« ПредишнаНапред »
hours, their devout behaviour during the solemn service of religion, drew respect from all who beheld them. Such is the character St. Luke has given us of the first Christians of Jerusalem. The virtues of the converted Gentiles were not less solid, as we gather from the epistles of St. Paul, though upon the whole, perhaps, not so sublime. Before the Apostles came amongst them, the Gentiles had imbibed no principle of true religion, and had seen no exercise of that pure worship, by which the sovereign Lord of all things is duly honoured in spirit and in truth. Bewildered in the labyrinth of infidelity, and debauched by the licentious absurdities of idolatry, they were not only destitute of real virtue, but deeply tainted with almost every vice incident to corrupt nature. But no sooner were they instructed in the principles of Christianity, and cleansed from sin in the waters of Baptism, than they became the faithful imitators of their evangelical teachers. A total change of principle and manners made them objects of admiration, to the former companions of their irregularities. Prayer was the occupation of their leisure hours, and a sincere desire of doing the will of God in all things sanctified their most ordinary actions of the day. Tertullian speaks of the pious custom they had of making the sign of the cross on every occasion, as a mark of their lively faith and confidence in the merits of their crucified Redeemer, Hence, in the midst of temporal concerns they never lost sight of eternal goods; while their hands were at work, their hearts aspired to heaven. The prospect of an everlasting reward, which they knew God had prepared for them in his kingdom of glory, quickened their diligence in the discharge of every social and religious duty. Which of the two are we to admire most, the bounteous liberality of God in communicating his graces to those fervent Christians, or the fidelity of those Christians in thus co-operating with the divine gifts ? To our humble admiration of the first, let us join our imitation of the second; we then shall pay honour to them both.
THE FLOWER EVERLASTING.
Fidelity described indifference exactness recreation diligently application referred
rationally occupied distinction
amusement employment sacrifice society
devotion professional worldling “ It seems to live, but it is dead." It is an emblem of the perfect Christian, who lives in the world, but does not forget the Gospel of Christ. He discharges the business of his station for God's sake with fidelity and exactness. He even excels the worldling in industry, and in application to his professional employments. Like the early converts
described in the Acts of the Apostles, he takes his food and drink “ with gladness and simplicity of heart." His countenance is always pleasant and agreeable, nor does it lose this character, even when zeal kindles on his features, or devotion burns in his eyes. When he is occupied in his profession, his heart often looks heavenward, and says to God, “ I do this for thee.” When he eats and drinks he does the same; when he toils he does the same; and when he rests, he rests for God. Recreation, as well as labour, is with him a sacrifice. Nothing that falls within the circle of his duty is too high, or too low, to be referred to God. The round of his external occupations is often almost the same as that of a man of the world: it is the “ hidden sanctity" that makes all the distinction in merit. It is the difference of motive that saves the one and damns the other. To an indifferent eye it might appear that the true Christian often shares as largely in the things of earth, as the worldling, who seldom or never thinks of heaven. The latter sees him labour diligently, converse freely and rationally, take his meals cheerfully, unbend his strength in agreeable recreation, go quietly to rest at night, and mingle rationally in the amusements of society. “I am as good as he," exclaims the worldling, “ for I do as he does.”
" Ah no!The flower before me seems the same as when it grew upon the tree in summer; it has the hue, the smell, in everything the likeness of a living flower. Such seems the Christian life in the eye of the worldling; but such it is not within. He“ seems to live, but he is dead."
METHOUGHT I roved on shining walks,
'Mid odorous groves and wreathed bowers, Where, trembling on their tender stalks,
Fresh opening bloom'd the early flowers; Thick hung the fruit on every bough,
In ripe profusion clustering mellow, While o'er the peak'd horizon's brow
The evening ray fell slant and yellow.
Slow pacing through the fragrant shade,
With calm majestic mien advancing, O'erawed, I saw a queenly maid,
With piercing eyes divinely glancing; Deep wonder chain'd my reverent tongue,
My frame was bent with greeting lowly, While silence o'er the garden hung,
As if the ground she trod was holy.
“And who art thou,” with eager tone,
I cried aloud, “whose presence thrilling, Though lately seen, and yet unknown,
Can reach the inmost springs of feeling? And oh! what sweet secluded scene,
Here shines in rural beauty splendid; Where summer bloom and vernal green
With ripe autumnal wealth are blended !"
With smiles that broke as sunshine bright,
Their lustre to my soul imparting, And tones that sent a pure delight,
Delicious through my bosom darting; “Devotion is my name," she said,
“And thine are those delicious bowers, From purest fountains ever fed,
And bright with undecaying flowers.
“In this sweet haunt, thy blissful life
Shall glide, like meadow-streamlet flowing, Unreach'd by sounds of demon strife,
Unknown to passion and unknowing; For thee the fragrant airs shall rise,
For thee shall bloom those opening roses; Till far beyond yon trembling skies,
Thy heart in endless peace reposes.
“Yes-thine shall be this calm retreat,
Of summer bloom and peaceful beauty; If thou observe, with prudence meet,
And watchful care, one easy duty: 'Tis but to tend yon golden lamp,
With faithful hand and spirit heeding, From wasting airs and vapours damp,
Its pointed flame attentive feeding.
“While heavenward thus attending bright,
In holy lustre still increasing;
With vestal heed and care unceasing ;