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hich are draught thlehem vith joy, th a naessianic Contrast was on
DECEMBER 18 51.
THE GOOD TIME NOW.
We hear a great deal about the good time coming. Philosophers, reformers, and poets, dwell upon it with enthusiasm, and their pictures are inspiring. Their visions keep hope from perishing, give a significance to what is said of the enduring nature of good, and cheer the “winter of discontent" with the promises of the golden Summer affluent to satisfy the most exacting. It is sometimes quite exhilarating to hold converse with these prophetic souls, who see the body of the present die only to give development to a more perfect being. They stand at their telescope, studying the perturbations that seem confusion, and continually repeat their belief that a new planet will yet reveal itself to fill up the circle of Order. How beautiful is the hopeful strain of the astronomer, who, after dwelling upon the nebulæ theory, and expatiating on the stupendous supposition which that theory gave to the student, accepted the doubt of the sceptic, but still maintained that one thing, at least, was gained, and that was the certainty that, “in the vast heavens, as well as among phenomena around us, all things are in a state of change and progress. There, too, on the sky, in splendid hieroglyphics, the truth is inscribed, that the grandest forms of present being are only germs, swelling and bursting with a life to
“ To Come !" To every creature, these are words of hope, spoken in organ tone; our hearts suggest them, and the stars repeat them, and through the infinite Aspiration wings its way, rejoicing as an eagle following the sun." This is a beautiful thought,--to make progress of things among the stars prophetic of a good time coming among the things on the earth. The glory of the terrestrial is one, but the glory of the celestial is another; yet these glories niay harmonize, in the fact that each may be perfect after its kind, as angels and men in their obedience to God. To come! says Faith, of her bright visions. To come! says Hope, of her beautiful prophecies. To come! says Love, looking up Vol. XX.
and on; waiting quietly for stars to shine and the day to break,-hearing, in the rude blast, the whisper of the calm.
Far better is this recurrence to the future,--this living in the Eden to come,—than, turning mournfully to the past, recognizing only a good time gone! Man is considered but as a pile of ruins, by such a creed. Adam was more than Abraham, and Abraham more than David; and though Christ has come, and half the veil removed from eternal glory, still the Paradise Lost is the burden of the heart. To progress into manhood, is to see the best rays “fade into the common light of day;" and however beautiful may be the sunset, the dawn, it is affirmed, was more lovely. This tendency to find the good time in the past, is seen in the regrets which are expended over perished childhood ; the draught which David desired from the well of Bethlehem regarded as better than the “ drawing, with joy, water out of the wells of Salvation," with a nation rapt with the blessedness of the Messianic hope. The look of regret is an infinite contrast to the look of exultant hope ;-the one was on the face of Heathendom, turned to the Past; the other, on the face of the Church, as it gazed on the Future. As far as our mere human affections are concerned, -as far as refers to the tender relations of domestic life,-this looking back is well. It refreshes withering sympathies; it restores gentleness; it quickens gratitude; it environs us again with the sanctities which we once thought would always keep us pure. One of the best apologies of the criminal is that which he sometimes makes so forcible, when he tells us he never knew a childhood, that he burst at once into the harsh realities of life; that his early years remind him only of the young deer pressing his way through briars and thorns, cut and wounded on every side. A happy childhood is one of the holiest charms that man ever knows as redeeming. To the most desolate it is a joy that he was happy once; and the severest tyranny cannot take from the captive his power to live over years of freedom he once knew ;-to
go back to childhood; to recall the grand things that never will be undervalued by him who rewe dreamed of accomplishing,-to think of the gards purity and love as more to be desired than charms with which imagination and fancy could sin and enmity. How the simple sports of chilinvest life, and how the thought of the great fu- dren rebuke our ceaseless toil after artificial ture lifted us out of any despair in the present, pleasures! How the speedy reconciliation of of. is good. It has a beneficent mission. It is, in fending parties shames our hard-heartedness, a certain sense, redeeming. It brings to our and our stiff-necked rebellion against our own sight the face now withered, and the eye now and social peace. “We put away,” says Mardull, as they appeared to young wonder, rever- tineau," the guileless mind, the pure vision, the ence, and love; and as the soul comes back from simple trust, the tender conscience; and reserve those roamings to by-gone years, and feels how the petty scale of thought, the hasty will, the care has ploughed the furrows in the once smooth love of toys and strife. Paul put away only the cheek, and that that care was the intense work- ignorance and littleness of childhood, bearing ing of love for him, there is an attraction in the with him its freshness, its truth, its God, into faded face which the bloom of youthful beauty the grand work of bis full age. And hence, never could claim.
while our religion lies somewhere near our cra. But this is far from the action of that looking dle, and is a kind of sacred memory, his lived back to the good time past, that sees nothing on, to speak for itself, instead of being talked beautiful but what has gone forever ;-that about. It fought all his conflicts; it took the weeps over the spot where the old home stood;
weight out of his chains; it condensed the lightthat sighs for the creaking of the wheel at the
ning of his pen, and kindled the whole furnace cistern, and the long sweep at the well; that of his glorious nature.” can pluck no fruit like the golden apples that It was because of this continuity of life,—this ripened where the robins waked the child from growth, expansion, progress, -that there was his sleep; that sighs for the dried brook, the ever to Paul an important now. He not only vanished hill-side, the old oak, and the trustful looked back and forward, but around him; ay, dreaming and bright faith of childhood. This and within him. He saw what the stream of is not letting the child in our heart lead us to Time had done, and was careful to see what it refreshing memories. It is becoming a child, - was doing, that he might read the prophecy of forgetting the duties and privileges of manhood. what it might possibly do. A good time gone We should use the power of looking back, as the he acknowledged; a good time coming he retraveler does, when ascending some lofty height; joiced in; but he also reverently owned a good when, wearied, and imagining his ascent less time now; and there was a world of meaning in rapid than it is, he stops and turns round, he his word when he said, “Now is the accepted sees what he has left;-all the rude features are time; now is the day of salvation.” And so lost in the distance ;—the most repulsive por- with the repetition of the ancient words, tions of the scene contribute to the picturesque- day, if ye will harden not your hearts, hear His ness of the sight. But while he enjoys and is voice.” That must be a good time, that is acrefreshed by the scene, he does not forget how ceptable to God for the greatest of purposes, those things looked when he was nearer to them, for the working out of the noblest possibilities of nor does he fail to appreciate that it is his pro- our nature,- for rising to the best height wheregress that gives him such a view of what must
from to see the coming glory of God. That must be left behind. “When I became a man,” said be a good time, that affords us means to prevent Paul, “I put away childish things ;" and so it the hardening of the heart, the deadening of the should be with him who, in belonging to the moral sensibilities, the blighting of the soul. The present, is leaving the childhood of the race with good time invites our thougbt, our regard, our rapid steps. But there is a great difference
reverence, our ability to improve. among men as to what are esteemed as childish
The Bible, with its story of the Creation and things, or what are the childish things that of Eden, reminds us of the good time gone; and should be put away.
Childhood has things with its more glorious story of Bethlehem and which Jesus would counsel us to retain. It was the Manger, the Baptism and the Temptation, a great act of his when he took a little child and
Geihsemane, Calvary, the Garden Sepalehre, placed him in the midst of his contending disei. and Olivet, and the Throne of Mediation and the ples, contrasting its simplicity with the cunning | Mercy Seat, speaks to us of the good time comof their ambition. There is a good time past, ing ;—“life and immortality are brought to
light;" Satan is deposed from his seat of power, and God, all in all, finishes the work of redemption. But no less does the Bible make of the good time now. There was a now to all these things which make up the story of lost holiness and its restoration. There was a moment when Adam started into being. That was a glorious now to him. There was a time when the child of a thousand promises was born ; and that was a stupendous now to the angels who sang the birth song of the infant Redeemer. What a now,what absorbing interest was thrown around it,when John the Baptist appeared, to teach repentance; when Jesus appeared, to be baptized of John; when the temptation was completed, and the victory over it too; when Jesus sat on the mountain, and delivered the sermon of truth ! To each one of the multitude our Savior healed, what a now was experienced! When the poor baffled cripple, at the pool, saw the face of Christ kindling with the fervor of Divine sympathy, and the words coming to save him,-when the man with the withered band was required to stretch forth his hand, in the midst of the cavilling synagogue, -- and when the woman pressed through the crowd to touch the robe of Jesus,what a now was known ! If all nature had stopped in its course, it could not have made the time more a special hour. And what, amid all our hopes,-our dreams of the future,-can bring any thing more sublime, more abounding with the purest and most thrilling poetry, than was known in that now when afresh flowed the tears of the weepers of Bethany, because ‘Jesus wept?' What a good time now would it have been with those weepers, in the place of graves, had they read the moral significance of that hour! Had they known what millions would take that incident into their chambers of darkness, and dwell on it as they sat beside their dead, -had they known how it would be used to annihilate the iron force of stoicism, and prove sorrow no sin, tears no insult to God, groans no reproach against Providence,-had they anticipated what in our age is drawn from those tears, as they are seen radiant with the soul of Jesus,-they would have deemed that now one of the grandest hours of man. The past would have been but a background to the central figure of glory; and far into the future would the light of that present have been seen shining.
The great hours of man, as seen in history, assist us to give significance to now, and show its acceptance with God for grand issues. Quiet as the birth of a star in the twilight, still as the
coming up of the moon from the ocean, has been the birth-hour of some of the sublimest events in the progress of humanity; and how closely united the most awe-inspiring and the simplest incidents are sometimes found, is well shown in the appearance of the meteor that guided the eastern Magi to the infant Savior, and the familiar picture seen when they found the object sought for :-“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child, with Mary his mother.” Signs in the heavens may draw to the sight of familiar things, in such a way that we shall readily pay homage where, otherwise, we inight take no note of what was near, -"feeble beginning of a mighty end.”
Now! What is it? Is it not really a portion of our existence ?--the living cord, binding us to our identity,-conveying to our consciousness what we have been and are, and reaching prophetically, with its electric shootings, into the future. It is a time for faith, hope, and charity; for aspiration and endeavor; for baffling the tempter, and helping the tempted; for catching new visions of duty, new incentives to heroic action, new reasons for gratitude to God and devotion to Christ. Now! Why, it is a part of God's eternity,—his providential sovereignty over man; and who can tell what may be ready to burst on our astonished vision, to make this an hour that shall be the parent of ages of good for man? What magnificent issnes, in some quarter of this glohe, may not the eye of Omniscience see springing forth in the germ n? When the bird alighted on the branch of the tree, at the mouth of the cave into which Mahomet had Aed, it seemed no moment to take note of,-to be marked in the world's history ; but it nevertheless was such a moment. Mahomet was saved by the inference his pursuers drew from the bird sitting on that branch and singing. What a now was that to him! A song was between him and death ;—the song prevailed.
Speaking of a song, reminds me of a poet, and a peculiar use of this word now. She lay on the bed of death. Her large Hebrew eyes were full of lustre, beneath a jutting forehead, white as the robe of Jesus at the transfiguration; and, howing upon the pillows beneath her head, were the dark ringlets, tossed here and there, at times, by the hand, as the arm swayed itself around her head, as though parting the vines and flowers in some eastern bower. The music of angels dropped upon her hearing, and her face was radiant with the light of a beatified soul; and such visions of flowers what eye ever saw ? It was a