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The Messengers of Change.

The Messengers of Change.

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Published by glennpease

PSALM Iv. 19.
"Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God."

PSALM Iv. 19.
"Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God."

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 17, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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The Messengers of Change. BY JAMES MARTIEAU, LL.D., D.D., PSALM Iv. 19. "Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God." To one who tries everything by the standard of enjoy- ment, there arises a curious contradiction between the inner nature and the outer lot of men. We are thrown upon an existence where nothing is permanent, nothing asleep. We bring into it a soul that sighs for repose, that struggles with the restless tide, and ever hopes to drift into the still waters, and lie within the shelter of the hills. Our life is planted on the surface of a whirling sphere. Our prayer is to find its tranquil centre and revolve no more. ot that we are passive all the while, and borne along by powers wholly foreign to ourselves. Strange to say, we are sharers in the very stir and turmoil of which we complain. We create the race which we say outstrips us and leaves us faint. We fling our voice into the hum of human 128 The Messengers of Change. history ; yet stop our ears, lest it should drive us mad. It is not the mere lapsing seasons of the heavens and the earth, not the passage of our physical life alone, by which our remonstrance is called forth : but, not less, the vicissitudes of society, the shifting attitudes of thought and feeling, the evanescence- of habits, institu- tions, and beliefs ; processes, of which our own agency is the producing cause, and in pleading against which we are plaintiffs against our own will. Thus, we are at variance with ourselves, as much as with our God ; and
are like wayward children, breaking their toys and then weeping at the wreck which their own passion has made. The yearning for rest is no doubt deeper and stronger with the old than with the young, with the conservative than with the reforming spirit. But it exists in all. The very desire for progress is for the sake of some fixed goal : the most burning aspiration hopes to sit and look forth at last from the cool and freshening height. The intensest action sustains itself on the thought that it may soon subside : it loves not the burden it is impelled to bear, but trusts ere long to lay it down. When the poet or the moralist touches on the transiency of all earthly things, and the per- petual succession of fresh relations, it is always with some sadness in the strain : as if he went forth to take a tender farewell of the old, rather than to swell the triumph of the new. And even the philosophy which has brought itself to think that the universe is but an The Messengers of Change. 129 eddy of eternal change, an ocean composed, all through its depths, of crossing currents of phenomena, has usually taught the doctrine either with a sorrow in the voice, or in the metal tone of heartless arrogance. The decree of vicissitude manifestly presses heavily upon the soul : and whether it be the outward condition of established comfort that crumbles beneath the feet ; or the beliefs of earlier days that change like the morning clouds before the kindling light ; or the affections that have given a quiet sanctity to life, and are now called to drop their objects one by one at the word of Death ; the cry of the heart is still the same, " that it were with me now, as it was in the times never to return ! " This regretful glance at the fading colours of the past, this longing to find rest from the ceaseless flow
of change, has two different meanings and tendencies : one false and evil ; the other true and good. Its impulse is false, when it leads us to the mere negative resource of ease and exemption, instead of the positive repose in God ; when we only cry to be let alone, that our sleep be not disturbed too soon ; when we simply shrink from the touch of new duties and new sorrows ; when we are angry at the noble passion that urges us to toil and danger, and repent of the love that brings us grief. Its impulse is true, when it makes us, in our quest of peace, go out beyond vicissitude, instead of weaving a nest within it ; when it refers us to a centre K 130 The Messengers of Change. of stability, a spirit of Almighty constancy, a presence of pure and infinite affection, amid and behind the fluctuations of created things ; when, instead of return- ing to our ark at the first spray of the cold flood, we do but rise upon the wing to look through the upper air, and then take our resolute track to the fixed and illumined hills. The soul is faithless which, when it is stung by severities and bowed by afflictions, tries to choke its sympathies and bring a frost upon its mellow seasons. It is not by reducing life to less, but by expanding it to more ; not by muffling its stern tones, but by ringing its sweetness clearly out, that a serene harmony can be obtained. When duty is severe, we must be more reverently dutiful ; if love brings sorrow, we must love more and better ; when thought chills us with doubt and fear, we must think again with fuller soul and deeper trust. The changeful lot which our lower instinct deprecates is, in truih, the very discipline by which God would draw us to himself. Repugnant to our animal and

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