Imágenes de páginas


80 called as being from a place called Magdala ; this however is doubtful; and even if this is the origin of her second name, it Would nevertheless show that she must bave been a personage of consideration or she would not have been thus honorably designated. It is, however, much more easy and natural to take the name as designating her descent from some high family, or that she received it from a corresponding feature or trait in her personal appearance. Not without some adequate reason, certainly, did she receive an addition to her name, which means "grand, elevated, magnificent.

But alas ! what a contrast! Once the noble, polite, refined and commanding Magdalene; now a miserable wreck of sin—the fearful abode of foul spirits. What a change! What was once a noble-minded woman is now a monster.

How was this woman reduced to this sad condition ? Not by one step did she reach the depths of degradation and shame. It was a gradual descent. Ah! too well do we see specimens of the fearful process in many around us. Was she beautiful-beauty is a fearful gift—then she was flattered; this soon brought on that pride which goeth before destruction, and that haughty spirit which cometh before a fall

. Was she intelligent and socially refined? how naturally would this lead her on to seek still more her happiness in those outward graces which a hollow world admires. she fond of pleasure ? her personal qualities would ensure her admittance into the gayest circles. Every avenue of temptation lay open before her. The power of evil gradually took possession of her, and she yielded herself more and more to the service of sin. One restraint after another was cast away ; and at length her life changed into a coarser, ruder, and wilder current. În time, for her sins, she was cast forth from the circle of her friends, and soon we find her in the lowest outskirts of society! Yielding to despair, she determines madly to cast herself away, in order to harden herself more entirely against the just frowns of that society against whose purity she had sinned. Now under the power of evil, in soul and body, preyed upon by a tormenting sense of guilt, and haunted by the mournful remembrance of purer and better days, her misery is at length complete.

But why do we attempt to trace the particular course of life which gradually led her into her present condition? Enough; we know it was a life of sin, which became ripe at length in making her, soul and body, the habitatiou of devils. Her own ways have beset her. Her innocence is gone. Her heart is black-her affections are polluted-her eye is wild-and her countenance, in all its features, doth witness against her. In her the Poet's picture of the full and final effects of an abandoned life of sin is realized.

"-Never yet bath day beam burned
Upon a brow more fierce tban tbat;
Ballenly fierce--a mixture dire,
Like thunder clouds, of gloom and fire!

In wbich the experienced eye could read
Dark tales of many a ruthless deed;
The ruined maid-thesbrine profaned-
Oaths broken-apd the thresbold stainod
With blood of guests! there written all,
Bluok as the damning drops that fall
From the denouncing Angel's pen,

Ere mercy weeps them ont again.”
Let us turn to a lovelier picture.

§ I. MARY MAGDALENE A DISCIPLE OF JESUS. Is it possible that such a sinner should also be found at last among the believing disciples, clothed and in her right mind. Can this child of Hell, be made an heir of Heaven? Yes! We repeat: Blessed in the highest, and blessed forever, be that saving.grace which came in Christ Jesus. It is sufficient for all-it is suited to all! "This man receiveth sinners,” was intended as a reproach by the Pharisees, but it is in truth his highest honor. “Behold, & friend of publicans and sinners !” We feel a joy similar to that which pervaded the heart of the good shepherd who returned with the one wandering sheep upon his shoulder, when we think of this deeply fallen sinner returning at length to the Saviour's arms. Christians, who know the grace of Jesus Christ by happy experience, feel like calling to each other, Rejoice with me for the dead is alive, the lost is found! The devils were cast from her.

At what time, and under what particular circumstances the devils were cast out from her by the Saviour is not known. Some suppose, as already said, that this is the same woman who came to the Saviour at the Pharisee's house, “stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment.” Luke 7: 38. There is no clear evidence, either that it was the same woman, or that it was not. Wherever or whenever it may have been, we know that she came as all sinners must, come repenting and believing.

The process of a sinner's return to God is simple; we see it in the case of many others whom Christ pardoned and healed. She felt her deep ruin. The sins of her past life crowded in upon her soul in bitter and humiliating remembrance-before her frowned a dreadful future, and amid the darkness that surrounded her she saw no ray of promise from which she might be led to hope! In this condition she heard of Jesus—she heard that the devils are subject to him—she heard that he has power upon earth to forgive sins she heard that he had never cast out a penitent though his sins were like scarlet. She heard that he invites all-receives all-pardons all-and saves all ! A ray of hope passed over her gloomy soul, more cheering than the smile of an angel. True, as she was about to venture into his presence, a cloud of fears passed over her heart. Will he receive me? Can my dark and polluted heart be made bright and pure? Will he cast one forgiving smile upon the deeply-fallen, and deeply-stained, wretched Magdalene ! Here was a struggle with doubt and fear; but all which she had ever heard that he had done for others came to her encouragement. Her deep wants pressed her once more! Hark! it is a whisper sweet and tender as those which fall from a cherub's lips : - Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” Melted by a sense of such love, tears oť penitence gush anew from her heart; but she goes and seeks Jesus. Feelings like those expressed by the Poet must have heaved in her burdened heart.

Perhaps he will admit my plea,

Perhaps will hear my prayer ;
But if I perish, I will pray,

And perish only there.
I can but perisb if I go;

I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away I know

I must torever die!
There, prostrate before him, the penitent suppliant pours forth the
contents of her heavy heart, exclaiming in the language of the
beggar at the way-side, “ Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on
me!" Yes, it may-it may be that same certain woman, who "be-
gan to wash his feet with her tears and did wipe them with her hair"
that hair which had once been wovean and polished into every
fantastic shape which pride and vanity could suggest—that hair
which had been so fearfully disheveled when she was tossed and
torn by the rage of seven fiendish spirits—that hair is now soften-
ed like her own heart, by the tears of penitence, and brought into
the Saviour's service. Yes, it may be the same woman whom he
raised from his feet by his forgiving power and love, and of whom
he said, “her sins, which are many, are forgiven ; for she loved
much. Woman, thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” Yes,

There fell a light, more lovely far
Than ever came from sun or star,
Upon the tear, that, warm and meek,
Dew'd that repentant sioner's cheek ;
And hymns of joy proclaimed through Heaven

The triumph of a soul forgiven!
Who, after witnessing such a signal triumph of grace, over a soul
80 deeply fallen, can doubt the suitableness of the religion of Jesus
Christ to the wants of our fallen race. What other power applied for
the redemption of man, ever wrought out such glorious results ? Phi-
losophers have tried to reason man's turbulent nature into serenity,
and to calm his ever-rising fears, but with no success.

Poets have sought to charm him into peace, and allure him to a love for the pure and the good, by the soft and soothing cadences of song, but bis passions, like young lions, will be quiet only till they are roused again. Statesmen have endeavored to tame his unruly nature by social influences and advantages, but none of these influences could

[ocr errors]

bind him, neither could any power tame him. Jesus, and he alone, can cleanse polluted hearts, and calm the stormy sea of human passion. He has a sovereign balm for every wound. His blood cleanseth from every sin-there is no limit to the saving power of him who saved the deeply fallen and wretched Magdalene.

Where the golden corn is bending,

And the singing reapers pass,
Where the chestnut woods are sending

Leafy showers on the grass.
The blue river onward flowing,

Mingles with its noisy strife,
The murmur of the flowers growing,

And the hum of insect life,
I from that rich plain was gazing

Towards the snowy mountains bigh,
Who their gleaming peaks were raising

Up against the purple sky.
And the glory of their shiping,

Batbed in clouds of rosy light,
Set my weary spirit pining

For a home so pura and bright.
So I left the plain, and weary,

Fainting yet, with hope sustained,
Toiled through pathways loog and dreary

Till the mountain top was gained.
Lo! the height that I had taken,

A8 80 shining from below,
Was a desolate, forsaken

Region of perpetual snow.
I am faint, my feet are bleeding,

All my feeble strength is worn,
In the plain no soul is heeding,

I am here alone, forlorn.
Lights are shiping, bells are tolling,

In the busy vale below;
Near me night's black clouds are rolling,

Gathering o'er a waste of snow.
80 I watch the river winding

Through the misty, fading plain,
Bitter are the tear drops binding,

Bitter, useless toil, and pain.
Bitterest of all the finding

That my dream was false and vain!

AN UNHAPPY Man.-Bulwer, the novelist, in a letter to a gentleman in Boston, said : I have closed my career as a writer of fiction. I am gloomy and unhappy. I have exhausted the powers of life, chasing pleasure where it is not to be found.”



TWELVE years ago I belonged to a Select School, in one of those beautiful little towns which are to be found in the rich valleys abounding in the state of Pennsylvania. Traveling in a public conveyance not long since, I met one of my old school-mates. We had been separted for some years, and many questions had to be asked therefore, before each could post the other up, on all the incidents of the interval. The usual compliments having been exchanged, in the real earnest of long and well-tried friendship, we naturally turned to the past and satisfied each other with what we knew of its short though chequered history.

What I wish to refer to now, is the present position of those who were then, the gay and thoughtless boys of our school. In a short paragraph going the rounds of the press not long since, I saw it stated that in a few years the railroads, telegraphs, steamers, and congress, the state legislatures, colleges, schools, newspapers and reviews, would all be in the hands and under the management of the boys of the present generation. This fact, startling as it is, can be verified by appealing to the boys of the generation just gone by. They are now at the

head of all business and carry on the bustling activities of this world's life. An argument for the truth of this may be found in the following brief statement, showing to what extent the boys, formerly of our select school, now control the affairs: of the world.

The number of boys as well as I can remember, was but eighteen of these ; six, among the poorest in the school, as regards this world's goods, have graduated at first class colleges. Ten have entered the professions of law, medicine and the ministry. Four entered the ministry, and one more still has that intention. Three are doctors of medicine, two are lawyers, two are editors, one is principal of a high school, while the others are artists, mechanics, merchants, farmers, and one is dead. Twelve are professors of religion. To give a more full account of them, I should mention them by name and give their residence and calling. This however may not be: allowed. As near as it can be done without giving offence to delicacy, I may mention their initials, which will serve to those, who may recognize them under this cover, as evidence of the verity of the statements here given.

Alphabetically, first comes B. A. B- He was considered the most promising member of the school. Fine and brilliant powers of mind, a charming speaker, of beautiful and commanding form. He left school and studied law under flattering prospects of success. Not meeting however with the advancement that his towering ambition and the hopes of his friends had anticipated, he fell a miserable victim to the bowl. With shattered hopes he then sought the re

« AnteriorContinuar »