« ForrigeFortsett »
of the kingdom of heaven'; nor S. James, who had witnessed His transfiguration. It was Mary Magdalen, the penitent Magdalen, as if to teach us how greatly He loves penitents, and that even Easter-day is a festival wherein they may rejoice.
Yet Magdalen was not the only one of his little flock for whom He thus showed His love to-day. By penitent Peter He was seen ere evening closes; to the two at Emmaus He was “known in breaking of bread;" and when they returned home with burning hearts, and eager to repeat what the Lord had done for thein,-lo, whilst they tell their wondrous story, and listen in turn to Simon's tale of the risen SaviOUR's considerate love, a well-known form passes silently through the closed doors. It is Jesus! He draws near; He points to His wounded hands, and feet, and side, and utters that blessed benediction of peace, which the world can neither give nor take away, and which passeth all understanding.
What were these favoured ones' thoughts, as they gazed upon Him their risen LORD, but the most intense, rapturous love and gratitude ? What should be our thoughts but the same? True, we see Him not with the bodily eye, but we may behold Him with the spiritual eye; and just as we should feel if we actually saw Him, ought we to try to feel now that the appeal is made, not to sight, but to faith.
It is Easter-day, and Jesus Christ is risen ; and in His band He carries pardon, justification, and redemption. He is risen to tell us that our salvation is accomplished, that the offering is accepted, and the power of death destroyed. In Him our whole race has risen; His rising is a pledge of our iminortality, and an earnest of future glory.
Is not, then, Easter-day “ the day of days,”—a day“ much to be observed unto the LORD ?" Shall we not throw around it all the external honours we can? Shall we not celebrate our highest services, and sing our most joyous anthems ? Is it not a time for rising above the world and its petty rivalries--for fervent prayer, and liberal alms, and devout communion ?
And blessed be His Name, His loving kindness is not confined to the first Easter-day; He will be to us what He was to the Magdalen, and Cleopas, and the Apostles. He will “call us by our name;" He will be known of us in the breaking of bread;" He will make us to share His blessing of peace.
It is Easter-day, and Jesus Christ has risen. And what shall we say more? An angel's tongue could not give utterance to the thoughts which throng us. We cannot do more than say, Alleluia ! “ Jesus Christ is risen !" It is Easter-day! In these few words lies the secret of our redemption.
To-day is indeed a great day in the Church of Christ. In the east, and west, and north, and south, the Holy Church throughout the whole world is joying and praising God. On every altar throughout
Christendom has the holy sacrifice been offered. O blessed day, in which, in spite of our mutual jealousies, the whole Church is one again in holy worship! May we all have grace to spend thee aright, and learn the lessons of thankfulness, and joy, and brotherly love, with which thou, the queen of festivals, art replete!
A LAYMAN OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
(JAMES Howell, born near Brecknock, about the year 1596, and educated at Oxford, was son of the Rev. Thomas Howell, of Abernant, in Carmarthenshire, and younger brother of Dr. Howell, Bishop of Bristol. Early in life he engaged in trade, and was appointed manager of the glass-house in Broad Street, London. In order to introduce improvements into the making of glass, then almost a new article of manufacture in England, he travelled into Flanders, Italy, and Spain, and on his return was employed by King James the First in negotiating matters connected with the commerce of the country. He was afterwards elected member of parliament for Richmond in Yorkshire; in 1641 was made Clerk of the Council to Charles the First, and after a long imprisonment in the Fleet during the time of the Commonwealth, where he wrote several of his books, he was on the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 made Historiographer Royal. He died in November, 1666, and was buried at the Temple Church.
The following letter is of great interest and value, since it gives us a glimpse of the devotion of a man constantly engaged in business, and in matters of State. It presents a pleasing picture of one who allowed neither the calls of important secular employment, por the thirst for mental improvement and the acquisition of know-ledge to encroach on the time and attention needful for the care of
the soul; and by showing us how our forefathers were wont, even when most laboriously employed in the world, to keep the way to Heaven constantly before their eyes, it gives us lessons for our own devotions, and shows us how greatly we, in these days, have fallen short of their deep and practical piety.]
" To Sir E. B., Knight. “SIR, I received yours this Maundy Thursday; and whereas among other passages, and high endearments of love, you desire to know what method I observe in the exercise of my devotions, I thank you for your request, which I have reason to believe doth proceed from an extraordinary respect to me; and I will deal with ..you herein, as one should do with his confessor.
* The Latin and Greek Easters fall together this year. VOL. XI.
“ It is true, though there be rules and rubrics in our Liturgy sufficient to guide every one in the performance of all holy duties, yet I believe every one hath some mode and model or formulary of his own, specially for his private cubicular devotions.
“ I will begin with the last day of the week, and with the latter end of that day, I mean Saturday evening, on which I have fasted ever since I was a youth in Venice, for being delivered from a very great danger. This year I use some extraordinary acts of devotion, to usher in the ensuing Sunday, in hymns, and various prayers of my own penning, before I go to bed. On Sunday morning I rise earlier than upon other days, to prepare myself for the sanctifying of it; nor do I use barber, tailor, shoemaker, or any other mechanic that morning; and whatsoever diversions, or lets may hinder me the week before, I never miss, but in case of sickness, to repair to God's holy house that day, where I come before prayers begin, to make myself fitter for the work by some previous meditations, and to take the whole service along with me; nor do I love to mingle speech with any in the interim, about news or worldly negociations in God's holy house. I prostrate myself in the humblest and decentest way of genuflection I ca imagine; nor do I believe there can be any excess of exterior humility in that place; there fore I do not like those squatting, unseemly bold postures upon one's tail, or muffling the face in the hat, or thrusting it in some hole, or covering it with one's hand; but with bended knee, and in open confident face, I fix my eyes on the east part of the Church, and Heaven. I endeavour to apply every tittle of the service to my own conscience and occasions; and I believe the want of this, with the huddling up and careless reading of some ministers, with the commonness of it, is the greatest cause that many do undervalue, and take a surfeit of our public service.
“For the reading and singing psalms, whereas most of them are either petitions or eucharistical ejaculations, I listen to them more attentively, and make them my own. When I stand at the Creed, I think upon the custom they have in Poland, and elsewhere, for gentlemen to draw their swords all the while, intimating thereby, that they will defend it with their lives and blood. And for the Decalogue, whereas others use to rise, and sit, I ever kneel at it in the humblest and tremblingest posture of all, to crave remission for the breaches passed of any of God's holy commandments, (especially the week before) and future grace to observe them.
“I love a holy devout sermon, that first checks, and then clears the conscience ; that begins with the Law and ends with the Gospel. But I never prejudicate or censure any preacher, taking him as I find him,
“And now that we are not only adulted, but ancient Christians, I believe the most acceptable sacrifice we can send up to Heaven, is prayer and praise; and that sermons are not so essential as either of them to the true practice of devotion, The rest of the holy Sabbath, I sequester my body and mind as much as I can from worldly affairs.
Upon Monday morn, as soon as the Cinque Ports are open, I have a particular prayer of thanks, that I am reprieved to the beginning of that week ; and every day following I knock thrice at Heaven's gate, in the morning, in the evening, and at night; besides prayers at meals, and some other occasional ejaculations, as upon the putting on of a clean shirt, washing my hands, and at lighting of candles ; which because they are sudden, I do in the third person.
“ Tuesday morning I rise winter and summer as soon as I awake, and send up a more particular sacrifice for some reasons ; and as I am disposed, or have business, I go to bed again.
“ Upon Wednesday night I always fast, and perform also some extraordinary acts of devotion, as also upon Friday night; and Saturday morning, as soon as my senses are uplocked, I get up. And in the summer time, I am oftentimes abroad in some private field, to attend the sun rising; and as I pray thrice every day, so I fast thrice every week; at least I eat but one meal upon Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, in regard I am jealous with myself, to have more infirmities to answer for than others.
“ Before I go to bed, I make a scrutiny what peccant humours have reigned in me that day; and so I reconcile myself to my Creator, and strike a tally in the exchequer of Heaven for my quietus est, ere I close my eyes, and leave no burden upon my conscience.
“ Before I presume to take the holy Sacrament, I use some extraordinary acts of humiliation to prepare myself some days before, and by doing some deeds of charity; and commonly I compose some new prayers, and divers of them written in my own blood.
“I use not to rush rashly into prayer without a trembling precedent meditation ; and if any odd thoughts intervene, and grow upon me, I check myself, and recommence. And this is incident to long prayers, which are more subject to man's weakness, and the Devil's malice.
“ I thank God I have this fruit of my foreign travels, that I can pray to Him every day of the week in a several language, and upon Sunday in seven, which in orisons of my own I punctually perform in my private pomeridian devotions.
“ Et sic æternam contendo attingere vitam.
“ By these steps I strive to climb up to Heaven, and my soul prompts me I shall go thither; for there is no object in the world delights me more than to cast up my eyes that way, specially in a star-light night. And if my mind be overcast with any odd clouds of melancholy, when I look up and behold that glorious fabric, which I hope shall be my country hereafter, there are new spirits begot in me presently, which make me scorn the world, and the pleasures thereof, considering the vanity of the one, and the inanity of the other. Thus my
soul still moves eastward, as all the heavenly bodies do; but I must tell you, that as those bodies are over-mastered, and snatched away to the west, raptu primi mobilis, by the general motion of the tenth sphere, so by those epidemical infirmities which are incident to man, I am often snatched away a clean contrary course, yet my soul persists still in her own proper motion. I am often at variance, and angry with myself," (nor do I hold this anger to be any breach of charity) when I consider, that whereas my Creator intended this body of mine, though a lump of clay, to be a temple of His Holy SPIRIT, my affections should turn it often to a house of sin, my passions to a bedlam, and my excesses to a hospital.
“ Being of a lay profession, I humbly conform to the constitutions of the Church, and my spiritual superiors; and I hold this obedience to be an acceptable sacrifice to God.
“ Noble Knight, now that I have thus eviscerated myself, and dealt so clearly with you, I desire by way of correspondence that you would tell me, what way you take in your journey to. Heaven. For if my breast lie so open to you, it is not fitting yours should be shut up to me; therefore I pray let me hear from you when it may stand with your convenience.
“So I wish you your heart's desire here, and Heaven hereafter, because I am “ Yours in no vulgar way of friendship,
“J. H. “London, 25th July, 1635."
HYMN FOR GOOD FRIDAY EVENING,
(From the German of J. H.W. Witschel.)