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clares the giver of this feast, “The meek FIRST SUNDAY.

shall eat and be satisfied.” They that seek Read Psalm xxii., and 1 Peter i. 13-25.

the Lord shall be inspired with new gratitude A FLATTERING WISH.

and praise. Then speaking by anticipation

to this humble and devout company, he exTHE PHE psalmist's words remind us of an ancient salutation employed by the

claims, your

heart live for ever. courtiers of Chaldean kings. On the night this utterance with that of the pagan phrase,

We might contrast at length the spirit of of Belshazzar's feast the queen used it with a strange though unintentional irony to the but it must suffice to indicate one important

difference between the two. The one is evi. trembling monarch, saying, “O king, live for ever?” In his royal pride he had been the other is a sincere and fervent wish. Ni

dently no more than an empty compliment, drinking wine out of the sacred vessels brought from the temple at Jerusalem, and tocris, the Babylonian queen, had no notion had “ praised the gods of gold, and of silver, that her words would be fulfilled, or that of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone, they would be seriously construed, nor were while vaunting their victory over the God of any of the listening courtiers deceived. "All Israel. But while he drank a hand was seen

men deem all men mortal but themselves,” writing on the wall. It was not the hand of and so the king might under other circumBel or Nebo, or of any local deity, and the stances have been olulled into an illusory dismayed man read his doom in that foreign

sense of security by such language. There scroll before Daniel came in to translate its was, however, no false peace in his soul that words. The fears of guilty and presumptuous night. The spell of a dreadful omen lay minds never fail to read judgment in myste- upon his spirit

, and he knew himself to be rious appearances, and thus the king's coun

as he appeared, a cowering creature, shivertenance was changed, the flush of wine and ing under the shadow of a coming fate. But arrogance died away and left his cheeks he deemed his desire possible, and was fulí

the psalmist not only meant what he said, livid, his knees smote one against another as of faith and hope when he exclaimed, “Let he shook with awful apprehension, and behind of faith and hope when he exclaimed, “ Let this pitiable show of panic “his thoughts your heart live for ever.” The heathen troubled him." Before this abject creature flattery we pass over with a mournful pity the aged woman, who had seen the judgment

for the long line of kings who listened to it of his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, stood to cagerly and are dead. The Hebrew greeting offer comfort, and even in that hour she we may venture, without vanity, to accept for must needs indulge him with the fulsome ourselves, and without a tinge of insincerity forms of oriental flattery. “O king, live for may say to every mortal friend, “Let your

heart live for ever.” ever; let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed.” But “in that night Belshazzar, the king of the Chal

SECOND SUNDAY. deans, was slain.”

Read 1 Sam. xxv. 23–38, and Romans viii. 1-17. It is somewhat singular that the words which reminded us of Belshazzar's banquet were also written in connection with a feast, How vast a distinction is made by the and with one in which some of those same introduction of the one word “heart." The golden vessels, which were desecrated in Ba- wish for a fleshly immortality carries mockbylon, may possibly have been employed. ery upon its front. Death comes to kings In the psalm a long-afflicted, but now de- and peasants with impartial certainty. As livered prince, declares his intention to make the fool dies so dies the wise man, and in a great feast of thank-offerings, and to sum- this respect "man hath no pre-eminence above mon, as Moses directed, the poor and godly the beasts: for all is vanity. All go to one among the people to come and partake of place : all are of the dust, and als turn to his consecrated viands. No princes and dust again.” Those lowly feasters who ate lords or troops of concubines were to be and drank in Jerusalem, and praised the livcalled, as by Belshazzar, no boastful libations ing God, were soon laid in their graves, and of wine were to be poured out; but, de- when Belshazzar spread his banquet their



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bodies had for centuries been mingled with identity; it is the central home of affection the earth. The royal singer himself also and thought. The heart is therefore said to died and saw corruption, and his sepulchre fail and pine or die when existence ceases to perhaps lay under the ruins of the holy city. be gladsome, when thought becomes a burWe may go also beyond this and say, not den, when love decays, when courage sinks merely that fleshly immortality is impossible, to fear and fear faints down to apathy, and but that it is not a boon to be desired. Men the warm pulsating soul turns into a stone, do indeed cling to life. The wish for an as it did in Nabal's breast. In this sense immediate decease rarely comes except to the the heart may die while the flesh flourishes. miserable and broken-hearted, and to those It may be palsied, as Belshazzar's was, by who suffer from incurable and agonising dis- the vision of a handwriting on the wall ; it

Yet hateful as dying is to human may wither under the blighting influence of nature, Job uttered the common thought of hopeless sadness until, as Paul declares, humanity when he said, “I would not live “the sorrow of the world worketh death; always." Among the most pathetic of all it may be so rotted by sin, so hardened by legends is that which tells of one who has resistance to what is good, so buried under wandered up and down the world for ages, the refuse of sensuality, as to lose all power praying for death, and seeking it wherever of understanding spiritual truth, all apprebattle rages or pestilence prevails, yet is ciation of moral worth, and all faculty for cursed with a life which cannot be laid down fellowship in love. Yet while the heart may and neither love nor enmity can take away. die in the midst of vigorous fleshly life, Very mournful too were the myths which bodily decay may not impair its health. We grew up in the ancient Church concerning often see hearts springing into newness of life the Apostle John, as still alive and waiting as the body droops and perishes; when theoutwearily for Christ's return. Even the five- ward man pines into feebleness and physical score years which he is believed to have desires fail

, thought frequently clarifies, and actually attained must have been labour holiest aspirations become strong. Loving and sorrow, and he may often have been insight, devotion, self-sacrifice, often gain tempted to envy Peter the lot that disciple their fullest power in dying hours. Couthought so hard, when Christ foretold it by rage has been displayed by death-stricken the Sea of Galilee. The swifter anguish of men and women in its sublimest forms, and that cross which dismissed Peter to the spiritual heroism shines most gloriously in presence of his Lord, and the sharp stroke that triumphant fidelity to principle which of the axe which released Paul from all indi-induces the martyr to refuse deliverance and cision about remaining or departing, would leads him through the gates of dissolution as have been hailed as a merciful relief before one who anticipates a conqueror's crown. The John's century was closed. Truly life is pure heart knows, what the intellect may doubt, brief, and, as we often think, too brief for that it will not die, but live. Death is hor. those we love. We spend our years as a rible to the upright, chiefly because it seems tale that is told, yet as the tale wears on to contradict the soul's intimations of her own men become less willing for the chapters to immortality. There is no mockery therefore be long, and slowly learn to lift that prayer in the words, "Let your heart live for ever.” which youth accounts absurd,

A grey-haired sire may sit with smiling child-
hood on his knee, and without forgetting his

old age may listen to these words in peace;
If the tree of life which bloomed in Eden and when his spirit passes, you may take
were within our sight, and its fruit hanging the sentence as it stands in an older version

its branches, few who have passed and whisper to the departing traveller, out of earliest youth would put forth their “Your heart shall live for ever,” and you hands to pluck and eat, if by so doing they shall yet praise the Lord and drink the new doomed themselves to remain in these bodies wine of His kingdom out of the golden of humiliation for ever.

vessels of His heavenly house. But when the sentence runs, “Let your heart live for ever," our thoughts are instantly changed. There is no mockery of

Read Psalm xxxiv., and Luke xiv, 7-24. fixed mortality in such an aspiration, and it answers to the noblest and intensest of de

THE CHOICE OF LIFE. sires. The heart, in Scriptural language, is As the psalm now reads in the revised the seat of human consciousness and personal version, an element of human choice is recog

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“ Teach me that harder lesson-how to live."


nised, “Let your heart live for ever.” What these blameless, these honourable labours have we to say to this ? Can we give to our from all actual participation in the struggles selves Eternal Life ? Can we keep alive our of life as to become an unsocial socialist, a own souls? If not, how shall we attach any humanitarian sorely lacking in humanity, a useful meaning to such words? The fleshly philanthropist loving all men while musing parallel may assist our thought. No man in a library or writing books, yet rendering can keep alive his own body for a single to no living man or woman the veritable moment by any expedient, or by any exer- deeds of love, and possibly casting scorn cise of will in independence of God. Yet upon the love of Him who gave His life for we are responsible for letting our bodies live. the world, and revealed the only possible We may let them die, and have power to redemption for mankind. commit suicide. You may poison your body. These sentences may be condemned by Like the demoniac youth, you may cast it some as the utterance of a preacher too into fire or water. Like Saul at Gilboa you narrow-minded to appreciate purely scientific may drive sharp steel into it, and it will thought, but they involve no disparagement surely die. Refraining from all these violent of any intellectual work, and the same docacts, you may simply refuse food and the end trine may be applied to Biblical and theois not far off. More easily still, you may do logical pursuits. as thousands are doing every day before our It is possible to be a diligent student of the eyes and court disease and premature decay Christian scriptures, an eloquent exponent by unduly pampering the flesh, by fulfilling of the Great Teacher's words, and a sincere all its passions uncurbed by self-denial, so admirer of the beauty which shines in Him as that while loving life and desiring many the chiefest among the sons of men, and yet to days you may hasten the day of death by become petrified by familiarity with all that self-indulgence. Is it not thus also with the is holiest in spirit and mightiest in moral heart? The highest evidence of life in a motive, while disobedient to the maxims and human heart is love. “We know that we ungoverned by the principles of the gospel. have passed from death unto life because we A life of thought unaccompanied by healthy, love," writes the Apostle John. Our hearts social action, must bring death to the heart, can only live by keeping the great command- and the more directly the thinking is conment on which all precepts hang. Every cerned about religion, the speedier will be passion which that everlasting law condemns the process. There may be a name to live is an instrument of death to what is holiest, while dissolution works within. Others may best, and happiest within. The indulgence suspect no decline, and the man may deem of envy, wrath, jealousy, lasciviousness, himself well and in need of nothing, but a pride, or hatred destroys the power of pure time must come when he will have to say affection, divides the soul from its fellows, with a nameless confessorSo causing it to shrivel into darkness and isolation and gradually working spiritual

“ First went my hopes of perfecting mankind,

And faith in them, then freedom in itself, decay.

And virtue in itself, and then my motives, ends

And powers and loves, and human love went last." By the same law of death to unused or misused faculties, the heart may perish He may also plead that the change went through an exclusive culture of the intellect. on unconsciouslyA man of science may live in a world into which no defiling passion enters, where the

“I felt this po decay, because new powers

Rose as old feelings left." truth of things is prized supremely, and for its own sake, and where the common entice- But these new powers, these intellectual ments of evil have no allurement, yet he may forces, these heightened gifts of wit and become as cold as a frosty day in winter, and song, of keen analysis and lucid statement, as indifferent to the sufferings of his fellows as of stirring appeal and poetic presentation, the east wind which breathes its withering are in his case but the hiding of spiritual blast on fur-clad wealth and naked poverty, famine and of waning faculty for fellowship and on the sickly and the strong alike. It with Christ in the divine service of man. is possible even to engage in studies which For all who think and say, but do not, there have some benevolent intent, to ponder social must be an awakening to exclaim, as did this problems, to explore the past, to criticise the same confessortheories of high thinkers and the methods

“My powers were greater : as some temple seemed of great workers who have sought to amend My soul, where nought is changed, and incense rolls

Around the altar, only God is gone, the condition of mankind, yet to so divorce And some dark spirit sitteth in His seat."

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