Изображения страниц

the flesh only, may either turn away their thoughts, or contemptuously dismiss as theological speculations. But what saith the high authority to whom we have referred? "Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet, now, we know Him so no more." Does not this very uncertainty, then, in regard to many of the geographical sites in the historical life of our Saviour, admonish us that "Christianity is a religion which expresses itself not through the voices of rustling forests, nor the clefts of mysterious precipices, but through the souls and hearts of men; a religion, which was destined to have no home on earth, least of all in its own birth-place; which has attained its full dimensions only, in proportion as it has traveled further from its original source, to the daily life and homes of nations, as far removed from Palestine in thought and feeling, as they are in climate and latitude; which alone of all religions, claims to be founded not on fancy or feeling, but on fact and Truth."

The sepulcher is empty-of this we are assured, and now He who rose therefrom should be a more attractive center of interest to us, even as He was to the first disciples. On the morning of the resurrection the significant inquiry of the angels, put to the devoted women of Galilee, who had brought their spices to anoint the body of the Lord, was "Why seek ye the living One among the dead?" The question turned their hearts and thoughts into another channel, so that "they returned from the sepulcher," and announced the glad tidings "to the eleven, and to all the rest." Nor was it long ere those scattered sheep were all found by Him, in that higher sphere of life into which He had risen.

It is very significant that the church, in the lessons of her yearly cycle, has appointed so early after Easter the Gospel lesson of the Good Shepherd. Scarcely less significant is also the fact, that among the earliest frescos, which covered the walls and ceilings of the burial chapels, in the catacombs of Rome, was Jesus symbolized in the same character. In what harmonious accord are these facts with acts of the risen Saviour during those mysterious forty

days, that immediately followed His resurrection! Truly, did He then manifest His right to the title of the Good Shepherd! As we combine the narratives of all His various appearances, which are distributed through the Gospels, we have a complete and consistent picture of Him in that character. His sheep had been sadly scattered by the scenes of the arrest, the trial, and the crucifixion, their hearts were all trembling, and full of fear-and consequently His first task was to administer comfort, and re-assurance. To Mary Magdalene; to the other women-Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, to Peter, to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, and then to the ten apostles, in the absence of Thomas, did He successively fulfil this mission. "All hail!" or "Peace be unto you!" were the comforting words by which He calmed and re-assured their troubled souls. Then on the following Lord's day did He tenderly bring back to the fold Thomas, the one sheep who had gone astray, and was in danger of perishing. In Jerusalem and the vicinity, was this work accomplished. Then, when the flock had been re-constructed in its completeness, He sent them into Galilee, where He had previously appointed to meet them. There on the mountain which He had pointed out, He once more gives His apostles their commission, explains it, and adds the promise," Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Aud as the end draws nigh, He brings them back to Jerusalem, where they are to "wait for the promise of the Father." Then, in the last appearance He bids them farewell, and takes His departure only to return in a higher, and more abiding presence in the mystery of Pentecost, to be in them, and all His sheep "evermore as a well of water springing up into everlasting life." As in those days, in which He tarried upon the earth to gather His scattered sheep, so, through the ages is He ever the Good Shepherd, gathering His dispersed sheep into His fold, in order that they may "hear His voice." May we so hear His voice as to pray indeed that prayer, which His church has placed upon our lips for the Lord's day of the Good Shepherd: "Let Thy

healthy Christian life should be, now admonishes all God's children. "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Whilst

great love constrain us to rise up, forsake all, and follow Him; that as we have been redeemed by His blood, so we may walk also in the light of His holy example, and be joined to Him evermore as the Shepherd and Bishop" in many things we all stumble," ("it of our souls." is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me,") yet, surely we should take prayerful heed ever to keep ourselves "innocent of the great transgres sion" of relapsing into our old fallen state. Such a noble life-a harmonious and symmetrical growth in grace and knowledge, as it is so graphically depicted in the apostolic epistles, is surely not imaginary. When "the books shall be opened," in the world to come, and "the dead shall be judged," it will be then apparent that the church has enshrined the lives of many, who were once dead and lived again, who made every day of their lives here upon earth the round of a ladder, by which they have climbed into glory. The names of these, the Church militant has inscribe i in her annals with the prefix "saint," and some she has not so distinguished. But no matter. "In that day," when the final sifting shall take place, the Good Shepherd will know all His sheep, whether they have been known to earthly fame or not, and shall say unto them: "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you!"

Such are some of the lessons which the Holy Sepulcher, stripped of its prey, has to teach us for "the life that now is." But, has it anything to tell us of "that which is to come?" In trying to solve the problem of a future life, th wisdom of the world has been divided into the two schools of "materialism," and "agnosticism." But, somehow, the common sense of men, to say nothing oi the religious instinct impressed upon man's very being, has ever protested alike against the doctrines of both. We are creatures of hope by the very terms of our nature. Explain it, as we may, it is a fact beyond question that the human soul must to a large degree live in and for the future. And, " if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." But, it is only the resurrection of Jesus that fully reveals to us the precious truth that it is not merely, in this life that we have hope.

But, while the resurrection of Christ is a fact in human history, how much more is it? In the judgment of the earliest disciples, its crowning glory is that it is a principal spiritual energy in the human soul. For this reason Christians are said "to walk in newness of life," that they are " risen with Christ," that they are "quickened together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," and Duch more to the same import. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.' Wonderful declarations these are! Surpasing any that the human reason, in its most sublime flights, has ever imagined! But what is the simple design in them all, save to impress us with the solemn fact how real our holy religion is! As the resurrection of our blessed Lord, was the real rising of a body that had been really dead, so should our Christianity be a real power, in moulding our character and life. The old thoughts, the old associations, the old sources of our spiritual danger are the grave clothes, which should be left behind us forever in the tomb of sin. They are the bandages, which, too often alas! so surely and sadly fetter the liberty of our own risen life.

And, moreover, in the resurrection of Jesus there is a further characteristic, which is also exemplified in every heartful Christian life. His resurrection lasted. It was not a movement from a lower to a higher point in the same sphere, not simply an elevation; but a transfer from one state to another, which continued, an exchange of the coldness and stillness of death for the warmth and undecayed energies of life eternal. He did not rise that, like Lazarus, He might die again. "Behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hades and death," was His message to John on Patmos. Sin was conquered then once for all. And, hence, His last and greatest apostle, recognizing in this fact the reflection of what a

"We believe in the life everlasting!

"Blessed be the God and Father of "new earth wherein dwelleth righteousour Lord Jesus Christ, who accord- ness." Then shall the problem of the ing to His great mercy begat us again ages, "If a man die shall he live unto a living hope, by the resurrection again?" be solved forever. The former of Jesus Christ from the dead!" things shall have passed away; and all Through heaven's gate left open when they who are "risen with Christ" shall Christ re-entered, the ear of faith may "be ever with the Lord!" hear those inspiring words, " Because I live ye shall live also ?" To the Christian the grave is no longer the dark prisonhouse of despair, nor is death any longer the "king of terrors." Since Christ is now "the first fruits," the one is the peaceful couch of all who sleep in Him, while the other is the gate of our existence which is life, untrammeled by the dark shadow of sin.

Rich as are the manifold gifts of Christ to the Christian already in this world, His greatest gift is still to come. It is the glorified body of the resurrection, in which we shall be clothed for the great hereafter. He will gather up what death has left; He will transfigure it with the splendor of a new life; He will change our body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto the body of His glory.

"The grovelling worm
Shall find his wings, and soar as fast and ben.


As his transfigured Lord, with lightning

And snowy vest. Such grace He won for
When from the grave He sprang at dawn of


And led, through boundless air, thy conquer-
ing road,
Leaving a glorious track where saints new-


Might fearless follow to their blest abode."

In view, then, of the significance to humanity of our Lord's resurrection from the dead, it is not strange that the church fathers were wont to speak of the festival of Easter, in terms of such glowing affection. "The great day of the Lord," "the Lord's day of joy," "the queen of days,' "the feast of feasts, and assembly of assemblies," "the crown and head of festivals,"-these were some of the titles they made use of in its commemoration. Were they only the outbursts of an exuberant rhetoric? Far from it. Rather were they the glad notes of joy, as faith began to discern the dawning of that eterual morning, which is to break upon the



Old Winter finds the days too long;
He's frightened by the robin's song;
The sights he sees, the sounds he hears,
Fill all his soul with gloom and fears.
He flees the sun's benignant light;
His shadow seems a dreadful sight;
He wanders o'er the sprouting grain,
And cries aloud in grief and pain:
"Where is my robe, like silver, white?
My hat adorned with jewels bright ?”
For shame he can no longer stay,
Then rings a shout from young and old,
And, like a beggar, runs away.
From air and waters, field and wold ;
The pewit cries, the insect hums,
The cuckoo calls, the beetle drums;
And, as to speed him on his way,
The frog croaks loud ere Easter Day.
-From the German of Hoffmann von Fallersle-




"Underneath day's azure eyes
Ocean's nursling, Venice, lies;
Column, tower, and dome, and spire,
Shine like obelisks of fire.
Pointing, with inconstant motion
From the altars of dark ocean
To the sapphire-tinted skies,
As the flames of sacrifice."

-Shelley. Founded as a city of refuge Venice soon became not only populous but powerful. At an early period we find her carrying on an extensive trade with the Levant. Island after island was reclaimed from the quiet waters. Canals and bridges took the place of streets and roads. The towns of Padua, Verona and Vicenza, together with many other adjoining settlements, gradually became subject to the dominion of the enterprising, aggressive Venetians. In 697 the first constitutional government was es

tablished; the name of Paulacius Ana- the Austrian yoke in 1848 will not soon festus begins the historic list of the be forgotten. In 1866 Venice again beDoges. The subsequent history of Ven- came an integral part of the united ice discloses a long era of unexampled kingdom of Italy. prosperity. In the direct highway of commerce between Europe and the East, ships from every trafficking nation under heaven were wont to resort in her sheltered harbors. Her influence and importance now steadily increased. Her greatness may to some extent atone for the cruelty of her government during the political crusades of the middle ages. It was then that she reached the zenith of her glory. Under Enrico Dandolo, probably the most valiant of all her doges, the republic in 1204 conquered Constantinople, divided the Byzantine Empire, and claimed for herself the shores of the Adriatic. This success was indeed dearly bought. The fierce opposition of Genoa, her most formidable rival, was productive of long and bitter wars, resulting, however, in the complete overthrow of the enemies of the proud queen of the sea.

Much of the historic interest attaching to this ancient Republic is owing to the peculiarity and romance of its earlier government. The annals of the Doges prove conclusively that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Instances of the most terrible cruelty and deceit go hand in hand with examples of unparalleled royal magnificence. Is it to be wondered at that so many are disappointed with the mistress of a hundred isles? The majority of persons know far more of the Ocean-Queen as she was ten or twelve centuries ago, than as she has been more recently or is even now. They know that she rose like Aphrodite from the sea, and that at one time it seemed hardly an exaggeration to say that

The close of the fifteenth century found Venice at the summit of her magnificence and power, with a population of more than two hundred thousand souls, the centre of the commerce of the civilized world, she was admired, respected and feared by all Europe.

[blocks in formation]

The discovery by the adventurous Vasco da Gama, of the Cape of Good Hope route to India, transferred her commerce into the hands of the Portuguese. No longer the indispensable ally of the maritime passes of Europe, the beginning of the sixteenth century saw the decay of her wealth and importance. Nor did her desire to maintain a friendly neutrality during European wars shield her from further humiliation. It was this very attitude that brought upon Venice the tyrannical dominion of Napoleon Bonaparte. Of her subsequent vicissitudes we need not speak. The heroic, though unsuccessful, revolt from

"Men built Rome-the gods Venice." And of this Venice the glory has long departed. That the city of to-day should suffer by comparison is only natural. Consider for a moment the pristine splendor of her navy. As late as the fifteenth century Venice had three hundred and thirty vessels of war manned by forty thousand seamen. And all this in addition to her merchant marine! No wonder that for many centuries she claimed the Adriatic as her own peculiar possession. What description has ever done nuptials of the Doge with the sea? justice to the probable splendors of the

Then it was that the standard of St. Mark rolled out its purple folds over Candia, Cyprus and the Morea, and Venice was indeed undisputed mistress of half the eastern world. She claimed the Adriatic and counted not without her host. "Every year," to use the language of an enthusiastic historian, "on the day of the Feast of the A-cension, with surpassing pomp, in the presence of all her nobles and people, and all the ambassadors of foreign lands, who by their presence recognized the act, she renewed that claim, by dropping a nuptial ring into the bosom of the deep, repeating the formula: "Desponsamus te, mare, in signum veri perpetituique dominii." Nor was that perpetual dominion a mere affair of words. Woe unto those who affected to despise her claim. Her galleys were the keys to

that stronghold, and her Captain of the Gulf the only warder."

grew out of a democratic legislature,
and five centuries later the Nemesis of
fate appeared in the person of the Cor-
sican Arbiter of Nations. In 1309 the
creation of the famous " Council of Ten"
completed the destruction of popular
liberties, for although at first scarcely
more than a necessary and innocent-
looking committee of safety, it soon be-
came a power, and above all law, above
all authority, above all appeal, inferior
only to the Vehm-Gericht of Germany.
"A power that never slumbered, never par-

All eye, all ear-no where and everywhere.'

The records of this secret inquisition' are indeed terrible. And as we lingered in the shadows of the Bridge of Sighs, and peered into the cold and slimy dun

Let no one imagine the position of the Doge of Venice to have been desirable. At first, indeed, his power was almost absolute. But this was soon so curtailed that it seems marvellous to find that the office was only once refused. Nominally at the head of the state, his power and influence was no greater than that of any member of the council. "Powerless for good and passionless for evil, he was but a crowned puppet." Any ordinary citizen was far more free than the Doge. Practically he was a prisoner clothed in purple and exposed to view upon all ate occasions. To all outward appearance he enjoyed the most regal prerogatives. Really his every movement was watched. Spies geons of the adjoining prison, as we lispried into the holiest of his family re-tened to our companion's graphic relations. He was allowed to read no let- cital of many of the most historic 'ter privately nor to grant personal audi- horrors of those cruel days, and seemed ence to any foreign ambassador, save to see the columns of the Piazetta fille 1 the presence of the councillors, nor to with the suspended, ghastly bodies of leave Venice without permission. Once the Council's strangled victims, a feeling a month his oath of office was solemnly of awe, and perhaps, dread, made us read anew to him, and he was informed hasten into the open air, glad to know at the same time that upon his death his that in Venice the ever-yawning "Lion's body would be publicly exposed for three Mouth" no longer invited the secret dedays, and that then his relatives would nunciations of patriotism, of perfidy, of be held responsible for all his failings hate, of revenge. and be obliged to satisfy all his creditors. Notwithstanding such careful espionage the poor Doge sometimes very nearly succeeded in eluding the cruel vigilance of the council. The conspiracy of Marino Faliero is a case in point, for it almost overturned the Republic. Almost, but because not altogether, among the medallion portraits of the Doges in the Ducal Palace, in the fifty-seventh frame, there hangs a black veil with this inscription: "Hic est locus Marini Falieri decapitati pro criminibus."


To the young man who, for the first time in his life, awakens to a sense of his position in the world, one of the most important considerations is the prize which he has set before himself. Deny it, or simply ignore it, we cannot rid ourselves of the influence which our aim in life has upon our actions, our hopes, and our achievements. The ideal of a man's life, is one of the most potent

In the beginning the Doge was elected by the people directly, subsequently by the council chosen by the citizens annually. But in 1297 occurred an aristocratic coup d'etat, which is known formative principles. Therefore it is that as "The closing of the Council." Itwas youth is always directed to the deeds of then decided by the council itself that those who have earned a place in the only those who had previously been remembrance of their fellow-men, and members of that body could henceforth admonished to emulate, and if possible before. have seats therein. In other words, the to outdo, those who have gone Senate was no longer to be chosen by Men will point you to Washington, that the masses. Self-existent and self-per- you may learn how to become a patriot. petuating, hereditary aristocracy thus Clay and Webster are models for the



« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »