« ForrigeFortsæt »
BEAUTIFUL as we look forward to them in the future are the messengers of God, the hours which come over the eastern hills with the hopes and promises, which they unfold as golden banners of victory and joy before us.
The happy new year greets young and old with gladness. The old year has been dismissed with saddened hearts, and we turn from its dim receding forms to the glowing prospects before us.
We see decidedly the predominance of hope over fear, and often its triumph over experience, in the feelings with which we look forward as compared with those which arise when we look back. Few persons, when their feelings are most alive, can look back thoughtfully and call before them memories of the past without some degree of sadness. There may be a grateful and upon the whole a prevailing and joyful sense of the divine goodness. But there is sorrow for what we have lost regret and sometimes remorse for what we standing alone and bare-headed under the blazing sun of noon amid a crowd, to do penance for an act of disobedience and unkindness to his father just fifty years before, is an emblem of feelings with which every sensitive and ingenuous mind must at times look back upon the past. But in spite of all this, we look forward with hope and joy. They who are joyful now expect to be more joyful. They who have been unprosperous, hope for some favorable turn in their affairs. They who are weary hope for rest; and they who are uneasy, discontented and unhappy, they know not
ny, hope by some new turn of affairs to get beyond their ennui and discontent. This is the general, though not quite the universal feeling. The close of the year comes over us with something of a dirge-like character. Its last moments pass by as the few sad mourners that follow in a funeral procession. The very snows are but as a winding-sheet thrown over its dead form, and they who watch till its midnight hour, as is done in our Methodist churches, keep their solemn vigils with prayers and tears. But all at once we turn round. We look into the future and see before us the joyful messengers who come to greet us with tidings of peace and salvation. Bright their forms, glorious their garments, as they shine in the rising sun of a new year. We know not what they may bring. But our hopes transform them into messengers of glad tidings, who shall bring us some unknown and unimagined happiness. This is the spontaneous impulse and sentiment as we turn towards a new year.
Let us not belie the hope. Let us not turn the augury of good into evil. Let us so live that this prophecy of gladness, this great hope which God has implanted in the heart of man, shall be fulfilled in us. It is the presentiment of what He intended should be ours. It is the instinct of the soul reaching out towards a happiness which should fill out its wants. The heart leaps with gladness as it looks forward and sees these future hours radiant with their good tidings — laden with promises of peace and salvation to all who will receive them. They would emancipate us from our sorrows and our sions, fears, they would have us put aside for the better things which they come to announce. Or, where past trials still must follow us, they would transform them into fellow, workers with themselves and God, to purify our souls, till having worked out our deliverance, they join with us in the triumphal Psalm of life, and rising above the damp and unwholesome valleys they also show themselves beautiful upon the mountains whither they would draw us up, that in the purest and loftiest experiences of life we may behold them shining with a light brighter than the sun. When we have reached that point our very sorrows become radiant with joy.
Is this rejected as too fanciful to be true-as poetry rather than fact? But where do we find such uplifting strains of song as in the Scriptures when from the deepest spiritual intuitions they announce the most substantial of all verities. There is to be, in the 'inheritance of devout and faithful souls a joy, a splendor, a beauty which transcends all the powers even of poetry to picture before us. The joy of a ransomed soul, the beauty of a saint in his garments of immortality amid the company of the redeemed, the radiance of his joy and melting tenderness of his love transcend all powers of speech. And why shall not this be the consummation of our hopes, the end of our toils, the life that rises victorious over our dust when the years shall be with us no more?
But how shall we receive the hours, so that the beauty, with which they glow as they rise before us upon the mountains, we may still behold in them when their receding forms vanish in the past? How shall we make them as they come fulfill the anticipations with which we look forward to them, so that whatever of this world's gifts or losses they may If the prevailing habit of our minds is low, selfish, worldly, all their high promises will be blighted, and they will only make us more low, selfish and worldly. If the prevailing tone of our feelings is kind and generous and devout, they will make us more so. They pass away, but their influences survive; as the summer showers pass, but the fruits survive.
The great means, then, of turning the year into gladness and beauty, of causing the hours to fulfill their promise, is to receive and use them in a religious spirit.
We are to do this in our pecuniary labors and transactions, carrying with us always a sense of moral rectitude and of religious responsibility. He who goes about his business with no other pupose than money-making, is dragged down by the lowness of his aim ; and the hours which come with good tididings of good, can, at best, only' contribute to his earthly store. Their celestial beauty, as they come from God radiant with his smile, is lost; their high and heavenly promises are dishonored; their purest hopes are trampled in the dust, and the hours which came to him so pure and precious go from him soiled and worthless. But he, who while using them for the same immediate end, recognizes also their higher meaning, and connects them both in their origin and purpose with the thought of God, is making them contribute at the same time to the wants of body and soul. When he asks each day for his daily bread, he by the spirit of that prayer turns his bodily necessities into the means of sustaining a divine life. In his daily transactions, he sees and reverently observes a law of moral rectitude which connects him directly with God, and which throws its divine and awful sanctity around every act which he performs. His business becomes thus the school of a saintly virtue. The law of right, which is the law of God, becomes anthroned in his heart
Duty faithfully performed