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short;" who enter their pulpits, that from them they may speak “as dying men to dying men;" who thoughtfully pace their churchyards, and remember souls gone to their account, either for endless weal or woe; who come back to their
to think of predecessors whose work is done, and of successors whose footfall's approach they may almost hear; who wait on their Lord in happy obedience, and for their Lord in holy hope; and whose daily watchword is
“ Hic Hospites, in cælo Cives.” They that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country.
“By all means use sometimes to be alone.
Salute thyself: see what thy soul doth wear.
GEORGE HERBERT's “Temple.” 1633.
N the providence of God, I am placed in the
midst of bold and picturesque scenery. A
considerable portion of my parish is mountainous; and these highlands are broken into ravines, which are pierced by streamlets of much beauty. The sequestered dells, lying in the heart of the hills, are of a varied character. Some are wild and stony, like the passes of Cumberland or North Wales. Others are soft and luxuriant, as the well-planted
combes” of Devon. The Church stands high, so as to be a land-mark for travellers. From its tower, a panorama of no little interest unfolds itself. The course of a large river, for twelve or thirteen miles, can be traced with accuracy. To the west, in the far distance, its glancing waters, narrow at first as a riband of silver, issue from their cradle in the mountains. On they come and widen, fighting their way over a rock-strewn channel. Beneath yon projecting cliff they loiter, and form a deep pool, the favourite haunt of the brown trout and young
salmon; and, leaving it, they increase their speed, as though they would atone for their
indolence. In a deep, richly-timbered valley, at the base of the Church Hill, they receive the accession of an important tributary; and the combined streams pass on eastward, in sinuous windings, until they disappear from sight in the dim perspective. The mountain ranges are grand.
The monarch-peak lifts itself more than 1,400 feet above the sea-level. As the hill-slopes gleam in the sun and are flecked with light and shadow, they exhibit a pleasing variety of tints. Those nearest are arrayed in their own heather's purple. The ranges behind them shine out in robes of lilac. Then come heights of azure; then loftier peaks of cerulean blue; while the grey steeps, farthest withdrawn, commingle with the clouds.
Often have I delighted myself with the fair prospect; and, while I gazed on the distant hills and wistfully noted the human habitations beneath and around me, I have musingly repeated the words of the Shepherds in Bunyan's magnificent Epic*
*These mountains are Immanuel's Land, and they are within sight of His city: and the sheep also are His, and He laid down His life for them.”
While ministering to the people, my pathway is continually taken among these mountains; and evermore they impress me with one idea—solitariness. Yet I seem to learn the fulness of this, less from the Living than from the Dead. About a mile from the
* "The Pilgrim's Progress;" Part First, chapter xvi.
Church is a reclaimed moor, now used as a sheepwalk. An iron gate, with a side-stile, gives access to it from the public road. Having entered, I cross the treeless common; and ere long I find myself standing on an eminence that overlooks a sequestered valley. To the left hand, cresting a hill, appear raised mounds, like the circular earth-works of an aboriginal settlement. I proceed to them, and I find within an ancient burying-ground.* No vestiges of a House of worship are visible; nor can I, after a patient search, discover a grave-stone with an inscription. Yet, the many swelling hillocks testify that a favourite place of sepulture is the Churchyard among the Mountains. I meditate on the completeness of its isolation. I think that the sleepers are lonely indeed; for solitude seems here intensified, amid the silence and shadows of the everlasting hills.
Loftier thoughts are mine, as I leave this old resting-place of the Dead. Down-down into the valley, I am conducted by a zig-zag path, that in early summer is perfumed by the may-bloom, and in rich autumn is attractive to rustic children from the abundance of rubus idæus, fragaria vesca, vaccinium myrtillus, and other wild fruits. The river again comes in view, and now I stand by its margin. In this place, where its bed is crowded with fragments of rocks, it strangely reminds me of Wordsworth’s of Downshire to the lovely shores of Cork harbour, I find the like things. I know of homes, where God is honoured, where His blessing is sought, where His Word is delighted in, and whence a sweet savour of His salvation in Jesus is being daily diffused. Our isles may boast of their stately palaces, of lordly castles, and old feudal homes; but, in the light of Eternity, the houses of the clergy are worthier far. The great day of the Lord alone will reveal what blessings to the people were the praying households, provided by the National Church in each parish or hamlet of our beloved country.
* Religious houses, in olden days, were generally enclosed by a ring-fence of clay or stone, called the “vallum monasterii.” Vide the chapter on Cashels, in Dr. Petrie's Work on the Round Towers of Ireland, pp. 440-447.
These are high praises, and may appear like the advocacy of a too-partial friend. I would support my views by the testimony of a foe. He is brought to curse the people of God, and he is compelled to bless them altogether. Cobbett, once oracular and now forgotten, thus speaks:
“Get upon a hill, if you can find one, in Suffolk or Norfolk—and you may find plenty in Hampshire, and Wiltshire, and Devonshire -look at the steeples, one in every four square miles, at the most, on an average. Imagine a man, of some learning at least, to be living in a commodious house, by the side of one of these steeplesalmost always with a wife and family—always with servants, natives of the parish, gardener, groom, and all other servants. A huge farm-yard, barns, stables, thrashers, a carter or two, more or less glebe, and of farming. Imagine this gentleman having an interest in the productiveness of every field in his parish, being probably the largest corn-seller in the parish and the largest rate-prayer ; more deeply interested than any other man can possibly be in the happiness, morals, industry, and sobriety of the people of his parish. Imagine his innumerable occasions of doing acts of kindness, his immense power in preventing the strong from oppressing the weak; his salutary influence coming between the hard farmer, if there be one in his parish, and the feeble or simple-minded labourer. Ima