« PreviousContinue »
BRENT-TOR CHURCH, DEVON.*
High raised to meet the moorland storm,
Uprears its venerable form.
Of lurid red, dispelled the night,
Its tower detains the stranger's sight.
In days of eld,- forgotten now,
Plighted to Heaven his solemn vow;
And for deliverance in that hour,
This lowly pile, with darksome tower.
• Brent-tor, or the Burning Tor, is an abrupt and striking elevation, on the border of Dartmoor, between Tavistock and Lydford ; in remote times, judging by its name, a beacon station. The antique and rude church of granite, which crowns its summit, and, at a distance, almost appears a pinnacle of the rock itself, is of unknown date and origin. The tradition alluded to in the foregoing stanzas is the popular one; but probably its elevated site was really chosen to render it at once a house of prayer and a landmark. Many churches in Corn. wall are, to this day, most acceptable guides, in the more solitary districts, to the pedestrian tourist; and must have been far more so to the traveller in stormy weather, when the roads were little better than tracks over the bleek wild hills, above which they appear.
And there the wintry blast it braves,
The pelting rain, the drifting snows, And when the thunder-tempest raves,
Scathless its humble front still shows; While ’neath its roof shines forth a light,
That makes all lights of Nature dim, The lamp of God, set on a height,
To guide each wanderer home to Him.
O, many a haughty tower of pride
Has since by war been overthrown; And many a hall left nought beside
Some broken shaft, or massy stone. The wise, the noble, and the brave,
Have with their mansions, passed away; While here, beside the peasant's grave,
Old fane, thy walls resist decay.
'Tis thus, O Lord, above the waste
Of sin and death, thy Temple stands,High amid storm and tempest placed
That pile unbuilt by human hands. And long and loud has been the strife
Of Satan, and the sons of guile, To rend that holy place of life,
To lay in dust that.sacred pile.
But still alone-in simple might,
Undecked by outward pomp of art,
It cheers the pilgrim's sinking heart.
Nor fiends of darkness, shall prevail,
Which guides the wanderer through the gale. Land of my sires, e'en so may'st thou
On Christ,--the Rock of Ages,-long
Sure founded, -sanctified, and strong!
That fain would its foundation shake, --
Preserved for thy Redeemer's sake.
That ancient Church’s walls to found;
E'er geek to raze it to the ground ?
Aside to turn such evil day:
And be thy grace our only stay. W. A. J.
YOUNG VALIANT-FOR-THE-TRUTH, AND
HIS ANCESTRY. OUR incomparable dreamer, doubtless, drew largely from his own experience, when he presented “Mr. Valiant-for-the-truth” in the attitude of a combatant-his weapon being that sword of the Spirit, which is invincible alike for attack or defence, and ever sharp and effectual when wielded with the calmness inspired by appeal to the Lord of hosts.
The most experienced and least assailable pilgrims are ever most apprehensive of hidden danger-the most ready to pray, “ Lead me not into temptation.” The ancient rolls which supplied John Bunyan with the records of his hero, furnish a few additional particulars of his ancestry and descendants.
The Valiants-for-the-truth are a very ancient family: a long and uninterrupted succession having obtained honorable mention, in chronicles which reach back to the earliest history of time, and are destined to close only when time itself shall be no longer.
Many an individual suffered martyrdom in the days of persecution ; numbers endured the loss of all things, were destitute, afflicted and tormented; others had, perhaps, the harder trial of cruel mockings, or the temptation of riches, honor, and pleasure --but all were manfully resisted, and in bright array they stand forth still, a noble monument of divine gracedivine protection-and divine approval !
We believe they are numerous upon the earth in modern times, though there have been, and yet are, a multitude of distant and doubtful relatives, who desire kindred with the original stock, and indeed try hard to persuade us, that they are of the pure race; but, their conduct and their speech bewray them to be aliens and foreigners. Bunyan enumerates three notable impostors in his day, “ Wildhead, Inconsiderate, and Pragmatic.” The chronicles, aforesaid, describe also the Dis. semblers, and the Equivocators_those who withhold part of the truth-who speak with double meaning or mental reserve, and thus work or make a lie. All these would perchance hesitate at direct falsehood ; and yet, as an eminent member of an ancient branch, mourns in his letter of faithful remonstrance, “They are not valiant for the truth ; they will deceive every man his neighbour ; will speak peaceably with the mouth, but in heart lay wait to ensnare him; will deal falsely; their tongue speaketh deceit."
A sincere and honest Valiant-for-the-truth has hard conflict, even from his earliest infancy, to maintain the spotlessness of his honourable lineage in the present age ; for his original territory has been invaded by the spoiler, and a whole host of intruders created by the father of lies throughout the paternal estate, now forfeited for an early transgression, which placed the heirs under an attainder, only redeemable by ransom and atonement of incalculable value. The punctual fulfilment of these conditions, by a benefactor of boundless compassion, has restored the noble family, of whom we write, to their former rank and titles, though they still suffer some of the consequences of their ancestors' misconduct. The biography of one of the present representatives of the family in detail, may not be uninstructive.
• Jeremiah ix. 3, 8, xlii. 20.
Born with a deceitful heart, and prone, like other men, to “ go astray as soon as he is born, speaking lies;" the first and most inveterate enemy the youthful Valiant finds to encounter, is his own evil nature. Happy is it for him if, sensible of the plague of his own heart, and having it cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, he gains the help invariably rendered to all who seek it from that Spirit, whose office it to "guide us into all truth.” Even in the nursery and play room, must the baby Valiant learn to be on the alert, for his proper dread of parental discipline, or laudable desire for approbation, present continual allurements to compromise his integrity, to deny his faults, to magnify childish virtues, to make careless statements of exaggeration, to cheat at marbles or to appropriate a companion's bauble, to allow blame to rest upon the innocent. How often are the cat and dog the convenient dumb scape-goats for the censure which more properly appertains to their juvenile owners! That was a noble boy who declared, in answer to a proposal of holding his empty hat as a bait for his strayed pony, No! that would be cheating him, and I would not cheat even a horse!" So he forthwith filled the hat with grass.
The context of the passage, whence the family name is derived, evidently implies, that the truth" signifies moral and practical honesty, not merely the belief and diffusion of certain doctrines; consequently, they are not valiant-for-the-truth who cannot forego deception, even in sport, for the truth's sakem who would win a game at cricket or bowls, by placing their antagonists at a disadvantage-or, who would make bye laws at an archery meeting, which shall exclude half the aspirants for the prize, after the fashion of “the Master Sweepstakes!"
The school room and college hall also present an arena for trial, demanding increased efforts of undaunted heroism. School is a miniature world, and temptations are there more varied, more insidious, than in the bosom of an affectionate home circle. None but the youthful Christian can know how difficult it is to endure valiantly the warfare of tongues which contemn and assault his aim to keep the badge of truth unsullied. He is stigmatized as coward, if he refuse to take the name of his God in vain !—Miser, if he decline to join in swindling or plunder !--Tell-tale and spy, if compelled to bear