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the wilderness. The mere soldier, the man of iron and blood and the blare of trumpets, we welcome: the Queen dines with him ; Corporations bow down and worship him, and the mobs everywhere crush to see him ; but the prophet, the reformer, the confessor, the man who, when despised and rejected, still bore up and steered right onward, and created a national intelligence, a national conscience and a national will, passes almost unheeded by. But out of all man's discord, what a strange harmony has come, and is coming! So that even now, though the great drama is only just begun, we may safely speak of the hand of God, ay! and of the voice of God in History. It is as though, amid all the conflicts and disorders pertaining to human affairs, a voice could be heard,-an inner, hidden, “still small voice," which, coming after the tempest, and the earthquake, and the fire, ordered all things after the counsel of God's will. We see not yet that “ will” done perfectly, for we are still in the age of tempest, earthquake, and fire; but the whispers of God come on beforehand, and we bow our heads in reverence before the universal Spirit who, because He can wait, and because He knows His final triumph over death and darkness is sure, speaks with the “still small voice;"and blessed are they who can hear Him !
And now, in our own lives, is there not something of the same kind; as though a divinity did really “shape our ends
“rough-hew them how we will”? can speak positively here, but when we remember how mighty are life's subdued voices; how penetrating is the sigh of a sick child,-how it follows a man out into the
streets, and sounds in his heart so as to drown the noise of the traffic that sounds in his ears; how persuasive is the halfwhispered entreaty of the affectionate, the gentle, and the good,-mightier far than the voice of the tempest, the earthquake, and the fire: how powerful is the voice of conscience, when the shout of the multitude is silenced, and the noise of passion is hushed, and the inward judge comes forth to the tribunal in the breast; when we remember all this, we may well admit at least the possibility of a divine voice as the guide of men's lives,-a voice which we often take to be the voice of our own judgment or the voice of our own experience, but which, in many cases, may actually be the still small voice of God.
But we must remember one thing. That voice can only be heard by prepared ears. It is the prophet who chiefly knows that God is not in the tempest, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the still small voice. It is the prophet who knows that, and he who has the prophet's insight, faithfulness, and training: and this may be true of every one of us. Do we desire to hear that voice and to recognise it? do we long to be able to pass on, undisturbed and unchanged, amid these Babel voices ? do we wish to know what we should bow before and revere ? do we sigh for one word from the vast, the awful, the beautiful Unseen? We must learn the one condition. We must, like the true prophet, give ourselves up, body and soul, to God. We must not mind failure, solitude, and peril; we must be content to go into our wilderness, that the voice of God may meet us there. Then, out of that lonely dwelling place, our God will bring us to everlasting day.
ALONE WITH GOD.
NE of the most touching records in the Old Testa
ment is that portion of the "Song of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy which tells of the guidance of Jacob by the hand of God. " He found him in the desert; and in the waste howling wilderness. He led him, and instructed him, and kept him as the apple of
As an eagle busieth herself about her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them upon her wings, so the Lord alone did lead him.” A beautiful and helpful thought for
“ The Lord alone did lead him.” Never was this tender childlike trust in God more needed than now: never was it more to be desired that we should feel and respond to the truth that we may be alone with God. We live in times of anxiety, clamour, and excitement. The rapid growth of great towns; the excessive packing together of vast masses of people; the enormous increase of causes inducing haste, eagerness, and excitement; the bringing into the sphere of active life entirely new classes; and the marvellous rapidity with which information spreads and ideas are interchanged, have led to a condition of society, and even to a state of mind, now for the first time known in Europe.
Very early in the history of the Christian Church, a true religious instinct led men into a retirement that only
became injurious when it became excessive and artificial. But, in its earliest stages, monastic life, or hermit life, was a very genuine, a very beautiful, and a really religious effort of the soul to keep itself free from gross entanglements and excited ambitions. The sensitive soul felt from afar the coming danger, and hence the movement away from the mad world and its dance of death; and the yearning to obey the call of the unseen power. And in the Catholic Church to-day, under all its superstitions and abuses, there is genuine religious value and significance in the institution of retirements and retreats. Something equivalent to these we need; for it is almost impossible now to avoid being carried away by the torrent or the tide that flows past us; and, day by day, in business, in politics, in social life, and in religion, it is becoming more and more difficult to be one's self-more and more difficult to be calm, and self-possessed, and self-reliant, and free. More and more, on every hand, the morbid craving for excitement grows, and, one by one, individual minds and lives are lost in the monstrous whirl. In social life, the rage for expenditure, for costly living, has, to a very grave extent, seriously affected the trade and commerce of the world. In business, feverish competition, and ambition as feverish, have led to the positive creation of a new and portentous system of speculation, which threatens everywhere to be the death both of old-fashioned industry and old-fashioned honour. In politics, the same spirit prevails, and the same effects are following: In religion, the manipulation of mighty masses by revivalists, and the rage for mere sensationalism on the most sacred subjects,
startlingly illustrate the unhealthy and hectic condition of the age. Sober reflection, strong thought, private judgment, calm faith, brave patient trust in God, where do we find these prevailing? They exist here and there; but they nowhere prevail. Everywhere it is the same;self-possession and simplicity and real thought giving way before the rush of masses swayed and pushed on by the demand of the hour.
What is the remedy? Not the retirement from the world suggested by the Catholic Church, but retirement into yourself, the assertion of your own personality as your most sacred trust, the resolute resolve to stand firmly planted on the inner personal sense of right, which, when cherished with humility and love, brings the soul nearest to the sense of being alone with God.
Here we may see how our modern surrender of personality in religion accounts for the fact that religious strength and originality seem to belong so entirely to the past. In the days of old, when men lived more apart, and before these days of mighty masses and excited movements, thought was far more calm, and individuality far more marked, and personal communion with God far more real. Then was the era of revelations; then the great religions of the world were born : for then men heard the voice of the Eternal and obeyed it. They communed with their own hearts, they entered into the chamber of their own souls, and they gave religions to the world. But who has a revelation now? Nay! is it not typical of the times in which we live that the cardinal doctrine to be believed is that God does not inspire men now? And this is our heritage of