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Isaiah's Call and Consecration

Isaiah's Call and Consecration

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
EDITED BY W. ROBERTSON NICOLL, M.A., LL.D.
EDITED BY W. ROBERTSON NICOLL, M.A., LL.D.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Sep 09, 2013
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02/01/2014

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solemnly bound themselves to pursue unshaken the path we had

known at the outset to be choked with sorrows ; the distrust I de-

tected in those most dear to me, as to the motives and intentions

which sustained and urged me onward in the evidently unequal

struggle. . . . When I felt that I was indeed alone in the world,

I drew back in terror at the void before me. There, in that moral

desert, doubt came upon me. Perhaps I was wrong, and the world

right ? Perhaps my idea was indeed a dream ? . . One morning

I awoke to find my mind tranquil and my spirit calmed, as one who

has passed through a great danger. The first thought that passed

across my spirit was, Your sufferings art the temptations of egotism,

and arise from a misconception of life. ... I perceived that although

every instinct of my heart rebelled against that fatal and ignoble

definition of life which makes it to be a search after happiness, yet

I had not completely freed myself from the dominating influence

exercised by it upon the age. . . I had been unable to realize the

true ideal of love — love without earthly hope. . , Life is a mission,

duty therefore its highest law. From the idea of God I descended

to faith in a mission and its logical consequence — duty the supreme

rule of life ; and having reached that faith, I swore to myself that

nothing in this world should again make me doubt or forsake it

It was, as Dante says, passing through martyrdom to peace — 'a

forced and desperate peace.' I do not deny, for I fraternized with

sorrow, and wrapped myself in it as in a mantle; but yet it was

peace, for I learned to suffer without rebellion, and to live calmly and

in harmony with my own spirit. I reverently bless God the Father

for what consolations of affection — I can conceive of no other — He

has vouchsafed to me in my later years; and in them I gather

strength to struggle with the occasional return of weariness of ex-

istence. But even were these consolations denied me, I believe I

should still be what I am. Whether the sun shine with the serene

splendour of an Italian noon, or the leaden, corpse-like hue of the

northern mist be above us, I cannot see that it changes our duty.

God dwells above the earthly heaven, and the holy stars of faith and

the future still shine within our souls, even though their light con-

sume itself unreflected as the sepulchral lamp."

Such sentences are the best commentary we can

offer on our text. The cases of the Hebrew and

Italian prophets are wonderfully alike. We who

have read Isaiah's fifth chapter know how his heart

also was " overflowing with and greedy of affection,"

vtj ISAIAH'S CALL AND CONSECRATION. 87

and in the second and third chapters we have seen

" the hurricane of sorrow, disillusion and deception

darken round him." " The falling to pieces of the

moral edifice of faith and love," " scepticism rising on

every side," " failure of faith in those who had solemnly

bound themselves," " distrust detected in those most

dear to me" — and all felt by the prophet as the

effect of the sacred movement God had inspired him

to begin : — how exact a counterpart it is to the cumula-

tive process of brutalizing which Isaiah heard God lay

upon him, with the imperative Make the heart of this

people fat I In such a morally blind, deaf and dead-

hearted world Isaiah's faith was indeed " to consume

itself unreflected like the sepulchral lamp." The

glimpse into his heart given us by Mazzini enables

us to realize with what terror Isaiah faced such a void.

O Lord, how long? This, too, breathes the air of

"a forced and desperate peace," the spirit of one

who, having realized life as a mission, has made the

much more rare recognition that the logical conse-

quence is neither the promise of success nor the as-

surance of sympathy, but simply the acceptance of

duty, with whatever results and under whatever skies

it pleases God to bring over him.

Until cities fall into ruin without an inhabitant,

And houses without a man,

And the land be left desolately waste,

And fehovah have removed man far away,

And great be the desert in the midst of the land;

And still if there be a tenth in it,

Even it shall be again for consuming.

Like the terebinth, and like the oak,

Whose stock when they are felled remainetk in them,

The holy seed shall be its stock.

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