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Simply and solemnly now proceeded the Christian service, Singing and prayer, and at last an ardent discourse from the old man. Many a moving word and warning, that out of the heart came, Fell like the dew of the morning, like manna on those in the desert. Then when all was finished, the Teacher re-entered the chancel, Followed therein by the young. The boys on the right had their places, Delicate figures, with close-curling hair, and cheeks rosy-blooming. But on the left of these, there stood the tremulous lilies, Tinged with the blushing light of the dawn, the diffident maidens, Folding their hands in prayer, and their eyes cast down on the pavement. Now came, with question and answer, the Catechism. In the beginning, Answered the children with troubled and faltering voice, but the old
man's Glances of kindness encouraged them soon, and the doctrines eternal Flowed, like the waters of fountains, so clear from lips unpolluted. Each time the answer was closed, and as oft as they named the
Redeemer, Lowly louted the boys, and lowly the maidens all courtesied. Friendly the Teacher stood, like an angel of light there among them, And to the children explained the holy, the highest in few words, Thorough, yet simple and clear, for sublimity always is simple, Both in sermon and song, a child can seize on its meaning. E'en as the green-growing bud is unfolded when Spring-tide approaches, Leaf by leaf puts forth, and, warmed by the radiant sunshine, Blushes with purple and gold, till at last the perfected blossorn Opens its odorous chalice, and rocks with its crown in the breezes, So was unfolded here the Christian lore of salvation, Line by line from the soul of childhood. The fathers and mothers Stood behind them in tears, and were glad at the well-worded answer.
Now went the old man up to the altar;—and straightway trans
figured (So did it seem unto me) was then the affectionate Teacher. Like the Lord's Prophet sublime, and awful as Death and as Judgment Stood he, the God-commissioned, the soul-searcher, earthward descend
ing, Glances, sharp as a sword, into hearts, that to him were transparent Shot he; his voice was deep, was low like the thunder afar off. So on a sudden transfigured he stood there, he spake and he questioned.
“This is the faith of the Fathers, the Faith the Apostles delivered, This is moreover the faith whereunto I baptized you, while still ye Lay on your mothers' breasts, and nearer the portals of heaven. Slumbering received ye then the Holy Church in its bosom; Wakened from sleep are ye now, and the light in its radiant splendour Downward rains from the heaven,-to-day on the threshold of childhood Kindly she frees you again, to examine and make your election, For she knows nought of compulsion, and only conviction desireth. This is the hour of your trial, the turning-point of existence,
Seed for the coming days; without revocation departeth
Teacher Clouds with the thunders therein, and he spake in accents more gentle, Soft as the evening's breath, as harps by Babylon's rivers. “Hail, then, hail to you all! To the heirdom of heaven be ye
welcome; Children no more from this day, but by covenant brothers and sisters! Yet,- for what reason not children? Of such is the kingdom of heaven. Here upon earth an assemblage of children, in heaven one Father, Ruling them all as his household,-forgiving in turn and chastising, That is of human life a picture, as Scripture has taught us. Blest are the pure before God! Upon purity and upon virtue Resteth the Christian Faith; she herself from on high is descended. Strong as a man and pure as a child, is the sum of the doctrine, Which the Divine One taught, and suffered and died on the cross for. O! as ye wander this day from childhood's sacred asylum Downward and ever downward, and deeper in Age's chill valley, ()! how soon will ye come,—too soon !-and long to turn backward Up to its hill-tops again, to the sun illumined, where Judgment Stood like a father before you, and Pardon, clad like a mother, · Gave you her hand to kiss, and the loving heart was forgiven. Life was a play, and your hands grasped after the roses of heaven! Seventy years have I lived already; the Father eternal Gave me gladness and care; but the loveliest hours of existence, When I have steadfastly gazed in their eyes, I have instantly known
them, Known them all again ;-they were my childhood's acquaintance. Therefore take from henceforth, as guides in the paths of existence, Prayer, with her eyes raised to heaven, and Innocence, bride of man's
Innocence, child beloved, is a guest from the world of the blessed,
them. Yet it is better to pray when all things are prosperous with us, Pray in fortunate days, for life's most beautiful Fortune Kneels before the Eternal's throne; and, with hands interfolded, Praises thankful and moved the only Giver of blessings. Or do ye know, ye children, one blessing that comes not from Heaven? What has mankind forsooth, the poor! that it has not received ? Therefore, fall in the dust and pray! The seraphs adoring Cover with pinions six their face in the glory of Him who Hung His masonry pendant on nought, when the world He created. Earth declareth His might, and the firmament uttereth His glory. Races blossom and die, and stars fall downward from heaven, Downward like withered leaves; at the last stroke of midnight, mil
lenniums Lay themselves down at His feet, and He sees them, but counts them
as nothing. Who shall stand in His presence? The wrath of the Judge is terrific, Casting the insolent down at a glance. When He speaks in His anger Hillocks skip like the kid, and mountains leap like the roe-buck. Yet,—why are ye afraid, ye children? This awful avenger, Ah! is a merciful God! God's voice was not in the earthquake, Not in the fire, nor the storm, but it was in the whispering breezes. Love is the root of creation; God's essence; worlds without number Lie in His bosom like children ; He made them for this purpose only: Only to love and be loved again, He breathed forth His spirit Into the slumbering dust, and upright standing, it laid its Hand on its heart, and felt it was warm with a flame out of heaven.
Quench, () quench not that flame! It is the breath of your being.
brethren; One is the sun in heaven, and one, only one, is Love also. Bears not each human figure the godlike stamp on his forehead? Readest thou not in his face thine origin? Is he not sailing Lost like thyself on an ocean unknown, and is he not guided By the same stars that guide thee? Why shouldst thou hate then
thy brother ? Hateth he thee, forgive! For 'tis sweet to stammer one letter Of the Eternal's language ;-on earth it is called Forgiveness ! Knowest thou Him, who forgave, with the crown of thorns on His
temples ? Earnestly prayed for his foes, for his murderers ? Say, dost thou
know Him ! Ah! thou confesseth His name, so follow likewise His example, Think of thy brother no ill, but throw a veil over his failings, Guide the erring aright; for the good, the heavenly Shepherd Took the lost lamb in His arms, and bore it back to its mother. This is the fruit of Love, and it is by its fruits that we know it. Love is the creature's welfare, with God; but love among mortals Is but an endless sigh! He longs, and endures, and stands waiting, Suffers, and yet rejoices, and smiles with tears on his eyelids. Hope,-so is called upon earth, his recompense,-Hope, the befriending, Does what she can, for she points evermore up to heaven, and faithful Plunges her anchor's peak in the depths of the grave, and beneath it Paints a more beautiful world, a dim, but a sweet play of shadows! Races, better than we, have leaned on her wavering promise, Having nought else but Hope. Then praise we our Father in heaven, Him, who has given us more! for to us has Hope been transfigured, Groping no longer in night; she is Faith, she is living assurance. Faith is enlightened Hope; she is light, is the eye of affection, Dreams of the longing interprets, and carves their visions in marble. Faith is the sun of life; and her countenance shines like the Hebrew's, For she has looked upon God; the heaven on its stable foundation Draws she with chains down to earth, and the New Jerusalem sinketh
Splendid with portals twelve in golden vapours descending.
hand Opens the mouth of the silent. Ye children, does Death e'er alarm
you? Death is the brother of Love, twin-brother is he, and is only More austere to behold. With a kiss upon lips that are fading Takes he the soul and departs, and rocked in the arm of affection, Places the ransomed child, new born, 'fore the face of its Father, Sounds of his coming already I hear,-see dimly his pinions, Swart as the night, but with stars strewn upon them ! I fear not before
him. Death is only release, and in mercy is mute. On his bosom Freer breathes, in its coolness, my breast; and face to face standing, Look I on God as He is, a sun unpolluted by vapours; Look on the light of the ages I loved, the spirits majestic, Nobler, better than I; they stand by the throne all transfigured, Vested in white, and with harps of gold, and are singing an anthem, Writ in the climate of heaven, in the language spoken by angels. You, in like manner, ye children beloved, He one day shall gather, Never forgets He the weary;—then welcome, ye loved ones, hereafter ! Meanwhile forget not the keeping of vows, forget not the promise, Wander from holiness onward to holiness; earth shall ye heed not; Earth is but dust and heaven is light; I have pledged you to heaven. God of the Universe, hear me; thou fountain of Love everlasting, Hark to the voice of thy servant! I send up my prayer to thy heaven! Let me hereafter not miss at thy throne one spirit of all these, Whom thou hast given me here! I have loved them all like a father. May they bear witness for me, that I taught them the way of salva
tion, Faithful, so far as I knew of thy word; again may they know me, Fall on their Teacher's breast, and before thy face may I place them, Pure as they now are, but only more tried, and exclaiming with gladness, Father, lo! I am here, and the children, whom thou hast given me !"
Weeping he spake in these words; and now at the beck of the old man Knee against knee they knitted a wreath round the altar's enclosure. Kneeling he read then the prayers of the consecration, and softly With him the children read; at the close, with tremulous accents, Asked be the peace of heaven, a benediction upon them. Now should have ended his task for the day; the following Sunday