« السابقةمتابعة »
to the rocks to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. The gospel must be preached as a witness throughout the world, and then shall the end come: and oh, what a blessedness will be theirs who see the, perhaps, few souls gathered out, through their instrumentality, from the doomed mass, enabled to shelter themselves not from, but in the hand of that awful King! When the day of vengeance is in his heart to execute it, then the year of his redeemed is come. When the great day of his wrath arrives, the weakest are they who shall be found able to stand— even such as have become little children, that they may enter the kingdom of heaven. It is when contemplating the horrors of that fiery tempest, that the soul which has taken refuge in Jesus can find a calm amid the petty storms of the passing day. It is when dwelling on the promised unity and peace of the Redeemer's church, the predicted beauty and fertility, and holiness of this fair world, that we can smile upon the disfiguring work of these wintry elements. Whatever allowance be made for the highly figurative language of scripture, nothing can divest it of the plain literal meaning that breathes from every page of its prophetic announcements. To argue that because all believers are children of faithful Abraham, therefore the promises made to his actual race are all to be taken spiritually, and that no future restoration is in store for the dispersed of Judah and the outcasts of Israel; or that because the enlargement and blessedness of the church are often predicted under the similitude of material things, we are therefore not to look for an actual restoration of much that has been lost or defaced, through the usurpation of Satan and the abounding of permitted iniquity—is just to degrade the Bible into a book of riddles, calculated to raise false hopes and to invite expectations that are never to be realized. This srigid and confined plan of interpretation I leave to those who take no pleasure in surveying the traces of God's
of the earth, until all be finally destroyed. I love to think otherwise: I love to look at the uniform uninterrupted course of the immense machinery of the heavens; and believing this to be the only spot where the order and harmony of a perfect creation have been interrupted, to anticipate a day when our little globe shall once more move on, not only obedient to those laws which have not been, cannot be broken, but also on the loveliness with which the Lord at first invested her, and which has been so fearfully marred, trampled on by his rebellious foes. What have the innocent elements done, that we should resolve to believe that an exterminating decree has gone forth against them, in their present degraded state 2. We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together—that the creature was made subject to vanity not willingly:— but I am touching on debateable ground: and it will be better to ponder in silence on these themes over my sweet violet, which sends back to me all the breathings of hope, patiently waiting for that which yet it sees not.
CHA PTER IV.
There is, I think, only one among the usual phenomena of our climate, to which I cannot reconcile myself. A clear sunny sky is exhilarating, a cloudy one generally picturesque. Light rain is refreshing: a good pelting shower is emphatic. A gusty day is pregnant with amusing incidents, a steady gale rouses all one's energies to withstand it, and a regular tempest is the ne plus ultra of magnificence. But a fog a misty, drizzling, distilling from a low colourless, shapeless, monotonous sky— this is a sore trial of patience. Nor am I singular in acknowledging the ungenial influence of such a season; for my dog drops his ears and looks pensive; my cat
footsteps among his visible works: or exhibits an aspect decidedly melancholy;
whose mortal lot is one of such unruffled quietude, or of such utter abstraction from present things, that they see not any
my playful squirrel huddles himself up in a corner of his box, diregarding the call to come forth; and even my noble falcon,
ground for desiring a change in the face bold as the mountains of her native Done
gal, and sprightly as the peasant maidens who pull the flax at their feet—even my beautiful Jess, sits with ruffled plumage and depressed head, a miniature personification of the king of birds, as described by Gray, when slumber has quenched
The terror of his beak, the lightning of his eye.
Who would not pity a poor scribbler under such circumstances, reminded by a hint from the region of types—I mean a typographical not a typical hint—that it was full time to supply the cravings of the press with another Chapter. With loitering step and woful countenance, and head as misty as the weather, I entered my study this morning, trying to conjure up the phantoms of some appropriate reminiscences, when behold! just placed on my table by the hand of affectionate indulgence,—unconscious how timely was the boon—appeared two flower-pots, the one containing a most beautiful heath, the other a plant of fragrant mignonette. Both of these are full to overflowing with recollections precious to my heart. The language of flowers, addressed to me as I walk along, is ever, “Don’t you remember 7” and oh, in what touching unison the heath and mignonette appeal to my spirit now ! The seed of the latter was the first that my fond father gave me to sow in the little garden portioned out, in his own most noble and spacious one, and divided between me and my lovely brother, with the scrupulous impartiality that tends above all other things to keep unbroken the bond of fraternal love: the former, the flowering heath, was the last gift bestowed by that beloved hand, on his delighted girl, before n sudden instantaneous blow, laid it owerless in death. I know not how, but hereafter I shall know, why two out of the three precious ties which bound my heart from infancy were snapped with such fearful abruptness:–why my midnight sleep was broken by a frantic summons to come and see my father die; and why, aster many a long year, my waking eye must fall upon a letter exciting no alarm, but holding out the hope of pleasant news from the distant object of my fondest affection---and telling me that he was drowned.
“Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” There is not in man, nor in any created intelligence, that which will
enable the lacerated heart secretly and sincerely to breathe those words. I say secretly, because, without any conscious insincerity, the lip will often utter such language, when the spirit is internally writhing with resisted, but not subdued rebellion. I know not whether perfect and unvarying resignation to the stripes of our Father's rod is the experience of any of his children. It is not mine: rebellion is written on me, in legible characters; but sometimes, when the tide of awakened emotion sets in with a rush of recollections the most overwhelming, a voice mightier than the noise of many waters, says, “Peace, be still !” and immediately there is a great calm; so great, so sweet, so wonderful, that it can be no other than the work of Him, who, touched with a feeling of our infirmities, has the sympathy of man to comprehend the sorrow, and the omnipotence of God to subdue it. Now looking again upon the flowers before me, I am struck with the vast privilege of mind: its prerogatives so far above the nearest approach that animal instinct in its highest development can attain to. My dumb companions are all remarkably sagacious, and have been brought to such an amicable understanding, that the little dog frequently shares his basket with the cat-and the latter has many a game of play with the squirrel, through his bars, and I have seen the falcon between the dog's paws, without either exhibiting any alarm or anger, although the whole party combine in testifying the hottest displeasure if a strange animal enters their presence. So companionable they are, that sometimes I can hardly trace the separating line between their fine instinct and the reasonable principle in man; but here it stands out in striking inferiority. There is in them no perception of what is so thrillingly felt by me; they all look at the beauteous plants, because their vigilance is alive to the introduction of any new object among them; the squirrel is fearful, the cat suspicious, the falcon curious, and the dog jealous: but the whole world of flowers may bloom in all their splendid tints, and breathe their united sweets, without affording aught that can counteract the atmospherical influence. In short, matter remains buried in the fog, while mind soars far above it to regions of sunshine and joy. The Mignonette, as I have remarked, takes precedence of all other flowers in my gardening associations. Well do I remember the site of my small estate, skirting a gentle grassy ascent in the orchard, down which it was our especial delight to roll our plump little persons on a warm dry day. My father whose taste for floriculture was remarkable, had requested his favourite gardener to procure a new and choice specimen of the flower: and, on opening the paper, he exclaimed, “Why, Thorne, you promised me a particular sort; but this is the common Mignonette.” “No, no, sir,” replied the gardener proudly pointing to the inscription on the wrapper; “this is the Mig-no-net-te.” The deep dimple in my father's cheek betrayed the smile that his kind feeling strove to repress; and without farther remark, he served out to us respectively a pinch of the distinguished seed, which we carefully deposited and raked over: though I cannot suppose that it came to maturity: as an obstinate propensity for having what is called too many irons in the fire generally induced me to set one plant over another, to the destruction of all. The mignonettes became, however, from that day, a prime favourite with me: and such it will remain, “while memory holds her seat;” for it brings to mind, almost to view, that noble orchard with its many trees: in the midst of them a magnificent mulberry, of great age and extraordinary dimensions, from whose topmost height I have often seen the large white owl sally forth on her nocturnal foray, and the bat wheel round and round, then plunge into the impenetrable fortress of twisted boughs and broad luxuriant leaves. On the opposite side of the garden a shrubbery wound, interspersed with many rare and beautiful plants: while our own little grassy knoll stretched down even to the low windows of the principal room in an old-fashioned brick house, covered to the eaves with a vine that seemed coeval with itself. These recollections are the sweeter, because the scene survives in memory only. I was but ten years old when we bade a final adieu to the abode; and eight years after that, having an opportunity of revisiting it, I
flew, rather than ran, to the window of my
old apartment overlooking the garden, and beheld—a timber-yard Sometimes I regret having ever undertaken these Chapters. They lead to much egotism: and no doubt provoke many smart observations from readers whose minds, unsoftened by adversity, and perhaps naturally superior to the comparative trifles that always had power to engage mine, see little besides puerility, affectation, and prejudice, in their pages. Yet, occasionally, I meet a tearful look, accompanied with the remark, “Your chapter touched a chord in my bosom, and soothed a troubled spirit;” or something similar. Therefore, I pursue the theme, desiring to assure those who feel with me that their approval is dear to my heart; and protesting to those who do not, that they cannot think more contemptuously of me and my work than, by God's grace, I am myself enabled to do. Next after the heartsease, I think the Mignonette is the most perseveringly delightful of flowers. As lowly in situation, less attractive in aspect, but so fragrant, so durable, so willing to take root, and grow, and gladden all around it, in any soil, or any spot, under any circumstances, it seems to typify the active, unassuming Christian, with singular propriety. How often, on entering a garden, or a room, the sense is feasted as by the odour of a thousand flowers, when not a single bright tint meets the eye, until the saint blush upon those tiny blossoms, distinguishing them from the green stem and leaf, reveals the source of such welcome fragrance. That blush especially becomes the lowly flower and the retiring Christian, who lives, and grows, and works, while others live, and grow and sparkle. There are many such: my Mignonette, like the ivy, represents a class; and I will name that class forthwith, and glory in it, while I name it— The Irish Scripture Readers. “What! more of Ireland and the Irish 7” Dear friend, yes. You do not know enough of them yet, not even if you be cradled in the very bosom of the Green Isle. Some of you are, I know; and some will read this, who may remember when, amid a cluster of warm hearts, beneath the shade of a noble grove, near a venerable ruin, where a very paradise of bright flowers and brighter smiles is watered by the majestic Slaney, a fair twin said to me, “We do love your chapters, and cherish all the flowers you name.” That day was one of deep enjoyment, and infused new energy into me: it taught me that young hearts might be roused, and young hands nerved in the cause of their country, even by such means as these. Let those who refreshed my spirits then, cherish the little, lowly Mignonette, and blend with its character the humble work of men who, unobserved, disregarded, yea, often trampled upon, are breathing through the wilderness the savour of life unto life. These men are generally, indeed almost exclusively, taken from the humblest walks of society, day-labourers, weavers, and sometimes the keepers of hedgeschools. The word of life, by some appointed means, reaches the ear and heart of the poor native Irishman: he feels its quickening power, and being himself raised from the death of trespasses and sins, he looks abroad upon his countrymen, still lying under the shadow of death, and constrained by the love of Christ, burns to make known among them the unsearchable riches of his Saviour. The Irish being his vernacular tongue, he speedily learns to read it, by means of some circulating school of the blessed “Irish Society,” and, armed with the Sword of the Spirit, he goes forth to assail the strong holds of Satan, in the heart of the Beast's dominions. This exposes him to a storm of persecution, well understood by such as reside in Ireland, but inconceivable by an English subject. As regards his own neighbourhood and class in society, it may truly be said that every man's hand is against him, though every man’s heart is not. The power of priestly intimidation is brought to bear on all who venture to encourage him; for there is not upon earth so terrible an object to a true priest of Rome, as the Holy Bible; unless it be the man who dares to proclaim its sacred truths, in a language understood by the people. Consequently, the vassals of popery must stand arrayed to oppose him; and it is too undeniable a fact that except where the mind has been spiritually enlightened, the nominal Pro
testant beholds with suspicious dislike one who has forsaken the religion of his fathers; and sneeringly denounces “the turncoat,” though the turn that he has taken is from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God. There is not, perhaps, among the hundreds of Irish scripture readers, at this moment, one who cannot set the seal of his individual experience to Paul's declaration—“No man stood by me.” The enemy levels his fiery darts at every child of God: how much more anxiously and accurately at one who goes about to assail the strongest foundations of his most elevated throne ! I know, and I avow, that to attack Popery is to incur the fiercest assaults of hell: to rouse up a host of opposers, calumniators, open foes and salse brethren, from without; fears, temptations, and fiery trials within. Our solemn convictions are denounced as prejudices, our zeal as intemperance, our forethought, fanaticism. Shielded from violence, surrounded by encouraging helpers, and cheered on our path by their approving countenance, still we who, in Protestant England, dare to act a Protestant part, are liable to many an almost disabling wound in the house of our friends. What then must be the lot of the poor, despised peasant, in the very citadel of popery, taking an unsupported stand against the united forces of Satan and man, while the great contest that forced Paul to cry out, “Oh, wretched man that I am!” is carried on within, by the Spirit warring against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit. But the Scripture Reader has taken up his cross, and follows Christ. He goes on often through persecutions, afflictions, stripes and imprisonment. He enters the obscure cabin at dusk, and addressing the poor, doubly benighted inmates, in the loved accents of their native race, he draws from his bosom the proscribed “story of peace,” and tells them in the most persuasive of all words that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners —that wine and milk, without money and without price, are freely held forth to those who, up to that hour, had been spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not. Some whose hearts the Lord opens receive the word with gladness: and the patient labourer, leaving it to a mightier hand to give the increase, proceeds on his thorny way, to plant in another spot. His life is thus passed, until perhaps the hand of persecuting violence waylays him, and sends him to his sure reward by the blow of a stone, or the stab of a knife, while his last breath sobs out the dying prayer of Stephen, in hope that the murdering, blaspheming Saul may become like himself the preacher of the faith that now he persecutes. Or, if rescued from the assassin's hand, this lowly Mignonette of the Lord’s parterre maintains his inobtrusive station at the foot of loftier shrubs, and breathes the odours of heaven around the heel that tramples upon his unresisting form. Taking one of the class, I will name an individual well known to me, and to many in England. His name was Dennis Sullivan: his native place was Kerry. Converted to the truth as it is in Jesus, he abjured the soul-destroying errors of Popery, and made himself eminently useful, as a Reader, to the Irish Society of London. When, in 1830, the Lord first blessed our efforts to the establishment of an Irish church in St. Giles, Sullivan gave his whole soul to the cause: and I well remember that our earliest meeting was as fellow-labourers in it. About that time the Reformation Society engaged his services, first as a reader, then as clerk in their office; and most faithfully, zealously, diligently, did he perform the duties of his station there, until the hour of closing it dismissed him to the post he so dearly loved—a teacher's place in the adult evening school, where the Irish labouring poor assemble to be instructed in reading the language of their distant homes. Often have I seen him, his honest countenance all alive with intelligence and shrewdness, seated in the midst of a motley crew, paviors, bricklayers, blacksmiths, and such like, now patiently instructing his tall pupils in the first rudiments of literature, now plunged into a hot controversy on some disputed point, and maintaining his ground with inimitable steadiness. Just behind him was a closet, stored with books of reference, which he used in a masterly manner; and I once witnessed a scene of curious up
roar, provoked by a contumacious tailor, on a point of Popish doctrine, when Sullivan reached backwards to his treasury, produced the decrees of the council of Trent, and silenced them all. There was also another point on which I found the most perfect sympathy in Sullivan: his attachment to D—, the beloved heartsease, was intense. On the day after D– was called to his Father's house, Sullivan walked down some miles to where I was; and it being Sunday, he only arrived after we were in Church. Entering another pew, I did not immediately observe him: but when at last our eyes met, he burst into tears, and sat down. Never did I see a babe weep more unrestrainedly than that stout and resolute man continued to do during the whole service. I afterwards took him to visit some of our poor lost sheep scattered in that neighbourhood; and most touchingly did he address them. At the grave of D—, ten days afterwards, his ardent Irish feelings again defied all controul. I scarcely saw him since; he was seized with fever, and in the London Hospital he yielded his spirit into the hands of the Lord Jesus: poor in this world, rich in faith, and an heir of the kingdom of heaVen. Dennis Sullivan's soul would have magnified the Lord, could he have beheld what is now our rejoicing and joy, the reopening of the Irish church, after being for two years and a half closed, under the ministry of one who loves to labour for the outcasts of his native land. There is a work progressing even here: much more in Ireland. Whenever a sifting day arrives, it will amaze the most sanguine to survey the vast quantity of good grain now buried amid the chaff. Self-sown as it were, that is to say, directed by the hand of God without the intervention of presiding men, our Mignonette spreads
with rapid increase, and the produce of
an inch covers many a rood of ground. Oh, that there were more universally, among the Lord's people, a heart to cherish the young plants, to fence them from the foe, to shelter them from the frost, and spread them yet more widely by the aid of judicious cultivation! What kings and statesmen, ecclesiastics and warriors, have failed in attempting, until the numbness