« AnteriorContinuar »
the palace of one who loves purple and fine linen, and whose looks are lofty. A stranger came in, whose clothing and gait bespoke him as one who moved in the upper circles. Instantly a dozen were on their feet and a dozen pew-doors were open to receive him. Another came of the same cloth and the same scene of quick accommodation was witnessed. Once more the door of the church opens quietly, and in comes a person of solemn and reverent countenance; his brow seems furrowed with care and wo—his dress bespeaks the deepest poverty. He advances. No door opens
one rises to his feet to welcome him to a seat. Some even slide their hands quietly to the top of the pew-door for fear he might intrude. He passes on, still forward; looking now imploringly on one side and now on the other; but no one moves to receive him.
At length, coming to the end of the pews, he stands a moment, heaves a deep sigh, and sinks down upon the steps of the altar. All eyes are turned to this object of strange intrusion. The wardens of the church begin to consult in their own minds whether it would not be best to lead him out of the church. But see! all at once the stranger's appearance changes. A scene is presented on the steps of the altar, like that which the disciples saw on Tabor. “ The fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening, and his face did shine as the sun." A halo of radiant light gathered around his head. He rose to his feet and stretched forth his hand as if he would speak to them; and, as he did so, they saw that there were wounds on them! Gradually he vanished; but, as he was disappearing, they saw a frown upon his countenance which seemed to them like the “wrath of the Lamb," and they heard only these words: “Inasmuch as ye did not to one of the least of these, ye did not to me!"
It is easy to apply the wisdom of this parable to the subject before us.
Christ is still on earth in the least of his poor and needy members; and all those who would show their own interest in Christ by ministering to him as Magdalene did, can still do so by showing kindness to his people, even though poor and in rags.
It cannot be doubted that if this pious woman were still on earth, she would be found among the poor and forsaken disciples of her Lord, supplying their wants, soothing their sorrows, and affording consolation to them in their lonely and disconsolate condition. She would not, like some modern disciples, spend hundreds in parties for the rich who should revel at her board while the poor are, within a stone-cast of her door, crying for daily bread. She would not flirt in hundred dollar shawls while the poor are shivering in tattered rags over the last ember that already threatens to die upon the hearth. No. She would be the same ministering angel still, and what she then did to her Saviour she would now do to the least of those who bear his gracious image.
Are not we bound by the same obligations of gratitude es Mag
dalene was? Though we may not be as great sinners as she was, we ought to be as great saints? We, too, have had much forgiven, and therefore we ought to love much. Oh, for more of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be made rich. Let us study to imitate the self-denial of Christ. Let us see that we imitate the devotion of the once vile but now sainted Magdalene. Freely we have received, freely let us give; and as he came down from heaven to minister unto us, let us not consider it a great thing to turn aside one step from our path to bless those who, like ourselves, are bearing his image.
From this example of Mary Magdalene's devotion to Christ we may certainly see a strong evidence that the grace which wrought in her in this manner is from heaven. Such disinterestedness—such an entire renunciation of self—such pure gratitude-such a sacrifice of life, with all its interests, to one person, as an offering for mercies received, is not the growth of a natural heart. Such an entire change of disposition, from the life and love of sin to the life and love of holiness, can only come from that heaven to which it leads.
This woman, rising before us at the Saviour's word, from the deepest ruins of sin, and testing this miracle of grace by a life of purity and gratitude, stands before the world as a monumental testimony that Jesus Christ has power on earth to forgive sins—to make the vilest heart a fit temple for the Holy Ghost, and to change the desolate regions of the soul, in which Satan reigned, as in a place of lonely mountains and tombs, into a fruitfal region, where joy shall smile as the morning, and plants of holiness shall blossom as Sharon's rose.
Is it denied that such an instance ever really took place? Does some skeptic voice assail the truthfulness of the record in which this trophy of grace is delineated? Then we point him to instances of similar triumphs of the same grace around us.
66 There are many hypocrites,” exclaims the skeptic. We grant it all. But are they all such? We ask this question with the fullest confidence. Were all you ever knew hypocrites? Do you know no one who truly manifested the life and power of religion? We might ask many a young upstart infidel, Was your own pious, now sainted, mother a hypocrite? Yes, we say, without fear of contradiction, that if there are not many, there are a few names who have not defiled their garments. There is here and there one who has not bowed his or her knee to the god of this world. There are those now who, like Magdalene, do live only for Christ, for his saints, and for heaven. There are those who, though they are in the world, are not of the world—who are among men but not like them. There are those to whom life has no meaning, except as it is devoted to the service of Christ and his people—those who live
as pilgrims and strangers on the earth, renouncing its wealth, honor, and vanity—who are willing to be killed all the day long for the hope that is in them, and who declare plainly that they seek a country, a city which hath foundations, whose maker and builder is God.
These are evidences—living and moving evidences—that there is a reality in the grace of Christ. For it has raised them, as it did Magdalene, from a life of sin into heavenly places in Christ Jesus; and has made them, as it did her, sincerely willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.
BEYOND THE RIVER.
TIME is a river, deep and wide ;
And while alung its banks we stray, We see our loved ones o'er its tide
Still from our sight away, away. Where are they sped—they who return
No more to glad our longing eyes? They've passed from life's contracted bourne To land unseen, unknown, that lies
Beyond the river.
'Tis bid from view: but we may guess
How beautiful that realm must be, For gleamings of its loveliness,
In visions granted, oft we see. The very clouds that o'er it throw
Their veil, unraised for mortal sight, With gold and purple tintings glow, Reflected from the glorious light
Beyond the river.
And gentle airs, so sweet, bo calm,
Steal sometimes from that viewless sphere; The mourner feels their breath of balm,
And soothed sorrow dries the tear;
Entrancing sound that hither floats,
Beyond the river.
There are our loved ones in their rest;
They've crossed Time's river-now no more They heed the bubbles on its breast,
Nor feel the storms that sweep its shore: But there pure love can live-can last
They look for us their home to share; When we in torn away have passed, What joyful greetings wait us there
Beyond the river.
THE PINE AND THE ROCK-OAK.
BY THE EDITOR.
I must now come to visions. Once, on a warm summer afternoon, I strayed away, in search of a place shady, cool, and silent for meditation. Soon, without knowing how I got there, I was on the green bank of a beautiful stream, overhung with far-reaching branches of thriving trees that stood upon its banks. Here I sat down at the root of an aged elm that had waved its branches over bank and stream for an hundred years.
A feeling, and a vision came over me, as when one dreams, or is lost in thought. How it was I cannot tell, but to me it seemed as if the trees were talking to each other. I listened with my finger upor my lips.
“See, I have grown a foot at my top since May,” said a tall pine that stood on the heights of the highland, just at the edge of the stream's second shore. “ I am now taller than any tree in this forest!" And then, by the aid of a breeze that just came by, he proudly swung to and fro in the clear air of heaven.
“I am not for high-soaring, but for far-reaching,” said a venerable rock-oak, that hung on the ledge of rocks near by, and which extended one of its branches, almost like a vast fork, far over the humblest trees beneath it, towards the stream. “Let the pine have the air, which no one disputes with him--a realm for which no other tree cares—I hold my hands in venerable majesty over the heads of many inferior trees, and it is as if they waited in silence for my blessing !"
And then some of the lower twigs of the great branch swung down, as a soft wind moved them, and touched the tops of the humbler trees.
All the other trees, as if listening to the pine and rock-oak, were silent like myself; but still their thick foliage gave me shade; and golden sunbeams, that fell through their branches which the breeze but scarcely stirred, played upon the surface of the stream like smiles of hope upon the brow of a dying saint who sees his home in sight.
Now all was silent for a time; except that, ever and anon, I heard the pine but faintly whisper, “I am taller than the rest.”
To which the rock-oak seemed as softly to reply, “None can spread his limbs so far.”
The air grew yet more calm. The water murmured low. The birds grew silent in the branches. The golden trembling sunlight disappeared from the surface of the stream. It seemed as if it were tarrying time, and all was breathless expectation.
In the west the sky lowered. Dark clouds began to roll up along the sky. Latent lightning glowed out of the bosom of dark clouds, like the live red when one bloweth an ember. Thunder muttered in the distance, and sullenly.
All else was still and waiting!
Louder, nearer, fiercer grew lightning and thunder. I fled for a ledge of rocks which, projecting, offered me shelter. Scarce had I reached it when, with the first big drops that battered through the leaves, there fell a fiery bolt which shivered the pine. It fell! and as it fell, it struck the out-reaching limb of the oak, and both lay a wreck on the ground !
The storm passed on. The sky cleared. The sun shone out. The leaves glistened in the new-born rays. The birds began to sing in richer melody.
There lay the pine and the long branch of the oak. I heard, as it were, the spirit of the wood, say:
“The pine was the tallest!"
And there was still another voice, as if it had fallen from heaven, which sighed: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall!''
With what strange sadness are our spirits affected when we hear or read of the follies of those who have long since been dead. This is especially the case if they were our own ancestors. We recollect of having some time ago read in a curious book a list of names of those who more than one hundred years ago, in the city of Philadelphia, attended the balls. We could not help imagining how one would feel in finding in such a list the name of one's grandfather or grandmother. One would wonder how they now regard their own names in such a list when looking back upon those scenes of brilliant folly from the eternal world!
On the other hand, what pleasant feelings are awakened when we find the names of our ancestors, who are now dead, in connection with that which was good and holy. While we meditate, their glorified forms appear to hover around us, and we seem to see their happy smiles speaking a silent approval to all that they did. We feel how sweet is the memory of the just.
Not long ago I unexpectedly got into my hands the Record of the Church where my parents worshipped, where we, their children, were baptized, and where I recorded my first vows in confirmation.