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vain attempts to discover. Those unearthly harmonies seem born of no mortal minstrelsy, as from above they distill their bewildering richness upon
every sense, or from beneath rise as out of the slumbering rocks.
But as their soothing spell is cast upon his fevered spirit, sudden memories of the past, of home, of childhood, rush with unaccountable vividness and rapidity through his softened soul. Unbidden tears gather in his dreamy eye.
A mother's voice seems sounding in his ear.
Cool breezes of the mountain fan his cheek. He stands once more, in fancy, beneath the high nopal, hears the sighing of the zephyr through palm and pomegranate, and beholds the ripe fruit gleaming in the sun. While such remembrances subdue his heart with unutterable regret, suddenly harsh discords grate upon the ear, and the disenthralled consciousness reverts to the stern realities of his present position. Yet a voice, all pathos, sighs through his soul subtile words of sympathy; words revealing themselves to the inner sense rather than the outer, betraying thus no mark of supernatural origin.
"Remote from the home of his childhood, the innocent exile perishes with hunger. How pleasant the warbling song that lonely mother sings, unconscious of his fate! Hushed how quickly, could she but behold him now! Soon the agony will be over. Not much longer will frail nature sustain this strange ordeal beneath this pitiless sky of fire. These limbs, so supple once, all shrunk and useless now; these cheeks, all hollow; these eyes, cavernous as the dead. Soon must close the unnatural scene. 'Tis well that mother wots not of the deed. No parent's heart could brook the sight, nor choose but break.
“Yet hold-amazing thought !—this is the same the Voice declared the Son of God. Is this paternal ? this a heavenly father's care toward a well-beloved son? Incredible, unjust, unkind! If this the treatment of the well-beloved Son, what may not lower ties receive? earth's perishing millions, creation groaning and travailing in pain? Impossible ordeal of love! Either the powers and dignities of the sonship a delusion, and this the tyranny of infinite caprice, or the unnatural want should
One proper word of self-reliant prerogative, and the bare and blackened lavà will supply these constitutional cravings."
So urged the invisible enemy, approaching here his mightiest work, to swerve from right an uncreated mind, empty an eternal throne, and add to hell's domain a vassal of name. Man
he has already swerved from uprightness; angels and archangels plucked from the sublime estate. But one step more remains to universal victory, or universal anarchy at least.
“Place within my scope,” so he in heart defies the Eternal Three, “an uncreated virtue. Emptied of unequal attribute, stake upon his endurance the hopes of all the myrmidons of hell; let his success wrest from my scepter all the myriads thou mayest ordain, and whelm me thereby in direct overthrow and irrecoverable helplessness, give me but the access I require, let His impunity from sin and from eternal woe result from no omnipotent advantage, and I will stake all on that issue. Not angel nor archangel would I thus publicly assail, as pledged redeemer of my lawful captives. Angels and archangels in legions have already bowed to signalize my triumph. Higher aims demand my care. Heaven's Lord alone can provoke immortal hate to imperil all in such essay !"
And heaven's Lord here stands, on desert rocks, emptied of unequal fullness, a man, to meet and to endure, in behalf of myriads chosen, the utmost craft of hell. By the same ordeal tried that cost those myriads their primæval purity, by the same sophistries, assailed, with deeper virulence, more overwhelming onset.
Privation is the price of existence to every finite being. Purity itself can not escape that ordeal but by annihilation or by infinitude. In privation, angels and men encountered the first disturbing shock. The line of poised uprightness was disadjusted: they fell. In privation stands before us now the LORD himself, creator both of angels and of man, enduring more than they avoided, and resisting more than they yielded unto. Inscrutable, then, to him, as unto us, the secret things of God. Intolerable, as to us, the wolfish pangs of famine. Specious the doubts of paternal love, the denial of the right to afflict innocence with arbitrary anguish. Subtle the prompting to renounce dependence upon that unexplained providence, ensnaring the seduction to test the prerogative of the sonship by an act of self-support. So had begun apostasy; so, eternal ruin.
Suffering, then, these deadly sophistries of the invisible foe to reach their utmost evolution, calmly, out of the depths of an unshaken FAITH, he answers,
“ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
And hell shakes, trembling to her murkiest cave. Deprive the soul of all-increase the pangs of want to the utmost-yet, if Faith retain communion with her God, life is unimpaired; but, loose her hold on God, and the soul lives no longer, the power of death begins.
When ocean has been lifted up in one mighty wave, and dashed in thunder on the beach, then the refluent water, with an equal fury, rushes out into the deep; so, when the soul has risen in waves of terrible essay, and the shock is past, swift the unstable torrents of emotion recoil and gather in the opposite extreme.
Quicker than thought the desert sinks, and temple battlements rise bodily beneath our feet. There bursts below the chant of Israel's wor. ship. There rolls the smoke of sacrifice. Here without, the sheer descent darkens and dizzies the brain of the helpless Jesus. That strange, mysterious prompting, not unknown to human. ity, flashes across his soul, to plunge into the abyss—an emotion inscrutable, urgent, darkly sublime; and, withal, a thought imbodies itself within him.
“ Here find one all decisive test." If it be His will to lengthen life, He can as easily prevent thy fatal fall as now sustain thee under famine. Cast, then, the alternative on him. Show that faith is absolute. Show that thy endurance of famine unto death is from faith. Compel Him to the alternative, and thus establish thy 'son: