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many passed by the peaceful stream. Some drank, and passed on—some drank and died—some sank exhausted ere they could reach the living water. Hither, too, came the pursuer--hatred and despair supplied a momentary strength-the wounded sprang up to grapple with his foe-his brother-and the murdering and the murdered passed away together--whither?
The full moon shone brightly on that beauteous spot, lighting up the crimsoned turf and the ghastly faces of the dead. The pure drops glistened in its rays like falling diamonds; but the flower cups were filled, and the rill was swollen with blood.
On the battle plain the victor founded an abbey, that prayers might be said, and masses sung, for the souls of the slain. The monks enlarged the basin of the fountain, and chained an iron cup to the rock, for the convenience of the passengers. And on a grey stone beside it, they carved a crucifix, and this inscription:
“Drinke, wearie pilgrim, drinke and praye.” Hither came the lay-brother of the abbey to draw the water and to tell his beads. Hither, at morn and eve, came maidens from hut and homestead. Hither came the forester, to eat his noonday meal and mutter a paternoster as he drank. The steel-clad knight doffed his helmet to lave his throbbing brow, and as he threw himself on the mossy bank, the quiet beauty of the scene filled his mind with soft and peaceful images, which arose in after days to quell many a stormy thought and fierce passion. The pilgrim, with the scallop shell in his hat, knelt reverently before quenching his thirst, and gave praise to Him who had protected him through his journeyings, and brought him again to his native land. The soldier, with the red cross on his snouider, drank of the fountain, and renewed his vow as he bent before the crucifix,-treasuring in his heart, with that vow, bright memories and hopes which haunted him through burning plain and bloody fight.
But a purer faith dawned—dimly at first, but becoming clearer and stronger--not peacefully, but in storm and strife. Men had forgotten the substance in the symbol-now they would have crushed and cast away the symbol for the sake of the substance. The new belief prevailed; and when the mon
astery was partially destroyed, and the monks driven away, the iconoclastes broke the carved stone, throwing the fragments into the basin; and the fountain was for a time almost deserted.
Then the villagers returned one by one to the “Holy Well;" and when the part of the abbey which remained was converted into a farm-house, the basin was cleared, and the broken stone was laid before it, so as to form stepping stones. In process of time the forest was partially cut down ; the land was cultivated; but the hollies and elms were left around the spring, though the foot-path was widened to a lane. And with change of scene came change of name, and of visitants. The ploughman, the sower, the hay-maker, the reaper, the gleaner, the wood-cutter, came to the “Stone Spring;" the merry child was pleased to count the drops as they fell, and intercept them with his dimpled hand; and the grey-haired man loved to sit on the mossy bank, on sunny summer evenings, and recollect the days when he was a youth, a child—those bright drops were falling then, are falling now!
Yes! through all changes the living spring is unchanged ! and the motto which the monks inscribed on the stone, is not that living too? Does not the cheerful trickle call on the passer by to drink and pray? Is it not echoed in the bird's song? and in the cool rustle of the summer leaves? Few could read the characters on the stone, but there are calls which all can perceive, and to which many a heart has responded and bounded with gratitude to the Giver of the refreshment and the beauty. A thoughtful boy often pored over those antique letters. He cleared the lichens from them, and when the sun threw a full light on them, he tried again and again to decipher them—but in vain: they were unknown characters to him, and he left his native place bearing that spring—a memory and a mystery-in his breast.
It is a sultry summer day; how burningly the sun pours down its rays on the dusty lane, and the fields on either side of it; a slight haze dims, without concealing, the distant landscape: but the sky is a stainless blue. A breath of air sometimes lifts the leaves, and then they fall again drowsily without even a rustle. The cattle are standing or lying motionless under the tall hedges. The birds are taking their siesta—all is still and silent, except that ever-bubbling fountain. What a deliciously cool shade the old elm casts on it! one sunbeam has found its way to it, and dances and glistens on the surface of the water-how it sparkles in the light! the bright beads skim across the pool, linger a moment on its edge, and mingle with the stream. Here comes a traveller-he bends from his horse, fills the iron cup, drinks, and passes on. Here is a group of children—they care not for the heat-on they come, running, shouting, rejoicing in the free air and the glad sunshine; they hear the music of the water, and rush to the spring; one drinks from the cup—one is on his knees and drinking from the rillone drinks from the pool—one catches the drops in the hollow of his hand; then, they are gone, running, leaping, along the lane with redoubled energy. Now come a party of gleaners, they throw down their loads and seat themselves on the bank. They drink, and refreshed by the few minutes' repose in that cool bower, plod on again cheerfully. Here comes a waggon laden with golden grain-slowly the large heavy horses drag the rich weight along, while the driver stays to take a draught; and a boy, mounted on the very top of the load, scrambles down to pay his tribute to the spring.
Yonder comes a traveller. Years have sped on since last he trod that lane; yet every bending-every bush is well remembered. He quickens his steps as he approaches the well known group of elms and hollies—is the fountain dropping there still? That old grey stone—does it remain? Ah! he can read those mysterious letters now, battered and time-worn as they aresome illegible-some gone—he can yet distinguish their purport,
"Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and pray.” Could he have read it in his boyhood, he might have scorned the lesson, but the world has taught him strange lore-he knows that life is a weary pilgrimage-besprinkled indeed with blessings, like that bounteous spring—pure, peaceful, and free to all. He has learned that those blessings must be sanctified with thanksgiving and with prayer, but the lesson comes with ten-fold force to his heart, here in the haunts of his childhood, echoed by the falling water, reflected from this broken stone. He drinks of the clear, sparkling fount, and passes on; yet on, on through the weary walks of life, the memory lives in his heart like the water in the rock, welling forth in life and refreshment, ever calling-ever echoing—as blessings unnumbered and unmerited spring up in his path,
“Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and pray."
THE GOSPEL, “THE POWER OF GOD." * Why has religion such unconquerable power? Wherefore does it assume the mastery over all the strongest instincts of our nature ? What is there in it, thus to lift the soul into an indomitable and triumphant defiance of all antagonistic forces ?
1. There is naturalness. Whatever is unnatural tends to weakness. It is so in the vegetable system. Twist the tree into an unnatural conformation, and it will never reach the strength belonging to its kind. The exotic plant rooted in our soil, never has that firm texture, that stately form, those lovely tints, that sweet fragrance, which it unfolds in its native earth. It is so with animal life. Transport any living creature into an unnatural climate, or put it into an unnatural position, let it partake of unnatural substances, or be engaged in unnatural exercises-whatever is unnatural to it will steal away its strength. The analogy holds especially good in relation to mind. Sin is an alienation from nature. The soul without religion is in an unnatural state. It is a moral plant rooted in a foreign soil, from which no healthy nutriment can be derived ; the soil of error. A moral creature living in an atmosphere it was never made to breathe; the atmosphere of sin. An irreligious soul therefore, is necessarily weak. It does not pulsate with the current of health. It does not wear its lovely bloom. Its action is spasmodic. Its beauty the hectic flush of death. It is diseased, withered, drooping. It is “ without strength.” But religion brings the soul back to nature-places it in circumstances congenial to its health and growth, plants it in its
• We have before alluded to the admirable volume from which we make the above extract--the Rev. D. Thomas's “Six Lectures to Young Men,” now issued in a collected form, under the somewhat singular title of " The Crisis of Being.”
native soil, breathes around it its native airs, pours on it the rays of its native sun, and waters it with its native dews-that soil is the everlasting truth of God, in which it is “rooted” and from which it drinks up immortal vigour—those genial airs that play around, are the generous sympathies of a heart overflowing with love to God and man—those quickening rays come streaming down from the sun of righteousness; and those refreshing dews that penetrate its fibres, and rest upon its branches, are the benignant influences of heaven ever descending on the good. The soul in such a state, becomes fair as the lily, fruitful as the vine, and sturdy as the trees that waved of old, from the heights of Lebanon.
II. Concentration. This is another element of power connected with religion. The force of all the great energies in nature, depends upon condensation. Light steam, air, electricity—these diffused are comparatively powerless, but compressed they are mighty. It is so with mind. When it oscillates between different points—when its attention is distracted by different objects—when it is divided in its sympathies and plans, it is without strength. It is a mere toy in the hand of circumstances—a feather in the wind--a straw on the bosom of the stream. “Unstable as water thou shalt not excel.” The mind is often, even in a more powerless state than that of unfixedness. Its energies are sometimes in violent conflict between themselves. Reason and inclination, passion and conscience, these are frequently at war with each other. Now, religion unites the heart to fear the name of God—brings all the powers of the soul to one point. I know of nothing else that can produce this coalition within. There are some things that will enlist the passions, but not the conscience, so that the man who pursues them, will be weak and timid, because in every step he is opposing the greater part of his nature. He is “a reed shaken with the wind.” But religion catches all the rays of the soul, and bends them to a focus-arrests all its currents, and turns them into one channel. Before that blazing focus, or that resistless torrent, who, or what can stand ? Paul was a prodigy of power. He was in perils oft, without fear. He endured grievous afflictions without complaint. He faced malignant foes, but never felt dismay. The frown of authority