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will. We cannot arrest its course, and if we neglect it, it will leave us behind. It is a part of wisdom as of duty to mark its progress, and strive to keep pace with its rapid and ceaseless flight. It moves silently, as well as steadily; for the Creator designedly leaves us in the undisturbed exercise of the free will He has bestowed upon us. Yet time gives us warnings. Every day brings its admonition. The rising and the setting sun remind us it is our duty to work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work. Every season brings its admonition. Spring tells us we should break up our fallow ground, and sow in righteousness, and cause it to bud and put forth blossoms of intelligence; summer tells us that we should bring forth fruit in the labours of a useful life; and autumn reminds us that we should have a harvest to reap and gather into the garner, before the winter of life comes upon us, when we can no longer either sow or reap, and when our remaining strength is labour and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
The present season brings also its admonition.
We have arrived
at that period which men have agreed to recognise as the end of one year and the beginning of another. The winter solstice has brought the sun back again to that point which in our hemisphere may be regarded as marking the end of its annual course, and which, like every end, is also the starting point of a new beginning. Whether regarded as a natural or artificial period, the close of the year presents some resemblance to the close of life, which also is the beginning of another. At this closing period, there is an end of the year's transactions, a sort of winding-up of our affairs, a feeling that a period of care and labour has been completed, and that we have entered anew on our circle of duties. More like, however, is the end of the year to the end of a state of life than to the end of life itself; for it is an end that precedes a new beginning in a course similar to that which has been completed. It should remind us that life is made up of successive states, and that each completed one should be followed by another more perfect than itself.
As it is impossible to disconnect our own particular states and circumstances from the states and circumstances of the world and community in which we live, it may be useful to turn our attention for a little to what has been passing around us. In the year which has expired, the demon of war, evoked among a people dwelling in confident security from foreign assault, has continued to divide and deal destruction amongst them, and still holds them in the attitude to each other of determined foes. We cannot but feel more than a common interest in, and sympathy with, a people bound to us, not simply by the
common ties of humanity, but also by the special ties of kindred. But when to the natural affinity of race we add the spiritual relationship of religion, which is older and more extended between the church here and in America than in any other quarter of the globe, we must feel a still deeper interest in all that relates to them, and a deeper sympathy with them in all their trials and afflictions.
Although as a nation we have had no active share in this painful conflict, we have become seriously involved in its material results. One of the sources of our national wealth and means of our national industry has failed us, and has reduced to destitution many thousands of our working population. These are results that draw our minds more powerfully to the contemplation of that Divine Providence which rules over all, and whose end and operation it is to bring good out of evil. But the Lord works out His purposes by human instrumentality. How can we help to bring good out of these evils? Not merely by acknowledging and lamenting the corruption of our common nature, but by doing what we can to moderate the passions and relieve the sufferings of our fellow-creatures. Our religion teaches us to do to others as we would that others should do to us. This divine precept, intelligently and humbly acted on, will enable us so to act as to co-operate with the Lord's providence in restoring peace and prosperity.
The past year, which has witnessed this material conflict and suffering, has seen a strife and famine of another and higher kind. The religious world has been the scene of some of those " wars and rumours of wars," and of those "famines and pestilences and earthquakes," which are among the signs of the passing away of old things, that all things may be made new. By the partial removal of the pressure of the venerable maxim that the understanding is to be kept in subjection to the obedience of faith, the elements of discord in the church have been let loose, and the strongholds of orthodoxy have been assailed by those who dwell within her sanctuary; and the result has shown that her battlements, like those of the ancient Jebus, have been defended only by the lame and the blind. Although we are not to rejoice in iniquity, but to rejoice in the truth, we cannot fail to perceive in this religious war the conquest of religious liberty, and the final establishment of true peace on the foundation of Scriptural truth and holiness. How grateful should we be that in these times of " tribulation" we are not distracted by the cry of "Lo, here is Christ, or there," but have a sure refuge in that holy city which has no need of the sun, neither of the moon of man's own intelligence to shine in it, for "the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
Amidst these outward convulsions, and the famine both of bread and the hearing of the Word of God which attends them, let us individually seek peace and pursue it. Let us not be content to look for it in national or ecclesiastical councils, but around our own hearths and amongst ourselves; for peace and progress have their origin here. Let us reflect on our own frailty also, and strive with all diligence to improve the time as servants who wait for their Lord.
While we reflect on the value of time, and the necessity of improving it while it is yet within our power, we may well connect with the reflection of what we owe to the Lord, what the Lord is and does for us. Amid all the changes of human life and human affairs, He remains for ever the same. "From everlasting to everlasting Thou art God." "He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." But not only is He unchangeable in Himself, He is unchangeable and unvarying in His care and love for His creatures. He has been our dwelling-place in all generations. In Him, however little we may have been conscious or believing, we have found a refuge from innumerable evils, and a home for the possession and enjoyment of every good. To Him also time is as nothing, and eternity is all. "A thousand years in His sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch of the night.” In Him, indeed, there is no past and no future. Eternity itself to Him is an eternal present. Past and future are conditions of progressive beings: we go beyond the past; we look forward to the future. To-morrow to us is a futurity we may never see, for "we know not what a day may bring forth." If we had already the knowledge and experience of to-morrow, to-morrow would be already present. But how comforting is the thought that we have One who knows for us what we cannot know for ourselves, and who to His infinite knowledge unites infinite care!
But there is a point in which we may imitate the Infinite and Eternal in the unapproachable and almost inconceivable attributes of His nature. Although we cannot see into the future, we can trust to Him who does see; and, imitative of the Divine Being, we can live in the present, not without regard to the past and the future, but without anxiety respecting them. We can live in the present, not like the careless spendthrift, but like the confiding child, entering into the duties and the enjoyments of life with a desire and endeavour to realise the wise advice, that "whatever our hand findeth to do, to do it with all our might;" and to enjoy temperately and thankfully the good which a bountiful Father has provided for us. M.
MEDITATIONS ON DEATH AND ETERNITY.*
It is impossible to open without feelings of deep and reverential interest, a volume which is understood to be the compilation of the Royal Lady, in sympathy with whose most severe affliction, we, at this time last year, almost forgot the wonted festive character of the season. A full year
has now passed, since one of the heaviest trials that can befall a loving woman-the loss from earth, namely, of an admirable and deeply beloved husband-was permitted by Divine Providence to overtake the Queen of these realms; who, if we hailed her with enthusiasm on her accession, as maiden Sovereign of the Isles,—if year by year we learned to love and respect her more, as Royal Ruler, Wife, and Mother, became yet far dearer to the hearts of her people in her great sorrow, than ever she had been, or at least been felt to be, in the sunniest days of her till then so prosperous career. A year has passed, and we now rejoice to learn and believe that the blessings of consolation and alleviation vouchsafed by Divine Mercy are bearing sweet fruit of comfort for the Royal mourner; and that in the growing and dawning happiness of her Royal children especially, our beloved Queen is finding solace,—and may we not hope, even joy?—to cheer and brighten her earthly widowhood.
It is, we cannot but believe, with some generous responsive sense of the profound and universal sympathy in her bereavement which has pervaded all classes of her subjects, that the Queen has now permitted the publication of this volume (at first printed, we believe, for private distribution only), which consists of passages selected and arranged by Her Majesty for translation, from a German religious work, entitled "Hours of Devotion," published early in the present century, and ascribed to the celebrated writer Zschokke.
"They have been selected," says the brief prefatory announcement, "by one to whom, in deep and overwhelming sorrow, they have proved a source of comfort and edification." That they should have afforded such comfort and edification to Her, whose loss and sorrow were so truly felt to be our national loss and sorrow also, must naturally prove a powerful recommendation to our interest and approval; but, as critics, we must endeavour to estimate the intrinsic merits of every book before us, as dispassionately as possible; and of this among the rest.
"Meditations on Death and Eternity.
Translated from the German, by Frederica Rowan. Published by Her Majesty's gracious Permission. London: Trübner and Co., Paternoster Row. 1862."
MEDITATIONS ON DEATH AND ETERNITY.
Apart, however, from all extraneous recommendations, there is much, very much in this book to awaken both our admiration and our approbation. Bearing in mind that it was written some fifty years since, and that its author was unacquainted (as we judge from the contents) with the revealed truths of the New Church, we might be surprised to find on how many subjects the light of spiritual truth illumines its pages, did we not know the Light which cometh from above to be always and everywhere shining and enlightening, seeking entrance into every human heart, and finding it more or less broadly, in proportion to the love and humility with which truth is desired and sought, for the sake, not of vain-glory or intellectual exaltation, but of truth itself, of religion, and a life according to it. And if, as we hold, the vital and central element of all true religion be a fit sense and practical recognition of the personal relation between the worshipper and the Divine Object of worship, of the dependence and responsibility of the former on and to the latter,of man, namely, the helpless, erring creature, on and to God, the Allwise and beneficent Father and Creator,-then is this book, despite of doctrinal short-comings and limitations of insight, most truly and preeminently a religious book. From beginning to end it breathes forth the profoundest trust in the goodness and submission to the will of the Heavenly Father, and the fullest appreciation of the great truth (touchstone to us of all religious orthodoxy), that to be blessed by, and acceptable to, that Great Father, whether on earth or in heaven, we must become like unto Him by doing His will; and that redemption through Christ, therefore, is no arbitrary work performed for and outside of us (or a few of us), by the act of a substitute saving us from punishment; but is a real salvation from sin; purification of heart, mind, and life, from evil and falsehood, and sin, which is evil and falsehood in act; and that this redemption, offered to all, can no otherwise be attained by any than by faithful and persevering obedience, under God's blessing, to God's holy will and commandments. The doctrine of the book on this subject, the following quotations will show :
"I will seek redemption through Jesus, for in no one else is there salvation. To be redeemed through Him, is to become like unto Him; to be pure in mind, and to do good; to be free from every sin, and to live for God alone; to act in my appointed sphere with god-like nobleness of soul, without selfishness, without base motives; to recognize in the world of spirits my home, in the Creator of the boundless universe my Father, and my kindred in all created beings like myself who lie worshipping at His feet; to seek my happiness, not in the dust and fleeting things of this earth, but in eternity." (p. 337.)
"Up then, my soul, fight out the battle! Raise thyself through the aid of Jesus' Holy Word, in the Holy Spirit of Jesus, to that perfection through which