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“THERE WERE SHEPHERDS ABIDING IN THE FIELDS.”
In chords of heavenly harmony, it burst Flashed the clear light of heavenly sapience; Upon their listening ears. Amazed, they while on his ruby lips the smile that sat rose,
Told of the joyful tidings that within And each to other turning, strove to read Leaped forth to clothe themselves in utterBy starlight's flickering gleam his neighbour's ance. thoughts.
His raiment was a brilliant pearly vest, A spell was on them, and they dared not O'er which, in many folds of dignity, speak
Was laid a mantle of celestial white. While that sweet music filled the midnight O'er all the mystic light of silvery hue air.
Shone forth, and glistened in a thousand Not Handel's mighty genius e'er composed forms Nor ever the melodious Felix dreamed Of ever-changing beauty, like the flash Like harmonies to that enchanted strain ; Of summer's sun upon the dancing waves. Not of the earth it was, but heavenly born, The murmuring night withdrew awhile, It seemed the echo of the distant song,
abashed By seraphs chanted round the eternal throne. At sight so glorious ; and where they stood The wondering shepherds stood in listening Appeared the brightness of the noon-tide awe
day. While the sweet measures chained their By those first mystic sounds from heaven's raptured souls
choir And whispered of the joys of Paradise. The shepherds' hearts were ravished, but As thus they stood in awesome wonderment when now The music ceased, and in the upper sky A visitant of God-like majesty Shone forth a brilliant light, a silvery beam, Appeared, vague trembling seized upon their Distant at first, and like a morning star.
souls. Then, drawing nearer with a swift descent, But trembling yielded place to swift delight, What seemed a meteor, grand proportions When thus the messenger celestial spoke : took
Behold, I bring you news of holy joy ; And shape angelic; till before them stood In heaven your prayers are heard, your feeble A radiant seraph of the heavenly host.
sighs In every feature shone eternal youth, Before Jehovah's mighty throne uprise, And holy excellence; from out his eyes In sound of holy eloquence. E'en now VII. N.S.
In David's city hath the answer come ; As on their spirits stole that Godlike peace
Ceased the music then,
Yet, lingering over all the mystic scene, Dividing, opened wide the gates of heaven, An echo of the melody remained, And swift descending, came innumerable As would each tree, each herb, each rock, The hosts angelic. First the messenger
and stone, Was glorious, but his splendour now was lost, Repeat the tidings in their whispered joy. Unnoticed in the dazzling brilliancy, Entranced awhile, the shepherds stood till he, So rivalling in its light ten thousand suns Benaiah, eldest of the four, uprose, That human sight, all feeble to endure, And with glad voice his comrades thus beRefused her office. Sank the shepherds spoke: down,
“Let us to Bethlehem, my friends ; delay Blinded with glory, prostrate on the ground. Would ill become us, who have prayed so
Now glad the shout of holy triumph rose, long So loud, so joyous, musical withal,
For this blest hour. Come, let us to our That earth with rapture trembled, and the King, hills
Our Saviour-Lord, the New-born Prince of Quivered with joy to throw the echo back! Peace.” All nature joined the lofty song of praise- Uprising, onward sped the faithful four, “ Glory to God on high, on earth be peace With eager feet, and ever as they trod, Toward men of holy will.” The shepherds The quivering earth was vocal to their touch, heard
And rising to their ears the echo came, With holy joy, nor doubted they, nor feared, “ Peace be on earth to men of holy will."
J. E. BENNETT.
THE INDIAN FAMINE.
"Give ye them to eat."-LUKE ix. 13. WE
E must discriminate between two in St. John: but this Evangelist supplies
miracles, which we are rather apt to other details, which give point to their meanblend into one. Our Lord draws the dis- ing.* He tells us how Jesus, seeing a great tinction very clearly, and calls our careful company before Him, said to Philip: attention to it, in some words addressed to “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may the disciples : “Do ye not remember the eat?” And He adds, “ This He said to five loaves of the five thousand, and how prove them: for He himself knew what He many baskets ye took up? neither the would do.” And then St. John tells us how seven loaves of the four thousand, and how Andrew, with a timid glance at the slender many baskets ye
provision which was ready, said, “There is It is the former of these two miracles to a lad here, which hath five barley loaves and which our thoughts are now to be given, and two small fishes: but what are they among so with special reference to one particular part many ?” Such conversation tends to comof it. The miracle itself is recorded by all municate a strong emphasis to the words I the four Evangelists : and it is the only one am using for my text. of all our Lord's miracles which has this dis- It was under such circumstances, and at tinction. This circumstance sets a peculiar this part of the transaction, that Christ spoke mark upon it, and seems to say that it those words to the disciples. If we think of demands more than ordinary attention. them with due care, in their connection with
These particular words, as addressed by the facts of the case, we begin to feel that Christ to the disciples" Give ye them to they are very startling. We must, I think, eat”—are furnished by St. Matthew, St. find, when we take them into close consideraMark, and St. Luke. They do not appear tion, that they have a deep and distinct mistaken, they have special instruction for us themselves to their impossible task, the task here at this moment, in the presence of this became possible. Thus a great and urgent great calamity in British India.
meaning for us. And, if I am not much • Matt. xvi. 9, 10. See Mark viii. 19, 20. + Matt. xiv. 16; Mark vi. 37; Luke ix. 13.
John vi. 5-9.
want was supplied for the moment, a great One effect produced on the minds of those encouragement given for every season of who heard them must have been a sore trial perplexity in all coming time, a great revelaof their faith, with perplexity and fear, and tion of Hope made to the Christian soul, a sense of their own utter helplessness. Be- when it is oppressed under a sense of weakfore them was the great weary and hungry ness and poverty and sad despondency. multitude. Here was the poor scanty supply. For though, in ourselves following this Around, at some distance, were certain poor example, we must omit what is properly villages; but the day was far spent : "two miraculous, still the miracle sets forth hundred pennyworth of bread would not be certain great principles which are never sufficient, that every one of them might take obsolete. Let us see how its lessons can be a little ; and where was the money to pro- made applicable to the special case now becure even this? Well might the hearts of fore us. all the disciples sink, as did the hearts of There is no doubt that in this dreadful Philip and Andrew. And well do we Indian famine is involved a serious trial of remember, brethren, the same sinking of our faith. How to reconcile the existence of spirit—we, who have felt the various needs such great calamities with the Divine goodof others pressing on our hearts, who have ness is beyond the reach of our present desired to do good, but knew not how. faculties. We see indeed that there are in Well do we remember the same trial of faith, the physical world certain laws which must and how it was accompanied with perplexity have their inevitable effects. We see too and fear.
that certain races of mankind are indolent Still there came on the ears of the disciples and improvident, and that the results to our Lord's simple and direct command. It them must be disastrous. Yet, after all, was like the command addressed to the man this removes the difficulty only a few steps with the withered hand—“Stretch forth thine farther back. Like the disciples, we are in hand”—when the limb was all withered and perplexity. But there comes to us, as to dead. It was a command quite distinct and them, out of the midst of the darkness, a clear explicit. “ They need not depart,” I said command : “Give ye them to eat.” Even Christ,“Give ye them to eat." These disciples common philanthropy, even mere human were to address themselves, under the sense of sympathy, quickened by the remembrance this perplexity and weakness, to the alleviation that these are our fellow subjects, gives disof this great calamity. A strange command tinctness to the command. And to a great indeed! and yet not perhaps so remote from extent the enabling power is bestowed upon passages of ordinary experience in the Church us. Our prosperity supplies the power. We of subsequent days, as appears at first sight. It have large resources here in England. The may be laid down as a general principle, that faculty of beneficence is diffused through a in our darkest hours there is almost always multitude of families. The power too of something to be done—that some command giving increases with its exercise. In the reaches us, when in our deepest depression practice of self-denial we find new resources. —that in the doing of the command there is This is a great principle, of which there has relief, and that blessing comes in the very been happy experience in all ages of the making of the effort that is prescribed. Church. There is a passage from the Psalms
So we are brought, in the third place, to the quoted in the New Testament, which sets Divine enabling power, which came to the this very forcibly before us, and the occasion disciples in their effort to discharge the pre- for the quotation was given, as seems most proscribed duty, and by virtue of which the duty bable, by a famine. St. Paul, writing on bewas actually done. Jesus has looked up to half of those who were suffering from want in heaven, ş has blessed the bread, and broken Judæa, and urging on the Corinthians the it, and placed it in the hands of the disciples. duty of large bounty and liberality, says, The wondrous increase seems to have been "God is able to make all resources abound accomplished after this placing of the bread in towards you; that ye, having always all their hands and during their act of distribution. sufficiency in all things, may abound to every The enabling power was given while they good work : as it is written” in the hundred obeyed the command. As they addressed and twelfth Psalm-The beneficent man
hath dispersed abroad ; he hath given to • John vi. 7. Matt. xiv. 19; Mark vi. 41; Luke ix. 16.
the poor : and his beneficence still remains
† Matt. xii. 13.
* Matt. xiv. 16.
and shall remain ”—for such is the turnment of all such matters we of this congrewhich St. Paul gives to the quotation; and gation must leave to be settled between then he adds, in words which every preacher Pharaoh and Joseph. But we may with on this subject may well use in English con- reverence remember that it was precisely gregations: “Now may He that ministereth this famine which ultimately led to one of seed to the sower both minister bread for your the great religious movements of the world, food, and multiply your seed sown, and in a movement through which the Gospel came, crease the fruits of your beneficence,” so in the end, even to us; and we must not that ye may be “enriched in everything unto allow ourselves to doubt that in proportion as all bountifulness, which causes through us a national effort is iaithíully and carefully thanksgiving unto God."*
made, a great blessing will, in the working These thoughts bring us to another aspect out of God's mysterious plans, be conferred of the subject, which perhaps is more upon the world through this present caladirectly adapted to statesmen and men of mity. science than to the Christian minister when But one more aspect still of the subjectappealing directly to the consciences of the and, to the Christian mind, the most interesting members of a congregation. Yet we cannot and anxious of all-must be contemplated. properly separate ourselves from our general This earthly famine is a picture of that famine position of British citizens. There is, dis- of the heart and soul, which, whether felt or tributed through the whole nation, a responsi- not, is throughout the heathen world, and bility for taking a Christian view of British the craving of which can only be satisfied by India; and when, on looking upon the Christ, the Bread of Life. And, once again, matter in this way, we are conscious of what when this thought likewise is in the mind, may well be called a national perplexity, we find ourselves, like the disciples, in the a distress runs through the whole people, presence of a great perplexity. Few quesas the question presses upon us: “Whence tions have pressed more heavily, in all ages, shall we buy bread that these may eat ?" t on the Christian soul than this: How is it And yet there comes out to us from the that the Gospel has made so little progress ? midst of this great calamity, a command, How is it that so large a portion of the world clear and peremptory, “Give ye them is heathen still ? And in this trial of our to eat." We are bound, as a nation, to faith, we deeply feel our helplessness and address ourselves to the task of dealing, poverty. Yet it is precisely when we feel not only with this present famine, but with this that the command rings most distinctly other famines that are likely to occur. And, upon our ears, "Pray ye the Lord of once more, we may say with truth that the the harvest, that He would send
forth Divine enabling power is, to a great extent, labourers into His harvest:” “Go ye into all present with us. Our engineering skill, our the world,* and preach the Gospel to every industrial experience, invest us with power creature.” What is this but to say to us, as well as responsibility. As to what can be
them to eat” ? God makes the prodone by railways, or by irrigation, or the gress of His kingdom dependent, so to speak, like, this is not the place to inquire. But, as upon our prayers and our exertions. How we have called to mind the famines mentioned the heart sinks when we are conscious of all in the New Testament, so we may call to that is thus laid upon us! The clergyman at mind those which are mentioned in the Old. home, in his pastoral work, feels all this deeply. When a dearth was impending in Egypt, it He has to give to others that which he was advised that the food of the good years possesses not in himself. But in this very should be stored up against the need of the weakness is his strength. Simply obeying bad years, so that the land might not“perish Christ, he receives from Christ the enabling through the famine;" and Pharaoh " said and multiplying power. So with all of us, unto his servants, Can we find such a one when we contemplate Missionary work among as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God the heathen. We must bring our impossiis ?" I and the man was found ; and through Joseph the land was saved. The arrange- • Matt. ix. 37, 38: Mark xvi. 15.
· Give ye
† See what Quesnel says, with special reference to minis
terial work, on verses 16, 17 and 18. * Ps. cxii. 9; 2 Cor. ix. 8-12. Barrow, in his Spital Sermon resources we can draw nothing to give to human souls; (Oxf id. of his Works ii. p. 181) has a remark on the passage, but he who confides in Jesus Christ has a treasure inexhaustiwhich is well worth quoting: “ It is observable that as in ble and ever present. The confession of our own indigence every kind that which is most excellent doth commonly is a great preparation for the gifts of God, and is in fact ono assume to itself the name of the whole kind; so among the of those gifts-Let us take our poverty to Jesus Christ: in parts of righteousness this of exercising bounty and mercy is His hands it will become abundant riches. _" Le Nouveau peculiarly called righteousness."
Testament avec des Réflexions morales sur chaque verset,'
i. p. 196.
" From our own
bilities to God, with whom “all things are tress we may win their hearts towards the possible."*
We must lay our" deep poverty" Truth with which we have been intrusted. before Christ, that through His power—as It was by help of a famine that hearts were when the loaves were miraculously distributed united, and the True Faith diffused, in the -it may “abound unto the riches of our first spreading of the Gospel through the liberality." +
world. "The disciples were called ChrisConnect, my dear brethren, the thought of tians first in Antioch ;” and just then there Missionary progress with that thought of came the announcement of a famine. “Then temporal relief, which is brought before your the disciples, every man according to his minds this day. It will quicken your benevo- ability, determined to send relief to the lent efforts, and will purify them, and take brethren which dwelt in Judæa: which also them into a higher sphere. We have done they did ”*—thus teaching us to take a much harm to the people of India through Christian view of great calamities, to act the inconsistent lives of our fellow-country- generously and promptly according to the men. Now we have an opportunity of doing occasion, and to expect God's blessing to them good. In relieving their present dis- rest on what we do. * Matt. xix. 26. † 2 Cor. viii. 2.
• Acts xi. 26-30.
NEST BUILDING. BY THE LATE Rev. Dr. G. B. WHEELER, RECTOR OF BALLYSAX. THE parlour in the Glebe House of garrison of Lucknow knew when Havelock
Ballysax is a fine large room, nearly marched through a sea of fire to relieve square. At the front end, there is a very them. From that parlour window you can broad window with two stone mullions which stretch your view away to the “Chair of divide it into three compartments. From it Kildare, where the kings of Leinster, in old we look down into a richly cultivated valley, days, were crowned, and sweep your eye then over a succession of low hills, and on to over a semicircle of seven miles radius. the Camp built on the long hill, 460 feet while I write this, a thunderstorm is raging, above sea level, and all a mass of granite boul- and the lightning, in violet-coloured sheets ders, rounded limestones, gravel, sand, and of flame, flashes over the vast scene. It is alluvial, placed in the order I have named, awe-inspiring and terrible. We are used to beginning from below. We see the extended the roar of heavy guns here, and to the ratlines of the camp, in which to-day there are tling fusillade of musketry, yet how poor their 9,700 men. The clock-tower stands in the sound seems compared with the voice of centre, but we regulate our clocks by the Heaven's artillery! But my prospect for mid-day and evening guns. At night, the some time has been limited'in extent. It long lines of lights—for the camp is lighted was a great feat to move from my bedroom well-throw a halo round the huts and quar- to the parlour with a stick in either hand, ters. We hear distinctly the bugle calls, the some little time since; and when they put roll of the drums beating the tattoo, and the me in my old arm-chair near a glowing fire rattle of rifles placed at present " when the —for the months of February and March officer of the night goes on grand rounds. were exceptionally cold—I thought I had Now and again when there is a festival, as gained a new lease, long or short, of life. on St. Patrick's day, or St. David's day, or Although chained to my chair I had ample on the ist of August, if any regiment which society, for two huge rose-trees, of dear old shared in the glorious fight of Minden is in kinds, the one white—they call it here the camp, the rough but hearty music of stout “Maiden's blush”—and the other red, had soldiers' songs comes over the trees of our rather wildly, I must admit, trained themwood to us, and my two dogs try their best selves across the great window of the parlour. to join in the chorus. If there be a Scotch A green light came in through the early regiment at the Curragh, perhaps the stirring leaves, and numerous buds, notwithstanding skirle of the bag-pipes does not fail to reach the rigour of the spring, gave promise of us, softened and mellowed in the air! They foliage and flowers-a promise they gloriously make heart-moving music, these Scotch fulfilled. A heavy shower had fallen early pipes, and their notes are heard very far on the day when I took my old seat once away; as the half-starved and sorely pressed more, but a burst of sunshine succeeded.