close his Bible with all sobriety, when snap came a
grasshopper through an open window, and alighted in the middle of
the page. Bill instantly kidnapped the intruder, for so important an
auxiliary in the way of employment was not to be despised. Presently
we children looked towards Bill, and there he sat, very demurely
reading his Bible, with the grasshopper hanging by one leg from the
corner of his mouth, kicking and sprawling, without in the least
disturbing Master William's gravity. We all burst into an uproarious
laugh. But it came to be rather a serious affair for Bill, as his
good father was in the practice of enforcing truth and duty by
certain modes of moral suasion much recommended by Solomon, though
fallen into disrepute at the present day.

This morning picture may give a good specimen of the whole livelong
Sunday, which presented only an alternation of similar scenes until
sunset, when a universal unchaining of tongues and a general scamper
proclaimed that the "sun was down."

But, it may be asked, what was the result of all this strictness?
Did it not disgust you with the Sabbath and with religion? No,
it did not. It did not, because it was the result of no unkindly
feeling, but of consistent principle; and consistency of principle
is what even children learn to appreciate and revere. The law
of obedience and of reverence for the Sabbath was constraining
so equally on the young and the old, that its claims came to be
regarded like those immutable laws of nature, which no one thinks
of being out of patience with, though they sometimes bear hard
on personal convenience. The effect of the system was to ingrain
into our character a veneration for the Sabbath which no friction
of after life would ever efface. I have lived to wander in many
climates and foreign lands, where the Sabbath is an unknown name, or
where it is only recognized by noisy mirth; but never has the day
returned without bringing with it a breathing of religious awe, and
even a yearning for the unbroken stillness, the placid repose, and
the simple devotion of the Puritan Sabbath.


ANOTHER SCENE

"How late we are this morning!" said Mrs. Roberts to her husband,
glancing hurriedly at the clock, as they were sitting down to
breakfast on a Sabbath morning. "Really, it is a shame to us to be
so late Sundays. I wonder John and Henry are not up yet: Hannah, did
you speak to them?"

"Yes, ma'am, but I could not make them mind; they said it was
Sunday, and that we always have breakfast later Sundays."

"Well, it is a shame to us, I must say," said Mrs. Roberts, sitting
down to the table. "I never lie late myself unless something in
particular happens. Last night I was out very late, and Sabbath
before last I had a bad headache."

"Well, well, my dear," said Mr. Roberts, "it is not worth while to
worry yourself about it; Sunday is a day of rest; everybody indulges
a little of a Sunday morning, it is so very natural, you know; one's
work done up, one feels like taking a little rest."

"Well, I must say it was not the way my mother brought me up," said
Mrs. Roberts; "and I really can't feel it to be right."

This last part of the discourse had been listened to by two
sleepy-looking boys, who had, meanwhile, taken their seats at table
with that listless air which is the result of late sleeping.

"Oh, by the bye, my dear, what did you give for those hams
Saturday?" said Mr. Roberts.

"Eleven cents a pound, I believe," replied Mrs. Roberts; "but
Stephens and Philips have some much nicer, canvas and all, for
ten cents. I think we had better get our things at Stephens and
Philips's in future, my dear."

"Why? are they much cheaper?"

"Oh, a great deal; but I forget it is Sunday. We ought to be
thinking of other things. Boys, have you looked over your
Sunday-school lesson?"

"No, ma'am."

"Now, how strange! and here it wants only half an hour of the time,
and you are not dressed either. Now, see the bad effects of not
being up in time."

The boys looked sullen, and said "they were up as soon as any one
else in the house."

"Well, your father and I had some excuse, because we were out late
last night; you ought to have been up full three hours ago, and to
have been all ready, with your lessons learned. Now, what do you
suppose you shall do?"

"Oh, mother, do let us stay at home this one morning; we don't know
the lesson, and it won't do any good for us to go."

"No, indeed, I shall not. You must go and get along as well as you
can. It is all your own fault. Now, go upstairs and hurry. We shall
not find time for prayers this morning."

The boys took themselves upstairs to "hurry," as directed, and soon
one of them called from the top of the stairs, "Mother! mother! the
buttons are off this vest; so I can't wear it!" and "Mother! here is
a long rip in my best coat!" said another.

"Why did you not tell me of it before?" said Mrs. Roberts, coming
upstairs.

"I forgot it," said the boy.

"Well, well, stand still; I must catch it together somehow, if it is
Sunday. There! there is the bell! Stand still a minute!" and Mrs.
Roberts plied needle, and thread, and scissors; "there, that will do
for to-day. Dear me, how confused everything is to-day!"

"It is always just so Sundays," said John, flinging up his book and
catching it again as he ran downstairs.

"It is always just so Sundays." These words struck rather
unpleasantly on Mrs. Roberts's conscience, for something told her
that, whatever the reason might be, it _was_ just so. On Sunday
everything was later and more irregular than any other day in the
week.

"Hannah, you must boil that piece of beef for dinner to-day."

"I thought you told me you did not have cooking done on Sunday."

"No, I do not, generally. I am very sorry Mr. Roberts would get
that piece of meat yesterday. We did not need it, but here it is on
our hands; the weather is too hot to keep it. It won't do to let it
spoil; so I must have it boiled, for aught I see."

Hannah had lived four Sabbaths with Mrs. Roberts, and on two of
them she had been required to cook from similar reasoning. "For
once" is apt, in such cases, to become a phrase of very extensive
signification.

"It really worries me to have things go on so as they do on
Sundays," said Mrs. Roberts to her husband. "I never do feel as if
we kept Sunday as we ought."

"My dear, you have been saying so ever since we were married, and I
do not see what you are going to do about it. For my part I do not
see why we do not do as well as people in general. We do not visit,
nor receive company, nor read improper books. We go to church, and
send the children to Sunday-school, and so the greater part of the
day is spent in a religious way. Then out of church we have the
children's Sunday-school books, and one or two religious newspapers.
I think that is quite enough."

"But, somehow, when I was a child, my mother"--said Mrs. Roberts,
hesitating.

"Oh, my dear, your mother must not be considered an exact pattern
for these days. People were too strict in your mother's time; they
carried the thing too far, altogether; everybody allows it now."

Mrs. Roberts was silenced, but not satisfied. A strict religious
education had left just conscience enough on this subject to make
her uneasy.

These worthy people had a sort of general idea that Sunday ought to
be kept, and they intended to keep it; but they had never taken the
trouble to investigate or inquire as to the most proper way, nor
was it so much an object of interest that their weekly arrangements
were planned with any reference to it. Mr. Roberts would often
engage in business at the close of the week, which he knew would
so fatigue him that he would be weary and listless on Sunday; and
Mrs. Roberts would allow her family cares to accumulate in the same
way, so that she was either wearied with efforts to accomplish it
before the Sabbath, or perplexed and worried by finding everything
at loose ends on that day. They had the idea that Sunday was to
be kept when it was perfectly convenient, and did not demand any
sacrifice of time or money. But if stopping to keep the Sabbath in
a journey would risk passage money or a seat in the stage, or, in
housekeeping, if it would involve any considerable inconvenience or
expense, it was deemed a providential intimation that it was "a work
of necessity and mercy" to attend to secular matters. To their minds
the fourth command read thus: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it
holy when it comes convenient, and costs neither time nor money."

As to the effects of this on the children, there was neither enough
of strictness to make them respect the Sabbath, nor of religious
interest to make them love it; of course, the little restraint
there was proved just enough to lead them to dislike and despise
it. Children soon perceive the course of their parents' feelings,
and it was evident to the children of this family that their father
and mother generally found themselves hurried into the Sabbath
with hearts and minds full of this world, and their conversation
and thoughts were so constantly turning to worldly things, and so
awkwardly drawn back by a sense of religious obligation, that the
Sabbath appeared more obviously a clog and a fetter than it did
under the strictest régime of Puritan days.


SKETCH SECOND

The little quiet village of Camden stands under the brow of a
rugged hill in one of the most picturesque parts of New England;
and its regular, honest, and industrious villagers were not a
little surprised and pleased that Mr. James, a rich man, and
pleasant-spoken withal, had concluded to take up his residence among
them. He brought with him a pretty, genteel wife, and a group of
rosy, romping, but amiable children; and there was so much of good
nature and kindness about the manners of every member of the family,
that the whole neighborhood were prepossessed in their favor. Mr.
James was a man of somewhat visionary and theoretical turn of
mind, and very much in the habit of following out his own ideas of
right and wrong, without troubling himself particularly as to the
appearance his course might make in the eyes of others. He was a
supporter of the ordinances of religion, and always ready to give
both time and money to promote any benevolent object; and though
he had never made any public profession of religion, or connected
himself with any particular set of Christians, still he seemed
to possess great reverence for God, and to worship him in spirit
and in truth, and he professed to make the Bible the guide of his
life. Mr. James had been brought up under a system of injudicious
religious restraint. He had determined, in educating his children,
to adopt an exactly opposite course, and to make religion and all
its institutions sources of enjoyment. His aim, doubtless, was an
appropriate one; but his method of carrying it out, to say the
least, was one which was not a safe model for general imitation.
In regard to the Sabbath, for example, he considered that, although
the plan of going to church twice a day, and keeping all the family
quiet within doors the rest of the time, was good, other methods
would be much better. Accordingly, after the morning service, which
he and his whole family regularly attended, he would spend the rest
of the day with his children. In bad weather he would instruct
them in natural history, show them pictures, and read them various
accounts of the works of God, combining all with such religious
instruction and influence as a devotional mind might furnish. When
the weather permitted, he would range with them through the fields,
collecting minerals and plants, or sail with them on the lake,
meanwhile directing the thoughts of his young listeners upward
to God, by the many beautiful traces of his presence and agency,
which superior knowledge and observation enabled him to discover
and point out. These Sunday strolls were seasons of most delightful
enjoyment to the children. Though it was with some difficulty that
their father could restrain them from loud and noisy demonstrations
of delight, and he saw with some regret that the mere animal
excitement of the stroll seemed to draw the attention too much from
religious considerations, and, in particular, to make the exercises
of the morning seem like a preparatory penance to the enjoyments
of the afternoon, nevertheless, when Mr. James looked back to his
own boyhood, and remembered the frigid restraint, the entire want
of any kind of mental or bodily excitement, which had made the
Sabbath so much a weariness to him, he could not but congratulate
himself when he perceived his children looking forward to Sunday
as a day of delight, and found himself on that day continually
surrounded by a circle of smiling and cheerful faces. His talent of
imparting religious instruction in a simple and interesting form
was remarkably happy, and it is probable that there was among his
children an uncommon degree of real thought and feeling on religious
subjects as the result.

The good people of Camden, however, knew not what to think of
a course that appeared to them an entire violation of all the
requirements of the Sabbath. The first impulse of human nature is to
condemn at once all who vary from what has been commonly regarded
as the right way; and, accordingly, Mr. James was unsparingly
denounced, by many good people, as a Sabbath breaker, and infidel,
and an opposer to religion.

Such was the character heard of him by Mr. Richards, a young
clergyman, who, shortly after Mr. James fixed his residence in
Camden, accepted the pastoral charge of the village. It happened
that Mr. Richards had known Mr. James in college, and, remembering
him as a remarkably serious, amiable, and conscientious man, he
resolved to ascertain from himself the views which had led him
to the course of conduct so offensive to the good people of the
neighborhood.

"This is all very well, my good friend," said he, after he had
listened to Mr. James's eloquent account of his own system of
religious instruction, and its effects upon his family, "I do not
doubt that this system does very well for yourself and family;
but there are other things to be taken into consideration besides
personal and family improvement. Do you not know, Mr. James, that
the most worthless and careless part of my congregation quote your
example as a respectable precedent for allowing their families
to violate the order of the Sabbath? You and your children sail
about on the lake, with minds and hearts, I doubt not, elevated
and tranquilized by its quiet repose; but Ben Dakes, and his idle,
profane army of children, consider themselves as doing very much the
same thing when they lie lolling about, sunning themselves on its
shore, or skipping stones over its surface the whole of a Sunday
afternoon."

"Let every one answer to his own conscience," replied Mr. James.
"If I keep the Sabbath conscientiously, I am approved of God; if
another transgresses his conscience, 'to his own master he standeth
or falleth.' I am not responsible for all the abuses that idle or
evil-disposed persons may fall into, in consequence of my doing what
is right."

"Let me quote an answer from the same chapter," said Mr. Richards.
"'Let no man put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in his
brother's way: let not your good be evil spoken of. It is good
neither to eat flesh nor drink wine, nor anything whereby thy
brother stumbleth, or is offended, or made weak.' Now, my good
friend, you happen to be endowed with a certain tone of mind which
enables you to carry through your mode of keeping the Sabbath with
little comparative evil, and much good, so far as your family
is concerned; but how many persons in this neighborhood, do you
suppose, would succeed equally well if they were to attempt it? If
it were the common custom for families to absent themselves from
public worship in the afternoon, and to stroll about the fields,
or ride, or sail, how many parents, do you suppose, would have the
dexterity and talent to check all that was inconsistent with the
duties of the day? Is it not your ready command of language, your
uncommon tact in simplifying and illustrating, your knowledge of
natural history and of Biblical literature, that enable you to
accomplish the results that you do? And is there one parent in a
hundred that could do the same? Now, just imagine our neighbor,
'Squire Hart, with his ten boys and girls, turned out into the
fields on a Sunday afternoon to profit withal: you know he can
never finish a sentence without stopping to begin it again half a
dozen times. What progress would he make in instructing them? And
so of a dozen others I could name along this very street here.
Now, you men of cultivated minds must give your countenance to
courses which would be best for society at large, or, as the
sentiment was expressed by St. Paul, 'We that are strong ought to
bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves,
for even Christ pleased not himself.' Think, my dear sir, if our
Saviour had gone only on the principle of avoiding what might be
injurious to his own improvement, how unsafe his example might
have proved to less elevated minds. Doubtless he might have made
a Sabbath day fishing excursion an occasion of much elevated and
impressive instruction; but, although he declared himself 'Lord
of the Sabbath day,' and at liberty to suspend its obligation at
his own discretion, yet he never violated the received method of
observing it, except in cases where superstitious tradition trenched
directly on those interests which the Sabbath was given to promote.
He asserted the right to relieve pressing bodily wants, and to
administer to the necessities of others on the Sabbath, but beyond
that he allowed himself in no deviation from established custom."

Mr. James looked thoughtful. "I have not reflected on the subject in
this view," he replied. "But, my dear sir, considering how little of
the public services of the Sabbath is on a level with the capacity
of younger children, it seems to me almost a pity to take them to
church the whole of the day."

"I have thought of that myself," replied Mr. Richards, "and have
sometimes thought that, could persons be found to conduct such a
thing, it would be desirable to institute a separate service for
children, in which the exercises should be particularly adapted to
them."

"I should like to be minister to a congregation of children," said
Mr. James warmly.

"Well," replied Mr. Richards, "give our good people time to get
acquainted with you, and do away the prejudices which your
extraordinary mode of proceeding has induced, and I think I could
easily assemble such a company for you every Sabbath."

After this, much to the surprise of the village, Mr. James and his
family were regular attendants at both the services of the Sabbath.
Mr. Richards explained to the good people of his congregation the
motives which had led their neighbor to the adoption of what,
to them, seemed so unchristian a course; and, upon reflection,
they came to the perception of the truth, that a man may depart
very widely from the received standard of right for other
reasons than being an infidel or an opposer of religion. A ready
return of cordial feeling was the result; and as Mr. James found
himself treated with respect and confidence, he began to feel,
notwithstanding his fastidiousness, that there were strong points of
congeniality between all real and warm-hearted Christians, however
different might be their intellectual culture, and in all simplicity
united himself with the little church of Camden. A year from the
time of his first residence there, every Sabbath afternoon saw him
surrounded by a congregation of young children, for whose benefit
he had, at his own expense, provided a room, fitted up with maps,
Scriptural pictures, and every convenience for the illustration of
Biblical knowledge; and the parents or guardians who from time to
time attended their children during these exercises often confessed
themselves as much interested and benefited as any of their youthful
companions.


SKETCH THIRD

It was near the close of a pleasant Saturday afternoon that I drew
up my weary horse in front of a neat little dwelling in the village
of N. This, as near as I could gather from description, was the
house of my cousin, William Fletcher, the identical rogue of a Bill
Fletcher, of whom we have aforetime spoken. Bill had always been
a thriving, push-ahead sort of a character, and during the course
of my rambling life I had improved every occasional opportunity of
keeping up our early acquaintance. The last time that I returned to
my native country, after some years of absence, I heard of him as
married and settled in the village of N., where he was conducting
a very prosperous course of business, and shortly after received
a pressing invitation to visit him at his own home. Now, as I had
gathered from experience the fact that it is of very little use to
rap one's knuckles off on the front door of a country house without
any knocker, I therefore made the best of my way along a little
path, bordered with marigolds and balsams, that led to the back part
of the dwelling. The sound of a number of childish voices made me
stop, and, looking through the bushes, I saw the very image of my
Cousin Bill Fletcher, as he used to be twenty years ago; the same
bold forehead, the same dark eyes, the same smart, saucy mouth,
and the same "who-cares-for-that" toss to his head. "There, now,"
exclaimed the boy, setting down a pair of shoes that he had been
blacking, and arranging them at the head of a long row of all sizes
and sorts, from those which might have fitted a two-year-old foot
upward, "there, I've blacked every single one of them, and made them
shine too, and done it all in twenty minutes; if anybody thinks they
can do it quicker than that, I'd just like to have them try; that's
all."

"I know they couldn't, though," said a fair-haired little girl,
who stood admiring the sight, evidently impressed with the utmost
reverence for her brother's ability; "and, Bill, I've been putting
up all the playthings in the big chest, and I want you to come and
turn the lock--the key hurts my fingers."

"Poh! I can turn it easier than that," said the boy, snapping his
fingers; "have you got them all in?"

"Yes, all; only I left out the soft bales, and the string of red
beads, and the great rag baby for Fanny to play with--you know
mother says babies must have their playthings Sunday."

"Oh, to be sure," said the brother very considerately; "babies
can't read, you know, as we can, nor hear Bible stories, nor look
at pictures." At this moment I stepped forward, for the spell of
former times was so powerfully on me, that I was on the very point
of springing forward with a "Halloo, there, Bill!" as I used to meet
the father in old times; but the look of surprise that greeted my
appearance brought me to myself.

"Is your father at home?" said I.

"Father and mother are both gone out; but I guess, sir, they will be
home in a few moments: won't you walk in?"

I accepted the invitation, and the little girl showed me into a
small and very prettily furnished parlor. There was a piano with
music-books on one side of the room, some fine pictures hung about
the walls, and a little, neat centre-table was plentifully strewn
with books. Besides this, the two recesses on each side of the
fireplace contained each a bookcase with a glass locked door.

The little girl offered me a chair, and then lingered a moment,
as if she felt some disposition to entertain me if she could only
think of something to say; and at last, looking up in my face, she
said in a confidential tone, "Mother says she left Willie and me to
keep house this afternoon while she was gone, and we are putting
up all the things for Sunday, so as to get everything done before
she comes home. Willie has gone to put away the playthings, and
I'm going to put up the books." So saying, she opened the doors of
one of the bookcases, and began busily carrying the books from the
centre-table to deposit them on the shelves, in which employment
she was soon assisted by Willie, who took the matter in hand in a
very masterly manner, showing his sister what were and what were
not "Sunday books" with the air of a person entirely at home in the
business. "Robinson Crusoe" and the many-volumed Peter Parley were
put by without hesitation; there was, however, a short demurring
over a "North American Review," because Willie said he was sure his
father read something one Sunday out of it while Susan averred that
he did not commonly read in it, and only read in it then because the
piece was something about the Bible; but as nothing could be settled
definitively on the point, the review was "laid on the table," like
knotty questions in Congress. Then followed a long discussion over
an extract book, which, as usual, contained all sorts, both sacred,
serious, comic, and profane; and at last Willie, with much gravity,
decided to lock it up, on the principle that it was best to be on
the safe side, in support of which he appealed to me. I was saved
from deciding the question by the entrance of the father and mother.
My old friend knew me at once, and presented his pretty wife to
me with the same look of exultation with which he used to hold up
a string of trout or an uncommonly fine perch of his own catching
for my admiration, and then looking round on his fine family of
children, two more of which he had brought home with him, seemed to
say to me, "There! what do you think of that, now?"

And, in truth, a very pretty sight it was--enough to make any
one's old bachelor coat sit very uneasily on him. Indeed, there is
nothing that gives one such a startling idea of the tricks that
old Father Time has been playing on us, as to meet some boyish or
girlish companions with half a dozen or so of thriving children
about them. My old friend, I found, was in essence just what the boy
had been. There was the same upright bearing, the same confident,
cheerful tone to his voice, and the same fire in his eye; only that
the hand of manhood had slightly touched some of the lines of his
face, giving them a staidness of expression becoming the man and the
father.

"Very well, my children," said Mrs. Fletcher, as, after tea, William
and Susan finished recounting to her the various matters that they
had set in order that afternoon; "I believe now we can say that our
week's work is finished, and that we have nothing to do but rest and
enjoy ourselves."

"Oh, and papa will show us the pictures in those great books that he
brought home for us last Monday, will he not?" said little Robert.

"And, mother, you will tell us some more about Solomon's temple and
his palaces, won't you?" said Susan.

"And I should like to know if father has found out the answer to
that hard question I gave him last Sunday?" said Willie.

"All will come in good time," said Mrs. Fletcher. "But tell me,
my dear children, are you sure that you are quite ready for the
Sabbath? You say you have put away the books and the playthings;
have you put away, too, all wrong and unkind feelings? Do you feel
kindly and pleasantly towards everybody?"

"Yes, mother," said Willie, who appeared to have taken a great part
of this speech to himself; "I went over to Tom Walter's this very
morning to ask him about that chicken of mine, and he said that he
did not mean to hit it, and did not know he had till I told him of
it; and so we made all up again, and I am glad I went."

"I am inclined to think, Willie," said his father, "that if
everybody would make it a rule to settle up all their differences
before Sunday, there would be very few long quarrels and
lawsuits. In about half the cases, a quarrel is founded on some
misunderstanding that would be got over in five minutes if one
would go directly to the person for explanation."

"I suppose I need not ask you," said Mrs. Fletcher, "whether you
have fully learned your Sunday-school lessons?"

"Oh, to be sure," said William. "You know, mother, that Susan and
I were busy about them through Monday and Tuesday, and then this
afternoon we looked them over again, and wrote down some questions."

"And I heard Robert say his all through, and showed him all the
places on the Bible Atlas," said Susan.

"Well, then," said my friend, "if everything is done, let us begin
Sunday with some music."

Thanks to the recent improvements in the musical instruction of the
young, every family can now form a domestic concert, with words and
tunes adapted to the capacity and the voices of children; and while
these little ones, full of animation, pressed round their mother
as she sat at the piano, and accompanied her music with the words
of some beautiful hymns, I thought that, though I might have heard
finer music, I had never listened to any that answered the purpose
of music so well.

It was a custom at my friend's to retire at an early hour on
Saturday evening, in order that there might be abundant time
for rest, and no excuse for late rising on the Sabbath; and,
accordingly, when the children had done singing, after a short
season of family devotion, we all betook ourselves to our chambers,
and I, for one, fell asleep with the impression of having finished
the week most agreeably, and with anticipations of very great
pleasure on the morrow.

Early in the morning I was roused from my sleep by the sound of
little voices singing with great animation in the room next to mine,
and, listening, I caught the following words:--

    "Awake! awake! your bed forsake,
      To God your praises pay;
    The morning sun is clear and bright;
    With joy we hail his cheerful light.
          In songs of love
          Praise God above--
        It is the Sabbath day!"

The last words were repeated and prolonged most vehemently by a
voice that I knew for Master William's.

"Now, Willie, I like the other one best," said the soft voice of
little Susan; and immediately she began:--

    "How sweet is the day,
    When, leaving our play,
      The Saviour we seek!
    The fair morning glows
    When Jesus arose--
      The best in the week."

Master William helped along with great spirit in the singing of this
tune, though I heard him observing, at the end of the first verse,
that he liked the other one better, because "it seemed to step off
so kind o' lively;" and his accommodating sister followed him as he
began singing it again with redoubled animation.

It was a beautiful summer morning, and the voices of the children
within accorded well with the notes of birds and bleating flocks
without--a cheerful, yet Sabbath-like and quieting sound.

"Blessed be children's music!" said I to myself; "how much better
this is than the solitary tick, tick, of old Uncle Fletcher's tall
mahogany clock!"

The family bell summoned us to the breakfast room just as the
children had finished their hymn. The little breakfast parlor had
been swept and garnished expressly for the day, and a vase of
beautiful flowers, which the children had the day before collected
from their gardens, adorned the centre-table. The door of one of the
bookcases by the fireplace was thrown open, presenting to view a
collection of prettily bound books, over the top of which appeared
in gilt letters the inscription, "Sabbath Library." The windows were
thrown open to let in the invigorating breath of the early morning,
and the birds that flitted among the rose-bushes without seemed
scarcely lighter and more buoyant than did the children as they
entered the room. It was legibly written on every face in the house,
that the happiest day in the week had arrived, and each one seemed
to enter into its duties with a whole soul. It was still early when
the breakfast and the season of family devotion were over, and the
children eagerly gathered round the table to get a sight of the
pictures in the new books which their father had purchased in New
York the week before, and which had been reserved as a Sunday's
treat. They were a beautiful edition of Calmet's Dictionary, in
several large volumes, with very superior engravings.

"It seems to me that this work must be very expensive," I remarked
to my friend, as we were turning the leaves.

"Indeed it is so," he replied; "but here is one place where I am
less withheld by considerations of expense than in any other. In
all that concerns making a show in the world, I am perfectly ready
to economize. I can do very well without expensive clothing or
fashionable furniture, and am willing that we should be looked on
as very plain sort of people in all such matters; but in all that
relates to the cultivation of the mind, and the improvement of
the hearts of my children, I am willing to go to the extent of my
ability. Whatever will give my children a better knowledge of, or
deeper interest in, the Bible, or enable them to spend a Sabbath
profitably and without weariness, stands first on my list among
things to be purchased. I have spent in this way one third as much
as the furnishing of my house costs me." On looking over the shelves
of the Sabbath Library, I perceived that my friend had been at no
small pains in the selection. It comprised all the popular standard
works for the illustration of the Bible, together with the best
of the modern religious publications adapted to the capacity of
young children. Two large drawers below were filled with maps and
Scriptural engravings, some of them of a very superior character.

"We have been collecting these things gradually ever since we
have been at housekeeping," said my friend; "the children take an
interest in this library, as something more particularly belonging
to them, and some of the books are donations from their little
earnings."

"Yes," said Willie, "I bought Helon's 'Pilgrimage' with my egg
money, and Susan bought the 'Life of David,' and little Robert is
going to buy one, too, next New Year."

"But," said I, "would not the Sunday-school library answer all the
purpose of this?"

"The Sabbath-school library is an admirable thing," said my friend;
"but this does more fully and perfectly what that was intended to
do. It makes a sort of central attraction at home on the Sabbath,
and makes the acquisition of religious knowledge and the proper
observance of the Sabbath a sort of family enterprise. You know," he
added, smiling, "that people always feel interested for an object in
which they have invested money."

The sound of the first Sabbath-school bell put an end to this
conversation. The children promptly made themselves ready, and as
their father was the superintendent of the school, and their mother
one of the teachers, it was quite a family party.

One part of every Sabbath at my friend's was spent by one or both
parents with the children in a sort of review of the week. The
attention of the little ones was directed to their own characters,
the various defects or improvements of the past week were pointed
out, and they were stimulated to be on their guard in the time to
come, and the whole was closed by earnest prayer for such heavenly
aid as the temptations and faults of each particular one might need.
After church in the evening, while the children were thus withdrawn
to their mother's apartment, I could not forbear reminding my friend
of old times, and of the rather anti-sabbatical turn of his mind in
our boyish days.

"Now, William," said I, "do you know that you were the last boy of
whom such an enterprise in Sabbath-keeping as this was to have been
expected? I suppose you remember Sunday at 'the old place'?"

"Nay, now, I think I was the very one," said he, smiling, "for I
had sense enough to see, as I grew up, that the day must be kept
thoroughly or not at all, and I had enough blood and motion in my
composition to see that something must be done to enliven and make
it interesting; so I set myself about it. It was one of the first
of our housekeeping resolutions, that the Sabbath should be made
a pleasant day, and yet be as inviolably kept as in the strictest
times of our good father; and we have brought things to run in that
channel so long that it seems to be the natural order."

"I have always supposed," said I, "that it required a peculiar
talent, and more than common information in a parent, to accomplish
this to any extent."

"It requires nothing," replied my friend, "but common sense, and a
strong determination to do it. Parents who make a definite object
of the religious instruction of their children, if they have common
sense, can very soon see what is necessary in order to interest
them; and, if they find themselves wanting in the requisite
information, they can, in these days, very readily acquire it. The
sources of religious knowledge are so numerous, and so popular
in their form, that all can avail themselves of them. The only
difficulty after all is, that the keeping of the Sabbath and the
imparting of religious instruction are not made enough of a _home_
object. Parents pass off the responsibility on to the Sunday-school
teacher, and suppose, of course, if they send their children to
Sunday-school, they do the best they can for them. Now, I am
satisfied, from my experience as a Sabbath-school teacher, that the
best religious instruction imparted abroad still stands in need
of the coöperation of a systematic plan of religious discipline
and instruction at home; for, after all, God gives a power to the
efforts of a _parent_ that can never be transferred to other hands."

"But do you suppose," said I, "that the _common_ class of minds,
with ordinary advantages, can do what you have done?"

"I think in most cases they could, if they begin right. But when
both parents and children have formed habits, it is more difficult
to change than to begin right at first. However, I think all might
accomplish a great deal if they would give time, money, and effort
towards it. It is because the object is regarded of so little value,
compared with other things of a worldly nature, that so little is
done."

My friend was here interrupted by the entrance of Mrs. Fletcher with
the children. Mrs. Fletcher sat down to the piano, and the Sabbath
was closed with the happy songs of the little ones; nor could I
notice a single anxious eye turning to the window to see if the sun
was not almost down. The tender and softened expression of each
countenance bore witness to the subduing power of those instructions
which had hallowed the last hour, and their sweet, birdlike voices
harmonized well with the beautiful words:--

    "How sweet the light of Sabbath eve!
    How soft the sunbeam lingering there!
    Those holy hours this low earth leave,
    And rise on wings of faith and prayer."



RELIGIOUS POEMS



ST. CATHERINE BORNE BY ANGELS[6]

  [6] According to this legend, Catherine was a noble maiden of
  Alexandria, distinguished alike by birth, riches, beauty, and the
  rarest gifts of genius and learning. In the flower of her life she
  consecrated herself to the service of her Redeemer, and cheerfully
  suffered for his sake the loss of wealth, friends, and the esteem of
  the world. Banishment, imprisonment, and torture were in vain tried
  to shake the constancy of her faith; and at last she was bound upon
  the torturing-wheel for a cruel death. But the angels descended, so
  says the story, rent the wheel, and bore her away, through the air,
  far over the sea, to Mount Sinai, where her body was left to repose,
  and her soul ascended with them to heaven.


    Slow through the solemn air, in silence sailing,
      Borne by mysterious angels, strong and fair,
    She sleeps at last, blest dreams her eyelids veiling,
      Above this weary world of strife and care.

    Lo how she passeth!--dreamy, slow, and calm:
      Scarce wave those broad, white wings, so silvery bright;
    Those cloudy robes, in star-emblazoned folding,
      Sweep mistily athwart the evening light.

    Far, far below, the dim, forsaken earth,
      The foes that threaten, or the friends that weep;
    Past, like a dream, the torture and the pain:
      For so He giveth his beloved sleep.

    The restless bosom of the surging ocean
      Gives back the image as the cloud floats o'er,
    Hushing in glassy awe his troubled motion;
      For one blest moment he complains no more.

    Like the transparent golden floor of heaven,
      His charmèd waters lie as in a dream,
    And glistening wings, and starry robes unfolding,
      And serious angel eyes far downward gleam.

    O restless sea! thou seemest all enchanted
      By that sweet vision of celestial rest;
    Where are the winds and tides thy peace that haunted,--
      So still thou seemest, so glorified and blest!

    Ah, sea! to-morrow, that sweet scene forgotten,
      Dark tides and tempests shall thy bosom rear;
    And thy complaining waves, with restless motion,
      Shall toss their hands in their old wild despair.

    So o'er our hearts sometimes the sweet, sad story
      Of suffering saints, borne homeward crowned and blest,
    Shines down in stillness with a tender glory,
      And makes a mirror there of breathless rest.

    For not alone in those old Eastern regions
      Are Christ's beloved ones tried by cross and chain;
    In many a house are his elect ones hidden,
      His martyrs suffering in their patient pain.

    The rack, the cross, life's weary wrench of woe,
      The world sees not, as slow, from day to day,
    In calm, unspoken patience, sadly still,
      The loving spirit bleeds itself away.

    But there are hours when, from the heavens unfolding,
      Come down the angels with the glad release;
    And we look upward, to behold in glory
      Our suffering loved ones borne away to peace.

    Ah, brief the calm! the restless wave of feeling
      Rises again when the bright cloud sweeps by,
    And our unrestful souls reflect no longer
      That tender vision of the upper sky.

    Espousèd Lord of the pure saints in glory,
      To whom all faithful souls affianced are,
    Breathe down thy peace into our restless spirits,
      And make a lasting, heavenly vision there.

    So the bright gates no more on us shall close;
      No more the cloud of angels fade away;
    And we shall walk, amid life's weary strife,
      In the calm light of thine eternal day.



THE CHARMER

     "_Socrates._ However, you and Simmias appear to me as if you
     wished to sift this subject more thoroughly, and to be afraid,
     like children, lest, on the soul's departure from the body,
     winds should blow it away.

     "Upon this Cebes said, 'Endeavor to teach us better, Socrates.
     Perhaps there is a childish spirit in our breast that has such
     a dread. Let us endeavor to persuade him not to be afraid of
     death, as of hobgoblins.'

     "'But you must charm him every day,' said Socrates, 'until you
     have quieted his fears.'

     "'But whence, O Socrates,' he said, 'can we procure a skillful
     charmer for such a case, now you are about to leave us?'

     "'Greece is wide, Cebes,' he said, 'and in it surely there are
     skillful men; and there are many barbarous nations, all of which
     you should search, seeking such a charmer, sparing neither money
     nor toil.'"--Last words of Socrates, as narrated by Plato in the
     _Phoedo_.


    We need that charmer, for our hearts are sore
      With longings for the things that may not be,
    Faint for the friends that shall return no more,
      Dark with distrust, or wrung with agony.

    "What is this life? and what to us is death?
      Whence came we? whither go? and where are those
    Who, in a moment stricken from our side,
      Passed to that land of shadow and repose?

    "And are they all dust? and dust must we become?
      Or are they living in some unknown clime?
    Shall we regain them in that far-off home,
      And live anew beyond the waves of time?

    "O man divine! on thee our souls have hung;
      Thou wert our teacher in these questions high;
    But ah! this day divides thee from our side,
      And veils in dust thy kindly guiding eye.

    "Where is that Charmer whom thou bidst us seek?
      On what far shores may his sweet voice be heard?
    When shall these questions of our yearning souls
      Be answered by the bright Eternal Word?"

    So spake the youth of Athens, weeping round,
      When Socrates lay calmly down to die;
    So spake the sage, prophetic of the hour
      When earth's fair morning star should rise on high.

    They found Him not, those youths of soul divine,
      Long seeking, wandering, watching on life's shore;
    Reasoning, aspiring, yearning for the light,
      Death came and found them--doubting as before.

    But years passed on; and lo! the Charmer came,
      Pure, simple, sweet, as comes the silver dew,
    And the world knew him not,--he walked alone
      Encircled only by his trusting few.

    Like the Athenian sage, rejected, scorned,
      Betrayed, condemned, his day of doom drew nigh;
    He drew his faithful few more closely round,
      And told them that his hour was come--to die.

    "Let not your heart be troubled," then He said,
      "My Father's house hath mansions large and fair;
    I go before you to prepare your place,
      I will return to take you with me there."

    And since that hour the awful foe is charmed,
      And life and death are glorified and fair;
    Whither He went we know, the way we know,
      And with firm step press on to meet him there.



KNOCKING

     "Behold, I stand at the door and knock."


    Knocking, knocking, ever knocking?
        Who is there?
    'Tis a pilgrim, strange and kingly,
        Never such was seen before;--
    Ah, sweet soul, for such a wonder
        Undo the door.

    No,--that door is hard to open;
    Hinges rusty, latch is broken;
        Bid Him go.
    Wherefore, with that knocking dreary
    Scare the sleep from one so weary?
        Say Him,--no.

    Knocking, knocking, ever knocking?
        What! Still there?
    O sweet soul, but once behold Him,
    With the glory-crownèd hair;
    And those eyes, so strange and tender,
        Waiting there;
    Open! Open! Once behold Him,--
        Him, so fair.

    Ah, that door! Why wilt Thou vex me,
    Coming ever to perplex me?
    For the key is stiffly rusty,
    And the bolt is clogged and dusty;
    Many-fingered ivy-vine
    Seals it fast with twist and twine;
    Weeds of years and years before
    Choke the passage of that door.

    Knocking! knocking! What! still knocking?
        He still there?
    What's the hour? The night is waning,--
    In my heart a drear complaining,
        And a chilly, sad unrest!
    Ah, this knocking! It disturbs me,
    Scares my sleep with dreams unblest!
        Give me rest,
        Rest,--ah, rest!

    Rest, dear soul, He longs to give thee;
    Thou hast only dreamed of pleasure,
    Dreamed of gifts and golden treasure,
    Dreamed of jewels in thy keeping,
    Waked to weariness of weeping;--
    Open to thy soul's one Lover,
    And thy night of dreams is over,--
    The true gifts He brings have seeming
    More than all thy faded dreaming!

    Did she open? Doth she? Will she?
    So, as wondering we behold,
    Grows the picture to a sign,
    Pressed upon your soul and mine;
    For in every breast that liveth
    Is that strange, mysterious door;--
    Though forsaken and betangled,
    Ivy-gnarled and weed-bejangled,
    Dusty, rusty, and forgotten;--
    There the piercèd hand still knocketh,
    And with ever-patient watching,
    With the sad eyes true and tender,
    With the glory-crownèd hair,--
    Still a God is waiting there.



THE OLD PSALM TUNE


    You asked, dear friend, the other day,
      Why still my charmèd ear
    Rejoiceth in uncultured tone
      That old psalm tune to hear?

    I've heard full oft, in foreign lands,
      The grand orchestral strain,
    Where music's ancient masters live,
      Revealed on earth again,--

    Where breathing, solemn instruments,
      In swaying clouds of sound,
    Bore up the yearning, trancèd soul,
      Like silver wings around;--

    I've heard in old St. Peter's dome,
      Where clouds of incense rise,
    Most ravishing the choral swell
      Mount upwards to the skies.

    And well I feel the magic power,
      When skilled and cultured art
    Its cunning webs of sweetness weaves
      Around the captured heart.

    But yet, dear friend, though rudely sung,
      That old psalm tune hath still
    A pulse of power beyond them all
      My inmost soul to thrill.

    Those halting tones that sound to you,
      Are not the tones I hear;
    But voices of the loved and lost
      There meet my longing ear.

    I hear my angel mother's voice,--
      Those were the words she sung;
    I hear my brother's ringing tones,
      As once on earth they rung;

    And friends that walk in white above
      Come round me like a cloud,
    And far above those earthly notes
      Their singing sounds aloud.

    There may be discord, as you say;
      Those voices poorly ring;
    But there's no discord in the strain
      Those upper spirits sing.

    For they who sing are of the blest,
      The calm and glorified,
    Whose hours are one eternal rest
      On heaven's sweet floating tide.

    Their life is music and accord;
      Their souls and hearts keep time
    In one sweet concert with the Lord,--
      One concert vast, sublime.

    And through the hymns they sang on earth
      Sometimes a sweetness falls
    On those they loved and left below,
      And softly homeward calls,--

    Bells from our own dear fatherland,
      Borne trembling o'er the sea,--
    The narrow sea that they have crossed,
      The shores where we shall be.

    O sing, sing on, belovèd souls!
      Sing cares and griefs to rest;
    Sing, till entrancèd we arise
      To join you 'mong the blest



THE OTHER WORLD


    It lies around us like a cloud,
      A world we do not see;
    Yet the sweet closing of an eye
      May bring us there to be.

    Its gentle breezes fan our cheek;
      Amid our worldly cares,
    Its gentle voices whisper love,
      And mingle with our prayers.

    Sweet hearts around us throb and beat,
      Sweet helping hands are stirred,
    And palpitates the veil between
      With breathings almost heard.

    The silence, awful, sweet, and calm,
      They have no power to break;
    For mortal words are not for them
      To utter or partake.

    So thin, so soft, so sweet, they glide,
      So near to press they seem,
    They lull us gently to our rest,
      They melt into our dream.

    And in the hush of rest they bring
      'Tis easy now to see
    How lovely and how sweet a pass
      The hour of death may be;--

    To close the eye, and close the ear,
      Wrapped in a trance of bliss,
    And, gently drawn in loving arms,
      To swoon to that--from this,--

    Scarce knowing if we wake or sleep,
      Scarce asking where we are,
    To feel all evil sink away,
      All sorrow and all care.

    Sweet souls around us! watch us still;
      Press nearer to our side;
    Into our thoughts, into our prayers,
      With gentle helpings glide.

    Let death between us be as naught,
      A dried and vanished stream;
    Your joy be the reality,
      Our suffering life the dream.



MARY AT THE CROSS

     "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother."


    O wondrous mother! since the dawn of time
      Was ever love, was ever grief, like thine?
    O highly favored in thy joy's deep flow,
      And favored, even in this, thy bitterest woe!

    Poor was that home in simple Nazareth
      Where, fairly growing, like some silent flower,
    Last of a kingly race, unknown and lowly,
      O desert lily, passed thy childhood's hour.

    The world knew not the tender, serious maiden,
      Who through deep loving years so silent grew,
    Full of high thought and holy aspiration,
      Which the o'ershadowing God alone might view.

    And then it came, that message from the highest,
      Such as to woman ne'er before descended,
    The almighty wings thy prayerful soul o'erspread,
      And with thy life the Life of worlds was blended.

    What visions then of future glory filled thee,
      The chosen mother of that King unknown,
    Mother fulfiller of all prophecy
      Which, through dim ages, wondering seers had shown!

    Well did thy dark eye kindle, thy deep soul
      Rise into billows, and thy heart rejoice;
    Then woke the poet's fire, the prophet's song,
      Tuned with strange burning words thy timid voice.

    Then, in dark contrast, came the lowly manger,
      The outcast shed, the tramp of brutal feet;
    Again behold earth's learnèd and her lowly,
      Sages and shepherds, prostrate at thy feet.

    Then to the temple bearing--hark again
      What strange conflicting tones of prophecy
    Breathe o'er the child foreshadowing words of joy,
      High triumph blent with bitter agony!

    O highly favored thou in many an hour
      Spent in lone musings with thy wondrous Son,
    When thou didst gaze into that glorious eye,
      And hold that mighty hand within thine own.

    Blest through those thirty years, when in thy dwelling
      He lived a God disguised with unknown power;
    And thou his sole adorer, his best love,
      Trusting, revering, waited for his hour.

    Blest in that hour, when called by opening heaven
      With cloud and voice, and the baptizing flame,
    Up from the Jordan walked th' acknowledged stranger,
      And awe-struck crowds grew silent as He came.

    Blessèd, when full of grace, with glory crowned,
      He from both hands almighty favors poured,
    And, though He had not where to lay his head,
      Brought to his feet alike the slave and lord.

    Crowds followed; thousands shouted, "Lo, our King!"
      Fast beat thy heart. Now, now the hour draws nigh:
    Behold the crown, the throne, the nations bend!
      Ah, no! fond mother, no! behold Him die!

    Now by that cross thou tak'st thy final station,
      And shar'st the last dark trial of thy Son;
    Not with weak tears or woman's lamentation,
      But with high, silent anguish, like his own.

    Hail! highly favored, even in this deep passion;
      Hail! in this bitter anguish thou art blest,--
    Blest in the holy power with Him to suffer
      Those deep death-pangs that lead to higher rest.

    All now is darkness; and in that deep stillness
      The God-man wrestles with that mighty woe;
    Hark to that cry, the rock of ages rending,--
      "'Tis finished!" Mother, all is glory now!

    By sufferings mighty as his mighty soul
      Hath the Redeemer risen forever blest;
    And through all ages must his heart-belovèd
      Through the same baptism enter the same rest.



THE INNER VOICE

     "Come ye yourselves into a desert place and rest awhile; for
     there were many coming and going, so that they had no time so
     much as to eat."


    'Mid the mad whirl of life, its dim confusion,
      Its jarring discords and poor vanity,
    Breathing like music over troubled waters,
      What gentle voice, O Christian, speaks to thee?

    It is a stranger,--not of earth or earthly;
      By the serene, deep fullness of that eye,--
    By the calm, pitying smile, the gesture lowly,--
      It is thy Saviour as He passeth by.

    "Come, come," He saith, "O soul oppressed and weary,
      Come to the shadows of my desert rest,
    Come walk with me far from life's babbling discords,
      And peace shall breathe like music in thy breast.

    "Art thou bewildered by contesting voices,--
      Sick to thy soul of party noise and strife?
    Come, leave it all, and seek that solitude
      Where thou shalt learn of me a purer life.

    "When far behind the world's great tumult dieth,
      Thou shalt look back and wonder at its roar;
    But its far voice shall seem to thee a dream,
      Its power to vex thy holier life be o'er.

    "There shalt thou learn the secret of a power,
      Mine to bestow, which heals the ills of living;
    To overcome by love, to live by prayer,
      To conquer man's worst evils by forgiving."



ABIDE IN ME, AND I IN YOU

THE SOUL'S ANSWER


    That mystic word of thine, O sovereign Lord,
      Is all too pure, too high, too deep for me;
    Weary of striving, and with longing faint,
      I breathe it back again in _prayer_ to thee.

    Abide in me, I pray, and I in thee;
      From this good hour, O leave me nevermore;
    Then shall the discord cease, the wound be healed,
      The lifelong bleeding of the soul be o'er.

    Abide in me; o'ershadow by thy love
      Each half-formed purpose and dark thought of sin;
    Quench, e'er it rise, each selfish, low desire,
      And keep my soul as thine, calm and divine.

    As some rare perfume in a vase of clay
      Pervades it with a fragrance not its own,
    So, when thou dwellest in a mortal soul,
      All heaven's own sweetness seems around it thrown.

    Abide in me: there have been moments blest
      When I have heard thy voice and felt thy power;
    Then evil lost its grasp, and passion, hushed,
      Owned the divine enchantment of the hour.

    These were but seasons, beautiful and rare;
      Abide in me, and they shall ever be.
    Fulfill at once thy precept and my prayer,--
      Come, and abide in me, and I in thee.



THE SECRET

     "Thou shalt keep them in the secret of thy presence from the
     strife of tongues."


    When winds are raging o'er the upper ocean,
      And billows wild contend with angry roar,
    'Tis said, far down beneath the wild commotion,
      That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.

    Far, far beneath, the noise of tempest dieth,
      And silver waves chime ever peacefully;
    And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er he flieth,
      Disturbs the sabbath of that deeper sea.

    So to the soul that knows thy love, O Purest,
      There is a temple peaceful evermore!
    And all the babble of life's angry voices
      Die in hushed stillness at its sacred door.

    Far, far away the noise of passion dieth,
      And loving thoughts rise ever peacefully;
    And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er he flieth,
      Disturbs that deeper rest, O Lord, in thee.

    O rest of rests! O peace serene, eternal!
      Thou ever livest and thou changest never;
    And in the secret of thy presence dwelleth
      Fullness of joy, forever and forever.



THINK NOT ALL IS OVER


    Think not, when the wailing winds of autumn
    Drive the shivering leaflets from the tree,--
    Think not all is over: spring returneth,
    Buds and leaves and blossoms thou shalt see.

    Think not, when the Earth lies cold and sealèd,
    And the weary birds above her mourn,--
    Think not all is over: God still liveth,
    Songs and sunshine shall again return.

    Think not, when thy heart is waste and dreary,
    When thy cherished hopes lie chill and sere,--
    Think not all is over: God still loveth,
    He will wipe away thy every tear.

    Weeping for a night alone endureth,
    God at last shall bring a morning hour;
    In the frozen buds of every winter
    Sleep the blossoms of a future flower.



LINES

TO THE MEMORY OF "ANNIE," WHO DIED AT MILAN, JUNE 6, 1860

     "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest
     thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him,
     Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid
     him."--JOHN XX. 15.


    In the fair garden of celestial peace
      Walketh a Gardener in meekness clad;
    Fair are the flowers that wreathe his dewy locks,
      And his mysterious eyes are sweet and sad.

    Fair are the silent foldings of his robes,
      Falling with saintly calmness to his feet;
    And when he walks, each floweret to his will
      With living pulse of sweet accord doth beat.

    Every green leaf thrills to its tender heart,
      In the mild summer radiance of his eye;
    No fear of storm, or cold, or bitter frost,
      Shadows the flowerets when their sun is nigh.

    And all our pleasant haunts of earthly love
      Are nurseries to those gardens of the air;
    And his far-darting eye, with starry beam,
      Watcheth the growing of his treasures there.

    We call them ours, o'erwept with selfish tears,
      O'erwatched with restless longings night and day;
    Forgetful of the high, mysterious right
      He holds to bear our cherished plants away.

    But when some sunny spot in those bright fields
      Needs the fair presence of an added flower,
    Down sweeps a starry angel in the night:
      At morn, the rose has vanished from our bower.

    Where stood our tree, our flower, there is a grave!
      Blank, silent, vacant, but in worlds above,
    Like a new star outblossomed in the skies,
      The angels hail an added flower of love.

    Dear friend, no more upon that lonely mound,
      Strewed with the red and yellow autumn leaf,
    Drop thou the tear, but raise the fainting eye
      Beyond the autumn mists of earthly grief.

    Thy garden rosebud bore, within its breast,
      Those mysteries of color, warm and bright,
    That the bleak climate of this lower sphere
      Could never waken into form and light.

    Yes, the sweet Gardener hath borne her hence,
      Nor must thou ask to take her thence away;
    Thou shalt behold her in some coming hour,
      Full-blossomed in his fields of cloudless day.



THE CROCUS


    Beneath the sunny autumn sky,
      With gold leaves dropping round,
    We sought, my little friend and I,
      The consecrated ground,
    Where, calm beneath the holy cross,
      O'ershadowed by sweet skies,
    Sleeps tranquilly that youthful form,
      Those blue unclouded eyes.

    Around the soft, green swelling mound
      We scooped the earth away,
    And buried deep the crocus-bulbs
      Against a coming day.
    "These roots are dry, and brown, and sere;
      Why plant them here?" he said,
    "To leave them, all the winter long,
      So desolate and dead."

    "Dear child, within each sere dead form
      There sleeps a living flower,
    And angel-like it shall arise
      In spring's returning hour."
    Ah, deeper down--cold, dark, and chill--
      We buried our heart's flower,
    But angel-like shall he arise
      In spring's immortal hour.

    In blue and yellow from its grave
      Springs up the crocus fair,
    And God shall raise those bright blue eyes,
      Those sunny waves of hair.
    Not for a fading summer's morn,
      Not for a fleeting hour,
    But for an endless age of bliss,
      Shall rise our heart's dear flower.



CONSOLATION

WRITTEN AFTER THE SECOND BATTLE OF BULL RUN

     "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven
     and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."


    Ah, many-voiced and angry! how the waves
      Beat turbulent with terrible uproar!
    Is there no rest from tossing,--no repose?
      Where shall we find a haven and a shore?

    What is secure from the land-dashing wave?
      There go our riches, and our hopes fly there;
    There go the faces of our best beloved,
      Whelmed in the vortex of its wild despair.

    Whose son is safe? whose brother, and whose home?
      The dashing spray beats out the household fire;
    By blackened ashes weep our widowed souls
      Over the embers of our lost desire.

    By pauses, in the fitful moaning storm,
      We hear triumphant notes of battle roll.
    Too soon the triumph sinks in funeral wail;
      The muffled drum, the death march, shakes the soul!

    Rocks on all sides, and breakers! at the helm
      Weak human hand and weary human eyes.
    The shout and clamor of our dreary strife
      Goes up conflicting to the angry skies.

    But for all this, O timid hearts, be strong;
      Be of good cheer, for, though the storm must be,
    _It hath its Master_: from the depths shall rise
      New heavens, new earth, where shall be no more sea.

    No sea, no tossing, no unrestful storm!
      Forever past the anguish and the strife;
    The poor old weary earth shall bloom again,
      With the bright foliage of that better life.

    And war, and strife, and hatred, shall be past,
      And misery be a forgotten dream.
    The Shepherd God shall lead his peaceful fold
      By the calm meadows and the quiet stream.

    Be still, be still, and know that he is God;
      Be calm, be trustful; work, and watch, and pray,
    Till from the throes of this last anguish rise
      The light and gladness of that better day.



"ONLY A YEAR"


    One year ago,--a ringing voice,
      A clear blue eye,
    And clustering curls of sunny hair,
      Too fair to die.

    Only a year,--no voice, no smile,
      No glance of eye,
    No clustering curls of golden hair,
      Fair but to die!

    One year ago,--what loves, what schemes
      Far into life!
    What joyous hopes, what high resolves,
      What generous strife!

    The silent picture on the wall,
      The burial stone,
    Of all that beauty, life, and joy
      Remain alone!

    One year,--one year,--one little year,
      And so much gone!
    And yet the even flow of life
      Moves calmly on.

    The grave grows green, the flowers bloom fair,
      Above that head;
    No sorrowing tint of leaf or spray
      Says he is dead.

    No pause or hush of merry birds,
      That sing above,
    Tells us how coldly sleeps below
      The form we love.

    Where hast thou been this year, beloved?
      What hast thou seen?
    What visions fair, what glorious life,
      Where thou hast been?

    The veil! the veil! so thin, so strong!
      'Twixt us and thee;
    The mystic veil! when shall it fall,
      That we may see?

    Not dead, not sleeping, not even gone,
      But present still,
    And waiting for the coming hour
      Of God's sweet will.

    Lord of the living and the dead,
      Our Saviour dear!
    We lay in silence at thy feet
      This sad, sad year!



BELOW


    Loudly sweep the winds of autumn
    O'er that lone, belovèd grave,
    Where we laid those sunny ringlets,
    When those blue eyes set like stars,
    Leaving us to outer darkness.
    O the longing and the aching!
    O the sere deserted grave!

    Let the grass turn brown upon thee,
    Brown and withered like our dreams!
    Let the wind moan through the pine-trees
    With a dreary, dirge-like whistle,
    Sweep the dead leaves on its bosom,--
    Moaning, sobbing through the branches,
    Where the summer laughed so gayly.

    He is gone, our boy of summer,--
    Gone the light of his blue eyes,
    Gone the tender heart and manly,
    Gone the dreams and the aspirings,--
    Nothing but the _mound_ remaineth,
    And the aching in our bosoms,
    Ever aching, ever throbbing:
    Who shall bring it unto rest?



ABOVE

A VISION


    Coming down a golden street
    I beheld my vanished one,
    And he moveth on a cloud,
    And his forehead wears a star;
    And his blue eyes, deep and holy,
    Fixed as in a blessèd dream,
    See some mystery of joy,
    Some unuttered depth of love.

    And his vesture is as blue
    As the skies of summer are,
    Falling with a saintly sweep,
    With a sacred stillness swaying;
    And he presseth to his bosom
    Harps of strange and mystic fashion,
    And his hands, like living pearls,
    Wander o'er the golden strings.

    And the music that ariseth,
    Who can utter or divine it?
    In that strange celestial thrilling,
    Every memory of sorrow,
    Every heart-ache, every anguish,
    Every fear for the to-morrow,
    Melt away in charmèd rest.

    And there be around him many,
    Bright with robes like evening clouds,--
    Tender green and clearest amber,
    Crimson fading into rose,
    Robes of flames and robes of silver,--
    And their hues all thrill and tremble
    With a living light of feeling,
    Deepening with each heart's pulsation,
    Till in vivid trance of color
    That celestial rainbow glows.

    How they float and wreathe and brighten,
    Bending low their starry brows,
    Singing with a tender cadence,
    And their hands, like spotless lilies,
    Folded on their prayerful breasts.
    In their singing seem to mingle
    Tender airs of bygone days;--
    Mother-hymnings by the cradle,
    Mother-moanings by the grave,
    Songs of human love and sorrow,
    Songs of endless love and rest;--
    In the pauses of that music
    Every throb of sorrow dies.

    O my own, my heart's belovèd,
    Vainly have I wept above thee?
    Would I call thee from thy glory
    To this world's impurity?--
    Lo! it passeth, it dissolveth,
    All the vision melts away;
    But as if a heavenly lily
    Dropped into my aching breast,
    With a healing sweetness laden,
    With a mystic breath of rest,
    I am charmed into forgetting
    Autumn winds and dreary grave.



LINES

SUGGESTED BY THE DEATH OF THE WIFE OF MOSES STUART, OF ANDOVER, MASS.


    How quiet, through the hazy autumn air,
    The elm-boughs wave with many a gold-flecked leaf!
    How calmly float the dreamy mantled clouds
    Through these still days of autumn, fair and brief!

    Our Andover stands thoughtful, fair, and calm,
    Waiting to lay her summer glories by
    E'er the bright flush shall kindle all her pines,
    And her woods blaze with autumn's heraldry.

    By the old mossy wall the goldenrod
    Waves as aforetime, and the purple sprays
    Of starry asters quiver to the breeze,
    Rustling all stilly through the forest ways.

    No voice of triumph from those silent skies
    Breaks on the calm, and speaks of glories near,
    Nor bright wings flutter, nor fair glistening robes
    Proclaim that heavenly messengers are here.

    Yet in our midst an angel hath come down,
    Troubling the waters in a peaceful home;
    And from that home, of life's long sickness healed,
    A saint hath risen, where pain no more may come.

    Christ's fair elect one, from a hidden life
    Of loving deeds and words of gentleness,
    Hath passed where all are loving and beloved,
    Beyond all weariness and all distress.

    Calm, like a lamb in shepherd's bosom borne,
    Quiet and trustful hath she sunk to rest;
    God breathed in tenderness the sweet "Well done!"
    That scarce awoke a trance so still and blest.

    Ye who remember the long loving years,
    The patient mother's hourly martyrdom,
    The self-renouncing wisdom, the calm trust,
    Rejoice for her whose day of rest is come!

    Father and mother, now united, stand
    Waiting for you to bind the household chain;
    The tent is struck, the home is gone before,
    And tarries for you on the heavenly plain.

    By every wish repressed and hope resigned,
    Each cross accepted and each sorrow borne,
    She dead yet speaketh, she doth beckon you
    To tread the path her patient feet have worn.

    Each year that world grows richer and more dear
    With the bright freight washed from life's stormy shore;
    O goodly clime, how lovely is thy strand,
    With those dear faces seen on earth no more!

    The veil between this world and that to come
    Grows tremulous and quivers with their breath;
    Dimly we hear their voices, see their hands,
    Inviting us to the release of death.

    O Thou, in whom thy saints above, below,
    Are one and undivided, grant us grace
    In patience yet to bear our daily cross,--
    In patience run our hourly shortening race!

    And while on earth we wear the servant's form,
    And while life's labors ever toilful be,
    Breathe in our souls the joyful confidence
    We are already kings and priests with thee.



SUMMER STUDIES


    Why shouldst thou study in the month of June
    In dusky books of Greek and Hebrew lore,
    When the Great Teacher of all glorious things
    Passes in hourly light before thy door?

    There is a brighter book unrolling now;
    Fair are its leaves as is the tree of heaven,
    All veined and dewed and gemmed with wondrous signs,
    To which a healing mystic power is given.

    A thousand voices to its study call,
    From the fair hilltop, from the waterfall,
    Where the bird singeth, and the yellow bee,
    And the breeze talketh from the airy tree.

    Now is that glorious resurrection time
    When all earth's buried beauties have new birth:
    Behold the yearly miracle complete,--
    God hath created a new heaven and earth!

    No tree that wants its joyful garments now,
    No flower but hastes his bravery to don;
    God bids thee to this marriage feast of joy,
    Let thy soul put the wedding garment on.

    All fringed with festal gold the barberry stands;
    The ferns, exultant, clap their new-made wings;
    The hemlock rustles broideries of fresh green,
    And thousand bells of pearl the blueberry rings.

    The long, weird fingers of the old white-pines
    Do beckon thee into the flickering wood,
    Where moving spots of light show mystic flowers,
    And wavering music fills the dreamy hours.

    Hast thou no _time_ for all this wondrous show,--
    No thought to spare? Wilt thou forever be
    With thy last year's dry flower-stalk and dead leaves,
    And no new shoot or blossom on thy tree?

    See how the pines push off their last year's leaves,
    And stretch beyond them with exultant bound:
    The grass and flowers, with living power, o'ergrow
    Their last year's remnants on the greening ground.

    Wilt thou, then, all thy wintry feelings keep,
    The old dead routine of thy book-writ lore,
    Nor deem that God can teach, by one bright hour,
    What life hath never taught to thee before?

    See what vast leisure, what unbounded rest,
    Lie in the bending dome of the blue sky:
    Ah! breathe that life-born languor from thy breast,
    And know once more a child's unreasoning joy.

    Cease, cease to _think_, and be content _to be_;
    Swing safe at anchor in fair Nature's bay;
    Reason no more, but o'er thy quiet soul
    Let God's sweet teachings ripple their soft way.

    Soar with the birds, and flutter with the leaf;
    Dance with the seeded grass in fringy play;
    Sail with the cloud, wave with the dreaming pine,
    And float with Nature all the livelong day.

    Call not such hours an idle waste of time,--
    Land that lies fallow gains a quiet power;
    It treasures, from the brooding of God's wings,
    Strength to unfold the future tree and flower.

    And when the summer's glorious show is past,
    Its miracles no longer charm thy sight,
    The treasured riches of those thoughtful hours
    Shall make thy wintry musings warm and bright.



THE SHEPHERD'S CAROL


    "O Shepherd of Israel,
      Thy lost flock are straying;
    Our Helper, our Saviour,
      How long thy delaying!
    Where, Lord, is thy promise
      To David of old,
    Of the King and the Shepherd
      To gather the fold!

    "Cold, cold is the night wind,
      Our hearts have no cheer,
    Our Lord and our Leader,
      When wilt thou appear?"
    So sang the sad shepherds
      On Bethlehem's cold ground
    When lo, the bright angels
      In glory around!

    "Peace, peace, ye dear shepherds,
      And be of good cheer;
    The Lord whom ye long for
      Is coming--is here!
    In the city of David
      Behold him appear--
    A babe in a manger--
      Go worship him there."

    They went and were blessèd.
      Dear soul, go thou too;
    The Saviour for them
      Is the Saviour for you.
    Oh, kneel by the manger,
      Oh, kneel by the cross;
    Accept him, believe him,--
      All else is but dross.



HOURS OF THE NIGHT OR WATCHES OF SORROW


I

MIDNIGHT

     "He hath made me to dwell in darkness as those that have been
     long dead."

    All dark!--no light, no ray!
    Sun, moon, and stars, all gone!
    Dimness of anguish!--utter void!--
              Crushed, and alone!

    One waste of weary pain,
    One dull, unmeaning ache,
    A heart too weary even to throb,
              Too bruised to break.

    No longer anxious thoughts,
    No longer hopes and fears,
    No strife, no effort, no desire,
              No tears.

    Daylight and leaves and flowers,
    Summer and song of bird!--
    All vanished!--dreams forever gone,
              Unseen, unheard!

    Love, beauty, youth,--all gone!
    The high, heroic vow,
    The buoyant hope, the fond desire,--
              All ashes now!

    The words they speak to me
    Far off and distant seem,
    As voices we have known and loved
              Speak in a dream.

    They bid me to submit;
    I do,--I cannot strive;
    I do not question,--I endure,
              Endure and live.

    I do not struggle more,
    Nor pray, for prayer is vain;
    I but lie still the weary hour,
              And bear my pain.

    A guiding God, a Friend,
    A Father's gracious cheer,
    Once seemed my own; but now even faith
              Lies buried here.

    This darkened, deathly life
    Is all remains of me,
    And but one conscious wish,--
              To cease to be!


II

FIRST HOUR

     "There was darkness over all the land from the sixth hour unto
     the ninth hour.

     "And Jesus cried and said, My God, my God, why hast thou
     forsaken me?"

    That cry hath stirred the deadness of my soul;
    I feel a heart-string throb, as throbs a chord
    When breaks the master chord of some great harp;
    My heart responsive answers, "Why?" O Lord.

    O cross of pain! O crown of cruel thorns!
    O piercing nails! O spotless Sufferer there!
    Wert _thou_ forsaken in thy deadly strife?
    Then canst thou pity me in my despair.

    Take my dead heart, O Jesus, down with thee
    To that still sepulchre where thou didst rest;
    Lay it in the fair linen's spicy folds,
    As a dear mother lays her babe to rest.

    I am so worn, so weary, so o'erspent,
    To lie with thee in that calm trance were sweet;
    The bitter myrrh of long-remembered pain
    May work in me new strength to rise again.

    This dark and weary mystery of woe,
    This hopeless struggle, this most useless strife,--
    Ah, let it end! I die with thee, my Lord,
    To all I ever hoped or wished from life.

    I die with thee: thy fellowship of grief,
    Thy partnership with mortal misery,
    The weary watching and the nameless dread,--
    Let them be mine to make me one with thee.

    Thou hast asked, "Why?" and God will answer thee,
    Therefore I ask not, but in peace lie down,
    For the three days of mystery and rest,
    Till comes the resurrection and the crown.


III

SECOND HOUR

     "They laid hold upon one Simon a Cyrenian, and on him they laid
     the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus."

    Along the dusty thoroughfare of life,
      Upon his daily errands walking free,
    Came a brave, honest man, untouched by pain,
      Unchilled by sight or thought of misery.

    But lo! a crowd:--he stops,--with curious eye
      A fainting form all pressed to earth he sees;
    The hard, rough burden of the bitter cross
      Hath bowed the drooping head and feeble knees.

    Ho! lay the cross upon yon stranger there,
      For he hath breadth of chest and strength of limb.
    Straight it is done; and heavy laden thus,
      With Jesus' cross, he turns and follows him.

    Unmurmuring, patient, cheerful, pitiful,
      Prompt with the holy sufferer to endure,
    Forsaking all to follow the dear Lord,--
      Thus did he make his glorious calling sure.

    O soul, whoe'er thou art, walking life's way,
      As yet from touch of deadly sorrow free,
    Learn from this story to forecast the day
      When Jesus and his cross shall come to thee.

    O in that fearful, that decisive hour,
      Rebel not, shrink not, seek not thence to flee,
    But, humbly bending, take thy heavy load,
      And bear it after Jesus patiently.

    His cross is thine. If thou and he be one,
      Some portion of his pain must still be thine;
    Thus only mayst thou share his glorious crown,
      And reign with him in majesty divine.

    Master in sorrow! I accept my share
      In the great anguish of life's mystery.
    No more, alone, I sink beneath my load,
      But bear my cross, O Jesus, after thee.


IV

THIRD HOUR

THE MYSTERY OF LIFE

     "Let my heart calm itself in thee. Let the great sea of my
     heart, that swelleth with waves, calm itself in thee."--ST.
     AUGUSTINE'S MANUAL.

    Life's mystery--deep, restless as the ocean--
      Hath surged and wailed for ages to and fro;
    Earth's generations watch its ceaseless motion,
      As in and out its hollow moanings flow.
    Shivering and yearning by that unknown sea,
    Let my soul calm itself, O Christ, in thee!

    Life's sorrows, with inexorable power,
      Sweep desolation o'er this mortal plain;
    And human loves and hopes fly as the chaff
      Borne by the whirlwind from the ripened grain.
    Ah! when before that blast my hopes all flee,
    Let my soul calm itself, O Christ, in thee!

    Between the mysteries of death and life
      Thou standest, loving, guiding, not explaining;
    We ask, and thou art silent; yet we gaze,
      And our charmed hearts forget their drear complaining.
    No crushing fate, no stony destiny,
    O Lamb that hast been slain, we find in thee!

    The many waves of thought, the mighty tides,
      The ground-swell that rolls up from other lands,
    From far-off worlds, from dim, eternal shores,
      Whose echo dashes on life's wave-worn strands,
    This vague, dark tumult of the inner sea
    Grows calm, grows bright, O risen Lord, in thee!

    Thy piercèd hand guides the mysterious wheels;
      Thy thorn-crowned brow now wears the crown of power;
    And when the dread enigma presseth sore,
      Thy patient voice saith, "Watch with me one hour."
    As sinks the moaning river in the sea
    In silver peace, so sinks my soul in thee!


V

FOURTH HOUR

THE SORROWS OF MARY

DEDICATED TO THE MOTHERS WHO HAVE LOST SONS IN THE LATE WAR

    I slept, but my heart was waking,
      And out in my dreams I sped,
    Through the streets of an ancient city,
      Where Jesus, the Lord, lay dead.

    He was lying all cold and lowly,
      And the sepulchre was sealed,
    And the women that bore the spices
      Had come from the holy field.

    There is feasting in Pilate's palace,
      There is revel in Herod's hall,
    Where the lute and the sounding instrument
      To mirth and merriment call.

    "I have washed my hands," said Pilate,
      "And what is the Jew to me?"
    "I have missed my chance," said Herod,
      "One of his wonders to see.

    "But why should our courtly circle
      To the thought give further place?
    All dreams, save of pleasure and beauty,
      Bid the dancers' feet efface."

      .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

    I saw a light from a casement,
      And entered a lowly door,
    Where a woman, stricken and mournful,
      Sat in sackcloth on the floor.

    There Mary, the mother of Jesus,
      And John, the belovèd one,
    With a few poor friends beside them,
      Were mourning for Him that was gone.

    And before the mother was lying
      That crown of cruel thorn,
    Wherewith they crowned that gentle brow
      In mockery that morn.

    And her ears yet ring with the anguish
      Of that last dying cry,--
    That mighty appeal of agony
      That shook both earth and sky.

    O God, what a shaft of anguish
      Was that dying voice from the tree!--
    From Him the only spotless,--
      "Why hast Thou forsaken me?"

    And was he of God forsaken?
      They ask, appalled with dread;
    Is evil crowned and triumphant,
      And goodness vanquished and dead?

    Is there, then, no God in Jacob?
      Is the star of Judah dim?
    For who would our God deliver,
      If he would not deliver him?

    If God _could_ not deliver,--what hope then?
      If he _would_ not,--who ever shall dare
    To be firm in his service hereafter?
      To trust in his wisdom or care?

    So darkly the Tempter was saying,
      To hearts that with sorrow were dumb;
    And the poor souls were clinging in darkness to God,
      With hands that with anguish were numb.

      .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

    In my dreams came the third day morning,
      And fairly the day-star shone;
    But fairer, the solemn angel,
      As he rolled away the stone.

    In the lowly dwelling of Mary,
      In the dusky twilight chill,
    There was heard the sound of coming feet,
      And her very heart grew still.

    And in the glimmer of dawning,
      She saw him enter the door,
    Her Son, all living and real,
      Risen, to die no more!

    Her Son, all living and real,
      Risen no more to die,--
    With the power of an endless life in his face,
      With the light of heaven in his eye.

    O mourning mothers, so many,
      Weeping o'er sons that are dead,
    Have ye thought of the sorrows of Mary's heart,
      Of the tears that Mary shed?

    Is the crown of thorns before you?
      Are there memories of cruel scorn?
    Of hunger and thirst and bitter cold
      That your belovèd have borne?

    Had ye ever a son like Jesus
      To give to a death of pain?
    Did ever a son so cruelly die,
      But did he die in vain?

    Have ye ever thought that all the hopes
      That make our earth-life fair,
    Were born in those three bitter days
      Of Mary's deep despair?

    O mourning mothers, so many,
      Weeping in woe and pain,
    Think on the joy of Mary's heart
      In a Son that is risen again.

    Have faith in a third-day morning,
      In a resurrection-hour;
    For what ye sow in weakness,
      He can raise again in power.

    Have faith in the Lord of that thorny crown,
      In the Lord of the piercèd hand;
    For he reigneth now o'er earth and heaven,
      And his power who may withstand?

    And the hopes that never on earth shall bloom,
      The sorrows forever new,
    Lay silently down at the feet of Him
      Who died and is risen for you.


VI

DAY DAWN

    The dim gray dawn, upon the eastern hills,
      Brings back to light once more the cheerless scene;
    But oh! no morning in my Father's house
      Is dawning now, for there no night hath been.

    Ten thousand thousand now, on Zion's hills,
      All robed in white, with palmy crowns, do stray,
    While I, an exile, far from fatherland,
      Still wandering, faint along the desert way.

    O home! dear home! my own, my native home!
    O Father, friends! when shall I look on you?
    When shall these weary wanderings be o'er,
    And I be gathered back to stray no more?

    O Thou, the brightness of whose gracious face
    These weary, longing eyes have never seen,--
    By whose dear thought, for whose belovèd sake,
    My course, through toil and tears, I daily take,--

    I think of thee when the myrrh-dropping morn
      Steps forth upon the purple eastern steep;
    I think of thee in the fair eventide,
      When the bright-sandaled stars their watches keep.

    And trembling Hope, and fainting, sorrowing Love,
      On thy dear word for comfort doth rely;
    And clear-eyed Faith, with strong forereaching gaze,
      Beholds thee here, unseen, but ever nigh.

    Walking in white with thee, she dimly sees,
      All beautiful, these lovely ones withdrawn,
    With whom my heart went upward, as they rose,
      Like morning stars, to light a coming dawn.

    All sinless now, and crowned and glorified,
      Where'er thou movest move they still with thee,
    As erst, in sweet communion by thy side,
      Walked John and Mary in old Galilee.

    But hush, my heart! 'Tis but a day or two
      Divides thee from that bright, immortal shore.
    Rise up! rise up! and gird thee for the race!
      Fast fly the hours, and all will soon be o'er.

    Thou hast the new name written in thy soul;
      Thou hast the mystic stone He gives his own.
    Thy soul, made one with him, shall feel no more
      That she is walking on her path alone.


VII

WHEN I AWAKE I AM STILL WITH THEE

    Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
      When the bird waketh and the shadows flee;
    Fairer than morning, lovelier than the daylight,
      Dawns the sweet consciousness, _I am with Thee_!

    Alone with Thee, amid the mystic shadows,
      The solemn hush of nature newly born;
    Alone with Thee in breathless adoration,
      In the calm dew and freshness of the morn.

    As in the dawning o'er the waveless ocean
      The image of the morning star doth rest,
    So in this stillness Thou beholdest only
      Thine image in the waters of my breast.

    Still, still with Thee! as to each new-born morning
      A fresh and solemn splendor still is given,
    So doth the blessed consciousness, awaking,
      Breathe, each day, nearness unto Thee and heaven.

    When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
      Its closing eye looks up to Thee in prayer;
    Sweet the repose beneath the wings o'ershading,
      But sweeter still to wake and find Thee there.

    So shall it be at last, in that bright morning
      When the soul waketh and life's shadows flee;
    O in that hour, fairer than daylight dawning,
      Shall rise the glorious thought, _I am with Thee_!



PRESSED FLOWERS FROM ITALY

A DAY IN THE PAMFILI DORIA


    Though the hills are cold and snowy,
      And the wind drives chill to-day,
    My heart goes back to a spring-time,
      Far, far in the past away.

    And I see a quaint old city,
      Weary and worn and brown,
    Where the spring and the birds are so early,
      And the sun in such light goes down.

    I remember that old-times villa,
      Where our afternoons went by,
    Where the suns of March flushed warmly,
      And spring was in earth and sky.

    Out of the mouldering city,
      Mouldering, old, and gray,
    We sped, with a lightsome heart-thrill,
      For a sunny, gladsome day,--

    For a revel of fresh spring verdure,
      For a race 'mid springing flowers,
    For a vision of plashing fountains,
      Of birds and blossoming bowers.

    There were violet banks in the shadows,
      Violets white and blue;
    And a world of bright anemones,
      That over the terrace grew,--

    Blue and orange and purple,
      Rosy and yellow and white,
    Rising in rainbow bubbles,
      Streaking the lawns with light.

    And down from the old stone pine-trees,
      Those far-off islands of air,
    The birds are flinging the tidings
      Of a joyful revel up there.

    And now for the grand old fountains,
      Tossing their silvery spray,
    Those fountains so quaint and so many,
      That are leaping and singing all day.

    Those fountains of strange weird sculpture,
      With lichens and moss o'ergrown,
    Are they marble greening in moss-wreaths?
      Or moss-wreaths whitening to stone?

    Down many a wild, dim pathway
      We ramble from morning till noon;
    We linger, unheeding the hours,
      Till evening comes all too soon.

    And from out the ilex alleys,
      Where lengthening shadows play,
    We look on the dreamy Campagna,
      All glowing with setting day,--

    All melting in bands of purple,
      In swathings and foldings of gold,
    In ribands of azure and lilac,
      Like a princely banner unrolled.

    And the smoke of each distant cottage,
      And the flash of each villa white,
    Shines out with an opal glimmer,
      Like gems in a casket of light.

    And the dome of old St. Peter's
      With a strange translucence glows,
    Like a mighty bubble of amethyst
      Floating in waves of rose.

    In a trance of dreamy vagueness
      We, gazing and yearning, behold
    That city beheld by the prophet,
      Whose walls were transparent gold.

    And, dropping all solemn and slowly,
      To hallow the softening spell,
    There falls on the dying twilight
      The Ave Maria bell.

    With a mournful, motherly softness,
      With a weird and weary care,
    That strange and ancient city
      Seems calling the nations to prayer.

    And the words that of old the angel
      To the mother of Jesus brought,
    Rise like a new evangel,
      To hallow the trance of our thought.

    With the smoke of the evening incense,
      Our thoughts are ascending then
    To Mary, the mother of Jesus,
      To Jesus, the Master of men.

    O city of prophets and martyrs,
      O shrines of the sainted dead,
    When, when shall the living day-spring
      Once more on your towers be spread?

    When He who is meek and lowly
      Shall rule in those lordly halls,
    And shall stand and feed as a shepherd
      The flock which his mercy calls,--

    O then to those noble churches,
      To picture and statue and gem,
    To the pageant of solemn worship,
      Shall the _meaning_ come back again.

    And this strange and ancient city,
      In that reign of His truth and love,
    Shall _be_ what it _seems_ in the twilight,
      The type of that City above.



THE GARDENS OF THE VATICAN


    Sweet fountains, plashing with a dreamy fall,
    And mosses green, and tremulous veils of fern,
    And banks of blowing cyclamen, and stars,
    Blue as the skies, of myrtle blossoming,
    The twilight shade of ilex overhead
    O'erbubbling with sweet song of nightingale,
    With walks of strange, weird stillness, leading on
    'Mid sculptured fragments half to green moss gone,
    Or breaking forth amid the violet leaves
    With some white gleam of an old world gone by.
    Ah! strange, sweet quiet! wilderness of calm,
    Gardens of dreamy rest, I long to lay
    Beneath your shade the last long sigh, and say,
    Here is my home, my Lord, thy home and mine;
    And I, having searched the world with many a tear,
    At last have found thee and will stray no more.
    But vainly here I seek the Gardener
    That Mary saw. These lovely halls beyond,
    That airy, sky-like dome, that lofty fane,
    Is as a palace whence the king is gone
    And taken all the sweetness with himself.
    Turn again, Jesus, and possess thine own!
    Come to thy temple once more as of old!
    Drive forth the money-changers, let it be
    A house of prayer for nations. Even so,
                        Amen! Amen!



ST. PETER'S CHURCH

HOLY WEEK, APRIL, 1860


    O fairest mansion of a Father's love,
    Harmonious! hospitable! with thine arms
    Outspread to all, thy fountains ever full,
    And, fair as heaven, thy misty, sky-like dome
    Hung like the firmament with circling sweep
    Above the constellated golden lamps
    That burn forever round the holy tomb.
    Most meet art thou to be the Father's house,
    The house of prayer for nations. Come the time
    When thou shalt be so! when a liberty,
    Wide as thine arms, high as thy lofty dome,
    Shall be proclaimed, by thy loud singing choirs,
    Like voice of many waters! Then the Lord
    Shall come into his temple, and make pure
    The sons of Levi; then, as once of old,
    The blind shall see, the lame leap as an hart,
    And to the poor the Gospel shall be preached,
    And Easter's silver-sounding trumpets tell,
    "The Lord is risen indeed," to die no more.
    Hasten it in its time. Amen! Amen!



THE MISERERE


    Not of the earth that music! all things fade;
    Vanish the pictured walls! and, one by one,
    The starry candles silently expire!

    And now, O Jesus! round that silent cross
    A moment's pause, a hush as of the grave.
    Now rises slow a silver mist of sound,
    And all the heavens break out in drops of grief;
    A rain of sobbing sweetness, swelling, dying,
    Voice into voice inweaving with sweet throbs,
    And fluttering pulses of impassioned moan,--
    Veiled voices, in whose wailing there is awe,
    And mysteries of love and agony,
    A yearning anguish of celestial souls,
    A shiver as of wings trembling the air,
    As if God's shining doves, his spotless birds,
    Wailed with a nightingale's heart-break of grief,
    In this their starless night, when for our sins
    Their sun, their life, their love, hangs darkly there,
    Like a slain lamb, bleeding his life away!





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