« PreviousContinue »
THE CHILDREN OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
FROM THE SWEDISH OF BISHOP TEGNER.
So stood the ancient prophet, and mute with his pencil of iron
Marked on the tablet of stone, and measured the time and its changes, While all around at his feet, an eternity slumbered in quiet. Also the church within was adorned, for this was the season When the young, their parents' hope, and the loved-ones of heaven, Should at the foot of the altar renew the vows of their baptism. Therefore each nook and corner was swept and cleaned, and the dust was Blown from the walls and ceiling, and from the oil-painted benches.
There stood the church like a garden; the Feast of the Leafy Pavilions
Saw we in living presentment. From noble arms on the church wall
Grew forth a cluster of leaves, and the preacher's pulpit of oak-wood
Budded once more anew, as aforetime the rod before Aaron. Wreathed thereon was the Bible with leaves, and the dove, washed with silver, Under its canopy fastened, had on it a necklace of wind-flowers.
But in front of the choir, round the altar-piece painted by Hörberg, Crept a garland gigantic; and bright-curling tresses of angels
Peeped, like the sun from a cloud, from out of the shadowy leaf-work. Likewise the lustre of brass, new-polished, blinked from the ceiling, And for lights there were lilies of Pentecost set in the sockets.
Tuned to the choral of Luther; the song on its mighty pinions
Took every living soul, and lifted it gently to heaven And each face did shine like the Holy One's face upon Tabor.
Lo! there entered then into the church the Reverend Teacher.
Father he hight and he was in the parish; a Christianly plainness
Clothed from his head to his feet the old man of seventy winters.
Friendly was he to behold, and glad as the heralding angel
Walked he among the crowds, but still a contemplative grandeur
Lay on his forehead as clear as on moss-covered gravestone a sunbeam.
As in his inspiration (an evening twilight that faintly
Gleams in the human soul, even now, from the day of creation)
Th' Artist, the friend of heaven, imagines Saint John when in Patmos,
Gray, with his eyes uplifted to heaven, so seemed then the old man ;
Such was the glance of his eye, and such were his tresses of silver.
All the congregation arose in the pews that were numbered.
But with a cordial look, to the right and the left hand, the old man
Nodding all hail and peace, disappeared in the innermost chancel.
Simply and solemnly now proceeded the Christian service,
Singing and prayer, and at last an ardent discourse from the old man.
Many a moving word and warning, that out of the heart came,
Fell like the dew of the morning, like manna on those in the desert.
Then, when all was finished, the Teacher reentered the chancel, Followed therein by the young. The boys on the right had their places, Delicate figures, with close-curling hair and cheeks rosy-blooming.
But on the left of these there stood the tremulous lilies,
Tinged with the blushing light of the dawn, the diffident maidens,Folding their hands in prayer, and their eyes cast down on the pavement.
Standeth before your sight as a witness; the
Grave your confession in letters of fire upon tablets eternal.
Thus, then,-believe ye in God, in the Father who this world created?
Him who redeemed it, the Son, and the Spirit where both are united?
Will ye promise me here, (a holy promise!) to cherish
God more than all things earthly, and every man as a brother?
Will ye promise me here, to confirm your faith by your living,
Th' heavenly faith of affection! to hope, to forgive, and to suffer,
Be what it may your condition, and walk before God in uprightness?
Will ye promise me this before God and man?"
With a clear voice
Answered the young men Yes! and Yes! with lips softly-breathing Answered the maidens eke. Then dissolved from the brow of the Teacher Clouds with the lightnings therein, and he spake in accents more gentle, Soft as the evening's breath; as harps by Babylon's rivers.
Longs the wanderer again; and the Spirit's longings are worship;
Worship is called his most beautiful hour, and its tongue is entreaty.
Ah! when the infinite burden of life descendeth upon us,
Crushes to earth our hope, and, under the earth, in the graveyard, Then it is good to pray unto God; for his sorrowing children
Turns he ne'er from his door, but he heals and helps and consoles them.
Yet is it better to pray when all things are pros-
Kneels before the Eternal's throne; and with
Or do ye know, ye children, one blessing that comes not from Heaven?
What has mankind forsooth, the poor! that it has not received? Therefore, fall in the dust and pray! The seraphs adoring Cover with pinions six their face in the glory of him who
Hung his masonry pendant on naught, when the world he created. Earth declareth his might, and the firmament utters his glory.
Races blossom and die, and stars fall downward from heaven, Downward like withered leaves; at the last stroke of midnight, millenniums Lay themselves down at his feet, and he sees them, but counts them as nothing. Who shall stand in his presence? The wrath of the judge is terrific. Casting the insolent down at a glance. When he speaks in his anger Hillocks skip like the kid, and mountains leap like the roebuck. Yet,-why are ye afraid, ye children? This awful avenger, Ah! is a merciful God! God's voice was not in the earthquake,
Not in the fire, nor the storm, but it was in the whispering breezes. Love is the root of creation; God's essence; worlds without number
Lie in his bosom like children; he made them for this purpose only.
Only to love and to be loved again, he breathed forth his spirit
Into the slumbering dust, and upright standing,
it laid its
Hand on its heart, and felt it was warm with a flame out of heaven.
Quench, O quench not that flame! It is the breath of your being.
Love is life, but hatred is death. Not father, nor mother
Loved you, as God has loved you; for 't was that you may be happy Gave he his only Son. When he bowed down his head in the death-hour Solemnized Love its triumph; the sacrifice then was completed.
Lo! then was rent on a sudden the veil of the temple, dividing
Earth and heaven apart, and the dead from their sepulchres rising Whispered with pallid lips and low in the ears of
Th' answer, but dreamed of before, to creation's enigma,-Atonement!
Depths of Love are Atonement's depths, for Love is Atonement.
Therefore, child of mortality love thou the merciful Father;
Therefore love and believe; for works will follow spontaneous
Even as day does the sun; the Right from the Good is an offspring, Love in a bodily shape; and Christian works are no more than Animate Love and faith, as flowers are the animate Springtide. Works do follow us all unto God; there stand and bear witness
Not what they seemed,-but what they were only. Blessed is he who Hears their confession secure; they are mute upon earth until death's hand Opens the mouth of the silent. Ye children, does Death e'er alarm you? Death is the brother of Love, twin-brother is he, and is only More austere to behold. that are fading Takes he the soul and departs, and, rocked in the arms of affection, Places the ransomed child, new born, 'fore the face of its father. Sounds of his coming already I hear,-see dimly his pinions,
With a kiss upon lips
Swart as the night, but with stars strewn upon them! I fear not before him. Death is only release, and in mercy is mute. his bosom Freer breathes, in its coolness, my breast; and face to face standing
Look I on God as he is, a sun unpolluted by vapors; Look on the light of the ages I loved, the spirits majestic, Nobler, better than I; they stand by the throne all transfigured, Vested in white, and with harps of gold, and are singing an anthem,
Writ in the climate of heaven, in the language spoken by angels.
You, in like manner, ye children beloved, he one day shall gather, Never forgets he the weary;-then welcome, ye loved ones, hereafter! Meanwhile forget not the keeping of vows, forget not the promise, Wander from holiness onward to holiness; earth shall ye heed not; Earth is but dust and heaven is light; I have pledged you to heaven.
God of the universe, hear me! thou fountain of Love everlasting,
Hark to the voice of thy servant! I send up my prayer to thy heaven! Let me hereafter not miss at thy throne one spirit of all these,
What it denoteth, that know ye full well, I have told it you often.
Of the new covenant symbol it is, of Atonement a token, 'Stablished between earth and heaven. Man by his sins and transgressions
Far has wandered from God, from his essence. 'T was in the beginning Fast by the Tree of Knowledge he fell, and it
hangs its crown o'er the
Fall to this day; in the Thought is the Fall; in the Heart the Atonement. Infinite is the fall,-the Atonement infinite likewise.