Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Church walking with the World

The Church and the World walked far apart,
On the changing shore of time;
The World was singing a giddy song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
"Come, give me your hand," cried the merry World,
"And walk with me this way;"
But the good Church hid her snowy hands,
And solemnly answered, "Nay,
I will not give you my hand at all,
And I will not walk with you,
Your way is the way to endless death;
Your words are all untrue."

"Nay, walk with me but a little space,"
Said the World, with a kindly air;
"The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there;
Your path is thorny and rough and rude,
And mine is broad and plain;
My road is paved with flowers and dews,
And yours with tears and pain;
The sky above me is always blue;
No want, no toil, I know:
The sky above you is always dark;
Your lot is a lot of woe;
My path, you see, is a broad, fair one,
And my gate is high and wide;
There is room enough for you and for me
To travel side by side."

Half shyly the Church approached the World
And gave him her hand of snow;
The old World grasped it and walked along,
Saying in accents low,
"Your dress is too simple to please my taste;
I will give you pearls to wear,
Rich velvets and silks for your graceful form,
And diamonds to deck your hair."
The Church looked down at her plain white robes,
And then at the dazzling World,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled.
"I will change my dress for a costlier one,"
Said the Church, with a smile of grace;
Then her pure white garments drifted away,
And the World gave in their place
Beautiful satins and shining silks,
And roses and gems and pearls;
And over her forehead her bright hair fell,
Crisped in a thousand curls.

"Your house is too plain," said the proud old World;
"I'll build you one like mine;
Carpets of Brussels and curtains of lace,
And furniture ever so fine."
So he builds her a costly and beautiful house;
Splendid it was to behold;
Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwelt there,
Gleaming in purple and gold;
And fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the World and his children were there,
And laughter and music and feasts were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
She had cushioned pews for the rich and great,
To sit in their pomp and pride;
While the poor folks, clad in their shabby suits,
Sat meekly down outside.

The angel of Mercy flew over the Church,
And whispered, "I know thy sin;"
Then the Church looked back with a sigh, and longed
To gather her children in.
But some were off at the midnight ball,
And some were off at the play,
And some were drinking in gay saloons;
So she quietly went her way.
Then the sly World gallantly said to her,
"Your children mean no harm,
Merely indulging in innocent sports;"
So she leaned on his proffered arm.
And smiled and chatted, and gathered flowers,
As she walked along with the World;
While millions and millions of deathless souls
To the horrible gulf were hurl'd.

"Your preachers are all too old and plain,"
Said the gay World with a sneer;
"They frighten my children with dreadful tales,
Which I like not for them to hear;
They talk of brimstone and fire and pain,
And the horrors of endless night:
They talk of a place that should not be
Mentioned to ears polite.
I will send you some of the better stamp,
Brilliant and gay and fast,
Who will tell them that people may live as they list,
And go to heaven at last.
The Father is merciful, great and good,
Tender and true and kind;
Do you think he would take one child to heaven,
And leave the rest behind?"
So he filled her house with gay divines,
Gifted and great and learned;
And the plain old men that preached the cross
Were out of her pulpits turned.

"You give too much to the poor," said the World,
"Far more than you ought to do;
If the poor need shelter and food and clothes,
Why need it trouble you?
Go take your money and buy rich robes,
And horses and carriages fine,
And pearls and jewels and dainty food,
And the rarest and costliest wine;
My children, they dote on all such things,
And if you their love would win,
You must do as they do: and walk in the ways
That they are walking in."
Then the Church held tightly the strings of her purse,
And gracefully lowered her head,
And whispered, "I've given too much away;
I'll do, sir, as you have said."
So the poor were turned from her door in scorn,
And she heard not the orphan's cry;
And she drew her beautiful robes aside,
As the widows went weeping by;
And the sons of the World and the sons of the Church
Walked closely hand and heart,
And only the Master who knoweth all
Could tell the two apart.

Then the Church sat down at her ease, and said,
"I am rich, and in goods increased;
I have need of nothing, and naught to do
But to laugh and dance and feast;"
And the sly World heard her and laughed in his sleeve,
And mockingly said aside,
"The Church is fallen, the beautiful Church,
And her shame is her boast and pride.
The angel drew near to the mercy-seat,
And whispered in sighs her name,
And the saints their anthems of rapture hushed,
And covered their heads with shame;
And a voice came down through the hush of heaven
From Him who sat on the throne,
"I know thy work, and how thou hast said,
'I am rich,' and hast not known
That thou art naked, poor and blind,
And wretched before my face;
Therefore, from my presence I cast thee out,
And blot thy name from its place."

This poem is sometimes listed as “Author unknown” and is sometimes listed by a couple of different authors. It is most attributed to Matilda C. Edwards which seems to be the original author. There are several versions of this poem as modern people have changed or added wording in places to meet present conditions. It is tempting to add some versus to suit the more prevailing needs of the day, but I have tried to find the most correct and original version of this poem. The above poem was printed some time before 1875 in the Baltimore Christian Advocate.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A degree that staggers human nature

Matthew 5:43, 44. "It hath been said, Thou shalt love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you." This text confirms what I before remarked, that the exercise of bad tempers is an infraction of the divine law. But the love of our neighbor is here carried to a degree that staggers human nature, and to which no religion beside the Christian ever inculcated. To love those who love us and do us good, seems natural and reasonable enough; and Jesus says that even the heathen do this. But to love those who heartily hate us, and speak all manner of evil things against us, and would willingly do us any mischief—I say, to love these, and to do them kindly services, to pray heartily for their welfare, and to bless them in the name of the Lord—is indeed the perfection of virtue—it is God-like!

- A Treatise on Temper—its Use and Abuse

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If This Were All

If this were all of life we'll know,
If this brief space of breath
Were all there is to human toil,
If death were really death,
And never should the soul arise
A finer world to see,
How foolish would our struggles seem,
How grim the earth would be!

If living were the whole of life,
To end in seventy years,
How pitiful its joys would seem!
How idle all its tears!
There'd be no faith to keep us true,
No hope to keep us strong,
And only fools would cherish dreams--
No smile would last for long.

How purposeless the strife would be
If there were nothing more,
If there were not a plan to serve,
An end to struggle for!
No reason for a mortal's birth
Except to have him die--
How silly all the goals would seem
For which men bravely try.

There must be something after death;
Behind the toil of man
There must exist a God divine
Who's working out a plan;
And this brief journey that we know
As life must really be
The gateway to a finer world
That some day we shall see.

- Edgar Guest

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Books and I

My books and I are good old pals:
My laughing books are gay,
Just suited for my merry moods
When I am wont to play.
Bill Nye comes down to joke with me
And, Oh, the joy he spreads.
Just like two fools we sit and laugh
And shake our merry heads.

When I am in a thoughtful mood,
With Stevenson I sit,
Who seems to know I've had enough
Of Bill Nye and his wit.
And so, more thoughtful than I am,
He talks of lofty things,
And thus an evening hour we spend
Sedate and grave as kings.

And should my soul be torn with grief
Upon my shelf I find
A little volume, worn and thumbled,
For comfort just designed.
I take my little Bible down
And read its pages o'er,
And when I part from it I find
I'm stronger than before.

- Edgar A Guest
Never having read after Billy Nye, I cannot comment on his books and though I have read poems by a Stevenson, it may not be the Stevenson in this poem. Nonetheless, my books and I are good ol’ pals.

My brother used to tease me about my book friends. After reading a book, I often told him all the humorous parts or talked over some of the sober portions. If there was a series of books, he became familiar with the names of the characters. One evening he came bounding up the stairs calling, “What are you doin-” He stopped mid-word when he saw me reading and said, “Oh, you are visiting Millie again. How is Charles doing today?” Well, tease as he will, books and animals can be the best of friends.

Recently, I made some new acquaintances, in The Hidden Hand by E. D. E. N. Southworth. The Hidden Hand is the most captivating book I have read in a long time. So captivating that in front of a crackling fire, I scarcely noticed, much less cared about, the dreary, un-welcoming, cold winter day outside. (That is saying a lot for me!) At times, Capitola had me laughing, at other times, one of the others had me soberly pondering.

One funny part was when Capitola was summoned to court to testify against the villains and she said, “Oh, won’t I tell all I know. Yes, and more too!” As funny as it was for Capitola to say this, it is not so humorous that too many people have the nefarious habit of telling more than they know.

Traverse, when he would doctor the poor without getting paid much, would say that he was lending the Lord because he, “liked the security.” I really liked that phrase. So often in youth, money is saved in banks, funds, trusts, and insurances, only to find in mid-life that money sunk into life (or death) polices are dissipating, insurances are not paying bills, and in other ways the money thought to be secured is not secure. But when we lend to the Lord, it is always safe; it is a trust which will never collapse, a security that is forever secure in our old age. Yes, I had rather give to the Lord because I “like the security.”

There were parts of drama as when Capitola, to save her young friend from a forced marriage, dressed in disguise and took her place. I was afraid she was going to go through with the vows which would have been in-pardonable. Instead, when asked, “Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband,” etc., etc., She yanked off the mourning veil reviling her identity and exclaimed, “No! not if he were the last man and I the last woman on the face of the earth . . .”

In the end when Herbert marries Capitola, the author writes, “For Herbert understood well that tranquility could only come from a soft answer to Cap’s sharp-edged tongue. He was not only wise, but a man who loved his wife for who she was and not who he wanted her to be.” This crowned him the wisest character in the whole book. (Unless his wisdom could be questioned in marrying Capitola!)

The book is not without its drawbacks. Old Hurricane has some colorful language, not to be emulated (he reminded me of the young man in the story of Abigail who said Nabal was such “a son of Belial”), and Capitola certainly has some un-desirable character traits. However, there are wonderful little nuggets in the book for the careful reader.

The entire working of the book might be claimed as too much coincident in the average fiction. In this book, the author tries to show it is all arranged by the Hidden Hand - God’s providence. After nearly two decades filled with the deepest sadness and loneliness one of the characters tells Traverse, “I was sinking into an apathy when one day I opened the little Bible that lay upon the table. . .I fixed upon the last three chapters in the gospel of John. That narrative of meek patience and divine sacrificial love! It did for me what no power under that of God could have done. It saved me! It saved me from madness! It saved me from despair!. . .From that hour, this book has been my constant companion and comfort. I have learned from its pages how little it matters how or where this fleeting, mortal life is passed, so that it answers its purpose of preparing the soul for another. I have learned patience with sinners, forgiveness of enemies, and confidence in God. In a word, I have learned the way of salvation, and in that have learned everything. . .”

My head acknowledges the truth that how earthly life is passed means little, whether it be full of trials or otherwise, yet the heart is slow in embracing this at times. Christianity in theory is easier than Christianity in practice.

The book closes with James 5:11, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

The last page has only these words, “To those who have suffered in this life and have borne your pain in silence - there is yet hope.” In the end, it is still fiction; hope, as we think it, may never be realized on this earth, even after eighteen or more years of patient waiting. Yet through it all, God’s un-seen hand directs the course of life. For the Christian, heaven is our home; this world, just a place we are passing through.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Stones

Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in your own.

~Adam Lindsay Gordon

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


"Your coldness hurt Mrs. Lincoln," said one lady to another.

"I'm sorry," answered the lady to whom the remark was addressed; but the admission of a regret was not made with any feeling.

"Why do you treat her with such a distant reserve, Mrs. Arnold? I've noticed this a number of times. She's an excellent lady. We all like her exceedingly."

The eyes of Mrs. Arnold fell to the floor, and her face became grave.

"I wonder that you do not fancy Mrs. Lincoln. She's a lovely character—so intelligent, so refined, and with such a sweet spirit towards every one. The fault must be in yourself, if there is any natural repulsion."

It was an intimate friend who spoke, and the closing sentence was uttered with a smile.

"In that you may be right," said Mrs. Arnold, half smiling in return.

"Then there is a felt repulsion ?"


"I call that singular. To me it seems that you were born for friends. Your tastes and sympathies run in the same direction; and you are interested in the same general subjects. I am sure, if you knew each other as well as I know you both, you would become closely knit together in friendship. I must get you into a nearer relation to Mrs. Lincoln."

"I would prefer remaining at my present distance," replied Mrs. Arnold.

"Why ? There must be a reason for this."

"I don't like her."

"Mrs. Arnold! I'm surprised to hear you speak so decidedly. Mrs. Lincoln admires you; I've heard her say so, often; and wants to know you more intimately than she now does."

"That she never will, I'm thinking!"

Mrs. Arnold's brows began to gather darkly.

"What's the matter? What do you know about Mrs. Lincoln, that sets her beyond the limit of your friendly acquaintance?"

"The truth is," said Mrs. Arnold, "I've got an old grudge against her. There was a time when it would not gratify her social pride to call me her friend—and she treated me accordingly. She was a woman when I was a child."

"Well—go on."

Mrs. Arnold had paused, for she was conscious that her cheeks were burning—that her voice was losing its steadiness of tone.

"Perhaps I had as well keep silent," she said. " The subject is not a pleasant one."

"Go on, now. You have excited my curiosity. I would like to know exactly how you stand with Mrs. Lincoln."

"There may be pride and weakness in the case," returned Mrs. Arnold. "But no matter. Thus it stands: I was a quick, intelligent child, but very sensitive. Mrs. Lincoln visited my mother, and I often met her in the parlor, when company was present. She was a beautiful talker, and it was one of my greatest pleasures to sit and listen. I was really fascinated with her ; and I thought her the loveliest lady I had ever seen. One day when she was at our house, I sat listening to the conversation that was passing between her and some other friend of my mother's, drinking in, I apprehend, a great deal more than was imagined, and drinking it in with delight. My mother had left the room for some purpose. While she was absent, Mrs. Lincoln, in speaking of prevalent human weaknesses, quoted a couplet from Pope:

' The love of Praise, howe'er conceal'd by art,
Rules, more or less, and glows in every Heart.'

"How I had read largely in Pope, and held in memory a great many of his terse maxims. Every word of this couplet was familiar, and my ear instantly detected one wrong word in the quotation. In my childish ardor and artlessness I said, looking into Mrs. Lincoln's face:

" 'It is reigns, ma'am.'

"Her eyes turned, flashing on me, in an instant, and with an angry face, she said:

"'You've forgotten yourself, Miss Pert! Children should be seen, not heard.'

"She never saw or heard me in the parlor again. I went out, with hot cheeks and heart full of pain and bitterness. I was sensitive to a fault, and this rebuke—so unjustly given—hurt me to a degree that few would imagine. I never mentioned it to my mother; nor, indeed, to any living soul before this time; and it is over twenty years since the slight occurrence. My pride was deeply wounded. She had said these cruel words before two or three other ladies in whose good opinion I wished to stand well; and as a child I could not look them in the face again. From how much pleasure and instruction was I shut out from that time. Before, I had been anxious to meet my mother's intelligent friends; now, I kept myself out of sight as much, as possible, when we had company, for either Mrs. Lincoln, or some one of the ladies who had been present when she rebuked me, was almost sure to be of the number.

"It has so happened, that, since I became a woman, Mrs. Lincoln and I have, until recently, moved in different circles. I grew up, out of her observation, and married. It is more than probable that she has entirely forgotten the incident which burnt itself into my childish memory—may not even now remember me as the daughter of her old friend. But, I have not forgotten, and can never forget. Grown people fail to remember, in their treatment of children, that girls and boys have memories, and that girls and boys, in a few years, become men and women.

"And now, my friend, you have the secret of my repugnance to Mrs. Lincoln. She pushed me , away from her once; but she will never have a second opportunity."

"The child's resentments should not accompany, into after life, the child's memory," said the friend, as Mrs. Arnold ceased. "Mrs. Lincoln spoke from a sudden sense of wounded pride, and no doubt repented, in the next calm moment. Your mature reason, your observation, and your acquired self-knowledge, should put you right in this matter. It was not the best side of her nature that presented itself then, but her worst side perhaps. I have my worst side, and show it, sometimes, to other people; and it is just the same with you. But, neither of us would like this worst side to govern common estimation. No—no, my friend. You are wrong in letting that old grudge, as you call it, remain.

" Forgive and forget! Why, the world would be lonely,
The garden a Wilderness left to deform,
If the flowers but remembered the chilling winds only,
And the fields gave no vendure for fear of the storm."

"I shall let her go her way through the world," replied Mrs. Arnold, coldly. "It is wide enough for us both. That I have not sought to harm her, you will see in the fact that I have never spoken of this before ; and I have done so now under a kind of compulsion. But, I can never feel pleasant in her company, and shall, therefore, keep her at a distance."

A few days after this conversation, the lady friend who had talked with Mrs. Arnold was sitting in company with Mrs. Lincoln. Conversation passed from theme to theme, when, at what seemed a fitting moment, the lady said:

"Do you remember this incident, of years ago ? You made a quotation from a well known poet, and a little girl corrected you in a single word."

A flash of interest went over the face of Mrs. Lincoln.

"Yes, I remember it very well."

"And what you said to her?”

"I do; and as one of the regretted things of my life. She was a dear little girl; sweet tempered and intelligent—but, a trifle forward, and apt to put in a word now and then, in so mature a way, that innocence' on her part sometimes seemed like forwardness. Yes; I remember her correction, and that I lost temper, and called her Miss Pert, and I don't know what else. I was sorry and ashamed the next moment. That she felt it keenly I know, for, always after that, she was so cold and distant, that I could hardly ever get a word with her. But that was more than twenty years ago. Her mother died while she was still young, and she then passed from my observation. How came you to know of this ?"

"I had the story from her own lips."


"Only a few days since."

"And she has carried the memory of that hasty rebuke rankling in her heart ever since?"

There was a tone of sadness in the voice of Mrs. Lincoln.

"Ever since," said the lady. "It hurt her sensitive pride to a degree that made forgetfulness impossible; and it hurts her still."

"Ah! if we could so recall our hasty words, as to take away their power to do harm, what a blessed thing it would be ? But an impulse once given, cannot die. If it moves to good, happy are they who set it in motion—if to evil, alas! alas ! I set an evil impulse in motion, and it is hurting still. But where is she ? I must bring her, if possible, into a better state of mind."

"You have met Mrs. Arnold."

"Mrs. Arnold! Can it be possible! Surely she is not the daughter of my old friend Mrs. "Willis. She is not the little Emily I have thought of so many times, and always with a troubled memory in my heart."

"The same," was answered.

"And in all these years she has not forgotten nor forgiven my fault. I must have wounded her sorely."

"You did. Hers seems to be one of those proudly sensitive natures, into which all impressions go deeply. I asked her why she kept herself at such a distance from you. But she avoided a direct answer, at the same time intimating a state of repulsion. I pressed for the reason, and. she gave it rather reluctantly, averring, at the same time that she had never opened her lips on the subject in all her life before—not even to her mother."

"Extraordinary! I could not have believed that an impression, made on a child's mind, would remain in such distinctiveness and force through so many years. What a lesson it is!"

"I wish it were possible for you to get near her, Mrs. Lincoln, and let her feel how kind a heart you have. She has admirable qualities. And I am sure that if this barrier were removed, you would be fast friends."

"Oh, it must be removed," said Mrs. Lincoln. "Now that I know of its existence, I will have no peace until it is level with the earth. It was my hands that builded it, and my hands shall take down every stone of separation."


"There is a lady in the parlor," said a servant, coming to the door of Mrs. Arnold's room. "And here is her card, ma'am."

Mrs. Arnold took the card, and read the name of Mrs. Lincoln. She stood, for some time, irresolute. It was on her lips to say— "Ask her to excuse me. I am engaged." But she was not engaged. And, moreover, since her communication to the friend who had spoken so favorably of Mrs. Lincoln, she had felt less satisfied with herself. It did seem like a vindictive spirit thus to cherish ill-will through so many years.

"Say that I will be down in a few minutes."

It cost her an effort to utter this; but it was said; the meeting must take place. She sat in quite a disturbed state for some tune, before venturing to go down stairs. Then with what self-possession she could assume, she went to meet the woman who, twenty years ago, wounded her so deeply that the pain had not yet died out of her consciousness.

The two ladies stood face to face, and hand in hand. The name of Mrs. Arnold had been spoken warmly; that of Mrs. Lincoln with an almost repellent coldness. There were a few moments' silence. Mrs. Lincoln said—

"Your mother was my best friend. I loved her as a sister. Will you not, for her sake, forgive the cruel words that hurt pride sent thoughtlessly from my lips—words repented of almost as soon as spoken, and regretted many, many times?"

The voice of Mrs. Lincoln trembled with the deep feeling that was in her heart.

"Oh, if I had dreamed of their power to hurt so deeply, I would have sought, years ago, to repair the wrong."

This was unexpected. There was no time to reconstruct the barrier which Mrs. Lincoln had suddenly thrown down. No time to gather up the broken chain of ill-will and unite the links. The tender and true in Mrs. Arnold's heart responded. She was softened to tears. Her mother's name had touched her like a talisman. "My best friend; I loved her as a sister." These words disarmed her.

"Let the past be forgotten !" she answered, resolutely, as she closed her hand tightly on the hand that was clasping hers.

"Forgotten and forgiven both, my dear Mrs. Arnold, so that we may be friends in the true acceptation of the word. My heart, even without recognizing in you the child of an old friend, has been drawing .toward you steadily. It perceived in you something congenial. And now, may I not receive from your lips a kiss of forgiveness?"

Mrs. Arnold bent toward her.

"Let it be genuine," said Mrs. Lincoln.

And it was. In that kiss the old pain of wounded pride was extinguished. How long it had rankled!

A single hasty ill-spoken word, what years of bitterness may it not give to some weak heart! We fling out hard sentences, in the heat of sudden anger, that may hurt like hammer-strokes ; and, in most cases, forget that such blows were given. But they have made memory, against us, retentive by pain.
"Long Afterwards" by T. S. Arthur from Sowing the Wind