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And the tears drop like a baptism of love upon the calm brow of the infant.
“ Instruct me, O Almighty Father! and develop in me these undefined and impalpable glimmerings of a future destiny, which spring up from time to time, and which I strive in vain to reduce to order and consistency. And oh! give grace unto thine handmaid in all things to obey the will of Heaven, trusting to the end thy love in every hour of trial that may impend !”
Such must be some of the thoughts of this youthful and lovely being, hemmed in as she is by the movements of unseen agents, overborne as she feels herself by the revolving tide of unknown influences, which are all finding their center, their vortex, so near to her terrified, her fragile form ; thoughts which, yet unable to express, she is constrained to smother in her breast, and devoutly cherish there.
And all this while, in reproducing her so vividly to my view as almost to forget that she and her slumbering babe are not a real presence, I confess that I can not look
them without trembling sympathy. While I behold him lying there in the perfect, motionless beauty of an infant's slumber; while I trace the blue veins in his forehead, and mark the rare delicacy of each feature; while I hear his soft breathing, and see the embroidered robe he wears rising and falling as he breathes; while seeing these things, I reflect what song has been singing for ages in a vast rolling flood of prophetic melody concerning this very infant; when I think what Spirit it is, veiled beneath that fragile form; when I dare glance my thoughts a moment into that measureless abyss of darkness and demoniac mastery just ready to yawn beneath him, I am lost in amazement, in pity, and in awe! I acknowledge, in disguise before me, the presence of my Creator, my Redeemer, and my friend.
And as to this trembling mother, I can but tremble for her. She can not foresee a step; and each hour brings with it some unexpected development, so contrary to her preconceived opinions, that she feels unsettled, agitated, lost. There is evidently some vast Maelstrom of events moving about, and upon its outmost limit she sees herself borne slowly round; but she is startled, when she tries to find the center of the mighty gyre, to behold a dim scene of dark, tempestuous waters angrily careering round, half concealed by black and ominous clouds that hang above, while down the green, gloomy, firecrested slope she knows herself insensibly con
verging; and while, from its murky tunnel, out of viewless chambers of the nether world, come ever and anon those mocking sounds of goblin wrath and revelry, it seems as if all fiendish legions were waiting their hour and the power of darkness. Yet here and there
the shore she sees full many a landmark, and behind the clouds that overhang the scene' a bow of dazzling glory; and, herself a mote upon the deep, she can but look upward and cry, “God is our refuge and strength! a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be cast into the depths of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved. God shall help her, and that right early !"
THE MAGI. THE quiet of a warm February afternoon has settled over the sacred hill of Moriah, and within all the spacious courts scarce a murmur can be heard. The white-stoled order of Levi are withdrawn to their apartments, except a few who glide noiselessly about the sacred sanctuary.
The outer court exhibits few occupants, save here and there a turbaned head leaning against a vast column, or a few, clustered near the stalls, of those who profaned the place of prayer by gainful traffic; and the silence of these solemn solitudes is unbroken, save by the twittering of the swallows who pursue their mazy flight above the gilded pinnacles and between the lofty columns.
Standing within the eastern threshold, beneath a massy lintel a hundred feet above, we look forth through a gateway whose ponderous leaves, spread wide, might admit a bannered host. Cedron's foaming torrent, swollen by the winter rains, winds through the vale beneath us, seeming at such a depth a shining, silvery rill.
While we are gazing down, lost in wonder at the magnificence of all around us, what singular company of men is that we espy? Every one of them, as they stand upon the glittering marble, is in apparel black as jet, with flowing silken caftan girt about his loins, and on his head a high square cap of precious fur. As they draw nearer in their slow ascent, we perceive in every net-work girdle a scroll and a silver writing-case. Their entire demeanor is dignified and lofty, and their white beards, descending to their breast, and their high and massive foreheads, whereon occult research and patient thought have drawn many a line, impress the beholder with respect.
Reverently they enter this celebrated fane, whose magnificence is known through all the East. Unconscious of the curiosity they excite, they advance to the gate of the second court, and are about to ascend, when lo! the fierce visages and threatening gestures of the bystanders warn them to desist, and draw their attention to the inscription by the wall, which declares that no Gentile may penetrate further these sacred inclosures, upon pain of death.
But now some of the sons of Aaron, perceiving these unusual visitors, descend from the interior through the gate Nicanor, and, crossing the court of the women, confront with their