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THE RELIGIOUS WORLD., Issue 15685, 26 December 1914
THE RELIGIOUS WORLD.
dnusTirAS thk year falla in the midafc of the world's greateet. wjw.. Christmas in Though for ourselves and War Tima. our Allied there, k the increasing light of always more cej-tain victory, aa yet it i 6 but twilight, for we are in the early stapes of the conflict, and there hj no certain promise, of a, speedy end. Still around us are the t.haaows'of our anxious watching and wa.itma. for though God has touched our East with tho glory of comins day, wo know not what sad news, as of naval raids and the bombarding of our defenceless towns, the hours may bring. Passing clouds, however, are not onr sun's eclipse, rh© day for us is advancing even while we. think it halts, or moves with leaden feet. Patience and faith will bring us out at last into tho spleudor of full noon. Ihis Christmas is surely leading us to others that will bo bright witih fullness of joy born of "peace on earth" and "good-wilt to men." That joy, when it comes, mil be as tho musk of the herald angels in tne hearts of all our Imperial race, since it will have been seemed by great and willing Tacrine** made in Hi* spirit who was born In Bethlehem, and who "for tho joy that was set before Him endured the Cross. Meanwhile, because there is war, for none of ua can this Christmas be a merry one, and for .socio it will be deprived even ot quiet happiness. Already there are many homes throughout the Empire in which axe heard tho moanings of grief, especially from mothers who are an Rachel when she wept for her children, refusing to he comforted, because thev were not. .-These shrink even from heaTUijr the *'"?»»« nl the carols and the chiming of the bolls. This year I slept and woke with pain, I almost wish'd no more to wake, And that mv hold on life would break Before I heard those bells again. Yet even thev who dread to face this season that religion and custom have dedicated to gladness will not be wholly untouched by the pervasive and gracious spirit that is wedded to Chnstmaistide. Like them of whom Tennyson sings, some in victory over self, and for love of the Child Jesus, will with holly boughs again entwine the cold baptismal font, whi.e others, in tenderest consideration fortneir own little ones, will compel themselves to lighten up the home with berries of bright<*Tt scarlet, and with sprays of evergreen. With trembling fingers did we weave The holly round th-e Chmimns hearth.; A rainv cloud p.isses'd the earth. Ar.d eadly fell our Christmas Eve. At our old past in-es in the hall We gambol'd making vain pretence Of gladness with an awful sense Df cue mute Shadow watching all. Fit ali thv'so sad but brave souls we can v. ; «b nothin'.' higher than that theirs may I*- the rjeace that comes through true knowledge' of Him of whom the angel «-.';<!: ""Uiito you is born this day a S.v.ioiu," and bv whom is assurance of li'i'e and immortality. Once more let Tvnnvsoi'. speak to us from that lirst Ch nit-mas aiter Haliam's death, when light was breaking upon his own great darknese : lhev rest, we said, their sleep is sweet. Skepf Is that all? Xay, Our voices took a higher range; Once more we sang: -They do i.ot die 2s or lose their mortal sympathy, Nor change to us. although they change." The lnve of the fallen soldier, the fallen sailor, abides for his dear ones, even beruming stronger, purer, as thoy themselves "grow "in likeness to Him who im-.e tho iJhild of Bethlehem and th'.> Man of Nazareth posst-ssets now a glory as of the sun in his strength. This truth has power to rob death of its sting, ami the gravo of its victory. And always Time softens !o»s, and takes away the first bitterness of grief. So, if not on this Christmas Day" then surely after the next, they who have suffered bereavement in this war will say : Again at. Christmas did we weave The holly round the Christmas hearth; The silent snow possess'd the ea.rth, And calmly fell our Cluistma3 Kvei As in tilt- u inters left behind, Again our ancient games had place, The mimic picture's breathing grace.. And dance and song and hood-man blind. Turning from private anxieties and grief, let. none doubt, that though thia Christmas witnesses so much that is opposed to tho *nge!.<" song of peace on earth, novevtheiess tli<- piomi.-e within that s:>ng will be fulfilled.- We must cultivate patience, conhdent that at last this stricken earth will ee.tch tilt- inteiettt of her fallen tears, ai.d will reap the fruits of her many sacrifices. Although tliis year the Christmas bells ansiver each other through the mist, in good time that mist- will rise and lie lost, leaving brightest sunshine lo welcome their sweet and seasonable chimes It may well be- that when next we keep the birthday of the Prince of Peace this present war will havo ended in glorious victory for us. and a 6 iightors for right ajul truth, then in victory, too. i-r all mankind. "The- best is yet to be." F.ven out of this darkened Christmas, therefore, lot us look forward, our hearts made bright with hope, and strong by faith. F. i- hi! the days arc hastenine on I'v prophet-bards foretold. When wil.-r tho ever-circling vearr, ('ernes round the age of gold; When peace shall over all the earth ft ancient splendors rling. And the whole world wild back the songt Which now thf> angels sing. TIIK CHURCH AND PUBLIC MOVEMENTS. The Primate, preaching in tho Cathedral Schoolroom on Sunday last from the Gospel of the day, " I am the voice of one crving in the wilderness, make straight tii'e way of the T.nrd" (St. John i., 23), diccuesed <y.-. : ;;.n of the relation of tho Church to puni.e movements. In doing fio he said : Wo may perhaps be able to present to our mind's eye. the majestic tigare of John the Baptist, a.s ho thus describe? himself to his questioners, standing in the wilderness, separated from the follies and littlenesses Of societv, rejecting every sign of softness («td self-indulgence, the uncompromising tiearer of a menage The jealous authorities of a worldly polity sent their emisreries to bring him to task: "Who are thou? Why do you take it upon you to speak and act in this way? Don't you know you are disturbing our position?" And the answer comes : " Because my misA'io,r: ie to warn the world againet this blinding infiutnee of m?ru secularities, to bid it prepare ?'or a higher vuls—a heavenly kingdom." What" does the histoiy of John the Bap tlst tell us of the fate of heralds and witnesses whoso testimony rebukes the character of the tig*? in which, it is given? It tells us that their message may make a commotion, will raise much discussion, indignation perhaps, that some will bo frightened by the noise, that few will heed the voice, that more will only why It wai lifted up. Ttake another example of a similar history. Think of the great prototype of John the Baptist—Elijah. His whole, soul had been wrought -nto almor-t a frenzy • t testimony in Mount Carmcl. Alone ho ctood before th« host of tho popular prophets of Baal and their followers and tho undecided multitude. Ho uttered his challenge, and it could not bo gainsaid ;' but, though he had proved that truth was invincible the combined powers of the world, the rlesh and the devil, in the person of Jcxebel. obliged him to tlee into the wilderness, and there he poured forth his complaint to (tod. In an agony of doubt and wonder he pushed on, hoping at Horeb, whero God had revealed Himeeli to Moßes, to get a clearer light, and there again he poured forth his) troubled soul. "I have beer very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but, O my Qod, seo what has followed : they have dair. Thy prophets with the sword,"and I only am left, and they seek my life to take it away. It is enough I" "0 Lord, I am weary with this conflict | toko o.way my life." And then, after the confusions of the norm and the earthquake and the fierceness of tho fire, th«ro came s still, small voice, but it wa* tha Tolce of God, and he was comforted. And so tho Baptist Had ha not been -OUithful h«xald? Yet there ho la? ir.
prison. Could ho have been forgotten by the Christ he had proclaimed? Perhaps ho oi'ght to bo forgotten, for what was ho, after all? Only a voice; a voic© crying in the wildorness could not b© heard very far. So he sent to ask t " Art thou Ho that should come? Have I been mistaken in mv zeal? Havo I lifted up my voice in vain!" But Christ convinced him that he had bee.i a true -witness, and that his stupendous message, "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," had been from God, for the powers of the world to come had been displayed, and " tho poor had the Gospel preached to them." Trie voico of the Baptist is still echoing over earth and sua—tills unpreoedente-d war is an echo For " when, ye hear of warn and rumors of wars, know yo that the kingdom of Heaven in nigh at" hand.'' Wo celebrate the First Advent on Friday next. None can say when the _ dread Second Advent will be-, but we may read the signs. Surely the Mohammedan woe is passing auay." The Holy Land shall not for ever be stained with'its iniquities. 'J he powers of Is him have signed their doom, and though it may be long ere the way is open, or Israel himself k of age. to enter his inheritance, yet surely when the land is cleansed, and" he himself hah torn away tho veil which still obscures his vision, he wili *.v, that tho wav is open, and listen to tho echo of "tho Hebrew prophet's voice: "Make straight in tho desert a highway for our God." Tho Baptist's vo'cv is heard in the apnea! of the churches to the rulers of the land to prepare the wav for tho fuller teaching of the Word of God, that future generation: may fl ?c more dearly than the present generation does that the sordid pur-suit of material intercuts alone, tends to degradation and not to enlightenment, and tii.it it k the best policy as well a.s the highest piivilego of the" Government of any Christian country to prepare the wav of the Lord. The" pastoral letter of the bishops to their own flock was also an echo of the Baptist's voice I hear without surprise that many persons are disturbed by tnr app.irent consequences of iht> i.-.Liito of that pastoral. Whatever influence it mav have hnd upon the elections of muubr-rs of Parliament, it dees not prove that the bishops were wroni in their doings more tir'>n John the Baptist was wrong, although hk utterances were not well leeeived, and the Prri-risef<s - were indignant and made bittei accusations. I know that many excellent persons and friend:-, cf iny own are greatly grieved at the outcome of so Vafcro an ! obedience to the Church's voice, f know that the;-" ar # many r.t(;.di"d members of the Church who are bringing (ha'chart:? of unwisdom avainM. the action of their leaders. T will not make my an-wer here to-dav. but I havo i>ne word to say to those sincere on<y; who are perplex°d" and leaciy. ii-ihaps. to think they made a mis take in following the suggestion of their leaders. I eav, doubt not. God's day is not as our day. fmni'-diate result? are rot always the final on--?. Eiiinh was distressed. John ivw done re, tleath. their adversaries itemed to I'hi'imh; but John had raised his voice in the wi!dernes-s. and the God-man came fort 1 !, and coming forth blind and deaf polity of the Jewish nation was in due time overlhrown. The God-man is in the world to-day. The faithful Church nnr siiffci, but she must discharge her mi-sion. :mi. ; f rai-e her voice, even in the wilrlenevs inw cry : "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!"
THE RELIGIOUS WORLD., Issue 15685, 26 December 1914
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