« ZurückWeiter »
as much as you ever did; only it is through the fingers of your grandson. Marham. You have me, you have me, you have the old man! Awbin. No, I have not-not the old man. Your body may be old, but yourself your spirit is as young as it ever was; it is both old and young. When a person is said to be twenty, or forty, or sixty, what is meant? This chiefly, that he has the feelings of those years. O, beautiful is what old age is sometimes, and near always might be the last years of a Christian, a man who has lived in the use of his best feelings, who has worshipped God as heartily as he has loved his dearest friend, and who has loved every one of his neighbors like himself!
Marham. The recollections of such a man are a happiness to have. Aubin. Always through his sympathies he can delight himself and be growing in goodness. There is his youngest son in love with a sweet lady; and through his child he himself loves again like a youth. Here is an infant comes to him and holds him by the hand, and he speaks to the little creature; and because he talks with it lovingly, his own heart in his breast grows young again. Plough he cannot, nor sow, nor attend to farming in any way; but he can, and does love his neighbor as himself; and so in the fields close by, the growing crops are a great interest to him; and down in the meadows by the river-side, the grass refreshes his eyes, it is so green; and its being so rich delights him on the owner's account. It is so, uncle, is not it? It is so with you, I mean.
Marham. Do you think so, Oliver? Well, perhaps it is.
Aubin. An old man may have ill-health, but so has a young man. And very beautiful in its season old age often is-the last state of a man who is wise in life, having lived it all, who loves God and man, and man the more reverently because of God's loving him. And he is a man, too, whose heart is open to all his fellow-creatures, and kept open by the force of the prayers that come out of it, for his family, and friends, and all men.
Marham. It is-it is-it is prayer is the life of the soul.
Aubin. The oak tree in the middle of yonder field is an emblem of a good old man. There it stands, the growth of many, many years; inside it is the little stalk which opened out of an acorn, and the sapling which for years used to bend backward and forward with the wind; and in its trunk are what were its outside rings at twenty, fifty, and a hundred years old. It stands aloft now, a full-grown oak-an object beautiful to look at, and that is wisdom to think of. Once that tree might have perished by any one of a hundred accidents-by a careless foot, or a drought, or a snail, or a hungry sheep. But it was to grow to what it is. In the shade of it the cattle lie; in its leafy arms birds build their nests and sing; among its branches the wind gets itself a voice; somewhere in it the squirrel has a home, and all over the boughs are growing what will be his winter's store.
Marham. But what is the likeness between this tree and old age? Aubin. Just as in the middle of that oak tree there is the sapling of two hundred years ago, in a good old man there is the heart of his childhood. An aged Christian is not an old man only; he is of all ages; for he has in him the heart of a little child, and a boy's way of thinking, and the feelings of a youth, and the judgment of a man; he has in him a son's fondness, a husband's tender affection, and a father's love; and
confidence, esteem, enthusiasm-all that is best in our nature is strong in him; for though many of his dear objects are taken hence, his feelings for them are the same as ever. And through his ready sympathy, there is no love in the house that he does not thrill to, and no joy in parlor or kitchen that he does not rejoice in, and no hope in any inmate's bosom that he does not hope in. And if his neighbors prosper round him, or grow more virtuous, it is to his feelings as though he were himself the better.
Marham. I like to hear you, Oliver; go on.
Aubin. Outgrow much, no doubt, old age does. But mind-it outgrows some things, but it does not dwindle down from any. And besides that, its way of growth is the same as what makes little children be such as the kingdom of heaven is of. For always out of the heart are the issues of life. Yonder oak is no longer an acorn moistening just under the ground, nor a little plant in the turf kept from scorching by the tall grass; still, high as its top is and wide as it spreads, the tree flourishes in the same way as the sapling grew; and its roots are under the grass and are kept moist by it; yes, and the heart of the oak-the very middle of it--is just over the spot where the acorn opened. Old age grows up to the height of thoughts not of this world; but then its roots are the same as ever-its sympathies do not fail it, and the dews of heavenly grace are never withheld from falling on it. It is always autumnal, but then it is always shedding ripe fruits; and even the look of it is what every beholder is the better for feeling.
Marham. O, if I thought the tree of my own old age like that, I should sit under it in peace, and perhaps-ay, perhaps with pride. For pride is a weed that will grow in shade as well as in sunshine, in streets, and houses, and upon tombs, and everywhere.
Aubin. That is one of the fruits of your wisdom, my dear uncle. Excuse my interrupting you, uncle.
Marham. I am old, Oliver, but I am happy; and I ought to be happier than I am. God pardon me for not being so! Few old people have such comforts as I have, and how desolate many of them arechildless, friendless, and infirm! I am sure, often I am wretched, when I think what their feelings must be.
Aubin. Those feelings as far as they cannot be eased by man, are meant by God, and therefore meant for good. And then they can
Marham. Yes they can, they can! but is lightened by kneeling under it. ings are sweetened by the mention of stops swelling if it can cry sincerely, My God, my God!
Aubin. There is a degree of distress, in which all human anodynes fail, and friendly words fail, and the best of reading fails; but prayer never fails.
Marham. Never-never-never. But still, to look at a bereaved and joyless old man is a melancholy sight.
Aubin. Very melancholy, because a quite joyless must be a quite unchristian man.
There is no burden of the spirit Little by little, the bitterest feelthem in prayer. And agony itself
Marham. You do not understand me, Oliver. What I mean is, that it is distressing to see a man spend years, as Eolomon says so touch
ingly, which have no pleasure in them. It is as though it were out of the course of nature. No, that is not what I mean.
Aubin. I know what you feel exactly. And now I will tell you what I feel. I see an old man, a widower perhaps, bereaved of his children, very weak and almost sleepless. In the cup of life there are only a few dregs for his drinking. It is so. And what then? Why the cup will be the sooner ready for him to dip in the living fountain of water, which the Lamb from the midst of the throne will lead him to. Courage, thou poor sufferer! No, not poor-but happy I ought to have said. For in thy face there is what answers to something in another world. Yes, good old man! It is as though it were known to thee by some instinct, that Christ is just about rising from his throne to say, “Come thou blesssed of my Father."
Marham. Amen, Lord Jesus, amen!
Aubin. Whom the Lord loves he chastens. But when a sufferer is chastened toward the end of life, and indeed, till the very end of his mortal life, it is because God loves him immortally. It must be, and it cannot be otherwise. No! it cannot be any other way than that. So that my pain-what little I have-my pain shall be counted all joy. And I will reckon it so. And cannot I easily? I ought to do, if I only recollect myself a little. Why should I ever have been so impatient for happiness? Why should I wish for more than I have now? Am I afraid of my share being given away? Cannot I wait awhile? Thousands of years I had to wait before being born; so that to wait a short while before being blessed is a very little thing-very. Ay, ages on ages the stars, had been twinkling by night, and the sun shining by day, before my reason was lighted up. And as yet I have it only in an earthen vessel a lamp of crumbling dust that is wearing away fast. Well, let it wear away. For when the flame in it escapes it will become fire before the Lord; and it will be like a light set in a golden candlestick forever; and it will be mine-mine everlastingly. And it will nowhere be eclipsed-no! not among the radiances of the angels; for it will have from life a color of its own; and from God it will have a beauty of its own, and a glory of its own. Wonderful, very wonderful this is, and yet it is certain that, from among all the inhabitants of this earth, no two minds are similar altogether. And at the end of the world, of all the souls native to it there will be no two alike. Every one of us will have a character of his own, and every saint will have a glory of his own. And myself, what I am to be, I am becoming. Yes, what I am to be everlastingly, I am growing to be now-now, in this present time so little thought of--this time which the sun rises and sets in, and the clock strikes in, and I wake and sleep in. Courage, then! For what goes on in my spirit now will show itself ages hence. They could never be to another person-my pains and thoughts-what they are to me--not exactly. What I shall be in eternity, I shall be by my endu rance now and my hopefulness. My trials I might bear with murmurs, and so I should get to doubt God; or by hardening my heart against the feeling of them, and so I should become a stoic; or by fiercely defying fate, and so I should grow atheistical. But I endeavor to suffer Christianly. What am to be hereafter, I must be becoming now; and so I am, indeed. For day by day, I am growing fixedly into the atti
tude which I bear my sorrows in; and from under them my look heavenwards, whatever it is, is becoming eternal with me. And then it is not as though any trouble could be spared me, and I not be another than what I am to be. O my destiny! God keep me growing towards it! My crown of glory! Lord, make me worthy of it!
Marham. For some time I have not been able to catch all your words, Oliver.
Aubin. I thought some time I might be going into a furnace of affliction, and I was talking with myself about it. And I was saying, "Body! thou must burn away here, and for thee there is no help possible But soul! out of this furnace, this straitened and fiery place thou shalt escape
And thou shalt walk in soft, white light, with kings and priests abroad, And thou shalt summer high in bliss upon the hills of God."
Marham. Whose lines are those?
Aubin. They are Thomas Aird's, and a beautiful couplet. I often say them to myself; and always when I do, it is as though it were an August afternoon, and I had lived for ages, while my spirit in me feels so calm, yet earnest, and as though it were growing into great thoughts. Yes! and what is there I may not hope for? For I am like Melchisedek of old; and I am king and priest both, for so to God Christ has made me be. Prayer is the sacrifice I have to offer; and morning and evening, day and night, it is welcome, for the Father seeks to bave it. My passions are the subjects of my kingly rule, and my throne is the Gospel, and from the height of it I judge the men, and things, and the affairs about me. My soul, my soul! be thou faithful in judgment, and thou shalt grow up to the companionship of King Alfred, and St. Louis, and George Washington.
And thou shalt walk in soft, white light, with kings and priests abroad, And thou shalt summer high in bliss upon the hills of God.
THE SUMMER OF GOD.
THERE is sore heart-discipline in this world of ours. Our blessings blossom out into beauty, and we love them so; we cannot, dare not, think of them as aught beside what they are to us. But, "as falls the frost from the clear, cold heaven," so they are stricken; and in our first and nameless agony we think not of the future, except that it must be without our flowers. This we live on. There's a calm, mild day now and then, autumnal though it be. God shines gradually upon the soul, through the dim air of commingled trust and hope. We begin to think there may be something left of pleasure and of chastened joy laid up for us. So we tread again our desolated paths; gently put aside blasted and withered mementoes of the frosty past, and prepare to live in the sunshine once more.
Children that we are! thus to mistake October's brief relentings for the general smile of spring-tide. But the "cold November rain" dis
pels our illusion. Clouds close around us, enveloping us sometimes, drenching our garments through many a mist of sorrow, with repeated
rains of tears.
"God o'er head" reveals himself to the despairing "heart within," only enough to strain the aching gaze upward, in the vain hope that it may behold the heavens opening, and catch a glimpse of the light beyond. We catch no gleam. Sometimes we do not believe there is any reality; that what we thought we had was only a beautiful mirage, a reflection of what might have been beyond, but never was near.
The life-winter is long. There seems an unending procession of winds, and sleet, and frost and snow. Existence is a constant battle with antagonistic elements. Retrospection is but a painful remembrance of trees clothed in verdure, and bird-song floating through the branches; of a flower-germed earth and a blue sky; of beautiful buds of love and hope; of all noble aspirations and high ambitions. And we turn with a chill to the present, to find them buried out of our sight, and their places filled with naked thorny stems and pendent icicles.