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style pleases them ; perhaps a pleasant sensation of devotion is awak. ened, which passes well for religion; and what is this but a kind of spiritual dram-drinking, an enjoyment of the hour to be indulged in again as soon as the like sensation is desired ? If people could only realise the fearful disrepute they bring on holy things by professing to love them, and then acting flagrantly and directly contrary to Holy Writ! The fact is, as all who look deeper and know their own hearts at all must admit, that outward acts, such as going to beautiful services, and hearing thrilling sermons, ay, and even frequent celebrations, are a very easy and very pleasant mode of being religious, but that the carrying out the teaching of these in daily life, is often hard and dull, and difficult. Hence it is that many shrink back from the “Hill Difficulty,” deluding themselves into the idea that their religion is real, and little dreaming of the harm done to themselves and others by the inconsistency of their lives. “Not every one that saith unto Me, LORD, LORD, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but be that doeth the Will of My FATHER which is in Heaven.”
In conclusion I will just mention the names of a few interesting books on Ecclesiastical History for the use of any of my readers who may like to pursue the subject further.
History of the Christian Church” by Mr. Robertson ; “ Life of S. Anselm” by Dean Church; Dean Hook's “ Archbishops of Canterbury;" and for times nearer our own, “Dissent in its relation to the Church of England," being a volume of Bampton Lectures by Mr. Curteis. Mrs. Oliphant's “ Makers of Florence” furnishes a most interesting account of the life and times of Savonarola.
A RHYTHM OF PENTECOST-TIDE.
THE sails are riven in the wind,
EMBER DAYS AT RIVERSDALE.
“If only there was something that I could do for God, if it were ever so small a thing, I should be satisfied !” This was the burden of poor Sarah Wilmot's complaint. In her lowly thatched cottage among the Cumberland hills she heard but little of all the great things that were passing in the outer world; but this she knew, that while she lay for ever on her couch, the helpless victim of disease, the little community around her seemed to be always active in good works.
She was no grumbler, and when told, as she had frequently been told, that patient suffering is one way of serving God, the only way which He allows to many of His children, she would answer meekly that she could not claim to make even this offering to her God, her cross was so very light. It was, then, in no spirit of impatience, that this good Christian sighed for some real service that she might do for God and her fellow-creatures, but in a spirit of fervent love. And at length the day came when the longing of her heart was to be satisfied.
The Vicar called on Whitsun Eve to pay Mrs. Wilmot one of his welcome visits. He found her alone, and more than usually ailing, for a violent headache on the previous day had left her low and weak. After reading to her a little, Mr. Lindsey spoke of the great event to be commemorated on the morrow, namely, the miraculous coming of the Holy Ghost; A wondrous gift,” he said, was the gift of the Divine Spirit, sent to guide the first Apostles into all truth,'l and to be the Teacher and Comforter of CHRIST's Church in all
ages. “Yes," replied Sarah, thoughtfully, “the Comforter of every single soul who cries to Him in faith. But then—" and here she was just going off in her old plaintive strain, when she suddenly put a check
The clergyman read her thoughts, and said at once; “Would it please you very much, Mrs. Wilmot, if our LORD were to send you some work to do for His Church, something by which to show your gratitude to Him, and your love for His people ?"
“Oh, sir !” exclaimed the sick woman, can it be that after this long waiting, I am really called to work ?” 1 S. John xvi. 13.
2 S. John xiv. 16–18; Acts xv. 28. 3 Acts ix. 31; Rom. viii. 26.
“I hope so," Mr. Lindsey replied, “I hope you will be one of very many who will do it.”
Sarah Wilmot gazed steadfastly into his face with a look of anxious inquiry. Now that the message had come through one of God's own ministers, she began to wonder if she would be equal to the task ; she so weak, so lowly, so unlearned. But then, her heart was ever ready. Was not that enough ? for the Spirit of might would surely supply all her deficiencies.
"You know,” continued the Vicar, “that there are four Sundays in the year set apart for the ordination of Priests and Deacons, and that the week preceding each of these is called Ember week."
“Yes, sir, many a year has passed since I was inside a church; but I remember we used to have the special collect in Ember week to ask a blessing upon the Bishops and upon those they were about to ordain."
“Quite so. We pray for our chief pastors that they may be guided to choose none but fit persons, to serve in the sacred ministry; and for those to be ordained, that they may be filled with grace, to set forth God's glory, and set forward the salvation of men. The custom is a very
but for a long while past it has been grievously neglected, and perhaps this is the reason why our Church has made so little head against the evil that runs riot in the world; for think what mighty foes we have to fight !"
“Ah, yes !” answered Sarah ; "unbelief, and error, and sin in every form."
Our task,” returned the clergyman, “is often a very delicate as well as difficult
and we greatly need God's own Spirit among us, as greatly as did the Apostles, to fill us with wisdom, and understanding, and knowledge, and true godliness. And would not the people reap the benefit of a faithful and able ministry if they prayed more earnestly for a blessing on all who are admitted into its ranks ?" I suppose
there can be no doubt of it,” replied Mrs. Wilmot; "at all events we can but do our little part, and leave the rest to God.”
Well then," returned Mr. Lindsey, "this is the work in which we desire your help. We are going, I trust, to keep the coming Ember week in Riversdale as it has never been kept here before. Our little parish stands, as it were, alone on this retired spot; but we bear ever in mind that we are but part of a great whole, all of us members of the universal Church, which our dear LORD purchased with His blood. Our voices may be united with the voice of the Church in all lands, and who can tell that we may not bring down upon her a grand outpouring of the Holy Ghost with His gifts of grace and power P”
“Who indeed ?” muttered Sarah with a sigh. There stirred within her a great longing to join the army of intercession which was preparing to force its way to the Throne of grace, and she cried, “Oh sir! how I wish that I could get to Church, but you know it is impossible.”
“Quite impossible," was the ready reply; "but what is there to hinder you from taking your part at home? Lying here on your sick bed you can pray the same prayers, for however
you be separated from the world, you are one with the Catholic Church, bound to her by the sacraments which are as golden links to join us all in a holy fellowship.” The vicar then went on to say what special services he proposed to hold, and it was arranged, by Sarah's wish, that he should give her the Holy Communion privately on the Monday, as the highest commemoration of the Whitsun festival, and the fittest introduction of the week's devotions.
Before he left her that afternoon, he noticed how the poor wan face had brightened, for her features were radiant with a holy fervour, though she was too much impressed for many words. And as he stepped out of the dreary cottage, the thought was running in his mind, “ If ever prayer of mortal wins the ear of God, the breathings of that devout soul will assuredly bring blessings on our Church."
Note.—The Ember weeks have been observed by the whole western Church for many ages; and it is difficult to find out the exact date of their institution. S. Leo affirms that they were appointed by the Apostles. There is frequent mention of the Ember-fasts in ancient councils; and finally at the council of Placentia, A.D. 1075, it was publicly agreed to fix the times by a Canon. The times thus determined are the same that we still keep in the Church of England. See Dean Comber's “Companion to the Temple, Part II.”
It was Saturday, the last of the summer Ember days, and several bands of young men were waiting to receive their divine commission, some as priests and some as deacons, in their LORD's Militant Church.
In one large town, where a bishop of the southern province was to hold an ordination, might be seen, as the shadows of evening lengthened, a tall, spare youth of fair form and noble features, strolling towards the meadows in hope of a quiet hour for silent meditation. The strain of the examinations over, he desired to give himself up to a purely spiritual preparation for the life before him.