Page images

and the Lessons it Suggests.


are parts of a whole over which no not a sparrow falleth to the ground. human eye can sweep.

It is too Selfishness also grows apace in vast and too complicated for man's seasons of great adversity, unless feeble powers. At the best we it be checked, especially that form can but see a few yards in advance. of it which shows itself in envy. But God's plan moves in a cycle | The eye scans the better lot of others that consumes ages in its evolution, as compared with its own, and is in reaching backward over the dark danger of overlooking the envious past, and onward over a future which thoughts which may be thus enis often forbidding because it is gendered. Once encourage them and unknown. In all our judgments of you will become their slave. Trample the operation of God' it behoves them under your feet, therefore, at us, therefore, to speak with caution their first appearance. Think: you and modesty. But in regard to the may be envying a lot dashed with present reverse we may be certain a bitterness to which you are a of one thing. It is the legitimate stranger, and the happiness coveted fruit of sin : not only in America, may be only in appearance. Recall which has held in bondage four the steadfast faith of Him who millions of people, but in England, swerved not from the path of duty, which has helped by her custom though tempted to create bread out to keep them enslaved. Yet we of the stones in the wilderness, and fervently hope that as we have who rebuked the suggestion of evil suffered chastisement at the hand of by the answer- --Man doth not live by God, the Ever Merciful One will bread alone, but by every word that work out a permanent blessing both proceedeth out of the mouth of God. for ourselves and for the slave. The day of adversity has a lesson God's love is written on every page to those who have been blessed with of the world's past history, and it comparative abundance. In the day will yet be written upon this. The of prosperity, be joyful. But how? stroke of His judgment is often-By an open - handed liberality in times the prelude to celestial bene assisting to assuage

the want diction.

and sorrow of your less favoured . We cannot go

brethren. Kindliness of heart is Where Universal Love not smiles around, purchased at an easy rate, if it can Sustaining all yon orbs, and all their suns

be thus obtained. A swift sympathy From seeming evil still educing good, And better thence again, and better still

with distress will go far towards In infinite progression.'

producing a kindly spirit. The

warlike spirit of England, which not forget, however, the events of recent years has that adversity has its dangers. evoked, may perchance give place It may harden the mind. The to a more gracious temper under the fearful distress and want against universal anxiety awakened for the which men have struggled through condition of our distressed fellowlong weary months, with fortitude countrymen. and sublime patience, may at last Thankfulness is a further lesson appal by their very greatness. to be learned by those on whom Under the pressure of woes so heavy Providence has smiled.

The day and protracted, hope may sink into of adversity should act as dull stony despair. Sick of hoping centive to this. But be sure that against hope, the cold spasm of the spirit is a thankful one, and not utter scepticism may change the the mere self-congratulation that current of the soul for ever. The you are not as other men. True danger is great; but to know the thankfulness is begotten of conscious danger will in some measure assist dependance upon God-and of the in guarding against its approach. unmerited and gracious favours of Most helpful of all will be the thought His hand. It is that spirit which of His care and love without whom | alone can sweeten the enjoyment of

[ocr errors]

Let us

an in



a thousand comforts. The best of Moreover, adversity marvellously us are sadly ungrateful, and much quickens the sensibilities of our more ready to complain than to nature. The feelings of childgive thanks. We are disposed hood become wedded with the rather to bemoan the absence of wisdom of riper years. Hearts now things we covet than to acknowledge throb with joy over that which in with gratitude the things we pos- other days would have kindled no

We need again and again emotion. Thankfulness gushes forth to be reminded of His beneficence for blessings once despised because whose full band supplies our need; of their very commonness. Stalwart and now, if ever, we are so reminded men are sensitive as delicate women, of it that we may learn the lesson and long stifled sorrow finds a ready of thankfulness wisely and well. outlet in tears. This is not weak

But the day of adversity not only ness-nor yet the mere effect of supplies special subjects for thought. depression and want. It is rather It also affords special facilities for the result of quickened thought and their apprehension. Illness gives feeling. Prosperity often blinds many busy men time for serious

Adversity restores their meditation, and brings them the sight. Prosperity magnifies differvery season they often sighed ences between class and class. for in vain in the days of their Adversity lessens them. Pros. healthy activity. And yet how few perity makes men inhuman. Ad. turn such seasons to any good ac-versity makes the whole world count. The forced idleness, also, kin. Here is unquestionably an produced by the present distress important auxiliary to those who leaves open a large space of time would win men for truth and for for reflection. Business does not Christ. Many gracious words of absorb the mind. Fingers are idle; Divine invitation may now be pressed so that now men can scarcely plead with gentle force upon the soul ; their old excuses : 'I have no time.' and many precious words of promise 'Iam too busy to-day.' 'Serious things become potent for enduring good. to-morrow.' 'I will finish this plan ; Christianity, indeed, is pre-emiand then,' There is time for nently the religion of adversity. cultivation now; why not for the Her Master beautified everything cultivation of that which is most He touched - poverty among the precious because most enduring ? rest. In sharing the poor man's lot

Prosperity often places things He for ever destroyed the fancied in a false light. That which is of degradation which worldly men dread no value in the eyes of the Allseeing while they affect only to despise. is highly esteemed among men; and But His poverty was not forced upon that which He regards as of priceless Him. It was willingly and eagerly worth they despise. But in the day accepted, that the full blessings of of adversity the glare which thus the better life might be co-extensive prevents men from seeing things at with the curse. Though he was rich, their true value is absent. They for our sakes he became poor, that we learn to put that first which God through his poverty might be rich. The meant to be first; and that second most striking instances of His bewhich He intended should occupy a neficence and miraculous power were subordinate place. Men get to see, - shown for those in adversity and when the glozing power of pros- distress. The very preaching of the perity is gone—that truth, goodness, gospel to the poor He himself semercy, and love are valuables; and lected as an evidence of His divine that their worth is above rubies. mission equal with the most asAnd the thought slowly dawns on tounding miracles. some minds for the first time that Christianity was cradled in adthose are the true riches whose versity, and may therefore claim to be treasure-house is heaven.

the truest helper of those who suffer. The Shepherdhood of Christ.


The darkest day of her history was, to the men who would walk with the brightest day of her triumph: God. She shows her gracious power when the sun set over Calvary the over the soul by transmuting into day dawned for a benighted and her own gladness the hearts of men, sorrowful world. Her greatest suc. and by a subtle and divine chemistry cesses were achieved in circum- makes the bitterness of sorrow yield stances the most adverse, as the the sweet precipitate of heavenly annals of the early church abundantly peace. Adversity becomes her show; and persecution, instead of handmaid, and chastisement her chasing her disciples out of the channel of blessing. Under her world, drove them everywhere as guidance preachers of the everlasting gospel. Practically the most humane religion Afiliction has a taste as sweet on earth, Christianity is the fullest As any cordial comfort;' of consolation. She reveals to man in his sorrow the Father of mercies, and the woes of life, which crush and the God of all comfort. She points unbelievers to the earth, bring the the decrepit and the aged to a resur

trustful soul into closer fellowship rection that shall bring them a fade with God. Happy are we if this less beauty and an immortal youth. gracious power descend upon us ; She pours forth her golden horn of and thrice happy, if in the day of promises in the presence of the

our adversity-which God grant in weary and heavy laden, and flings His mercy may be but a day-we back the gates of the celestial city I apply our hearts to consider.


SIMONIDES, the ancient lyrist of the and even sublime. In the Vedas, bright isle of Cos, when asked by God (Brahma) is represented as the Dionysius, the tyrant, as to the great Incomparable Light, which nature and being of God, desired enliveneth all, cheereth all, whence the grant of a day ere he replied. all proceeds, to which all returns, On the second day he requested two and which alone can illumine our more, and on the third he pleaded Ideas.' In the Zendavesta of the for a still longer period. He felt all Persians, He is called Zeruane the unfathomable immensity of the Akhrene, or Uncreated Time; while subject. Earth, sea, and sky, were in the Edda, He is Surtur, the Flamethey not in some way mightier in Environed. Amongst the Greek response than his own soul ? and people He was Pan the universal yet their eloquence was mutest. God, or nature, and Jove, the cloudHow then could he be other than compeller and thunderer; but with awed, mute, passive, humble ? their philosophers He the

There has always been unfathom- Absolute Substance, the Infinite, able mystery upon these great the World-builder, the Thought of themes. Man's reason has made Thoughts, the Supreme Intelligence, her eyrie higher than the eagle's and the One, the All. scorned the sun, and yet answered It was only amongst those to them not. Epithets, beautiful, whom He had more immediately terrible, loving, and comprehensive, revealed Himself that the truer have been invented; for what the attributes of Jehovah are expressed. judgment cannot analyze, nor the He himself, in the first revelation understanding comprehend, the of His absolute being, has given us fancy will pin by an epithet, the grand and eternal I am what I am. and paint by a word. Some of these But owing to the equivocal what names for the great God are chaste | here, as Coleridge has well shewn,


and which had been better rendered | right reason as the governor and in that, or because, this demonstrative guide to good things.' Not so did utterance of His absoluteness, seems the Hebrews despise the shepherd degraded into the language of and his craft. It was their everyreproof to impertinent inquiry. Self- day joy and pleasure. Their flocks sufficient, Self-existent, the God of were as dear to them as our house. Gods, were other Hebrew names of hold memories, our Lares and Penates, the Supreme; and such reverence Music, poetry, astronomy, geometry, had they for the name of Jehovah, and chronometry, had their origin or the Eternally Existing that they in the leisure and musing of the never wrote it at full length, but shepherd's life. Such a quiet mopausing and washing their pens, notony predisposed them to all kinds they expressed it by a small hie of meditation. Without doubt we roglyph, which they pronounced may consider them as eminently Adonai, Fountain of Light.

pure, pious, and high-minded, a type The names of our Saviour have of the Jew with all his fire subdued been fewer, but more expressive. into gentleness and docility, all bis Of old he was the Shiloh, the Peace- rigidness softened into grace and maker. He was to be called Wonder- mellowed into ease, all his pride sub. ful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the dued into humility and chastened into Everlasting Father, the Prince of meekness, all his ignorance exalted Peace. To the Jews he was the into wisdom, and his privilege sancMessiah, or anointed, Jesus, the tified into holiness. The offering of Saviour, Emmanuel, God with us, the first of shepherds was graciously the fulness of God's glory, the ex- accepted of God. Lord Bacon sees press image of His Person. And in this the marked favour of God one of the best epitheticalexpressions upon Abel's calling itself, and Philo to be found out of the New Testament will go still farther, and see in the is the precious old Saxon one, All. conduct of the two brothers, in the Healer.

best offering of one, and that of the All these are good, suggestive, and other, 'who offered everything to reverential. And yet thereis one other himself and his own mind,' a mystic He himself gave, which David an- appropriateness in their respective ticipated, and Ezekiel predicted, that titles, keeper of sheep, and tiller of is as sweet, homely, and expressive the earth. To the shepherds, as as of any of them. I am the knowing their calling and character, GOOD SHEPHERD, and know my and symbolic of Christ's mission, sheep, and am known of mine. Yea, came the Angel of the Lord as devout contemplative John, the they watched over their focks by bosom disciple, with all his inner night, perchance rehearsing to themrevelations of the word and his deep selves the prophecy of His coming. knowledge of divine things, can Unto their ears, first of mortals, was find no more endearing title than chaunted the new evangel-hymn. the Lamb of God.

Upon them, and round about them, Full of beauty and homeliness may we not add, within them, shone was this shepherdhood to the people the glory of the Lord. They of the of the east. To the Egyptians, Jews were first to salute the newindeed, as we learn from Joseph's born, firsttocomprehend His mission, instruction to his brethren, every first to glorify and praise. shepherd was an abomination. Philo Who shall say there was no deep Judæus, the Alexandrian allegorizer, pervasive purpose in all this? Shall explains that this was because of their a Paulus say it was mere chance and haughty disdain and boastful am- accident P shall a Strauss step after bition, and coupling this with the him with his intangible mythologies, leading of Jethro's flock by Moses, and say, This too was part of the says in his own way, “For every subtle web-weaving of tradition ? man who loves his passions hates Surely not. Rather we accept this Love and Longing for Pastoral Life.

7 symbolism of the shepherd-king as

way conduce to our edification, Hebraic, universal, and metaphysic. moral, spiritual, and eternal. All

Who can tell the mystery, beauty, the ideas that have ever vexed the and wisdom of this title of our unquiet brain of man, stirred him to Lord's ? One should have the pen war, stayed him to peace, moulded of Moses, the vision of Ezekiel, the his thinking, grounded his faith, harp of David, and the wisdom of nd warmed his heart, are known Solomon. The spiritual fathers and and registered in the courts of the rulers amongst the Jews were Supreme. Civilization and progress shepherds amongst the people and come not alone by man's aid. the nations. Ezekiel reproved them Spiritual agencies are around, fightfor their neglect, selfishness, and ing our battles for us, as at Marathon carelessness, and Zechariah painted and thousand other places heathen for their behoof the type of the deities warred in mid air, or clashed foolish shepherd. But all this was in the thickest of the fray. He forgiven them. The very office they helpeth our aspirations for the future. had sustained so unworthily towards He is our very present Helper, and others Christ would hold towards shall He not sanctify our past rethem with beautiful meekness and spirations and our dreamings ? tenderest love. The shepherd's Plato might have been wider calling had always been noble and from the truth.

Man is very dignified, now it was to be noblier, microcosmic, very given to remiprincelier, divine. Nor was this all. niscence, very inclined to repeat It knit them, as far as they had himself. We have eras in our inwalled themselves up in towns and dividual lives very analogous to those cities, once again to the beauty, in universal history: And this singleness, and simplicity of pas. necessarily; for what is history, but toral life. It was a breath from the 'essence of innumerable bifruitful plains, a wave from sacred ographies,' as Coleridge said. The streams, fusing all the incoherencies very physical traits of men tend to and falsities of a rapid civilization perpetuate themselves. The nose into the ancient nobleness of pa- of the Roman, the hair of the Norsetriarchal government. David, the man, the chiselled contour of the ruddy youth, the sorrowing, the Greek, the eye of the Asiatic, the tempted, the sweet singer of Israel, bold bronze of the Jew, have each was re-born to them. Israel was been repeated for ages. They are free. The curse of Cain, the Flood, imperishable. Obscured and lost and the fatal consequence of Babel for a time they will still develop were melted into inoffensiveness and themselves. So with Ideas. They shaded into the back-ground of more root themselves in our being, like blissful conditions. The Gentile cedars in Lebanon. New ones will was by it embraced into the same spring up, and their fronds may provisions as the Jew. It was a give promise of a green waving soft-breathed Benedicite to wool-clad forest of fairy lightsomeness and Scythian, flying Parthian, sturdy beanty, but these old pre-natal ones Greek, and desert Arab. It has are deathless and irrevertible. They come down to us charm for stern may repose in quiet, but it is the old Time himself; he stays his quietness of conscious strength and glass and leans upon his scythe. not of weakness. Speak the old When we call Him our Shepherd, charm-word, breathe but the old all the pomp and tumult of the plaint, or raise the old war-blast, present vanishes like a curled and and then, lo! how they tower in cloudy panorama, and we are with proud might, and what a clash of David and Saul, Amos, Rachel, and brazen glee and garrulous hum of Zipporah.

eld-voices is there among the boughs. He knoweth our frame. Nothing We can hear grave patriarchs, is ignored by Him that will in any bearded Rabbins, philosophic Athe

« PreviousContinue »