Billeder på siden

the Garden! To the cruel scourging and the mocking of the Judgmenthall! To the awful suffering and shame of Calvary! This love, that gave the Well-beloved for our sakes, takes our hand to-day, and leads us on our way. This Lord, Who hath laid down His life for us, careth for the land whither we go, and His eyes are always upon it.

They were to remember, too, What He did unto them in the wilderness until they came into this place. They were to recall how He led them in that pathless desert. How when

about them there was nothing but sandy wastes and barren rocks, He fed them with manna; and the water flowed unfailing by their side. So let us call to mind the goodness of our God. Each of us has a book whose pages none but himself can read. Turn over this record of God's providential dealings with us, page after page. Is it not written within and without with love? What gentleness has led us all along our way? What goodness and mercy have followed us? The streams of His abundant mercy have run deep and full, touched by no drought; never knowing any shallow places. What blessed deliverance He wrought for us when our gloomy fear saw no possibility of help. Or when the storm came, such refuge was there in our Master's Presence; when the sorrow hurt, so much more strength and comfort than we dared expect. Ah, how His own gentle hand healed the heart's sorrows, and took away the sharpness from the pain! Call to mind these gracious acts of the Lord which He hath done. Are we not constrained to bless God for every step of the way in which He hath led us? Never for one moment have we been uncared for; never once forgotten in all that past. Through the wilderness He hath led us. In the desert He hath fed us. In the noontide heat Himself was our shade; and

the gloomy night glowed with the pillar of His Presence. He hath delivered us out of the hand of our enemies, that we might serve Him without fear. And now for this new way the Lord our God is with us still. The same mighty Hand leadeth. The same unerring Counsel guideth. The same abiding Love attendeth every step. The land, whither ye go to possess it, a land that the Lord thy God careth for the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.'

They were to remember the chastisements of the Lord. They were reminded of what He did unto Dathan and Abiram; that they might keep all the commandments, and that they might be strong. So need we stand and look back. In the way by which we have come there lies something more than the story of God's unceasing goodness-there is the record of our sin. On His part it is all wise guidance, tender mercy, mighty deliverance, bountiful provision. On our part is black ingratitude, shameful distrust, old failings vigorous still, new virtues so slow of growth. Strong for ourselves, and swift for a present gain; but, alas! so weak for God, so indolent for the eternal blessedness. Let us call to mind the chastisements of the Lord. O, how little Israel knew of the dreadfulness of sin compared with that which we know of it! By terrible things in righteousness' hast thou answered, 'O God of our salvation!' Again, my brother, let us go forth into the solitude of the mountain-top. Climb up to Calvary, and look again upon the Crucified. Stay all the thoughts about the cross, and dwell upon it till something of its infinite meaning sink down into the heart' He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.'

That is what our sin has done. Shall we go down into this new land barbouring the rebels that have slain our loving Lord! Before us stretches another year, lit up with a thousand precious promises. Shall the gracious Lord go with us, still to be so grieved, and so forgotten? Let us dwell upon these things till we learn to fear. And in the almighty and forgiving Lord, let us find help to keep all the commandments of our God, and to be strong.

to get away home to their Father's House. Alas! that so many, like Israel, are so slow to learn the lesson, and so we spend our lifetime in the desert instead of in the goodly land flowing with milk and honey. See, then, where the Lord would have us live the year in a land that the Lord thy God careth for the eyes of the Lord are always upon it. It-not only thee; it is that, and more. Here is just the touch that completes the care, making it beautifully tender. So dear is Israel, that the very dust which Israel treads is sacred. Not upon the child only are those watchful eyes ever set, but upon all that touches and surrounds and in any way concerns the child. The eyes of

the Lord. What a boldness and force there is in the figure! The Lord thinketh upon the poor and needy;

but there is much more than that. The Lord heareth them that cry unto Him; but this is much more. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him. But that is far behind the blessedness of this assurance. So dear is the land where His people dwell, that the eyes of the Lord are always upon it, 'from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.'

Look at the land in which God would have us to live. Egypt is the type of the world-the world that knows not God. Its language is : Who is the Lord that I should serve Him? I know Him not. That is the language of Pharaoh ; and of the Prince of this world. Egypt is the land where they looked downward for their supply. They sowed their seed and watered it with their foot. The tread-wheel carried the water of the Nile along the sluices to the garden. Israel must come out of this land of bondage' into 'a goodly land,' where they looked up for their supply-up unto the hills, whence cometh our help. The land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys that drinketh water of the rain of Heaven.' The wilderness between the two was the school where the people were to learn the first lessons of this dependence upon God. That they might know Who gives the daily bread, they are led up into a desert land where it could only come right down from Heaven. That they might know that He giveth rain, they dwell in the desert where no water is. That they may know that He is the Almighty, Whose is the kingdom and the power and the glory, they are made to stand still and see the defiant Egyptians overthrown without a sword being drawn, or a spear lifted. But the wilderness is never to be the home of God's children. It is only the school. The lessons over, they are Fear is an outlaw to be seized in the

Those who seek to tempt the emigrant to foreign shores have sometimes given glowing descriptions of their far-off lands-a climate where disease is the only thing that does not flourish; where Spring and Autumn have joined hands and thrust out the extremes of Summer and Winter. But who can find a land where worry has no foothold? Who knows a country where old croaking Care can't build his nest ? Who can tell where fear does not haunt men? My brother, this is the very land in which the Lord would have us to dwell. Here care is killed-the Lord careth for it.

King's name for the eyes of the Lord

Here is safe and every one of us. for the children

are always upon it. blessed keeping for For soul and body; and the business; for the home and the office. The eyes of the Lord are always upon it. He careth for all the land where His child dwelleth-its rulers and its commerce, and its harvests and the ten thousand things that make up its condition. Come, my brother, have we not stayed long enough in the wilderness, fretting, fearing, perhaps even grumbling? In the name of our delivering Lord arise and enter into the goodly land where God's Presence encircles all. O do not be afraid of believing too much in His love; of trusting too much in His power; of relying too surely upon His Wisdom. But be afraid, ever afraid, of grieving the Heavenly Father, and injuring thyself with the burdens and confusions of unbelief. Rest in the Lord. Believe in His Power. Abandon thyself with a great, glad confidence to His Will. This is no Reserve Fund of Power and Wisdom, which avails us nothing until our poor resources are spent. Here is every attribute put forth for our blessing. Here are all influences controlled in relation to us. Here is the tenderest, deepest, truest love bending over us, interested in all our affairs, eager to help and guide and bless. 'A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the

year even unto the end of the year.' Learn, lastly, that the Land whither ye go is a Land of Hills and Valleys. This new year, like all years, will be a year of ups and downs. That is all we know of it. God will not lead us along a dead level: Hills— steep places, difficult ways; climbing that may test the strength and courage; and Valleys-quiet and sheltered places, where He leadeth beside the still waters.

And here learn a lesson in physical geography. There is a very sweet little sermon in this text: Hills and Valleys. Stand and look forth upon the pleasant landscape. The valley with the happy music of the brook; the flowered banks; the bending trees that hang their leafy branches down to kiss the stream. Then, the meadows where the cattle stand in the rich pasture; and then, the gentle slopes on which the flocks wander. Above, the steep hill rises, where the cottage stands screened by the woods; and up to where the fir-trees grow, and beyond them the hard ridge-line seems close against the deep blue of the sky. What makes the beauty? The two-hill and valley. If there had been no hill, there had been no valley. If there had been no valley, there had been no hill. So is it in the land which ye go to possess it: the hills so hard to climb, over which you sigh, and wonder why they are sent, come to make for us the glad and fruitful valleys. If life were all' one dead level, pleasure would grow wearisome; the dull sameness of life would oppress us. We need the hills and valleys. The steep and bracing climb gives us the view that we could never have seen but for that. little discomforts and troubles of life keep up the freshness of life's pleasant things. Only he who has tasted of the bitter sorrow for sin can taste and see how gracious the Lord is. The beauty of the goodly country is in its hills. The pleasure and blessedness of life is more dependent than we can ever know upon its little annoyances and vexations, if we will but turn them to the right account. The land whither thou goest is a land of hills and valleys.


Look again. The hills drink in the rain of Heaven and make the valleys fruitful. The desert is a desert because no hills rise up to heaven to touch the clouds and bring

down blessings on the thirsty land below. And so with us. It is the hill Difficulty that fetches down the help from on high. It is the steep, bleak, lonely trial of our life-grief, or fear, or sore need that stretches upward to the cloud, and so brings down the river the streams whereof make glad the city of God. The hills with steep, stony ranges. 'the dreary, dreary moorland,' that we grumble at, and wish it had been otherwisethese bring down the showers, drinking in the rain of Heaven, that make the valleys happy. Give thanks for life's ups and downs, its hills and valleys.

[ocr errors]

And yet another lesson. The hills give to the valleys their fruitfulness and beauty by protecting them. They rise up and shut back bleak winds and furious storms. Then in the sunny shelter the pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn. So in the land whither we go to possess it. How the soul had been blighted, withered, dead, if no hungry hill had risen for its shelter. How many have perished in the wilderness, buried in its golden sands, who would have lived and thriven in the broken and sheltered hill country! We cannot tell what sorrow, and pain, and loss, and trials are doing. We know only this side. We don't see what storms, and what

swarms of foes they shut out. Do not wish the hills away, much less grumble at them. Trust only. Many a fruitful soul would have been nipped by the frost, blighted by the winds, swept bare of blossom and leaf, but for the hill. And yet he thought it an evil thing, and wondered at it so hindering intercourse, and such a barrier to his 'getting on'! Yes, give thanks again for life's ups and downs.

And the hills have a further purpose. Not for beauty, nor for rain, nor for shelter only-they, too, are for fruit. The valleys were for corn. The hills were for the vine. The terraced slopes were mantled with green leaves and hung with luscious fruit. And further up the hill-side there was the silver-grey of the rich olive. Thank God for the valleys. Sheltered places, with their golden plenty and the laughing joys-there we are bound to grow the fruits of loving gratitude, and hearty praise, and generous helpfulness to others. Thank God, too, for the hills-difficulties, vexations, sorrows, troubles. These are that we may yield more fruit: the rich fruit of Patience; the charity that thrives best in a poor soil and away up nearest Heaven; brave trust and high endurance that are plucked from the brow of the hill.


THIRTY years ago the remains of good
Bishop Stanley were buried in Nor-
wich Cathedral, 'amidst the mourning
of the diocese which he had animated,
the city which he had served, the
poor whom he had visited, the schools
which he had fostered, the family
which he had loved, and of all Chris-
tian people with whom, howsoever
divided, he had joined in whatsoever

things were true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely, and of good report.' Shortly afterwards there appeared a volume of the Bishop's Charges and Sermons, to which was prefixed a brief Memoir of his life— too brief for those who felt that Edward Stanley was no ordinary man; ample enough, however, to bear witness to the fidelity of the epitaph

* Memoir of Edward and Catherine Stanley. By the Dean of Westminster. London: John Murray.

which a loving, and, as we suspect, a filial hand had inscribed upon his grave. Fresh interest was added to the Bishop's personal and family history by the brilliant career of his second son, the accomplished Dean of Westminster, as well as by the untimely death of his eldest and his youngest son, both of whom died in the service of their country and at the post of duty, after having won a distinction not often achieved in a course so brief. The publication of the Memorials of a Quiet Life still further enhanced the interest of the Stanley family; for the elder sister of her whose life-portrait is so beautifully drawn in Mr. Augustus J. C. Hare's fascinating volumes, was Catherine Stanley, the Bishop's wife, to whose 'firm faith, calm wisdom and tender sympathy' the tablet erected to her memory in the Church of which her husband was the Rector for thirty-two years, bears loving testi


When it was announced that the Dean of Westminster had committed to the press a memorial volume, of which EDWARD and CATHERINE STANLEY were the subjects, the publication was anticipated with eager and widespread interest; for it was assumed that such a volume would furnish a more comprehensive record of the honoured dead, while it shed light on the formation of the character and principles of its distinguished editor. Such anticipations will scarcely be realized by the book itself. That portion of it which is devoted to the life of the Bishop is simply a reproduction of the Memoir which was prefixed to the Charges and Sermons thirty years ago, with such revisions and additions as the lapse of time has rendered necessary.' The second half of the volume comprises extracts from the journals and letters of Catherine Stanley, having no special biographical interest, but regarded by the editor as worth preserving, 'not only

[ocr errors]

as the genuine reflection of herself, but also as products of a culture such as in a simple country life the first years of this century could furnish.'

Whatever disappointment may be caused by the fragmentary nature of these Memoirs, there can be but one opinion as to the timeliness of their publication. The religious public, with the exception, perhaps, of that section of it against which almost every act and principle of the Bishop's life is a protest, will sympathize with the editor's conviction, 'that there are special reasons why, among the multiplying contributions to the ecclesiastical history of our time, the phase of spiritual life represented in these pages deserves to have a place.' And among those with whom the love of the truth is superior to prejudice and partisanship, the manly courage of the Dean in avowing thus publicly his sympathy with principles which he was proud to illustrate thirty years ago, a sympathy which the lengthening and deepening shadows of life' have not modified,—will be hailed as no mean addition to the many virtues which have won for him a well-earned reputation in the circles of religious life and thought.

In the very valuable Preface, in which Dean Stanley affirms many of his own views as to the religious life of the nineteenth century, he boldly challenges the theory so strongly maintained in some quarters, 'that what is called the revival of religious life in England, or at least in the Church of England, dates from the Oxford movement in 1834.' Without characterizing that movement formally, though freely criticising some of its more objectionable phases, he does not hesitate to affirm that the better elements of its moral and intellectual character were in large measure engendered and coloured by tendencies which for many years had been at work in English society." There was, for instance, 'the deeper

« ForrigeFortsæt »