« PoprzedniaDalej »
The New Year. You know that there are two beginnings to the year. This is not the beginning of the Church
year; the Church year begins with Advent Sunday. The first day of January is the beginning of the other
of the world. All the calendars and almanacks are reckoned from this day; and the date of the year is then changed.
The beginning of a new year reminds most people, who think at all, of the many chances and changes of this mortal life; it reminds us of the many things that have happened to us already, and the many things which may happen yet. If you are very young, perhaps you hardly understand this ; you cannot look back far, and you have not known many changes. Well, it will be enough for you, if
you think of the prayer in the baptismal service, and pray to be carried safely over the waves of this
troublesome world. It is nothing to you whether they are few or many; God will appoint them to you, and will take care of you, if you do but continue Christ's faithful soldiers and servants.
The 1st of January is a festival, as, of course, you know. You will see in your Prayer-books, that it is the Feast of the Circumcision. You know that all the time from Christmas-day to the Epiphany (or, as some reckon, to the Purification) is a time of rejoicing. You may observe, that during that time there are no vigils marked; for vigils are days of fasting.
But though this day is a festival, and therefore to be held as a day of rejoicing, yet it is a very solemn warning festival. It reminds us of our Lord's fulfilment of the Jewish law,-of His beginning to suffer for our sins. And the collect reminds us of much which it is very serious to think of. In it we ask of God the true circumcision of the Spirit,—that our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all carnal and worldly lusts, we may in all things obey His blessed will.
You know that our baptism was a death unto sin; that in it we put off the old man, the old sinful nature which we had from Adam ; that we renounced all the carnal lusts of the flesh, all covetous desires, all the pomps and vanities of the world, and all the works of the devil.
From all these evils, which we then renounced, we pray in this collect to be kept; that sin may not return to have dominion over us, but that we may keep God's holy will and commandments, in all things obeying His blessed will.
This is to be the rule of our lives; and though a blessed, yet it is a serious rule. It may well make us thoughtful. All this year through, if it please God that you live through it, you are to mortify all carnal and worldly lusts. This is, in fact, the same as to give up the devices and desires of your own hearts, as you say in the confession, lamenting that you have too much followed them. You are to give
them up. If you are selfish, if you are greedy, if you are proud or self-conceited, or wanting to have the upper-hand, or ill-tempered, or passionate, or wilful, — all these things you must try to get the better of; for you pray to God to enable you to mortify them—that is, to kill them. You must get rid of them, as a dead leaf drops off from a living tree. And then, having got rid of these bad ways, these bad wishes, you are in all things to obey God's blessed will, and to keep His commandments.
That is the scheme, the plan of your new year; but you must ask God's help in earnest, for His Son's sake, as the collect shews you how, otherwise you will never be able to do it.
In the outskirts of the parish of Durningham is a straggling hamlet called Woodside. It is on the edge of the commons and woods, and only approached by green lanes and by-paths. And at some distance from the rest of the houses, and almost buried in trees, stand six or seven detached and poor-looking cottages. They are of mud, and thatched; and many people have thought them pretty, and liked, if they happened to pass that way, to look at the great oak-trees and the fine hollies that grow behind them, as well as at the green before them, where the pigs, ducks, and a cow or two belonging to the cottages, were at large.
These cottages certainly did look pretty ou tside, but within they were dirty and untidy. And I am sorry to say that the people who lived in them had but an indifferent character. They were tempted to a lawless life by being out of sight of others; and nobody knew how they lived, for few of them were regular day-labourers. Some travelled for harvestwork, or hop-picking; some mended chairs; some sold wood, which I fear they often stole; and the women and children earned something by scraping bark for the tanner. It was supposed that the men often went out at night after game, or other thefts; and if any case of riot, pilfering, or quarrelling camé before the magistrate, there was usually a Morrison or a Lester concerned in it. These were the names of families who had long been settled at Brokenford -so the place was called.
These people scarcely ever came to church, unless to a christening, or a funeral; and if the clergyman called on them, they received' him uncivilly. They would say they did not go to church, because they were so far off, and had no places there. He knew this was but an excuse; for they would go much farther to their work, or to the shop: and he knew they could find room, if they came in time. Still he was sorry there was cause for such an excuse ; and he knew that many were unable to go so far on account of sickness or age.
He was a long time endeavouring to get a new church built for the people of Woodside, and of two
or three other wild, scattered hamlets. He could not afford to do it all himself, and he was a long while collecting the money from other people. At last he accomplished his wish.
The wild, ragged children used to run down the lane, and look out through the bushes, when they saw well-dressed people come and look about them to fix on a proper spot for the church. And when they saw the hollies cut away, and a place marked out with a trench all around it, and a tall pole fixed there to point out the spot, they screamed and clapped their hands; not that they thought much about the church, but they liked to see something going on; and the boldest of them used to run after the ladies and gentlemen to ask for a halfpenny.
As the walls began to rise, the grown people would come and look on. On a fine Sunday evening, the summer after it was begun, they would lounge about there, and fancy what it would be like when it should be finished. Some of the old people sighed, and said, “Well, they hoped it would be a comfort.”
Some of the women said or thought, “ if a parson came to live there, they should have somebody to give them things when they were ill.” But some of the poachers and pilferers from Brokenford said among
themselves, It was a bad job to have any body there to look into things, and see what they were about. Better be left to themselves."
One morning the clergyman of the parish came there with another gentleman, whom he called Morton. It was soon known that he was to be the minister of the new church, and have all these scattered hamlets under his care. He came to look at a cottage, and to give orders about having it enlarged, for him to live in; and he engaged some men to work in the garden he was going to make. These men, finding they should gain by him, were disposed to be civil to him. And many of the poor people whom he called on received him gladly, as if they valued the blessing of having a minister of God near them.