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fancy beheld in the evening light of autumn its tapers rekindled, and in the falling shadows marshalled anew the sacerdotal procession — an imagination revelling in all the picturesque and sublime of religion, and a heart responding with harmonious impulse to its loftiest requirements. There was Nicholas Ferrar – the Church-of-England man— closing his eyes on propitious fortune and radiant beauty, and that nothing earthly might distract his gaze, and no rest short of heaven allure his sense, immured in a protestant convent-meting to himself scanty slumbers on the hard pillow of an anchoret — with his goods feeding all the needy except himself, and indulging no luxury save the midnight music of the choristers whom he retained to “praise God nightly" in the oratory of Little Gidding. And Henry Hammond, economizing his time by the abundance of his prayers, and increasing his wealth by the wise muni. ficence of his charities — living for his friends, reducing kindness to a law, and welcoming the interruption which called for its exercise -- amidst bodily sufferings, producing works of research and judgment, demanding but sufficient to destroy the most vigorous health-"omne jam tulerat punctum, cùm Mors, quasi suum adjiciens calculum, terris abstulit." Among these and many more,* almost as ascetic in his life, but above them all in the largeness of his views and the soundness of his creed, we recognise the gifted author of the following “ Contemplations."
The " art of heavenly meditation," was that which he had chiefly studied. Even among his contemporaries, there were few who combined such density of expression with such amplitude of thought — few who had studied the Fathers so diligently, and who could command them so readily - few who had drunk so deeply the classic inspiration - few who had entered into the meaning of Scripture, with the same spirit of quick apprehension and thorough appreciation and fewer still who had learned to dwell so much on high. The spirit that taught the prophets to speak, taught him to understand. In his company we feel that we are not attended by a perfunctory and hireling guide — but by one whose profession is his passion, whose familiarity with sacred things is reverential — whose insight is the result of love and long acquaintance.
He was a man of peace, and delighted in the retirement without which it is seldom enjoyed. “ The court is for honour, the city for gain, the country for quietness; a blessing that need not, in the judgment of the wisest, yield to the other two. Yea, how many have we known that having nothing but a coat of thatch to hide them from heaven, yet have pitied the careful pomp of the mighty? How much more may they who have full hands and quiet hearts pity them both ?” “ What a heaven,” as he elsewhere exclaims, “ lives a scholar in, that at once in one close room can daily converse with all the glorious martyrs and fathers !--- that can single out at plea. sure, either sententious Tertullian, or grave Cyprian, or learned Jerome, or flowing Chrysostom, or divine Ambrose, or devout Bernard, — or who alone is all these-hea. venly Augustin, and talk with them, and hear their wise and holy counsels, verdicts, resolutions : yea, to rise higher, with courtly Isaiah, with learned Paul, with all their fellow-prophets, apostles : yet more, like another Moses, with God himself !” In such retirement passed the chosen hours of our author, and refreshed by such converse he pended his Contemplations.
More sweet than odours caught by him who sails
From fields where good men walk, or bowers wherein they rest." + • See Walton's Life of Herbert - Heber's Life of Taylor – Peckard's Life of Ferrar--and Fell's Life of Hammond. For others of the same period, the reader is referred to Lloyd's Me. moirs, Walton's Lives, and Dr. C. Wordsworth's interesting collection of “ Ecclesiastical Biography.”
The Work now laid before him, the reader will find richly freighted with this “holy feeling." Its value does not consist alone nor chiefly in the acute expositions of Scrip. ture incidentally introduced—in the descriptive vivacity which paints the Bible scenes to the eye of fancy, or enacts its history anew — in the apothegmatical naïvetè, which deals out so calmly yet so pointedly the eager observations of a penetrating eye, on the various wisdom and folly, virtues and vices, with which a long life had made him familiar. Nor is it only in the ardent enforcement of Christian duty, and eloquent statement of Christian privilege, that this book bespeaks the attention of the serious reader. It presents in one view the Bible, and a mind rich in feeling and accom. plishments, lovingly exploring and reverently interpreting the Bible; nay, as it were, fraternizing and amalgamating with it. These Contemplations will not be read with advantage by one who peruses them as a common book, as hastily and as uncon. cerned; nor will they be read aright without adverting continually to the peculiar mode of their execution, to their author and their end. In the former particular, they closely resemble the Confessions of his favourite Augustin, consisting of reflections and ejaculations, so mingled as to blend devotion with instruction. The author, whom we have already attempted to pourtray, recurs to our imagination as the gentle, self-denied, and benignant parish priest, whom his neighbours met and eyed reverentially as he took his stated evening walk, cheerful at times, but oftener pensive, in the fields near Waltham parsonage -- a man of that calm resolution and ardent faith, which could at any warning have followed the Saviour whom he loved to prison and to death, and whose aspirations often soared so high as to forget the Meshech where he sojourned. And the end will be answered, if we who read them, learn for our. selves to live the same divine life, and acquire the same skill in heavenly meditation - an art little esteemed and less practised in an age which would not be too busy if it thought as much as it toils ; and an art concerning which a great proficient* has left a testimony which may compensate for our omissions, and form the appropriate introduction to the work that follows.
- Be acquainted with this heavenly work, and thou wilt in some degree be ac. quainted with God ; thy joys will be spiritual, prevalent, and lasting, according to the nature of their blessed object; thou wilt have comfort in life and death: when thou hast neither wealth, nor health, nor the pleasure of this world, yet wilt thou have comfort : without the presence or help of any friend, without a minister, without a book, when all means are denied thee, or taken from thee, yet mayest thou have vigorous, real comfort. Thy graces will be mighty, active, and victorious ; and daily joy, which is thus fetched from heaven, will be thy strength. Thou wilt be as one that stands on the top of an exceeding high mountain; he looks down on the world as if it were quite below him — fields and woods, cities and towns, seem to him but little spots. Thus despicably wilt thou look on all things here below. The greatest princes will seem but as grasshoppers; the busy, contentious, covetous world, but as a heap of ants. Men's threatenings will be no terror to thee, nor the honours of this world any strong enticement: temptations will be more harmless, as having lost their strength; and afflictions less grievous as having lost their sting; and every mercy will be better known, and better relished.”
| which are so subject to imperfection ; sinca
it pleased thine infinite perfection (not out CONTEMPLATION 1. -THE CREATION. of necd) to take leisure ? Neither did thy
wisdom herein proceed in time only, but What can I see, O God, in thy creation, in degrees: at first thou madest nothing but miracles of wonders? Thou madest absolute; first, thou madest things which something of nothing, and of that something should have being without life; then, those all things. Thou, which wast without a which should have life and being ; lastly, beginning, gavest a beginning to time, and those which have being, life, reason: So to the world in time. It is the praise of we ourselves, in the ordinary course of us men, if, when we have matter, we can generation, first live the life of vegetation, gre fashion : thou gavest a being to the then of sense; of reason afterwards. That matter, without form ; thou gavest a form instant wherein the heaven and the earth to that matter, and a glory to that form. | were created in their rude matter, there If we can finish but a slight and imperfect was neither day nor light; but presently matter according to a former pattern, it is thou madest both light and day. While the height of our skill: but to begin that we have this example of thine, how vainly which never was, whereof there was no do we hope to be perfect at once! It is example, whereto there was no inclination, well for us, if, through many degrees, we wherein there was no possibility of that can rise to our consummation. which it should be, is proper only to such But, alas! what was the very heaven power as thine: the infinite power of an itself without light? How confused ! how infinite Creator! With us, not so much formless ! like to a goodly body without a as a thought can arise without some matter; soul, like a soul without thee. Thou art but here, with thee, all matter arises from light, and in thee is no darkness. Oh! how nothing. How easy is it for thee to repair incomprehensibly glorious is the light that all out of something, which couldst thus is in thee, since one glimpse of this created fetch all out of nothing! Wherein can we | light gave so lively a glory to all thy worknow distrust thee, that hast proved thyself manship! This even the brute creatures thus omnipotent? Behold, to have made can behold! that, not the very angels,the least clod of nothing, is more above that shines forth only to the other supreme wonder, than to multiply a world! But world of immortality; this to the basest now the matter doth not more praise thy part of thy creation. There is one cause of power, than the form thy wisdom. What our darkness on earth and of the utter darkbeauty is here! what order! What order ness of hell ;—the restraint of thy light. in working! what beauty in the work! | Shine thou, O God, into the vast corners
Thou mightest have made all the world of my soul, and in thy light I shall see light. perfect in an instant, but thou wouldst not. | But whence, O God, was that first light? That will, which caused thee to create, is The sun was not made till the fourth day reason enough why thou didst thus create. - light the first. If man had been, he How should we deliberate in our actions, might have seen all lightsome; but, whence it had come, he could not have seen; as, the intercourse even of those occurrents, in some great pond, we see the banks full ; which in their own nature are less worthy - 15 we see not the springs from whence the gives more contentment than the unaltered Fes water ariseth. Thou madest the sun ; estate of better. The day dies into night, te be madest the light without the sun, before and rises into the morning again, that we the sun, that so light might depend upon might not expect any stability here below, thee, and not upon thy creature. Thy but in perpetual successions. It is always power will not be limited to means. It was day with thee above: the night savoureth Tec easy to thee to make an heaven without only of mortality. Why are we not here sun, light without an heaven, day without spiritually, as we shall be hereafter ? Since it, a sun, time without a day. It is good thou hast made us children of the light, reason thou shouldst be the Lord of thine and of the day, teach us to walk ever in 0 own works. All means serve thee: why the light of thy presence, not in the dark ? do we, weak wretches, distrust thee, in the ness of error and unbelief. want of those means which thou canst Now, in this thine enlightened frame, either command or forbear? How plainly how fitly, how wisely are all the parts dis. They wouldst thou teach us, that we creatures posed; that the method of the creation 2 need not one another, so long as we have might answer the matter and the form both sy' thee! One day we shall have light again | Behold all purity above; below, the dregs without the sun: Thou shalt be our sun: and lees of all. The higher I go, the more thy presence shall be our light : “ Light is perfection; each element superior to other, sown for the righteous." The sun and not more in place than dignity; that, by light is but for the world below itself: these stairs of ascending perfection, our to thine only for above. Thou givest this thoughts might climb unto the top of all light to the sun, which the sun gives to glory, and might know thine imperial hea. the world : that light which thou shalt once ven, no less glorious above the visible than give us, shall make us shine like the sun those above the earth. Oh! how miserable in glory.
is the place of our pilgrimage, in respect of 1 Now this light, which for three days was our home! Let my soul tread awhile in a thus dispersed through the whole heavens, the steps of thine own proceedings; and it pleased thee, at last, to gather and unite so think as thou wroughtest. When we into one body of the sun. The whole would describe a man, we begin not at the heaven was our sun, before the sun was feet, but the head. The head of thy creacreated: but now one star must be the tion is the heaven; how high! how spatreasury of light to the heaven and earth. cious! how glorious! It is a wonder that How thou lovest the union and reduction we can look up to so admirable a height, fie of all things of one kind to their own head and that the very eye is not tired in the and centre ! so the waters must, by thy way. If this ascending line could be drawn command, be gathered into one place, the right forwards, some, that have calculated sea: so the upper waters must be severed curiously, have found it five hundred years' by these airy limits from the lower: so journey unto the starry heaven. I do not heavy substances hasten downward, and examine their art; O Lord, I wonder ra. light mount up: so the general light of the ther at thine, which hast drawn so large a first days must be called into the compass line about this little point of earth: for, in the of one sun: so thou wilt once gather thine the plainest rules of art and experience, the elect from all coasts of heaven, to the par-compass must needs be six times as much ticipation of one glory. Why do we abide as half the height. We think one island our thoughts and affections scattered from great, but the earth immeasurable. If we thee, from thy saints, from thine anointed ? | were in that heaven, with thiese eyes, their Oh! let this light, which thou hast now whole earth (were it equally enlightened) spread abroad in the hearts of all thine, would seem as little to us, as now the least once meet in thee. We are as thy heavens, star in the firmament seems to us upon > in this their first imperfection ; be thou our earth: and, indeed, how few stars are so i sun, unto which our light may be gathered. little as it? And yet, how many void and
Yet this light was by thee interchanged ample spaces are there beside all the stars with darkness, which thou mightest as / The hugeness of this thy work, O God, is easily have commanded to be perpetual. | little inferior for admiration to the majesty
The continuance, even of the best things, of it. But, oh, what a glorious heaven isi cloyeth and wearieth: there is nothing but this which thou hast spread over our heads! thyself, wherein there is not satiety. So With how precious a vault hast thou walled pleasing is the vicissitude of things, that in this our interior world! What worlds of dy hose ole light hast thou set above us! Those things sudden fires unto all the parts of the earth, are less which we see are wondrous; but those, astonishing the world with the fearful noise in the une which we believe and see not, are yet more. of that eruption: out of the midst of water dies into la Thou dost but set out these unto view, to thou fetchest fire, and hard stones out of again, shew us what there is within. How pro- the midst of thin vapours: another while, ity here portionable are thy works to thyself! Kings as some steel glasses, wherein the sun looks, jo It was erect not cottages, but set forth their mag. and shews his face in the variety of those light saft nificence in sumptuous buildings; so hast colours which he hath not; there are thy re we had thou done, O King of Glory! If the lowest streams of light, blazing and falling stars, reafter pavement of that heaven of thine be so fires darted up and down in many forms, I of the glorious, what shall we think of the better hollow openings, and (as it were) gulfs in ) Wak ere parts vet unseen? And if this sun of thine the sky, bright circles about the moon and ot in the be of such brightness and majesty, oh! other planets, snows, hail: in all which it
what is the glory of the Maker of it? And is enough to admire thine hand, though we htened vet if some other of thy stars were let down cannot search out thine action. There are
the para as low as it, those other stars would be suns thy subtile winds, which we hear and feel, 'the dea to us; which now thou hadst rather to yet neither can see their substance, nor he form hare admired in their distance. And if know their causes; whence, and whither ow, the such a sky be prepared for the use and be- they pass, and what they are, thou knowest.
go, the Dnefit even of thine enemies also upon earth, There are thy fowls of all shapes, colours, prior to how happy shall those eternal tabernacles notes, natures whilst I compare these with lity; tas be, which thou hast sequestered for thine the inhabitants of that other heaven, I find rfection, 04
those stars and spirits like one another: he top, Behold then in this high and stately build these meteors and fowls, in as many varieties imperial sing of thine, I see three stages: this lowest as there are several creatures. Why is this? e visible heaven for fowls, for vapours, for meteors: Is it because Man (for whose sake these OF ICE the second for the stars: the third for thine are made) delights in change, thou in conin test angels and saints. The first is thine out- stancy? or is it, that in these thou mavest d afb tward court, open for all: the second is the shew thine own skill, and their imperfecdins body of thy covered temple, wherein are tion? There is no variety in that which is
Whá those candles of heaven perpetually burn- | perfect, because there is but one perfection: in notang: the third is thine holy of holies. In and so much shall we grow nearer to perof the the first is tumult and vanity: in the second, fectness, by how much we draw nearer to ! how samutability and rest : in the third, glory unity and uniformity. From thence, if we ponde ad blessedness. The first we feel, the go down to the great deep, the womb of le a bassecond we see, the third we believe. In moisture, the well of fountains, the great ired in these two lower is no felicity; for neither pund of the world; we know not whether ld be the fowls nor stars are happy. It is the to wonder at the element itself, or the guests
calaird heaven alone, where thou, O blessed which it contains. How doth that sea of drede Irinity! enjoyest thyself, and thy glorified thine roar and foam and swell, as if it
Ida pirits enjoy thee. It is the manifestation would swallow up the earth? Thou stayest Onde thy glorious presence, that makes heaven the rage of it by an insensible violence; and, 50 bobo be itself. This is the privilege of thy by a natural miracle, confinest his waves: th: fu. Hildren, that they here, seeing thee (which why it moves, and why it stays, it is to us riedott invisible) by the eye of faith, have al- equally wonderful: what living mountains sasady begun that heaven, which the perfect (such are thy whales) roll up and down in ne seght of thee shall make perfect above. Let those fearful billows: for greatness of nun.
soul then let these heavens alone, till ber, hugeness of quantity, strangeness of ere, may see as it is seen. That we may de- shapes, variety of fashions, neither air nor ichten end to this lowest and meanest region of earth can compare with the waters. I say
the aren, wherewith our senses are more ac- nothing of thy hid treasures, which the s zinted; what marvels do even here meet wisdom hath reposed in the bowels of the s are th us? There are thy clouds, thy bottles earth and sea: how secretly and how basely Foid r ain, vessels as thin as the liquor which are they laid up! secretly, that we might he s contained in them: there they hang and not seek them; basely, that we might not Goudre, though weighty with their burden: over-esteem them: I need not dig so low 1.3 they are upheld, and why they fall, as these metals, mineries, quarries, which
ae, and now, we know not, and wonder. yield riches enough of observation to the The use thou makest one while, as some airy soul. How many millions of wonders doth
23, to hold water: another while as some the very face of the earth offer me? Which Oslo furnaces, whence thou scatterest thy of these herbs, flowers, trees, leaves, seeds,