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that darted on his soul, athwart the gloomy shadows of ages. This public spirit is an essential element of godliness. The man who feelsno burning interest in his race is not a man of God.
III. HIS DIVINE TUITION.
Who was the instructor of this elevated saint ? Who raised him so much above the most illustrious sages of past times and even the noblest spirits of his own age? The text answers the question,“ The Holy Ghost." Three significant expressions here indicate the connexion of his soul with the Divine spirit :
First: The Holy Ghost was“upon him.” This expression probably indicates his consciousness of the divine. He felt the divinity resting on him; on him as the warm and quickening rays of Heaven on the verdant fields. Another expression is :
Secondly : That the Holy Ghost “revealed unto him.” How He revealed we are not told ; whether by the Old Scriptures, the signs of the times, oral communications, or inward visions, we know not. All that we are given to understand is, that what he knew about Christ was “revealed," to him, not discovered by him; and “revealed ” not by man but by God. The other expression which indicates the close connexion of his soul with the divine, is :
Thirdly : That he came by the Holy Ghost into the temple. Some strange presentiment, or mysterious impulse urged him to enter the temple that moment.
He was the spirit.” God is ever the teacher of the good. Who teacheth like Him ? This spirit is ever the teacher of true souls. “He guides into all truth,” &c.
« led by
IV. HIS HAPPY END. “ Then took he him up in his arms and blessed God, and said, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word,” &c. He seems to have felt three things on this occasion :
First: That death was under the divine control. lettest,” &c. As if he had said I cannot go without thy permission, &c. This is a glorious truth.
- Thou turnest man to destruction," &c. No one can really take away
There are no such things as premature graves.
The time, the place, the circumstances of our death are all prearranged. He felt :
Secondly : That death was but a departure out of the world. It is not the extinction of being. It is but the soul changing its residence, its circumstances, its occupations. “The time of my departure," says Paul, "is at hand." All the generations of man that have ever appeared on this globe are living still. He felt :
Thirdly: That having embraced Christ his death was desirable. How full must have been his heart as he held “the Desire of all nations” in his arms. Heaven that moment flooded his heart with joy. He that embraces Christ will hail death with a rapturous soul.
SUBJECT :-Fading Away.
* We all do fade as a leaf.”—Isaiah lxiv. 6.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sixty-fourth.
HUMAN life, like nature, has its seasons.
Childhood and youth are the spring of life. There are the first buddings of existence ; one power rises into view after another, all is fresh and promising. It is breathed on by a genial atmosphere, watched by the eye of hope and love, and cultured by the hand of diligence and care. Manhood is the
The seed is fully developed ; all the latent powers of the life-germ are wrought out by the process of nature into the hue, the stature, and the form, which express its real character. The questions which the parent had often asked concerning his loved child : What will be his character? How will he perform his part on the stage of manhood ? are now no longer problems. The tree is full grown, is clustered with fruit, all know what it is. Declination is the autumn. There is a period when, life having reached its full maturity, decay sets in. The cold wind has touched its heart, chilled the blood and slackened the circulation. The summit is
“ But we
reached, and the path is downward now. The leaf becomes more and more sere and withered ; at length it falls, and the tree stands naked, awaiting the cold blasts of winter. Old age is that winter :-Withered, cold, desolate.
There is no music in the grove, no foliage on the trees, no verdure in the fields. The air breathes no life and wafts no pleasing odours. The heavens are cloudy, the sunlight pale, cold, oblique. The earth has lost its charms, it is a mighty grave, receiving all, and giving nothing back.
These remarks are suggested by our text. It is probable, however, that the prophet here did not allude to physical but to spiritual decay, not the decay of bodily life, but of spiritual goodness.
are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and we all do fade as a leaf,” &c. He is here evidently speaking of the sad state of moral degeneracy into which his countrymen had fallen. It is a sad fact that there is such a thing as spiritual decay. A mind that once developed the loveliest buddings of spring and the richest blossoms of summer has frequently come under the blighting influence of autumn. This is unnatural, this is wrong; but this, alas! is general. The mind should never have an autumn. It has its spring, it should have its summer, and from its summer it should never pass. It should be like a tree planted by rivers of water, drinking up the vital sap from the ever-flowing stream of truth; its leaf should not wither, and like the tree of life it should produce fruit for the healing of the nations. But, alas ! how often comes the moral autumn. How often do we find souls which at one time were full of spiritual life and promise, growing dead and ready to perish.
But although spiritual decay may be the literal application of these words, they truly express the universal law of our mortal life. Physically, the mighty population of this globe at the present moment is all “fading like the leaf.” At the present season of the year we see the leaf fade and fall. The rich foliage which a few weeks ago shadowed the gardens,
decked the landscape, robed the forests, is everywhere withering—“the wind passeth over it and it is gone.” “The grass®withereth and the flower fadeth,” &c. This is the emblem of our life : not of life in any particular stage, or sphere, or clime, but of all life. “ We all do fade as a leaf.” It would be easy to multiply analogies between autumn and our mortal life, between the fading of the leaf and the decay of these mortal bodies. Let us notice a few :
I. THE LEAF FADES BY A NECESSARY LAW. There is no power that can keep the foliage on the tree. The leaf must fall. So we must decay. “It is appointed for all men once to die." All Aesh is as grass,” &c. Man
and does dread death; he may and does seek to prolong life ; but he cannot by any invention or art counteract that resistless law of decay that has swept all past generations to the dust, and that is day after day, and hour after hour, working out his dissolution. As the stream flows from the hills, as the sea rolls to the shore, as the globe wheels onward in its sphere, we progress, by a force we cannot resist, to death and dust. One generation is buried in the grave of another, and future generations will find a bed in our ashes.
II. THE LEAF FADES BY A GRADUAL PROCESS. The trees are not stripped by one blast. The rich clouds of foliage do not descend in one shower, leaving nature which was full of life and beauty one moment, a miserable wreck, a mighty grave the next.
No! gradually the work of decay goes on. It is so with human life. Except in cases of famine, pestilence and war, when men are cut down suddenly and in great numbers, the work goes on by degrees. Disease, whether it invades the infant or adult, as a rule, works progressively. The leaf of life gradually withers, until it falls. In all seasons of the year we see some leaves fade. Yes, in spring, there may be some disease in the plant, and the leaf falls. So it is with life.
In infancy, childhood, manhood, as well as old age, the fading process goes on. The gradualness of decay is a blessing. It allows time to prepare
for the future. It prevents a stand-still in the machinery of the world's work.
III. THE LEAF
hand. trical its form, how lovely its hue, how exquisite its struc
Look at it through a microscope, how delicate its fibres, how fine its lines. How infinitely in its structure does it transcend all human invention. But that leaf is only organized dust. It falls and to dust it returns. So it is
These bodies will in a few years be trodden on by the beast or borne away by the winds. At death we return to our primitive elements. “ Dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return." It would be well for the beautiful and the rich to remember that death reduces all to the same common element.
What a great variety there is in the foliage of nature. Some leaves are larger and decked in more lovely hues than others. Some grow in a richer soil, and are breathed on by more salubrious winds than others. But let a few weeks pass away and all these distinctions will be lost, all will be dust. It is ever so in society. there great variety. Some are in wealth, some in poverty ; some in velvet, some in fustian; some in beauty, some in deformity, some in the pomp of power, and some in the misery of oppression. But let a few years pass round; let 1960 dawn upon this planet, and our princes and peasants, sovereigns and subjects, despots and serfs, masters and menials will be dust.
IV. THE LEAF FADES AS PREPARATORY TO A NEW LIFE. The leaf falls, but its place is soon supplied. It falls, in fact, because the new life, rising from the root, has pushed it off. A few months at most and others will appear, as lovely as any that have ever adorned the tree. The loss is not great, the forest will not miss the fallen leaf. So with
We die, but others will step into our place, and the world will go on. New leaves will spring out from the branch of society from which we fall, which will perhaps un