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of self-denial ? are we to walk through life with a sad countenance, afraid almost to rest our weary feet for fear of doing wrong? This, I know, is not religion. Is it, then, to resign ourselves to the promptings of that angel-monitor conscience? Is it to keep a continual restraint upon ourselves lest we go astray ? Is it to guide our lives by the knowledge of truth? If so, how difficult! None but those who really try can know how difficult it is to lead a good life. “I have heard that
"o?Tis religion that can give sweetest pleasure.' But to me religion is not the sweetest pleasure of life; there are many things which I should prefer if I thought of this life only. There is no denying the fact that however sweet religion may become, it is not sweet at first. The only thing which makes it at all pleasant now is the knowledge that it leads to a life of happiness hereafter.”
“That which you speak of,” said Wisdom, who had overheard my mutterings, " is not religion, but it is the threshold of religion. Still continue on in the same way, and that which at first is done from duty only, will soon be done from love. The very fact of its being difficult to lead a good life proves that you are trying so to do—proves that there is deep in the heart a little spark of love which, if not smothered, will break forth into a flame which shall permeate all your thoughts. Then you will experience those sweet joys which only religion can give. Therefore, again I would urge you to persevere. Do not be conquered ; but when you feel you are giving way—when the temptations seem too strong to be borne—turn away from abiding in your own strength, and ask for help from Him who said, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour, and I will give you rest.”
We still pass onwards in our journey, and are now strolling through a district popularly known as the Land of Love, which might well be called an earthly paradise. Everything seems lit up with the smiles of peaceful enjoyment; all around breathes of contentment and rest. The gaily-coloured birds flitting among the boughs seem twittering to us of love; and the very flowers, whispering to us with their rippling cadence of sweet but silent language, seem inviting us to leave the sterner duties of life and live among them. And as I looked upon them I felt how gladly would I leave the annoyances and difficulties of active life if I might share with them the pure enjoyment of a life of love
“And thus live ever, or else swoon to death.” But no; such things cannot be ! Under the promptings of Wisdom
I again journey forth; and now, as if to contrast with the last scene, all around is gloomy and dark,—wild crags and dashing torrents—the path strewn with stones and briers, and above, dark clouds from which the lightnings occasionally glean.
Overcome by the reaction from joy to sorrow, I sit down in despair, dreading to proceed, and give vent to my feelings by loud complaints.
“How is it possible," said I, “ to continue in the right path in the face of such difficulties? The prize for which I strive is not worth the trouble of the journey. Why should I undergo such hardships in life on the chance of gaining happiness after death? If God is good why cannot He put goodness in our way without giving us so much misery? I will return to those sweet Groves of Love passed but a little while since, and make sure of enjoying the present life, or perhaps I may lose both present and future. As I spoke I began to retrace my steps. The way, however, was obscured in the stormcloud, and not the least gleam of the Land of Love could be seen to serve me as a landmark.
While in this state of uncertainty Wisdom came and tried to persuade me to resume my onward path. But all his philosophy was useless, as philosophy always is when applied to the aching heart; and I turned from him with reproaches for having brought me on so hard and seemingly objectless a journey. He would not, however, be repulsed by my unkindness, but continued trying to persuade me from my stubbornness. Still I remained impregnable in my fortress of supposed abuse and injustice. It was not until the storm had somewhat abated, when the sun broke through the clouds, sending a beam of light over my path, that I was in any ways ready to listen to counsel. Then when that sweet spirit of faith, which is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” came whispering its bright messages from the very future, comforting me with the words—
«« Shed no tear, oh, shed no tear,
The flower will bloom another year!
I turned repentantly into the path with the determination never again to leave it.
It is now night. Overhead is to be seen bright Hesperus, its lustre, however, dimmed by the moon, which, sailing through a cloudless expanse of azure, is shedding her silver beams over the clear surface of a river which flows noiselessly but swiftly between banks of lawn-like appearance.
As we are loitering by the side of this river, the low sweet music of the murmuring waters, together with the calm beauty of the night, produce a feeling too deep for words. The soul needs at times to commune with itself; and what circumstances are more likely to conduce to such a state than those I have just mentioned. In the midst of these our meditations the Passing-bell of a distant convent is heard faintly pealing over the water as it tolls the knell of some soul now about to leave its earthly loves for ever.
Moved by the sad sound, we too conform for once to the old tradition, and offer up a prayer for the wellbeing of that soul, whose doom, however, is already fixed.
This incident changes the course of our meditations, and we pass on filled with thoughts of death, which seems ever following close upon the footsteps of life, and, Nemesis-like, is sure to overtake at last.
Engrossed with these thoughts, we hardly notice that the river, unlike ourselves, has finished its course, until we find ourselves spraydashed by that wide sea of the Past
“ that one continuous murmur breeds Along the pebbled shore of memory.”
Here Wisdom once more broke the silence, seeming to be continuing aloud for my benefit his previous thoughts.
“Many are the lessons," he said, “to be derived from the contemplation of the past. By it we are able to see our faults. By comparing the past with the present we are able to judge of our lives whether they have been successful or not. By looking back upon our former states of mind we can the more truly estimate our present state ; and by putting the knowledge thus gained to its proper use, we shall be enabled so to rule our lives in the future as to escape many of the follies into which we might otherwise fall. Carefully considering the circumstances which led to the particular events of the past, we shall be able to force truth into the proverb, 'coming events cast their shadows before and if we are wise we shall profit by those shadows.
“If the errors of the past help us to live better in the future they have fulfilled the words, “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness' (Judges xiv. 14). Otherwise they remain as curses unto us.
“Not only the errors, but the pleasures also, contain latent lessons for us. When children, we played our games of love, and sang
"6"On the carpet you shall kneel
While the grass is growing green;' but occasionally the game ended in a quarrel, and the expected kiss was lost in hasty words.
“Thus shall we find it throughout life; and if we would be preserved from disappointment, we must endeavour to keep ourselves and companions in good humour, especially noting that the greatest possible influence for good we can exert upon others is by being good ourselves. But come, let us go to the top of yon hill and watch the hastening dawn.”
Having gained our point of view, behold us on the heath-clad hill anticipating the vision of the rising sun. Look! the first faint streaks of dawn shine on the clouds of the eastern sky, heralding the arrival of the life-giving orb of light.
Now he rises just above the horizon, throwing across the heavens the “golden spires of day,” tinting the tops of the mountains with the rainbow colours of pure light, reaching even the far distant “Hills of Childhood," which seem brought so near that memory can discern every particular of light and shade upon them.
And now he shines forth in full majesty, bathing the whole field of Nature in his glorious beams, kissing the opening buds turned to meet him, greeting the birds with looks of love, who are singing to to him their matin hymns of joy.
Startled with these sweet, wild strains of Nature's music, I awaketo Life.
F. W. G.
(To the Editor of the “ Intellectual Repository.”)
Dear SIR,—As any circumstance connected with the history of the Jews has always been, and still is, of peculiar interest to all lovers and students of the sacred Scriptures, I offer you for insertion in the pages of the Intellectual Repository a translation of a remarkable article which I met with in a newspaper in Switzerland, during my sojourn there a few months ago, concerning a Jewish family living in royal state in a small town in the province of Buchowina, in Austria. I have no means of forming a judgment as to the truth or otherwise of the narrative, but give it to you as I received it.—Yours truly,
G. H. BROTHERTON.
Extract from the “ Journal de l'Indépendance de Paris," and published
in the “Gazette de Lausanne," 1st November 1876. “The belief in the Advent of the future King of Israel is not extinct, and seems deeply rooted in the bosom of the Jewish nation all over the earth. This belief is the foundation on which the Jewish religion rests, and it seems to be the only remaining consolation of the Jew. Amidst the decomposition which the Jewish creed has been undergoing lately, and the visible transformation of Israel, this fact appears as an almost incredible phenomenon. Faithful to this tradition, the Jews hold fast, with a most extraordinary ardour, the hope of seeing shortly the Advent of their King, and they expect him to be born in some one of their privileged families. Among these is a family which inhabits one of the most central places of Europe, the little town of Sada-Gora in Austrian Buchowina, which locality is a real haunt of Jews. Some other royal families inhabit Belz in Galicia, Kożk in Podlachia, Kozienica in the government of Sandomir, and some Jewish communities of the Russian empire. But not one of these families possesses an influence to be compared with that of Sada-Gora. The present head of the family is the object of a religious worship on the part of the orthodox Jews. His name is Isrolka, and he is considered as the richest Jew of the Sclavonic countries; and those who have any idea of the amount of wealth that is heaped up in the hovels of the Russian and Polish Jews will understand what this means. .
"Owing to the hope of the near Advent of the great King, the family of Isrolka has been gathering millions for the last century.
“Sada-Gora is the universal rendezvous, the much-loved place of pilgrimage of the Jews of Russia, of Poland, of Galicia, of Buchowina, of Moldavia and Walachia. The faithful partizans of the family of Isrolka may be numbered by hundreds of thousands; they consider it a duty to visit at least once in their life the chief of this royal race, and to bring him presents. They adorn with jewels, overload with ducats and florins, the members of the family, as if they were their idols. The greatest miser will part with a gold coin to sacrifice it to the Jewish king and to gain the favour of his family. The palace of the king is of a dazzling splendour, and seems to be unrivalled in the