« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
holy discipline, like a sick man's diet, which, the season over, may be exchanged for unrestrained
“The house of mourning" is not only the only safe vestibule to “ the house of feasting,” but we must have been well conversant with its lowly entrance, and have learnt well its ways, and had its character and habits well impressed on our souls, before we can safely pass on.
If we have used Lent aright, we shall now have some deeper insight into the sores and sicknesses of our own hearts, than when we entered upon it. We have, by God's mercy, been using with ourselves what hardness we hoped to be able to bear; have prayed daily for “new and contrite hearts, worthily" to“ lament our sins, and acknowledge our wretchedness;" we have been seeking to be “dead with CHRIST," that we may “also live with Him." We have been using the knife to the sores of our own souls. And if we have done this faithfully, He Who “ dwelleth in the humble and contrite heart,” will have been with us, will have revealed to us more of our own evil, while we felt the balm of His Mercy. And this should plainly issue in a definite strife, which shall not cease, until God has “subdued our enemies before our face."
Our Easter joys may change the mode of our warfare, not relax our inward strife. Strive we must now in gladness at the Resurrection, with uplifted hearts, as before in humble sympathy with the Passion. In Lent, we abased ourselves,' now we hope to be lifted up in Him.
But whether through the sorrows of Lent or the joygıt of Easter, sunk low or borne aloft, our aim must be one-victory in His Strength, whether by the Lowliness of the Passion, or the thought of the Resurrection. The want of some such definite aim has, probably, been one chief reason, why the Easter seasonal of some of us, instead of yielding its own proper fruits, has seemed to them rather to have been attended by the loss of that which went before 3.
Yet Easter should be, outwardly too, a glad seal son, although not of a relaxed gladness. There is a's religious use of feasting, as of fasting ; a sanctified use of God's creatures with thanksgiving, as well as b
religious refusal of all pleasant meat." The very instance given in Holy Scripture of doing things, in 1 themselves of slight account, to the glory of God, is our daily food. Feasting would not be so often 4 spoken of in Holy Scripture, either as a naturall! expression of joy, or as a type of things spiritual,16 unless there were some religious way, in which refreshment of the body might serve to some spi-T ritual end. Types do not, of necessity, wholly ceasest when the substance is come. They may exhibit to us Him Who has come, as they did to those before, Him Who was to come. Doubtless, bread and wine are so often spoken of in the Old Testament, becauses they were a type of the Holy Eucharist. Yet the petiaw
Twl ind 3. Some suggestions as to the subsequent improvement of a a season of retirement for devotion are given in the last of the sermons preached at St. Saviour's, Leeds.
tion, "Give us this day our daily Bread," includes the prayer for both "ghostly and bodily" food, for the support of our bodies, and for Him Who is the “ Food of our souls." And so our “ daily bread" may be to us an emblem of feeding upon Him, “ the True Bread from Heaven.” The frequent mention how Jesus took food with His disciples or others, must, among
other meanings, surely have this, to teach His disciples how to take their food with Jesus. " Fasting is Angels' food;" yet feasting too may be to feast on and with our LORD. The soul may be nourished, while the body is refreshed. Then only is feasting dangerous, when it ends in itself, and so of such “their God is their belly," which alone they regard. Let any feast as he would by the lake of Galilee, when our Blessed LORD, Who now too feeds us, provided the feast, and prepared it, and " said unto them ‘Come and dine,' and came and took bread and gave them, and fish likewise," and his feast will be no hindrance to his devotion, but an act of it. We have during Lent, in abstinence and spareness of food, committed our bodies and souls to the LORD, replace through grace * what for His sake we withheld from nature. He to Whom we committed our weakness in Lent, will guard us equally now, that the tenderness to the body, fitted to the season, after we have dealt hardly with it, shall not hurt the soul. Let our object be the glory of God, our desire to serve Him, whether by weakness or by strength, the
4 “ Nature does with little, grace with less.”—Bp. Wilson.
aim of our daily life, to act in detail as children in their Father's House, and we need not fear lest we should displease Him in the indulgence, which at this glad time we thankfully accept from His Fatherly Goodness. Nor should tender and scrupulous minds mistake the cravings of the bodily frame for unruled appetite. The use of God's creatures which He provideth for us, is sanctified now by thanksgiving and charity, as abstinence from them lately was by humiliation and prayer.
But in order to maintain the religious character of our joy, we must, of course, make it an Easter joy, not leaving ourselves to the general influence of the season or the services of the Lord's Day, but seeking to live daily in the Mystery of the Resurrection, as lately in That of the Passion. Seasons which our LORD once consecrated, have His special Presence still, if with the disciples at Emmaus we seek to detain Him. His Fasting still sanctifies the forty days of our Lenten Fast ; His visits to His Disciples are still pledges that He will “ visit with His salvation in some special way during these glad forty Days, those who speak of Him by the way, or are gathered together in His Name, in lonely musings on Him, or in “ Breaking of Bread," or (when this cannot often be) in devout spiritual Communion, which may be daily, or oftentimes in the day.
To aid such meditation on our Risen LORD, has been the object of the Editor in publishing this work, not by any means to supersede the valuable helps which we possess, but knowing by experience the benefit and relief which many minds find in having a definite provision made for each day. Its chief excellence is its varied combination and working-in of striking passages from the fathers, and some later devotional writers.
In editing this work, it may just be said that, in such passages the Editor has mostly substituted a strict translation of the original, for the looser paraphrase common in French writers. In fewer words, they seemed to him thus to have more of freshness and of strength ; and he thought that in the conciser form, they would both fix themselves more in the mind, and that for the immediate object of religious meditation, individuals might gain more by dwelling upon such passages, expanding, developing, applying them, for themselves, than by simply following a paraphrase. Meditation, to be profitable, should not be a mere receiving, but a digesting, and revolving the spiritual food which has been received.
E. B. P.
Reader, if through this book
For those who laboured for thee.
3 As Bp. Andrewes' Sermons for Easter, Williams on the Resurrection, Moberly on the great forty days: much too throughout the year might be gained by a continuous meditation on the Gospels with the help of the Catena Aurea, Oxf. Tr.