صور الصفحة

sudden bereavement sell upon me. “Oh, my sister, our God is all-powerful; even the ‘Lord save me’ of drowning Peter was enough.” There was a fitness in the application, ignorant as we then were of the state of that beloved object's mind, which met the case exactly, and proved a word in due season to a fainting heart. My last visit was made in a wintry season, and under circumstances of peculiar desolation. He, who brightened us all by his sunshiny presence, had long been laid beneath the sod; it was not yet green over the dumb boy's grave; and other circumstances combined to depress me unusually. My friend also was declining in health, and sorely exercised in mind by the perplexities recently introduced into the church by his most beloved associate—the brilliant, but sadly deluded and deluding Irving. He was absorbed in many anxious thoughts, and the presence of Mr. Simeon proved most cheering to us all. The glorious subject of Israel's redemption occupied each heart, and dwelt on every tongue: and truly I can say, that, like the Amaranthus, my valued friend shone in bright contrast to the winter around him, while dwelling on that “everlasting love” which is pledged to accomplish the deliverance of God’s people. The hours were dearly prized by me, little as I anticipated a speedy separation of the parent from his children, the husband from his partner, and the pastor from his flock. I saw him but once again, and that was upon the platform of a denselycrowded meeting, when, unexpectedly, he rose for a few moments, to avow himself the author of a testimony against the withering and blasting influence of Socinianism, in a society to which he was warmly attached. He rose, indeed, like an apparition; and if I was pained at the emaciated figure and pallid aspect—so changed from what he had even a few weeks before appeared—still more did I rejoice and glory in the steadfast though meek determination with which the disciple voluntarily stood forth to acknowledge how zealously he was affected in a good thing—how jealous of the least possible taint on the doctrine of the great God, his Saviour. He made his avowal, looked calmly around upon a thousand frowning brows, and resumed his seat, beyond my

ken. It was a striking incident, rendered indelible by the subsequent removal of that faithful servant from the vineyard below to the resting-place above. Once more I visited, for a few hours, the mansion of hospitality and love : the tulip-trees were in full beauty, the lawn was soft and verdant as ever, the vine mantled richly over the windows, and flowers in gay profusion breathed their sweet perfume through the closed shutters. I could not look out upon what was so fair: a glance toward the one object that lay concealed beneath a black pall, never more to be unveiled to mortal eye, filled my heart, to the exclusion of earth's brightest beauties. I thought on the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah:—I thought, how often had those lips breathed the language, “Turn ye, turn ye; why will ye die, O house of Israel ?”—how frequently those lifeless hands had dispensed the water of baptism. and the consecrated elements of the Lord's supper, to such as obeyed the call: and how high that heart had beat in holy exultation over the lost sheep so gathered back into the sold. One short sentence of inspiration expressed what no tongue of man or angel could otherwise have uttered, “Blessed is he that blesseth Thee.” Sitting down to supper with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, is our Lord's own description of the privileges reserved for such as be Abraham's children by faith; and, blessed be His holy name !—there is no difference of Jew or Gentile in that consummation of eternal felicity. But I cannot imagine with what eye or with what understanding those persons read the bible, who see there no especial reference to the continued elderbrotherhood of the literal Israelite, even to the end of the world: or who consider that in the wide promulgation of the gospel, for which we are taught to look and to pray, the converted Jew will not be made a chosen and peculiarly honoured instrument in the Lord's hands. Not that I expect the kingdoms of this world to become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ, by a quiet extension of the truth. No, I believe that the wine-press of wrath must first be trodden, and the enemies of the Son be broken to pieces—dashed asunder like the shreds of a potter's vessel.

I believe that Great Babylon, papal Rome, must come in remembrance before him, and receive the cup of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God, in recompense for the wine of the wrath of her fornications, where with she has seduced the kings of the earth and blasphemed the Most High. I believe that the whole company of Antichrist, papal and infidel, must be violently overthrown, and the day of vengeance usher in the year of the redeemed of the Lord. It is in combination with all this, that I look for the full ingathering of God’s ancient people, their re-establishment in the land which he gave unto their fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever, the restoration of that land to more than its pristine fertility, and the abundant going forth of the law of the Lord from Jerusalem; by means of his own reconciled Israel—once more, and in a higher sense than ever, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, a blessing to the uttermost ends of the earth. When it first pleased God, by his Spirit, to open my understanding to those things which are foolishness to the natural man, and before I enjoyed the privilege of communion, by word or letter, with any of his people, I was so powerfully struck by the distinctness of the promises given to the literal seed of Abraham, that I often devised plans for sending forth fishers to fish, and hunters to hunt for them; often prayed over the ninth chapter of Daniel; and longed to proclaim to others, which I supposed a new discovery—that Israel should again blossom, and bud, and fill the world with fruit. I know not whether my surprise or my joy was the greater, on being told, after a long while, that an extensive and increasing society was in actual operation to this very end: and however slightly I may have seemed to regard the subject, under the conviction that my own line of service was marked in a different path, I think there is no prospect of spiritual blessedness, or temporal prosperity for Christ's church, presented to my mind, wherein “THE Jew first” is not recognized. Yes, like my winter nosegay, so bright in death, the several shoots of that venerable stem, which have yet a name to live and are dead, speak the language of assured promise to me. The root that bore them still survives, a

perennial, destined to bloom again in the multitude of its blossoms, and to send forth many an off-set to other gardens, where the Lord shall plant them, and keep them, and water them every moment. It is a better ingredient in the overflowering curse of Rome, that pagan or papal, she has ever persecuted the Jews. That brand is imprinted so deeply, that the fires now kindling for her will not burn it out: —“Cursed is he that curseth thee.” It is the singular privilege of poor Ireland that she is totally free from this stigma, so widely extended over Europe; and it is well known how, in her deep poverty, the riches of her liberality have abounded towards the missionary work now carried on among the Hebrew people; and shall not poor Ireland one day set her seal, despised and forsaken as she now is, to the equally sure record, “Blessed is he that blesseth Thee.” God's blaspheming enemy is still permitted, to a great extent, to trample down one who never set her foot upon the neck of God's prostrate people: but all these things are had in remembrance before him, and when he maketh inquisition for blood he will not forget it. The Amaranthus is a treasury of precious thought, recollections, promises, and hopes—connected with the most glorious subject that can possibly occupy the mind of man– the coming, kingdom, and glory of the Messiah. Oh, that he would shortly accomplish the number of his elect, and hasten that hour ! The world is lying dead around; the torpor of indifference is only varied by the tumult of tempestuous strife. The pleasures of earth, like the gay flowers that fell before the frost, perish in the using, and thorns stand out in naked savageness to mock the eye that seeks for the fair mantle that once concealed them. Benumbed or torn away, all has so eluded my grasp, that while casting a glance around, I am tempted to inquire, Did flowers ever bloom here; or can they again make bright this desolated ground 7 But the lovely Amaranthus smiles an answer, conveying to my soul that sublime word, “I am the Lord ; I change not.” Yea, and while humbly pleading the privilege of an ingrasted Gentile branch, partaking of the root and fatness of the parent tree, I am enabled to receive, on behalf of the literal lsrael, the full pledge, the immutable promise founded on the immutability of Him who has spoken it:—“I am the Lord; I change not: therefore YE sons of JAcob are not consumed.”


How sweet is the promise of an approaching spring, when winter has firmly established his severe dominion | Light is always lovely; but never so precious as when shining in a dark place ; a star, “distinct though distant,” bearing witness that we are on the right track to “the haven where we would be.” Such a light we are told, is the sure word of prophecy, itself an earnest of what it promises, even as the pole-star in the midnight sky is of the day-beam that shall break in the east, whither it enables us by its bearing, to direct our watchful gaze. A promise too, and an earnest, of a more genial season, are united in the lovely little flower that is breathing its rich perfume around me now. The Russian Violet, formed to retain both tint and fragrance through the most biting severity of weather, gives me this lesson of hope; bringing also in its train many a recollection no less dear than are the anticipations it numbers.

It has often been a question with me whether hope or faith is the more vividly depicted in this flower: but they are inseparable, or, at least, they ought to be so. “Hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, how doth he yet hope for 7” and again, Faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” Each has its eye fixed on what the flesh cannot behold: each is in itself an invisible good, yet diffusing by its presence such sweets as nothing else can shed. This is the property of the violet; it droops its head, and hides beneath the foliage of a bank, and makes itself known, not through the medium of our sight, but by the sense of delicious enjoyment, when we pass by its fragrancebreathing covert. To most minds there is something attractive in the mysterious;

and from childhood I have taken special

pleasure in the ramble of which the prosessed object was to pick violets. With small baskets pendant from our hands, often have we, as a lively troop of youngsters, sallied forth along the lane, over the meadow, and down by the long narrow channel that separated the road from its tall hedge-row fence, where ran a shallow stream of tolerably pure water, supplied by a neighbouring spring. This stream rose among the pebbles, under a footbridge of light planks, and after spreading around, in different directions, as if uncertain which way to shape its future course, it finally settled to divide itself, and replenished the excavations on either side the afore-mentioned hedge. Perhaps it was the abundant moisture thus supplied that caused the vegetation of the bank to shoot so high and spread so luxuriantly. Certain it is that, what with the bright holly and its ruby berries throughout winter, the sweet hawthorn flower in May, the briar rose and straggling honey-suckle in the summer months, and the overhanging mass of bramble, festooned with the wild vine, to autumn's close, this was a very king of hedges. Here and there, a stout knotted oak threw out its capacious, though not lofty trunk, seeking, as it were, to hide the wounds inflicted on its head by a superabundance of foliage : while, beneath the shelter of these various guardians appeared a succession of wild flowers, so numerous, so abundant, that one wondered how they found room to grow, or left space sufficient to exhibit the peculiarly cool and refreshing green that formed the ground-work of the enchanting tapestry. Here it was that the violet loved to hide its head: not growing on the bank beyond, but lurking under a sort of projecting shelf on our side of the channel. No dusty road was bordered by the little stream: the carriage-way was unfrequented, except by the vehicles employed in agricultural operations on the property; a well-fastened gate at the end excluding all others. Accordingly, the grass sprang up at will, save only in the track of the horses and wheels, and a broad border of dwarf surze, intermingled with fern and stately thistles, separated this road from the high verdant footpath that straggled in unequal width nearest the edge.

Here we roamed, together or apart, whether in quest of wild flowers, or merely for a stroll: but I soon discovered a more tempting track, and many a time did I steal through a gap, close beside one of the stunted oaks to enjoy the solitude that few others cared to court. The interior side of the hedge was far less gay, but to me more attractive; the channel there was so narrow as to be hardly perceptible, while the bank was smoother, more abrupt, and bearing only such flowers as love the shade. Violets there were in unsuspected profusion, for I never told how rich a store I had discovered, neither did I gather them. Their fragrance satisfied me as I slowly wandered along, peering over the fair pasturage that stretched northward, and listing many a look to the line of distant hills, basking in the sunshine from which I was screened by that tall fence. My violet bank was like a miser's hoard, guarded from other hands, and untouched by my own. It seemed so in keeping with the innocent, shy-looking lambs that, at the same season, were trying their limbs on the grass, that I never wished to rob the landscape of its fanciful association. Oh the light, the beauty of tender spring, as it meets a youthful spirit, contemplative, but still unclouded with the cares of life The Violets before me are violets also, as beautiful, as odorous, as any that ever sweetened my path; but the external scenery of chill, confirmed winter that surrounds me is not more dissimilar from the budding luxuriance of the sunshiny landscape, instinct with life and motion, than are the inward cogitations that accompany my present employment from the dreams of that period. The flower is the same, and the flower only; I can bend over it until, “The past returns, the present flies” —until the frost and snow of cheerless winter are replaced in my thoughts by the budding graces of advanced spring; and the turmoil, the anxieties, the disappointments, the perplexities of every day give place to the placid flow of feeling that rolled along so softly, yet so brightly, as I rambled beside the violet bank. But retrospections of past happiness do not produce this tranquillity of spirit; though divested by distance and time of the little inequalities that even then ruffled

its course. They rather seem to afford a sort of foretaste, a saint specimen of what the human mind is capable of enjoying, when relieved alike from cares for the present and from fears for the future. Faint, indeed, is the shadow so long past of the substance that is yet to come : but self appears to vanish from the picture when 1 contemplate the delights reserved for, perhaps, a future race of earth's inhabitants, when the glorious day of her promised renovation dawns, and the great enemy of their peace is chained, and the kingdoms of this world openly become what in reality they never ceased to be—the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. That such a period of blessedness is in store for the church, no reader of scripture thinks of denying: that the period draws rapidly near, no observer of passing signs can doubt. I am not going to enter upon the difficult ground of millennarian doctrine : my own views are fixed and settled, so far as I can trace the sure word of prophecy: and that is, perhaps, a little farther than I am in the habit of proclaiming. It is a subject better suited for private meditation than for the noisy, and sometimes unfriendly discussions that result from forcing it into notice. Nothing can be more sweet, more profitable, than to exchange thoughts upon it with one who symputhizes in our views and hopes: few things more ungracious than to parade it before the unwilling eyes of a brother or sister who beholds it through a different medium: but this I will say, that the violet– and above all the Russian violet—is identified in my mind with a hope that will not make ashamed, because it is founded on what the Lord hath spoken concerning the world and the church in the latter-day glory. By the world I do not mean that which hateth Christ and his people, but the material world, which he formed at the first so very good, to be the habitation of an obedient, happy race of beings—the original regalia, whereof some scattered and broken gems lie around us, go where we will, bespeaking what must have been the grandeur of the combination that once existed ; what will be the magnificence of its future display. The earth, perhaps, will even then require the hand of labour and of skill to direct its abundant productions: it may be once more a garden of Eden, and man will be set in it to dress and to keep it, as of old: for a state of inactivity is incompatible with a state of perfect enjoyment. But the foot will not then be torn by thorns and briars, nor the spirit wounded by unkindness: the hand will not know the sting of venomous plant or reptile, neither will the conscience be stung by virulent passions, or unavailing remorse. The strong will not oppress the weak, nor the mighty prey on the helpless. Imperfection and infirmity must needs cleave to humanity, in that which is not destined to be its final state of being ; but when all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest, when none shall hurt nor destroy in all his holy mountain, when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of his glory, and the accuser of the brethren cast down, the roaring and devouring lion chained, and the corrupt principle in man, restrained by victorious grace, find no tempting fiend to urge it into rebellious action,-oh it will be a joyous thing to look abroad upon a renovated creation, and to hold sweet communion with the Most High, in the midst of His shining handy-work! I cannot attach individual biography to this sweet flower, the Violet; for I have confined the record of these associations to the departed, and of those only D— and the dumb boy took delight in the subject; though, blessed be God I have many dear living friends with whom to hold sweet converse upon it. Nay, the violet has an antitype too; but long, very long may it be ere that beloved individual's name shall appear in any record of the departed | Still, amid “a multitude of thoughts”—they might safely be varied like the psalm, and translated “sorrows” too--that I have in my mind, it may be forgiven if I welcome the refreshment breathed on my soul by this gentle little visiter, the soft, sweet Violet, with its serious, yet cheerful countenance, its tranquillizing influence, and its promise of happier days. The individual referred to, will probably read these pages: but will be the last to suspect the identity: and that which has never been spoken cannot be betrayed. Therefore, of all my Violetnatured friends, none need be apprehensive of any farther publication than my WOL. II. 30

dear little store on the north side of the hedge experienced. I have named D– as taking delight in this subject: in reality, he was most stiffly opposed to what are called the modern millennarian views, including a personal reign of Christ for a thousand years on this visible earth. I well remember his answer to a friend, who, in trying to combat his objections said, “Suppose a person were to exclaim to you, Yonder is the Lord, sitting in that cloud, coming in glory towards us, would you not look up?” D— briskly replied, “No, I would not: for it is written, “If they say unto you, lo here is Christ, or lo there, believe them not.’” The subject was, of course, a personal pre-millennial advent; and when in more familiar discourse, we have talked over the matter, he has often said to me, “Never mind, dear friend, let him now fix his throne in our hearts; and whensoever and whersoever he appears to reign, you and I shall reign with him.” I did not so far differ from him, nor do I now, as to excite any debate: and very delightful were the walks that we have taken, amid wild but beautiful scenery, anticipating the destruction of all that could harm, and the re-establishment of all that could rejoice the eye and heart of man, when the promised period should arrive of the Lord's reign—be it of what nature it might. The Russian Violet, springing from the frozen ground, amid storms and every mark of devastation, presents also a more exact type of what I conceive will be the circumstances of that period. That the world will be converted by the preaching of the gospel, I have not the slightest expectation. Judgments most terrible, such a blasting of the breath of divine displeasure as shall wither the nations, such a breaking to pieces under the rod of his wrath as the rending of the wildest tempest never inflicted on the shrivelled leaves of the frost-nipped forest, are what I look for, as the sure precursors of that glowing spring. I know that the great papal Babylon, and the blasphemy-branded beast of infidelity which she is even now bestriding, shall be destroyed by the brightness of the Lord's coming: I know that the princes and mighty men, and all the host of their antichristian alliance, shall vainly cry to the mountains to fall on them and

« السابقةمتابعة »