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Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled; And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world. Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on heavenly wing, And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long; Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong. And men at war with men, hear not
The love-song which they bring. Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!
And ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
With painful steps and slow,
Come swiftly on the wing.
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hastening on
By prophet bards foretold, When with the ever-circling years
Comes back the age of gold— When peace shall over all the earth
Its blessed banner fling, And the whole world Send Back the song
Which now the angels sing."
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”
EST! Wait patiently Who ever did Who ever can Restlessness and impatience seem to be inseparably connected with humanity. They are manifested by all classes at every stage of their existence, from the child who grows weary of its newest toy, to the philosopher who is dissatisfied with the result of his patient, lifelong thought. Rest | Some men know not what it means; they have never in their lives experienced it. And for others, it has no sooner come than gone, vanished like some transient dream of bliss. You have often, I daresay, felt strangely saddened by the restfulness of nature. How beautiful she appears on a summer's evening, when the setting sun bestows on the landscape a parting gift of glory, when the voice of the zephyr murmurs the tired earth's lullaby, and when all things seem sinking into rest! Beautiful? Yes, but suggestive of a mournful and startling contrast :—
"For in the deepest hour of nature's peace
On the serenest evening which the world has ever seen, there was one exception to the common restfulness. Man's heart, as Solomon says, taketh not rest even in the night, and therefore nature's serenity, though beautiful, is very, very saddening. We are shocked at her want of sympathy. How can she be so placid when we are so perturbed?
Yet rest cannot be quite impossible for man, for it has been occasionally achieved. The Psalmist, for example, had practised what we find him preaching in our text. "The Lord is my shepherd," he says, "I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. . . . Yea, though I walk. through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me." "My soul waiteth upon God. My expectation is from Him. He is my rock and my defence. I shall not be moved." Faber, too, had attained to a restfulness not less perfect than the Psalmist's. You remember his words:—
"I love to trace each print where Thou
I love to lose my will in Thine,
And by that loss be free.
And meekly wait on Thee.
Ill that God blesses is our good,
And unblest good is ill,
If it be Thy sweet will."
You will observe that the rest to which the Psalmist and Paber, and a few such men, have attained, is an intelligent and intelligible rest. There can be no rest for us in circumstances; they are ever changing. There can be no rest in self; for self is too much at the mercy of circumstances. There can be no complete rest for us in other men; for they may play us false, or be taken away by death:—
"There is no union here of hearts
The only perfect rest conceivable for man is a rest in the Lord—a confidence in the love and wisdom of Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and whose tender mercies are over all His works.
You will observe, further, that all forms of restlessness and impatience resolve themselves into a want of faith. They amount to practical atheism. We all, I suppose, profess to believe, and think that we believe, in God. And yet we are constantly acting and feeling as if we did not. We fancy that we could have arranged the circumstances of our life much better than they have been arranged for us by Providence. When we look forward to the future, we are afraid things will not turn out well unless we have a hand in ordering them. We are restless under bad fortune, as if we were quite sure it was an unmitigated evil. We are impatient for good fortune, as if we were at the mercy of a niggardly tyrant, who would keep it from us if he could.
Let us take an illustration or two. We young men perhaps afford the most striking example. We probably, more than any other class, are characterised by a feverish restlessness and a tremendous impatience. We want to build our Home in a day. We should like to reap the fruit of our labours almost before we have sown the seed. We desire to put the top-stone on to