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FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY, AN ALLEGORY.1
1. MANY years ago, three beautiful sisters came into our world to lighten the burdens of earth's toiling pilgrims, and aid them in preparation for a higher state of existence. Alike commissioned by the Great Father, they were sent on errands of mercy, and were not to turn away from scenes of darkness, sorrow, and suffering.
2. FAITH had a firm, unfaltering step; HOPE, a beaming eye, ever turned to the future; and LovE, a pitying glance, and a helping hand. They journeyed confidingly together; and when they found a stricken being in danger of perishing by the wayside, FAITH soothingly whispered, "My Father doeth all things well;" HOPE pointed to the cooling shade just in advance; and LovE assisted him to rise, and aided his feeble steps.
3. Groups of fair children played near the path in which they were traveling. Some of these did not understand the tones of FAITH; but they all listened eagerly to the alluring strains of HOPE, who painted brighter scenes than those they were enjoying, and flowers more fragrant than any they yet had gathered. LOVE delighted to linger with the youthful band, lessening their trials, and increasing their pleasures.
4. Her gentle touch arrested the little hand that was lifted against a playmate, and her soothing voice calmed the angry passions which were swelling in the bosom. When a child stumbled in the way, she tenderly raised it up again, or when a thorn pierced the unwary finger, she kindly removed it, and bound up the bleeding wound.
5. While the sisters were busy in their appropriate mission, a pale-cheeked lad mingled with the group of merry children, though too weak to share their sports. FAITH stole to his side, and whispered of the great Parent above,
who afflicts in wisdom, and chastens in love. His eye brightened while she spoke, and he looked upward with that trust and submission which he had never before experienced.
6. Then HOPE came, with visions of returning health, when his frame would be strong and his heart buoyant. But when HOPE and FAITH were gone, again his head drooped, and the tear started. Then LovE sat down by the invalid, twining a garland of summer blossoms for his pale brow, and singing sweet melodies which charmed his listening ear. The pain was all gone now; smiles wreathed his pallid lips, and the sick boy laughed as merrily as his more robust companions.
7. The sisters, in their journeyings, entered the abode of poverty. It was a humble dwelling, and yet it looked cheerful, yea, even inviting, when the three graced it with their presence. FAITH shed a spirit of calm contentment and heavenly trust in those lowly walls; HOPE whispered of the better mansions prepared for the followers of the Lamb; and LOVE, not less exalted than her sisters, threw a charm over the meager fare and scanty attire of the inmates. FAITH taught them to offer the daily prayer in trusting confidence; HOPE pointed beyond this world to joys which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard; while LOVE lessened each burden, and increased each simple pleasure. FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY! ye, indeed, can make a paradise of the humblest home!
8. There was a darkened chamber, with a wan form tossing restlessly upon the couch. Wealth was there; but it could not allay pain, or prolong life. FAITH, noiseless as a spirit form, glided to the sick one's side. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," was her language, as she pointed upward. HOPE fain would have whispered of length of days, but she knew this could not be; so she spoke of
life eternal, where there is no more pain. Then LOVE smoothed the pillow, and bathed the fevered brow, pausing not in her tender ministries through the night-watches. When morning dawned, the spirit of the sick man passed away, though not until FAITH, and HOPE, and LOVE had assuaged the anguish of the parting pang.
9. Weeping mourners gathered around the dead. There were tears,-for "tears well befit earth's partings;" there was sorrow, for what bitterness is like unto that of the bereaved, when the grave opens to infold the heart's best treasure? Yet FAITH, and HOPE, and LOVE were there, assuaging those tears, and mitigating that sorrow. FAITH, even while her cheeks were wet, exclaimed, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
10. HOPE's language was, "Not lost, but gone before;" and her eye, having lost none of its brightness, saw with prophetic vision a reunion yet to come. LOVE tenderly wiped away each gathering tear, and gave deeper fervency to the trusting confidence of FAITH, and the inspiring strains of HOPE. And when the sleeper was committed to the dust, these gentle sisters lingered in the lonely house, and by the darkened hearth.
11. Such are FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY,-given by God to lighten human sorrow, and bless the creatures He has made. They have each a mission to fulfill,—different, it is true, and yet they move in harmony. FAITH enables us to submit trustingly to daily trials, viewing a kind Father's hand in each passing event. HOPE, when the sky is dark, and the path thorny, points not only to fairer scenes below, but to that brighter world where there is no night and no
12. Love lightens every burden, and reflects upon earth
a faint radiation of heavenly blessedness,-for the Scriptures assure us that "God is love: and every one that loveth is born of God." The time will come when, the purposes of the wise Creator being accomplished, FAITH and HOPE will cease. FAITH will be lost in sight, HOPE in fruition; but LOVE will remain, binding the spirits of the redeemed in blissful communion, and uniting them to God the Father and Christ the Elder Brother.
13. FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY! blessed spirits! May they be inmates of every heart! May they assist each of us in the peculiar trials which none can know but ourselves! They will come to us if we seek their presence; but they must be carefully nurtured. Let us cherish them in our bosoms, and they will bless us constantly in our pilgrimage below, and conduct us to the presence of our God.
The little opening flower transported cries,
The bee comes sipping, every eventide,
The butterfly, within my cup doth hide
2. "Not to myself alone,"
The circling star with honest pride doth boast, "Not to myself alone I rise and set;
I write upon night's coronal of jet
His power and skill who formed our myriad host; A friendly beacon at heaven's open gate,
I gem the sky,
That man might ne'er forget, in every fate,
3. "Not to myself alone,"
The heavy-laden bee doth murmuring hum,
Content if he repay my ceaseless toil
4. "Not to myself alone,
The soaring bird with lusty pinion sings, "Not to myself alone I raise my song;
I cheer the drooping with my warbling tongue, And bear the mourner on my viewless wings;
I bid the hymnless churf
And God adore;
my anthem learn,
I call the worldling from his dross to turn,