صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

to crush all our energy and hide the sunshine of our life for ever, to have a glimpse, transitory perhaps and half ineffectual, but yet a soothing, tranquillizing outlook upon the all-wise and loving purposes of God, which embrace us also and our joys and sorrows in their course? And is it not the commonest admonition, and yet the rarest achievement of religion, that in storm and sunshine alike the soul should acknowledge the omnipotent love of the Father and its own necessary wellbeing? So that there is a side from which this apostolic injunction may be viewed which converts it into, Study to be faithful, hopeful, dutiful ; for where faith, hope and duty are, there must needs be


also. Some of my hearers perhaps may be inclined to object to this elevation of a quiet heart to the rank of a characteristic Christian grace, that it is after all quite as often an original endowment as an acquired faculty ; that some men naturally meet the alternations of failure and success in life with an even spirit, and are incapable of high enthusiasm or deep despondency; nay, even that physical health has much to do with these things, and the sound body almost as efficacious as the sound mind. And this is indeed a misconception which I would very carefully guard against. There is such a thing as a natural equability which proceeds, not from faithfulness and hopefulness, but from sluggishness of soul. There are some that bear sorrow with marvellous fortitude, simply because they feel it only dully,—who can preserve a wonderful evenness of temper before private and social wrong,

because you cannot lash their mean natures into noble indignation,who avoid all the dangers of enthusiasm and fanaticism, because they are too blind to have the commonest perception of spiritual realities,—who never fall into depths of despair, because their consciences are not keen enough to perceive their own miserable imperfectness. And then (for self-complacency is an almost invariable attendant of this species of quietness) they pride themselves upon their stolid calmness, as if it were the faith which rests immoveably upon the Rock of Ages ; and look upon the throes, and variableness, and agitations of natures really nobler than their own, as signs of unworthy weakness; and hold themselves serene above the sorrows and disquietudes of humanity, and reserve all love and sympathy for their own tranquil excellence. No! it is a far other quietness than this which the apostle recommends to the restless Thessalonians. Not to avoid the struggles and miseries of the spiritual life, but to face and conquer them, and to win the peace which remains for the triumphant people of God! Not to hold themselves carelessly and coldly aloof from human wants and sorrows, but to find a holy rest for the spirit in helpful charity, and to breathe into suffering souls a calm congenial to their own! Not to evade grief by refusing to cherish love, but to take pure and noble affections to their hearts, and stay themselves on the thought that true love is immortal. To what shall we liken this deceitful quiet of the soul ? It is as if a voyager should linger fearfully in the harbours of a strange, inhospitable, northern land, afraid to encounter waves and storms which bar his homeward


His tall ship shall rest safely, he says, where she is; what if the sun shine but half the year? what if the scanty verdure struggle doubtfully through the snow? what if the icy wind sweep bitterly over the hills £—the roadstead is secure and quiet; and after a while he begins to forget, or to remember but indistinctly, the green, swelling hills—the broad, sunny bays—the deep, fresh woods, of his native shores. While he who manfully puts to sea, and braves ice, and storm, and deceiving currents, and craggy shores, and hidden spikes of rock—what of him ? Ah ! bruised and battered may his vessel reach the longed-for haven; her crew are weather-beaten, storm-bronzed men; her sails are tattered by frequent battlings with the tempest; but there is a great, sunny calm in the port which receives her at last, and greetings of tearful joy welcome the wanderers home.

Ay, home—in that word lies all the mystery. At home with the Father of our spirits—at home with Christ and Paul and all the array of their shining ones—at home with those who once were at home with us in our earthly habitations, and have gone before to make heaven home-like for us,-it is to this blessed consummation that we tend. I fear that to us our active life can never be as quiet as it ought to be: we need the spur of conscience, the repeated goad of selfreproach—nay, if we can obtain it, the holy, if transient, fire of a noble enthusiasm, to make us, by times, more earnest, less lethargic, than we are. But at least we may bear within our bosoms a quiet heart. If we cannot work for God as peacefully, as equably, as persistently as we would, we can tranquilly accept from Him the conditions of our life's problem. Are we disturbed by its inevitable cares, and feel our energy wasted, our equanimity imperilled, by a constant access of peevish disquietude? Let us study to be quiet. Are we uneasy in the position of life into which Providence has thrown us, and so long for a situation where opportunity and capability may be more accordant ? Let us study to be quiet. Do we lie restlessly beneath the crushing blow of bereavement, and feel within us the passionate desire to rebel against the ordinances of God, and yet a weakness that cannot so much as lift a finger against Him? Let us study to be quiet. For we are going home. We came, we know not how, from the bosom of the Father; and the very air of this foreign world has estranged us from our everlasting habitation; and He is preparing us, in His own way, for our home once more. And as a fretful child, struggling against it knows not what, grows suddenly calm when it hears its mother's step, and can lay its hot, tearful cheek against hers, and is soothed by the gentleness of her loving voice,—so may we, my brethren-I have no better wish for myself and you—hear in due time the voice of the Father calling us, and fly willingly to Him from the cares and disquietudes of ourselves and our earthly life! Amen.



John xvii. 20, 21 : “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me

through their word ; that they all may be one ; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.'

THERE are crises in our spiritual development, my brethren, when the solemn and everlasting reality breaks in upon our consciousness, that we are in need of more than the bodily health, and the delicious viands, and the beds of down, for which we so eagerly seek—of more, even, than the human wisdom, or the social relations, or the family affections, which the best of us so highly and so legitimately prize—crises that reveal to us the necessity of an inward, spiritual harmony with our highest idea of the good, the beautiful, the truethat shew us how paramount is our want of union with the spotless rectitude and perfect holiness of God—that lay bare to us our need of motives sanctified by heavenly influences, of hopes sustained by heavenly aspirations, of affections set on heavenly things.

What seasons are they often of despair ! Offended conscience, clothed with retributive power, seems implacable. The order and beauty of outward nature speak to us of a divine obedience, the blessedness of which we do not know.

The sense

of relationship to the All-holy, which, in other conditions of the soul, would have brought us trust, and hope, and peace, and joy, has become a source of fearful anguish, by revealing to us the variance between ourselves and the unseen Object of our worship. There is no penance we would not inflict on the body or the soul—there is no self-renunciation by which we would not atone for our offences, so that we could but be at one with God and at peace within. But the sins of the past move like a dark, dank cloud, between our souls and heaven, eclipsing the sun of the Father's love, and obscuring our vision of His mercy, till often, in sceptic doubt, we blasphemously conclude that an arbitrary severity rules in the counsels of the Most High, or, in misgiving well-nigh as paralyzing, we despairingly relinquish all hope of placing our spirits in true relations to our God.

It is in emergencies so dire that Christianity shines forth in its highest spiritual glory, answering the cry that rises from our weak and wounded spirits, with the assurances that all souls, from that of the universal and all-holy Father in heaven, to that of His humblest and most erring child on earth, are of one family, whose members are bound together by relations which can never cease; and that, however deeply a life of selfishness may have entrenched itself in the centre of our being-however tyrannical natural inclinations may have grown there—however dominant hurtful passions and lusts may

have become there—however entirely the evil spirit of the world, or of those who have gone before us, may have entered into the springs of our actions, and corrupted the sources of our being, there is a way opened for the forgiveness of our sins, the elevation of our motives, the purification of our affections, the entire regeneration of all our moral and spiritual powers, and the complete restoration of our nature to its primal and all-blessed harmony with the Divine nature.

These assurances are given us in the gospel, not only through

« السابقةمتابعة »