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THE MIDNIGHT BELLS.

I. A MUFFLED PEAL FOR THE OLD YEAR.

HE poet rings a muffled peal

While the old year is dying,

In sympathy with all that feel
Deep throbs of bitter anguish steal
Over the memories of the past,
Shadows from some great sorrow cast-
That set their hearts a-sighing.
Sighing for what? for brothers slain
In war on the Bohemian plain;
For fathers well last New Year's Day,
Whom death has snatched away;
For loving mothers, in the prime
Of womanhood,
And daughters, beautiful and good ;-
The grandsire, patriarch of his time,
And dear old grandmother, who stood
Last year, for us to love her,
Three generations round her, there,
The branch of mistletoe above her :
But now, we see the empty chair!
All gone! and many a hearth is bare
That
rang

with joy a year ago,
And many a storm.cloud, dark and dreary,
Hangs o'er the homestead, once so gay,
And thousands groan, in sickness weary,
Longing for day.
And so the Old Year dies,
And so time flies
On to the rapids, and the mighty " fall”
Where death and doom await us all!
But hark! the New Year knocks !
No longer for past sorrows delve,--
Big Ben and twenty City clocks
Strike twelve.

For the land that we love, which puts forth her

might For the conquest of wrong, and the triumph of

right; For the Queen on her throne, whose sceptre is

swayed O'er millions at home, and millions abroad. Mildly she reigns, and her laws are obeyedFirmly she rules, and tyrants are awed. Over the land, or over the sea, Wherever he goes, a Briton is free! And the flag of old England, unfurled on the

wave, Still humbles the despot, and shelters the slave! So we ring the joy bells for our island home, For England, no longer the vassal of Rome, For the Family Bible which lies on the stand, The charm of our homes and the lightof our land. We ring for our Sabbaths calm and sweet, With their whispers of love From Heaven above; And the hallowed shrines where households

meet, Under the wings of the Holy Dove; And festive groups, and kindly greetings, Hands grasped, long severed, reunited, And lamps of youthful love new lighted; And children, dancing in their glee Around the Christmas tree; And the Prodigal, come home again, And bowing at his Father's knee, His pardon to obtain ;That's why the bells so merrily ring; The prodigal son is forgiven! And an angel spreads his snowy wing, And carries the news to Heaven. But the bells suddenly cease ; All is peace—all is peace! Over the landscape silence reigns :Deep solemn silence, like the still of death, As though Earth held her breath, Or drew, with mighty inspiration, Life in a new creation! And on the threshold of the opening year Stands Time, unwrinkled, and with look serene. Upon his brow, nor smile or frown appear, But with grave gaze he views the mingled scene In pondering thought, and lest the merry chimes Should make us all too blithe, Behold him stop our music and our rhymes, Sharpening his scythe.

BENJAMIN GOUGH,

Author of " Lyra Sabbatica.”

II. A MERRY PEAL FOR THE NEW YEAR. Oh, the concert of bells ! the beautiful bells ! From thousands of towers, in cities and towns, In gentle vibrations, And sweet undulations, Now soft, and now loud, in passionate swell, Midst city crowds, on drearisome fells— Everywhere bells-musical bells ! On moors, and in woods, where nobody dwells, Ringing in concert, old English bells. From rugged old belfries, in cities and towns, Ringing together, ringing for joy, Millions of bells-millions of bells ! How they joyously swing, and merrily ring The Old Year out, and the New Year in! Ringing for what? For what, I pray, Should the bells ring on New Year's Day?

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I.

common subjects and objects were made to INTRODUCTORY.

act the part of interpreters of a heavenly HE papers which I hope to present language. The natural world supplied the to the reader in this series of

fount of types with which the words of “ Earthly Stories with Heavenly

Jesus were printed, in order that they Meanings,” are designed to illustrate and might be intelligible to the whole human

family. Nature became the handmaid of enforce in the simplest style and manner

Revelation. Alone, without an interpreter, some of the more prominent Gospel lessons

we know she is dumb. The practical contained in the Parables of our Lord.

atheist rejects her testimony to a God. The In carrying out this intention, there will

heathen blinds himself to the rays of light be little room for originality of thought or comment, and I shall not hesitate to make

that would penetrate his darkened mind

from the external creation. But at Christ's what use I can of the contributions of other

touch the dulled ear regains its power of writers who have laboured before me in this field of Scripture exposition; but as men

hearing; the scales fall from the filmed are wont to look and look again at the

eye; nature becomes eloquent of truth.

Responding to the Divine Teacher, voices masterpieces of our illustrious painters with an interest that never tires, and are ever

innumerable, from the heavens above and

the earth beneath, unite-"a great company discerning some fresh development of the touches of genius, demonstrating that

of preachers." The seed, the bird, the

flower, the vine, the branch, the harvest, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,the sun, the moon, the stars,-every object so I trust it will be profitable to direct the

becomes significant of some spiritual lesson. reader's attention, if only from another

Christ spiritualized nature, and hence the point of view, to the study of some of the simplicity of His teaching. . In the simpliwonderful word-pictures which are so pro

city of nature the simplicity of truth was minently and so attractively portrayed on

reflected. So true it is, the hearing ear and the page of Inspiration.

the observing eye of a man spiritually I have entitled the Parables “Earthly taught and spiritually enlightened, Stories with Heavenly Meanings." The “Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, definition, I believe, was given by a child,

Sermons in stones, and good in everything." but a better it would be difficult to find. This characteristic trait of Christ's teachThe Parables are illustrations gathered from ing may well remind us that our progress, things earthly, adapted to the purpose of as learners in His school, does not depend conveying, as by a picture, conceptions of upon intellectual powers, or length of applithings spiritual. Almost exclusively pecu- cation. “The wisdom of this world,” as å liar to Christ as a mode of instruction, they means to a spiritual end, "is foolishness seem to bespeak the Divine condescending with God.”. It is of no service in making to the human. Truth is clothed in attrac- men "wise unto salvation." Were it tive attire. The language of Simplicity otherwise, the poor man, the unlettered commends His teaching to the understand- man, might complain that his circumstances ing; the language of Sympathy commends Irindered him from becoming acquainted it to the heart.

with the truth. But this cannot be. The The Parable is the essence of simplicity. Bible is the book that all may read and It is teaching by likeness. Familiar and understand. The Gospel is wisdom to the simple; it may be preached to the poor. doctrine-at once historical doctrine and “The wayfaring man," although ignorant in doctrinal history. Hence its enchaining, other respects, need not“ err therein." God ever fresher, and younger charm. Yes, the reveals His truth to babes. Men are on a Parable is nature's own language in the level here. There is nothing to prevent the human heart; hence its universal intelligipoor and unlettered from being far advanced bility-its, so to speak, permanent sweet in the knowledge which gives peace to the scent, its healing balsam, its mighty power conscience, and hope and confidence to the to win one to come again and again to hear. heart,—the knowledge of the love of God in In short, the parable is the voice of the Christ Jesus, " which passeth knowledge." people, and hence also the voice of God."*

The sympathy of Christ as a Teacher is Yet let it not be forgotten, the Simplicity equally prominent in the Parables. His of the Parable and the Sympathy of the earthly stories are homely, and they appeal Teacher, do not necessarily ensure the proto home affections and sympathies. The fiting of the hearer or the reader. The voice of the Teacher was ever the voice of Parable in its very nature is a test-a test tenderest compassion. Sometimes He re- of disposition and character. Whilst it buked faithfully, when only reproof was makes spiritual truth more simple and likely to impress, but still the element of attractive to all who "will do the will of sympathy was not absent. He solemnly God," it also possesses the function of conwarned that He might effectually win. cealing the doctrine in judgment from closed From the heart He spake to the heart. eyes and hard hearts. " It is like the husk His aim was not merely to reach the in- which preserves the kernel from the indolent tellect of His hearers, but to stimulate and for the earnest.” Spiritual things are dormant affections, and subjugate the will. spiritually discerned. In order to discern The Teacher cannot be severed from His spiritual truth in the Bible as a whole, or in teaching. Almost the Teacher is merged in the Parable as a part of Divine Revelation, the Exemplar: He acts, rather than teaches, we must be “taught of God." the lessons He inculcates. It is the life of In one sense, the teaching of Christ could Jesus which speaks to us in sublime and scarcely fail to awaken interest and attention. stirring eloquence. To awaken responsive Even the officers of the Chief Priests and love in the sinner's breast, by bringing His Pharisees sent to arrest Him, were so imown love to bear practically on each indivi- pressed with awe and admiration, that they dual case, is the ever-pervading feature of returned without their captive, exclaiming, His mission of mercy. His doctrine is not Never man spake like this Man." Hence far above out of our reach. He makes the measure of popularity to which He truth familiar: He brings it home to our

attained. The gracious words that proexperience. The feeblest comprehension can ceeded out of His mouth caused the people catch the general idea, not only because of to press upon Him, in order that they might the simplicity with which it is expressed, hear Him. The same influence, the same but because it fastens upon some feeling measure of popularity, still attend His teachthat is common to our nature. The key of ing. Those portions of the Scriptures sympathy is in His hand, and with it He particularly which record the parables and unlocks the heart of His audience.

discourses of Christ, and exhibit His chaVery striking are the words of Arndt, racter, His conduct, His life and death, call enforcing this view of Christ's parabolic forth expressions of admiration, and emotions teaching : “Christ made it His business to of sympathy, even from avowed unbelievers ; speak in parables; and, indeed, one may and, of course, the feeling is stronger in the say, the whole visible world is only a para- case of professors. ble of the invisible world. Tho parable is Far be it from us to undervalue this not only something intermediate between appreciation. It is a cause of thankfulness history and doctrine ; it is both history and • Die Gleichniss-reden Jesu Christi, von Fred, Arndt, Vol. I., 2. when any degree of feeling, any manifesta constantly witnessing similar revulsions of tion of interest, is excited by the simple, feeling on the part of many who, in the majestic, moving eloquence of the Man

moment of enthusiasm, hail Christ, “ Lord ! Christ Jesus. But, in very faithfulness, the Lord!" and yet, in the moment of temptation, Warning must be given; this alone is not commit wilful sin, and so rank themselves in sufficient. The religion of emotion or in- spirit with that frantic mob which surrounded tellectual assent is not the religion of a man the Saviour on Calvary, and cry with them, who, in the Scriptural sense of the words, “Not this man, but Barabbas !”—not Jesus, confesses Jesus to be the Christ. It is the but the world ;--not the reproach of Christ, human responding to the human, but it is but the treasures of Egypt. not the human responding to the DIVINE. These considerations should be brought to It is the religion which may cry Ecce Homo, bear upon every portion of our Saviour's but fails to add with equal distinctness Ecce teaching. Nothing should satisfy us unless Deus. It is the recognition of Christ as the we can express our deep sense of the infinite Philanthropist, but not the recognition of value of that teaching in the language of Christ as

“the Way, the Truth, and the His disciples, “Lord, to whom should we Life," the Incarnate Deity, Emmanuel—God go? Thou hast the words of ETERNAL LIFE.” with us, the Priest to atone for, the King to This deep-seated conviction is something far rule over, as well as the Prophet to teach beyond that feeling of interest which men His people.

in general evince. They have what may We cannot insist too strongly upon this be termed the casket only in their hands. distinction, for it affects the spiritual or non- This they admire, and worthy of admiration spiritual vitality of the Oracles of God- it truly is—the workmanship is exquisite. those Oracles delivered by the Word of God But the casket contains the Pearl, “the Himself.

Pearl of great price," and that they never As a principle of Interpretation, it is Christ seek. And the treasure unsought is "a the Divine Saviour of sinners, not merely hid treasure”-hidden from the necessity of Christ the Philanthropist, whom we must the case, if not hidden in penal judgment know in order to a right understanding of because the eye refuses to admit spiritual His mission and teaching. If we regard light. Him only as the Philanthropist, there will In expounding the Parables, let it be be no spiritual power in His words. Like understood the spiritual Pearl is the main the Pharisees and Scribes, we may listen to object of our search. Whilst many incithem, and, as far as our human sympathy is dental lessons will be suggested, the paraaroused, no doubt be the better for them. mount thought must be this-the Earthly We may learn lessons of morality, lessons of Stories have a Heavenly Meaning; and for forbearance, forgiveness, meekness, tender- à right comprehension of the heavenly, ness, whilst thus sitting at the feet of Jesus ; spiritual meaning, a receptive heart is a but we might learn almost the same lessons qualification more indispensable than a at the feet of the heathen philosophers. The penetrating understanding. power to practise what we know, even the “Every word of God is good ; but some precepts of the second table of the Law, is persons maintain such an averted attitude of man’s great necessity; and no mere human mind, that it glides off like sunbeams from teaching can supply it. And if this be true polar snows, without even obtaining an enof the second table, how much more of the trance to melt or to fructify. To one or two first table of the Law? How speedily both persons who stand in the same room, gazing tables were violated by the multitude, whose on the same picture in the sunlight, the hosannas greeted our Saviour on every side, beauty of the landscape may be fully revealed, when He made His triumphal entrance into when to the other, on account of a certain Jerusalem. The same multitude cried out, indirectness of position and view, it appears “Let Him be crucified !” And are we not only as an unpleasant dazzling glass. So of

two Jews who both eagerly listened to Jesus as He taught from the fishing-boat on the Lake of Galilee, one found in the story the word of the kingdom, refreshing as cold waters to a thirsty soul; while the other, hearing the same words, perceived nothing in them but incoherent and tantalizing enigmas. It is the method, not unknown in other departments of the Divine government, of making the same fact or law at once profitable to the humble, and punitive to the proud. Not only the Lord's Word, but also the Lord Himself, partakes of this twofold character, and produces these diverse effects; the same rock on which a meek disciple surely builds his hope, is also the stone over which scoffers stumble in their final fall." *

May spiritual discernment, “the hearing ear, and the understanding heart," be vouchsafed to the writer and readers of these papers. It is a responsible privilege we enjoy when we listen to Him of whom the Father said, “This is my beloved Son." With lowly reverence and a teachable spirit, let us sit at Jesus' feet, and learn of Him.

That quivering lip, that clouded eye,

That pale and wasted cheek, Oh, what a tale of misery,

And sin and shame they speak!
Ay, speak of thee, o'er whose young head,

Ere yet by guilt defiled,
An honoured sire his blessings shed,

A holy mother smiled.
And where is now the siren throng,

So full of mirth and glee,
Who filled thine ear with wanton song,

And spent thy substance free?
Oh, they merrily laughed as the cup they

quaffed Till they saw thy wealth run dry, Then flung thee off, with taunt and scoff, And bade thee work or die.

W. L. ALEXANDER.

THE WAY HOME.

II.

THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON. [Having published a lengthened exposition of this inimitable Parable in « THE WAY HOME,” | that I may not repeat what I have already said, I prefer commending to the reader the following exquisite lines, as illustrative of the accompanying engravings. A more impressive comment on the Parablewhich Lange beautifully terms "a gospel within a gospel, a universal text for preaching about the lost and recovered sons of our heavenly Father”—could scarcely be found.]

Return, return,
Poor, long-lost wanderer, home;

With all thy bitter tears
And heavy burdens come:

Worn with sorrow, stained with ill,

There is One who loves thee still. Lo, the Father comes to meet thee,

And from mercy's opening door Words of life and promise greet thee: Ah, return, delay no more.

Return, return
From strife and tumult vain

To quiet solitude
And silent thought again;

Then the storms shall sink to rest

That now war within thy breast. Lo! the Spirit long neglected,

Waits with joys before unknown,
And the Saviour, long rejected,
Claims to seal thee for His own.

Return, return
To thy long-suffering Lord;

Fear not to seek His grace
And trust His faithful word;

Yield to Him thy weary heart;

He can heal its keenest smart, He can soothe the deepest sorrow,

Wash the deepest guilt away;
Then delay not till to-morrow,
Seek His offered love to-day.

Return, return
From all thy wanderings home;

From vanity and toil
To rest and substance come.

Come to truth from error's night,

Come from darkness unto light, Come from death to life undying,

From a fallen earth to heaven : Now the accepted time is flying;

Haste to take what God has given.

COMING TO HIMSELF. And art thou he! But ah! how changed

Since last I looked on thee;
Ere from thy father's house, estranged,

Thou soughtest to be free.
With love as with a garland crowned,

Light rested on thy brow,
And joy was in thy footfall's sound;

There's sadness in it now.

“The Parables of our Lord." By the Rov. W. Arnot. + "The Way Home; or, The Gospel in the Parable. An Earthly Story with a Heavenly Meaning." London: W. Macintosh,

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