STOPFORD A. BROOKE.
Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace.—JOB v. 23, 24.
Love had he found in huts where poor men lie; His daily teachers had been woods and rills, The silence that is in the starry sky, The sleep that is among the lonely hills.
That spirit which suffices quiet hearts, which seems to come forth to such from every dry knoll of sere grass, from every pine-stump, and half-embedded stone, on which the dull March sun shines, comes forth to the poor and hungry, and to such as are of simple taste. If thou fill thy brain with Boston and New York, with fashion and covetousness, and wilt stimulate thy jaded senses with wine and French coffee, thou shall find no radiance of wisdom in the lonely waste of the pine-woods.
R. W. EMERSON.
As a countenance is made beautiful by the soul's shining through it, so the world is beautiful by the shining through it of a God.
FRIEDRICH HEINRICH JACOBI.
For Thou Invest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which Thou hast made: for never wouldest Thou have made any thing, if Thou hadst hated it. But Thou sparest all: for they are Thine, O Lord, Thou lover of souls.—WISDOM OF SOLOMON xi. 24, 26.
He prayeth well who loveth well Both man and bird and beast; He prayeth best who loveth best All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.
S. T. COLERIDGE.
To know that Love alone was the beginning of nature and creature, that nothing but Love encompasses the whole universe of things, that the governing Hand that overrules all, the watchful Eye that sees through all, is nothing but omnipotent and omniscient Love, using an infinity of wisdom, to save every misguided creature from the miserable works of its own hands, and make happiness and glory the perpetual inheritance of all the creation, is a reflection that must be quite ravishing to every intelligent creature that is sensible of it.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?—I COR. iii. 16.
Father! replenish with Thy grace This longing heart of mine; Make it Thy quiet dwelling-place, Thy sacred inmost shrine!
Not man's manifold labors, but his manifold cares, hinder the presence of God. Whatsoever thou doest, hush thyself to thine own feverish vanities, and busy thoughts, and cares; in silence seek thy Father's face, and the light of His countenance will stream down upon thee. He will make a secret cell in thine heart, and when thou enterest there, there shalt thou find Him. And if thou hast found Him there, all around shall reflect Him, all shall speak to Him, and He will speak through all. Outwardly thou mayest be doing the work of thy calling; inwardly if thou commend thy work to God, thou mayest be with Him in the third Heaven.
E. B. PUSEY.
As for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.—DEUT. xviii. 14.
Lord, for the erring thought Not into evil wrought; Lord, for the wicked will Betrayed and baffled still; For the heart from itself kept, Our Thanksgiving accept.
W. D. HOWELLS.
What an amazing, what a blessed disproportion between the evil we do, and the evil we are capable of doing, and seem sometimes on the very verge of doing! If my soul has grown tares, when it was full of the seeds of nightshade, how happy ought I to be! And that the tares have not wholly strangled the wheat, what a wonder it is! We ought to thank God daily for the sins we have not committed.
F. W. FABER.
We give thanks often with a tearful, doubtful voice, for our spiritual mercies positive; but what an almost infinite field there is for mercies negative! We cannot even imagine all that God has suffered us not to do, not to be.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
You are surprised at your imperfections—why? I should infer from that, that your self-knowledge is small. Surely, you might rather be astonished that you do not fall into more frequent and more grievous faults, and thank God for His upholding grace.
JEAN NICOLAS GROU.
Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.—MATT. xxv. 23.
O father! help us to resign Our hearts, our strength, our wills to Thee; Then even lowliest work of Thine Most noble, blest, and sweet will be.
H. M. KIMBALL.
Nothing is too little to be ordered by our Father; nothing too little in which to see His hand; nothing, which touches our souls, too little to accept from Him; nothing too little to be done to Him.
E. B. PUSEY.
A soul occupied with great ideas best performs small duties; the divinest views of life penetrate most clearly into the meanest emergencies; so far from petty principles being best proportioned to petty trials, a heavenly spirit taking up its abode with us can alone sustain well the daily toils, and tranquilly pass the humiliations of our condition.
Whoso neglects a thing which he suspects he ought to do, because it seems to him too small a thing, is deceiving himself; it is not too little, but too great for him, that he doeth it not.
E. B. PUSEY.
Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.—I KINGS xix. 18.
He went down to the great school with a glimmering of another lesson in his heart,—the lesson that he who has conquered his own coward spirit has conquered the whole outward world; and that other one which the old prophet learnt in the cave in Mount Horeb, when he hid his face, and the still small voice asked, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" that however we may fancy ourselves alone on the side of good, the King and Lord of men is nowhere without His witnesses; for in every society, however seemingly corrupt and godless, there are those who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
So, then, Elijah's life had been no failure, after all. Seven thousand at least in Israel had been braced and encouraged by his example, and silently blessed him, perhaps, for the courage which they felt. In God's world, for those who are in earnest there is no failure. No work truly done, no word earnestly spoken, no sacrifice freely made, was ever made in vain.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.—PS. xciv. 19.
Perplexed, but not in despair; cast down, but not destroyed.—2 COR. iv. 8, 9.
Discouraged in the work of life, Disheartened by its load, Shamed by its failures or its fears, I sink beside the road;— But let me only think of Thee, And then new heart springs up in me.
Discouragement is an inclination to give up all attempts after the devout life, in consequence of the difficulties by which it is beset, and our already numerous failures in it. We lose heart; and partly in ill-temper, partly in real doubt of our own ability to persevere, we first grow querulous and peevish with God, and then relax in our efforts to mortify ourselves and to please Him. It is a sort of shadow of despair, and will lead us into numberless venial sins the first half-hour we give way to it.
F. W. FABER.
Never let us be discouraged with ourselves; it is not when we are conscious of our faults that we are the most wicked; on the contrary, we are less so. We see by a brighter light; and let us remember, for our consolation, that we never perceive our sins till we begin to cure them.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.—ROM. xii. 2.
Thou knowest what is best; And who but Thee, O God, hath power to know? In Thy great will my trusting heart shall rest; Beneath that will my humble head shall bow.
T. C. UPHAM.
To those who are His, all things are not only easy to be borne, but even to be gladly chosen. Their will is united to that will which moves heaven and earth, which gives laws to angels, and rules the courses of the world. It is a wonderful gift of God to man, of which we that know so little must needs speak little. To be at the centre of that motion, where is everlasting rest; to be sheltered in the peace of God; even now to dwell in heaven, where all hearts are stayed, and all hopes fulfilled. "Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee."
H. E. MANNING.
Study to follow His will in all, to have no will but His. This is thy duty, and thy wisdom. Nothing is gained by spurning and struggling but to hurt and vex thyself; but by complying all is gained—sweet peace. It is the very secret, the mystery of solid peace within, to resign all to His will, to be disposed of at His pleasure, without the least contrary thought.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.—PS. xxiii. 1.
They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.—PS. xxxiv. 10.
God, who the universe doth hold In his fold, Is my shepherd kind and heedful, Is my shepherd, and doth keep Me, his sheep, Still supplied with all things needful.
Who is it that is your shepherd? The Lord! Oh, my friends, what a wonderful announcement! The Lord God of heaven and earth, the almighty Creator of all things, He who holds the universe in His hand as though it were a very little thing,—HE is your shepherd, and has charged Himself with the care and keeping of you, as a shepherd is charged with the care and keeping of his sheep. If your hearts could really take in this thought, you would never have a fear or a care again; for with such a shepherd, how could it be possible for you ever to want any good thing?
H. W. Smith.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.—MATT. xxvi. 41.
I want a sober mind, A self-renouncing will, That tramples down and casts behind The baits of pleasing ill; A spirit still prepared, And armed with jealous care, Forever standing on its guard, And watching unto prayer.
When you say, "Lead us not into temptation," you must in good earnest mean to avoid in your daily conduct those temptations which you have already suffered from. When you say, "Deliver us from evil," you must mean to struggle against that evil in your hearts, which you are conscious of, and which you pray to be forgiven. To watch and pray are surely in our power, and by these means we are certain of getting strength. You feel your weakness; you fear to be overcome by temptation; then keep out of the way of it. This is watching. Avoid society which is likely to mislead you; flee from the very shadow of evil; you cannot be too careful; better be a little too strict than a little too easy,—it is the safer side. Abstain from reading books which are dangerous to you. Turn from bad thoughts when they arise.
J. H. NEWMAN.
Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.—COL. iii. 22, 23.
Teach me, my God and King, In all things Thee to see, And what I do in anything, To do it as for Thee.
There is no action so slight nor so mean but it may be done to a great purpose, and ennobled thereby; nor is any purpose so great but that slight actions may help it, and may be so done as to help it much, most especially, that chief of all purposes—the pleasing of God.
Every duty, even the least duty, involves the whole principle of obedience. And little duties make the will dutiful, that is, supple and prompt to obey. Little obediences lead into great. The daily round of duty is full of probation and of discipline; it trains the will, heart, and conscience. We need not to be prophets or apostles. The commonest life may be full of perfection. The duties of home are a discipline for the ministries of heaven.
H. E. MANNING.
Wherefore, beloved... be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless,—2 PETER iii. 14.
His conscience knows no secret stings, While grace and joy combine To form a life whose holy springs Are hidden and divine.
Even the smallest discontent of conscience may render turbid the whole temper of the mind; but only produce the effort that restores its peace, and over the whole atmosphere a breath of unexpected purity is spread; doubt and irritability pass as clouds away; the withered sympathies of earth and home open their leaves and live; and through the clearest blue the deep is seen of the heaven where God resides.
The state of mind which is described as meekness, or quietness of spirit, is characterized in a high degree by inward harmony. There is not, as formerly, that inward jarring of thought contending with thought, and conscience asserting rights which it could not maintain.
T. C. UPHAM.
Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.—2 COR. xiii. 11.
He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?—I JOHN iv. 20.
Lord! subdue our selfish will; Each to each our tempers suit, By Thy modulating skill, Heart to heart, as lute to lute.
It requires far more of the constraining love of Christ to love our cousins and neighbors as members of the heavenly family, than to feel the heart warm to our suffering brethren in Tuscany or Madeira. To love the whole Church is one thing; to love—that is, to delight in the graces and veil the defects—of the person who misunderstood me and opposed my plans yesterday, whose peculiar infirmities grate on my most sensitive feelings, or whose natural faults are precisely those from which my natural character most revolts, is quite another.
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.—ROM. viii. 37.
Thus my soul before her God Lieth still, nor speaketh more, Conqueror thus o'er pain and wrong, That once smote her to the core; Like a silent ocean, bright With her God's great praise and light.
J. J. WINCKLER.
My mind is forever closed against embarrassment and perplexity, against uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety; my heart against grief and desire. Calm and unmoved, I look down on all things, for I know that I cannot explain a single event, nor comprehend its connection with that which alone concerns me. In His world all things prosper; this satisfies me, and in this belief I stand fast as a rock. My breast is steeled against annoyance on account of personal offences and vexations, or exultation in personal merit; for my whole personality has disappeared in the contemplation of the purpose of my being.
J. G. FICHTE.
All thing are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.—I COR. iii. 21, 22, 23.
As having nothing, and yet possessing all things,—2 COR. vi. 10.
Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be, As more of heaven in each we see: Some softening gleam of love and prayer Shall dawn on every cross and care.
Out of love and hatred, out of earnings, and borrowings, and lendings, and losses; out of sickness and pain, out of wooing and worshipping; out of travelling, and voting, and watching, and caring; out of disgrace and contempt, comes our tuition in the serene and beautiful laws. Let him not slur his lesson; let him learn it by heart. Let him endeavor exactly, bravely, and cheerfully, to solve the problem of that life which is set before him. And this, by punctual action, and not by promises or dreams. Believing, as in God, in the presence and favor of the grandest influences, let him deserve that favor, and learn how to receive and use it, by fidelity also to the lower observances.
R. W. EMERSON.
We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.—ROM. viii. 28.
As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.—GEN. 1. 20.
Ill that He blesses is our good, And unblest good is ill; And all is right that seems most wrong, If it be His sweet Will.
F. W. FABER.
To those who know themselves, all things work together for good, and all things seem to be, as they are to them, good. The goods which God gives seem "very good," and God Himself in them, because they know that they deserve them not. The evils which God allows and overrules seem also "very good," because they see in them His loving hand, put forth to heal them of what shuts out God from the soul. They love God intensely, in that He is so good to them in each, and every, the least good, because it is more than they deserve: how much more in the greatest! They love God for every, and each, the very greatest of what seem evils, knowing them to be, from His love, real goods. For He by whom "all the hairs of our head are numbered," and who "knoweth whereof we are made," directs everything which befalls us in life, in perfect wisdom and love, to the well-being of our souls.
E. B. PUSEY.
The very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.—I THESS. v. 23, 24.
Be still, my soul!—the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide,— In every change He faithful will remain.
HYMNS FROM THE LAND OF LUTHER.
It was no relief from temporal evils that the Apostle promised. No; the mercy of God might send them to the stake, or the lions; it was still His mercy, if it but kept them "unspotted from the world." It might expose them to insult, calumny, and wrong; they received it still as mercy, if it "established them in every good word and work." O brethren! how many of you are content with such faithfulness as this on the part of your heavenly Father? Is this, indeed, the tone and tenor of your prayers?
WM. ARCHER BUTLER.
The highest pinnacle of the spiritual life is not happy joy in unbroken sunshine, but absolute and undoubting trust in the love of God.
A. W. THOROLD.
Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust.—PS. xl. 4.
That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.—I TIM. ii. 2.
Just to let thy Father do What He will; Just to know that He is true, And be still; Just to trust Him, this is all! Then the day will surely be Peaceful, whatsoe'er befall, Bright and blessed, calm and free.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
Every morning compose your soul for a tranquil day, and all through it be careful often to recall your resolution, and bring yourself back to it, so to say. If something discomposes you, do not be upset, or troubled; but having discovered the fact, humble yourself gently before God, and try to bring your mind into a quiet attitude. Say to yourself, "Well, I have made a false step; now I must go more carefully and watchfully." Do this each time, however frequently you fall. When you are at peace use it profitably, making constant acts of meekness, and seeking to be calm even in the most trifling things. Above all, do not be discouraged; be patient; wait; strive to attain a calm, gentle spirit.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul?—DEUT. x. 12.
What asks our Father of His children save Justice and mercy and humility, A reasonable service of good deeds, Pure living, tenderness to human needs, Reverence, and trust, and prayer for light to see The Master's footprints in our daily ways? No knotted scourge, nor sacrificial knife, But the calm beauty of an ordered life Whose every breathing is unworded praise.
J. G. WHITTIER.
Give up yourself to God without reserve; in singleness of heart meeting everything that every day brings forth, as something that comes from God, and is to be received and gone through by you, in such an heavenly use of it, as you would suppose the holy Jesus would have done in such occurrences. This is an attainable degree of perfection.
We ought to measure our actual lot, and to fulfil it; to be with all our strength that which our lot requires and allows. What is beyond it, is no calling of ours. How much peace, quiet, confidence, and strength, would people attain, if they would go by this plain rule.
H. E. MANNING.
The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him.—EZRA viii. 22.
Into Thy hand I commit my spirit.—PS. xxxi. 5.
Thou layest Thy hand on the fluttering heart, And sayest, "Be still!" The silence and shadow are only a part Of Thy sweet will; Thy presence is with me, and where Thou art I fear no ill.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God, to turn thy mind to the Lord God, from whom life comes; whereby thou mayest receive His strength, and power to allay all blustering storms and tempests. That is it which works up into patience, into innocency, into soberness, into stillness, into stayedness, into quietness, up to God with His power. Therefore be still awhile from thy own thoughts, searching, seeking, desires, and imaginations, and be stayed in the principle of God in thee, that it may raise thy mind up to God, and stay it upon God; and thou wilt find strength from Him, and find Him to be a God at hand, a present help in the time of trouble and need.
I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.—PS. xl. 1.
Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,—ROM. v. 3, 4.
Lord, we have wandered forth through doubt and sorrow, And Thou hast made each step an onward one; And we will ever trust each unknown morrow,— Thou wilt sustain us till its work is done.
It is possible, when the future is dim, when our depressed faculties can form no bright ideas of the perfection and happiness of a better world,—it is possible still to cling to the conviction of God's merciful purpose towards His creatures, of His parental goodness even in suffering; still to feel that the path of duty, though trodden with a heavy heart, leads to peace; still to be true to conscience; still to do our work, to resist temptation, to be useful, though with diminished energy, to give up our wills when we cannot rejoice under God's mysterious providence. In this patient, though uncheered obedience, we become prepared for light. The soul gathers force.
WM. E. CHANNING.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.—MATT. v. 48.
As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.—PS. xvii. 15.
The righteousness he marks in Thee His will to right doth win; Delighting in Thy purity, He deeply drinks it in.
T. H. GILL.
To love God is to love His character. For instance, God is Purity. And to be pure in thought and look, to turn away from unhallowed books and conversation, to abhor the moments in which we have not been pure, is to love God. God is Love; and to love men till private attachments have expanded into a philanthropy which embraces all,—at last even the evil and enemies with compassion,—that is to love God. God is Truth. To be true, to hate every form of falsehood, to live a brave, true, real life,—that is to love God. God is Infinite; and to love the boundless, reaching on from grace to grace, adding charity to faith, and rising upwards ever to see the Ideal still above us, and to die with it unattained, aiming insatiably to be perfect even as the Father is perfect,—that is to love God.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.—I PETER i. 8.
If our love were but more simple, We should take Him at His word; And our lives would be all sunshine In the sweetness of our Lord.
F. W. FABER.
What would it be to love absolutely a Being absolutely lovely,—to be able to give our whole existence, every thought, every act, every desire, to that adored One,—to know that He accepts it all, and loves us in return as God alone can love? This happiness grows forever. The larger our natures become, the wider our scope of thought, the stronger our will, the more fervent our affections, the deeper must be the rapture of such God-granted prayer. Every sacrifice resolved on opens wide the gate; every sacrifice accomplished is a step towards the paradise within. Soon it will be no transitory glimpse, no rapture of a day, to be followed by clouds and coldness. Let us but labor, and pray, and wait, and the intervals of human frailty shall grow shorter and less dark, the days of our delight in God longer and brighter, till at last life shall be nought but His love, our eyes shall never grow dim, His smile never turn away.
F. B. COBBE.
These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work.—I CHRON. iv. 23.
A lowlier task on them is laid, With love to make the labor light; And there their beauty they must shed On quiet homes, and lost to sight. Changed are their visions high and fair, Yet, calm and still, they labor there.
HYMNS OF THE AGES.
Anywhere and everywhere we may dwell "with the King for His work." We may be in a very unlikely or unfavorable place for this; it may be in a literal country life, with little enough to be seen of the "goings" of the King around us; it may be among hedges of all sorts, hindrances in all directions; it may be, furthermore, with our hands full of all manner of pottery for our daily task. No matter! The King who placed us "there" will come and dwell there with us; the hedges are all right, or He would soon do away with them; and it does not follow that what seems to hinder our way may not be for its very protection; and as for the pottery, why, that is just exactly what He has seen fit to put into our hands, and therefore it is, for the present, "His work."
F. R. HAVERGAL.
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.—GAL. vi. 2.
Is thy cruse of comfort wasting? Rise and share it with another, And through all the years of famine, It shall serve thee and thy brother. Is thy burden hard and heavy? Do thy steps drag heavily? Help to bear thy brother's burden; God will bear both it and thee.
However perplexed you may at any hour become about some question of truth, one refuge and resource is always at hand: you can do something for some one besides yourself. When your own burden is heaviest, you can always lighten a little some other burden. At the times when you cannot see God, there is still open to you this sacred possibility, to show God; for it is the love and kindness of human hearts through which the divine reality comes home to men, whether they name it or not. Let this thought, then, stay with you: there may be times when you cannot find help, but there is no time when you cannot give help.
GEORGE S. MERRIAM.
Surely, I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.—PS. cxxxi. 2.
Quiet, Lord, my froward heart, Make me teachable and mild, Upright, simple, free from art, Make me as a weaned child; From distrust and envy free, Pleased with all that pleaseth Thee.
Oh! look not after great things: small breathings, small desires after the Lord, if true and pure, are sweet beginnings of life. Take heed of despising "the day of small things," by looking after some great visitation, proportionable to thy distress, according to thy eye. Nay, thou must become a child; thou must lose thy own will quite by degrees. Thou must wait for life to be measured out by the Father, and be content with what proportion, and at what time, He shall please to measure.
"When Israel was a child, then I loved him" (Hosea xi. 1). Aim to be ever this little child, contented with what the Father gives of pleasure or of play; and when restrained from pleasure or from play, and led for a season into the chamber of sorrow, rest quiet on His bosom, and be patient, and smile, as one who is nestled in a sweet and secure asylum.
If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.—ROM. viii. 25.
One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.—2 PETER iii. 8.
Lord! who Thy thousand years dost wait To work the thousandth part Of Thy vast plan, for us create With zeal a patient heart.
J. H. NEWMAN.
I believe that if we could only see beforehand what it is that our heavenly Father means us to be,—the soul beauty and perfection and glory, the glorious and lovely spiritual body that this soul is to dwell in through all eternity,—if we could have a glimpse of this, we should not grudge all the trouble and pains He is taking with us now, to bring us up to that ideal, which is His thought of us. We know that it is God's way to work slowly, so we must not be surprised if He takes a great many years of discipline to turn a mortal being into an immortal, glorious angel.
Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor,—ZECH. viii. 16.
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity... we have had our conversation in the world.—2 COR. i. 12.
Appear I always what I am? And am I what I am pretending? Know I what way my course is bending? And sound my word and thought the same?
Am I acting in simplicity, from a germ of the Divine life within, or am I shaping my path to obtain some immediate result of expediency? Am I endeavoring to compass effects, amidst a tangled web of foreign influences I cannot calculate; or am I seeking simply to do what is right, and leaving the consequences to the good providence of God?
M. A. SCHIMMELPENNINCK.
Let it not be in any man's power to say truly of thee that thou art not simple, or that thou art not good; but let him be a liar whoever shall think anything of this kind about thee; and this is altogether in thy power. For who is he that shall hinder thee from being good and simple?
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.—PS. cxxi. 5.
Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.—PS. cxix. 165.
I rest beneath the Almighty's shade, My griefs expire, my troubles cease; Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed, Wilt keep me still in perfect peace.
One great sign of the practical recognition of the "divine moment," and of our finding God's habitation in it, is constant calmness and peace of mind. Events and things come with the moment; but God comes with them too. So that if He comes in the sunshine, we find rest and joy; and if He comes in the storm, we know He is King of the storms, and our hearts are not troubled. God Himself, though possessing a heart filled with the tenderest feelings, is, nevertheless, an everlasting tranquillity; and when we enter into His holy tabernacle, our souls necessarily enter into the tabernacle of rest.
T. C. UPHAM.
My soul was not only brought into harmony with itself and with God, but with God's providences. In the exercise of faith and love, I endured and performed whatever came in God's providence, in submission, in thankfulness, and silence.
I will arise and go to my Father.—LUKE xv. 18.
O my God, my Father! hear, And help me to believe; Weak and weary I draw near; Thy child, O God, receive. I so oft have gone astray; To the perfect Guide I flee; Thou wilt turn me not away, Thy love is pledged to me.
HYMNS OF THE SPIRIT.
O child, hast thou fallen? arise, and go, with childlike trust, to thy Father, like the prodigal son, and humbly say, with heart and mouth, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son; make me as one of Thy hired servants." And what will thy heavenly Father do but what that father did in the parable? Assuredly He will not change His essence, which is love, for the sake of thy misdoings. Is it not His own precious treasure, and a small thing with Him to forgive thee thy trespasses, if thou believe in Him? for His hand is not shortened that it cannot make thee fit to be saved.
Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.—EX. xiv. 15.
No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.—LUKE ix. 62.
Be trustful, be steadfast, whatever betide thee, Only one thing do thou ask of the Lord,— Grace to go forward wherever He guide thee, Simply believing the truth of His word.
The soul ceases to weary itself with planning and foreseeing, giving itself up to God's Holy Spirit within, and to the teachings of His providence without. He is not forever fretting as to his progress, or looking back to see how far he is getting on; rather he goes steadily and quietly on, and makes all the more progress because it is unconscious. So he never gets troubled and discouraged; if he falls he humbles himself, but gets up at once, and goes on with renewed earnestness.
JEAN NICOLAS GROU.
I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.—PS. xxxiv. I.
I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all Thy marvellous works.—PS. ix. I.
Thrice blest will all our blessings be, When we can look through them to Thee; When each glad heart its tribute pays Of love and gratitude and praise.
That which befits us, embosomed in beauty and wonder as we are, is cheerfulness, and courage, and the endeavor to realize our aspirations. Shall not the heart which has received so much, trust the Power by which it lives? May it not quit other leadings, and listen to the Soul that has guided it so gently, and taught it so much, secure that the future will be worthy of the past?
R. W. EMERSON.
I have experienced that the habit of taking out of the hand of our Lord every little blessing and brightness on our path, confirms us, in an especial manner, in communion with His love.
M. A. SCHIMMELPENNINCK.
The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.—I PETER iii. 4.
To present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight.—COL. i. 22.
Thy sinless mind in us reveal, Thy spirit's plenitude impart! Till all my spotless life shall tell The abundance of a loving heart.
Holiness appeared to me to be of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm nature. It seemed to me, it brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness, and ravishment to the soul; and that it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers, that is all pleasant, delightful, and undisturbed; enjoying a sweet calm, and the gently vivifying beams of the sun. The soul of a true Christian appeared like such a little white flower, as we see in the spring of the year, low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun's glory; rejoicing, as it were, in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrancy; standing peacefully and lovingly in the midst of other flowers round about, all in like manner opening their bosoms to drink in the light of the sun.
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him.—NAHUM i. 7.
Leave God to order all thy ways, And hope in Him, whate'er betide; Thou 'It find Him in the evil days Thy all-sufficient strength and guide; Who trusts in God's unchanging love, Builds on the rock that nought can move.
Our whole trouble in our lot in this world rises from the disagreement of our mind therewith. Let the mind be brought to the lot, and the whole tumult is instantly hushed; let it be kept in that disposition, and the man shall stand at ease, in his affliction, like a rock unmoved with waters beating upon it.
How does our will become sanctified? By conforming itself unreservedly to that of God. We will all that He wills, and will nothing that He does not will; we attach our feeble will to that all-powerful will which performs everything. Thus, nothing can ever come to pass against our will; for nothing can happen save that which God wills, and we find in His good pleasure an inexhaustible source of peace and consolation.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, out of weakness were made strong.—HEB xi. 33, 34.
She met the hosts of Sorrow with a look That altered not beneath the frown they wore, And soon the lowering brood were tamed, and took, Meekly, her gentle rule, and frowned no more. Her soft hand put aside the assaults of wrath, And calmly broke in twain The fiery shafts of pain, And rent the nets of passion from her path. By that victorious hand despair was slain; With love she vanquished hate, and overcame Evil with good, in her great Master's name.
W. C. BRYANT.
As to what may befall us outwardly, in this confused state of things, shall we not trust our tender Father, and rest satisfied in His will? Shall anything hurt us? Can tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, come between the love of the Father to the child, or the child's rest, content, and delight in His love? And doth not the love, the rest, the peace, the joy felt, swallow up all the bitterness and sorrow of the outward condition?
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?—JER. xii. 5.
How couldst thou hang upon the cross, To whom a weary hour is loss? Or how the thorns and scourging brook, Who shrinkest from a scornful look?
A heart unloving among kindred has no love towards God's saints and angels. If we have a cold heart towards a servant or a friend, why should we wonder if we have no fervor towards God? If we are cold in our private prayers, we should be earthly and dull in the most devout religious order; if we cannot bear the vexations of a companion, how should we bear the contradiction of sinners? if a little pain overcomes us, how could we endure a cross? if we have no tender, cheerful, affectionate love to those with whom our daily hours are spent, how should we feel the pulse and ardor of love to the unknown and the evil, the ungrateful and repulsive?
H. E. MANNING.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.—ROM. xii. 10.
In her tongue is the law of kindness.—PROV. xxxi. 26.
Since trifles make the sum of human things, And half our misery from our foibles springs; Since life's best joys consist in peace and ease, And though but few can serve, yet all can please; Oh, let the ungentle spirit learn from hence, A small unkindness is a great offence.
All usefulness and all comfort may be prevented by an unkind, a sour, crabbed temper of mind,—a mind that can bear with no difference of opinion or temperament. A spirit of fault-finding; an unsatisfied temper; a constant irritability; little inequalities in the look, the temper, or the manner; a brow cloudy and dissatisfied—your husband or your wife cannot tell why—will more than neutralize all the good you can do, and render life anything but a blessing.
You have not fulfilled every duty, unless you have fulfilled that of being pleasant.
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names.—PS. cxlvii. 3, 4.
Teach me your mood, O patient stars! Who climb each night the ancient sky, Leaving on space no shade, no scars, No trace of age, no fear to die.
R. W. EMERSON.
I looked up to the heavens once more, and the quietness of the stars seemed to reproach me. "We are safe up here," they seemed to say; "we shine, fearless and confident, for the God who gave the primrose its rough leaves to hide it from the blast of uneven spring, hangs us in the awful hollows of space. We cannot fall out of His safety. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold! Who hath created these things—that bringeth out their host by number? He calleth them all by names. By the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power, not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob! and speakest, O Israel! my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?"
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.—PS. cxviii. 24.
Why stand ye here all the day idle?—MATT. xx. 6.
So here hath been dawning another blue day; Think, wilt thou let it slip useless away? Out of eternity this new day is born; Into eternity at night will return.
Small cares, some deficiencies in the mere arrangement and ordering of our lives, daily fret our hearts, and cross the clearness of our faculties; and these entanglements hang around us, and leave us no free soul able to give itself up, in power and gladness, to the true work of life. The severest training and self-denial,—a superiority to the servitude of indulgence,—are the indispensable conditions even of genial spirits, of unclouded energies, of tempers free from morbidness,—much more of the practised and vigorous mind, ready at every call, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
J. H. THOM.
True, we can never be at peace till we have performed the highest duty of all,—till we have arisen, and gone to our Father; but the performance of smaller duties, yes, even of the smallest, will do more to give us temporary repose, will act more as healthful anodynes, than the greatest joys that can come to us from any other quarter.
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.—JOB i. 21.
What Thou hast given, Thou canst take, And when Thou wilt new gifts can make. All flows from Thee alone; When Thou didst give it, it was Thine; When Thou retook'st it, 't was not mine. Thy will in all be done.
We are ready to praise when all shines fair; but when life is overcast, when all things seem to be against us, when we are in fear for some cherished happiness, or in the depths of sorrow, or in the solitude of a life which has no visible support, or in a season of sickness, and with the shadow of death approaching,—then to praise God; then to say, This fear, loneliness, affliction, pain, and trembling awe are as sure tokens of love, as life, health, joy, and the gifts of home: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;" on either side it is He, and all is love alike; "blessed be the name of the Lord,"—this is the true sacrifice of praise. What can come amiss to a soul which is so in accord with God? What can make so much as one jarring tone in all its harmony? In all the changes of this fitful life, it ever dwells in praise.
H. E. MANNING.
The Lord redeemeth the soul of His servants; and none of them that trust in Him shall be desolate.—PS. xxxiv. 22.
Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.—JOB xiii. 15.
I praise Thee while my days go on; I love Thee while my days go on: Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost, With emptied arms and treasure lost, I thank Thee while my days go on.
E. B. BROWNING.
The sickness of the last week was fine medicine; pain disintegrated the spirit, or became spiritual. I rose,—I felt that I had given to God more perhaps than an angel could,—had promised Him in youth that to be a blot on this fair world, at His command, would be acceptable. Constantly offer myself to continue the obscurest 'and loneliest thing ever heard of, with one proviso,—His agency. Yes, love Thee, and all Thou dost, while Thou sheddest frost and darkness on every path of mine.
MARY MOODY EMERSON.
Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?—JOB ii. 10.
Thou hast dealt well with Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word.—PS. cxix. 65.
Whatsoe'er our lot may be, Calmly in this thought we'll rest,— Could we see as Thou dost see, We should choose it as the best.
It is a proverbial saying, that every one makes his own destiny; and this is usually interpreted, that every one, by his wise or unwise conduct, prepares good or evil for himself: but we may also understand it, that whatever it be that he receives from the hand of Providence, he may so accommodate himself to it, that he will find his lot good for him, however much may seem to others to be wanting.
WM. VON HUMBOLDT.
Evil, once manfully fronted, ceases to be evil; there is generous battle-hope in place of dead, passive misery; the evil itself has become a kind of good.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:... ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.—REV. ii. 10.
Then, O my soul, be ne'er afraid, On Him who thee and all things made Do thou all calmly rest; Whate'er may come, where'er we go, Our Father in the heavens must know In all things what is best.
Guide me, O Lord, in all the changes and varieties of the world; that in all things that shall happen, I may have an evenness and tranquillity of spirit; that my soul may be wholly resigned to Thy divinest will and pleasure, never murmuring at Thy gentle chastisements and fatherly correction. Amen.
Thou art never at any time nearer to God than when under tribulation; which He permits for the purification and beautifying of thy soul.
M. DE MOLINOS.
Prize inward exercises, griefs, and troubles; and let faith and patience have their perfect work in them.
I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.—JOHN xvii. 15.
In busy mart and crowded street, No less than in the still retreat, Thou, Lord, art near, our souls to bless, With all a Father's tenderness.
Only the individual conscience, and He who is greater than the conscience, can tell where worldliness prevails. Each heart must answer for itself, and at its own risk. That our souls are committed to our own keeping, at our own peril, in a world so mixed as this, is the last reason we should slumber over the charge, or betray the trust. If only that outlet to the Infinite is kept open, the inner bond with eternal life preserved, while not one movement of this world's business is interfered with, nor one pulse-beat of its happiness repressed, with all natural associations dear and cherished, with all human sympathies fresh and warm, we shall yet be near to the kingdom of heaven, within the order of the Kosmos of God—in the world, but not of the world—not taken out of it, but kept from its evil.
J. H. THOM.
And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?—MICAH vi. 8.
Put on therefore... kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering.—COL. iii. 12.
Plant in us an humble mind, Patient, pitiful, and kind; Meek and lowly let us be, Full of goodness, full of Thee.
There is no true and constant gentleness without humility; while we are so fond of ourselves, we are easily offended with others. Let us be persuaded that nothing is due to us, and then nothing will disturb us. Let us often think of our own infirmities, and we shall become indulgent towards those of others.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
Endeavor to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, of what sort soever they be; for that thyself also hast many failings which must be borne with by others. If thou canst not make thyself such an one as thou wouldest, how canst thou expect to have another in all things to thy liking?
THOMAS A KEMPIS.
My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.—EX. xxxiii. 14.
Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.—PS. xvi. 11.
Thy presence fills my mind with peace, Brightens the thoughts so dark erewhile, Bids cares and sad forebodings cease, Makes all things smile.
How shall we rest in God? By giving ourselves wholly to Him. If you give yourself by halves, you cannot find full rest; there will ever be a lurking disquiet in that half which is withheld. Martyrs, confessors, and saints have tasted this rest, and "counted themselves happy in that they endured." A countless host of God's faithful servants have drunk deeply of it under the daily burden of a weary life,—dull, commonplace, painful, or desolate. All that God has been to them He is ready to be to you. The heart once fairly given to God, with a clear conscience, a fitting rule of life, and a steadfast purpose of obedience, you will find a wonderful sense of rest coming over you.
JEAN NICOLAS GROU.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.—EPH. vi. 10.
No man can serve two masters.—MATT. vi. 24.
Oh, there are heavenly heights to reach In many a fearful place, Where the poor timid heir of God Lies blindly on his face; Lies languishing for grace divine That he shall never see Till he go forward at Thy sign, And trust himself to Thee.
A. L. WARING.
Reservations lie latent in the mind concerning some unhallowed sentiments or habits in the present, some possibly impending temptations in the future; and thus do we cheat ourselves of inward and outward joys together. We give up many an indulgence for conscience' sake, but stop short at that point of entire faithfulness wherein conscience could reward us. If we would but give ourselves wholly to God,—give up, for the present and the future, every act, and, above all, every thought and every feeling, to be all purified to the uttermost, and rendered the best, noblest, holiest we can conceive,—then would sacrifice bear with it a peace rendering itself, I truly believe, far easier than before.
F. P. COBBE.
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.—I THESS. v. 11.
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.—MATT. xix. 19.
So others shall Take patience, labor, to their heart and hand, From thy hand, and thy heart, and thy brave cheer, And God's grace fructify through thee to all. The least flower with a brimming cup may stand, And share its dewdrop with another near.
E. B. BROWNING.
What is meant by our neighbor we cannot doubt; it is every one with whom we are brought into contact. First of all, he is literally our neighbor who is next to us in our own family and household; husband to wife, wife to husband, parent to child, brother to sister, master to servant, servant to master. Then it is he who is close to us in our own neighborhood, in our own town, in our own parish, in our own street. With these all true charity begins. To love and be kind to these is the very beginning of all true religion. But, besides these, as our Lord teaches, it is every one who is thrown across our path by the changes and chances of life; he or she, whosoever it be, whom we have any means of helping,—the unfortunate stranger whom we may meet in travelling, the deserted friend whom no one else cares to look after.
A. P. STANLEY.
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.—I JOHN iii. 14.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.—I JOHN iv. 8.
Mutual love the token be, Lord, that we belong to Thee; Love, Thine image, love impart; Stamp it on our face and heart; Only love to us be given; Lord, we ask no other heaven.
Oh, how many times we can most of us remember when we would gladly have made any compromise with our consciences, would gladly have made the most costly sacrifices to God, if He would only have excused us from this duty of loving, of which our nature seemed utterly incapable. It is far easier to feel kindly, to act kindly, toward those with whom we are seldom brought into contact, whose tempers and prejudices do not rub against ours, whose interests do not clash with ours, than to keep up an habitual, steady, self-sacrificing love towards those whose weaknesses and faults are always forcing themselves upon us, and are stirring up our own. A man may pass good muster as a philanthropist who makes but a poor master to his servants, or father to his children.
F. D. MAURICE.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.—PS. xxxvii. 7.
Trust in Him at all times.—PS. lxii. 8.
Dost thou ask when comes His hour? Then, when it shall aid thee best. Trust His faithfulness and power, Trust in Him, and quiet rest.
I had found [communion with God] to consist, not only in the silencing of the outward man, but in the silencing also of every thought, and in the concentration of the soul and all its powers into a simple, quiet watching and waiting for the food which its heavenly Father might see fit either to give or to withhold. In no case could it be sent empty away; for, if comfort, light, or joy were withheld, the act of humble waiting at the gate of heavenly wisdom could not but work patience in it, and thus render it, by humility and obedience, more "meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light," and also more blessed in itself.
M. A. KELTY.
"REST IN THE LORD; WAIT PATIENTLY FOR HIM." In Hebrew, "be silent to God, and let Him mould thee." Keep still, and He will mould thee to the right shape.
To be spiritually minded is life and peace.—ROM. viii. 6.
Stilled now be every anxious care; See God's great goodness everywhere; Leave all to Him in perfect rest: He will do all things for the best.
FROM THE GERMAN.
We should all endeavor and labor for a calmer spirit, that we may the better serve God in praying to Him and praising Him; and serve one another in love, that we may be fitted to do and receive good; that we may make our passage to heaven more easy and cheerful, without drooping and hanging the wing. So much as we are quiet and cheerful upon good ground, so much we live, and are, as it were, in heaven.
Possess yourself as much as you possibly can in peace; not by any effort, but by letting all things fall to the ground which trouble or excite you. This is no work, but is, as it were, a setting down a fluid to settle that has become turbid through agitation.
The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long.—DEUT. xxxiii. 12.
Whate'er events betide, Thy will they all perform; Safe in Thy breast my head I hide, Nor fear the coming storm.
H. F. LYTE.
I have seemed to see a need of everything God gives me, and want nothing that He denies me. There is no dispensation, though afflictive, but either in it, or after it, I find that I could not be without it. Whether it be taken from or not given me, sooner or later God quiets me in Himself without it. I cast all my concerns on the Lord, and live securely on the care and wisdom of my heavenly Father. My ways, you know, are, in a sense, hedged up with thorns, and grow darker and darker daily; but yet I distrust not my good God in the least, and live more quietly in the absence of all by faith, than I should do, I am persuaded, if I possessed them.
JOSEPH ELIOT, 1664.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.—PS. xci. I.
They who on the Lord rely, Safely dwell though danger's nigh; Lo! His sheltering wings are spread O'er each faithful servant's head. When they wake, or when they sleep, Angel guards their vigils keep; Death and danger may be near, Faith and love have nought to fear.
"There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling," is a promise to the fullest extent verified in the case of all "who dwell in the secret place of the Most High." To them sorrows are not "evils," sicknesses are not "plagues;" the shadow of the Almighty extending far around those who abide under it, alters the character of all things which come within its influence.
It is faith's work to claim and challenge loving-kindness out of all the roughest strokes of God.
Be content with such things as ye have.—HEB. xiii. 5.
I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.—PHIL. iv. 11 ( R. V.).
No longer forward nor behind I look in hope or fear; But, grateful, take the good I find, The best of now and here.
J. G. WHITTIER.
If we wished to gain contentment, we might try such rules as these:—
1. Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even of the weather.
2. Never picture thyself to thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.
3. Never compare thine own lot with that of another.
4. Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise than it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.
5. Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God's, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it. "The Lord will provide."
E. B. PUSEY.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.—HEB. xii. I1.
I cannot say, Beneath the pressure of life's cares to-day, I joy in these; But I can say That I had rather walk this rugged way, If Him it please.
S. G. BROWNING.
The particular annoyance which befell you this morning; the vexatious words which met your ear and "grieved" your spirit; the disappointment which was His appointment for to-day; the slight but hindering ailment; the presence of some one who is "a grief of mind" to you,—whatever this day seemeth not joyous, but grievous, is linked in "the good pleasure of His goodness" with a corresponding afterward of "peaceable fruit," the very seed from which, if you only do not choke it, this shall spring and ripen.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.—MATT. xxvi. 39.
O Lord my God, do Thou Thy holy will,— I will lie still. I will not stir, lest I forsake Thine arm, And break the charm Which lulls me, clinging to my Father's breast, In perfect rest.
Resignation to the will of God is the whole of piety; it includes in it all that is good; and is a source of the most settled quiet and composure of mind. Our resignation to the will of God may be said to be perfect, when our will is lost and resolved up into His; when we rest in His will as our end, as being itself most just, and right, and good. And where is the impossibility of such an affection to what is just and right and good, such a loyalty of heart to the Governor of the universe, as shall prevail over all sinister indirect desires of our own?
There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God.
F. W. FABER.
Lord, Thy will be done in father, mother, child, in everything and everywhere; without a reserve, without a BUT, an IF, or a limit.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
The Lord beareth your murmurings, which ye murmur against Him.—EX. xvi. 8.
Without murmur, uncomplaining In His hand, Leave whatever things thou canst not Understand.
K. R. HAGENBACH.
One great characteristic of holiness is never to be exacting—never to complain. Each complaint drags us down a degree, in our upward course. If you would discern in whom God's spirit dwells, watch that person, and notice whether you ever hear him murmur.
When we wish things to be otherwise than they are, we lose sight of the great practical parts of the life of godliness. We wish, and wish—when, if we have done all that lies on us, we should fall quietly into the hands of God. Such wishing cuts the very sinews of our privileges and consolations. You are leaving me for a time; and you say that you wish you could leave me better, or leave me with some assistance: but, if it is right for you to go, it is right for me to meet what lies on me, without a wish that I had less to meet, or were better able to meet it.
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.—LUKE xvi, 10.
The Lord preserveth the faithful.—PS. xxxi. 23
The trivial round, the common task, Would furnish all we ought to ask; Room to deny ourselves; a road To bring us, daily, nearer God.
Exactness in little duties is a wonderful source of cheerfulness.
F. W. FABER.
The unremitting retention of simple and high sentiments in obscure duties is hardening the character to that temper which will work with honor, if need be, in the tumult or on the scaffold.
R. W. EMERSON.
We are too fond of our own will. We want to be doing what we fancy mighty things; but the great point is, to do small things, when called to them, in a right spirit.
It is not on great occasions only that we are required to be faithful to the will of God; occasions constantly occur, and we should be surprised to perceive how much our spiritual advancement depends on small obediences.
Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.—COL. I. 11.
God doth not need Either man's works or His own gifts; who best Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best; His state Is kingly; thousands at His bidding speed, And post o'er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait.
We cannot always be doing a great work, but we can always be doing something that belongs to our condition. To be silent, to suffer, to pray when we cannot act, is acceptable to God. A disappointment, a contradiction, a harsh word, an annoyance, a wrong received and endured as in His presence, is worth more than a long prayer; and we do not lose time if we bear its loss with gentleness and patience, provided the loss was inevitable, and was not caused by our own fault.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.—HEB. vi. 12.
Where now with pain thou treadest, trod The whitest of the saints of God! To show thee where their feet were set, The light which led them shineth yet.
J. G. WHITTIER.
LET us learn from this communion of saints to live in hope. Those who are now at rest were once like ourselves. They were once weak, faulty, sinful; they had their burdens and hindrances, their slumbering and weariness, their failures and their falls. But now they have overcome. Their life was once homely and common-place. Their day ran out as ours. Morning and noon and night came and went to them as to us. Their life, too, was as lonely and sad as yours. Little fretful circumstances and frequent disturbing changes wasted away their hours as yours. There is nothing in your life that was not in theirs; there was nothing in theirs but may be also in your own. They have overcome, each one, and one by one; each in his turn, when the day came, and God called him to the trial. And so shall you likewise.
H. E. MANNING.
And thus this man died, leaving his death for an example of a noble courage, and a memorial of virtue, not only unto young men, but unto all his nation.—2 MAC. vi. 31.
Zebulon and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.—JUDGES v. 18.
Though Love repine, and Reason chafe, There came a voice without reply,— 'Tis man's perdition to be safe, When for the truth he ought to die.
R. W. EMERSON.
Some say that the age of chivalry is past. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth, or a man or woman left to say, "I will redress that wrong, or spend my life in the attempt." The age of chivalry is never past, so long as we have faith enough to say, "God will help me to redress that wrong; or, if not me, He will help those that come after me, for His eternal Will is to overcome evil with good."
Thus man is made equal to every event. He can face danger for the right. A poor, tender, painful body, he can run into flame or bullets or pestilence, with duty for his guide.
R. W. EMERSON.
Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: ... let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee.—PS. v. 11.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.—PS. xxiii. 2.
I can hear these violets chorus To the sky's benediction above; And we all are together lying On the bosom of Infinite Love.
Oh, the peace at the heart of Nature! Oh, the light that is not of day! Why seek it afar forever, When it cannot be lifted away?
W. C. GANNETT.
What inexpressible joy for me, to look up through the apple-blossoms and the fluttering leaves, and to see God's love there; to listen to the thrush that has built his nest among them, and to feel God's love, who cares for the birds, in every note that swells his little throat; to look beyond to the bright blue depths of the sky, and feel they are a canopy of blessing,—the roof of the house of my Father; that if clouds pass over it, it is the unchangeable light they veil; that, even when the day itself passes, I shall see that the night itself only unveils new worlds of light; and to know that if I could unwrap fold after fold of God's universe, I should only unfold more and more blessing, and see deeper and deeper into the love which is at the heart of all.
One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.—PS. xxvii. 4.
Thy beauty, O my Father! All is Thine; But there is beauty in Thyself, from whence The beauty Thou hast made doth ever flow In streams of never-failing affluence.
Thou art the Temple! and though I am lame,— Lame from my birth, and shall be till I die,— I enter through the Gate called Beautiful, And am alone with Thee, O Thou Most High!
J. W. CHADWICK.
Consider that all which appears beautiful outwardly, is solely derived from the invisible Spirit which is the source of that external beauty, and say joyfully, "Behold, these are streamlets from the uncreated Fountain; behold, these are drops from the infinite Ocean of all good! Oh! how does my inmost heart rejoice at the thought of that eternal, infinite Beauty, which is the source and origin of all created beauty!"
We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.—2 COR. iii. 18.
Then every tempting form of sin, Shamed in Thy presence, disappears, And all the glowing, raptured soul The likeness it contemplates wears.
Then does a good man become the tabernacle of God, wherein the divine Shechinah does rest, and which the divine glory fills, when the frame of his mind and life is wholly according to that idea and pattern which he receives from the mount. We best glorify Him when we grow most like to Him: and we then act most for His glory, when a true spirit of sanctity, justice, and meekness, runs through all our actions; when we so live in the world as becomes those that converse with the great Mind and Wisdom of the whole world, with that Almighty Spirit that made, supports, and governs all things, with that Being from whence all good flows, and in which there is no spot, stain, or shadow of evil; and so being captivated and overcome by the sense of the Divine loveliness and goodness, endeavor to be like Him, and conform ourselves, as much as may be, to Him.
DR. JOHN SMITH.
The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in Him.—PS. lxiv. 10.
Whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.—PROV. xvi. 20.
The heart that trusts forever sings, And feels as light as it had wings, A well of peace within it springs,— Come good or ill, Whatever to-day, to-morrow brings, It is His will.
He will weave no longer a spotted life of shreds and patches, but he will live with a divine unity. He will cease from what is base and frivolous in his life, and be content with all places, and with any service he can render. He will calmly front the morrow, in the negligency of that trust which carries God with it, and so hath already the whole future in the bottom of the heart.
R. W. EMERSON.
He who believes in God is not careful for the morrow, but labors joyfully and with a great heart. "For He giveth His beloved, as in sleep." They must work and watch, yet never be careful or anxious, but commit all to Him, and live in serene tranquillity; with a quiet heart, as one who sleeps safely and quietly.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.—I COR. xv. 58.
Say not, 'Twas all in vain, The anguish and the darkness and the strife; Love thrown upon the waters comes again In quenchless yearnings for a nobler life.
Did you ever hear of a man who had striven all his life faithfully and singly toward an object and in no measure obtained it? If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated? Did ever a man try heroism, magnanimity, truth, sincerity, and find that there was no advantage in them,—that it was a vain endeavor?
H. D. THOREAU.
Do right, and God's recompense to you will be the power of doing more right. Give, and God's reward to you will be the spirit of giving more: a blessed spirit, for it is the Spirit of God himself, whose Life is the blessedness of giving. Love, and God will pay you with the capacity of more love; for love is Heaven—love is God within you.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth.—I SAM. iii. 9.
Though heralded with nought of fear, Or outward sign or show: Though only to the inward ear It whispers soft and low; Though dropping, as the manna fell, Unseen, yet from above, Noiseless as dew-fall, heed it well,— Thy Father's call of love.
J. G. WHITTIER.
This is one result of the attitude into which we are put by humility, by disinterestedness, by purity, by calmness, that we have the opportunity, the disengagement, the silence, in which we may watch what is the will of God concerning us. If we think no more of ourselves than we ought to think, if we seek not our own but others' welfare, if we are prepared to take all things as God's dealings with us, then we may have a chance of catching from time to time what God has to tell us. In the Mussulman devotions, one constant gesture is to put the hands to the ears, as if to listen for the messages from the other world. This is the attitude, the posture which our minds assume, if we have a standing-place above and beyond the stir and confusion and dissipation of this mortal world.
A. P. STANLEY.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.—REV. iii. 12.
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.—EPH. ii. 22.
None the place ordained refuseth, They are one, and they are all, Living stones, the Builder chooseth For the courses of His wall.
Slowly, through all the universe, that temple of God is being built. Wherever, in any world, a soul, by free-willed obedience, catches the fire of God's likeness, it is set into the growing walls, a living stone. When, in your hard fight, in your tiresome drudgery, or in your terrible temptation, you catch the purpose of your being, and give yourself to God, and so give Him the chance to give Himself to you, your life, a living stone, is taken up and set into that growing wall. Wherever souls are being tried and ripened, in whatever commonplace and homely ways;—there God is hewing out the pillars for His temple. Oh, if the stone can only have some vision of the temple of which it is to be a part forever, what patience must fill it as it feels the blows of the hammer, and knows that success for it is simply to let itself be wrought into what shape the Master wills.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day.—I THESS. v. 5.
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.—PS. xcvii. 11.
Serene will be our days and bright, And happy will our nature be, When love is an unerring light, And joy its own security.
Nothing can produce so great a serenity of life, as a mind free from guilt, and kept untainted, not only from actions, but purposes that are wicked. By this means the soul will be not only unpolluted, but not disturbed; the fountain will run clear and unsullied, and the streams that flow from it will be just and honest deeds, ecstasies of satisfaction, a brisk energy of spirit, which makes a man an enthusiast in his joy, and a tenacious memory, sweeter than hope. For as shrubs which are cut down with the morning dew upon them do for a long time after retain their fragrancy, so the good actions of a wise man perfume his mind, and leave a rich scent behind them. So that joy is, as it were, watered with these essences, and owes its flourishing to them.
Who hath despised the day of small things? ZECH. iv. 10.
Little things On little wings Bear little souls to heaven.
An occasional effort even of an ordinary holiness may accomplish great acts of sacrifice, or bear severe pressure of unwonted trial, specially if it be the subject of observation. But constant discipline in unnoticed ways, and the spirit's silent unselfishness, becoming the hidden habit of the life, give to it its true saintly beauty, and this is the result of care and lowly love in little things. Perfection is attained most readily by this constancy of religious faithfulness in all minor details of life, consecrating the daily efforts of self-forgetting love.
T. T. CARTER.
Love's secret is to be always doing things for God, and not to mind because they are such very little ones.
F. W. FABER.
There may be living and habitual conversation in heaven, under the aspect of the most simple, ordinary life. Let us always remember that holiness does not consist in doing uncommon things, but in doing everything with purity of heart.
H. E. MANNING.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.—PROV. xvi. 32.
Purge from our hearts the stains so deep and foul, Of wrath and pride and care; Send Thine own holy calm upon the soul, And bid it settle there!
Let this truth be present to thee in the excitement of anger,—that to be moved by passion is not manly, but that mildness and gentleness, as they are more agreeable to human nature, so also are they more manly. For in the same degree in which a man's mind is nearer to freedom from all passion, in the same degree also is it nearer to strength.
It is no great matter to associate with the good and gentle, for this is naturally pleasing to all, and every one willingly enjoyeth peace, and loveth those best that agree with him. But to be able to live peaceably with hard and perverse persons, or with the disorderly, or with such as go contrary to us, is a great grace, and a most commendable and manly thing.
THOMAS A KEMPIS.
Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.—ISA. I. 10.
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.—PS. xviii. 28.
When we in darkness walk, Nor feel the heavenly flame, Then is the time to trust our God, And rest upon His name.
A. M. TOPLADY.
He has an especial tenderness of love towards thee for that thou art in the dark and hast no light, and His heart is glad when thou dost arise and say, "I will go to my Father." For He sees thee through all the gloom through which thou canst not see Him. Say to Him, "My God, I am very dull and low and hard; but Thou art wise and high and tender, and Thou art my God. I am Thy child. Forsake me not." Then fold the arms of thy faith, and wait in quietness until light goes up in the darkness. Fold the arms of thy Faith, I say, but not of thy Action: bethink thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and go and do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend; heed not thy feelings: do thy work.
In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.—PS. cxxxviii. 3.
It is not that I feel less weak, but Thou Wilt be my strength; it is not that I see Less sin; but more of pardoning love with Thee, And all-sufficient grace. Enough! And now All fluttering thought is stilled; I only rest, And feel that Thou art near, and know that I am blest.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
Yea, though thou canst not believe, yet be not dismayed thereat; only do thou sink into, or at least pant after the hidden measure of life, which is not in that which distresseth, disturbeth, and filleth thee with thoughts, fears, troubles, anguish, darknesses, terrors, and the like; no, no! but in that which inclines to the patience, to the stillness, to the hope, to the waiting, to the silence before the Father.
We have only to be patient, to pray, and to do His will, according to our present light and strength, and the growth of the soul will go on. The plant grows in the mist and under clouds as truly as under sunshine. So does the heavenly principle within.
W. E. CHANNING.
Then answered he me, and said, This is the condition of the battle which man that is born upon the earth shall fight; that, if he be overcome, he shall suffer as thou hast said: but if he get the victory, he shall receive the thing that I say.—2 ESDRAS vii. 57, 58.
One holy Church, one army strong, One steadfast high intent, One working band, one harvest-song, One King omnipotent.
We listened to a man whom we felt to be, with all his heart and soul and strength, striving against whatever was mean and unmanly and unrighteous in our little world. It was not the cold clear voice of one giving advice and warning from serene heights to those who were struggling and sinning below, but the warm living voice of one who was fighting for us and by our sides, and calling on us to help him and ourselves and one another. And so, wearily and little by little, but surely and steadily on the whole, was brought home to the young boy, for the first time, the meaning of his life; that it was no fool's or sluggard's paradise into which he had wandered by chance, but a battle-field ordained from of old, where there are no spectators, but the youngest must take his side, and the stakes are life and death.
If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.—I JOHN i. 7.
God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.—HEB. vi. 10.
Wherever in the world I am, In whatsoe'er estate, I have a fellowship with hearts, To keep and cultivate, And a work of lowly love to do For the Lord on whom I wait.
A. L. WARING.
We do not always perceive that even the writing of a note of congratulation, the fabrication of something intended as an offering of affection, our necessary intercourse with characters which have no congeniality with our own, or hours apparently trifled away in the domestic circle, may be made by us the performance of a most sacred and blessed work; even the carrying out, after our feeble measure, of the design of God for-the increase of happiness.
SARAH W. STEPHEN.
Definite work is not always that which is cut and squared for us, but that which comes as a claim upon the conscience, whether it's nursing in a hospital, or hemming a handkerchief.
ELIZABETH M. SEWELL.
The Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.—ISA. xiv. 3.
To-day, beneath Thy chastening eye, I crave alone for peace and rest; Submissive in Thy hand to lie, And feel that it is best.
J. G. WHITTIER.
O Lord, who art as the Shadow of a great Rock in a weary land, who beholdest Thy weak creatures weary of labor, weary of pleasure, weary of hope deferred, weary of self; in Thine abundant compassion, and unutterable tenderness, bring us, I pray Thee, unto Thy rest. Amen.
CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.
Grant to me above all things that can be desired, to rest in Thee, and in Thee to have my heart at peace. Thou art the true peace of the heart, Thou its only rest; out of Thee all things are hard and restless. In this very peace, that is, in Thee, the One Chiefest Eternal Good, I will sleep and rest. Amen.
THOMAS A KEMPIS.
Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord; and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.—PS. xlvi. 1,2.
Though waves and storms go o'er my head, Though strength and health and friends be gone, Though joys be withered all, and dead, Though every comfort be withdrawn, On this my steadfast soul relies,— Father! Thy mercy never dies.
JOHANN A. ROTHE.
Your external circumstances may change, toil may take the place of rest, sickness of health, trials may thicken within and without. Externally, you are the prey of such circumstances; but if your heart is stayed on God, no changes or chances can touch it, and all that may befall you will but draw you closer to Him. Whatever the present moment may bring, your knowledge that it is His will, and that your future heavenly life will be influenced by it, will make all not only tolerable, but welcome to you, while no vicissitudes can affect you greatly, knowing that He who holds you in His powerful hand cannot change, but abideth forever.
JEAN NICOLAS GROU.
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.—EPH. iii. 20, 21.
We would not meagre gifts down-call When Thou dost yearn to yield us all; But for this life, this little hour, Ask all Thy love and care and power.
God so loveth us that He would make all things channels to us and messengers of His love. Do for His sake deeds of love, and He will give thee His love. Still thyself, thy own cares, thy own thoughts for Him, and He will speak to thy heart. Ask for Himself, and He will give thee Himself. Truly, a secret hidden thing is the love of God, known only to them who seek it, and to them also secret, for what man can have of it here is how slight a foretaste of that endless ocean of His love!
E. B. PUSEY.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.—MATT. vi. 28.
They do not toil: Content with their allotted task They do but grow; they do not ask A richer lot, a higher sphere, But in their loveliness appear, And grow, and smile, and do their best, And unto God they leave the rest.
Interpose no barrier to His mighty life-giving power, working in you all the good pleasure of His will. Yield yourself up utterly to His sweet control. Put your growing into His hands as completely as you have put all your other affairs. Suffer Him to manage it as He will. Do not concern yourself about it, nor even think of it. Trust Him absolutely and always. Accept each moment's dispensation as it comes to you from His dear hands, as being the needed sunshine or dew for that moment's growth. Say a continual "yes" to your Father's will.
H. W. SMITH.
Thine own self-will and anxiety, thy hurry and labor, disturb thy peace, and prevent Me from working in thee. Look at the little flowers, in the serene summer days; they quietly open their petals, and the sun shines into them with his gentle influences. So will I do for thee, if thou wilt yield thyself to Me.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?—MATT. vi. 30.
I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever—PS. lii. 8.
Calmly we look behind us, on joys and sorrows past, We know that all is mercy now, and shall be well at last; Calmly we look before us,—we fear no future ill, Enough for safety and for peace, if Thou art with us still.