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ward off the impendling fate. The Angel of the Lord cast His vision into the mould of the Hand of Might, in which the pagan revellers put their trust for salvation. Nothing but the hand was visible, while the awful unseen figure was left to be imagined in all its dread suggestiveness in the background. It was in the hand they put their confidence ; and that hand wrote the sentence of doom. There is something unspeakably terrible in this sudden transformation of a power that was supposed to be friendly into an enemy-of what was looked to for protection into an avenging fate. The king and his courtiers had changed God's vessels of holiness into vessels of drunkenness, therefore God changed their charms and amulets into instruments of destruction. There is not in all history any drama more tragic than this ! The Babylonian soothsayers and diviners were helpless. They had no magic spell to allay the king's fears, no divining art to read the mystic runes. And that portent of disaster which the bodyless Hand had traced on the palace walls was but too surely fulfilled on the awful morrow.
The lesson which the incident teaches, he who runs may read.
How often in the history of human life does the idol become the scourge, and destruction come from that which was looked to for safety. Haman was hanged on his own gallows, and Goliath was beheaded with his own sword. The plotter of mischief is hoist with his own petard, and perishes in the pit he has dug for another. There is what the French expressively call a force cachée, a hidden power which interferes in the affairs of men, and causes the wicked to fall by his own naughtiness. The Hand of Might which seemed strong to save is strong to smite, and the avenging fate is masked in the form of the protecting superstition, as the unexpected lightning issues out of the soft woolly cloud that shades from the heat. The Israelites, in their war with the Philistines, took the ark of God into the fight, and used it as a superstitious relic, a mere fetish, and so far from proving a refuge and defence to them, it led to a terrible defeat. The ark of God that was thus degraded was itself taken by the enemy, and the people were routed with a great slaughter. There is a Nemesis attending every act of superstition and will-worship which punishes in kind along the line of sin. The Word of God that is regarded as a mere charm killeth by its letter, and deepens the darkness and ignorance of the soul. The cross that is converted into a crucifix, held up before the outward eye, becomes, not a means of salvation, but of spiritual death. The church that is trusted to alone for safety, becomes a dark cloud to hide the Lord Jesus Christ from view, instead of a mirror to reflect His blessed image--not the cradle of religion, but its tomb. The golden calf that is worshipped instead of the living Saviour is ground to powder, and the worshipper is compelled to drink its dust in the very well-springs of his life.
No superstition can save us, however earnestly we believe it. No kingdom of meat and drink, of circumcision or uncircumcision, can overcome the deadly foes of our soul and defend us from the evil that is within and without us. No amulet
can guard our life. Faith in the living God alone can save us from all evil.
Only the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, can keep or fortify our heart in Christ Jesus ; can draw a charmed line around us, within whose sacred enclosure no foe dare intrude. He that dwelieth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
The superstition points to the truth. There is a reality, of which the superstition is a dim distorted shadow. There is a true Hand of Mighta hand that is indeed mighty to save, mightier than the force with which the earth holds the mountains in their seats, and the sun holds the planets in their orbits. It is the red hand that was nailed to the Cross that blots out the handwriting of ordinances that is against us with its own blood. It is the hand thai lay cold in death that bursts the bonds of sin and death and sets us fre, and enables us to stretch a hand through death to lay hold of the eternal realities. That pierced hand will cover us with its shadow, and be extended over us in benediction continually. It will not only protect us, it will also hold up our goings that we may not slide, and preserve us from the paths in which are wasting and destruction.
In vain did the Babylonian revellers trust in the Hand of Might that was carved on the cornice of the palace wall. For that superstitious image was a mere outside charm that had nothing to do with the state of their hearts or the character of their lives. In their mad revels they were acting in opposition to the law of righteousness, by which the well-being of the universe is upheld. They were violating the principles of justice and purity, which lie at the very foundation of all the order of the world. They were taking God's name in vain, mocking at His religion, profaning the holy vessels of His sanctuary. And these things were the crowning offences of a life of oppression, and self-indulgence, and utter confusion. And therefore the hand of the Angel of the Lord wrote the sentence of doom. They were destroyed, and their kingdom given to another. The Hand of Might could not save them against their own evil nature which condemned them.
But when Jesus covers us with the shadow of His hand, that shadow sanctifies us as well as
There is no condemnation to us, because we are in Christ Jesus, and walk not after tłe flesh, but after the Spirit. The home over whose lintel and doorpost is sprinkled, as it were, the blood of the Lamb, will be as safe as the homes of the Israelites when the destroying angel saw upon them the red sign and passed by. It will be blessed like the house of Obed-Edom when the ark rested within it. And all who trust in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ are delivered, not merely from the guilt and power, but also from the love of sin. Sin has no more dominion over them, because the love of it is supplanted by the love of righteousness. Their salvation is not a mechanical salvation wrought by a charm, but the transformation of their nature intu the Divine likeness by the Spirit of grace. They are safe and sound-safe because sound.
T is a vast subject. The mind kindred to ours even in the matter of grinding.
wearies before its magni- Any housewife will tell you how much the welfare tude. It reaches back into of her cutlery depends on the way in which it is past times, and touches the ground ; and skill is as necessary as ignorance implements in use among and carelessness are fatal. Then, too the better the ancients ; it compre
the steel the more important its treatment, and hends nearly the whole the more terrible the possibilities of damage.
habitable world, and the Give your tender heart, your fine intellect, your workers in many trades and of delicately-regulated sensibilities into skilled and many eras; it includes weapons responsible training, do not leave them at the of warfare and symbols of peace, mercy of bungling, red-handed, rough-armed beings, and plenty and hospitality ; it unacquainted with their value. They are not fit conjures up visions of widely to clean and polish them ; their vocation is to do diverse significance; it calls to coarser work, to scrub floors and blacklead the its aid knowledge, not only of grates; and they only know one method, a science, but of art; for he who method dependent solely on the exercise of deals with the knife no
muscle. Who is to blame them if they apply it to excludes its handle than he who everything entrusted to them? The knives are concerns hiuself with man
ruined. Why? Because they have been miscludes his body.
Handl and body alike are in- taken for something lower than themselves ; and dispensable. Their condition in either case affects the injury done is worse in proportion as they were the value of the real instrument, and the latter fitted for higher ends. Treat a genius like a fool
, can only be made use of by its means.
a loving heart like a stone, a creature of fine But not for our feeble pen is it to trace the instincts like a clod, and the result is little short history of the knife from its birth upwards, to of murder. show how it became, to use a scientific word, Further, knives must not be allowed to blunt, differentiated, to treat of its varied states and nor to rust, or they ruin. Neither is it good for varied uses, to compare the marvels of skilled any of us. So when we find ourselves brought workmanship with the rude implement of the into contact with what seems to us a hard fate, savage. A book might be written on the subject and we cry out that we shall be destroyed, let us and we make a free gift of the suggestion to the pause a minute and reflect that it is for our public. For us, whose powers and knowledge ultimate good, and that a little present pain and alike are limited, it is only possible to say a few discomfort is necessary in order to fit us for our words about a small, but eminently useful species, mission in life. Of course we object to the operaconstructed for peace and not for war, and de- tion. Perhaps, if they could speak, the knives signed not for shedding the blood of the living, would say, so do they ; but we recognise the though capable of it if unwarily handled-this, necessity in their case, though it makes them for lack of a better word, let us call the domestic thinner and thinner, and eventually they get
worn out. We want them sharp, because we use Has it ever occurred to you how much knives them. And what do you think is the opinion are like people? There are resemblances which of the powers who use us?
We are only knives are deeper than the surface. Indeed, there are you see, and useful according to our fitness for many curious analogies between human beings work. and their inanimate surroundings for those who Different knives are for different purposes, and are of a sufficiently reflective or philosophical turn it is impossible to substitute one for another, of mind to trace them out. We can all find though through blindness it is a mistake comlikenesses between friends and certain monly made. We smile at the idea of attempting animals ; one need only go a step further. We to carve a joint with a dessert-knife, or to peel an once possessed a pepper-pot which was for all the apple with a carving-knife. But this is what world like a lady of our acquaintance, externally half the world is busily engaged in doing, and in shape, internally by its contents, wonderfully marvelling at the non-success of its efforts, blaming so in its uses. She was capital for seasoning, its tools the while, like the proverbial lazy workgave a piquancy to a tasteless meal, but shake her
To them a knife is a knife, and a person : with anything approaching violence, let her have
person. Because something is useless under things her own way—and the whole place was in certain conditions, it by no means follows it would a commotion with uncontrollable sneezes of dis- be so under others ; more, its very unfitness for gust and coughs of discomfort, and there was what is demanded in the one instance hardly a face which was not red of hue in her warrant of its innate suitability for other labour. neighbourhood.
The poor, dainty, little fruit knife is utterly imBut to return to knives. Their constitution is
potent for grappling with yonder sirloin. It is
worse than wasted, because not only it does no good, but it sustains personal injury, as we all do when perverted from our natural uses. As to the carving-knife; well, you may peel your apple successfully if you are skilful, but you run considerable risk of cutting your fingers.
There is a certain knife - how well we know it -that bends, probably because it is made of inferior steel. It is a nasty, flexible instrument, generally long and thin, and with a deep-seated objection to keeping firm. This is especially aggravating when one has to deal with ditficulties, when a little dexterity is required, as in the case of poultry. One believes one is just succeeding with a bone; but, no ! nothing of the kind; one cannot possibly get any grip, and at last, in despair, one tings away the useless creature, and selects or e not originally intended for the purpose, but at least in possession of its faculties. This is just like certain flabby individuals, whom one counts promising, but with whom one can never do what one expects. It is not so much that they are intentionally vacillating as that they are too flexible, and they never accomplish anything in the world. They have no opinions but those o' the person with whom they are conversing at the time, not because they are hypocritical, but because they are receptive, and somewhat chameleon-like by nature. When they have work to do they do not go straight for it, but lay hold feebly, and, so to speak, curve at it. They have no incisiveness.
No doubt those bein rs have their uses. Perhaps they are to try the patience of others, for, mark you, your good carvers are not always gifted with all the moral virtues. Still, if one is permitted to have a preference for some of one's fellows over others, perhaps it would not lie in the direction of these gelatinous individuals. There is an expression “true as steel,” and it is real unalloyed sterling steel that we want.
The schoolboy's knife is another type, frequent enough in crowded communities; and like its original not overclean, being put to any and every use, from digging up worms for fishing purposes to peeling walnuts for consumption. It is sharpened on convenient doorsteps, and bits of mud clog the
It is accustomed to “ hob-nob” with all sorts of strange companions, and sometimes suffers by the contact. When it is offered to ladies for some delicate operation it is refused with horror and contempt, though accepted gratefully enough in an emergency.
Who does not know this, for sundry labourers in the world, the handy-men, ready-minded and not fastidious, put to various uses and performing all perforce with equal readiness ? Such people generally get a blade broken sooner or later, being taxed beyond their capacity, and then usually they are discarded. There is a pathetic example of this in almost every society and every home, where one who is eminently commonplace (or considered so) but eminently useful becomes the tool of the selfishness of others. Women especially, submissive by nature, are frequently thus abused. Can we not all call to mind among our acquaintances some dowdy, plainfeatured individual, whom Providence has not gifted with special powers of attraction ? There
is bread-and-butter to be cut for the childrenlet her do it; there are knots to be undone--let her cut them; there is some hard thing to be severed-call her to attend to it. She can. Then why should she not? But this drudgery has blunted her faculties, and we complain that she is incapable of performing the things which call for a tine edge. Valuing her but slightly there fore, overworking her, careless in our treatment of her, we presently despise her and cast her on one side.
God pity all such. He does. Heaven, we are told, was made for earth's failures; and without doubt, the last will be first there. Some of the brilliant fashionable gay people who flash in their own light, who cut with the keen edge of their satire those who seem to them inferiors, till they draw blood from their weary hearts, those whom it is dangerous to handle because they can inflict wounds so easily, those whom society tas polished and whose edge is keen as any surgeon's knife, will be asked what they have done with their advantages, and too frequently it will be found that the ill-made, blunted, dull creature, has fulfilled its duty far more nobly than they.
All sensible people have an affinity to pocketknives, in that they have more blades than one. The body is at once case and handle, and the blades are sheltered by and made use of through its means.
(The remark which follows is inevitable, but so trite that it must be put into brackets by way of apology, namely, that no one would attach much importance to a knife with a beartiful case but with blades made of worthless and useless steel, which break when put to the test of use.) The big blade it uses for ordinary purposes, but it reserves for finer uses and those requiring at once delicacy and keenness the smaller and usually sharper blade. It is but a common order of being that has no reserve power, and that does not call into requisition its moral faculties. For perhaps the small blade is to the larre what spirituality is to common-sense.
We cannot close these reflections without a remark on the use of the first knife. It is an event. Who does not recall with a thrill the attaining as it were of his majority, the casting, off of childishness and the laying on of dignity, at the moment when first this experience was his
, and when his small hand first grasped awkwardly but firmly the handle of a knife? What a vista of hope, what a world of possibilities was opened! And the present too was all-sufficing, for how great was the interest in our dinner, even if it were only hot mutton and no prospect of pudding, since it was not cut up by a nurse, so that we had nothing to do but tamely to carry the food to our mouths-any baby could do that with some degree
No, we do our own cutting up, and exercise imagination and ingenuity in the size of the pieces, while we hold the article to be attacked as steadily as possible with the fork in our unaccustomed left hand.
It is hard work. The knife is difficult to wield; it feels heavy, and, if we lay it down it slides into the gravy. Some one, with a tone of insulting superiority enquires how we are getting on, and we assert with vehemence that we are perfectly
comfortable only the knife is a little blunt, we think. We resent indignantly the notion of aid. But after all we are the last, and we have scarcely eaten anything, and our arm aches. We submit then to having our hand guided, when we have our pride soothed by the remark that we have managed very nicely.
We secretly wonder if it will always be like that, and we hope not. Still we regret nothing. We have taken a step in life, have had a new experience, which we could not have done without, and we look forward to our second attempt.
Long before we are proficient in the use of the knie we cry with mortification it some one, forgetting our new-found dignity, chances to cut up our dinners for us. But soon the joy becomes commonplace, we cease to regard independence as a cause for thanksgiving, by the time we can sever a potato at one effort, the power which is given us is as much a matter of course as the power of our teeth to bite.
We no longer envy our elders. We are their equals, and we emulate their equanimity.
Again and again in life we repeat this experiment, using other instruments for the first time, cutting through worse difficulties than our dinner, and feeding other parts than the body. The experience varies little. There is always awe in anticipation, and powerlessness on setting to work to master the control of that means which, although merely to help us attain an end seems in itself so vast a privilege. And presently we are men and women, and God puts a knife into our wavering eager hands and bids us cut our way heavenward through difficulties. We think we are going to manage it easily enough, but we are glad be ore long to do what the child does, put our hand into the strong one of our Father and ask Him to guide us. And then, we cut easily enough, and we persuade ourselves we are doing the work. But we are .not. Leave go the hand, withdraw from the clasp which is so warm and close, and what then?
Well, as a rule, then we blame the knife for having lost its edge.
TOWY problems are always with us!" wearily
cries the social worker, tormented with
new-fangled schemes, and short cuts and royal roads to Hygeia. Among the more burdensome legacies which have been bequeathed to the Christian sociologists of to-day, town problems present us with, perhaps, the most unsatisfactory and complicated of human relationships. Towns, as we now know them, are the Frankensteins which startle and overawe even the authors of their being. They were once the exception, and rural life the rule; and it requires an effort to-day to realise to ourselves how recent, even in our own country, has been the transformation from village to town life.
“ The prominent figure of the great religious revival of the last century was John Wesley. The England which he knew so well, and for which he did so much, was an agricultural country, in which manufactures were subsidiary, and for the most part home industries.
It was a land of small country towns and villages. Bristol was the only town out of London which contained one hundred thousand inhabitants. Birmingham, Sheffieid, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle were then what we should call country towns, with a population of from twenty thousand to forty thousand.
“ To-day all is changed. England is now a vast industrial community, the people are gregated in great masses in towns. The majority
of our countrymen in the present are, and still more in the future will be, dwellers in towns."
The writer from whom we quote is the wellknown rector of a Tyneside parish. In his volume of Hulsean Lectures for last year, Mr. Ede brings before us with remarkable vividness the problems in question, with some helpful suggestions for their treatment. The county of Durham, from which he writes, is favourably known for the practical efforts of all classes and denominations, from Bishop Westcott downwards, to deal earnestly and amicably with the critical industrial and social questions of the day.
So interdependent are most of our town problems as almost to defy separate consideration, yet there are one or two so primary in their claims as to be quite exceptional.
In the very front rank of these problems is the prevalent social isolation of the industrial class. Its baneful results, morally and religiously, confront the social worker at every step. great towns it is so easy, and indeed almost inevitable, for the newly-arrived countryman to lose himself in the crowd and live solely to himself and his class. The consequences are bad for us all. The effect, especially upon the segrevated class, is writ large in our town annals. " Where men are congregated in great numbers,” says Mr. Ede, “the restraining intluence of public opinion is less felt. The workman neither knows nor
to know his next-door neighbour, and his