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Remember ye, that passing sleep
Is but the type of endless death,
Force us to lie, with snorting breatli.
Of Christ (reproves] the bad delay, Bids ils awake from sleep that cloys
The heart; and note the nearing day.
Let drowsy sleep prevail, and roll
Life to its end, in bonds of sloth; Till sepulchred in crime, the soul
Mourn o'er the loss of life and both. They say, that wandring sprites that rove
All night in covert of the gloom, Soon as they hear the cock-crow, move
In terror to their dismal home : The bated sight of holy light,
That brings salvation, help, and aid, Sends back the sprite to kindred night,
Unused to all but dismal shade. The bird of day, brings no sweet sign,
No breath of hope, no promise fair, Such as our souls by grace divine
Hope from God's advent drawing near !
Such was the hope o'er Peter crept,
When, fallen in sin, the bird's note came When hastning he in anguish wept,
With burning tears of bitter shame. The sin is done, -or ere is sung
The herald note of coming day. Ah! weak, vain man, how oft the tongue,
In sin's dark night, the like may say!
What in the night his lips had done,
Denying Christ, how weeps he now, Till bitter tears his fault atone,
And faith return with better vow; So shall the just with dewy eye,
Wash out his failing heart and lips; List to the bird of day, and cry
For aid from sin's obscure eclipse.
And hence it is our holy creed
At such an hour of quiet rest,
In bonds of death, no more oppressed ;
At such an hour Hell lost its might,
To the high power of holy light.
The wicked lies, the sinful sleeps,
Welcomes the death that o'er it creeps;
In vigil wakes for duly ward,
Watches in toil and labour hard.
Ah! while in sober watch we raise
To Jesus sweet our tearful sighs,
Forbids the heart to close its eyes.
And soul upraised, implores, intreats,
Protection from the wandering sprites.
Of this world's glory, wanes away,
As all mispent-watch ye and pray, —
Honour and wealth and goodly store,
What but a morning dream-no more!
Break through night's dark and gloomy chain,
And wake our hearts to light again! Feast of St. Agatha, 1841.
HOMILY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THE GOSPEL FOR
THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST.
GOSPEL-St. Matthew vii. 15-21. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples : Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord! shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father, who is in Heaven, he shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
In this Gospel, our Lord speaks of the pursuit and acquirement of wisdom, that is, the wood of life, which above all is to be sought after and held in possession, by contemplation ; so that the eye of the soul may be guided to see how to enter into the narrow gate, and to discern the path that leadeth unto life by the straight way. As he saith above, “ Enter ye in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the
way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat, but narrow is the gate, and straight is the way that leadeth to life, and few there are that find it.” (St. Matthew vii. 13, 14.) Not that He says that His yoke is rough and His burden heavy; but that few are willing to make an end of their worldly labours, and give but little trust to his call : “ Come to me, all you that labour and are burthened, and I will refresh you; take up my yoke and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet, and my burden light." (St. Matthew xi. 28.) Hence it is that our Lord commences his sermon on the mount, by addressing himself to the meek and humble of heart; for many receive a sweet yoke and a light burden, but few take it on themselves, for “straight is the way that leadeth to life, and narrow is the gate that openeth thereto.” Hence those who promise wisdom and a knowledge of the truth, which they themselves know not, are to be especially avoided; such as those heretics who, for the most part plume themselves on the fewness of their numbers; but when Christ said that there were few who find the straight way and narrow gate, that such might
not support themselves from the circumstance of their numerical smallness, he forthwith subjoins : “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the cloathing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.". And again, lest they should deceive the simple eye, he farther adds, that the tree shall be known by its fruits ; for “ By their fruits you shall know them :" and then he subjoins the similitudes, “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them."
This passage, moreover, warns us against the error of those, who think that from these two trees, there are in themselves two natures, – one of which is of God, but the other neither of God nor from God. Of this, I have treated more fully elsewhere; here, the following will be enough, for I will show that their inference from these two trees cannot avail them; for it is so clear that he here speaks of men, that any one who reads the context before and after must wonder at their blindness : attend to what is said—“ a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit:” and hence they suppose that a soul that is bad, cannot be changed for a better, neither one that is good for the worse,—as if it were said, a good tree cannot become an evil tree, neither can an evil tree become good : but it is said,
a good tree cannot produce evil fruit, neither can an evil tree produce good fruit.” The tree is the soul itself, and the man himself; the fruits are the works of man: therefore, an evil man cannot do good works, neither can a good man do evil works; and if a bad man would do good works, he must first become good. So also in another place our Lord says, more explicitly: “ Make the tree good, and its fruit good.” (St. Matth. xii. 33.) Now if two natures were figured under these two trees, he would not have said, “ Make the tree good,” for who could change the nature of man? and after he had made mention of the two trees, he subjoined : “ Ye hypocrites, how can you speak good things, whereas you are evil ?" (Ibid. 34.) Wherefore, so long as any one is evil he cannot produce good fruit; and if any one shall produce good fruit, then he shall be no longer evil. It may be said with truth, that snow cannot become hot; for when it becomes hot, then we no longer call it snow, but water. Therefore, it may happen that what was snow, is such no longer, but it cannot be that snow should become hot. So it may happen that he that was evil, is such no longer, but it cannot be that the evil man can do what is good; and farther, for our profit, this he does not become of himself, but through the means of Divine Providence; as it is said of the Pharisees; “Whatsoever they sball say to you, observé and do, but according to their works do ye not; for they say and do not.” (St. Matthew xxiii. 3.) They spoke what was good, and the same was profitable to those who heard them, though they deceived themselves ; “ for they have sitten," he says, “ in the chair of Moses.” (Ibid. 2.) Wherefore, by Divine Providence, they who preach God's law, may be profitable to those that hear them, albeit not to themselves. Of such, in another place, the prophet thus speaks ; "they have sown wheat and reaped thorns,” (Jer. xii. 13) - that is, their precept is good, but their practice evil. But those, who heard, did what they taught them, gathered not grapes of thorns, but through thorns they plucked grapes of the vine ; just as if one were to stretch his arm through a quickset hedge, would assuredly gather the cluster from the vine, not from the thorn that surrounds it; for the fruit is not of the thorn but of the vine.
It is well to inquire, wliat fruits our Lord would have us attend to; by which we may know the tree. For many look only to the sheep's cloathing, and so are deceived by the wolf; such as by the good works of prayer, fasting, and alms deeds: now, unless all these could be done by the hypocrite, He would not have said, above, "Take heed, that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them.” (St. Matth. vi. 1.) All which good works are there particularly enumerated, viz. almsdeed, prayer, and fasting. Now, many give liberally to the poor, not through mercy, but vain show; and many pray, rather that they may be seen to pray, not looking to God, but seeking to please men ; and many fast, and pretend to a marvellous abstinence before those who reckon such works hard, and worthy of honour; and thus they catch in their snares, and slay those who could not perceive the wolf under the sheep's cloathing.
These, then, are not the fruits by which the tree shall be known; but such works as are done, in a good heart in the truth, are properly the cloathing of the sheep, and so long as they that do them are in error, they but cover the wolf. Far less should the sheep hate its own cloathing, although so often the wolf be screened thereby. What then are the fruits on finding which we may know that the tree is evil? The apostle tells us; “ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which