« PrécédentContinuer »
" But they jointly answered, No,
“ Sweet Jesus turned Him around,
“ Sweet Jesus turned Him about,
** I have been in yonder town,
“ • I bid God bless them every one,
" • But then they answered me, No,
" • Though you are but a maiden's child,
"Sweet Jesus, go down to yonder town,
"Nay, nay,' sweet Jesus mildly said,
Crying out for the help of me.'' Several carols yet linger in the West of England so grotesque in form that it is difficult to hear them sung with gravity, or to quote them without a sense of profanity. One of these is called “ The Seven Joys of Mary.” It seems to have been the product of popular feeling in opposition to the gloomy homilies on the “Seven Dolours of Mary," in which the Papal Church delighted. The joyful emotions of Christmastide sought to make her who was pronounced "Blessed amongst women” a sharer in the universal joy. The first and last stanzas will suffice to illustrate its character :
“ The first good joy our Mary had,
It was the joy of one,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
* The last good joy our Mary had,
It was the joy of seven,
And Christ to eternity." Far more grotesque even than this is a carol, still common in the villages of Somersetshire, which seems to be a product of the blending of primitive Paganism with Christianity. It consists of twelve stanzas-possibly a reference to the Twelve Apostles-each of which selects some object as the theme of the Christmas song: the first is God, the second Christ, the third eternity; the fourth strangely chooses the lady-bird for its theme, the fifth starlight, the sixth moonlight-and so on to the end. Archæologists might perhaps discover a meaning in this strange jumble; but it has baffled all our investigations. The villagers who sing it attach no meaning to it; and to quote it would neither interest nor edify the readers of the Christian Spectator.
We may be permitted to close this brief notice of old-world carols by the old-world custom of bidding one and all A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “QUIET HOURS." TEARS, like everything else, are of every quality. There are proud tears, and there are humble tears, there are briny tears, which fever the soul, and there are dewy tears, which refresh the soul. There are angry, resentful tears, and there are tears of tenderness and pity. There are tears which lower, and tears that glisten; tears which spring from earth, and tears which spring from heaven. There are tears over lost health, lost property, lost friendship, and lost reputation. Tears from human eyes are flowing, without ceasing, night and day, through all seasons, and through all centuries. There are tears at parting, tears at meeting, tears at the bed of death ; languishing tears for our absent, and holy tears over our blessed dead. There are tears because our sins have found us out, tears of parents over the sins of their children, and calm, lonely tears
lears for tears because their children, a
single rendering e spirit of thi
of joy, the soul weeping itself into union with God, through the wounds of Jesus.
I. Adam and Eve sinned away their glory, and wept when they found it gone. What tears they shed at the death of their Abel, and yet bitterer tears, that their living son was a murderer. Abraham wept when he buried his Sarah, as millions of husbands since have wept. The passion of love, when crucified by the passion of sorrow, ceases to be of the earth, earthly, and becomes henceforth meek, inward, and hallowed with heaven's own purity. Isaac wept when he lost his mother, as millions have wept, and as many are weeping now. Precious children, through your tears and rent souls, your mother's virtues, steeped in heaven's own purity, take root in the tender ground of your broken hearts. Joseph wept an exceeding great weeping over his brethren, and he and his father, overjoyed, wept in each other's arms; the spirit of the departed wife and mother helping and entendering their unity. The fearless son of Jesse, who, single-handed, encountered the lion and the bear, and was not afraid of Goliath, was a great weeper. He wept as he fled before the face of Saul; he wept like a child to part with his Jonathan; he wept when his son Absalom conspired against him, saying, “My son, that came forth out of my bowels, seeketh my life” (2 Sam. xvi. 12). He wept greater floods when that same son was slain. Going to his chamber, his shrill cry was heard : “My son Absalom ! my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, 0 Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Sam. xviii. 23).
II. How can it be accounted for that in an heroic age tears are more common than in an effeminate age? How is it that an old veteran will weep when and where the eyes of a soft young man will be dry, with a look of stolid, or even smiling indifference? There is something too real, too genuine about manly tears for the appreciation of an age of affectation. Our age supposes that tears are only becoming in women or children. We do not understand that not only weakness weeps, but greatness of soul weeps. Homer weeps, David weeps, Dante weeps, Milton weeps, Paul weeps, Luther weeps. These men wept because they were giant souls. Had they been weak, emptybrained, fashionable young men, or the ordinary run of boardingschool girls, they would have kept their eyes dry. “Jesus wept."
III. It is clear that to David weeping was a very great and sacred thing. He thought that, even more than all his victories, his tears were precious in the sight of God.
It is impossible to say how great an amount of the watery element of the world has passed through human eyes. Ours is a world that weeps. Every babe of the human race that has
lived a few hours has contributed to the ocean of tears. If the drops of rain which fall from the clouds in one day make slender streams swell to mighty torrents, what torrents must have come from the human eyes of all the ages. The huge ocean of human sorrow is invisible to us, but visible to God. To us the tears of mankind seem to be lost, scattered, gone into vapour and thin nothingness. But not so: God, the Father of all, has a bottle, into which are wept the tears of all His children.
IV. All tears spring from spirit, and embody spirit. God makes a peculiar fountain of the spirit of human sorrow, upon which He sets a great price. Human genius, talent, knowledge, pleasures, are not to God what tears are. In an inspired hour, David speaks of God as gathering together into a sacred fountain the tender, penetential, weeping spirit of the ages. Suppose mothers had by them, not the locks of hair only of their suffering and departed babes, but the very tears shed by themyea, the tears which both mother and babe shed, mingled together in one sacred phial? Things which are impossible to us, are possible to God. What if, in His sight, the sorrows of the race are commingled in one holy fountain ? Did not the race spring from one man? And in spirit, are not all men the children of one Father-spirit? All men before God are but as a sickly, suffering babe.
V. All human woe must needs be one before God, seeing that He hath but one remedy to meet it all. Has He not made the fountain of human sorrow more than human ? Has He not sanctified it, made it Divine ? All along, in the afflictions of His children has He not been afflicted ? Has He not taken part of the same nature with them, that being found in fashion as a man, the sorrows of the whole world might wail through His soul, flow through His eyes, and thus be sanctified for ever? As surely as all our iniquities met in Him, so surely have they groaned in Him. As surely as He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, our griefs and sorrows have wept in Him. Did He not in the days of His flesh offer up prayers and supplications for us, with strong crying and tears?
The tears of the world's Messiah are not lost. The spirit thereof endureth for ever. It is in God's bottle, that whole fountain of human sorrow, and thus our bitter Marah becomes a precious offering unto God.
VI. The Messianic spirit in the Psalms speaks as one for all: “Thou tellest my wanderings : put Thou my tears into Thy bottle : are they not in Thy book ?”
My wanderings, my tears ;
Thy book, Thy bottle. For our wanderings, God has a book; for our tears, a bottle. How can we meet that book ? How can we answer to the things written in that book? Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the book out of which we shall be judged will not be alone. God seeth the things written in His book. God seeth also the tears in His bottle. Mary Magdalene's sins under the seven devils, that ruled in her passions ; Mary Magdalene's tears, under the seven-fold spirit of her Messiah ; God seeth both. “Wherefore I say unto thee, Mary, thy sins which are many are all forgiven.”
Our wanderings, shameful, innumerable, wicked, daring; but that bottle, God's bottle and ours, containeth every sigh, and the contrition of every human heart. In that bottle are the tears of His own Son, making all tears His Son's tears, even as His death is the death of all. “If One died for all, then all have died.”
VII. Water quencheth fire. O, holy fountain of my Saviour's sorrow, let me bathe in thee, and quench in me the fire of sin. Let it not become unquenchable fire. Let me weep with Jesus, that my mourning may be turned into dancing, and my tears into a spirit of praise. David's complaint, according to the fiftysixth Psalm, is very bitter until he comes to tears, but having considered the fountain of his tears he boldly says, My enemies can do nothing ; God is with me. I have found God through my tears. My tears are God's pity finding me. His pity strengthens me, turns my darkness into light, and awakens in me the spirit of praise. “In God will I praise His word : in the Lord will I praise His word” (v. 9 and 10). The sweet harmony of His will prevails over my perverse will; singeth out my woe, bringeth in my peace. My winter is past, the rain is over and gone. My paradise up-springeth, the flowers of God's love breathe their fragrance through my soul, the raven's croak is no more, and the voice of His turtle-dove comforteth me.
. Shall I not bless the Lord for my tears? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.” Wherefore I know that my sin shall not burn me. The voice of God's pity has spoken in my tears. “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth (is cleansing) thee from all sin.” “With His stripes thou art healed.”
Weepers, weeping for your sins, weep on. "Blessed are ye that weep now." "Thou feedest them with the bread of tears." For, saith Augustine, " They who weep for sin feed on the righteousness of Christ." Christ is Bread to all His weepers. " He that eateth of this Bread shall live for ever.”
Woe to you who can sin, but cannot weep for your sin. Between you and the Messiah there is no point of meeting. You and the world make one. The world and you are perishing forms of being. Christ and all penitents make one. Because He lives they shall live also.