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The maiden meek, in robe and veil,
Shall mimic bridal gear,
All thoughtless they, to thoughtful eyes
Love tokens high present;
The mail in Baptism lent.
Yes, fearless may he lift the brow
Who bears—unstained and brigbt-
Radiant may be her glance of mirth,
Who wears her chrisom vest-
It wrapt her tender breast.
O if so fair the first dim ray
In Jesus' morn of Grace,
On our triumphant race!'
And here—the semblance proud of warrior mail, cannot but lead to the exhortation to the young soldier, to don that whole armour of God,' which St. Paul thrice records, and twice describes in loving detailso poetic in its terseness and earnestness, that poetry often lags after it in vain. Bishop Heber's magnificent song of victory is perhaps the noblest of all those founded on it-partly from the grandeur with which he sweeps along, without pausing to dwell on each weapon
“Gods of the world! ye warrior host
Of darkness and of air,
In vain the tempter's snare;
Though mortal nerve and bone
Undaunted though alone.
'Tis past ! 'tis o'er! In foul defeat
The demon host are fled;
Their conqueror bends his head:
I lay before Thy Throne;
How was I then alone ?"
Professor Añstice has treated the subject in prayer, his best verse his last
God's and the Virgin's Son,
With us in battle be!
Death, Thy last enemy.'
• This is thine armour, bathed in heaven;
Keep thou by prayer and fast
All shall be thine at last.'
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, I HAVE seen this poem criticized for want of reality in the description of the ideal mountain boy. The literal fact that human intercourse does train the mind better than mere nature, even in its grandest aspects, has been quoted against it; and it may be granted, that many 'a mountain boy' is utterly heedless of the glories around him, and never gazes into the 'azure deep on high,' or 'the darksome mere below,' with any contemplative view ; nay, that he would more readily greet a stranger with a stone than a word of courtesy.
Yet, surely, the lad-granting him holy training, and a meditative soul—is probable enough for the beauty of the verses, that describe his lonely life in the pure atmosphere; and too often, the effect of going out into the world would be, that
Of his narrowing heart each year,
Heaven less and less will fill;
The tones of mercy thrill.' And therefore it is that the lesson of forgiveness is so hard. The heart that had only listened to the Voice of God, would perceive the infinite frivolity and nothingness of the offences against ourselves, that we feel and resent so vividly, that we are conscious of nothing else. The only way to rate them aright is, to compare them with our own offences against our Lord and Master. And the only way to understand the meanness and littleness of our unwillingness to forgive, is to think of the cost of our own hopes of Pardon.
• When thou hast told those isles of light,
And fancied all beyond,
Creation's wondrous bond;
Sweet mercy's praise to see,
The bliss of pardoning thee!'
“Seventy Times Seven,' serves as the link between this Sunday and the verses called “Unwearied Love,' which begins with an expostulation with that temper that now and then is to be found, which counts the cost overmuch, and shrinks back from making good resolutions from a strange misplaced conscientiousness, which will not raise its standard for fear of wearying and being fickle.
* Rise in His Name, throw wide the door,
Let the good Angels in!'
is the call to such an one. And the argument is, that Love is never tired of reiteration. The mother is not weary of the care of her infant; it is not even a pleasure to her to be quit of its apparent importunities for a short time; and thus, in proportion as our love to God increases, we shall find perseverance in devotion become not tedious but delightful. While, on the other hand, God is the inexhaustible Fountain of that love which the mother shews, He is never to be wearied by our supplications for pardon and grace from His inexhaustible treasury. He has patience that cannot be worn out by repeated repentances—if they be repentances. The just man falleth seven times a day, and riseth again—that is, if his heart be just, i. e. in earnest. God is infinitely patient, and may we not well be the same when our brother has erred ?
The very opportunity of forgiving is a benefit to us, by enabling us to fulfil the conditions of our own pardon ; but those who will not pardon their brother have 'No Saviour and no Friend.'
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
This is one of the most noted-one of the earliest favourites in the Christian Year, beginning, as it does, with somewhat of the cadence of Gray's Elegy, to which it has always seemed to me an antidote. The Elegy begins and ends with the grave. “Forest Leaves in Autumn' looks beyond it.
The November evening is as perfectly described as the October morning; and the leaves that a fortnight ago hung faded on their trees, are now floating silently down, one by one, like the lives that drop away from us. They fall to remain forgotten; no spring will revive them, and when sun and shower renew everything to life, their decay will only become more complete. Yet they are pure and innocent; while man, the very cause of their being subject to vanity,' has hope far beyondand yet he murmurs.
Nay, he might murmur less unreasonably, if his second life were only such as human imaginations have framed it—the listless shadowy Elysium, the rude Valhall of warfare and banquet, the Mahometan paradise of “bright maidens and unfading vines'-a mere continuation of this world. For if this earth were everything, it would be very dreary, and its very best things—affection and generosity-shine out in the universal gloom only like spangles on a funeral pall. It needs the gleams from beyond to render it bliss. For instance, how heavy, dull, and slow, are our movements; how inferior to the freedom and swiftness of bird, fish, or meteor; yet, when our chain is broken, we shall soar 'as fast and free as our transfigured Lord,' with lightning form and snowy vest-rising in His glorious track: but though our redemption be purchased, yet that full freedom and glory cannot be ours, till we have been purified and refined by the furnace of this world's trials ; so that our body may be in subjection to the spirit, and brought into obedience to the dictates of the mounting soul. When the stormy heart is thus under the control of the higher and better will, then freedom is near.
A stern grave poem ensues in the Lyra, its motto from the dread judgment upon the children of Bethel who mocked Elisha.
• The powers of ill have mysteries of their own,
Their sacramental signs and prayers,'
it begins. They have tokens, like a deadly parody of those of Christ. We know that this is, even outwardly, the case with the Buddhists, and that it was so with our own Northern ancestors; and in the spiritual inward world these tokens prevail. Certain signs of character, certain gestures and habits, denoting habitual carelessness and irreverence, are absolute invitations to temptation ; and lead to others which become Satan's initiation to his victims, and his mark on them.
And as men in time of war learn by the smallest indication to distinguish between friend and foe, so the powers of the unseen world can, by slight indications, discern whether we are of those for or against Christ. Lawless wishes, bold looks, absolutely invite evil spirits; and the proud haughty brow is an indication to Satan to attack-Satan, whose onset a saint could only expect to resist by the most earnest prayer and watchfulness.
So sullen disregard of the friendly pleading glance of the elder friend is one of these evil signs. No doubt the pastor poet was thinking of what often grieved and pained him—the rude, loutish, sulky discourtesy of the village lad, bent on manifesting independence and contempt for authority. Those used to the freer manners of towns, will smile at this being treated as a matter for serious sorrow and reflection; but in a village of old feudal habits, where the children are trained to respect, the rude and marked omission of the customary salute is a sure token of deterioration, soon leading into the godless coarseness and vice of a rustic youth. Mr. Keble always endeavoured to check such beginnings; he would touch his hat himself, and thus co pel a return; or he would kindly inquire after the lad's eyes, as if taking it for granted that want of sight could alone cause the parson to be passed by unheeded. For, as he here shews, he regarded such assertions of equality to be the training of 'hearts that by-and-by against the Church shall rise.' And thence he turns to the thought of those far away from his peaceful village, who manifest the same spirit of contempt of the Church as he was trying to check in his boys. He prays—in the fiery zeal of his heart—that the eyes of those who criticize and irreverently discuss Christ's sacred mysteries, may be opened to see that they are doing Satan's work, when they are
· Making' Thy 'rites a revel and a show,
Where the rude world may come and go,
Which bow not at Thine awful Name;
Winning the world-enamoured sight,
To turn and see which way the healing radiance came.' So may our land, though late, unlearn her unwillingness to believe in Sacraments, and submit her reason ;
· And in the Gifts, sweet as from Aaron's urn,
And in the pure white robe, discern
Signs lingering faint and few ere the last Saint depart.' It is a fervent entreaty that we may learn to believe and reverence the Presence that is among us, and value its tokens. May such reverence be impressed on the young, so that they may not be as those children of Bethel who reviled God's prophet.
What must it not have been to any mother among them, who had bred up her child in the ways of scorn, that met with such a doom? How she may have wandered, in her lonely despair, by the wood side whence the avenging bears came forth; but, in the mean time, Elisha has gone on to Mount Carmel, to pray for those on whom it was of late his duty to pronounce the doom, that vindicated God's glory in His minister. He is the patron of Bethel now, interceding that the desolate homes may be turned to God by His awful judgement.
And our Elisha ? Our Lord. His very Name the same-God our Salvation. Is not He in the Mount, praying ever for those even who outrage Him, and sending showers from the dews of His Intercession ! And those showers are thankfully acknowledged. It is they that make the parched blasts of this world's air endurable by the faithful labourer, forced to toil therein, and save the dews of baptismal grace from being scorched up. “Their influence is recognized in the consoling parting picture of the homely village greetings, full of loving respect—the smile and curtsey passing along the little throng
Like forest blue-bells in a row,' whilst here and there is a kind reminder from an elder child, to one whose obeisance may have been forgot. And the whole inspires the thought that
in each round