Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

passions by the authority of God. A low and narrow theism may speak of the coming of God's Spirit as though it were arbitrary, and its going away as though it were intermittent; but these partial errors will be swallowed up in the great influence of an elevated Christian life.

But it may be asked, Is it not the essential theory of a revival, that God's Spirit comes and goes, - that its action is not constant, but intermittent? This is the common view, no doubt; but it is not essential to the revival theory. That theory assumes only this : not that God comes nearer, but that his influence is more felt at certain times than at others. Thus, in the spring the influence of the sun is more felt by the vegetable world, and a revival of nature is the consequence; but this is not because the sun has come any nearer to us than it was in the winter, but because the earth lies in a position which makes it more receptive of the solar rays. So, in a revival season, God does not come nearer, but the world has been brought into a position which makes it more receptive of the Divine influence.

Nor does the revival theory imply that men are to regard these influences as the whole of Christianity, or as justifying the absence of practical obedience. The revival of nature in the spring does not usually lead the farmer to suppose that his whole work is done. On the contrary, it leads him to work harder than at any other time: he must plough, dig, and plant. When health revives, men use it by working; when business revives, men become more active. In a revival of letters, literary men and scholars work harder than at other seasons. It is no paradox, therefore, but accords with all analogy, when Paul says, “ Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The natural result of God's influence on the soul is, that it should set men to work for themselves.

No doubt some men lay too much stress upon a season of revivals and upon its result; and no doubt others are too much prejudiced against them. Perhaps the following apologue may illustrate the two-fold danger.

There were three gardeners whose orchards were adjacent. All cultivated fruit-trees.

Gardener A cared only for blossoms. The spring was the season in which he most delighted. As it approached, he tried to force his trees into the fullest blossom. He had hot-houses for his apples, peaches, plums, — he concentrated upon them the full force of the sun; — and he made a great show of flowers. The air was filled with the perfume, and the sight was glorious to behold. Every tree looked like a gigantic bouquet. The luxuriance was immense. But after they had bloomed, Gardener A did not care what became of them. He let the fruit be destroyed by insects, by over-production, by want of pruning, etc.; and what fruit there was, was stunted and poor, because the trees were exhausted by the profusion of blossoms.

Gardener B was disgusted with the conduct of Gardener A. His theory was, that, since fruit was the object of a fruittree, blossoms did harm rather than good. He thought it his duty to discourage blossoms, that the tree might turn its whole attention to fruit. Blossoms, he argued, exhaust the power which should be devoted to the preparation of saccharine juices. What is the use, said he, of this mere display of bright flowers ? The methods of nature are modest, quiet, reserved. Blossoming is too sudden, and therefore transient, — the result of a momentary excitement from the actinic ray of the sun. The true processes of growth are gradual. The fruit, hidden under the leaves, should ripen slowly, through long months. He therefore protected his trees from the sunlight, and kept them dark and cold, to preserve them from the epidemic blossoming excitement which prevailed among trees about the end of May.

But Gardener C differed from both his neighbors in the theory and practice of horticulture. Blossoming he regarded as a natural process of vegetation, though by no means the object and end of fruit-trees. He tried neither to force it nor to depress it, but let it come in its natural way. Devoting his attention mainly to the fruit, he yet was thankful for the flowers. He knew that the blossoms were for the fruit, not for themselves; and yet that, without blossoms, the fruit would not come.

Which of these gardeners was the wisest?

Gardener A represents the revivalist, who devotes his strength only to the transient process, the sudden crisis of religious feeling, producing conversion and the formation of a new germ of life.

Gardener B represents the opposer of revivals, who thinks them useless or worse, and who discourages all that part of religion which consists in sympathy and utterance.

Gardener C represents him who, believing that a revival of religion is a natural process, welcomes it when it comes in a natural way; but does not try to produce it by artificial means, and does not consider it as the whole or the essential part of the religious life.

J. F. c.

WHAT WAKENETH THE LONE HEART TO LOVE

AGAIN?

WHAT wakeneth the lone heart to love again? The Solitude,

“ The wide unpeopled waste,” the wilderness lone. “ Climb the steep mountain's side, by pathway rude," And listen. In that forest's ceaseless moan,

I catch a dying groan.

Go, where the pleasant branches intertwine,

And, 'wildered in their mazes dreamy, lie
Beside the running brook, beneath the vine;
List its low murmur, as it floweth by :-

I hear the loved one sigh.

Go, where the flowers deck the fragrant earth,

“ Brighter than the mine’s jewels,” colors brave; They speak a soothing language from their birth; They 'mind me of fresh flowers on a grave.

Flowers I must not have.

Go, where the ocean maketh its loud roar,

See white-winged ships, like sea-birds, meet and flee.
I see one stately ship, afar from shore,
Go down in darkness on a summer sea;

Its boat rides wearily.

Go, where the ear may catch the thundering shock

Of cataract; watch the white water's track.
A pale-robed maniac, springing from the rock,
Sending low guttural tones of laughter back, -

It seemeth all a wrack.

What wakeneth the lone heart to love again? The Multitude.

Go, where the lowly meet in chapel bare ;
With the gray-haired ones kneel on pavements rude ;
List their low voices in the heartfelt prayer; —

The lone heart loveth there.

The

Go, where the Yule-log crackles ; it is burned.

Now read the Christmas story, loud and clear ;
Gaze on the earnest faces there upturned,
Bright, happy children’s, gathered far and near.

The lone heart loveth there.
Go, where the frolic children's silvery shout

Rings out in music on the May-day clear ;
Join in the running circle, or, without,
Give thine own voice to swell the hearty cheer;-

The lone heart loveth there.

Go, where the marriage-bell peals forth its chime,

In silvery cadence, on the morning air ;
March to the merry music, keeping time,
And lend thy presence to the bridal fair ;-

The lone heart loveth there.

Go to the burial, - join the village train,

And in the humble graveyard kneel thou there.
Weep with the mourner; in another's pain
Lose thine own grief, and wrestle with despair.

The lone heart loveth there.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Sermons preached at Trinity Chapel, Brighton. By the late Rev. F. W. ROBERTSON, M.A. Second Series. From the fourth London Edition. Ticknor and Fields. — So goes on the wonderful ministry of this elect spirit. Not only does he yet speak, being dead, but he speaks with such power and acceptance as he could not have attained in the body. Never, perhaps, was there an instance where a ministry of Christ was more immediately and signally extended and deepened by the removal of the minister. Had Mr. Robertson lived on at Brighton, he would have exercised a steadily growing influence by his large, beneficent, noble life, — his generous, persuasive, holy eloquence. What he actually did shows that. More and more he would have found sure access to the hearts of rich and poor, - learned and simple alike, - and converted sinners to God. But how much slower and less glorious would the progress of that local apostleship have been, than what we have seen since he was so early lifted up from the world! Now, his parish is on two continents, in all parts of two great nations; and his quickening words are silently flying to the ends of the earth. From all sects, parties, homes, from places distant and near, from thoughtful persons of every ecclesiastical order and every doctrinal confession, from conservative and radical, we hear enthusiastic and grateful commendations of Robertson's Sermons. People read them that do not love to read sermons. Scholars admire them. Thinkers respect them. Believers are cheered by them. Rationalists praise them, not seeing that the substance of all the old theology of the Church is in them. Dogmatists approve them, (save a few who have passed from life unto death, in the

« ZurückWeiter »