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Your flesh, like me, with scourges and with thorns;
Smite, shrink not, spare not. It may be, fast
Whole Lents, and pray. I hardly, with slow steps-
With slow, faint steps, and much exceeding pain,
Have scrambled past those pits of fire that still
Sing in mine ears. But yield not me the praise.
God only through His bounty hath thought fit,
Among the powers and princes of this world,
To make me an example to mankind,
Which few can reach to. Yet I do not say
But that a time may come—yea, even now,
Now, now, his footsteps smite the threshold stairs
Of life—I say, that time is at the doors
When you may worship me without reproach;
For I will leave my relics in your land,
And you may carve a shrine about my dust,
And burn a fragrant lamp before my bones,

When I am gathered to the glorious saints."

Then, after another crisis of feeling, approaching at the end to ecstasy, he goes on

"Speak, if there be a priest, a man of God,
Among you there, and let him presently
Approach, and lean a ladder on the shaft,
And, climbing up into my airy home,
Deliver me the blessed sacrament;
For by the warning of the Holy Ghost
I prophecy that I shall die to-night,
A quarter before twelve.

But Thou, O Lord,

Aid all this foolish people; let them take

Example, pattern; lead them to Thy light."

His death is quite calm, quite collected. Note how with his latest breath returns the greatest, sanest expression of the spiritual life to which he bears witness.

VII. THE CHRISTIANITY OF THE CONVENT -ST. AGNES. I pass, in conclusion, to the best and purest type of conventual asceticism, in the gentle piety of St. Agnes.

Once more we find reflected in this clear image eternally recurrent states of the soul. We too meditate like St. Agnes; our meditation rises into prayer, our prayer again rises into an atmosphere which cannot be described; in it we seem like St. Paul to be lifted into heaven, hearing words which it is not lawful or possible to utter-those blessed moments which Robertson calls the very "bridal hours of the soul," when we get strength and refreshment to return to the world, to go on with the daily drudgeries of life. How quiet is her image, how pure her soul, as she stands looking out dreamily on to the fair expanse of

moonlit snow. Note how her calm thoughts flow naturally into prayer, which in its turn broadens into fuller life, as she rises at last out of meditation and prayer, and is lifted up into the imaginative ecstasy of the rushing and glowing close. The whole poem is a most beautiful example of the convent piety of the Middle Ages; and although it may to some extent be out of the range of our modern taste, yet it has the elements of truth in it, and is genuinely and everlastingly illustrative of the elements of human character and the experiences of the spiritual life:

"Deep on the convent roof the snows

Are sparkling to the moon:

My breath to heaven like vapour goes:
May my soul follow soon!

The shadows of the convent towers

Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord :

Make Thou my spirit pure and clear

As are the frosty skies,

Or this first snowdrop of the year

That in my bosom lies."

The second verse also begins in meditation and

ends in prayer, but the last verse rises out of prayer into ecstasy.

"He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;

All heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strows her lights below,
And deepens on and up! The gates

Roll back, and far within

For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,

To make me pure of sin.

The sabbaths of Eternity,

One sabbath deep and wide

A light upon the shining sea

The Bridegroom with His bride."





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