« AnteriorContinuar »
out shall see why angels sang; a few more years, and He that will come shall come, and will not tarry. Christ the Lord will come again, and when He cometh He shall cast the idols from their thrones; He shall dash down every fashion of heresy and every shape of idolatry; He shall reign from pole to pole with illimitable sway: He shall reign, when, like a scroll, yon blue heavens have passed away. No strife shall vex Messiah's reign, no blood shall then be shed; they'll hang the useless helmet high, and study war no more. The hour is approaching when the temple of Janus shall be shut forever, and when cruel Mars shall be hooted from the earth. The day is coming when the lion shall eat straw like the ox, when the leopard shall lie down with the kid; when the
Well, what next? Another emotion is that of confidence. I am not sure that I am right in calling that an emotion, but still in me it is so much akin to it that I will venture to be wrong if I be When these angels came from heaven they told the news just as if they believed it; and though I have often wickedly doubted my Lord's good will, I think I never could have doubted it while I heard those angels singing. No; I should say, "The messengers themselves are proof of the truth, for it seems they have heard it from God's lips; they have no doubt about it, for see how joyously they tell the news." Now, poor soul, thou that art afraid lest God should destroy thee, and thou that thinkest God will never have mercy upon thee, look at the singing angels and doubt if thou darest. Do not go to the synagogue of long-weaned child shall put his hand upon the cockafaced hypocrites to hear the minister who preaches with a nasal twang, with misery in his face, whilst he tells you that God has good will toward men ; I know you won't believe what he says, for he does not preach with joy in his countenance; he is telling you good news with a grunt, and you are not likely to receive it. But go straightway to the plain where Bethlehem shepherds sat by night, and when you hear the angels singing out the gospel, by the grace of God upon you, you can not help believing that they manifestly feel the preciousness of telling. Blessed Christmas, that brings such creatures as angels to confirm our faith in God's good will to men !
I must now bring before you the third point. There are some prophetic utterances contained in these words. The angels sang "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men." A few more years, and he that lives them
trice den and play with the asp. The hour approacheth; the first streaks of the sunlight have made glad the age in which we live. Lo, He comes, with trumpets and with clouds of glory; He shall come for whom we look with joyous expectation, whose coming shall be glory to His redeemed, and confusion to His enemies. Ah! brethren, when the angels sang this there was an echo through the long aisles of a glorious future. That echo was :
"Hallelujah! Christ the Lord God Omnipotent shall reign." Ay, and doubtless the angels heard by faith the fulness of the song:
"Hark! the song of jubilee
Loud as mighty thunder's roar,
DR. JOHN WATSON.
T is very rarely indeed that a man nearly forty-three years old, absorbed in the labors of an arduous profession in which he has achieved distinction, comes suddenly into world-wide fame in an entirely different field. The publication of the sketches grouped together under the title "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush" brought to Dr. Watson the fame of a master of literary art. His skill as a delineator of character, his wonderful power of penetrating the interior of the shell with which men surround their inner selves, the delicacy of his intuitions, no less than the inherent interest of his subjects and his skill in selecting them, have given Dr. Watson a place in the affections of his readers probably not possessed by any other living author.
John Watson was the only child of Scottish parents, being born in England during their temporary residence in that country. His mother's maiden name, Maclaren, and the gaelic form of his name, John, give us his pen name, "lan Maclaren." His boyhood home was in the Scottish town of Perth. His school and college vacations were largely spent at farm-houses in Scotland, among his maternal relatives, and in those summer weeks of unfettered country life he gathered wonderful knowledge of Scottish peasants, of "roups" and "tacks, "horses, pleughs, and kye." His parents removed to Stirling, and later made their last home in Edinburgh, where John was in the university. Among his fellowstudents were Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry Drummond, and of the three Watson seems to have been the closest and most faithful student. In 1870 he entered upon the study of theology at Edinburgh, and spent one or two of his long vacations at Würtemberg. Even in these days Mr. Watson excelled in the social accomplishment of story-telling, and no one could equal him in the power of producing humorous caricatures of his classmates, or even of his professors. At the close of his student career, and after serving for a few months as assistant in a large and influential congregation in Edinburgh, he surprised his friends by accepting a call to be minister of the Free Church of Logiealmond in Perthshire. In this secluded place, where, for a population of less than six hundred, there were three Presbyterian churches, representing the Established Church, the Free Church, and the United Presbyterian, he devoted himself to the service of his congregation, which numbered less than one hundred communicants. They were humble people, laboring-men, just as he has described them in the "Bonnie Brier Bush," and he
was quickly in touch with all their life. His knowledge of crops and cattle and markets won their sympathy and respect even before his learning and power as a preacher and his devotion to the work of a pastor secured their affections. Here he labored until 1877, when he became the colleague of Doctor Samuel Miller in St. Matthew's Church in Glasgow. The religious atmosphere in this old Scotch city was not, however, congenial to Mr. Watson. Its thought was too narrow, its sympathies too contracted, and it was, therefore, a relief, both to himself and his friends, when he was called to the leading Presbyterian church in Liverpool, where he soon built up a reputation as a preacher of unusual power, and where he has since remained.
It was in 1893 that Dr. Robertson Nicholl induced him to send a sketch or two to the British Weekly. The "Lad of Pairts" convinced everybody that either J. M. Barrie was writing in a new vein or that Ian Maclaren was another Scotch writer of equal gifts. The sketches were promptly gathered together into the volume "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush," and "The Days of Auld Lang Syne" soon followed. "The Mind of the Master" is his best-known book of sermons, and he has written one novel, entitled "Kate Carnegie," which well maintained his reputation.
The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon Mr. Watson by the University of St. Andrews in 1896, and in the autumn of that year he paid a visit to America (to deliver a course of lectures in one of the theological seminaries), and was everywhere received with the greatest enthusiasm. He delivered lectures and read from his books in the principal eastern cities, and frequently occupied the pulpits in Presbyterian and other churches, receiving more than one flattering invitation to take up a permanent residence in America. His return to the Sefton Park Church in Liverpool was greeted with a display of affection which must have touched his heart, and he announced to his congregation his intention to remain with them. Soon after his return a charge of heresy was brought against him; but it is pleasant to know that it was dismissed almost without consideration by the church authorities.
IN MARGET'S GARDEN.
HE cart track to Whinnie Knowe was commanded by a gable window, and Whinnie boasted that Marget had never been taken unawares. Tramps, finding every door locked, and no sign of life anywhere, used to express their minds in the "close," and return by the way they came, while ladies from Kildrummie, fearful lest they should put Mrs. Howe out, were met at
the garden gate by Marget in her Sabbath dress, and brought in to a set tea as if they had been invited weeks before.
Whinnie gloried most in the discomfiture of the Tory agent, who had vainly hoped to coerce him in the stackyard without Marget's presence, as her intellectual contempt for the Conservative party knew no bounds.
"Sall, she saw him slip aff the road afore the last stile, and wheep roond the fit o' the gairden wa' like a tod (fox) aifter the chickens.
"It's a het day, Maister Anderson,' says Marget frae the gairden, lookin' doon on him as calm as ye like. Yir surely nae gaein' to pass oor hoose without a gless o' milk?'
"Wud ye believe it, he wes that upset he left withoot sayin' 'vote,' and Drumsheugh telt me next market that his langidge aifterwards cudna be printed."
When George came home for the last time, Marget went back and forward all afternoon from his bedroom to the window, and hid herself beneath the laburnum to see his face as the cart stood before the stile. It told her plain what she had feared, and Marget passed through her Gethsemane with the gold blossoms falling on her face. When their eyes met, and before she helped him down, mother and son understood.
this indifference to privileges Peter was excep. tional.
You could never meet Kirsty Stewart on equal terms, although she was quite affable to any one who knew his place.
"Ay," she said, on my respectful allusion to her experience, "a've seen mair than most. It doesna become me to boast, but tho' I say it as sudna, I hae buried a' my ain fouk."
Kirsty had a "way" in sick visiting, consisting in a certain cadence of the voice and arrangement of the face, which was felt to be soothing and complimentary.
"Yir aboot again, a'm glad to see," to me after my accident, "but yir no dune wi' that leg; na, na. Jeems, that was ma second man, scrapit his shin aince, tho' no so bad as ye've dune, a'm hearing (for I had denied Kirsty the courtesy of an inspection). It's sax year syne noo, and he got up and wes traivellin' fell hearty like yersel'. But he begoon to dwam (sicken) in the end of the year, and soughed awa' in the spring. Ay, ay, when tribble comes ye never ken hoo it'll end. A' thoucht I wud come up and speir for ye. A
"Ye mind what I told ye o' the Greek mothers the day I left? Weel, I wud hae liked to have carried my shield; but it wasna to be, so I've come home on it." As they went slowly up the garden walk: "I've got my degree, a double first, mathe-body needs comfort gin he's sober (ill).” matics and classics."
When I found George wrapped in his plaid be
"Ye've been a gude soldier, George, and side the brier bush, whose roses were no whiter faithfu’.”
"Unto death, a'm dootin', mother." "Na," said Marget, "unto life." Drumtochty was not a heartening place in sickness, and Marget, who did not think our thoughts, endured much consolation at her neighbors' hands. It is said that in cities visitors congratulate a patient on his good looks, and deluge his family with instances of recovery. This would have seemed to us shallow and unfeeling, besides being a "temptin' o' Providence," which might not have intended to go to extremities, but on a challenge of this kind had no alternative. Sickness was regarded as a distinction tempered with judgment, and favored people found it difficult to be humble. I always thought more of Peter McIntosh when the mysterious "tribble" that needed the Perth doctor made no difference in his manner, and he passed his snuff-box across the before the long prayer as usual; but in
than his cheeks, Kirsty was already installed as comforter in the parlor, and her drone came through the open window.
"Ay, ay, Marget, sae it's come to this. Weel, we daurna complain, ye ken. Be thankfu' ye haena lost your man and five sons besides twa sisters and a brither, no to mention cousins. That wud be something to speak aboot, and Losh keep's, there's nae saying but he micht hang on a whilie. Ay, ay, it's a sair blow aifter a' that wes in the papers. I wes feared when I heard o' the papers; Lat weel alane,' says I to the dominie; 'ye 'ill bring a judgment on the laddie wi' yir blawing.' But ye micht as weel hae spoken to the hills. Domsie's a thraun body at the best, and he was clean infatuat' wi' George. Ay, ay, it's an awfu' lesson, Marget, no to mak' idols o' our bairns, for that's naethin' else than provokin' the Almichty."
It was at this point that Marget gave way and
scandalized Drumtochty, which held that obtrusive prosperity was an irresistible provocation to the higher powers, and that a skilful depreciation of our children was a policy of safety.
"Did ye say the Almichty? I'm thinkin' that's ower grand a name for your God, Kirsty. What wud ye think o' a faither that brocht hame some bonnie thing frae the fair for ane o' his bairns, and when the puir bairn wes pleased wi' it tore it oot o' his hand and flung it into the fire? Eh, wumman, he wud be a meeserable, cankered, jealous body. Kirsty, wumman, when the Almichty sees a mither bound up in her laddie, I tell ye He is sair pleased in His heaven, for mind ye hoo He loved His ain Son. Besides, a'm judgin' that nane o' us can love anither withoot lovin' Him, or hurt anither withoot hurtin' Him.
"Oh, I ken weel that George is gaein' to leave us; but it's no because the Almichty is jealous o' him or me, no likely. It cam' to me last nicht that He needs my laddie for some grand wark in the ither world, and that's hoo George has his bukes brocht oot tae the garden and studies a' the day. He wants to be ready for his kingdom, just as he trachled in the bit schule o' Drumtochty for Edinboro'. I hoped he wud hae been a minister o' Christ's Gospel here, but he 'ill be judge over many cities yonder. A'm no denyin', Kirsty, that it's a trial, but I hae licht on it, and naethin' but gude thochts o' the Almichty."
Drumtochty understood that Kirsty had dealt faithfully with Marget for pride and presumption; but all we heard was, "Losh keep us a'.'
When Marget came out and sat down beside her son, her face was shining. Then she saw the open window.
"I didna ken."
"Never mind, mither, there's nae secrets atween us, and it gar'd my heart leap to hear ye speak up like yon for God. Div ye mind the nicht I called for ye, mother, and ye gave me the Gospel aboot God?"
Marget slipped her hand into George's, and he let his head rest on her shoulder. The likeness flashed upon me in that moment, the earnest, deepset gray eyes, the clean-cut, firm jaw, and the ten
der, mobile lips, that blend of apparent austerity and underlying romance that make the pathos of a Scottish face.
"There had been a revival man here," George explained to me, "and he was preaching on hell. As it grew dark a candle was lighted, and I can still see his face as in a picture, a hard-visaged man. He looked down at us laddies in the front and asked us if we knew what-like hell was. By this time we were that terrified none of us could speak, but I whispered 'No.'
"Then he rolled up a piece of paper and held it in the flame, and we saw it burn and glow and shrivel up and fall in black dust.
'Think,' said he, and he leaned over the desk, and spoke in a gruesome whisper which made the cold run down our backs, that yon taper was your finger, one finger only of your hand, and it burned like that forever and ever, and think of your hand and your arm and your whole body all on fire, never to go out.' We shuddered that you might have heard the form creak. That is hell, and that is where ony laddie will go who does not repent and believe.'
"It was like Dante's Inferno, and I dared not take my eyes off his face. He blew out the candle, and we crept to the door trembling, not able to say one word.
"That night I could not sleep, for I thought I might be in the fire before morning. It was harvest time, and the moon was filling the room with cold clear light. From my bed I could see the stooks standing in rows upon the field, and it seemed like the judgment day.
"I was only a wee laddie, and I did what we all do in trouble, I cried for my mother.
"Ye hae no forgotten, mither, the fricht that was on me that nicht?"
"Never," said Marget, "and never can; it's hard wark for me to keep frae hating that man, dead or alive. Geordie gripped me wi' baith his wee airms round my neck, and he cries over and over and over again, 'Is yon God?'
"Ay, and ye kissed me, mither, and ye said (it's like yesterday), Yir safe with me,' and ye telt me that God micht punish me to mak me better if I was bad, but that He wud never torture