Page images
PDF
EPUB

along the starry sky pass from earth to heaven; the meanest cottage where a believer dwells is joined to the throne of God. No accident stops that telegraph. The lines of providence radiate out, and the lines of prayer radiate in. Touched with a fellow-feeling for your infirmities, Christ suffers all your wrongs, is sensible of your every want, and hears every prayer you utter. You can never apply to him too often ; you cannot ask of him too much. To his ear the needy's prayers are sweeter music than the voice of angels, or the best strung harp in heaven. In a distant land, how bitterly the poor invalid thinks of home ! Oh! how he wishes he could annihilate the seas that roll between him and his mother, and remove his sick-bed, far from her kind attentions. A stranger in a strange land, the bitter tears rise the faster in his eye as busy fancy flies away, and the home of his boyhood stands before him, and the cool breeze wafting odours from the flowers kisses his cheek, and he passes under the shadow of the trees where he played a happy child, and, entering the well-known door, he hears his sister's song, and a father's merry laugh, and a mother's sweet, soft, loving voice, and sees those that would hasten to his help, and hang over his bed, and smooth his restless pillow, and wipe the deathsweat from his brow, gathered, a bright and happy circle, by a fireside he shall never more see. It is sweet to feel that any one cares for us; sweet. est in suffering's hour to have those near who love us, to see the glistening tear, and hear the kind tones of unwearying affection. But human sympathy, take it at the best, is liable to a thousand interruptions; and then we have sometimes sorrows that we hide from others, with which a bosom friend is not allowed to intermeddle. But, blessed Jesus ! there is no sorrow thy people hide from thee, nor any pang thy members feel but it is felt by thee. Thanks be to God that, selecting from our frame its most sensitive and tender part, he has set this forth in an image which all can appreciate and understand. “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” If, to words that so beautifully and fully set forth the tender sympathy which Christ, as their Head, cherishes for his beloved people, I could venture to add any that ever fell from mortal lips, I would select those of Margaret Wilson, Scotland's maiden martyr. Some two hundred years ago, there was a dark period of suffering in this land, when deeds of bloody cruelty were committed on God's people, not outdone by Indian butcheries. One day the tide is flowing in the Solway Firth, rushing, like a race-horse, with snowy mane to the shore. It is occupied by groups of weeping spectators. They keep their eyes fixed on two objects out upon the wet sands. There, two women, each tied fast by their arms and limbs to a stake, stand within the sea-mark; and many an earnest prayer is going up to heaven that Christ, who bends from his throne to the sight, would help them now in their dreadful hour of need. The elder of the two is staked farthest out. Margaret, the young martyr, stands bound, a fair sacrifice, near by the shore. Well, on the big billows come, hissing to their naked feet; on and further on they come, death riding on the top of the waves, and eyed by these tender women with unflinching courage. The waters rise and rise, till, amid a scream and cry of horror from the shore, the lessening form of her that had death first to face, is lost in the foam of the surging wave, It recedes, but only to return ; and

now, the sufferer gasping for breath, her death struggle is begun; and now, for Margaret's trial and her noble answer. “What see you yonder ?” said their murderers, as, while the water rose cold on her own limbs, they pointed her attention to her fellow-confessor in the suffocating agonies of a protracted death. Response full of the boldest faith, and brightest hope, and all the divine, unfathomed consolation of my text to you, she firmly answered, “I see Christ suffering in one of his own members.” Brave and glorious words! borrowed in that hour from the precious language of my text, and leading us to the apostle's most comforting and sublime conclusion, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

[ocr errors]

THERE are certain points where the different king. doms of Nature meet, and are, indeed, interwoven into each other. Each in turn passes the boundary line into the other's domain, as the land and the Sea do, here, in the headland that stands so boldly out among the boiling waves, there, in the beautiful bay that lies asleep, locked in the arms of the land.

In our conservatories, for instance, you may see flowers which present a strong, very curious, and surprising resemblance to some of the insect tribes. Leaves stand up above the body of the flower, in form, position, and brilliant colors, so like painted wings, that the flowers themselves appear to be gorgeous but terflies, suspended in the air, and hovering over the plant, just as you have often seen the insect on fluttering wing ere it alighted to drink the nectar from gold, or silver, or ruby cup. The animal world, too, is furnished with things as strange; presenting, if I may say so, a corresponding play and display of divine power. If there are flowers like insects, there are insects so like leaves, fresh and green, or sere and yellow, that the deception is complete; nor is the mistake discovered, till, on putting out your hand to pluck the leaf, you stand amazed to see it in an instant, as by magic,

change into a living creature, and, taking wing, fly off. These objects are more than curious. A thoughtful eye sees there not only the skill and power, but the goodness of him, who, in that strange livery, so masks a helpless creature, that its enemies are deceived, and it is protected from their attacks. When we see such exquisite devices and almighty power put forth to shield the meanest insect, what force does it give to our Lord's exhortation, Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. But the kingdoms of nature touch at points still more real and palpable. They are so shaded off into each other, that some of the animals which occupy their borders present a combination of properties puzzling even to philosophers, and an inexplicable wonder to the ignorant multitude. The power of flying be. longs to birds, and the power of walking to quadrupeds; yet there are birds that never fly, and fourfooted animals that never walk. It is the characteristic of land animals to breathe by lungs, and of fishes to breathe by gills; yet there are inhabitants of the sea which breathe like creatures of the shore, and, on the other hand, in dry and dusty walls, and beneath the stones of the moorland, there are creatures whose breathing organs are the same as those of fishes. Sensibility characterizes animals, insensibility plants; but there are plants with leaves so sensitive that they shrink from the slightest touch—shutting like an eyelid, if they be rudely blown upon ; while, on the other hand, there are animals which you may turn inside out, like the finger of a glove, and the rudeness seems to give them no pain, and certainly neither destroys their life, nor deranges their functions. Deprived of light, plants pale and sicken, droop and die; and so

« PreviousContinue »