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with the Water of Life, even the Holy Spirit; yet what do we yield in return?
'Largely Thou givest, gracious Lord,
He only who forgets to hoard,
Wisely Thou givest, all around
That not two roseate cups are crown'd
The material fact that in God's glorious Providence the fall of dew or rain is proportioned to the need of every plant, is of course here an allusion to the verse from the Epistle that forms the motto, and which itself seems to be an allusion by St. Peter to St. Paul's explanation to the Romans, (chap. xii. 5, 6.) and to the Corinthians, (1, chap. xii.) of the diversities' of gifts of the Holy Spirit, as adapting each individual to fulfil his different office as a member of Christ. The gift of any power, faculty, or possession, is a stewardship. Or again it is the Seed, so freely and wisely scattered by Him whom we can only resemble by following 'the more excellent way,'-more excellent, that is, than any gift in itself-for thus alone can it yield its return, namely, 'soft-handed Charity.'
Real charity-that is love to others—not mere alms doled out as tribute for one's own sake; but thoughtful, applying the bounty according to the need, as by a good steward, so as to lend eyes to the blind and feet to the lame; to warm and feed shivering bodies; to reprove the sinful, and comfort the trembling soul, pointing the way upwards, and encouraging prayer, by showing the Infinite treasury as little exhausted as when the Saviour had ascended, and was still pausing ere He sent 'His gifts to men.'
The ten days of expectation are here again dwelt on, as a time of patient confiding marvel Who should come to do more than compensate to 'souls that mourn for their Master'-'comfortless,' as our translation has it-orphans, as it stands in the original Latin. The everlasting doors are represented as standing open to receive prayer and praise, the pure incense offered before the Throne, where stands the Healer of all wrongs, the Great High Priest and Intercessor, bearing His golden censer, and offering hearts from every land, united with His own by love; while around Him wait the multitude of blessings that would descend to man with the Holy Spirit.
He maketh some apostles, some prophets, some teachers, some evangelists; each receives the gift in his degree. And so have we received a gift; and what have we to do but to 'give what He gave,'
and use our power, be it what it may, for His glory, and man's salvation.
"The upper room furnished,' the guest-chamber in one of the houses on Mount Sion, was always a special home of the poet's thoughts; and even some of his last wandering words referred to it, so dear was it to him as the first Christian Church, the place of the first Eucharist, of the first Consecration, and above all of the Coming of the Holy Ghost. And, taking the fifty days as the type of our constant waiting for the coming of our Lord, he asks in the Lyra, 'Where are the homes of Paschal mirth?' where may be found the joy that no man taketh from us? He answers that we know of two resorts of the saints, the Temple and the upper room, where the Apostles, with the blessed Virgin, and the holy women, were constantly found.
In like manner, our time of watching is spent in His House and at home. In His House, by the Communion of Saints we have that same presence of His mother and His saints; and at our homes, He too, with the great cloud of witnesses, is watching to hear our prayer:
'Avaunt, ill thoughts and thoughts of folly! Where Christened infants sport, the floor is holy; Holier the station where they bow,
Adoring Him with hallowed vow
Till He with ampler grace their souls endow.'
For childhood, ere Confirmation, may be viewed as an Expectation week.
THE foundation of this day's poem is the fact that the Jews considered that the Day of Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, commemorated the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, which took place in the third month' after the Exodus, which, according to the Scripture reckoning, would have begun within fifty days. Thus, according to this computation, it was on the anniversary of the day that the Commandments were spoken from the cloud on Mount Sinai, certainly on that which was observed as such, that the Holy Spirit descended on the Church. On the day the Law was given, He came Who alone could enable it to be kept.
The poem then is a comparison of the two occasions. The terrible manifestations on Mount Sinai, are set alongside of the gentle mildness of the coming of the Comforter. The language of the contrast is so simple and plain that any paraphrase of it would be useless, and all that we would here remark is, that the line,
'A day of wrath and not of grace,'
is an improvement on the older editions, which ran—
'Convinced of sin, but not of grace.'
The contrast ends by a lamentation that the sound of the rushing mighty wind, the universal Voice and Breath of the Holy Spirit, should be so often quenched in our hearts by the giddy whirl of sin-and by an invocation to Him to come to us, and 'save by love or fear.'
The later Whitsunday poem, we must own, seems less spontaneous than usual. The two first verses are fine-dwelling on the oneness of the gift, and its manifold demonstrations; and then it is added, that all classes of persons have their representatives, as it were, in those who were then present, all except young children.
'Naught we read of that sweet age Which in His strong embrace He took, And sealed it safe by word and look.'
Yet the venerator of childhood adds that, since the mother of our Lord was present,
'How in Christ's Anthem fails the children's part,
When Mary bears Him throned in her maternal heart.'
It is, we fear, a little strained; and the feeling can scarcely be understood by those who cannot appreciate the poet's yearning for blessings upon the innocents he loved so well, with almost a mother's desire to feel that they share in everything precious. He proceeds, however, to their real claim-that Pentecostal discourse in which
'Blest Peter shows the key of heaven,
And speaks the grace to infants given;
"Yours is the Promise, and your babes', and all
Whom from all lands afar the Lord our God shall call."'
THE symbolism of ecclesiastical architecture supplies the framework of the appropriate threefold verse of this day. So little was the subject thought of in 1829, that one cannot but wonder whether the comparison were suggested by study of old authorities, or whether it was the natural impression produced by a Catholic building on a Catholic mind.
The analogy then is that the cathedral is a representation of the entire Church-the Lord's House. The sanctuary, with the altar, the priest and the choir enclosed within it, continues the type set forth by the Holy Place of old, and represents as it were Heaven itself, where is the Divine Presence, and the Church invisible; while the outer portion, the nave, is analogous to the visible Church. Thus, on this Sunday of contemplation of the great mystery of the Holy Trinity in Unity, we are represented as waiting before the choir door, unable to see within, but listening to the celestial songs that are caught up and echoed all around us; and as the three aisles all forming one nave lead to the one inner shrine, so do the
three special works of the Blessed Trinity, Creation, Redemption, Sanctification, all lead us to the Holy of Holies and the Mercy Seat.
And like the calm within a cathedral, while the din of traffic sounds in the street without, is the rest and peace of 'being hid privily in the Tabernacle from the provoking of all men ;' 'the peace and pleasure of being in favour with God,' as Bishop Wilson calls it, while the world rushes its own way without.
Then comes the question, Why will not the world pause to attend to the music of the Church and her gentle invitations? Alas! the answer must be that selfishness, the moving spirit of the world, is exactly that to which the calls of the Church must needs be most distasteful. Insubordination to parents, or to authority,* cannot brook the practical thought of an allseeing, ever-present Almighty Father. Envious brethren cannot enter into love of the Great Elder Brother on the Eternal Throne. Sullen bitterness of spirit is especially alien to the whisperings of the Comforter, the Holy Dove. And so the poem ends as it began, with an invocation to the Holy Trinity. At the opening, it was an entreaty for grace to praise and to contemplate that vast ocean of Infinity, the Nature of the Godhead; at the close, it is a prayer to be guarded and kept close to our 'Creator, Saviour, strengthening Guide.'
I have not tried to explain the fifth and sixth verses, because I do not think I understand the effect they refer to: unless it means that the traveller in a wood on a hill-side, though for the most part seeing nothing but arches and tangles of branches, and grey mist, sometimes sees, through the vistas and openings in the mist, lovely gleams of sunshine and shade in the open country beyond; so we-going on too often in a blind confused way from Sunday to Sunday, service to service-now and then have liftings in the cloud, and discern more clearly what it all means, while some spiritual light brightens our soul-and, taking up the cathedral comparison, we find ourselves 'pausing before the choir,' brought close upon the divine mystery of Trinity Sunday.
The Lyre of Innocence' could not fail to have the Words of Baptism for this day, as for its own starting point
'Once in His Name Who made thee,
And therewith follow the solemn occasions when through life that Name should ever be named, as our shield, our praise, our glory, our hope-at morning, at evening-in resolving, in resisting, in life, in death; until we 'learn with Angels to proclaim It.'
* American Christianity (?) has absolutely pronounced 'Oriental forms of devotion not suited to free and enlightened citizens!'
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE Lessons for Sundays have brought us to what may be called the second great type of the individual Christian life, in the dealings of God with Israel. The first, as we all know, was the forty years in the wilderness. This is not specially dwelt on in the poems on the Sundays of Easter-tide, except in the Song of the Manna Gatherers; but it has its full turn when, on the eighteenth Sunday, 'the Church in the Wilderness' dwells upon Ezekiel's grand retrospect of the rebellions of Israel. In that series of types, the Land of Promise stands, of course, for Heaven, and the waters of Jordan for the dark river of death.
But, in fact,
Is not heavenly mercy's best;'
and the Land of Promise has another analogy. Our own condition in the Kingdom of Heaven answers exactly to that of Israel in Canaan; having entered through the waters, led by the true Joshua, and with our enemies so far subdued that we can keep them under, if only we will not parley with them and let them become snares and thorns to us.
So it is that the two first verses are spoken as it were in the character of an Israelite, looking about on the newly won country, full of the traces of defeat and slaughter. What a vivid presentation they are of the aspect of what travellers have told us is 'emphatically a land of ruins,’— huge ruins on every hill top-so massive, that assuredly no freshly grown 'household vine or fig tree' could have veiled them, in the earlier years of their occupation by the Israelites.
Therewith we pass on to the Christian's disappointment in not finding all the peacefulness, happiness, and assurance, he has been led to expect in religion. He knows he is dwelling under the fulfilment of the promises so long held out to the believers of old. The great work of mercy is complete. As the commemorations in the Offices of the Church have shown us, each Holy Person of the Godhead has done His own office, or rather is doing it; and the threefold crown of mercy is held out to us, through our Lord Himself.
All we have to do is to hold our own. But, alas! just as Israel looked round on ruins, so our outer life is necessarily one of decline and sadnesssomething falls or fades from us every year, and
'The man seems following still the funeral of the boy.'
The spiritual life ought to be all joy; but it is so much entangled with the temporal life, as to be often dimmed and shadowed by these outward grievances, and oppressed by the contemplation of the lost delights of earlier years. Therefore we close with the prayer that our eyes may be opened to a true sense of our privileges, and that we may veritably feel ourselves in the land of salvation, and within the Kingdom of Heaven, so