Full Online Books
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
Full Online Book HomeEssaysThe Inner Life - DORA GREEN WELL
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
The Inner Life - DORA GREEN WELL Post by :margaux Category :Essays Author :John Greenleaf Whittier Date :April 2012 Read :2944

Click below to download : The Inner Life - DORA GREEN WELL (Format : PDF)

The Inner Life - DORA GREEN WELL

First published as an introduction to an American edition of that author's _The Patience of Hope_.

THERE are men who, irrespective of the names by which they are called in the Babel confusion of sects, are endeared to the common heart of Christendom. Our doors open of their own accord to receive them. For in them we feel that in some faint degree, and with many limitations, the Divine is again manifested: something of the Infinite Love shines out of them; their very garments have healing and fragrance borrowed from the bloom of Paradise. So of books. There are volumes which perhaps contain many things, in the matter of doctrine and illustration, to which our reason does not assent, but which nevertheless seem permeated with a certain sweetness and savor of life. They have the Divine seal and imprimatur; they are fragrant with heart's-ease and asphodel; tonic with the leaves which are for the healing of the nations. The meditations of the devout monk of Kempen are the common heritage of Catholic and Protestant; our hearts burn within us as we walk with Augustine under Numidian fig-trees in the gardens of Verecundus; Feuelon from his bishop's palace and John Woolman from his tailor's shop speak to us in the same language. The unknown author of that book which Luther loved next to his Bible, the Theologia Germanica, is just as truly at home in this present age, and in the ultra Protestantism of New England, as in the heart of Catholic Europe, and in the fourteenth century. For such books know no limitations of time or place; they have the perpetual freshness and fitness of truth; they speak out of profound experience heart answers to heart as we read them; the spirit that is in man, and the inspiration that giveth understanding, bear witness to them. The bent and stress of their testimony are the same, whether written in this or a past century, by Catholic or Quaker: self-renunciation,-- reconcilement to the Divine will through simple faith in the Divine goodness, and the love of it which must needs follow its recognition, the life of Christ made our own by self-denial and sacrifice, and the fellowship of His suffering for the good of others, the indwelling Spirit, leading into all truth, the Divine Word nigh us, even in our hearts. They have little to do with creeds, or schemes of doctrine, or the partial and inadequate plans of salvation invented by human speculation and ascribed to Him who, it is sufficient to know, is able to save unto the uttermost all who trust in Him. They insist upon simple faith and holiness of life, rather than rituals or modes of worship; they leave the merely formal, ceremonial, and temporal part of religion to take care of itself, and earnestly seek for the substantial, the necessary, and the permanent.

With these legacies of devout souls, it seems to me, the little volume herewith presented is not wholly unworthy of a place. It assumes the life and power of the gospel as a matter of actual experience; it bears unmistakable evidence of a realization, on the part of its author, of the truth, that Christianity is not simply historical and traditional, but present and permanent, with its roots in the infinite past and its branches in the infinite future, the eternal spring and growth of Divine love; not the dying echo of words uttered centuries ago, never to be repeated, but God's good tidings spoken afresh in every soul,--the perennial fountain and unstinted outflow of wisdom and goodness, forever old and forever new. It is a lofty plea for patience, trust, hope, and holy confidence, under the shadow, as well as in the light, of Christian experience, whether the cloud seems to rest on the tabernacle, or moves guidingly forward. It is perhaps too exclusively addressed to those who minister in the inner sanctuary, to be entirely intelligible to the vaster number who wait in the outer courts; it overlooks, perhaps, too much the solidarity and oneness of humanity;' but all who read it will feel its earnestness, and confess to the singular beauty of its style, the strong, steady march of its argument, and the wide and varied learning which illustrates it.

("The good are not so good as I once thought,
nor the bad so evil, and in all there is more
for grace to make advantage of, and more to
testify for God and holiness, than I once believed."--Baxter.)

To use the language of one of its reviewers in the Scottish press:--

"Beauty there is in the book; exquisite glimpses into the loveliness of nature here and there shine out from its lines,--a charm wanting which meditative writing always seems to have a defect; beautiful gleams, too, there are of the choicest things of art, and frequent allusions by the way to legend or picture of the religious past; so that, while you read, you wander by a clear brook of thought, coining far from the beautiful hills, and winding away from beneath the sunshine of gladness and beauty into the dense, mysterious forest of human existence, that loves to sing, amid the shadow of human darkness and anguish, its music of heavenborn consolation; bringing, too, its pure waters of cleansing and healing, yet evermore making its praise of holy affection and gladness; while it is still haunted by the spirits of prophet, saint, and poet, repeating snatches of their strains, and is led on, as by a spirit from above, to join the great river of God's truth. . . .

"This is a book for Christian men, for the quiet hour of holy solitude, when the heart longs and waits for access to the presence of the Master. The weary heart that thirsts amidst its conflicts and its toils for refreshing water will drink eagerly of these sweet and refreshing words. To thoughtful men and women, especially such as have learnt any of the patience of hope in the experiences of sorrow and trial, we commend this little volume most heartily and earnestly."

_The Patience of Hope fell into my hands soon after its publication in Edinburgh, some two years ago. I was at once impressed by its extraordinary richness of language and imagery,--its deep and solemn tone of meditation in rare combination with an eminently practical tendency,-- philosophy warm and glowing with love. It will, perhaps, be less the fault of the writer than of her readers, if they are not always able to eliminate from her highly poetical and imaginative language the subtle metaphysical verity or phase of religious experience which she seeks to express, or that they are compelled to pass over, without appropriation, many things which are nevertheless profoundly suggestive as vague possibilities of the highest life. All may not be able to find in some of her Scriptural citations the exact weight and significance so apparent to her own mind. She startles us, at times, by her novel applications of familiar texts, by meanings reflected upon them from her own spiritual intuitions, making the barren Baca of the letter a well. If the rendering be questionable, the beauty and quaint felicity of illustration and comparison are unmistakable; and we call to mind Augustine's saying, that two or more widely varying interpretations of Scripture may be alike true in themselves considered. "When one saith, Moses meant as I do,' and another saith, 'Nay, but as I do,' I ask, more reverently, 'Why not rather as both, if both be true?"

Some minds, for instance, will hesitate to assent to the use of certain Scriptural passages as evidence that He who is the Light of men, the Way and the Truth, in the mystery of His economy, designedly "delays, withdraws, and even hides Himself from those who love and follow Him." They will prefer to impute spiritual dearth and darkness to human weakness, to the selfishness which seeks a sign for itself, to evil imaginations indulged, to the taint and burden of some secret sin, or to some disease and exaggeration of the conscience, growing out of bodily infirmity, rather than to any purpose on the part of our Heavenly Father to perplex and mislead His children. The sun does not shine the less because one side of our planet is in darkness. To borrow the words of Augustine "Thou, Lord, forsakest nothing thou hast made. Thou alone art near to those even who remove far from thee. Let them turn and seek thee, for not as they have forsaken their Creator hast thou forsaken thy creation." It is only by holding fast the thought of Infinite Goodness, and interpreting doubtful Scripture and inward spiritual experience by the light of that central idea, that we can altogether escape the dreadful conclusion of Pascal, that revelation has been given us in dubious cipher, contradictory and mystical, in order that some, through miraculous aid, may understand it to their salvation, and others be mystified by it to their eternal loss.

I might mention other points of probable divergence between reader and writer, and indicate more particularly my own doubtful parse and hesitancy over some of these pages. But it is impossible for me to make one to whom I am so deeply indebted an offender for a word or a Scriptural rendering. On the grave and awful themes which she discusses, I have little to say in the way of controversy. I would listen, rather than criticise. The utterances of pious souls, in all ages, are to me often like fountains in a thirsty land, strengthening and refreshing, yet not without an after-taste of human frailty and inadequateness, a slight bitterness of disappointment and unsatisfied quest. Who has not felt at times that the letter killeth, that prophecies fail, and tongues cease to edify, and been ready to say, with the author of the Imitation of Christ: "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. Let not Moses nor the prophets speak to me, but speak thou rather, who art the Inspirer and Enlightener of all. I am weary with reading and hearing many things; let all teachers hold their peace; let all creatures keep silence: speak thou alone to me."

The writer of The Patience of Hope had, previous to its publication, announced herself to a fit, if small, audience of earnest and thoughtful Christians, in a little volume entitled, A Present Heaven. She has recently published a collection of poems, of which so competent a judge as Dr. Brown, the author of _Horae Subsecivae and _Rab and his Friends_, thus speaks, in the _North British Review_:--

"Such of our readers--a fast increasing number--as have read and enjoyed _The Patience of Hope_, listening to the gifted nature which, through such deep and subtile thought, and through affection and godliness still deeper and more quick, has charmed and soothed them, will not be surprised to learn that she is not only poetical, but, what is more, a poet, and one as true as George Herbert and Henry Vaughan, or our own Cowper; for, with all our admiration of the searching, fearless speculation, the wonderful power of speaking clearly upon dark and all but unspeakable subjects, the rich outcome of 'thoughts that wander through eternity,' which increases every time we take up that wonderful little book, we confess we were surprised at the kind and the amount of true poetic _vis in these poems, from the same fine and strong hand. There is a personality and immediateness, a sort of sacredness and privacy, as if they were overheard rather than read, which gives to these remarkable productions a charm and a flavor all their own. With no effort, no consciousness of any end but that of uttering the inmost thoughts and desires of the heart, they flow out as clear, as living, as gladdening as the wayside well, coming from out the darkness of the central depths, filtered into purity by time and travel. The waters are copious, sometimes to overflowing; but they are always limpid and unforced, singing their own quiet tune, not saddening, though sometimes sad, and their darkness not that of obscurity, but of depth, like that of the deep sea.

"This is not a book to criticise or speak about, and we give no extracts from the longer, and in this case, we think, the better poems. In reading this Cardiphonia set to music, we have been often reminded, not only of Herbert and Vaughan, but of Keble,--a likeness of the spirit, not of the letter; for if there is any one poet who has given a bent to her mind, it is Wordsworth,--the greatest of all our century's poets, both in himself and in his power of making poets."

In the belief that whoever peruses the following pages will be sufficiently interested in their author to be induced to turn back and read over again, with renewed pleasure, extracts from her metrical writings, I copy from the volume so warmly commended a few brief pieces and extracts from the longer poems.

Here are three sonnets, each a sermon in itself:--


They who from mountain-peaks have gazed upon
The wide, illimitable heavens have said,
That, still receding as they climbed, outspread,
The blue vault deepens over them, and, one
By one drawn further back, each starry sun
Shoots down a feebler splendor overhead
So, Saviour, as our mounting spirits, led
Along Faith's living way to Thee, have won
A nearer access, up the difficult track
Still pressing, on that rarer atmosphere,
When low beneath us flits the cloudy rack,
We see Thee drawn within a widening sphere
Of glory, from us further, further back,--
Yet is it then because we are more near.


Top long have I, methought, with tearful eye
Pored o'er this tangled work of mine, and mused
Above each stitch awry and thread confused;
Now will I think on what in years gone by
I heard of them that weave rare tapestry
At royal looms, and hew they constant use
To work on the rough side, and still peruse
The pictured pattern set above them high;
So will I set my copy high above,
And gaze and gaze till on my spirit grows
Its gracious impress; till some line of love,
Transferred upon my canvas, faintly glows;
Nor look too much on warp or woof, provide
He whom I work for sees their fairer side!


When I do think on thee, sweet Hope, and how
Thou followest on our steps, a coaxing child
Oft chidden hence, yet quickly reconciled,
Still turning on us a glad, beaming brow,
And red, ripe lips for kisses: even now
Thou mindest me of him, the Ruler mild,
Who led God's chosen people through the wild,
And bore with wayward murmurers, meek as thou
That bringest waters from the Rock, with bread
Of angels strewing Earth for us! like him
Thy force abates not, nor thine eye grows dim;
But still with milk and honey-droppings fed,
Thou leadest to the Promised Country fair,
Though thou, like Moses, may'st not enter there

There is something very weird and striking in the following lines:--


Alone, at midnight as he knelt, his spirit was aware
Of Somewhat falling in between the silence and the prayer;

A bell's dull clangor that hath sped so far, it faints and dies
So soon as it hath reached the ear whereto its errand lies;

And as he rose up from his knees, his spirit was aware
Of Somewhat, forceful and unseen, that sought to hold him there;

As of a Form that stood behind, and on his shoulders prest
Both hands to stay his rising up, and Somewhat in his breast,

In accents clearer far than words, spake, "Pray yet longer, pray,
For one that ever prayed for thee this night hath passed away;

"A soul, that climbing hour by hour the silver-shining stair
That leads to God's great treasure-house, grew covetous; and there

"Was stored no blessing and no boon, for thee she did not claim,
(So lowly, yet importunate!) and ever with thy name

"She link'd--that none in earth or heaven might hinder it or stay--
One Other Name, so strong, that thine hath never missed its way.

"This very night within my arms this gracious soul I bore Within the
Gate, where many a prayer of hers had gone before;

"And where she resteth, evermore one constant song they raise Of 'Holy,
holy,' so that now I know not if she prays;

"But for the voice of praise in Heaven, a voice of Prayer hath gone
From Earth; thy name upriseth now no more; pray on, pray on!"

The following may serve as a specimen of the writer's lighter, half-
playful strain of moralizing:--


"And where, and among what pleasant places,
Have ye been, that ye come again
With your laps so full of flowers, and your faces
Like buds blown fresh after rain?"

"We have been," said the children, speaking
In their gladness, as the birds chime,
All together,--"we have been seeking
For the Fairies of olden time;
For we thought, they are only hidden,--
They would never surely go
From this green earth all unbidden,
And the children that love them so.
Though they come not around us leaping,
As they did when they and the world
Were young, we shall find them sleeping
Within some broad leaf curled;
For the lily its white doors closes
But only over the bee,
And we looked through the summer roses,
Leaf by leaf, so carefully.

But we thought, rolled up we shall find them
Among mosses old and dry;
From gossamer threads that bind them,
They will start like the butterfly,
All winged: so we went forth seeking,
Yet still they have kept unseen;
Though we think our feet have been keeping
The track where they have been,
For we saw where their dance went flying
O'er the pastures,--snowy white."

Their seats and their tables lying,
O'erthrown in their sudden flight.
And they, too, have had their losses,
For we found the goblets white
And red in the old spiked mosses,
That they drank from over-night;
And in the pale horn of the woodbine
Was some wine left, clear and bright;
"But we found," said the children, speaking
More quickly, "so many things,
That we soon forgot we were seeking,--
Forgot all the Fairy rings,
Forgot all the stories olden
That we hear round the fire at night,
Of their gifts and their favors golden,--
The sunshine was so bright;
And the flowers,--we found so many
That it almost made us grieve
To think there were some, sweet as any,
That we were forced to leave;
As we left, by the brook-side lying,
The balls of drifted foam,
And brought (after all our trying)
These Guelder-roses home."

"Then, oh!" I heard one speaking
Beside me soft and low,
"I have been, like the blessed children, seeking,
Still seeking, to and fro;
Yet not, like them, for the Fairies,--
They might pass unmourned away
For me, that had looked on angels,--
On angels that would not stay;
No! not though in haste before them
I spread all my heart's best cheer,
And made love my banner o'er them,
If it might but keep them here;
They stayed but a while to rest them;
Long, long before its close,
From my feast, though I mourned and prest them
The radiant guests arose;
And their flitting wings struck sadness
And silence; never more
Hath my soul won back the gladness,
That was its own before.
No; I mourned not for the Fairies
When I had seen hopes decay,
That were sweet unto my spirit
So long; I said, 'If they,
That through shade and sunny weather
Have twined about my heart,
Should fade, we must go together,
For we can never part!'
But my care was not availing;
I found their sweetness gone;
I saw their bright tints paling;--
They died; yet I lived on.

"Yet seeking, ever seeking,
Like the children, I have won
A guerdon all undreamt of

When first my quest begun,
And my thoughts come back like wanderers,
Out-wearied, to my breast;
What they sought for long they found not,
Yet was the Unsought best.
For I sought not out for crosses,
I did not seek for pain;
Yet I find the heart's sore losses
Were the spirit's surest gain."

In _A Meditation_, the writer ventures, not without awe and reverence, upon that dim, unsounded ocean of mystery, the life beyond:--

"But is there prayer
Within your quiet homes, and is there care
For those ye leave behind? I would address
My spirit to this theme in humbleness
No tongue nor pen hath uttered or made known
This mystery, and thus I do but guess
At clearer types through lowlier patterns shown;
Yet when did Love on earth forsake its own?
Ye may not quit your sweetness; in the Vine
More firmly rooted than of old, your wine
Hath freer flow! ye have not changed, but grown
To fuller stature; though the shock was keen
That severed you from us, how oft below
Hath sorest parting smitten but to show
True hearts their hidden wealth that quickly grow
The closer for that anguish,--friend to friend
Revealed more clear,--and what is Death to rend
The ties of life and love, when He must fade
In light of very Life, when He must bend
To love, that, loving, loveth to the end?

"I do not deem ye look
Upon us now, for be it that your eyes
Are sealed or clear, a burden on them lies
Too deep and blissful for their gaze to brook
Our troubled strife; enough that once ye dwelt
Where now we dwell, enough that once ye felt
As now we feel, to bid you recognize
Our claim of kindred cherished though unseen;
And Love that is to you for eye and ear
Hath ways unknown to us to bring you near,--
To keep you near for all that comes between;
As pious souls that move in sleep to prayer,
As distant friends, that see not, and yet share
(I speak of what I know) each other's care,
So may your spirits blend with ours!
Above Ye know not haply of our state, yet
Love Acquaints you with our need, and through a way
More sure than that of knowledge--so ye pray!

"And even thus we meet,
And even thus we commune! spirits freed
And spirits fettered mingle, nor have need
To seek a common atmosphere, the air
Is meet for either in this olden, sweet,
Primeval breathing of Man's spirit,--Prayer!"

I give, in conclusion, a portion of one of her most characteristic poems, _The Reconciler_:--

"Our dreams are reconciled,
Since Thou didst come to turn them all to Truth;
The World, the Heart, are dreamers in their youth
Of visions beautiful, and strange and wild;
And Thou, our Life's Interpreter, dost still
At once make clear these visions and fulfil;

Each dim sweet Orphic rhyme,
Each mythic tale sublime
Of strength to save, of sweetness to subdue,
Each morning dream the few,
Wisdom's first lovers told, if read in Thee comes true.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Thou, O Friend
From heaven, that madest this our heart Thine own,
Dost pierce the broken language of its moan--
Thou dost not scorn our needs, but satisfy!
Each yearning deep and wide,
Each claim, is justified;
Our young illusions fail not, though they die
Within the brightness of Thy Rising, kissed
To happy death, like early clouds that lie
About the gates of Dawn,--a golden mist
Paling to blissful white, through rose and amethyst.

"The World that puts Thee by,
That opens not to greet Thee with Thy train,
That sendeth after Thee the sullen cry,
'We will not have Thee over us to reign,'
Itself Both testify through searchings vain
Of Thee and of its need, and for the good
It will not, of some base similitude
Takes up a taunting witness, till its mood,
Grown fierce o'er failing hopes, doth rend and tear
Its own illusions grown too thin and bare
To wrap it longer; for within the gate
Where all must pass, a veiled and hooded Fate,
A dark Chimera, coiled and tangled lies,
And he who answers not its questions dies,--
Still changing form and speech, but with the same
Vexed riddles, Gordian-twisted, bringing shame
Upon the nations that with eager cry
Hail each new solver of the mystery;
Yet he, of these the best,
Bold guesser, hath but prest
Most nigh to Thee, our noisy plaudits wrong;
True Champion, that hast wrought
Our help of old, and brought
Meat from this eater, sweetness from this strong.

"O Bearer of the key
That shuts and opens with a sound so sweet
Its turning in the wards is melody,
All things we move among are incomplete
And vain until we fashion them in Thee!
We labor in the fire,
Thick smoke is round about us; through the din
Of words that darken counsel clamors dire
Ring from thought's beaten anvil, where within
Two Giants toil, that even from their birth
With travail-pangs have torn their mother Earth,
And wearied out her children with their keen
Upbraidings of the other, till between
Thou tamest, saying, 'Wherefore do ye wrong
Each other?--ye are Brethren.' Then these twain
Will own their kindred, and in Thee retain
Their claims in peace, because Thy land is wide
As it is goodly! here they pasture free,
This lion and this leopard, side by side,
A little child doth lead them with a song;
Now, Ephraim's envy ceaseth, and no more
Doth Judah anger Ephraim chiding sore,
For one did ask a Brother, one a King,
So dost Thou gather them in one, and bring--
Thou, King forevermore, forever Priest,
Thou, Brother of our own from bonds released
A Law of Liberty,
A Service making free,
A Commonweal where each has all in Thee.

"And not alone these wide,
Deep-planted yearnings, seeking with a cry
Their meat from God, in Thee are satisfied;
But all our instincts waking suddenly
Within the soul, like infants from their sleep
That stretch their arms into the dark and weep,
Thy voice can still. The stricken heart bereft
Of all its brood of singing hopes, and left
'Mid leafless boughs, a cold, forsaken nest
With snow-flakes in it, folded in Thy breast
Doth lose its deadly chill; and grief that creeps
Unto Thy side for shelter, finding there
The wound's deep cleft, forgets its moan, and weeps
Calm, quiet tears, and on Thy forehead Care
Hath looked until its thorns, no longer bare,
Put forth pale roses. Pain on Thee doth press
Its quivering cheek, and all the weariness,
The want that keep their silence, till from Thee
They hear the gracious summons, none beside
Hath spoken to the world-worn, 'Come to me,'
Tell forth their heavy secrets.

"Thou dost hide
These in Thy bosom, and not these alone,
But all our heart's fond treasure that had grown
A burden else: O Saviour, tears were weighed
To Thee in plenteous measure! none hath shown
That Thou didst smile! yet hast Thou surely made
All joy of ours Thine own.

"Thou madest us for Thine;
We seek amiss, we wander to and fro;
Yet are we ever on the track Divine;
The soul confesseth Thee, but sense is slow
To lean on aught but that which it may see;
So hath it crowded up these Courts below
With dark and broken images of Thee;
Lead Thou us forth upon Thy Mount, and show
Thy goodly patterns, whence these things of old
By Thee were fashioned; One though manifold.
Glass Thou Thy perfect likeness in the soul,
Show us Thy countenance, and we are whole!"

No one, I am quite certain, will regret that I have made these liberal quotations. Apart from their literary merit, they have a special interest for the readers of The Patience of Hope, as more fully illustrating the writer's personal experience and aspirations.

It has been suggested by a friend that it is barely possible that an objection may be urged against the following treatise, as against all books of a like character, that its tendency is to isolate the individual from his race, and to nourish an exclusive and purely selfish personal solicitude; that its piety is self-absorbent, and that it does not take sufficiently into account active duties and charities, and the love of the neighbor so strikingly illustrated by the Divine Master in His life and teachings. This objection, if valid, would be a fatal one. For, of a truth, there can be no meaner type of human selfishness than that afforded by him who, unmindful of the world of sin and suffering about him, occupies himself in the pitiful business of saving his own soul, in the very spirit of the miser, watching over his private hoard while his neighbors starve for lack of bread. But surely the benevolent unrest, the far-reaching sympathies and keen sensitiveness to the suffering of others, which so nobly distinguish our present age, can have nothing to fear from a plea for personal holiness, patience, hope, and resignation to the Divine will. "The more piety, the more compassion," says Isaac Taylor; and this is true, if we understand by piety, not self-concentred asceticism, but the pure religion and undefiled which visits the widow and the fatherless, and yet keeps itself unspotted from the world,--which deals justly, loves mercy, and yet walks humbly before God. Self- scrutiny in the light of truth can do no harm to any one, least of all to the reformer and philanthropist. The spiritual warrior, like the young candidate for knighthood, may be none the worse for his preparatory ordeal of watching all night by his armor.

Tauler in mediaeval times and Woolman in the last century are among the most earnest teachers of the inward life and spiritual nature of Christianity, yet both were distinguished for practical benevolence. They did not separate the two great commandments. Tauler strove with equal intensity of zeal to promote the temporal and the spiritual welfare of men. In the dark and evil time in which he lived, amidst the untold horrors of the "Black Plague," he illustrated by deeds of charity and mercy his doctrine of disinterested benevolence. Woolman's whole life was a nobler Imitation of Christ than that fervid rhapsody of monastic piety which bears the name.

How faithful, yet, withal, how full of kindness, were his rebukes of those who refused labor its just reward, and ground the faces of the poor? How deep and entire was his sympathy with overtasked and ill-paid laborers; with wet and illprovided sailors; with poor wretches blaspheming in the mines, because oppression had made them mad; with the dyers plying their unhealthful trade to minister to luxury and pride; with the tenant wearing out his life in the service of a hard landlord; and with the slave sighing over his unrequited toil! What a significance there was in his vision of the "dull, gloomy mass" which appeared before him, darkening half the heavens, and which he was told was "human beings in as great misery as they could be and live; and he was mixed with them, and henceforth he might not consider himself a distinct and separate being"! His saintliness was wholly unconscious; he seems never to have thought himself any nearer to the tender heart of God than the most miserable sinner to whom his compassion extended. As he did not live, so neither did he die to himself. His prayer upon his death-bed was for others rather than himself; its beautiful humility and simple trust were marred by no sensual imagery of crowns and harps and golden streets, and personal beatific exaltations; but tender and touching concern for suffering humanity, relieved only by the thought of the paternity of God, and of His love and omnipotence, alone found utterance in ever-memorable words.

In view of the troubled state of the country and the intense preoccupation of the public mind, I have had some hesitation in offering this volume to its publishers. But, on further reflection, it has seemed to me that it might supply a want felt by many among us; that, in the chaos of civil strife and the shadow of mourning which rests over the land, the contemplation of "things unseen which are eternal" might not be unwelcome; that, when the foundations of human confidence are shaken, and the trust in man proves vain, there might be glad listeners to a voice calling from the outward and the temporal to the inward and the spiritual; from the troubles and perplexities of time, to the eternal quietness which God giveth. I cannot but believe that, in the heat and glare through which we are passing, this book will not invite in vain to the calm, sweet shadows of holy meditation, grateful as the green wings of the bird to Thalaba in the desert; and thus afford something of consolation to the bereaved, and of strength to the weary. For surely never was the Patience of Hope more needed; never was the inner sanctuary of prayer more desirable; never was a steadfast faith in the Divine goodness more indispensable, nor lessons of self-sacrifice and renunciation, and that cheerful acceptance of known duty which shifts not its proper responsibility upon others, nor asks for "peace in its day" at the expense of purity and justice, more timely than now, when the solemn words of ancient prophecy are as applicable to our own country as to that of the degenerate Jew,--"Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding reprove thee; know, therefore, it is an evil thing, and bitter, that thou bast forsaken the Lord, and that my fear is not in thee,"--when "His way is in the deep, in clouds, and in thick darkness," and the hand heavy upon us which shall "turn and overturn until he whose right it is shall reign,"--until, not without rending agony, the evil plant which our Heavenly Father hath not planted, whose roots have wound themselves about altar and hearth-stone, and whose branches, like the tree Al-Accoub in Moslem fable, bear the accursed fruit of oppression, rebellion, and all imaginable crime, shall be torn up and destroyed forever.

AMESBURY, 1st 6th mo., 1862.

If you like this book please share to your friends :


The following letters were addressed to the Editor of the Friends' Review in Philadelphia, in reference to certain changes of principle and practice in the Society then beginning to be observable, but which have since more than justified the writer's fears and solicitude.I.AMESBURY, 2d mo., 1870.TO THE EDITOR OF THE REVIEW.ESTEEMED FRIEND,--If I have been hitherto a silent, I have not been an indifferent, spectator of the movements now going on in our religious Society. Perhaps from lack of faith, I have been quite too solicitous concerning them, and too much afraid that in grasping after new things we may let

The Inner Life - THE BETTER LAND The Inner Life - THE BETTER LAND

The Inner Life - THE BETTER LAND
(1844.)"THE shapings of our heavens are the modifications of our constitution," said Charles Lamb, in his reply to Southey's attack upon him in the Quarterly Review.He who is infinite in love as well as wisdom has revealed to us the fact of a future life, and the fearfully important relation in which the present stands to it. The actual nature and conditions of that life He has hidden from us,--no chart of the ocean of eternity is given us,--no celestial guidebook or geography defines, localizes, and prepares us for the wonders of the spiritual world. Hence imagination has a wide field