BOOKS OF FABLES, EMBLEMS, AND PARABLES
MY purpose this afternoon, brethren, is to give you a little guidance as to books in which you can find fables, emblems, and parables. We desire to preach in the best possible manner, and to maintain our people’s attention from the first word we utter to the close of the discourse. We shall, therefore, find it very helpful, not only to make use of illustrations and anecdotes, of which I have spoken to you before, but also to have a good choice of language, a variety of tone, and as much as possible of excellent matter that will tend to light up and explain the subject on which we are speaking. To that end, we shall be wise if we introduce into our preaching parables and emblems, as many of them as we can.
I may again remind you, as I have done in previous lectures, that the teaching of God himself was always mainly by parables. The whole of the typical ceremonies and sacrifices of the Jewish law are so many acted parables. It is all parabolical, symbolical, emblematic teaching; the lamb killed, the blood sprinkled, the first-born slain, the scape-goat sent away, the brazen serpent uplifted, and so on; you know the interpretation of it all; it was a long series of parables, and symbols, and types, by which God was. speaking to men. Most of the Old Testament teaching seems to have been parabolical. The prophets constantly employed parables and emblems; indeed, they were not only in the habit of throwing truth into the parabolic and emblematic form, but also into the histrionic. Many condemn anything like the histrionic in preaching; I mean by that term, the acting visibly, using signs and tokens which bring the truth to the eye as well as to the ear. The prophets made use of that method very largely. We find Jeremiah commanded by the Lord to make bonds and yokes, and. to put them upon his neck, and afterwards to send them to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, as an emblem of their servitude to the king of Babylon. Ezekiel also was bidden to take a the, and portray upon it; the city of Jerusalem, “and lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and east a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.” He was also told to take an iron pan, or plate, and set it up between himself and the city, to show after what style it would be besieged. All this was to be, “:a sign to the house of Israel.” I need not stay to mention the many forms in which the prophets were continually instructing God’s ancient people by signs, and symbols, and emblems, and parables. If you were to take a flower into the pulpit, and especially if you were to exhibit a pair of scales, as Matthew Wilks did, you would be put into the newspapers, and be pilloried for weeks; but the prophets were divinely commanded to act as they did, and they therefore obeyed the Word of the Lord, what, ever men might think or say of their action.
Similes were also largely employed by our Lord himself. He put truth into such a form as would be most likely to arrest the attention of men, and touch their hard hearts, and reach their seared consciences; he taught scarcely anything to the great mass of the people except by this method of instruction: “without a parable spake he not unto them.” After the close of his open-air addresses to the multitudes, his disciples came to him, and he opened up to them the inner meaning of his public discourses, and gave them deeper spiritual truth than his ordinary hearers were able or willing to receive. We may conclude, therefore, from our Lord’s use of the parable, that it is a most important mode of teaching, and we cannot do better than employ it ourselves wherever and whenever we can.
If any of you want to find a good article upon emblematic teaching, and especially upon the parables, you should readTRENCH’ S “Introductory Essay” to his Notes on the Parables of our Lord (John W. Parker & Son).
There you will see how he draws a distinction between the parable and the fable, the parable and the mythus, the parable and the proverb, and the parable and the allegory; and he draws these distinctions, I think, with very great wisdom and sense. Much more might be said upon the matter; but there is quite sufficient in what he has written for a preface to a book on our Savior’s parables, and there is much that it will be well for all students of the various modes of speech thoroughly to understand. Trench’s conclusion puts the whole matter in such a concise form that I venture to read it to you: — “To sum up all, then, the parable differs from the fable, moving as it does in a spiritual world, and never transgressing the actual order of things natural; — from the mythus, there being in the latter an unconscious blending of the deeper meaning with the outward symbol, the two remaining separate and separable in the parable; — from the proverb, inasmuch as it is longer carried out, and not merely accidentally and occasionally, but necessarily figurative; — from the allegory, comparing as it does one thing with another, but, at the same time, preserving them apart as an inner and an outer, and not transferring, as does the allegory, the properties and qualities and relations of one to the other.”
These distinctions are so well drawn that I really need add very little to them by way of introduction to our subject this afternoon. You know that the mythus, or myth, works the parable so into itself that, while the more learned and thoughtful understand the meaning, the common people generally accept the outside form as being matter of fact. For instance, the old heathens believed that Phaeton obtained leave from his father Helios to drive the chariot of the sun, and that he drove it in such an exceedingly reckless manner, that: he lost all control over the horses, and nearly set the world on fire, and he would have done so if Jupiter had not hurled his thunderbolts at him, upset his chariot, and destroyed the furious driver in the fiery river Eridanus! But that is not the lesson intended to be taught by the mythical story; it is meant to show how’ many a young man, without skill, has attempted to govern a nation, and brought it into inextricable difficulties; or it is an illustration of how, sometimes, a mere novice has become the teacher and pastor of a Christian church, and before long he has tried to drive the chariot of the sun, but has been hurled flora it, and, if God has not mercifully prevented such a calamity, to his own destruction, and also to the ruin of the little community of which he tried to be the charioteer.
The mythus, you see, makes the outside covering appear as if it were a fact instead of a fiction, and so misleads rather than instructs the people, except it be the initiated, who pierce through the shell, and get at the kernel, the truth that is concealed from the multitude.
As for the allegory, which is another form of the same kind of emblematic teaching, that explains itself as it goes on. It personifies this and that, and makes qualities into persons; and as it proceeds, it gradually opens itself up to the hearer or reader, the explanation and the outside garb keeping side by side. Allegories are extended parables; sometimes they are parables developed in the more minute points. They are the branches of a great railway, while the parable is the grand trunk line of metaphorical thought and teaching.
You can use allegories sparingly in preaching; but I should not advise you to give your hearers all of those that have been delivered even in the pulpit in the olden times. I think every one of you should readEDMUND SPENSER’ S Faerie Queene, and you ought to be able to quote those verses in which he allegorizes all the vices of mankind. There are some lines there, which, if you can transform them from their somewhat grotesque shape, will be worth repeating as long as you live; they are masterly delineation’s of the vices of which men have been guilty. There is one part where the chariot of sin is represented as being dragged along by “ six unequal beasts”, “a slothful ass “, “a filthy swine”, “a bearded goat”, “a camel loaden all with gold”, “a ravenous wolf”, and “a lion, loth for to be led,” on which ride Idleness, Gluttony, Lechery, Avarice, Envy, and Wrath. Just as specimens, let me give you the stanzas concerning Envy and Wrath, and the description of the diabolical wagoner whom Spenser represents as driving this dreadful team: — XXX. “And next to him malicious Envy rode Upon a ravenous wolf, and still did chaw Between his canker’d teeth a venomous toad, That all the poison ran about his chaw; But inwardly he chawed his own maw At neighbors’ wealth, that made him ever sad; For death it was when any good he saw; And wept that cause of weeping none he had But when he heard of harm, he waxed wondrous glad.
XXXI. “All in a kirtle of discolour’d say He clothed was, ypainted full of eyes; And in his bosom secretly there lay A hateful snake, the which his tail uptyes: In many folds, and mortal sting implyes: Still as he rode, he gnasht his teeth to see Those heaps of gold with griple Covetise; And grudged at the great felicity Of proud Lucifera, and his own company.
XXXII. “He hated all good works and virtuous deeds, And him no less, that any like did use; And, who with gracious bread the hungry feeds, His alms for want of faith he doth accuse; So every good to bad he doth abuse:
And eke the verse of famous poets’ wit He does backbite, and spiteful poison spues From leprous mouth on all that ever writ:
Such one vile Envy was, that fifth in row did sit.
XXXIII. “And him beside rides fierce revenging Wrath, Upon a lion, loth for to be led; And in his hand a burning brand he hath, The which he brandisheth about his head:
His eyes did hurl forth sparkles fiery red, And stared stern on all that him beheld; As ashes pale of hue, and seeming dead; And on his dagger still his hand he held, Trembling through hasty rage, when choler in him swell’d.
XXXIV. “His ruffin raiment all was stained with blood Which he had spilt, and all to rags yrent; Through unadvised rashness waxen wood; For of his hands he had no government, Ne cared for blood in his avengement:
But when the furious fit was overpast, His cruel facts he often would repent; Yet, wilful man, he never would forecast, How many mischiefs should ensue his heedless haste.
XXXV. “Full many mischiefs follow cruel Wrath; Abhorred Bloodshed, and tumultuous Strife, Unmanly Murder, and unthrifty Scath, Bitter Despite, with Rancour’s rusty knife; And fretting Grief, the enemy of life:
All these, and many evils more haunt Ire, The swelling Spleen, and Frenzy raging rife, The shaking Palsy, and Saint Francis’ fire; Such one was Wrath, the last of this ungodly tire. ft15 XXXVI. “And, after all, upon the waggon beam Rode Satan, with a smarting whip in hand, With which he forward lasht the lazy team, So oft as Sloth still in the mire did stand.
Huge routs of people did about them band, Shouting for joy; and still before their way A foggy mist had cover’d all the land; And, underneath their feet, all scatter’d lay Dead skulls and bones of men, whose life had gone astray.” I do not think it is very easy to do this allegorizing, and all who have attempted it have not succeeded at it. t have now and then tried it myself, and some of you may recollect a sermon of mine on “Things that Accompany Salvation” (No. 152), which consisted of an allegory under the form of a procession. You can study the sermon for yourselves; but I will give you a few extracts from it, so that you may see how I felt moved of God to set forth his truth on that particular occasion: — “I sat myself down, and I meditated on this subject, — ‘Things that Accompany Salvation.’ And after some period of rumination, my thoughts assumed the form of an allegory; in which I hope to present them to you this morning. I compared Salvation to a rich and costly treasure, which God, in his infinite love and mercy, had determined to send into the world; and I remembered that our Lord Jesus was so much interested in the bringing of this Salvation to this earth, that he did send all that he had, and came himself to attend and to accompany this Salvation. I then pictured to myself a great march of bright ones through this land, carrying in their midst the sacred jewel of Salvation. I looked upward, and I saw a mighty vanguard, who have already attained the shores of Eternity. I looked around Salvation, and I saw it always attended with divers graces and virtues, which seemed to be like troops of soldiers to guard it in the van, about its flanks, and in the rear ... “Picture then to yourselves the march of some ancient monarch through his territory. We read stories of Eastern potentates, in the olden time, that seem more like romance than reality; when they marched with thousands of flying banners, and with all kinds of riches home in their train. Now you are to take that as the basis of my figure, and suppose Salvation to be the sacred treasure which is being carried through the world, with guards before, and guards behind, to accompany it on its journey. “We will begin, then, with the advance-guard that has accompanied Salvation, or rather, gone before it. We shall then come to those who immediately precede it, and then we shall notice those who accompany it by its side, and conclude by noticing the rear guard attending upon this Salvation of our God. “ I. First, then, IN THE MARCHES OF TROOPS AND ARMIES, THERE ARE SOME THAT ARE OUTRIDERS, AND GO FAR AHEAD OF THE OTHER TROOPS. So, in the march of Salvation, there is a certain body of great and mighty ‘things that accompany Salvation’, which have far preceded it: to clear the way. I will tell you the names of these stupendous Titans who have gone before.
The first is Election; the second is Predestination; and the third is Redemption; and the Covenant is the captain of them all. Before Salvation came into this world, Election marched in the very forefront, and it had for its work the billetting of Salvation. Election went through the world, and marked the houses to which Salvation should come, and the hearts in which the treasure should be deposited. Election looked through all the race of man, from Adam down to the last, and marked with sacred stamp those for whom Salvation was designed. ‘He must needs go through Samaria,’ said Election; and Salvation must go there. Then came Predestination. Predestination did not merely mark the house, but it mapped the road in which Salvation should travel to that house; Predestination ordained every step of the great army of Salvation; it ordained the time when the sinner should be brought to Christ, the manner how he should be saved, the means that should be employed; it marked the exact hour and moment when God the Spirit should quicken the dead in sin, and when peace and pardon should be spoken through the blood of Jesus. Predestination marked the way so completely, that Salvation doth never overstep the bounds, and it is never at a loss for the road. In ‘the everlasting decree of the Sovereign God, the footsteps of Mercy were every one of them ordained. As nothing in this world revolves by chance, — as even the foreknown station of a rush by the river is as fixed as the throne of a king, — it was not meet that Salvation should be left to chance; and therefore God has mapped the place where it should pitch its tent, the number of its footsteps to that tent, and the time when it should arrive there. Then came Redemption. The way was rough; and though Election had marked the house, and Predestination had mapped the road, the way was so impeded that Salvation could not travel it until it had been cleared.
Forth came Redemption; it had but one weapon, that weapon was the all- victorious cross of Christ. There stood the mountains of our sins; Redemption smote them, and they split in halves, and left a valley for the Lord’s redeemed to march through. There was the great gulf of God’s offended wrath; Redemption bridged it with the cross, and so left an everlasting pathway by which the armies of the Lord may pass over.
Redemption has tunneled every mountain, it has dried up every sea, cut down every forest, leveled every high hill, and filled up all the valleys, so that the road of Salvation is now plain and simple. God can be just, and yet the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.
Now, this sacred advance-guard carried for their banner the Eternal Covenant. Election, Predestination, and Redemption, — the things that have gone before, beyond the sight, are all rallied to the battle by this standard, the Covenant, the Everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things and sure. We know and believe that, before the morning star startled the shades of darkness, God had covenanted with his Son that he should die and pay a ransom price, and that, on God the Father’s part, he would give to Jesus a number whom no man could number,’ who should be purchased by his blood, and through that blood should be most securely saved. Now, when Election marches forward, it carries the Covenant. These are chosen in the Covenant of grace. When Predestination marcheth, and when it marketh out the way of Salvation, it proclaims the Covenant. ‘He marked out the places of the people according to the tribes of Israel.’ And Redemption also, pointing to the precious blood of Christ, claims Salvation for the blood-bought ones, because the Covenant hath decreed it to be theirs. ‘But, my dear hearers, this advance-guard is so far ahead that you and I cannot see them. These are true doctrines, but very mysterious; they are beyond our sight; and if we wish to see Salvation, we must not stop until we see the vanguard, because they are so far off that only the eye of faith can reach them. We must have that sacred glass, that divine telescope of faith, or else we shall never have ‘the evidence of things not seen.’ Let us rest certain, however, that if we have Salvation, we have Election. He that believeth is elected; whoever casts himself on Christ as a guilty sinner, is certainly God’s chosen child. As surely as ever you believe on the Savior, and go to him, you were predestinated to do so from all eternity; and your faith is the great mark and evidence that you are chosen of God, and precious in his esteem. Dost thou ‘believe? Then Election is thine. Dost thou believe? Then Predestination is as surely thine as thou art alive. Dost thou trust alone in Jesus? Then fear not; Redemption was meant for thee.
So then, we will not be struck with terror at that grand advance-guard that hath already gained the celestial hill, and hath prepared the place where the elect shall for ever repose upon the bosom of their God. “ III. And now comes SALVATION IN ALL ITS FULNESS. The ‘things that accompany Salvation’ make a glorious march in the forefront of it, — from Election down to these precious opening buds of virtue in the sinner’s heart. What a goodly army! Surely, the angels do sometimes fly along in admiration, to see this bright array that heralds Salvation to the heart. And now comes the precious casket set with gems and jewels. It is of God-like workmanship; no hammer was ever lifted on it; it was smitten out and fashioned upon the anvil of Eternal light, and cast in the mould of Everlasting Wisdom; but no human hand hath ever defiled it, and it is set with jewels so unutterably precious, that if heaven and earth were sold they could never buy another Salvation! “And who are those that are close around it? There are three sweet sisters that always have the custody of the treasure; you know them, their names are common in Scripture, — Faith, Hope, and Love, the three divine sisters; these have Salvation in their bowels, and do carry it about with them in their loins. Faith, that layeth hold on Christ, and trusteth all in him; that ventureth everything upon his blood and sacrifice, and hath no other trust. Hope, that with beaming eye looks up to Jesus Christ in glory, and expects him soon to come; looks downward, and when she sees grim Death in her way, expects that she shall pass through with victory. And thou sweet Love , the brightest of the three; she, whose words are music, and whose eyes are stars; Love also looks to Christ, and is enamoured of him; loves him in all his offices, adores his presence, reverences his words; and is prepared to bind her body to the stake, and die for him who bound his body to the cross to die for her. Sweet Love, God hath well chosen to commit to thee the custody of the sacred work! Faith, Hope, and Love, — say, sinner, hast thou these three, Dost thou believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Dost thou hope that through the efficacy of his merits thou shalt see thy Makers face with joy? Dost thou love him? Have you these three graces? If so, you have Salvation. Having that, you are rich to all intents of bliss; for God in the Covenant is yours. Cast your eye forward; remember, Election is yours, Predestination and Sovereign Decree are both yours.
Remember, the terrors of the law are past; the broken heart is healed; the: comforts of religion you have already received; the spiritual graces are already in the bud; you are an heir of immortality, and for you there is a glorious future. These are the ‘things that accompany Salvation.’ “ IV. Now you must have patience with me for just a few more minutes; I MUST BRING UP THE REAR GUARD. It is impossible that, with such a vanguard, grace should be unattended from behind. Now see those that know Salvation. As there were four bright cherubs that walked in front of it, — you remember still their names, — Humility, Repentance, Prayer, and a tender Conscience, — there are four that follow it, and march in solemn pomp into the sinner’s heart. The first of these is Gratitude, always singing, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.’
And then Gratitude lays hold upon its son’s hand; the name of that son is Obedience. ‘O my Master,’ saith the; heart, ‘thou hast done so much for me; I will obey thee.’ In company with this fair grace is one called Consecration, — a pure, white spirit that hath no earthliness; from its head to its foot it is all God’s, and all gold. Linked to this bright one, is one called Knowledge, with a face serene and solemn ... “’Now, have you these four? They are rather the successors of Salvation than the heralds of it. ‘Oh, yes,’ the believer can say, ‘I trust I have Gratitude, Obedience, Consecration, and Knowledge!’ I will not weary you, but there are three shining ones that follow after these four, and I must not forget them, for they are the flower of them all. There is Zeal, with eyes of fire, and heart of flame, a tongue that burneth, a hand that never wearies, and limbs that never tire; Zeal, that flies round the world with wings swifter than the lightning’s flash, and finds even then her flight too tardy for her wish; Zeal, ever ready to obey, resigning up herself for Christ, zealously affected always in a good thing. This Zeal always dwells near one that is called Communion. This, surely, is the goodliest of all the train; an angel spiritualized, an angel purified and made yet more angelic, is Communion. Communion calls in secret on its God; its God in secret sees.
It is conformed to the image of Jesus; walks according to his footsteps, and lays its head perpetually on his bosom. And, as a necessary consequence, on the other side of Communion, which with one hand lays hold of Zeal, is Joy, joy in the Spirit; Joy, that hath an eye more flashing than the world’s merrimemt ever gave to mortal beauty, with light foot tripping over hills of sorrow, singing, in the roughest ways, of faithfulness and love. Joy, like the nightingale, sings in the dark, and can praise God in the tempest, and shout his high praises in the storm. This is indeed a fitting cherub to be in the rear of Salvation. “I have almost done. Just in the rear is Perseverance, final, certain, and sure. Then there follows complete Sanctification, whereby the soul is purged from every sin, and made as white and pure as God himself Now we have come to the very rear of the army; but remember, as there was an advance guard so far ahead that we could not see them, so there is a rear guard so far behind that we cannot behold them yet. Let us just try to see them with the eye of faith...Hark, I hear the silver trumpet sound; there is a glorious array behind! A guard, far, far back, is coming, following the steps of the conquering heroes, that have already swept our sins away. Do you not see, in the fore part, there is one, whom men paint as a skeleton? Look at him; he is not the king of terrors. I know thee, Death, I know thee.; miserably have men belied thee. Thou art no spectre; thine hand bears no dart; thou art not gaunt and frightful. I know thee, thou bright cherub: thou hast not in thy hand a dart, but a golden key that unlocks the gates of Paradise. Thou art fair to look upon, thy wings are like the wings of doves, covered with silver, and like yellow gold. Behold this angel Death, and his successor Resurrection. I see three bright beings coming; one is called Confidence, see it I It looks at Death; no fear is in its eye, no pallor on its brow. See, holy Confidence marches with steady steps; the cold chill stream of Death doth not freeze its blood. See, behind it, its brother, Victory; hear him, as he cries, ‘O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?’ The last word, ‘victory ‘, is drowned amidst the shouts of angels. These bring up the rear. Angels bear the spirits of the redeemed into the bosom of the Savior, — “Far from a world of grief and sin, With God eternally shut in, They are for ever blest.’” JOHN SPENCER, in his Things New and Old, which I recommended to you in my last lecture, has some curious allegories. There is one which,. I had almost said, is enough to make a cat laugh; and therefore I should hardly recommend you to use it. Indeed, the common handling of allegories is a somewhat delicate matter, and wants more sense than a fool has, or than most of us are ever likely to have. Here are two of Spencer’s allegories:- HOW IT IS THAT TRUTH DOTS NOT ALWAYS APPEAR. “Time was when Truth lived in great honor; but, through the envy of her enemies, she was disgraced, and at last banished out of the city, where, sitting upon a dunghill, sad and discontented, she espied a chariot, attended with a great troop, coming towards her.
She presently perceived who it was, her greatest enemy, the Lady Lie, clad in changeable-colored taffety, her coach covered with clouds of all the colors of the rainbow. Impudency and Hypocrisy were on the one side, Slander and Detraction on the other, as attendants; Perjury ushered all along; and many (more than a good many) were in the train. When she came to Truth, she commanded her to be carried as a captive, for the greater triumph. At night, she fared well, and would want nothing; but when morning came, she would be gone, and pay for nothing, affirming she had paid the reckoning over-night. The attendants, upon examination of the matter, justified their lady; only Truth confessed there was nothing paid, and was therefore compelled to pay for all. The next night, the lady did the like; but, withal, committed a great outrage, and being for the same brought before the judge, Impudency and Hypocrisy began to justify their lady, Perjury cleared her, Slander and Detraction laid all the fault on poor Truth, who must now suffer death for that she never did. The judge demands what she had to say for herself; she could say nothing but, ‘Not guilty;’ neither had she any friend that would plead for her. At last, up steps Time, a graves experienced counsellor, and an eloquent advocate, and desires favor of the court to sift and search out the matter a little better, lest the innocent might suffer for the innocent. The motion was granted. Then Time began to expel the clouds from the lady’s chariot, unmasked her ugly face, unveiled all her followers, and made it appear at last that the Lady Lie was guilty of all the villany; and poor Truth was thus, by the help of Time, cleared, and set at large. “And thus it is that, though Truth is great, and will prevail at last, yet it doth not always appear, but may fall down in the street (Isaiah 59:14), and be trampled under foot for a time; may be abused, banished and made to come behind lies and falsehood, — yea, be executed and buried, — when it cannot have time to clear itself until it be too late to save it. Hence it is that the apostle doth not say, ‘Now remaineth Truth,’ because Truth is often banished, but, ‘Now remaineth Faith, Hope, and Charity,’ (1 Corinthians 13:13,) graces which give a being to every Christian, of which sort Truth manifested is none; for I can believe in Christ, hope for heaven, and love my enemies, though I be belied; but without these I can be no Christian.”
THE HONOUR AND DIGNITY OF THE MINISTRY.
“There is a story how the Castle of Truth being, by the King of Jerusalem, left to the guard and keeping of his best servant, Zeal, the King of Arabia, with an infinite host, came against it, begirt it round with an irresistible siege, cut off all passages, all reliefs, all hopes of friends, meat, or ammunition; which Zeal perceiving, and seeing how extremity had brought him almost to shake hands with despair, he calls his council of wax about him, and discovers the sadness of his condition, the strength of his enemy, the violence of the siege, and the impossibility of conveying either messages or letters to the Great King, his Master, from whom they might receive new strength and encouragement. Whereupon, the necessity of the occasion being so great, they all conclude there was no way but to deliver the castle, — though upon very hard terms, — into the hands of the enemy. But Zeal staggers at the resolution, and being loth to lose hope, as long as hope had any thread or hair to hold by, he told them he had one friend or companion in the castle, who was so wise, so valiant, and so fortunate, that to him and to his exploits alone he would deliver the management of their safety.
This was Prayer, the chaplain to the Great King, and the priest to that colony. Hence Prayer was called, and all proceedings debated; he presently arms himself with humility, clemency, sincerity, and fervency, and. in despite of the enemy, makes his way through, comes to the King his Master, and with such moving passions enters his ears, that presently forces are levied, which, returning under the conduct of Prayer, raise the siege, overthrow the King of Arabia, make spoil of his camp, and give to the Castle of Truth her first noble liberty; which performed, Zeal crowns Prayer with wreaths of olive, oak, and laurel, sets him on his right hand, and says, for his sakes divinity shall ever march in the first rank of honor. “And certainly, ministers of God’s Word, such as apply their spirits most to the glory of God, and the public, — especially such divines as are Timothys in their houses, Chrysostoms in their pulpits, and Augustines in disputations; such as are just in their words, wise in their counsels; such as are vigilant, diligent, and faithful in the execution of their plans, — who, that is not royal, should seek in honor to precede them?”
If you want some capital allegories, that will do you good to read, buy a book which Messrs. Jackson, Walford, and Hodder have brought out lately. It is called The Angel of The Water Brooks, and contains a very admirable set of allegories, mostly for children. “The Angel of the Water Brooks” is the name given to the book because that is the title of the first parable in it.
Insert extract: — It shows the power of God’s grace, like a mighty Gulf Stream, destroying the sinner’s evil nature. Many of the parables am equally good, and bring out religious truth with great force.
Coming now to my main purpose, and beginning my list of books of emblems, etc., I will first speak of fables: In my opinion, the fable may be used by us in our public teaching. The object of the fable is earth-born; it teaches generally some earthly maxim, some piece of worldly wisdom, sometimes, mere low cunning and selfish policy. This being the soul of the fable, the body of it is congruous thereto, for it is generally a concoction of dialogues between animals, beasts, birds, fishes, stones, and I know not what besides. The pure fable hardly does for use in the pulpit; it is a distortion of nature, which is all very well as a guide with regard to policy among men, but it will not do for teaching our hearers the truths of the Bible. I do not say that the fable lies, for there is no intention whatever to deceive in it. I should suppose that nobody was ever deluded into the belief that the cock in the fable ever did speak to the bull, or that the fox ever did make those sage remarks about the grapes. But, still, the form of the fable is not that of strict truth, and hence it is not as a rule adapted to the use of the Christian minister, who soars aloft to higher themes than those which the fable is calculated to embellish or explain. Yet there is, I believe, a book published, showing how Aesop’s fables can be spiritualized; and there are several in which the morals of the fables are applied in various ways. Dr. Martin Luther, who is a great authority, says that he values Aesop’s fables next to his Bible; and that what the Bible is to heavenly things, Aesop’s fables are.’ to the earthly. That is what he thinks, and his opinion ought to carry great weight, for he was no mean judge of what was useful to a preacher.
Aesop was the earliest writer of fables of whom we know; he is said to have been born at Sardis, a city of Lydia, in the year 620 B.C., though it is alleged by some writers that he was a Phrygian, or a Thracian, or a Samian, while others deny that such a person ever lived, and regard him as only a mythological character. There are a great many of his fables which can be used by us because they are not fables at all; they are only fables in their form and shape, and a very little alteration turns them into parables at once.
Let me read one or two to show you that it is so: — THE BOWMAN AND THE LION. “ A very skillful Bowman went to the mountains in search of game.
All. the beasts of the forest fled at his approach. The Lion alone challenged him to combat. The Bowman immediately let fly an arrow, and said to the Lion: ‘I send thee my messenger, that from him thou mayest learn what I myself shall be when I assail thee.’
The Lion, thus wounded, rushed away in great fear, and on a Fox exhorting him to be of a good courage, and not to run away at the first attack, he replied: You counsel me in vain; for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I abide the attack of the man himself?’” ‘Well, now, there is a truth about that fable; if we cannot stand against the arrows, how can we expect to overcome the battle-axe of the warrior? If we cannot bear sickness, which comes as the arrow from the bow of God, we cannot possibly resist the might of God himself. If an affliction, which God sends as a dart from his hand, pricks and wounds the heart so terribly, what must be the power of God when he himself shall come to deal in judgment with the offending sinner? ]Perhaps you have already perceived that the reason why this fable is so easily accommodated to Scriptural truth is that, at the basis of it, it is not really a fable, it is a matter of fact. A lion might feel, when shot by an arrow, which wounded him in the eye, for instance, that there was some very powerful enemy attacking him, and he would probably make the best of his way to escape from so great a foe.
There is really no need to introduce a fox, or a word from the bowman, or from the lion himself. At the basis of the fable there lies a general fact, and hence you get it formed into a parable. Others of Aesop’s fables, to use an Irishism, are not fables at all. This one is no fable: — THE FLIES AND THE HONEY-POT. “A jar of Honey having been upset in a housekeeper’s room, a number of Flies were attracted by its sweetness, and, placing their feet in. it, ate it greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the honey, that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed, ‘O foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves!’” The only fable in that is that the flies are made to speak. You have only to divest it of the personification, and you get the fact that the flies, for the sake of a few moments’ pleasure in eating the honey, threw away their lives, and you have there a parable which you can easily turn to good account.
I have found, as the result of long observation in looking over books of fables, that when you read a fable that is not really a fable, you have a parable that is serviceable in the Christian ministry. Therefore, study Aesop’s fables thoroughly, and sometimes work them into your discourses.
This one, also, is not a fable: — THE BOY BATHING. “A Boy, bathing in a river, was in danger of being drowned. He called out to a Traveller, passing by, for help. The traveler, instead of holding out a helping hand, stood by unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his imprudence. ‘Oh, sir!’ the youth cried, ‘pray help me now, and scold me afterwards.’” You do not need me to t. ell you that there are some preachers who are always admonishing the sinner, who may well cry out, ‘You had better preach Jesus Christ to me, and scold me after, wards.” What a scolding a truly enlightened conscience gives its possessor concerning the sins of the past! “I know they are forgiven, But still their pain to me, Is all the grief and anguish They laid, my Lord, on thee.” To talk about doctrinal difficulties, or to upbraid the sinner for his mistakes, will be out of season when he is seeking the Saviour; but to give him the plan of salvation, to exhort him to lay hold on eternal life, that is your present work.
Then there is that famous parable about “The North Wind and the Sun “, which is no fable: — “The North Wind and the Sun disputed which was the more powerful,, and agreed that he should be declared the victor who could first strip a wayfaring man of his clothes. The North Wind first tried his power, and blew with all his might; but the keener his blasts became, the closer the Traveller wrapped his cloak around him; till, at last, resigning all hope of victory, he called upon the Sun to see what he could do. The Sun suddenly shone out with all his warmth; and the Traveller no sooner felt his genial rays, than he took off one garment after another, and at last, fairly overcome with heat, undressed, and bathed in a stream that lay in his path.” ‘The sun was the conqueror, showing that it is love that wins the heart.
This parable can readily be spiritualized, and used to show that, while the winds and tornadoes of the Law may sometimes tear away a traveler’s cloak, far oftener they make him hug his sins, and bind his selfrighteousness more tightly around bin,, while the gentleness and love of Jesus Christ disarm the man, and make him cast away both his sins and his self-righteousness. “Law and terrors do but harden, All the while they work alone; But a sense of blood-bought pardon Soon dissolves a heart of stone.” Here is another of Aesop’s parables which is no fable: — THE OAK AND THE REEDS. “A very large Oak was uprooted by the wind, and thrown across a stream. It fell among some Reeds, which it thus addressed: ‘I wonder how you, who are light and weak, are not entirely crushed by these strong winds.’ They replied, ‘You fight and contend with the wind, and consequently you are destroyed while we: on the contrary, bend before the least breath of air, and therefore remain unbroken, and escape.’” There is no fable there, if you leave out the talking of the reeds and the oak; it is a matter of fact that the oak does fall because it will not yield to the storm, while the reeds bend to flue. breeze, and are not broken. We must either \.end or break: and blessed are they who know how to bend in submission to the will of God, singing with Faber, — “I bow me go thy will, O God, And all thy ways adore; And every day I live I’ll seek To please thee more and more.” This also is a parable more than a fable THE BOY AND THE FILBERTS. “A Boy put his hand into a pitcher full of Filberts. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold; but when he endeavored to pull out his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the neck of the pitcher. Unwilling to lose his filberts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears, and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said to him, ‘Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you will readily draw out your hand.’” This is a fact that has often occurred, and it shows how vain is covetousness, and how impossible it is for a greedy boy or a covetous man to be happy. You know how you can attempt too much, and really not do anything; or grasp too much, and so lose everything.
Here are two more of Aesop’s fables that are not fables: — THE THIRSTY PIGEON. “A Pigeon, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water painted on a sign-board. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew towards it with a loud whim, and unwittingly dashed against the sign-board, and jarred herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders.”
THE OXEN AND THE AXLE-TREES.
“A heavy Waggon was being dragged along a country lane by a team of Oxen. The Axle-trees groaned and creaked terribly; when the Oxen, turning round, thus addressed the wheels: ‘Hulloa there! why do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not you, ought to cry out.’” So much, then, for one book, Aesop’s Fables, which will be a storehouse of illustration to you if you use it discreetly.
Amongst modem makers of fables, — fables proper, and fables improper, in the sense of not being fables, but parables, — you haveMRS.PROSSER.
A famous woman that I You can get her book, Original Fables and Sketches, of the Religious Tract Society. Her little fables appeared, week by week, in The Leisure Hour. Take this one, which, I think, is a very beautiful parable: — THE COMPLAINT OF THE EAST WIND. “’Why do you shrink from me?’ said the east wind, angrily, to the flowers. “The primrose, for answer, crept under its leaves; the snowdrop, bending lower, laid her head sadly on the earth; the opening buds closed again, and the young and tender green leaves curled up, looking dry and withered. “Why do you fly from me? ‘said the east wind, reproachfully, to the birds. “For answer, the chaffinch fluttered into a bush; the warblers kept close to their half-made nests; the robin hid under the window-sill; and the sparrows huddled into their holes. “’Ungrateful,’ howled the east wind. ‘Do I not fill the sails of treasure-ships, that bring balmy spices, shining merchandise, and all the precious gifts of far-off lands? The gold and the silver, the gems of the earth and of the ocean, are they not wafted by me to these shores? Yet love never greets me. I find a barren land and a reproachful silence wherever I come: “’Ah, my stern brother!’ replied the sun, struggling for a moment through a leaden sky, tread aright the reason of your reception.
Who brings the piercing blast and destructive blight? Who hides the azure of the heavens, and dims the beauty of the earth? Who tries to veil me with impenetrable gloom, so that I can no longer bid the world rejoice? Is not this your work? Riches you may bring, but the gifts of your hand cannot atone for your harsh voice and unloving nature. Your presence inspires terror, while it spreads desolation; and where fear is, love is never seen.’” There, again, as in the case of Aesop, the only fable is in the talking of the east wind and the sun; for it is a well-known fact that the east wind is highly objectionable both to man and beast, and probably also to flowers and birds. A spiritual truth might well be brought out of that fable or parable, showing the power of love, and the weakness of fear and tenor, even when combined with the most substantial excellences.
That is a very simple but good parable of Mrs. Presser’s, where she illustrates the evil of quarrelling in Christian churches, or anywhere else: — THE LEMONS AND THE SODA. “’We could soon finish you up,’ said some lemons to a bottle of carbonate of soda. “’ I could soon take the taste out of you,’ answered the soda. “’ Let us try our strength,’ said the lemons. “’With all my heart,’ said the soda; and to work they went, trying with all their might to extinguish each other; fizz — went the lemons; fizz — went the soda; and they went on fizzing till there was nothing of either of them left, and only a nauseous puddle showed where the fight had been.”
You observe that, here also, there is really no fable; at the bottom, it is a matter of fact. The fable is only in the conversation, the personification, the allegorizing of the thing. Soda and lemons do leave nothing as the result of their fizzing; and hence you can take off the wings of the fable, and turn it to good practical account in Christian instruction.
Among the books of emblems which ought to be very useful to you is
AUSTEN on Fruit Trees. I will read you the title-page of the original edition: — The Spiritual Use of an Orchard or Garden of Fruit Trees, Held Forth in Divers Similitudes between Natural and Spiritual Fruit Trees, according to Scripture and Experience; by Ralph Austen, Practiser in the Art of Planting. Under this long title is rather a curious illustration of a garden, and various implements used in husbandry, surrounded by this motto:—“A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse . . . Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits.” Austen was not a preacher; but a gardener, a planter of fruit trees. This work is a first-rate book upon how to plant fruit trees, how to trim them, and all that relates to such employment; but the part we have to do with is the portion in which, the author spiritualizes fruit trees. The book bears the imprimatur of Dr. John Owen, “Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, August 2, 1656;” and that fact alone should be a sufficient guarantee of its quality. Mr. Austen appears to have been a good and, who had passed through a very trying spiritual experience, and who was therefore all the better qualified to be a teacher of others.
In the “Address to the Reader”, recommending this work, “Stephen Ford, Pastor of a Church of Christ in Chippin-Norton,” Writes as follows: — “Concerning the author of the following observations, and similitudes. whatever carnal men, or the pride of spiritual men may object (as who that is zealous, and active for God, can escape the censures of some men), it evidently appears to me that the Spirit of God hath carried him on in this work. Reject not the work because it is not done by a public minister of the gospel, for many private experienced Christians have been (in this way) very profitable to the Church of God; these are the last times, wherein God fulfils his great gospel promise, in pouring out his Spirit upon all flesh; and those whom God intends for special service he prepares them for it by some special preparations. I have seen a large, particular relation, composed by this author, of God’s dealings with him for many years together; wherein it appears that God began betimes with him, early, even the first hour of the day: and he hath been exercised with many temptations from his youth up; having passed through the spirit of bondage early in the morning, and by degrees came to close with Christ, and to attain a comfortable assurance of his interest in him: but afterwards, even about the middle of the day (upon the Spirit’s withdrawing, and God’s hiding of his face for some gracious ends), he fell into a long and sad desertion, passing through the valley of the shadow of death, the pains of hell gat hold upon him, and that in an extraordinary way and measure; but God (by degrees) lifted him up out of the deep pit, out of the mire and clay, and set: his feet upon a rock, and hath put a new song into his mouth, and made him active for God in his generation. As for his following labors, I doubt not but God will make them very useful and profitable to the people of God: what is more helpful to the understanding, and remembering of spiritual things, than plain and pregnant similitudes of things which we are daily conversant with (all these being also enlarged upon by him, and improved to spiritual ends and advantages)?”
Austen’s own Preface is so exceedingly good, and contains so many metaphors and figurative expressions, that I must give you a few extracts from it: — “When we have gone through all the works and labors to be performed in the orchard, and have received thereby a rich recompense of temporal profits and pleasures in the use of the trees and fruits, we may (besides all that)make a spiritual use of them, and receive more and greater profits and pleasures thereby. Men are not wont to stint themselves at worldly profits; but why are they not willing to receive all kinds of profits, or why are they not willing to receive the greatest and best? Should a man choose, and prefer a glass bead or toy before some precious and rich jewel, would he not be censured for a foolish man? How much more foolish and unwise is he that seeks after temporal profits, and neglects spiritual and eternal? Therefore, be careful to make a spiritual improvement of fruit trees. “The world is a great library, and fruit trees are some of the books wherein we may read and see plainly the attributes of God, his power, wisdom, goodness, etc., and be instructed and taught our duty towards him in many things, even from fruit trees: for as trees (in a metaphorical sense) are books, so likewise, in the same sense, they have a voice, and speak plainly to us, and teach us many good lessons. “As I have planted many thousands of natural fruit trees for the good’ of the commonwealth, so also I have taken some spiritual scions or grafts from them (I mean several propositions drawn from observations in nature, which are somewhat branched forth into boughs and twigs), and bound them up, and sent them abroad for the good of the Church of God: and if men will but accept of them, and be content to have-them engrafted in their own gardens (their hearts and minds), by the Husbandman’s watering of them by his Spirit, they will grow, and bloom, and bear much good fruit, here and for ever; fruits of faith, love, joy, peace, and other fruits of the Spirit, bunches of grapes, for the feeding and, refreshing of our souls as we travel through the wilderness, and the increase of our glory hereafter in Canaan to all eternity. “Which improvement the Great Husbandman grant unto thee, together with “Thy servant in the Lord, “RA.AUSTEN.”
Some years ago, I bought a considerable number of these books,. and sold them very cheaply to the students; but if any gentleman here would like a copy, I cannot supply him, for I have none of them left now. You are as likely to meet with it in the old form as in the new; and if you get it, you ought to prize it for the abundant parables it contains. You will find that the old Puritan books are about as broad as they are long; and that is the shape a Christian man ought to be in his character, like “that great city, the holy Jerusalem,” of which we read, “the city hath foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth.”
Now I will give you a taste of what this book of Mr. Austen’s is like. It is all about fruit trees; everything that can be turned into a metaphor is used.
The volume contains exactly a hundred Observations, — that was generally the number the Puritans liked, — a Century of Observations, they called them, This is the first: — “The Husbandman makes choice of what wild plants he pleaseth, to bring into his Orchards there to graft, and order to fruit-bearing from year to year. He leaves other plants in the woods and waste grounds, he lets them alone, and meddles not with them; but takes and leaves these, or those, as pleaseth himself.”
That is, of course, the doctrine of election. Further on, the author says, — “The Husbandman doth order his young fruit trees with more tenderness, and gentleness, than such as are strong and well-grown trees, because such (while they are small and tender) are in more danger of breaking, and bruising, and other hurts, than they are afterwards. So that, besides the great walk, or common fence about the Orchard, he makes a more special fence with bushes, stakes, or the like, about each of them, and gives them more choice nourishment, by oftener watering them with good water, that they may grow, and come on the faster.”
You can all see how you can apply that illustration. Here is the eleventh Observation: — “We find by experience that, after a plant is engrafted, both the graft and the stock will shoot forth, and if the graft grow vigorously and strongly, then the shoots of the stock are but weak; but if the shoots of the stock break out strongly, then the graft grows but weakly, therefore the Husbandman takes pains often to cut off the shoots that grow upon, the stock, that so the graft may grow the better.”
Austen spiritualizes this Observation thus: — “While the spiritual part in us acts and grows strongly, the fleshly part acts but weakly; so also, if the flesh be strong, the spirit is weak.”
He gives a number of observations of this kind; I do not know that I can do better than give you some more of them. Here is the thirtieth Observation: — “Fruit trees that spread much, and grow low, near the ground, such (most commonly) bring forth more and larger fruits than high trees that aspire up into the air. “This shadows out unto us that humble Christians bring forth far more and fairer fruits than such Christians as are lifted up.”
This is the ninety-seventh Observation: — “The root of a tree communicates, and gives up sap to all the branches, one as well as another, to the smallest as well as to the greatest: the least branch, or twig upon the tree, yea, the least bud upon the least branch, hath as constant and real a supply of sap from the root as the greatest bough or branch upon the tree.” “This shadows out unto us that Jesus Christ gives forth as constant a supply of all grace to the meanest of his people as to those who are most eminent.”
Get Austen’s Garden of Fruit Trees if you can, brethren, and be not yourselves either barren or unfruitful.
The next book I shall bring before you isMASTER JOHN FLAVEL’ S work called, Husbandry Spiritualized; or, the Heavenly Use of Earthly Things.
The character of Flavel’s writing may be guessed from his introduction, or, as he calls it, “The Proem “, to this treatise. Here is a brief summary of his twenty Propositions about husbandmen, and the typical meaning that he attaches to their occupation and surroundings; I do not think I need explain them, the mere mention of them will be sufficient for you to see what good right Flavel has to an honorable place among the makers of metaphors, emblems, etc.: — “Ye are God’s Husbandry.” — 1 Corinthians 3:9. “The life and employment of an husbandman excellently shadow forth the relation betwixt God and his Church, and the relative duties betwixt its ministers and members; or, the Church is God’s Husbandry, about which his ministers are employed. “ 1. The husbandman purchases his fields, and gives a valuable consideration for them, Jeremiah 32:9, to. “So hath God purchased his Church with a full valuable price, even the precious blood of his own Son, Acts 20:28. “ 2. Husbandmen divide and separate their own lands from other men’s; they have their land-marks and boundaries, by which property is preserved, Deuteronomy 27:17; Proverbs 22:28. “So are the people of God wonderfully separated and distinguished from all the people of the earth. ‘The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself’ (Psalm 4:3); and, ‘The Lord knoweth them that are his ‘(2 Timothy 2:19). “ 3. Corn-fields are carefully fenced by the husbandman with hedges, and ditches, to preserve their fruits from beasts that would otherwise over-run and destroy them. It is as good husbandry to keep what we have:, as to acquire more than we had. ‘“My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it’ (Isaiah 5:1, 5:2).
No inheritance is better defended and secured than the Lord’s inheritance. ‘As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people’ (Psalm 125:2).
See Isaiah 4:5. There is not a single saint but is hedged about and enclosed in arms of power and love, Job 1:10. “ 4. Husbandmen carry out their compost, to fertilize their arable ground; they dung it, dress it, and keep it in heart. ‘“Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down’ (Luke 13:8,9).
Oh, the rich dressing which God bestows upon his churches! They are costly fields indeed, dressed and fertilized, not only by precious ordinances and providences, but also by the sweat, yea, blood of the dispensers of them. “ 5. The husbandman builds his house where he makes his purchase, dwells upon his land, and frequently visits it. “So doth God; wherever he plants a church, there doth he fix his habitation, intending there to dwell. ‘God is in the midst of her’ (Psalm 46:5). “ 6. Husbandmen grudge not at the cost they are at for their tillage; but as they lay out vast sums upon it, so they do it cheerfully. “’And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard! ‘What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?’ (Isaiah 5:3,4.)
And as he bestows upon his heritage the choicest mercies, so he doth it with the greatest cheerfulness, Jeremiah 32:41. “ 7. When husbandmen have been at cost and pains about their husbandry, they expect fruit from it answerable to their pains and expenses about it, James 5:7; Isaiah 5:2. “This heavenly Husbandman also waits for the fruits of his fields; never did any husbandman long for the desired harvest more than God doth for the fruits of holiness from his saints. “ 8. Husbandmen are much delighted to see the success of their labors, it comforts them over all their hard pains, and many weary days, to see a good increase. “Much more is God delighted in beholding the flourishing graces of his people; it pleases him to see his plants laden with fruit, and his valleys sing with corn, Song of Solomon 6:2; 4:6. “ 9. The husbandman is exceedingly grieved when he sees the hopes of a good crop disappointed, and his fields prove barren or blasted. “So the Lord expresses his grief for and anger against his people, when they bring forth no fruits, or wild fruits, worse than none, Hosea 9:16. “ 10. Husbandmen employ many laborers to work in their fields; there is need of many hands for such a multiplicity of business. “God hath diversity of workmen also in the churches, whom he sends forth to labor in his spiritual fields. ‘He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry’ (Ephesians 4:11,12).”
Do not read that verse as I heard a brother read it once: — “He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” Put the emphasis in the right place. “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.”
We are only half way through Mr. Flavel’s twenty propositions, so let us continue reading them: — “ 11. The work about which husbandmen employ their servants in the field, is toilsome and spending. You see them come home at night so weary that they can hardly draw their legs after them. “But God’s workmen have a much harder task than they; hence they are set forth in Scripture by the laborious ox (1 Colossians 9:9; Revelation 4:7). Some derive the word deacon from a word that signifies dust, to show the laboriousness of their employment, laboring till even checked with dust and sweat. The apostle’s expression is very emphatical: ‘Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily’ (Colossians 1:29).”
What a grand verse that is! That will do for the brethren who think that the Spirit of God is in them, so they may go to bed, and that there is no more wrestling with the flesh because they have Christ in them, the hope o£ glory; whereas the teaching of this text is that, the more the Lord works in us, the more conflict there will be: ‘~ Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” When the Christian reaches that height o£ experience, there will be no contentment, but a great deal of fighting; and much hard toil, like that of the husbandman.
Again let us resume our reading: — “ 12. The immediate end of the husbandman’s labor, and his servants’ labor, is for the improvement of his land, to make it more flourishing and useful. “The scope and end of the ministry is for the churches’ benefit and advantage. God’s husbandmen must not lord it over God’s heritage, as if the church were for them, and not they for the church. “ 13. The workmen that labor in the fields are accountable for their work to him that employed them. “Church-officers are also accountable to God for all the souls committed to them. They are stewards of the mysteries of God, and stewards are accountable, 1 Corinthians. 4:1; Hebrews 13:7. “ 14. Those that spend their time and strength, all their days, in manuring and ploughing the fields, do maintain themselves and their families by their labors. “‘Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel’ (1 Corinthians 9:14). “ 15. It is a great trouble to husbandmen, in a busy time, to be put off from their labors by stormy weather, which drives them out of the fields, and makes them let all lie, till it clear up again; yet, meanwhile, they are not idle, but employ themselves in home-work. “Even so, in God’s husbandry, it is an unspeakable affliction to God’s workmen to be rendered useless and unserviceable to the churches, by those storms of trouble which drive them from their public ministerial work. With what a heavy heart did Paul go off from his work at Ephesus! (Acts 20:1). It spends a minister to preach; but it costs him more to be silent. “ 16. There is a vast difference betwixt those fields which have been well husbanded, and dressed by a skillful and diligent husbandman, and those that have been long out of husbandry. How fragrant is the one! How dry and barren the other! “Thus stands the case betwixt those places which God hath blest with a faithful, painful ministry, and such as have none, or worse than none. Ministers’ pains and diligence are ordinarily seen in the heavenly lives and flourishing graces of the people. “ 17. The husbandman is not discouraged though the seed lie long under the clods; he knows it will spring up at the last, and reward him, or those that come after him, for their pains and patience in waiting for it. “Ministers should not be presently discouraged in their work, because they see but little or no appearance of all the seed they have sown among the people. “ 18. Husbandmen find low ground and valleys most fertile. Hills, how loftily soever they overtop the lower grounds, yet answer not the husbandman’s pains as the valleys do. These are best watered, and secured from the scorching heat of the sun. “Experience shows us that the humblest saints are most fruitful under the gospel. These are they who ‘receive with meekness the engrafted word’ (James 1:211). “ 19. The first crop is usually the best; and the longer the husbandman tills his ground, the less it produces. After a few years, its vigor and strength are spent. “The first entertainment of the gospel is commonly the best; and what good is done by the ministry is often done at its first entrance, John 5:35; Galatians 4:15. “ 20. Lastly, When fields grow barren, and will not quit the husbandman’s cost, nor answer the seed he sows in them, he plucks up the hedges, and lays them waste. “So, when churches grow formal and fruitless, the Lord removes his gospel-presence from them, plucks up the hedge of his protection from about them, and lays them open as waste ground, to be over-run by their enemies, Jeremiah 7:12; Isaiah 5:5.“ Flavel also wrote a treatise entitled, A New Compass for Seamen; or, Navigation Spiritualized. I am going to give you two specimens of its contents: — “Ships make much way when they a trade-wind get.
With such a wind the saints have ever met.” OBSERVATION. “Though in most parts of the world the winds are variable, and sometimes blow from every part of the compass, by reason whereof sailing is slow and dangerous; yet about the Equinoctial, seamen meet with a trade-wind, blowing for the most part one way; and there they sail jocund before it, and scarce need to lower a topsail for some hundreds of leagues.
“Although the people of God meet with many seeming rubs and setbacks in their way to heaven, which are like contrary winds to a ship; yet they are from the day of their conversion to the day of their complete salvation, never out of a trade-wind’s way to heaven. ‘We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). This is a most precious Scripture, pregnant with its consolation, to all believers in all conditions, a pillar of comfort to all distressed saints. Let us look a little nearer to it. “’We know.’ Mark the certainty and evidence of the proposition, which is not built upon a guess or remote probability, but upon the knowledge of the saints; we know it, and that partly by divine revelation, God has told us so; and partly by our own experience, we find it so. “’That all things.’ Not only things that lie in a natural and direct tendency to our good; as ordinances, promises, blessings, etc., but even such things as have no natural fitness and tendency to such an end; as afflictions, temptations, corruption’s, desertions, etc., all these help onward. They — “’Work together.’ Not all of them directly, and of their own nature and inclination; but by being over-ruled and determined to such an issue by the gracious hand of God: nor yet do they work out such good to the saints singly and apart, but as adjuvant causes or helps, standing under and working in subordination to the supreme and principal cause of their happiness. “Now, the most seeming opposite things, yea, sin in itself, which in its own nature is really opposite to their good, yet eventually contributes to it. Afflictions and desertions seem to work against us; but being once put into the rank and order of causes, they work together with such blessed instruments as the Word and prayer to a happy issue. And though the faces of these things, that so agree and work together, look: contrary ways; yet there are, as it were, secret chains and connexions of providence betwixt them, to unite them in their issue. There may be many instruments employed about one work, and yet not communicate counsels, or hold intelligence with each other. Joseph’s brethren, the Midianites, Potiphar, etc., knew not one another’s mind, nor aimed at one end (much less the end that God brought about by them); one acts out of revenge, another for gain, a third out of policy; yet all meet together at last, in that issue God had designed to bring about by them, even Joseph’s advancement. Even so it is here, Christian; there are more instruments at work for thine eternal good than thou art aware of.
“Cheer up, then, O my soul, and lean upon this pillar of comfort in all distresses. Here is a promise for me, if I am a called one; that, like the philosopher’s stone, turns into gold all it toucheth. This promise is my security; however things go in the world, ‘My God will do me no hurt’ (Jeremiah 25:6). Nay, he will do me good by every dispensation. Oh, that I had but a heart to make all things work for his glory, that thus causeth everything to work for my good! My God, dost thou turn everything to my advantage? O let me return all to thy praise; and if by everything thou workest my eternal good, then let me in everything give thanks! “But, ah! how foolish and ignorant have I been, even as a beast before thee! How hath my heart been disquieted, and apt to repine at thy dispensations, when they have crossed my will, not considering that my God faithfully pursues my good, even in those things that cross, as well as in that which pleases me! “Blessed Lord, what a blessed condition are all thy people in, who are within the line of this promise! All things are friendly and beneficial to them; friends helpful; enemies helpful; everything conspiring and conducing to their happiness. With others it is not so; nothing works for their good; nay, everything works against it; their very mercies are snares, and their prosperity destroys them (Proverbs 1:32). Even the blessed gospel itself is a savor of death to them: when evil befalls ‘them, it is ‘an only evil’ (Ezekiel 7:5); that is, not turned into good to them; and as their evils are not turned into good, so all their good is turned into evil. As this promise hath an influence in all that concerns the people of God, so the curse hath an influence in all the enjoyments of the wicked. O my soul, bless the Lord, who hath cast thy lot in such a pleasant place, and given thee such a glorious heritage as this promise is! THE POEM. “When once the dog-star rises, many say, Corn ripens then apace, both night and day.
Souls once in Christ, that Morning-star lets fall Such influences on them, that all God’s dispensations to them, sweet or sour, Ripen their souls for glory every hour.
All their afflictions rightly understood, Are blessings; ev’ry wind will blow some good.
Sure at their troubles saints would never grudge Were sense deposed, and faith made the judge.
Falls make them warier, amend their pace; When gifts puff up their hearts, and weaken grace..
Could Satan see the issue, and th’ event Of his temptations, he would scarcely tempt.
Could saints but see what fruits their troubles bring, Amidst those troubles they would shout and sing.
O sacred wisdom! who can but admire To see how thou dost save from fire, by fire?
No doubt but saints in glory wond’ring stand At those strange methods few now understand.”
THE CHRISTIAN’ S COMPASS is a very ingenious composition, in which all the points of mariner’s compass are mentioned: — “ 1. N. Never steer any course, but by light from God, (Psalm 119:105). “ 2. N. by E. Never Enter upon any design, but such as tends towards Christ’s glory, (1 Peter 4:11). “ 3. N.N.E. Note Nothing Enviously, which thrives without God, (Psalm 73:1). “ 4. N.E. by N. Never Enter on Not-warrantable courses, even to procure the most coveted advantages, (1 Timothy 6:9,10). “ 5. N.E. Now Entertain the sacred commands of God, if here-after thou expect the sovereign consolations of God, (Psalm 119:48). “ 6. N.E. by E. Never Esteem Egypt’s treasures so much, as for them to forsake the people of God, (Hebrews 11:56). “ 7. E.N.E. Err Not, Especially in soul-affairs, (James 1:16; Timothy 1:19, 20; 2 Timothy 2:18). “ 8. E. by N. Eschew Nothing but sin, (1 Peter 3:2; Job 1:7,8; 31:34). “ 9. E. Establish thy heart with grace, (Hebrews 13:9). “ 10. E. by S. Eye Sanctity in every action, (1 Peter 1:15; Zechariah 14:20). “ 11. E.S.E. Ever Strive Earnestly to live under, and to improve, the means of grace, (Hebrews 10:55). “ 12. S.E. by E. Suffer Every Evil of punishment or sorrow, rather than. leave the ways of Christ and grace. “ 13. S.E. Sigh Earnestly for more enjoyments of Christ. “ 14. S.E. by S. Seek Evermore Some evidences of Christ in you, the hope of glory. “ 15. S.S.E. Still Set Eternity before you, in regard of enjoying Jesus Christ, (John 17:24). “ 16. S. by E. Settle it Ever in your soul, as a principle which you will never depart from, that holiness and true happiness are in Christ, and by Christ. “ 17. S. Set thyself always as before the Lord, (Psalm 16:8; Acts 2:55). “ 18. S. by W. See Weakness hastening thee to death, even when thou. art at the highest pitch, or point. “ 19. S.S.W. See Sin, Which is the sting of death, as taken away by Christ,1 Cor. 15:55, 56, 57. “ 20. S.W. by S. Store Wisely Some provisions every day for your dying day. “ 21. S.W. Set Worldly things under your feet, before death come to look you in the face. “ 22. S.W. by W. Still Weigh and Watch with loins girded and lamps trimmed, (Luke 12:35,36,37). “ 23. W.S.W. Weigh Soul-Works in the balance of the sanctuary. “ 24. W. by S. Walk in Sweet communion with Christ here, and so thou mayest die in peace, (Luke 2:29). “ 25. W. Whatsoever thy condition be in this world, eye God as the Disposer of it, and therein be contented, (Philippians 4:2). “ 26. W. by N. Walk Not according to the course of the most, but after the example of the best. “ 27. W.N.W. Weigh Not What men speak or think of thee, so God approve thee, (2 Chronicles 10:8; Romans 2:28,29). “ 28. N.W. by W. Never Wink at, but Watch against small sins; and never neglect little duties, (Ephesians 5:15,16. “ 29. N.W. Never Wish rashly for death, nor love life inordinately, (1 Kings 19:4; Job 2:4). “ 30. N.W. by N. Now Work Nimbly ere night come, (Job 10:1,21,22; Ecclesiastes 9:10). “ 31. N.N.W. Name Nothing When thou pleadest with God for thy soul, but Christ and free-grace, (Daniel 9:17,18). “ 32. N. by W. Now Welcome Christ, if at death thou wouldst be welcomed by Christ. “A tender, quick, enlivened, and enlightened conscience, is the only point upon which we must erect these practical rules of our Christian compass, Hebrews 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:12. Our memory, that is the box in which this compass must be kept, in which these rules must be treasured, that we may be as ready and expert in using them as the mariner is in using his sea compass.”
I will give you only one more quotation from Flavel, and that shall be from his “Occasional Meditations”: — UPON THE CATCHING OF AHORSE IN AFAT PASTURE. “When this horse was kept in poor short leas, where he had much scope, but little grass, how gentle and tractable was he then! He would not only stand quiet to be taken, but came to hand of his own accord, and followed me up and down the field for a crust of bread, or a handful of oats; but since I turned him into this fat pasture, he comes no more to me, nor will he suffer me to come near him, but throws up his heels wantonly against me, and flies from me, as if I were rather his enemy than benefactor. In this, I behold the carriage of my own heart towards God, who, the more he hath done for me, the seldomer doth he hear from me. In a low and afflicted state, how tractable is my heart to duty! Then it comes to the foot of God voluntarily; but in an exalted condition, how wildly doth my heart run from God and duty! With this ungrateful requital God charged his own people, Jeremiah 2:31, teachable and tractable in the wilderness, but when fatted in that rich pasture Canaan, then, ‘We are lords, we will come no more unto thee.’
How soon are all God’s former benefits forgotten! and how often is that ancient observation verified, even in his own people, — “’No sooner do we gifts on some bestow, But presently our gifts gray-headed grow’! “But that’s a bad tenant that will maintain a suit at law against his landlord with his own rent; and a bad heart that will fight against God with his own mercies.”
These extracts will show you what Flavel is like.
Now, coming to parables proper, the best thing I can do for you, brethren, is to indicate where you will find some of them. And, first there is a large number, as you all know, inJOHN BUNYAN’ S Pilgrim’s Progress. Those scenes which Christian beheld in the house of the Interpreter and in the palace called Beautiful, are some of the richest and best parables that are to be found in human literature. Indeed, with the exception of those by our Lord himself, there are none that can excel them. There is the parable of the man sweeping the room, and almost choking the pilgrim with the dust until the water was sprinkled by the damsel standing by. Then there are the two children, Passion and Patience; the fire burning against a wall, yet not quenched by water, because the flame was secretly fed by oil; the man in an iron cage; and others that I will not now call to your remembrance, but which you ought all to know by heart.
You may not, however, all be aware that John Bunyan wrote A Book for Boys and Girls, Divine Emblems, or Temporal Things Spiritualized, in which there are some excellent parables. They are really emblems; you will find them in Offor’s splendid edition of Bunyan’s works, the three volumes that you all ought to get if you can. I will not say that the poetry in these emblems excels Milton’s, or even rivals Cowper’s, but the sense is good. Take this one, for instance, — “This flint, time out of mind has there abode, Where crystal streams make their continual road; Yet it abides a flint as much as ‘twere, Before it touched the water, or came there.
It’s hardness is not in the least abated, ‘Tis not at all by water penetrated.
Though water hath a soft’ning virtue in ‘t, It can’t dissolve the stone, for ‘tis a flint.
Yea, though in water it doth still remain, Its fiery nature still it does retain.
If you oppose it with its opposite, Then in your very face its fire ‘twill spit.
“This flint an emblem is of those that lie, Under the Word, like stones, until they die.
Its crystal streams have not their natures changed, They are not from their lusts by grace estranged.” Say what you like about the rhyme, but the metaphor is a very good one.
The next I will give you is — UPON THE WHIPPING OF A TOP, “‘Tis with the whip the boy sets up the top, The whip does make it whirl upon its toe; Hither and thither makes it skip and hop: ‘Tis with the whip the top is made to go.
“Our legalist is like this nimble top, Without a whip he will not duty do.
Let Moses whip him, he will skip and hop; Forbear to whip, he’ll neither stand nor go.” This is very good, too. If the rhymes are not first-rate, the doctrine is all right. Here is another of Bunyan’s emblems: — UPON THE BEGGAR. “He wants, he asks, he pleads his poverty, They within doors do him an alms deny.
He doth repeat and aggravate his grief; But they repulse him, give him no relief.
He begs, they say, ‘Begone’: he will not hear, He coughs and sighs, to show he still is there; They disregard him, he repeats his groans; They still say, ‘Nay,’ and he himself bemoans.
They call him ‘Vagrant,’ and more rugged grow; He cries the shriller; trumpets out his woe.
At last, when they perceive he’ll take no nay, An alms they give him without more delay.
“This beggar doth resemble them that pray To God for mercy, and will take no nay:
But wait, and count that all his hard gainsays Are nothing else but fatherly delays:
Then imitate him, praying souls, and cry, There’s nothing like to importunity.” That also does not excel in poetry, does it, brethren? But I think ‘we can put up with the lack of rhyme when we can get teaching so good as that. I will only give you one more emblem: — THE BOY AND THE BUTTERFLY. “Behold, how eager this our little boy Is for a butterfly, as if all joy, All profits, honors, yea, and lasting pleasures, Were wrapt up in her, or the richest treasures Found in her would be bundled up together, When all her all is lighter than a feather.
He halloos, runs, and cries out, ‘Here, boys, here!’
Nor doth he brambles or the nettles fear:
He stumbles at the mole-hills, up he gets, And runs again, as one bereft of wits; And all his labor and his large outcry Are only for a silly butterfly.
“This little boy an emblem is of those Whose hearts are wholly at the world’s dispose.
The butterfly doth represent to me The world’s best things at best but fading be.
All are but painted nothings and false joys, Like this poor butterfly to these our boys.
His running through nettles, thorns, and briers, To gratify his boyish fond desires, His tumbling over mole-hills to attain His end, namely, his butterfly to gain; Doth plainly show what hazards some men run To get what will be lost as soon as won.
Men seem in choice, than children far more wise, Because they run not after butterflies:
When yet, alas! for what are empty toys, They follow children, like to beardless boys.” In his Preface, Master John Bunyan tells “The Courteous Reader” what his reason was for writing this book, and the persons he aimed at in it; this shows that he meant it for children: — “The title-page will show, if there thou look, Who are the proper subjects of this book.
They’re boys and girls, of all sorts and degrees, From those of age to children on the knees.
Thus comprehensive am I in my notions, They tempt me to it by their childish motions.
We now have boys with beards, and girls that be Huge as old women, wanting gravity.
Then do not blame me, ‘cause I thus describe them.
Flatter I may not, lest thereby I bribe them To have a better judgment of themselves, Than wise men have of babies on their shelves.” The word “babies” means pictures, “babs” they used to call them; I do not think we use the word now. They were called “babs” because they were put in for babies; and so, up till lately, old dictionaries had the word, not referring to babies, but as meaning pictures. The word “babies” was also used in olden times as the name for dolls; that may be the sense here intended by “babies on their shelves.” Bunyan continues: — “Their antic tricks, fantastic modes, and way, Show they, like very girls and boys do play With all the frantic fopperies of this age, And that in open view, as on a stage; Our bearded men do act like beardless boys; Our women please themselves with childish toys.
Our ministers, long time by word and pen, Dealt with them, counting them not boys, but men.
They shot their thunders at them and their toys, But hit them not, ‘cause they were girls and boys.
The better charg’d, the wider still they shot, Or else so high, that dwarfs they touched not.
Instead of men, they found them girls and boys, To nought addicted but to childish toys.
Wherefore, good reader, that! save them may, I now with them the very dotterel play; And since at gravity they make a tush, My very beard! cast behind a bush; And, like a fool, stand fing’ring of their toys, And all to show them they are girls and boys.” Here I must mention my favorite poet,FRANCIS QUARLES, whom I would not exchange even for John Milton. He had as much poetry in him as could possibly be compacted into one little man’s body; but he has been forgotten, and is now ignored by many. His Emblems, Divine and Moral, are full of parables; ‘they are not emblems borrowed from nature, but emblems invented by himself in a most wonderful way. The woodcuts are very extraordinary; he must have stood upon his head to have thought of them. You can pick out, here and there, a little parable like this one, which you will find in the sixth emblem of Book III.: — “Lord, if the peevish infant fights and flies, With unpar’d weapons, at his mother’s eyes, Her frowns (half-mix’d with smiles) may chance to show An angry love-tick on his arm, or so; Where, if the babe but make a lip and cry, Her heart begins to melt, and by-and-by She coaxes his dewy cheeks; her babe she blesses, And chokes her language with a thousand kisses; I am that child: lo, here I prostrate lie, Pleading for mercy, I repeat, and cry For gracious pardon: let thy gentle ears Hear that in words, what mothers judge in tears:
See not my frailties, Lord, but through my fear, And look on every trespass through a tear:
Then calm thine anger, and appear more mild; Remember, thou art a Father, I a child.” This is another of Quarles’ emblems: — “Let not the waterflood overtake me, neither let the deep swallow me up.” — Psalm 69:15. “The world’s a sea; my flesh a ship that’s mann’d With lab’ring thoughts, and steer’d by reason’s hand:
My heart’s the seaman’s card, whereby she sails; My loose affections are the greater sails; The top-sail is my fancy, and the gusts That fill these wanton sheets, are worldly lusts.
Prayer is the cable, at whose end appears The anchor Hope, ne’er slipp’d but in our fears:
My will’s the inconstant pilot, that commands The stagg’ring keel; my sins are like the sands:
Repentance is the bucket, and mine eye The pump unused (but in extremes) and dry:
My conscience is the plummet that does press The deeps, but seldom cries, O fathomless:
Smooth calm’s security; the gulph, despair; My freight’s corruption, and this life’s my fare:
My soul’s the passenger, confus’dly driven From fear to fright; her landing port is Heaven.
My seas are stormy, and my ship doth leak; My sailors rude; my steersman faint and weak:
My canvas torn, it flaps from side to side:
My cable’s crack’d, my anchor’s slightly ty’d, My pilot’s craz’d; my shipwreck sands are cloak’d; My bucket’s broken, and my pump is chok’d; My calm’s deceitful; and my gulph too near; My wares are slubber’d, and my fare’s too dear:
My plummet’s light, it cannot sink nor sound; Oh, shall my rock-bethreaten’d soul be drown’d?
Lord, still the seas, and shield my ship from harm; Instruct my sailors, guide my steersman’s arm:
Touch thou my compass, and renew my sails, Send stiffer courage or send milder gales; Make strong my cable, bind my anchor faster; Direct my pilot, and be thou his Master; Object the sands to my most serious view, Make sound my bucket, bore my pump anew:
New east my plummet, make it apt to try Where the rocks lurk, and where the quicksands lie; Guard thou the gulph with love, my calms with care; Cleanse thou my freight; accept my slender fare; Refresh the sea-sick passenger; cut short His voyage; land him in his wish’d-for port:
Thou, thou, whom winds and stormy seas obey, That through the deep gav’st grumbling Israel way, Say to my soul, be safe; and then mine eye Shall scorn grim death, although grim death stand by!
O thou, whose strength-reviving arm did cherish Thy sinking Peter, at the point to perish, Reach forth thy hand, or bid me tread the wave, I’ll come, I’ll come: the voice that calls will save!” You will find many good things in Quarles if you read carefully. You know how he pictures the worldling riding down hill on a stag, which he is spurring on as hard as he can, while the righteous man, on a donkey, is riding up the hill, and following a crawling snail. This is the emblem he gives: — “Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” — John 3:19. “Lord, when we leave the world, and come to thee, How dull, how slug are we!
How backward! How prepost’rous is the motion Of our ungain devotion!
Our thoughts are millstones, and our souls are lead, And our desires are dead:
Our vows are fairly promised, faintly paid; Or broken, or not made:
Our better work (if any good) attends Upon our private ends:
In whose performance one poor worldly scoff Foils us, or beats us off.
If thy sharp scourge find out some secret faults We grumble or revolt; And if thy gentle hand forbear, we stray, Or idly lose the way.
Is the road fair, we loiter; clogged with mire, We stick, or else retire:
A lamb appears a lion; and we fear, Each bush we see’s a bear.
When our dull souls direct our thoughts to thee, As slow as snails are we:
But at the earth we dart our wing’d desire; We burn, we burn like fire.
Like as the am’rous needle joys to bend To her magnetic friend:
Or as the greedy lover’s eye-balls fly At his fair mistress’s eye:
So, so we cling to earth; we fly and puff, Yet fly not fast enough.
If pleasure beckon with her balmy hands Her beck’s a strong command:
If honor calls us with her courtly breath, An hour’s delay is death:
If profit’s golden finger’d charm enveigles, We clip more swift than eagles:
Let Auster weep, or blust’ring Boreas roar Till eyes or lungs be sore:
Let Neptune swell, until his dropsy sides Burst into broken tides:
Nor threat’ning rocks, nor winds, nor waves, nor fire, Can curb our fierce desire:
Nor fire, nor rocks, can stop our furious minds, Nor waves nor winds:
Flow fast and fearless do our footsteps flee!
The light-foot roebuck’s not so swift as we.” Quarles has a curious picture of a man’s soul riding in a chariot drawn by a goat and a sheep, driven furiously by the devil, while the Lord Jesus Christ is pulling it back with a rope or chain. Upon this he writes: — ‘“Ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.” — Ephesians 2:2. “O whither will this mad-brain world at last Be driven? Where will her restless wheels arrive?
Why hurries on her ill-matched pair so fast?
O whither means her furious groom to drive?
What, will her rambling fits be never past?
For ever ranging? Never once retrieve?
Will earth’s perpetual progress ne’er expire?
Her team continuing in their fresh career:
And yet they never rest, and yet they never tire. “Sol’s hot-mouth’d steeds, whose nostrils vomit flame, And brazen lungs belch forth quotidian fire.
Their twelve hours’ task performed, grow stiff and lame, And their immortal spirits faint and tire; At th’ azure mountain’s foot their labors claim The privilege of rest, where they retire To quench their burning fetlocks, and go steep Their flaming nostrils in the Western deep, And ‘fresh their tired souls with strength-restoring sleep. “But these prodigious hackneys, basely got ‘Twixt men and devils, made for race or flight, Can drag the idle world, expecting not The bed of rest, but travel with delight; Who never weighing way nor weather, trot Through dust and dirt, and droil both night and day; Thus droil these fiends incarnate, whose free pains Are fed with dropsies and veneral blains.
No need to use the whip; but strength to rule the reins. “Poor captive world! How has thy lightness given A just occasion to thy foes illusion!
Oh, how art thou betray’d, thus fairly driv’n In seeming triumph to thy own confusion!
How is thy empty universe bereav’n Of all true joys, by one false joy’s delusion!
So I have seen an unblown virgin fed With sugar’d words so full, that she is led A fair attended bride to a false bankrupt’s bed. “Pull, gracious Lord! Let not thine arm forsake The world, impounded in her own devices; Think of that pleasure that thou once did take Amongst the lilies and sweet beds of spices.
Hale (haul) strongly, thou, whose hand has power to slack The swift-foot fury of ten thousand vices; Let not thy dust-devouring dragon boast, His craft has won what Judah’s lion lost; Remember what is crav’d; recount the price it cost.” You cannot look through Quarles without finding something to help you to make metaphors and illustrations; therefore, I recommend you to be sure to get his Emblems, Divine and Moral.
There is also his little book, Divine Fancies: Digested into Epigrammes, Meditations, and Observations. My copy is a quarto, dated 1633, and, as you see, is bound in vellum; you can probably get a modern reprint of it.
There are some rare things in it, and some good things, too, such, for instance, as the parables of the waking conscience and the water-mill: — ON A WAKING CONSCIENCE. “There is a kind of Conscience some men keepe, Is like a Member that’s benum’d with sleepe; Which, as it gathers Blood, and wakes agen, It shoots, and pricks, and feeles as big as ten.”
ON A WATER-MILL
“The formall Christian’s like a Water-mill: Untill the Floodgate’s open, he lyes still:
He cannot work at all; he cannot dreame Of going: till his wheeles shall finde the streame.” There are plenty of good things like these. The work is divided into four books; in each of the first three, there are just a hundred “fancies “, but the fourth book contains a hundred and seventeen. The author penned a remarkable dedication of his book, “To the Royall Budde of Majestie, and Center of all our Hopes and Happinesse,CHARLES, Prince of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, Sonne and Heyre Apparant to the High and MightyCHARLES, by the Grace ofGOD, King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland,” and an equally extraordinary address to the Countess of Dorset, governess to the royal infant; but Quarles’ Preface “to the readers” is more in our line. It is itself metaphorical, and therefore an extract from it will be appropriate just now. He says: — “I heere present thee with a Hive of Bees; laden, some with Waxe, and some with Honey. Feare not to approach. There are no Waspes; there are no Hornets, here: if some wanton Bee should chance to buzze about thine eares, stand thy Ground, and hold thy hands: there’s none will sting thee, if thou strike not first. If any doe, she hath Honey in her Bagge will cure thee, too. In playner tearmes, I present thee with a Booke of Fancies; among which, as I have none to boast of, so (I hope) I shall have none to blush at. All cannot affect all: if some please all; or all, some, ‘tis more than I expect.”
There came out, in these more modern days, a book of which I have not the title-page in my copy. I once sent it to the printers; and you know, brethren, that there are some curious spirits that have their abode in printing-offices. This book was brought out by Mr. Tegg, and was, I believe, the work of aMR.BARBER, of America. It is called, Religious Emblems, Fables, and Allegories, and has a Preface by Mr. James Smith, one of my predecessors at New Park Street Chapel, and afterwards minister at Cheltenham. The work is not worth much; if you do not find it, do not cry. It contains some of the most hideous woodcuts that ever were devised; the man who cut them ought to “cut his stick” for ever, and never cut any more. There is an illustration of a young man lying down in a bed of tulips and roses, with a book under his arm, and he is fast asleep on the edge of a precipice, which looks to me as if it went down three or four thousand miles. The text underneath is “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction” (Psalm 73:18).
There is some poetry on it, here it is:— CARNAL SECURITY. “See here pourtrayed, a gently rising ground, With tulips gay, and blooming roses crowned, Where flowers of various hues, or gay or fair, Mingle their sweetness with the balmy air; While woodland minstrels stoop upon the wing, Attune their notes, and softest carols sing; A youth lies sleeping on the roseate bed, Heedless of dangers, thus to ruin led; A horrid gulf of thickest night is there, Where hope ne’er comes, but darkness and despair; A turn — a move — and in the gulf he’ll roll, Where fiery billows prey upon the soul.” I do not know how billows prey upon the soul, but I suppose that was necessary to the poetry. Still, there is the illustration of a young man lying upon the brink of a precipice. There are many more very curious things in this book. There is one that is not very beautiful a picture of a man chained to a dead body, illustrating the text, “O wretched man that I am I who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24:.) Quarles illustrated the same passage by putting the living person inside the ribs of a skeleton. In the picture in this book, a bird is represented as flying out of a cage, and this is the poetry explaining the text and the illustration:- THE SOUL IN BONDAGE. “Horror of horrors! what a sight is here!
Life linked with death, in terror and despair.
Thus cruel tyrants, when they won the field, Were wont to punish those compelled to yield.
The wounded captive, writhing still with pain, Was made to wear the adamantine chain, That round the limbs of one new-slain was led, And bound the living to the putrid dead, Till, choked with stench, the lingering victim lay, And breathed in agony his life away. ‘Tis thus the soul, enlighten’d by the Word, Descries the path that upward leads to God, And fain would run, but feels a galling chain That quickly drags him to the world again; Corruption’s body opens to his eye, He sees the cause, but oh! he cannot fly.
Who, who! he asks, with trembling, struggling breath, Will save me from this fearful mass of death?
He calls on Moses now to break his chain, Moses is deaf, — he calls on him in vain; He calls on Jesus, — wondrous name! — he hears, And breaks his chain, and scatters all his fears.
Now like the bird that from its prison flies, On wings of love soars upward to the skies.” Another grand book in its way is that ofKRUMMACHER, — The Parables of Frederic Adolphus Krummacher, translated from the seventh German edition. This is not the Krummacher who wrote Elijah and Elisha; but the father of that good man. Many of the pieces in this book are not such as you could use; they are imitations of the inspired records of Biblical events, and I should not like to hear them repeated. I hardly think this sort of thing is allowable. I will give you two or three specimens that you may know what they are like: — JOHN AND PETER. “John and Peter were once talking of former times when the Lord was yet with them, and they began also to speak of the day when the Lord was anointed at Bethany. Then Peter said: ‘Dost thou remember how seriously Christ looked at Judas, when he said: “Why has not this ointment been sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” And at us he looked kindly though we approved of the saying of Judas.’ “Then John said: ‘I questioned the Master concerning it. Then he said to me: “You did not speak rightly; but in the integrity of your heart you spoke sincerely. How could I be wroth with you, and not reprove you mildly? But Judas lacked the chief virtue — truthfulness.” Thus he said.’ And John added: ‘Did he not, a short time after, betray the Master with a kiss?’ “Thus said the disciple whom Jesus loved. In the eyes of the grave Peter tears were glistening, for he remembered that he also had once been a traitor to truth.”
I do not think, brethren, that anyone has the right to put such a story as that into the mouth of any man mentioned in the Scriptures.
Here is another of Krummacher’s supposed conversations between Biblical characters: — THE WONDER. “One day in spring, the youth Solomon was sitting under the palmtrees in the gardens of his father the king, and he looked to the earth in profound meditation. Then came to him Nathan, his tutor, saying: ‘Why musest thou so earnestly under the palm-trees?’ “The youth lifted up his head, and answered: ‘Nathan, I would see a wonder.’ The prophet smiled, and answered: ‘The same wish had I also in the days of my youth.’ “’And was it fulfilled?’ asked the king’s son hastily. “’A man of God’, continued Nathan, ~ came to me, having a pomegranate seed in his hand. “Behold,” said he, “what will come from this seed.” Then with his finger he made a hole in the earth, planted the seed, and covered it. When he withdrew his hand, the clouds parted one from another, and I saw two small leaves coming forth. But scarcely had I beheld them, when they joined together, and became a round stem wrapped in bark, and the stem increased before my eyes, and grew higher and thicker. “’Then the man of God said to me: “Give heed!” And as I looked, I saw seven branches spread forth from the stem, like the seven arms of the candlestick on the altar. “’I marvelled; but the man of God motioned me to keep silence, and give heed. “Behold,” said he, “new creations will begin.” “’Then he took water in the hollow of his hand from the rivulet by the wayside, and sprinkled the branches three times; and lo, now the branches were covered with green leaves, so that a cool shade surrounded us, and sweet odours. “From whence,” cried I, “come this perfume, and this reviving shade?” “’ “Dost thou not see,” said the man of God, “the crimson flowers bursting from among the green leaves, and hanging in clusters?” “’I was about to speak, but a gentle breeze moved the leaves, scattering the flowers around us, like as when snow descendeth from the clouds. Scarcely had the falling flowers reached the ground, when I saw the ruddy pomegranates hanging between the leaves, like the almonds on Aaron’s rod. “’ Then the man of God left me lost in amazement.’ “Nathan was silent, and Solomon asked hastily: ‘Where is he? What is the name of the man of God? Is he yet alive? ‘ “Then Nathan replied: ‘Son of David, I have spoken to thee of a vision.’ When Solomon heard these words, he was grieved in his heart, and said: ‘How canst thou deceive me thus?’ “But Nathan replied: ‘I have not deceived thee, offspring of Jesse.
Behold, in the garden of thy father thou mayest see in reality what I told thee. Does not the same happen to the pomegranate trees and all other trees?’ “’Yes,’ said Solomon, but imperceptibly, and throughout a long time.’ Then Nathan answered: ‘Is it less by divine influence because it cometh to pass in silence and unheeded? It seemeth to me all the more divine. Learn to know Nature and her workings; then wilt thou gladly believe in a higher power, and long no more for a wonder performed by the hand of man.’ “The kingly youth stood for a while in thought, and held his peace.
Then he turned to the prophet, and said: ‘I thought upon the wonder whereof the book of the law beareth witness, the budding and blooming almond-staff of Aaron. Behold, it was of such a wonder that I spoke. It was a dry stick, like unto the staves of the other tribes of Israel; and yet it bloomed and budded in a single night, and bore almonds in the tabernacle. Doth it still’ bloom?’ asked Solomon. And Nathan answered and said: ‘Of a truth, in the priesthood of Aaron and his tribe, and in due season it will bloom and bud yet more beauteously. For is it not an immortal and a heavenly thing, ordained of Jehovah, a token of his mercy and of his covenant, whereunto the almond staff bore witness?’ ‘I understand thy saying, man of God,’ said the youth, blushing. ‘If the heavenly, the immortal, is to be manifested, them then the dead almond branch, though it hath neither root nor sap, must bloom as in the days of spring.’ “’And I, too, understand thee, Jedidiah,’ answered Nathan; and he smiled kindly upon the king’s son, and grasped his hand.”
Now that would have been a very pretty parable if it had been given without the introduction of a dialogue between Nathan and Solomon. I will give you only one more of these parables: — THE DEATH OF ABRAHAM. “When the days of Abraham, the godly patriarch, drew towards their close, he lay down, old, and weary of life, on his bed, and called to him his children and his children’s children, and they stood in a circle around him. Then the patriarch said, with a cheerful countenance: ‘Children, the God in whom I have believed now ‘calls me!’ — and he blessed them. But his children wept, and said: ‘Ah, would that the hour might pass thee by once more!’ “But he answered: ‘Not so, my beloved. If I have walked all the days of my life before God in uprightness and love, how should I hesitate to go to him now that he calleth me?’ And when he had said this, he bent his head, and expired. And the form of the dead man was as the form of one that sleepeth.”
Well, now, to my mind, that sort of writing is not permissible: some might admire it, but I have a very grave question about the propriety of it. There is in. it a trenching upon holy ground which does not strike me as being right. Yet Krummacher’s parables, with this exception, are many of them remarkably beautiful. This one is very pretty: — THE ROBIN. “A robin came in the depth of winter to the window of a pious peasant, as if it would like to come in. Then the peasant opened his window, and took the confiding little creature kindly into his house.
So it picked up the crumbs that fell from his table, and his children loved and cherished the little bird. But when spring returned, and the bushes and trees put forth leaves, the peasant opened his window, and the little guest flew into the neighboring wood, built its nest, and sang merrily. And, behold, at the return of winter, the robin came back to the house of the peasant, and its mate came with it. The man and his children were very glad when they saw the two little birds, which looked at them so confidently with their bright eyes. And the children said: ‘The little birds look at us as if they were going to say something.’ Then their father answered: ‘If they could speak, they would say: Kind confidence awakens kind confidence, and love begets love.’” Now that is a charming lit the parable. Here is another: — THE LIGHT OF HOME. “A traveler was hastening from a distant land to his native country.
His heart was filled with hope and joy, for he had not seen his parents and brothers for many years; therefore, he hurried greatly.
But when he was on the mountains, night overtook him, and it was so dark that he could hardly see the staff in his hand. When he came down into the valley, he lost his way, and wandered a long time to the right and to the left; then he was very sad, and sighed, ‘Oh! would that a human being might meet me to relieve me in this trouble, and bring me on the right way! How grateful should I be!’
Thus he said, and stopped, waiting for a guide. As the way-worn pilgrim was standing there, full of doubts and anxiety, behold, a twinkling light gleamed from afar through the darkness, and its glimmer seemed lovely to him in the dark night. ‘Welcome,’ he exclaimed, ‘thou messenger of peace, thou givest me the assurance that a human being is nigh. Thy faint gleam through the darkness of night is sweet to me as the sunrise.’ He hastened to reach the distant light, fancying that he saw the man who was carrying it.
But, lo, it was a will-o’-the-wisp rising from a fen, and hovering over the stagnant pool; thus the man drew nigh to the verge of destruction. “Suddenly a voice behind him exclaimed: ‘Stop, or thou art a dead man! ‘He stopped, and looked around; it was a fisherman, who called to him from his boat. ‘Why,’ asked he, ‘shall I not follow the kindly guiding light? I have lost my way.’ ‘The guiding light,’ said the fisherman, ‘callest thou thus the deluding glimmer which draws the wanderer into danger and destruction? Evil subterranean powers create from the noisome bogs the nightly vapor which imitates the glimmer of the friendly light. Behold how restlessly it flutters about, the evil offspring of night and darkness.’ While he thus spoke, the deceptive light vanished. After it had expired, the weary traveler thanked the fisherman heartily for preserving him.
And the fisherman answered and said: ‘Should one man leave another in error, and not help him into the right way? We have both reason to thank God: I, that he made me the instrument to do thee good; thou, that I was ordained to be at this hour in my boat on the water.’ “Then the good-natured fisherman left his boat, accompanied the traveler for a while, and brought him on the right way to reach his father’s house. Now he walked on cheerily, and soon the light of home gleamed through the trees with its quiet modest radiance, appearing to him doubly welcome after the troubles and dangers he had undergone. He knocked; the door was opened, and his father and mother, brothers and sisters, came to meet him, and hung on his neck and kissed him, weeping for joy.”
It is rather long and very descriptive, but there are some beautiful things in it, and useful lessons, too.
Here is another of Krummacher’s parables: — THE GUIDE, “A wanderer had to go a long and dangerous journey over a rugged and rocky mountain, and knew not the way. He asked a traveler for information, of whom he heard that he had come this same path.
The traveler pointed out the road to him clearly and distinctly, together with all the by-ways and precipices of which he must beware, and the rocks which he should climb; moreover, he gave him a leaf of paper, on which all these things were described skillfully and exactly. The wanderer observed all this attentively, and at each turn and by-path he considered carefully the instructions and descriptions of his friend. Vigorously he proceeded; but the more he advanced, the steeper the rocks appeared, and the way seemed to lose itself in the lonely dreary ravines. Then his courage failed him; anxiously he looked up to the towering gray rocks, and cried: ‘It is impossible for man to ascend so steep a path, and to climb these rugged rocks; the wings of eagles and the feet of the mountain-goat alone can do it.’ “He turned away, thinking to return by the way he had come, when suddenly he heard a voice exclaiming: ‘Take courage, and follow me!’ He looked round, and to his joyful surprise he beheld the man who had pointed out the way to him. He saw him walk calmly and steadily between the ravines and precipices, and the rushing mountain-torrents. This inspired him with new confidence, and he followed vigorously. Before nightfall they had ascended the mountain, and a lovely valley, where blossomed myrtle and pomegranate trees, received them at the end of their pilgrimage.
Then the cheerful wanderer thanked his friend, and said: ‘How can I express my gratitude to thee? Thou hast not only guided me on the right way, but hast also given me strength and courage to persevere.’ The other answered: ‘Not so; am I not a wanderer like thyself, and art thou not the same man as before? Thou hast only seen by my example what thou art, and what thou art able to do.’” How beautifully you might use that. parable to show how Jesus Christ gives us great power, not merely by precept but by example, not only guiding us, but going out with us in the way, and showing us where we ought to go, and what we ought to do. ‘These extracts will give you an idea of Krummacher’s style; there are many more very pretty parables in his book. I have marked two others that I think I must read to you: — THE MAGNETIC NEEDLE. ‘”A Society of learned men caused a ship to be built, and resolved to make a voyage to discover the wonderful nature and properties of the magnetic needle. When the ship was ready to sail, they went on board, taking with them a great number of books, and all kinds of instruments; then they set a magnetic needle in the midst, and examined and observed it. Thus they sailed, to and fro, looking at the needle, and each had his own opinion concerning the hidden power which moves the needle. “Some called this secret power a stream, others a breath, others, again, a spirit; some asserted that it moved from the south to the north, others said from the north to the south. So a violent contest arose among the learned men, and they sailed to and fro on the ocean, quarrelling with each other. Suddenly they felt a rude shock, and a violent crash was heard. The ship had struck on a rock and split, and the waves were rushing impetuously in. Then the learned men were all seized with great terror and confusion; they left the needle, jumped overboard, and saved themselves on the rocks. The ship was buried in the waves. “Now, as they sat on the barren rocks, wet through with salt water, they cried out to one another that there was no dependence to be placed in the magnetic needle!”
Krummacher gives no explanation of this parable; but, taking religion to be the needle, you have men fighting and quarrelling about it, not following its divine guidance, nor yielding themselves to it; and then, when things go amiss, people cry out, “Oh that; is your religion.” No, these learned men did not make a proper use of the needle. If they had followed its pointing, and so discovered which way they were sailing, and consulted a proper chart they would have been right; enough. It was their own folly that; led them into mischief.
That is a high class of parable, mark you, and requires a superior mind to give it; from the pulpit; such a superior mind as all of you, brethren, possess.
Another parable of a similar character is the hast; one I will give you from Krummacher: — THE COURSE OF THE BROOK “‘Behold the course of yonder brook,’ said a teacher to his disciples. Strongly and calmly it streams through the valley and the meadows, reflecting the image of the blue sky in the mirror of its clear waves. It waters the roots of the trees and shrubs that grow by its side, and its cool exhalations refresh the flowers and grassblades round about. “’Then it flows through a barren tract of land, full of sand and gravel; there its blessings end. “’Yet it continues to be the same clear brook, fraught with blessings, though no one enjoys its bounty. “’Behold, a wild boar rushes in, parting the sparkling waves. The animal drinks from the floods, which cool his burning sides; the mud, raised by the sudden commotion, sinks again to the bottom. “’Now a weary wanderer bends over the limpid crystal, quenches his thirst, and cools his glowing brow; then hastens on, refreshed and grateful. “’Where is the source and origin of the lovely brook? “’Look up yonder! Dost thou see the towering peak of the mountain, and the cave surrounded by rugged rocks? There, in the deep bosom of the earth, is the hidden spring of the brook. “’But from whence come the never-failing source and the inexhaustible supply? “’Behold, the top of the mountain touches the vault of heaven, veiled by the dewy clouds. “’Where is the end of the brook? “’Ever increasing as it rolls onward, it falls into the arms of the ocean; from thence it returns to the clouds.’ “Thus said the master; and his disciples recognized the image of heavenly love and its agency on earth.”
For good parables, let me once more recommend to you SPENCER’ S Things New and Old, which teems with them, as it abounds also in the allegories and illustrations I have already introduced to you from its pages. Here is an instructive parable on wasps and bees: — AN IDLE MAN YIELDING TO THE LEAST TEMPTATION. “Set a narrow-mouthed glass near to a bee-hive, and you shall soon perceive how busily the wasps resort to it, being drawn thither by the smell of that sweet liquor wherewith it is baited; and how eagerly they creep into the mouth of it, and fall down suddenly from that slippery steepness into that watery trap, from which they can never rise, but, after some vain labor and weariness, they drown and die. Now, there are none of the bees that so much as look that way; they pass directly to their hive, without taking any notice of such a pleasing bait. Thus, idle and ill-disposed persons are easily drawn away with every temptation; they. have both leisure and will to entertain every sweet allurement to sin, and wantonly prosecute their own wicked lusts, till they fall into irrecoverable damnation; whereas the diligent and laborious Christian, that follows hard and conscionably the works of an honest calling, is free from the danger of those deadly enticements, and lays up honey of comfort against the winter of evil.”
Supposing that you haveSPENCER’ S Things New and Old, and supposing that you have wit, which is not quite the same thing, I would recommend you to buyGOTTHOLD’ S Emblems: or, Invisible Things Understood by Things that are Made. By Christian Striver, Minister of Magdeburg in 1671. You cannot make a better investment than that even if you get married; in fact, that may be a bad investment if you make it too soon, or not wisely. This English translation of Gotthold was originally issued by Messrs. T. and T. Clark, of Edinburgh, in two volumes; but there is now a good edition in one volume. There is an emblem, with a meditation thereon for every day of the year. Some of Gotthold’s emblems cannot be correctly classed with parables. There are some that are emblems, others are really fables, some are expanded metaphors, but there are also many parables.
Take this one, in which a delicate stomach is put as the representative of a sensitive conscience.
THE WEAK STOMACH.
February 9. “A pious man complained of a pain in his stomach, and being asked the,. cause, replied: ‘I was recently at an entertainment, where! was importunately pressed to eat, and by so doing, exceeded my usual measure. The consequence is that my stomach is angry, and seeks to revenge itself, and punish me.’ Gotthold observed: Mark the emblem, which you have within yourself, of pious and conscientious men. They cannot bear the smallest excess. Not merely do they heartily reaping actual sin, but sicken if they have been guilty of the least neglect. Their heart beats, their conscience stings and quails them, and they find no peace until, by true repentance, they are reconciled to God through Christ.”
If I read you one or two more of Gotthold’s emblems, you will understand how it was that the author,CHRISTIAN SCRIVER, was so popular. In the translator’s Preface, we are told that “the Queen of Sweden (at that time the first and most powerful Protestant kingdom in the world) invited him to be her spiritual guide and court preacher at Stockholm, and wept, and was inconsolable, when, feeling the infirmities of age, and, prompted by modesty and attachment to his flock and sorely-afflicted fatherland, he declined the honorable call.” No book ever sold, I think, so much in the Christian world asGOTTHOLD’ S Emblems, exceptBOGATSKY’ S Golden Treasury, and some English books, such asDODDRIDGE’ S Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, andBAXTER’ S Saint’s Everlasting Rest.
Here is another of Gotthold’s emblems: — SUBSIDED MUD, April 24. “In a vessel filled with muddy water, the thickness visibly subsided to the bottom, and left the water purer and purer, until at last it seemed perfectly limpid. The slightest motion, however, brought the sediment again to the top, and the water became thick and turbid as before. Here, said Gotthold, when he saw it, we have an emblem of the human heart. The heart is full of the mud of sinful lusts and carnal desires. and the consequence is, that no pure water — that is, good and holy thoughts — can flow from it. It is, in truth, a miry pit and slough of sin, in which all sorts of ugly reptiles are bred and crawl. Many a one, however, is deceived by it, and never imagines his heart half so wicked as it really is, because sometimes its lusts are at rest, and sink, as it were, to the bottom.
On such occasions, his thoughts are apparently devout and holy, his desires pure and temperate, his words charitable and edifying, and his works useful and Christian. But this lasts only so long as he is not moved; I mean, so long as he is without opportunity or incitement to sin. Let that occur, and worldly lusts rise so thick, that his whole thoughts, words, and works, show no trace of anything but slime and impurity. One is meek as long as he is not thwarted; cross him, and he is like powder, ignited by the smallest spark, and blazing up with a loud report and destructive effect.
Another is temperate so long as he has no jovial companions; a third chaste while the eyes of men are upon him. “Alas, my God! How often have! fancied that the world and all its lusts were a thousand miles away, and yet afterwards discovered that, like a crafty foe, she had kept quiet only to attack and beguile me unawares. Often, in my communings with thee, I have vowed that I would be courteous and friendly to the man by whom I had been injured, and would show it by my deportment. Nay, if required at the time, I would have confirmed my vows with any number of oaths; and yet I have afterwards found that the very sight of him so violently stirred and agitated my heart, that nothing was visible in it but the mire of enmity. O my God, purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean ; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow! Create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).”
Now that is a very gracious thought, beautifully expressed. Gotthold’s emblems are all sweet like that, full of matter and marrow. Here is another: — THE SPOILT PEN. April 25. “A lady of rank, having occasion to write a letter, took up a pen, which she found unfit for the purpose, and attempted to mend. In this operation, however, she happened to blot the paper, which provoked her to such a pitch that she struck the pen with violence upon the table, and spoilt it. Gotthold witnessed the scene, and said, with a smile: Nothing is more common in life than to find people acting in this manner. They cast away, break, and destroy their instruments, when these do not serve them agreeably to their wishes. By this, however, they only show how just and right it would be in the Supreme Author of all good things, intending, as he does, that we should be the instruments of his grace and will, but finding us unprofitable, and even obstinate and refractory, were he to reject us in his wrath, and dash us in pieces in his hot displeasure.
Why should that be wrong in him, which seems to be right in us?
But he is God and not man, and so great and tender is his mercy, that he does not execute the fierceness of his wrath, nor turn to destroy us utterly. (Hosea 11:8,9.) “Thou God of mercy, I can form no better conception of thy longsuffering than by surveying my own brief life, and marking the rich display of it towards myself. But when I figure the vast multitude of unbelievers who daily and hourly offend thee, but nevertheless continually desire and continually enjoy thy goodness, my soul sinks as in a deep ocean, and all I mourn for is that there is one who does not love thee, who art love itself.”
I hope you will learn from these extracts, which are fair’ specimens, that GOTTHOLD’ S Emblems will be invaluable to you.
There is a little book, called, Spiritual Fables, Apologues, and Allegories, in Prose and Verse, by E. B., published in 1869, by Messrs. Reeves and Turner. The good man who wrote it has not put his name in full, he has given only his initials, — E. B., — but I happen to know that his name was EDWIN BOWDEN, and that he was an invalid Congregational minister at Heavitree, Exeter. His work is a book of fables, but the fables are very good, and those that are not fables are parables. Here is one:— CAMOMILES. “‘You smell delightfully fragrant,’ said the Gravel-walk to a bed of Camomile flowers under the window. ‘We have been trodden on,’ replied the Camomiles. ‘Does that cause it?’ asked the Gravel-walk. ‘Treading on me produces no sweetness.’ ‘Our natures are different,’ answered the Camomiles. ‘Gravel-walks become only the harder by being trodden upon; but the effect on our own selves is, if pressed and bruised when the dew is upon us, to give forth the sweet smell which you now perceive.’ ‘Very delightful,’ replied the Gravel.”
That is no fable, you see; the camomile does smell when trodden upon, the gravel paths do not.
This is another of Mr. Bowden’s spiritual fables: — EBB AND FLOW. “’Mother,’ said a little Limpet sticking to the rock, C Mother, what has become of the sea? I am so dry here.’ ‘Nothing unusual has taken place, dear,’ said the old Limpet, affectionately. ‘Oh, it was so nice to be in the deep water,’ said the little one. ‘Is the sea all gone?’ ‘It will come again by-and-by, love,’ replied the kind old Limpet, who had had long experience of ebb and flow. ‘But I am so thirsty, and almost faint, the sea has been away so long.’ ‘Only wait awhile in hope, little one; hold fast to the rock, and the tide will soon come back to us.’ And it did come, it soon came, rolling up the beach, and humming over the sands, making little pools, and forming tiny rivers in the hollows; and then it rolled up against the rocks, and at last it came to the Limpet, bathed it with its reviving waters, and so amply supplied its wants that it went to sleep in peace, forgetting its troubles. “Religious feeling has its ebbings and flowings. But when former sensible comforts are departed, still to hold fast unto the immovable, unchangeable rock, Christ Jesus, is the sours support and safety. Love mourns the absence of spiritual enjoyments. ‘Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever?’ (Psalm 77:7-9.) It is then that Faith checks fears, and encourages confidence in God ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.’ (Psalm 42:11.)” Here is one more extract from E. B.’s book: — SOFTENING. “’Unaccountable this! ‘said the Wax, as from the flame it dropped melting upon the paper beneath. ‘Do not grieve,’ said the Taper, ‘I am sure it is all right.’ ‘I was never in such agony!’ exclaimed the Wax, still dropping. ‘It is not without a good design, and will end well,’ replied the Taper. The Wax was unable to reply at the moment owing to a strong pressure; and when it again looked up, it bore a beautiful impression, the counterpart of the seal which had been applied to it. ‘Ah! I comprehend now,’ said the Wax, no longer in suffering, ‘I was softened in order to receive this lovely, durable impress. Yes, I see now it was all right, because it has given to me the beautiful likeness which I could not otherwise have obtained.’ “Afflictions are in the hand of the Holy Spirit to effect the softening of the heart in order to receive heavenly impressions. Job said: ‘God maketh my heart soft’ (23:16). As the Wax in its naturally hard state cannot take the impress of the signet, and needs to be melted to render it susceptible, so the believer is by sanctified trials prepared to receive and made to bear the divine likeness. ‘In whom also after that ye believed (says the Apostle), ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise’ (Ephesians 1:13), ‘Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts ‘(2 Corinthians 1:22).”
I have heard WITHER’ S Emblems strongly recommended, but I cannot join in the recommendation. The title of the book is rather curious: — A Collection of Emblems, Ancient and Moderne: Quickened with Metricall Illustrations, both Morall & Divine: and Disposed into Lotteries, that Instruction, and Good Counsell, may bee furthered by an Honest and Pleasant Recreation. By George Wither. The pictures at the top of the pages are some of them remarkable; but the emblems are, to my mind, very poor things. I looked through the book to see if there was anything worth reading to you and I found this parable: — THE TRAVELLER ON THE ICE “A traveler, when he must undertake To seek his passage, o’er some Frozen lake, With leisure, and with care, he will assay The glassy smoothnesse of that Icie-way, Lest he may slip, by walking over-fast, Or, breake the crackling Pavement, by his hast: And, so (for want of better taking heed) Incurre the mischiefes of Unwary-speed. We are all Travellers; and, all of us Have many passages, as dangerous, As Frozen lakes; and, S1ippery-wayes, we tread, In which our Lives may soon be forfeited, (With all our hopes of Life eternall, too,) Unlesse we well consider what we doe.
There is no private Way, or publicke Path, But rubs, or holes, or slipp’rinesse it hath, Whereby, wee shall with Mischiefes meet; unlesse, Wee walke it, with a stedfast warinesse. The steps to Honour, are on Pinacles Composed of melting Snow, and Isicles; And, they who tread not nicely on their tops, Shall on a suddaine slip from all their hopes. Yea, ev’n that way, which is both sure and holy, And leades the Minde from Vanities and Folly, Is with so many other Path-Ways crost, As, that, by Rashnesse, it may soon be lost; Unlesse, we well deliberate, upon Those Tracts, in which our Ancestours have gone.
And, they, who with more haste than heed will runne, May lose the way, in which’ they well begunne.” Last of all, there is a book, entitled, Moral Emblems, with Aphorisms, Adages, and Proverbs of All Ages and Nations, from Jacob Cats and Robert Farlie, published by Messrs. Longman, Green, and Co. Farlie wrote a book on Candles, which greatly assisted me in the preparation of my Lecture on “Sermons in Candles “; Jacob Cats, a Dutchman, wrote a book on emblems; and Mr. Richard Pigot has translated them into English. The work is published, with splendid engravings and magnificent letterpress, in a very handsome binding, for about twenty-five or thirty shillings; therefore, brethren, I do not suppose it will come in the way of most of you; for with that amount you can purchase many books that will be more useful to you. It has a great many good things in it, very good proverbs, fables, and so on, though, perhaps, not so good as some you have heard this afternoon. They are in poetry; here is one: — HASTEN AT LEISURE. “The Peach-tree, with too eager haste To show its blossoms to the sun, Gives off its pretty bloom to waste, Before the frosts of Spring are done.
Much wiser is the Mulberry, Which only thinks its leaves to show, When leaves are green on every tree, And roses have begun to blow. “They most ensure success and praise, Who, guided by the rule of reason, Do fitting things on fitting days, And dress as most becomes the season.” Here is another of Jacob Cats’ emblems: — ONE ROTTEN APPLE INFECTS ALL IN THE BASKET. “Fair maid I who comes so oft this way, Your fruit of me to buy, In guerdon of your kindness, pray, Before my fruit you try, Give ear to what I have to say, For I would service do To such as buy of me to-day, Good customers like you.
Full many years have I sold fruit, And well its nature know; As that of every herb and root That in the garden grow; And this I’ve found, and heard it, too, From all who fruit have grown, However fine and fresh to view, The good, keep best alone.
No rotten pear, however slight The token of decay, But soon as e’er it meets the sight, It should be thrown away; For be the damage e’er so small, In little time I’ve known, The taint will often spread to all, From that one pear alone.
I’ve had of Jargonels a lot, As sound as fruit could be, All from one apple take the rot, And prove sad loss to me.
Nor is there fruit that ever grew, When spoil’d in any part, But soon spoils all that’s near it, too, So take these truths to heart!
A tainted grape the bunch may spoil; A mildew’d ear, the corn in shock; A scabby sheep, with rot and boils Infect and kill the finest flock. Hence, maiden, I would have you know The ill that evil contact brings To all the finest fruits that grow, And fairest maids, like other things.
Seek only all that’s good to learn; Thine ears from evil counsel turn; For all the more the fruit is fair, The greater is its need of care.” The final emblem, from Cats, is hardly a spiritual one; but it will show you that you need not be afraid of public opinion, and it will remind you of something of which I have had my full share, and which may fall to your lot in due season:- THE GOOSE HISSES WELL, BUT IT DOESN’T BITE. “When first these Geese I saw, and heard Them hiss so fierce at me; With fear o’erwhelm’d, I fled the bird, And thought therein to see Some winged beast, or dragon fell, Whose pestilential breath Alone sufficed, as I’d heard tell, To spread dismay and death.
At length, their snappish noise despite, I felt within my breast A strange resolve to stay my flight, And meet them at my best.
So looking round as fiercely, too, I was about to draw, And pierce the hissing monsters through; When all at once I saw — And said, as plain as I could speak: ‘Why, I’m a fool outright!
The beast’s a flat and toothless beak!
With that he cannot bite; No claws upon his feet has he That I had need to fear, No crooked talons that I see With which my flesh to tear. ‘Tis all mere empty wind, e’en though So dread to th’ ear and sight; Fear not, my mates! — who hiss and blow Are seldom fierce to bite.’” Thus I have mentioned to you a considerable variety of works. If you manage to get some of them, you will probably have to be satisfied. Gotthold’s Emblems are the best of all; they are really first-rate. You must get that little book by E. B., if you can. John Bunyan’s Emblems you will find in his works; and Flavel’s, in his. Austen you may not very readily get; but Quarles, Spencer, and Aesop, you can and ought to buy. Krummacher’s style is very pretty, and tasteful; but he uses more words than I relish. I like Gotthold most, he has not a word too many; I think that you also will be pleased when you have got hold of him.
I will not keep you any longer this afternoon; I only hope that I have been able to direct you to some books that will be really helpful to you in finding Fables, Emblems, and Parables.