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The writer returns cordial thanks to the publishers and authors of copyrighted poems, who have kindly permitted their use. A few which have been gathered as waifs, are necessarily used without special authority. Particular acknowledgments are due to Messrs. Roberts Brothers, Randolph & Co., Ticknor & Co., Robert Carter, James Miller, Charles H. Adams, Appleton & Co., and more especially to Charles Scribner's Sons, for extracts from Dr. J. G. Holland's “Bitter-Sweet," and to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., for quotations from Longfellow, Emerson, Whit ier, Holmes, Stedman, Miss Phelps, Mrs. Whitney, Phæbe and Alice Cary, and many others, all of whom, by their courtesy, have greatly aided the writer, to the use of voices old and new, in this collection of songs.
H. H. S. T.
It is the dark mysteries of life which try our faith. But there are no absolute mysteries in the world. Mysteries are such only in their relation to our ignorance. To God they are as open as the light. Since he understands them they are explicable. We do not need to know the explanation ; to know that there is one is enough. “Thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." There is much that we do not understand now, but a Christian does not need to understand. He can trust where he cannot
Those who trust God only so far as they can see, do not trust him at all. Faith, like the nightblooming cereus, flowers in darkness. Night reveals ten thousand suns, the day but one. And I imagine that earth is as much more beautiful to heaven by night as heaven is to earth. When the darkness of war or pestilence or some other great calamity settles down on men, the angels count new stars in earth.
“Songs in the night” are inspired by faith in God. We must believe that God is good, and if all good and almighty, surely he will bring good out of
evil. It is the mistake both of a coarse animalism and of a refined sensuality, of barbarism and of a voluptuous civilization, to esteem pain the greatest evil and pleasure the highest good. But in God's estimate they are of small account compared with character, which is essentially precious. Its value is not relative but absolute. Its glory is divine and priceless. Too great a price in needful suffering, therefore, cannot be paid for it. Pain is not, like sin, essential evil. It may be made the means of immeasurable good, and hence its infliction is quite consistent with infinite goodness and infinite tenderness. Indeed, in perfecting character, sorrow seems to be essential to its highest exaltation and beauty"perfect through suffering."
Sorrow is calculated to lead us into a close and peculiar fellowship with God. As it is our highest honor that we are capable of entering into such fellowship, so our highest blessedness is realized in its experience. Fenelon said, “He who has God has all things, and he who is without God has nothing." God would fain give us all things by giving us himself. He would have us share his blessedness by making us partakers of his likeness. The great object of our creation and of all our discipline is to lift us up into this high fellowship with God.
Now sorrow often drives us to him. When prosperous and successful, when our affections are satisfied and our will is executed, we feel sufficient unto ourselves. But when earthly props fall away, when
bereavement comes and we wake every morning to a fresh sorrow, when we stagger under some great heart burden, then, learning our own weakness and the insufficiency of every earthly stay, we are, as it were, driven to God. We pour out our soul to him so constantly that we form a habit of communion, and have such a consciousness of his presence, such a sense of exaltation in his fellowship that we find a blessedness greater than our
Then we understand that thought of Carlyle's, that man can forego happiness if he wins blessedness.
David says, “ Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” In human experience, as in the psalm, God's staff accompanies his rod. And David says, “ They comfort me.” It is possible to get comfort even from the rod. Again the psalmist says, " Before I was afflicted I went astray ; but now have I kept thy word.” When he sees the fruit which his sorrow has borne, he can exclaim, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” Will not sufficient faith in God's love and in his power to bring good out of evil enable us to say, “ It is good for me that I am afflicted ?” Then with Paul we “glory in tribulations,” and there rises a song in the night, though the feet be fast in the stocks.
This great and precious truth-the issue of good out of evil or seeming evil-finds its most perfect illustration in the cross of Christ, the central fact of the Bible and of all history. It is very difficult for us to disassociate the cross from the meaning which has