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We know an old man in regard to whom we have had many serious thoughts. As often as we have seen him we are immediately set on a train of thoughts and reflections from which for a long time we find it hard to escape. We have long ago thought of making him the subject of an article for the Guardian, and thus to give expression to some of the thoughts which his case has awakened in our mind. We have at length brought ourself to the task.
First of all, we must give the reader a brief account of his circumstances and manner of life. In his earlier life he was in business, by which he gained a competency, and has now retired and lives on his income. He possesses a comfortable house and home; but he does not seem to have any fondness for being at home. He eats and sleeps at home, but all the day long, from early in the morning, till late in the evening, in summer, he may be seen, away from his house, sitting before the tavern. In the winter he is found inside, in the bar-room.
Let not the reader suppose that he is too fond of strong drink, and for this reason lingers around the tavern. He is a sober man; it is doubtful whether he ever tastes a drop of liquor; and yet there he linyers, around the tavern he hangs, as if he were wedded to it. This it is that makes the problem. This it is which we cannot understand. This strange taste in an old man has often puzzled us.
Fie has nothing to do there. He does not even read a paper there ; and half the time he has no company, but sits there in a kind of vacant loneliness. Just to be there seems to satisfy him.
On reflection, it has occurred to us that similar habits are somewhat common with old men who are living at leisure. We do not mean that all show the same kind of partiality for the tavern ; but they seem to have some similar place of resort, where they spend most of their time. Perhaps, having been used to an active life, time moves heavily with them now that they labor no more; but still the question has often presented itself to us whether they could not find recreation in a way more profitable to them, and more suitable to the character and condition of
As often as we see our old man sitting before the tavern, we feel as if he were out of place, and wonder why his taste does not lead him to enjoy himself in some other way.
The Psalmist says of aged Saints, "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.” It always seems to us that this lingering about the tavern is by far too meaningless to be regarded as the proper fruit of old age. We would look for something of a different order altogether. It would perhaps be impertinent in us, should we attempt to point out what an old man ought to do, and what ways, or what places are proper to him. Nor will we attempt it. All we desire, is to express how we feel when we contemplate this old man's manner of life. We always wonder whether he reads much in God's word, and finds it sweeter than honey, or the honey.comb; whether he is fond of good books, and finds delight in reading them; whether he really and earnestly remembers that he has but a short time to remain on earth ; that he ought to set his house fully in order, and use all diligence to make his calling and election sure ?
This it is that troubles us in the case of the old man. that if these things were really in his mind and heart as they ought to be, he would at least be more of his time in the retirement of his home, in reading and meditation, and would find the tavern less necessary for his pastime and happiness. What increases our fears in regard to him, is the fact that even on those evenings in the week, when the church is open for service, and the bells are ringing over his head, he seems as greatly content in his place of idle pastime as at any other time. How shall we make this fact harmonize with the idea that he is preparing for another world as earnestly as an old man should do, who according to the course of nature must certainly leave this before many years.
The proverb says, “ The young may die, but the old must die." It seems a solemn thing to know that the allotted time has nearly run out, and that all the solemn things beyond the grave are at band. This, we should suppose, an old man could hardly fail to call to mind. If he does so, it ought certainly to make him watchful, prayerful, and meditative. There are many things which he would wish to arrange. He would earnestly and carefully review his life, examine his faith and the foundation of his hope, and look out daily for the chariots of Israel to bear him away to the world which awaits the righteous. To this end he would find the reading of the Bible, as well as human works of faith and piety, important help. Meditation would be delightful and refresh. ing exercise to him, and for this purpose we could certainly not seek the element which reigns around a tavern.
It is indeed very singular that an aged person can be so unconcerned as many seem to be. We even find them often not professors of religion; they are no members of the church, have not, perhaps, even been baptized; and have never in a long life obeyed our Saviour's dying command, “Do this in remembrance of me !" Yea, in some cases the words of the poet are literally fulfilled in their case,
Behold the aged sinner goes
How fearful is the thought! How sad that so many years, so long a life, should be spent in neglect of "the one thing needful !" How sad that one to whom a kind, heavenly father, has given years of mercy, should at last be constrained to say in bitter and hopeless regret : "the harvest is past: the Summer is ended, and I am not saved !"
We hope this may not be the fate of our old man. And yet we fear for him, and for all others who show a like carelessness in matters of religion. We hope also that there is not one aged reader of the Guardianı who is spending his few last years in as fruitless and unmeaning a way. There is no time to be lost. We must work while the day lasts, the night is coming when no man can work!
HYMN FOR PASSION SEASON.
PROBABLY never did human sorrow for sin, or cry for mercy, find more piercing utterance than in this magnificent old penitential Hymn:
Saviour, when in dust, to thee,
By thy birth and early years,
By thine hour of dark despair,
By thy deep expiring groan,
DREAMS OF THE BIBLE.
BY R. P. T.
No feature, perhaps, in the eventful life of Joseph could be touched upon without eliciting deep and absorbing interest. This will hold equally true with regard to his dreams. As a general thing, Joseph may be said to be a favorite Bible character-especially with the young. Indeed we cannot see how it could be otherwise. His life exhibits enough of the wonderful and mysterious to give to his history all the bewitching charms of romance; while the deep toned colorings and impressive moral lessons of a picture truest to nature, form the unvarying background. In how many respects may it not be said with all propriety of him, that “truth is stranger than fiction !"
In close connection, the xxxviith Chapter of Genesis thus records his two dreams : 1. “Behold, we were binding sbeaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves made obeisance to my sheaf.” 2. “And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more ; and, behold, the sun and the moon, and the eleven stars, made obeisance to me.
Both these dreams have evidently the same significant import; and their repetition was, most likely, only intended to make more explicit and impressive the strange prophecy involved. That they were prophetical—like the dreams of his father Jacob, and most others of patriarchal times-no one will pretend to call in question, in face of their clear and literal fulfilment. Indeed, so plain were they in this particular, that it required no prophetic vision to discern their meaning. The readiness with which his brethren and father interpreted them, shows how prominent the events portended shone forth in the very words of their recital.
In view of these facts, then, we must not regard Joseph as a mere "idle dreamer ;' nor yet, like too many of his tender age, as a builder of “castles in the air,” whose elevation transcends all power to reach, and whose adornings mock the proffered beauties and pleasures of earth. It is true, he seems to have beheld in all this only the bright side of the picture”-in which was revealed his advancement and prosperity, to fortify and encourage him, it may be, amid the darkness and trials through which he should subsequently be called to pass.
It is one of the plainest evidences of God's mercy that the future is concealed from us by a dark and impenetrable cloud, notwithstanding the desire and impatience of men oftentimes to pry into its unknown secrets. Were we all prophets, in the sense of being able to foresee all that is to befall as in life, we would, doubtless, be rendered miserable beyond conception—either by impatience to grasp the golden prize, or by tormenting fears in view of impending misfortune.
The prophecy involved in the dreams was, that the whole living household of Jacob should bow before Joseph in token of his acknowledged superiority. This was fulfilled when Joseph's brethren went down into Egypt to buy corn, and in the final settlement of the whole Patriarchal family in the land of Israel's bondage.
How fit the occasion! How true was all this to the fulfilment of the Divine purposes ! See the luxuriant sheaf of Joseph there standing erect, and shaking off its ripe fruit, as it were, beneath the furious storm, to satisfy the hungry, starving millions that crowd around it ! Behold amid that crowd the empty sheaves of his brethren, fitly represented in their own emaciated forms, bending low before the blasts of the mereiless famine—the living, moving verification of “their sheaves making obiesance to his sheaf.” Then comes the old Patriarch himself, and he too bows his venerable head, with his eleven attending stars, to the once humble and lost child, but now renowned Governor of Egypt.
And just as the empty sheaves had been laden with plenty by prostrating themselves before the full one, so the constellation of eleven stars," dimmed by the accumulated clouds of misfortune, and robbed hy death of its attending “moon,” gathered a fresh lustre and brilliancy by revolving obediently around the great central personage from whom came their subsistence and their all. Truly,
“God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform.” Who that beheld Israel as he lay in the untented wilderness, the special favorite of Heaven and attended by convoys of angels, could have supposed that he should one day be so humbled and dependent as to do obeisance to one who, for seventeen years, he had ruled with the undisputed authority of a father! Who could have foreseen that the unpretending youth who wended his way over the pasture fields around Shechem and Dotham in search of his brethren, should one day, in the exercise of knightly power and prerogatives, force those who plotted against his life, to a voluntary confession of guilt concerning their innocent victim, and bring them crouching at his feet, like veriest slaves to do their master's bidding.
Yet such were his wonderful achievements, in the hands of Providence, that he became the Saviour of his family and race during the seven years of long and dreadful famine. In this, as well as in other respects, he has been regarded as a type of the great Savior of the world--the glorious Sun of righteousness—who not only shone in His splendor as King, to rule the world, but also appeared as Prophet to teacb, and Priest to atone for the sins of the people.
To do full justice to the significance of these dreams would demand a lengthy history, in tracing their connection with the varied and wonderful facts set before us in the life of Joseph. But this would carry us far into details that are already familiar to most of our readers; and would, at the same time, anticipate much that we may yet find it necessary to say of him in connection with other dreams. So that here we leave Joseph “the dreamer," who will appear again in the higher character of "interpreter of dreams."
Let my young friends be again reminded that Joseph was a pious and