« ElőzőTovább »
places, and streams in the midst of the desert; and for the ever-recurring weariness of life, for its toil and conflict, heat and trouble, they shall have quiet resting-places.”
The Evening.—The close of each day should bring over the soul some shadow of solemnity and rest. A sacred time even in Eden was “the cool of the day.” Isaac went out into the field to meditate “at eventide.” Jesus often left his disciples about sundown, and wandered up among the Syrian hills to find some sequestered spot where he might feel himself alone in the full presence of God. The breeze that fanned the leaves of Paradise will touch our cheek, and make coolness at the close of our day, if we will but cease from care and sin. The same sun shines and sets on us which lightened and left the patriarchs day by day so long ago. The same night shadows us that gathered around the Saviour of the world. And the same soul-rest will be ours if we seek it " when even is now come.”
We read in the Scriptures that day and night are the “ ordinances” of God. Can any one suppose that he has established them for only material ends ? To preserve the balance of the heavens, to promote the growth of vegetables, to give sleeping time to man?
Those are ends every way worthy of God, but surely a higher end is found in the trial, nurture, and purification of souls.
The day is for their labour; the night is for their reste The day is full of hard tests and severe exactions; the night soon returns all soft and dewy with refreshing again. This is not so by necessity. Alas! there are thousands of busy men who pass this “quiet restingplace" and never see it. They seem not to know that it is “the shadow of the Almighty,” the silent footstep of his nearer presence. But to many a one the evening is a daily deliverance and salvation, a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. And is there any sufficient reason to make the evening not so much to you? If God has placed you so in his providence that you cannot have it in quietness for meditation and prayer, then he will compensate you for the loss. You shall be no loser by doing your duty. He will nourish your soul by other means, and give you rest in other ways. There are not a few who are in this predicament, to whom the evening is but the prolongation of the day ; who must, in strength or weariness hold on at the task until it is done; who must, late as well as early, stand in their place or see it taken by another. Ah, but think! Is it certain that this is your case? Rather, has not God to a large extent put the matter into your own hands, and you are arranging it so. You are killing each evening as it comes, shutting out its softness by unnecessary toil, startling its silence with music, spending it, as the phrase is, always in company. By your
present plan of life you may be getting much, but are you not losing more? You are enriched, as you hope for good, by the gains of your trade ; pleased and informed with the conversation of the friends you meet; solaced and stimulated by the sweet strains you hear. But the evening will not thus be a "quiet restingplace,” will not come to your heart with whisperings of the far-off world to which you are going, with airs from the better country, with soft-falling dews of heaven. Fitly, therefore, we may ask you to think, whether it would not be well at least to intersperse labour and social delights with seasons of calm reflection? For you have to remember that God will not compensate you in his providence for what you thus wilfully lose. You can make quietness if you will for a longer or a shorter time at the close of the day. You can make, as it were, a little inclosure of time within which your soul shall have a deeper thoughtfulness and a more conscious rest. Behold! God himself makes that enclosure for you; you have only to enter it. He draws you away from toil; he drops the twilight upon your path, and then shadows you with the wing of night. And as the sun is setting, as the air grows cool, and as the night draws on, how temple-like are earth and sky! How near is the great presence! Hear you not then the still small voice-softer than sound of brooks, more musical than summer wind among the leaves-calling you to come into higher relations and holier life? To a devout soul the evening is like “the secret place of the most high." It is “the shadow of the Almighty." It is a closet of which God builds the walls and shuts to the door. It is a quiet resting-place in which the soul may soothe weariness, recruit strength, look on the face of purity, and grow up into the image of God.
Think, then, as the evening comes round—for thought is the soul's rest—think of the day that is gone with gratitude, for every hour of it has been overflowing with the goodness of God; with penitence, for you will easily discover that it has been a day of shortcomings and sins; with wisdom, aiming to understand it better than when you lived it; with tenderness and holy fear, as feeling how good and how grand a thing it is to be permitted to live on, and to hope to live better.
Think of to-morrow which will come so soon, with its unknown and yet probable events—of the task that will await you then; of the persons who will be around you, of their words, their looks, their influence; of the peril you will have to brave; of the weakness you will feel ; of the strength you will need ; of the failure you fear, that by your thought and prayer it may be the less likely to come; and of the goodness which will certainly enrich and crown to-morrow as it has filled and now closes to-day.
Think of the evening of life itself; of the vanishing of all mortal things; of the shadow that death will cast; of the soul's departure through that mysterious shade; of the morning on the other side, of the sunless city, the cloudless skies, the stormless shores, the happy multitudes, the swelling songs, the wonder, the rapture, and the rest. Think any such thoughts with prayer and faith, and your soul must be lifted at least somewhat above the dust and drudgery of this vexing and downdragging world ; must be drawn away from its cares and defilements; and as you grow stronger and happier among these superior things you will say gladly, “ The Saviour has led me to-night into one of his quiet restingplaces : this is the rest and this is the refreshing wherewith he causeth the weary to rest.”
The Sabbath is a “quiet resting-place.” In the beginning God rested from his work, and blessed and hallowed the day for all time, and never has there been a Sabbath on earth in which men have not been entering intu the very rest of God. Like all his gifts it has been much perverted. To some it has been only dark bondage—a day on which the “heavy burdens” have become heavier still. To others it has been a day for license and frivolity-the worst, and not the best of the seven. To most on earth, alas! it is little or nothing