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CHRISTIAN LOVE. WHOM have I in heaven but thee ? and there is none upon earth I desire beside thee.” This is the natural language of love. Such expressions, addressed to any earthly object, however pure, beautiful, and good, are neither more nor less than idolatry. There is only one being, that is the Lord, to whom the soul may safely utter words like these without the possibility of misfortune.
The reason is obvious. He that created the eye for the reception of light, created also the soul for the reception of himself. As, then, the eye without light, so is the soul without her Lord. And in proportion to the splendor and glory of that Lord, and his superiority to all besides, must be the desolation of spiritual widowhood, the joy of final reunion.
How great, then, is that superiority ?
We are, naturally perhaps, first struck with the personal attractions of those we love. Bes
fore we discover the traits of the mind within, we observe, in some of the many forms that cross our path in life's pilgrimage, a nameless grace; somewhat of dignity or of elegance in every movement; a charm in the tone of the voice; a spell in the light of the beaming eye; a magic in all those perfections that fancy is wont to find adorning the person of a friend. These commend themselves to every sense, stamp themselves upon the heart's inner table of memory, and are ineffaceable by all the waves of time. Years may roll away, a frightful chasm yawn between us and some being we have thus admired ; age may steal upon us, and the lamp of life burn low, still the slightest look, word, or motion of that long-lost friend will come back to the regretful soul as if of yesterday, and bring with it a thrill of anguish, a sigh of vain sorrow.
Let the mother suddenly chance upon some simple memorial of her child, some article of apparel merely, which has been consecrated by being worn in other days by the lost one, and, as by magic, there before her quickened fancy rises the unforgotten form, every line renewed, every lineament restored, fresh and throbbing in the bloom of loveliness. How often do human hearts bow in hopeless idolatry at the
shrine of personal loveliness, even though that shrine be but the empty shrine of memory?
Yet even in this respect the Christian may doubtless be enabled to say to Jesus, "There is none upon the earth I desire beside thee." What are all charms, either known or conceived, but faint resemblances, so they be true beauty, of that which alone is immortal and ineffable? Man was formed, not mentally alone, in the image of Christ. Jesus now bears, amid the lyres of angels, a human form; oh, passing fair! and in that form he shines unfading the ideal of all those charms which shed a twi. light glow over the loveliest of earth. His eye can radiate glances of celestial light and piercing expression. His voice can rival nature's music and all the melodies of heaven, whether it whisper the low accents of hope and pardon, or whether it rise like a trumpet signal above the thunder of the battle, or the crash of elemental war. His form is replete with glory, and in every step he moves a God.
Let Him, then, assist the sorrowing soul to conceive his beauties, and that soul will cease to compare with him aught which he has made.
But if we are sensibly influenced by personal attractions, still more are we susceptible to the intellectual endowments of a friend.
We discover some wealth of ancient lore, perhaps, or are influenced by the flow of general information. We are kindled by the tones of eloquence, moved to mirth by the flashes of wit, startled by the coruscations of fancy, awed by the sublimity of imagination. And to that commingled whole, which men call genius, ah! how ready are we to render implicit homage!
Especially, if this Promethean spark illume some vase of finer clay, some form of matchless workmanship, man willingly surrenders his reason in an idolatrous adoration.
Yet here still more may the Christian be taught to say to his Savior, “There is none upon earth I desire beside thee.” For in that vase of finer clay-nay, rather, in that form of heavenly mould, shines no created spark, but an eternal light.
And what is knowledge to Him, whose intellect spanned the abyss of space, who sowed the deep fields of ether broadcast with worlds like seedling gems, and spoke into harmonious adjustment the circling orbits of their chiming spheres ?
If for an astronomer, by mathematical law, to point unerringly to the place in heaven of an undiscovered planet be pronounced a sublime