Page images
PDF
EPUB

side are manifested the resources of consummate skill, refined taste, and unsparing expenditure. These combined agencies have completed all that nature itself had grandly commenced. Around the house are large pleasure-grounds. The gardens are judiciously broken into terraces, communicating by wide shallow flights of stone steps, which are graced with columns and ornamental vases. There is a galaxy of beauty in the flowers. Brought from far-sundered lands, they here commingle their sweets, and make the air rich with their perfumes. At one end, a playing fountain receives its waters into three successive basins. Its silvery column darts into the azure sky, and descending forms the prismatic hues out of its dissolving spray. Lower than the gardens, and enfringed by plantations, are rich meads, plentifully stocked with flocks and herds. Yet further on is a considerable lake, having a white row-boat moored to its shore. Its calm surface is lighted up by the sunbeams. Tribes of water-fowl are eagerly disporting themselves; while in contrast with their activity, a large, listless swan, motionless,

floats double, swan and shadow." Beyond the watery expanse, and extending itself widely, is a lowlying well-cultivated Plain, mapped out by hedgerows into huge fields, and everywhere evidencing comfort and plenty. In the extreme distance is the grey horizon of mountain-ranges, that from their remoteness are “turned into clouds.” It is a goodly prospect, upon which few could gaze without admiration. Its varied features have been attentively scanned by me; and, as I lingered over their different attrac

[ocr errors]

tions, I have more than once unconsciously asked myself, “Is it not a Paradise?” Then, with the word, arose visions of man's first estate of holiness, and of a world unconscious of sorrow, because unstained by sin. These dreamings have developed themselves in some humble verse, which I shall call

66

A GLIMPSE OF EDEN.
In summer day-dreams while entranced I lay,

There gleam'd a Garden on my ravish'd sight,

Resplendent with the sun's meridian light
That shone unclouded in pure eastern day.

a

There, waved the Olive-grove in rich array ;

There, rose the Palm in its majestic height;

There, branching Cedars glimmer'd and were bright,
As shade or sunbeam fleck'd their feathery spray.

Around were flowers of endless form and hue,

The incense-bearers of that hallow'd clime,
A starry multitude ! Beautiful they grew

Near a wide river's marge, whence rose the chime
Of anthem-notes, ascending from the Two

Fair Beings kneeling there in sinless prime.” O favoured twain, to whom was vouchsafed by your Creator His immediate presence as a daily privilege, ye were happy in Him-ye were happy in yourselves! The glad earth around you was a befitting type of the bright world within you. Your service of God was pleasant, and easy as it was pleasant. Your powers of soul and body moved in perfect unison with His holy will.

[blocks in formation]

All the works of the Lord praise Him. The Sun,

ordained by Him of old to rule the day, has unweariedly ever since discharged this office. It has beheld the rise and fall of nations, the overthrow of dynasties, the extinction of countless human generations; but it has never failed in its appointed service.

; The Moon and the Stars yet rule the night, as they did when Job saw them walking in brightness; when they lighted up Israel's encampment in the wilderness; when they helped the eastern Magi on their journey to Bethlehem; when their beams fell on the mountain-top, where Jesus continued all night in prayer to God; when they witnessed the Agony in Gethsemane; when they cast shadows from the Roman sentinels, pacing by the sealed-up Tomb. The Ocean has observed its Maker's perpetual decree as to its bounds. Its tossing waves have not prevailed. They may roar, yet they have not passed over the restraining sand. The Seasons return in their appointed round. The earth brings forth its fruit for the service of man. In short, the promise has been amply fulfilled, that seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, should not cease.

These all fulfil the end of their creation, and proclaim alike the glory and the goodness of God. He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered. They are great, and are sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. It is a joy to discover their purpose, and to trace, at the same time, their wonderful adaptation for its fulfilment. But there is one of the Lord's works that does not now discharge its intended use. On this earth, so lovely and so favoured, God's master-piece has ceased to serve Him. Man, holding a delegated dominion over the rest of God's creatures, is the sole rebel among them. He does not glorify God.

Of himself he could not, even though he would. Like some noble harp, placed in the sanctuary, and from which were poured the grandest strains of sacred melody, the human soul was once fully attuned to Jehovah's worship. Like that same harp, now stringless and shattered, it has lost altogether its power of resounding His praise. Who shall awaken on it again the Songs of Zion ? Only one hand, that of the Master and Artificer. He maketh all things new. He can restore to it its original perfections.

And freely hath He undertaken to do this. In the Gospel of His dear Son, He teaches the children of men that He formed them for Himself, so that they should show forth His praise. They learn that sin has been the disturbance of His great purpose concerning them. They are further instructed, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Their body and their spirit are the Lord's; and He will consecrate them again to His service. To accomplish this, a mighty change must be effected within them. They are placed under another headship than that of Adam. They have set before them a different exemplar—even Christ. The old, corrupt nature within them is subdued; and it becomes their desire wholly to put it off. Their souls are, by the Holy Spirit, renewed and sanctified. The love of Christ sweetly constraineth them in the Lord's service. The glory of God becomes the real end of their existence.

[ocr errors]

a

It is their wish so to walk as to please God. It is their prayerful intention to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvellous light.

If the child of dust inquire, “In what way he may glorify God?” let him turn to the law and to the testimony. God's blessed will is ever to be found in His written Word. I would now, in my solitude, bring these things to remembrance; and I would fain employ myself in recollecting the services that Jehovah will accept as tending to His honour.

I place in the forefront the confession of sins to the Lord. The prodigal's first cry is, “Father! I

" have sinned.” If the rebel is to have an amnesty, let him lay down his arms.

If the outlaw seek protection, let him abide by the authority of the legislator. The Lord is honoured by the confession of sins, because His righteousness is vindicated, and His throne is thereby established. To that troubler of his people, Achan, Joshua addressed these words:

“My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto Him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.”

The prophet Daniel, foreseeing the approaching judgments of Israel, instructed the people to humble themselves before the Lord; and in their behalf he set his face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. He prayed, and made this confession :

“O Lord ! the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His command

« PreviousContinue »