Page images

much or more than it instructs or exalts it. The spectator, especially if he be a reflective one, of a gorgeous pageant, however much he may be delighted at the time, sometimes, after the spectacle has been passed and gone, will reflect upon it with a sort of languid contempt, which shows how fleeting is its nature, and how partial is its power; and the more he renews his acquaintance with such scenes, the more will his dissatisfaction with them increase, the more surfeited will he become with their gaudy blazonry, the deeper will be the mental nausea which they bring upon his thoughts.

But even the transient visions which an excited Fancy will sometimes shew to us of the sublimer glories of the Majesty of Heaven, prove to us the difference between earthly and heavenly splendour. These visions, however wide they may fall of the lofty reality to which they tend, never grow dull or tarnished, never lose their hold upon us; and when we dismiss them from our minds, we do so with the conviction that we have seen but a tithe of the treasury of glories which surround the King of Kings—that we have caught, at best, but a sidelong glance at the brightness of His presence.

Fancy some young and ardent spirit rising from the perusal and meditation of the sublime words of the text, and wandering out upon a clear bright summer's evening, with them still ringing in his ears and echoing in his soul. He passes in his ramble, by the entrance of a vast and venerable cathedral, he walks close under the looming shadow of its richly-sculptured towers, and, musing still, he turns back, lifts the latch of the low door, and passes in. He paces up and down the marble pavement beneath the arched and well-decked roof; now he threads his way in and out of the gnarled and cloistered pillars which form a stately vista of choice architecture down the majestic aisle ; at length he enters the chancel, and seats himself thoughtfully in some monastic niche carved by a cunning workman, whose bones have mouldered, and whose clever fingers have formed food for the grave-worm centuries and centuries ago. Still the student sits quietly and fixedly gazing on the rich-stained window, thick inlaid with many-coloured glass. It has a figure of the Saviour

ascending up into Heaven : the two disciples are gazing after him with wondering eyes—but still he keeps his eyes directed upwards, and his hand, pierced by a rankling nail, points to the opening skies to which he soars; and, up above the head, a descending dove pours down a stream of radiance, which forms a flood of glory round the Saviour's brow. The face is heavenly calm, and though it is but in a picture, it is mirrored on the musing gazer's soul, who still sits looking fixedly upon it. At length, the slanting beams of the brightly-setting sun dart full through the coloured window, and just as they settle on the upturned face of the ascending figure of the pictured Christ, and make the painted glory stream with a really living brightness, the solemn tones of the organ come rolling and vibrating along the concave roof, in a slow and measured strain, and, as the student turns his head, he sees a fair form, robed in white, playing a grand Te Deum. The colours of the window, kissed by the setting orb, are reflected round her head, which seems angelic as it glows, as if with raiubow hues; the light settles and plays around her form, girdling her waist as with a zone, and clinging round her brow as though she had borrowed the glory of her rising Lord. It was but a phantasy-he was still upon this simple earth—he was only in an old cathedral; but what wonder, if the student, as he left the church, and heard the maiden playing “I know that my Redeemer liveth,”—what wonder that he, reverting to the visions of his reverie, should be overheard to say, “I have seen the King in His beauty.”

Follow, with your thoughts, the traveller, as he visits the various scenes of Nature's handiwork. Stand with him on the margin of the mountain torrent: saunter beside him along the flowery dell: linger in his presence as he penetrates the sylvan brake or mossy glade: pace with him, on a quiet evening, up and down the shingly shore, listening to the babbling of the calm and moonlit sea as it gently ebbs and flows amongst the shells and pebbles: go with him among the sterner beauties of some Alpine fastness, and try to catch “the spirit of his dream he looks around upon the wondrous scene.

The fickle moon is robed in her most winsome smiles-not coyly peeping out



behind some veiling cloud, but gazing in all her glowing charms upon the slumbering earth. The azure sky, “thick sown with stars as his own breast with phantasies,” glitters in full-orbed brightness on the traveller's musing eye. High up above his head the snow-clad mountains tower like mighty battlements. Booming amidst the ghostly caverns of the bristling heights, is heard the hollow swoop of the descending avalanche, as though the golden dome of some celestial temple had staggered from its lofty seat and tumbled to the earth : beyond, the highest peak, mighty Mont Blanc, like some grey libertine, pillows his hoary brow

upon the glowing bosom of the wanton moon, which flings her bright embraces round his whitened forehead, and seems to dally with his silver locks, and twine her golden fingers in his frosty hair, until his old head seems to belong to Heaven more

an earth, and looks like a warrior-angel's helmet glittering on the tented plains of paradise. Down at his feet, and close around him, cluster the thousand hues of Nature's flowery lap. The modest daisy glints through the enamelled grass, and dots the meadows like a little firmament on earth. The violet and primrose, like some fair embroidery, spangle the soft banks, and roses blossom in the hedge-rows and lend their grateful perfumes to the laden breeze. The convent-bell that called the anchorite to vespers, has ceased to vibrate on the ear; the birds have closed their evening hymn of praise; the sheep-bell no more tinkles on the mountain side ; the toiling peasantry are all gone home; the last herdsman has safely housed his flock; and the homebound monk has bade his last “good night.” The pilgrim is alone with Nature, and with Nature's God. Is it wonderful that, as he casts a last look up at the glittering minarets, and gazes once more on the drowsy mountains, thinking of the fair abode of those "who dwell on high," and whose "place of defence is the munition of rocks," is it a marvel that he murmurs as he turns away, “I have seen the King in his beauty?"

Conceive yourself at home, beside your fire alone. You have lately followed to the grave a dear and loved relation. You look upon the vacant chair, so lately filled by one whose smiles were wont to fill your heart with joy, and your mind is full of pensive broodings, and your cheek is wet with tearg. The clock ticks loudly and monotonously in the grave silence; the hollow wind rumbles in the chimney, and the plashing raindrops drip with a chilly sound outside the door. You take from the shelf the Book of God, and begin to read some of the incidents in the life of Jesus Christ. You read of His birth in the stable at Bethlehem; you read His sermon on the Mount; you read about His miracles and deeds of love; you read of his tears of sympathy beside the grave of Lazarus; you read of His betrayal by the traitor Judas; you read of His agony in Gethsemane-His passionate appeal to His Father as He nerved Himself to drain the bitter cup of trembling-of His bloody sweat of His lament over the cherished but devoted city whose children He would fain have “gathered together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings"-of his trial before Pilate's bar-of the scourgings and the stripes-of His march to Calvary bearing His cross-of His being crucified between two thieves of the vinegar and gall—of the crown of thorns—of the Roman soldier's spear-of His prayer of compassionate intercession for the yelling crowd who leered upon His death-throesof His gasping answer to the writhing wretch who suffered by His side, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise;" you read of His burial in Joseph's tomb—of His resurrection-His transfiguration and ascension ;-—and as you close the history, you repeat His own words, “it is finished.” As you reflect upon the simple story you have read, you can see Him through the grateful tears of sympathy it has engendered; and while the echo of His loving words is lingering in your ears—while you fancy you can feel His kind and gentle hand touching your troubled heart as He says “Peace, be still”—while


hear as it were the sighs of His fond bosom, big with Divine sympathy, making your sorrows His own-while you think that this same stable-born, this manger-cradled child, this houseless and rejected man of sorrows, this torn and mangled, spurned, and beaten martyr was none other than the Son of God—Immanuel-God with us; is it matter of surprise that you should at length detect yourself exclaiming, "I have seen the King in His beauty ?"

[ocr errors]

Thus may a sanctified imagination summon before itself spirits that are divine, and surround earthly scenes with an atmosphere that is heavenly. Thus may a holy man become a poet before he is aware, Thus may we pass before the mind pictures which, though born in fancy and pencilled, as it were, in dreams, still point to a mighty and transcendent fact, and proudly spurn the puling recreant who would call them sacriligious because they are beyond his ken. Thus may the jaded merchant seek sublime refreshment by drawing an ethereal curtain over the gross and harassing pursuits of business. Thus may the visionary find substantial groundwork for his airy musings by baptizing the offspring of his soul in empyreal light. Thus may the moody misanthrope people his dim solitude with crowds of visitors, who charm but not disturb. Thus may the moping churl bring daylight to his froward heart by purging and unscaling his long-abused sight at the source itself of heavenly radiance, and kindling his bedazzled eyes at the full midday beam. Thus may the poor, blind, groping children of the night, who know nothing, by trimming the lamp of fancy, which our common Father has suspended in our souls, make them to quiver with a fair suffusion, which shall make us long to look upon

the perfect day,

And who shall say that this is not a glorious and ennobling employment? Who shall presume to say that such speculations are unworthy of a Christian pulpit or a Christian's thoughts? The curl of irony, or of contempt, may wreathe upon the bigot's lip. External saints, who wear the livery but not the love of Christ, may sagely shake their venerable heads. The earthworm, whose paradise is his warehouse, whose Eden is the exchange, and whose heaven consists in posting ledgers and in cashing cheques, may sigh with pity for the fools who think that there is really such a thing as fancy. The formalist, whose land of promise flows with gall and wormwood instead of milk and honey, may denounce the rashness which would seek to wed that fancy to religion. The hedger-up of Christ's free way of salvation, who seeks to brandish the flaming sword of bigotry at the wicketgate to keep poor sinners from the cross, may try to film and

« PreviousContinue »