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Another reason for the human element being so prominent in the Bible is that the whole history of man, as there displayed, is representative, being inwardly a history of man's spiritual life, from his first to his second birth. But this is a view of the subject that we do not at present enter upon. Enough at once to recognise the humanity of the Bible as an evidence that God is infinite Man, that finite man is man because he was created in the Divine image, and that when that image was lost, He who was infinite Man from eternity became finite man in time, and having glorified the human nature He assumed, has become the Saviour of all to eternity. EDITOR.
THE FOUR SEASONS.-No. IV. THE AUTUMN.
“They shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.”
AUTUMN is the mature age of the year, the harvest-time. An abundant harvest fills all hearts with rejoicing, and true Christian hearts with gratitude and thanksgiving.
What richer scenes can nature show than those of a luxurious autumn! The fields gently wave in the sunshine with grain like living gold or glittering silver, as the wheat, or oats, or other grains have blessed the farmer's labour.
Then how glorious are the fruit-trees laden with their produce of the varied kinds, ripe, rich, and luscious! The apples, the pears, the plums, the damsons, redolent with the mature juices are fertility manifest.
No uncertainty can now exist in the year; the results have been reached in autumn, hope has been crowned with fruition, and nature smiles with plenty.
"Though common our gifts, no less do they prove
The more they are common, the more may we see
The flowers, though not so prevalently white as those of the earlier seasons, are rich in warm colours and glow with beauty.
Purple decks vast numbers of the autumn flowers with its grave loveliness, the very emblems of a genial, tender old age. The autumnal crocuses, the gentians, the colchicums, the squills, the mallows, and the autumn violets, especially the caluthian violet, and hosts of others, make meadows, gardens, woods, and waysides at this season of the
year graceful and magnificent still though decay has given its early notices of change.
The fragrant and medicinal herbs are rich in autumn; and from the mints, lavenders, and scores of other aromatic plants the air carries on its bosom, as a table rich with dainties, odours of heaven to charm and to refresh at once both sense and brain.
The shrubs, too, and the evergreens form a grand feature in the autumn. While the vegetable world in its general aspects is manifesting wearied symptoms, they are showing new and vigorous life. The ivy, the symbol of friendship, even of the dearest, flowers in autumn, clings with a firmer grasp to the objects around which it twines, emblem of true, undying fidelity.
The Greek priests, it is said, presented a wreath of ivy to newlymarried persons as a symbol of the closeness of union to which they should persistently adhere.
The arbutus, the strawberry-tree, has an especial lesson to bear. It flowers in autumn fresh and brightly, while at the same time it is bearing fruit, the results of the blossoms of the year before-sound fruit and new flowers at the same time.
These trees abound about the lakes of Killarney; and graceful in their beautiful life, in their death are valuable from their elegant wood in many felicitous forms.
The mistletoe is also a growth of autumn; its seeds, borne about by birds, especially the mistle-thrush, are planted on the under side of branches of several trees, but especially the OAK, where the feathered inhabitants rub their bills, and they adhere by the sticky juice of the berries, from which as well as from holly bark birdlime is made.
The Druids, whose remains of the Ancient Church in these northern latitudes are still found, held, long centuries ago, the mistletoe in great estimation. It was to them the emblem of new life planted on the old, and purifying the old by regeneration.
When the end of the year approached they went in solemn procession to gather the mistletoe. The priest clothed in white, with a golden hook, cut off the beautiful plant with its lovely leaves and white berries, and received it into a white cloth spread for the purpose. Two white bulls that had never been yoked were then brought and offered to the Deity, with prayers that He would prosper and bless them in the future, the emblems of devoted obedience in the coming year.
We have thus dwelt upon the general features of autumn that we may present this season, as we have presented the three former great departments of the year, as a subject of useful meditation. And
autumn may emphatically be regarded as the season for thoughtful and edifying reflection. The falling leaves as they sink fluttering from the branches incessantly suggest the theme, "We all do fade as a leaf"
"As the light leaf, whose fall to ruin bears
The drooping, dying flowers suggest similar ideas and remembrances; all these fade and pass, and so shall we. Yet every falling leaf is an illustration with all things in creation that renewal and resurrection are the lessons of all nature. The form passes, but the reality lives on. Look at the base where the decaying leaf has left and you will find a bud, the beginning of the new leaf, which is next year to manifest new foliage and fresh beauty. That bud has arrested the life and caused the old leaf to die. The flower has faded, but the root remains, and will bloom again wooed by the warmth of another sun. So will it be with us: our leaves pass; our old thoughts, which have been at times as thick 66 as leaves in Vallombrosa," with change of state have altered, decayed, and fallen; but other thoughts with renewed impulses have come, and we live and bloom afresh, and so we shall when all that is earthly has gone, like fallen leaves; we shall still bloom and bear and bless through perennial ages. "They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in OLD AGE; they shall be green and flourishing; to show that the Lord is upright" (Ps. xcii. 13-15).
Autumn too is not without its storms. The lightnings flash, the thunder peals, torrents swell and devastate the land, and wild winds howl and carry desolation in their train. These rough visitants alarmı the timid and ruin the unprepared, but they leave the atmosphere purer and provide the waters for the coming spring.
In the autumn of old age human life is not without its trials. Humility is not attained without struggle. Our best works are tarnished with more or less of selfish taint, and we are liable to suppose we are more necessary and more important than we are. Hence these self-revealings that come from lightning flashes of Divine Truth within. Hence these storms that have for their commission to clear our atmosphere, to soften our ground, and make us childlike. Swedenborg had a sense of being forsaken, and lost his open sight of
the other world a short time before his departure, though at his earnest prayer it was restored, and his peaceful enjoyment was given again. The Lord Himself had His fearful trials near life's journey's end, and why should not we if they be needful? Some ships enter the haven in brightness and joy, some in stormy weather, the Lord knows best.
"Loud roaring, the billows now high overwhelm,
His wisdom, His power, and His faithfulness stand
Autumn is the judgment season of the year. "By their fruits ye shall know them" comes manifestly out to all then. The faithful, diligent, skilful farmer sees ordinarily his crops filling his stacks and his barns. He who has patiently ploughed, scientifically sown at the right time, and carefully kept his ground cleared from weeds; he whose garden is in order, who has not spared labour, thought, prudent selection, nor steady watchfulness, he shall have a plenteous crop and an admirable garden. As he has sown so shall he reap. So it is, and so it ought to be. Justice says this is right, and so does mercy too. It is inevitable and righteous law. There would be no mercy in altering the laws of nature to suit laggards, to place a premium on dunces, and spoil the world to please the stupid. God in nature says this cannot be.
Autumn is the season of judgment in other respects besides the abundance or otherwise to all according as they have been studious, skilful, and faithful to their duties, or otherwise; but also as to those plants which in the spring had a considerable appearance of being fruitbearers, or grain-bearers, but had no reality in them. Autumn reveals that they are mere shams, have a name that they live, but they have nothing but a name.
How pretentious is the brilliancy of many a tree laden with blossom! how great the promise of being loaded with fruit in due time! Summer comes, and no fruit follows the bloom; autumn comes, and the poor, melancholy, thriftless branches excite the inquiry, Why does this miserable thing cumber the ground? Autumn is the season of judgment, and it surely comes.
Is it not so with human beings? How fair has been the promise of many a young man, of many a maiden! They were intelligent, brilliant, talented, witty, highly educated. They shone in conversation, were admired and followed; but after a while vanity and selfindulgence took the place of the once warm manner, and they gradually retired from the paths of religion and virtue, and became
worthless and barren. The splendid promise of youth sank into miserable decay, and all who hoped great things of them have to say in the autumn of their life, Alas, what a fall was there!
The tares mentioned in the Gospel (the Lolium) is plainly revealed in the autumn, and the lesson of the Divine parable will be more clearly seen if we briefly dwell upon it. This especial plant, the tares of Matt. xiii. 25 (the Lolium), has in its early growth a considerable likeness to the blade of the early wheat. It forms, however, no fruitful head. It represents, therefore, profession without heartfelt possession of the real virtues of love to God and love to man. Such persons are great talkers about religion, but do nothing. They are great in speaking of the glories of religion, but are silent about its duties. They like a religion which tells them they have nothing to do but meet and talk and sing. And in their autumn it is evident they have been following wind; they have produced nothing. The Lord says of these, " 'They are mere tares, fit only to be collected to such as are like themselves, and left to their own evil fires, their own bad passions, which they have never tried to extinguish." To them He says, "Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? I never knew you," even in your fairest professions: "depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity."
He who idles his time away cannot have a crop. He who sows worthless seed can have but a pitiful harvest. He who, instead of busying himself with self-culture and steady application to what is useful and right, sows neglect, wastefulness, insolence, luxury, impurity, and wrong, will as certainly have a harvest of misery as the sun will rise to-morrow. This is the lesson of autumn, and of every
Blessed, merciful, and just is the law as well as inflexible which is manifest in autumn; you reap as you have sown and laboured. How baleful would it be if the bulk of the world's teachers were to go forth persuading men that work was of no consequence; that if men put off all the labours of a farm and at the end of September prayed for a harvest they would obtain it all the same! And yet this is too widely the doctrine that deludes men in spiritual things. In sermon, psalm, and song, from a mistaken idea that there is necessarily any more merit in doing right than in believing aright, the Scriptures are contradicted, the laws of mind and habit altogether defied, and the professed servants of God are crying out, You can enter into life without keeping the commandments; you must not do anything to "work out your salvation."