Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

stances, habits, and fashions of the people were ever changing. You could point to nothing in the city which was fixed and permanent. And, if in no other way, the uniformity of life was ever broken in upon by the sudden or gradual disappearance of friends, relatives, acquaintances ; so that any one who had been for some long while resident there, found that nearly all his early associates had gone on before him.

The departure of pilgrims was nearly always signalized by some kind of ceremonial: the ceremonies differed in different quarters of the city. With many it was the custom solemnly to toll a bell at measured intervals, and the sound of this “passing bell” was nearly always to be heard. It was the custom of many, when pilgrims went forth upon this last journey, for those who were left behind to show the regret they felt at their departure by closing their houses in some degree against the light of day, and by wearing for a season garments of a sombre hue. And you could scarcely walk through a street without seeing houses thus closed ; and if you noticed the people who thronged the streets, you would see that large numbers indicated by their dress that they had recently missed some from the circle of their acquaintance.

Another fashion observed by not a few was, that when pilgrims went forth on this last journey, those who had been most closely associated with them accompanied them in solemn procession as far as the city gate, through which they passed, never to return again—and mingling with the gay and busy traffic of the streets, there might be seen daily these sad and solemn processions slowly wending their way.

Still the great majority contrived to forget that they were only pilgrims, and lived as though they were to live there for ever. And many of them were not convinced of the contrary till the very moment they were called upon to take their departure.

And of the many curious legends which were circulated in the city, there were some which told how reluctant to take this journey those pilgrims were who had failed to make preparation for it; and of some who, when the summons came to them, offered, though of course vainly offered, great treasure if they might be allowed to remain, though only for a few minutes longer.

In this city, however, there always resided some who accepted the revelation of the great king, who listened to the admonitions of his heralds, and who sought to order their lives in accordance with his expressed will. These felt, and practically acknowledged, that the city in which they were residing for a season was not a continuing one. They learned how to dwell in it, and yet not suffer themselves to be enslaved by it. They lived, having a constant reference to what was awaiting them, and they gave proof in their lives that they were seeking a city which was to come.

That which made the very thought of taking this final journey so generally distasteful was a conscious want of preparation, and a foreboding of some mysterious yet terrible doom. They felt that they were not fit to go further. They shrank from the idea of meeting the king, because they knew they had broken his laws and incurred his displeasure. It was this sense of unfitness and apprehension of what was due to them as transgressors which led the great majority to exclude from their minds all thought of their departure; and not a few plunged into gaiety and dissipation, and allowed themselves to be engrossed and swallowed up by business, that they might keep the unwelcome thought out of view.

But those who walked and lived according to the directions of the king were saved from all such apprehensions as these ; they knew that the King's Son had become their Saviour and surety ; that he had visited the city in the the fashion of a pilgrim, and had suffered and died, that those who believed in him might be saved; and those pilgrims who did believe in him were able to rejoice in the prospect, which filled the minds of others with dread.

The pilgrims who were living as such, and were looking forwards to another city, bad many peculiarities, which distinguished them from the other inhabitants. But ina-much as, living thus, they silently rebuked those who were living otherwise, they were not always well spoken of by their fellow-citizens. Many attempts were made to get rid of them altogether, and they were often subjected to much cruel persecution. But all was in vain. They increased in numbers and in power, and many of them were very active in their attempts to influence others. And it was often seen that those who, during the earlier part of their residence in the city treated these pilgrims and their opinions with much indifference and even contempt, after a while, and especially when the time of their departure seemed to draw near, showed themselves much inclined to regard them favourably.

As I looked upon this city everything was going on much as usual. The course and order of life which had prevailed there for many ages and generations seemed as likely as ever to continue. There were some entering into the city, and some going out of it; and those who were dwelling in it were busy buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage. All at once the city was destroyed, and the fashion of it. “The heavens passed away with a great noise, the elements melted with fervent heat, the earth also and the works which were therein were burned up."

When I looked again I saw in the same place another city, and it was, indeed, a very different one.

This was a continuing city, a city that bad foundations. This was the city of which the godly pilgrims had talked and sung, and which had ever as a vision of peace floated before their eyes, luring them on in a way which was rough and diffi.cult—the city unto which they came at last, with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. It was the same which the apostle John saw in the vision in Patmos, " that great city, the new Jerusalem, which descended out of heaven from God; having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east three gates ; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; on the west three gates; and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. * * * And the building of the wall of it was of jasper, and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. * ** And the twelve gates were twelve pearls ; every several gate was of one pearl ; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” And from this city there ascended the sound of perpetual song,

which was

as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunders, and the voice of harpers harping with their harps;" and you could see a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and people, and kindreds, and tongues, stand before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, who cried with a loud voice, saying, “ Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders, and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces and worshipped God, saying, Amen. Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."

And as I listened to these sweet sounds, and looked upon this great sight, these sounds gave place to silence, and the vison disappeared. It was a dream, and yet not all a dream, for I still found myself living in a City of Pilgrims, though we call it a world; and I found also, to my great joy, that there were in it not a few living as pilgrims, who, unbeguiled by the seductions with which they were surrounded, could sweetly sing, “For here we have no continuing city; but we seek one to come.”

CATHERINE BORA, WIFE OF MARTIN LUTHER.
HE wife and woman of the Reformation,” as

Catherine Luther is called, was one who through
much tribulation, reproach, and affliction walked

steadily on, not, indeed, with perfect and neverhalting steps, but without so deviating from the right way as to bring a blemish on her name. · The heart of her husband safely trusted in her," and the courage, fidelity, and tenderness with which she devoted herself to him proved an important aid in the delivery of God's truth from error and superstition. She is thus one to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. We shall not find in her the immaculate saint of popish legends, nor the faultless heroine of an one-sided biography, but the exemplification of that truth, " The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him."

Catherine Bora was of a noble family, which had, however, seen the decay of its substance, and been reduced to poverty at the time of its appearance in history. At an early age she took the vows as a nun in a famous religious house near Grimma. She attended to the rules of her vocation with diligence, spending also much time, as she declares, in fervent prayer, desiring true rest for her soul.

About the year 1516 Luther was sent by Dr. Staupitz to inquire into the convent of Augustines at Grimma. There he preached the gospel with such power that the light of truth spreading around in a few years penetrated into the dismal cells of the poor Cistercian nuns.

It showed them how a false superstition, cruel and iniquitous, had shut them from a participation in the duties and obligations and privileges of their sex; so that instead of glorifying God by lives of usefulness devoted to him, they were immured in walls beyond which, for them, nothing lived, and condemned to spend that time and those powers that were designed to benefit and bless themselves and others in indolent reveries and fruitless torments.

Some of these poor prisoners humbly and earnestly entreated their parents and friends to deliver them from a state which could be no longer agreeable to God, since it was hateful to them, and “for the love of souls

to grant their prayer for liberty. But convents were looked upon as convenient places where portionless daughters might be honourably and safely bestowed ; parents and friends, therefore, turned a deaf ear to their supplications.

This failure, however, did not silence them. Who was the most likely person to help them? Surely he who had been the means of taking the scales from their eyes, Luther: they would contrive to supplicate Luther.

He never heard supplication for help in vain; and they with whom he so deeply and fully sympathized were not likely to remain unheard; he applied secretly to his friend, Bernhard Koppe, town councillor of Torgau, and to two

« FöregåendeFortsätt »