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FOUR REASONS. Sir Matthew Hale has given these four reasons why no man should delay his preparation for death and eternity :1. You know not whether you may not be overtaken with sudden death, and then it will be impossible for you to begin that work.
2. If you have sickness to give you warning of the approach of death, yet you know not whether that sickness may not suddenly take away your senses, memory, or understanding, whereby you may be disabled to make your peace with God, or to exercise any serious thoughts concerning it. 3. But if that sickness give you fair warning, and take not away your understanding, yet your own experience cannot choose but let you know that pain, and weakness, and distraction of mind, and in patience, and unquietness, are the common attendants of a sick bed, and render that season, at least, very difficult then to begiu that greatest, and solemnest, and most important business of a man's life. 4. But if your sickness be not so sharp, but that it leaves you patience and attention of mind for that great business, how do you know whether your heart shall be inclined to it ? Repentance and conversion to God is His gift, though it must be our endeavour. And though the merciful God never refuseth a repenting returning offender, yet how can a man that all the time of his health hath neglected Almighty GOD, refused His invitations, and served his lusts and his sin, expect reasonably that God, in the time of sickness, when the man can serve his sins no longer, will give him the grace of repentance ?
To sin in hopes of pardon, and upon the prospect of future repentance, is itself a great aggravation of sin, and a sad abuse of the mercy of God. -BP. SHERLOCK.
LIFE, A SOJOURNING, - It hath pleased the Providence of my God so to contrive it that this day, this very morning, fourscore years ago, was born into the world. A great time since, ye are ready to say, and so it seems to you that look at it forward; but to me that look at it past, it seems so short, that it is gone like a tale that is told, or a dream by night, and looks but like yesterday. It can be no offence for me to say that many of you who hear me this day are not like to see so many suns walk over
your heads as I have done. There is not one of us that can assure himself of his continuance here one day. We are all tenants at will, and, for aught we know, may be turned out of these clay cottages at an hour's warning. Oh, then, what should we do but, as wise husbandmen, carefully and seasonably provide ourselves a surer and more during tenure?-Bp. HALL.
THE TREE OF LIFE.--To whom, blessed LORD Jesus, should we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. Thou art the true Tree of Life, in the midst of the paradise of God. For ns men and for our salvation, Thou didst condescend to be planted, in a lowly form, upon the earth. But Thy head soon reached to heaven, and Thy branches to the end of the earth. Thy head is covered with glory, and Thy branches are the branches of honour and grace.
Medicinal are Thy leaves to heal every malady, and Thy fruits are all the blessings of immortality. It is our hope, our support, our comfort, and all our joy, to reflect that, wearied with the labours, and worn out with the cares and sorrows of a fallen world, we shall sit down under Thy shadow with great delight, and Thy fruit shall be sweet to our taste.-Bp. HORNE.
There will a time come, when every careless man shall desire the respite of one hour for prayer and repentance, and I know not who will grant it. Happy is he that so lives, that in the day of death he rejoices, and is not amazed.-BP. JEREMY TAYLOR.
In the journey of life, as in other jou it is a pleasing reflection that we have friends who are think. ing of us at home, and who will receive us with joy when our journey is at an end.-BP. HORNE.
A LAY FOR ASH-WEDNESDAY.
(From the German of Jacobi.) Hence with dance, and songs of glad.
From the altar, through the palace,
And, unstain'd by earth's alloy,
HENRY THOMPSON, Rectory, Wrington,
Feb. 12, 1848.
See them toiling, striving, straining,
parted, Joyless, peaceless, broken-hearted,Constancy, with gaze of gloom, Contemplates a crumbling tombShall that soul of love and trust Turn to ashes and to dust? On the vernal rosegale sailing, Fills the air distressful wailing; Mourns aloud the widow'd maid Vainly wedded to a shade.Love can ne'er have liv'd in vainWhat hath set, shall rise again. And the kind fraternal yearning, Hate with deeds of love returning, Prompt Affliction's tear to dry, Pouring balm on Poverty : Never can it live in vain. What hath set, shall rise again, They who, ever heavenward gazing, To their hopes their lives upraising, From this land of shadows flee, Bow to th' Invisible the knee:O they shall arise again! Faith can ne'er believe in vain ! They who to its Father tender Childlike all the soul surrender,
A SAGACIOUS Dog.-A party of gipsies pitched their camp close by the river side, and sent down to a worthy friend of mine, hearing that “he was a mighty squire after dogs," to request him to come up and see their Newfoundland dog fill the kettle with water, and hang it on the hook to boil. He was too glad to obey the simmons, and at once saw a strong party of gipsies, some manly looking fellows, and some of the younger women interesting in appearance, possessing the marks of shrewdness and quickness of intel. lect in their countenances. The dog “Fiddler,” very large and handsome, was introduced as the performer, and in a moment a great tawny ruffian, drawing himself up to his full height,
Attention, sir : where is the kettle!" upon which the dog instantly jumped on a donkey's back, and out of a pannier, in which were crammed two young gipsies with eyes sparkling like diamonds, pulled out the black kettle, in the gentlest way, from the cradle or pannier. He then said, “Come, sir, look alive; go, fill it; bring it me quick.” The dog went some way down a stream of purest water that ran into the river, before he could find a part deep enough, and then holding the handle of the kettle in his mouth, dipped it into the water, the gipsy crying out, Full, sir, full !”
The dog brought it to him filled to the brim, and the gipsy said softly, “ Put the water to boil; the squire is coming to tea ;" on which the dog actually stretched his neck over a strong fire of burning logs of wood, and hung the kettle on the hook; and this feat he performs five or six times a day.--Ernest Singleton.
Part XVI., VOL. III.)
LIFE OF ALCUIN.
CHAP. I. The same year (A.D. 735) in which the Venerable Bede, the most eminent saint and teacher in our Church during the AngloSaxon period, was called to his reward, there was born at York a holy man, who, from his piety and learning was distinguished above all his contemporaries; and who, under the patronage of the emperor Charlemagne, became the great restorer of learning on the continent of Europe.
This was Ilacius Albinus Alcuin of York, so called to distinguish him from Alcuin, Abbot of Canterbury, who flourished about fifty years later. Alcuin, who was born of a noble family, was at a very early age dedicated to the service of the altar, and intrusted to the abbot of the monastery, where he continued till he was old enough to be placed in the school founded by Egbert, Archbishop of York, which was celebrated for the number of noble youths who crowded thither to derive instruction from the lips of that prelate. Here he soon distinguished himself by his studious habits, and was held in great esteem by Albert, whom his kinsman Egbert had appointed to assist him in the management of the school.
Alcuin appears to have been much attached to his master, and in after life thus speaks of him. “Albert was a pattern of goodmess, justice, piety, and liberality; a teacher who taught the Catholic faith with a spirit of love; an excellent ruler of the Church in which he was brought up : when he spoke of the law, it was as the call of the trumpet to awake to judgment; but he was still the herald of salvation, stern to the stout-hearted who refused to bend, but kind and gentle to the good : the hope of the poor, the solace of the distressed, the father of orphans; and the more humble, the more he was exalted.”
Although deeply learned himself, he did not impose the same course of reading and study on all his pupils, but according to their abilities and inclination, chose out different branches of education for them. If he marked any young men who showed signs of talent and good disposition, like a good master, he made them his friends by an affectionate regard to their improvement; and thus
he had many who, out of kindness to their instructor, after they had gone through the arts and sciences, sought his guidance to help them to understand their Bible; for there is no greater mistake than to suppose that the Bible was not diligently and prayerfully studied in these early times. A passage from the writings of the holy martyr Cyprian, as our own Cranmer calls him, was adapted by Alcuin, and became almost proverbial in the Anglo-Saxon Church. • He that would be much with God, let him often pray, and let him often read the Holy Scripture. For when we pray we speak to God, and when we read Holy Writ, then God speaketh to us.”
Eaubald and Alcuin are mentioned as having been Albert's favourite pupils, the latter of whom, when he had reached his twentieth year, was chosen to accompany him on a visit to the continent, in search of books and of new discoveries in science. They travelled together through France to Italy, to their ultimate destination, Rome, where their stay does not seem to have been of very long duration. On his return to England, Albert was received with great honour, and in answer to a petition from the people to the king of Northumbria, that on the death of Egbert he might be appointed his successor, he was in 766 consecrated Archbishop of York.
Immediately on his accession to this see, he ordained Alcuin deacon, appointed him to fill the place which he had himself occupied in the school, and gave him the care of the extensive library attached to it. Under his able superintendence the school increased in reputation, and many foreigners came to partake of the advantages derived from his teaching. To this circumstance may be attributed the fact, that when, a few years later, he again visited Rome, whither he had been sent to obtain the pall* from Pope Adrian I. for Eaubald, who had succeeded Albert as Archbishop of York, his fame had so far spread among places of learning abroad, that on his being introduced to Charlemagne at Parma, he received a very pressing invitation from that monarch to settle in his dominions, and become his adviser and assistant in the projects of reform which he then meditated. Alcuin would not accept these proffered honours without first obtaining the consent of the king, and Archbishop of his native province. Having done this, he returned to France in the year 782, taking with him some of his own pupils as companions.
The emperor Charlemagne was fully sensible of the benefit which would accrue, not only to his own family, but to his kingdom in general, from the presence of so learned and pious a man as Alcuin, at a period when learning, except in Britain, was at a very low ebb; he therefore immediately gave him the preferment of three abbeys, and while he acted as the instructor of his children, he lived as the friend and counsellor of the Frankish monarch. During eight years, Alcuin devoted his time and talents to the advancement of religion and useful learning over the whole of Charlemagne's dominions. His first care was to provide correct copies of the Holy Scriptures, books of prayer, and other holy offices used in Churches, which had become scarce during the long years of war and disorder in France. These he caused to be prepared by scribes, whom it was the custom to employ in those days, when there were many persons who read books, and but few whó had skill in writing. Next to the Holy Scriptures, he employed himself in making extracts (as Bede had done) from the Christian Fathers, the best interpreters of the Scriptures ; nor did he neglect to promote the procuring and copying of manuscripts of such classical authors, grammarians, orators, and poets, as he had himself studied and taught at York.
* The pall was a kind of mantle made of wool, worn upon the shoulders of Bishops to represent the sheep which CHRIST, the good Shepherd, carried on His shoulders. This was first granted by kings to prelates, but eventually the Pope claimed the right of granting it, as a token of the usurped supremacy of the Roman See. A figure of the pall forms part of the archiepiscopal arms of Canterbury.
As I said before, Alcuin remained eight years in France, when, notwithstanding the earnest entreaties of Charlemagne that he would make the court of France his lasting home, he returned to York (A.D. 790) as ambassador from Charlemagne to king Offa, between whom and the emperor some misunderstanding had arisen.
Before quitting France Alcuin promised that if it were consistent with his duty to his sovereign, and the state of the kingdom permitted it, he would return without loss of time. At this period the kingdom of Northumbria was involved in troubles, and it was not till the year 792 that Alcuin, pressed by the letters of Charlemagne, who stood greatly in need of his assistance in repressing a heresy which threatened to cause a division in the Frankish Church, received the permission of Bishop Eaubald and King Ethelred to return to France. He was accompanied thither by a number of English ecclesiastics, who were afterwards instrumental in condemning the doctrinal innovations advanced by the Spanish Bishops, Felix of Urgel, and Elipandus of Toledo; against the former of whom, who denied the Divinity of CHRIST, Alcuin wrote several controversial treatises, which had the happy effect of inducing him to abjure his God-denying heresy.
Re-established at the court of Charlemagne, we again see Alcuin his faithful friend, counsellor, and the unwearied instructor of his three sons, Charles, Pepin, and Louis, with whom were associated, in what was called “the school of the palace,” other young noblemen, together with several of the older persons of the court, princes, counsellors, and bishops, who were attracted by the skill of the teacher to listen to his lectures.