Obrázky na stránke

of the separated Life, for it is so easy to slide insensibly into an idea of discipline, with which all progress in our present spiritual life is always inseparably and necessarily united and associated. Then the conception of penal suffering and of a Purgatory readily presents itself to our thoughts. But of this more shall be said hereafter.

The words of St. Augustine are very beautiful, when he says how the old garden was planted towards the sunrise, and eastward in Eden.' But in the celestial Paradise there is a better and perpetual dawn,' un-ascending and un-retiring; for the Vision of Christ shall be the un-setting delight of the Blessed Life, like the first golden horns of the day upon the brows of the morning (Ps. xxii., title). We may add these words of St. Bernard in his ‘Sermons on the Canticles '* : ‘There, where Thou makest Thy flock to lie down at noon, in the high noon of the eternal day, that knows no evening, there is no fear, nor weariness, nor lack, but Thy Paradise only, with its abiding of repose and peace, the sweet refreshing of the Word and the ineffable fulness of eternal life. Alas for me! alas, the very remembrance of thee, O Paradise, calls forth my tears, who am an exile, saluting thee, O land of blessedness, only from afar, and with the love and longing of those who sang of old: “By the waters of Babylon there we sat down; yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.”' There grows the Tree of life by the river of eternal consolation. There, there is the perpetual and everlasting Vision of God: 'for' (St. Augustine says again) 'as in the story of the seventh day of creation there is a silence of any evening, there shall And of this diversity of places He speaks when He says,

• In My Father's house are many mansions." '_' De Principiis,' cap. xi. 6; * Ante-Nicene Fathers,'x., p. 151.

* Serm. 33, tom. i. 1388.


be no hour of sunset in the Paradise of Immortality' (tom. v. 38, A).

And yet, rather, and by an infinite preference above the loveliest poetic raptures of saints and theologians, treasured in venerable folios of Greek and Latin sermons, in manuals and hymns of the mystical life here and of the blessed life hereafter, we will prefer the simple, though Divine, words of the Dying Jesus. We want no other* for our consolation. Ye shall be, O words, our only curfew, when the day is done ; a chime of eternal joy and everlasting peace sounding sweetly from the hills of God across the wide river of death, where we once parted with our dead, when they turned from us to the light, leaving to us the darkness and the sorrow, through which we are ourselves now coming to them and to God. Beautiful and true as are the words of apostles, of prophets, of psalmists, we will rather let the words of Jesus from the Cross tell us of the land of the eternal peace.

* Dr. Fairbairn has said : "The antitype is always higher than the type, and the work of grace transcends in excellence and glory the work of nature. When, therefore, we are told of a new creation, with its tree of life, and its paradisiacal delights yet to be enjoyed by the people of God, much more is actually promised than the simple recovery of what was lost by sin. There will be a sphere and condition of being similar in kind, but in the nature of the things belonging to it, immensely higher and better than what was originally set up by the hand of God. All things proceeding from Him are beautiful in their place and season. And it is true of the Paradise which has been lost, that its means of life and enjoyment were in every respect wisely adapted to the frames of those who were made for occupying it. Undoubtedly, the same adaptation that existed in the old creation between the nature of the region and the frames of its inhabitants shall exist also in the new.

And as the occupants here shall be the second Adam and his seed--the Lord from heaven, in whom humanity has been raised to peerless majesty and splendour—there must also be a corresponding rise in the nature of the things to be occupied. A higher sphere of action and enjoyment shall be brought in, because there is a higher style of being to possess it. There shall not be the laying anew of earth's old foundations, but rather the raising of these aloft to a nobler elevation-not nature revived merely, but nature glorifiedhumanity no longer as it was in the earthy and natural man, but as it is, and ever shall be, in the spiritual and heavenly, and that placed in a theatre of life and blessing every way suitable to its exalted condition.'— “Typology of Scripture,' p. 219.

They will be a fountain of perpetual refreshing, springing up in these weary, weary hearts of ours, which have thirsted amid the burning sands of time for tidings of our dead, and which have waited and have thirsted still in vain. So at last they shall be our own requiem, when we, too, enter through the gate of pain and death, which has lost all its shadow and terror in the light of these most blessed words. They shall touch us soothingly, and gently take us by the hand, when our hand shakes and trembles in the last agony, and so they shall lead us to the life of Paradise. Oh, surely it is a well-trodden way that goes upwards to the Gate of Life, and, though one tremendous thought haunts the death-bed of each one of our beloved,that we can never again have them for own until our feet have also passed that shadow-strewn way; that we, too, must find out and know for ourselves, as they have done, all the great mystery and the inviolable secrets that death hides until then, and so only can we discover all that it reveals—yet these words, spoken to us also by the Shepherd of Love, will, in the words of St. Cyprian, ‘bestow upon us the Immortality and Eternity, to which Christ has renewed us in the quickening of His Blood, and so bring us anew to Paradise, and open the kingdom of heaven in the faith and truth of His promise.'* They shall have power to turn for us the shadows of death into the morning, and, with that One Face, many others, we believe, will look forth to bless us in our home-coming to the rest and peace that are, eternally and only, there with God.

* St. Cyprian, 'De Op. et Eleem.,' § 26.

There are some gentle and musical verses in an anonymous translation from the Spanish of Luis de Leon, and they sing of Paradise that

• There, without crook or sling,

Walks the Good Shepherd; blossoms white and red
Round His meek temples cling :

And, to sweet pastures led,

His own loved flock beneath His eye are fed.
• He guides, and near Him they

Follow delighted : and He makes them go
Where dwells eternal May,

And heavenly roses blow,

Deathless, and, gathered, but again to grow.
• He leads them to the height,

Named of the Infinite and long-sought Good,
And fountains of delight ;

And, where His feet have stood,

Springs up along the way their tender food.
"And when in the mid-skies

The climbing sun has reached his highest bound,
Reposing as He lies,

With all His flock around

He witches the still air with modulated sound.
• From His sweet lute flow forth

Immortal harmonies, of power to still
All passions born of earth,

And draw the ardent will

Its destiny of goodness to fulfil.
Might but a little part,

A wandering breath of that high melody,
Descend into my heart,

And change it till it be

Transformed and swallowed up, O Love, in Thee !
* Ah ! then my soul should know,

Beloved ! where Thou liest at noon of day ;
And from this place of woe,

Released, should take its way
To mingle with Thy flock, and never stray !

[ocr errors]



' I thank Thee, my God, the river of Lethe may indeed flow through the Elysian fields. But it does not water the Christian Paradise.'— Countess de Gasparin.

• The soul lives, unknowing of death, and consciously rejoices in the Vision of Christ.'-—From an Epitaph in the Catacombs.

[ocr errors]

How infinitely dim and distant, like a tableland on some high mountain-range, and only seen through the thick mist of our tears, seems the land of the Blessed Dead, where they live in God! At times faith can so far prevail in the soul that these mists seem made golden, and the undefined haze, which conceals all that is there, is glorified, like the curtains of the tabernacle of the sun when near its setting, with the bright promise of immortality. And yet that blessed land, and the souls that have entered there, must be hidden in an indistinctness, perhaps the best sanctuary from our too presumptuous and inquisitive curiosity, or our too impatient longing, that wearies to know how and where our dead are gone, who—of this we are sure—live in peace and in a tranquil, satisfied, holy gladness. The only style of expression possible to those, who would darkly, and as from afar, describe the land of the eternal light, is one so highly metaphorical and superlative that prosaic minds may be easily fatigued by the accumulation of images. Who has not felt a very weariness of spiritual delight when reading the glorious Greek and Latin hymnology; such poems as

« PredošláPokračovať »