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A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

Mary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus online

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the varied races who pass. They who come and go here, reminded that the
Nephalim with all their arrogant might left little but their crumbling
tombs; that Astarte, once the potent, dangerous goddess of the groves,
here faded from the love of her fevered hosts, who themselves in turn
faded from the face of the earth, may pause to question what the meaning
and power of this last, new, fresh presentment! Perhaps they will hear
from those made wise, and in time learn to tell one another, that
these two figures speak of the Deathless Kingdom, its white loves, its
wondrous rewards and its Spirit of might expressed by all who are in it
through the power of an endless life, and through the agency of immortal
influence.”

“Miriamne, I see thee a palpitating angel in the flesh! I can say no
more!”

As the young missioner thus spoke he stretched out his arms toward the
woman he loved as if he would restrain her. The motion came from his
heart, which was anxiously saying within: “She is growing upward and away
from her consort.” But he had neither courage nor words to voice the
vague thought which brought admiration mixed with fears.

They turned toward their temporary home in the Giant City. As they went,
the rising sun flooded the marble forms by the graves with a golden
light, and the twain, beholding the glory of that morning benediction,
felt an illumining in their hearts that some way made heaven seem very
near.

“And now, darling, we’ll return to Jerusalem, and quietly pursue our work
until we join those loved ones gone on before,” spoke the husband the day
after the monument’s unveiling.

“I trust we shall work in future with better plans and grander results
than we have had before.”

“Are you discontented with what we accomplish?”

“No, and yes,” was her measured reply.

Cornelius turned his eyes full upon her, lifting inquiringly his eyebrows.

She continued: “I’m satisfied, if God so will, to blend my work into my
husband’s; I know this is my duty as a wife, but I long to echo nobler
music. Can you make it?”

“Annata, the Assyrian goddess, was content to be the echo of her spouse,
the mighty Ammon. I’d be an Ammon if I could to be worthy being echoed by
Miriamne. But, little wife, your words sound almost Delphic; and yet you
are no such ambiguous oracle. Is there any wish unmet?”

“I’ve a misgiving.”

“Why, wife of mine, see how strong you’ve been, each year adding health!
See the shadows over our people. We are sent to chase these away with
Gospel truth. We’ve hitherto only learned how to work efficiently, and
in the future will do braver, greater things than ever. We’ll tarry, as
Adolphus, ay, and by grace renew strength, turning back the dial pointer,
as with prayer, did Hezekiah of old.”

“I’ll not go, I know, until my work is done. None go before such time.”

“Oh, but we must go together everywhere, even to death.”

“Ah, beloved, I know your meaning. It’s the lover, not the consecrated
missionary, who speaks now.”

“I can’t help it! I’ll be useless without you. I’m useless now, except as
you sustain me; as Abishag, the Shunnamite, the fairest young maiden of
all Israel, brought heart to the bosom of David, old and shaken by years,
so you put into me all the ambition I have. To my trembling heart you are
what Deborah was to Barak’s.”

“God help you, Cornelius; I believe you, because I know your trusting
nature and have joyed in the fullness of your lavish love, but let us
bravely face this matter as it comes. For God, I know, I must quickly do
my work and be gone.”

“Oh, say not so, if I’m to be left alone! That must not be! By your love
for me I entreat you to stay; a thousand ties bind my life to thine; it
will kill me by inches to have them severed!——

“Miriamne, my own, nearer to God by far than am I; plead with Him to
spare us this agony!”

“In spirit, my loyal spouse, we shall ever be near each other, but I
feel that in the body we shall not be together long. I shall finish my
course and then——”

“No, not that,” vehemently exclaimed the husband. “Say not that! I’ll
work for you, with you, for God. Help me to the end and let me so help
you, beloved!”

“You may help me while I tarry.”

“I’ll joy to realize the prophet’s vision, who saw the hands of a man
under the wings of an angel. Here are the hands and Miriamne is the
angel.”

“But your imagination glows, kindled by the torch of a human heart almost
idolatrous.”

“Nay, not idolatrous; for the fire rises to things holy. I only plead
that God let me walk with Miriamne; I know she will walk nigh Him. Go
where you will my feet will bear me thither, undertake what you may,
my heart and hand will help; point out any goal of darling desire and
thither I’ll carry you, if need be. For you I’ll gladly die, if, at the
dying, I have the comforting assurance that soon my other self will join
me in the overshadowed land of life.”

“How it would brighten the world, if all who take the holy vows of
marriage on their souls were as truly wed in heart as we.” As the twain
stood by the white marble figures at sunrise the next morning, equipped
for departure, they made a striking picture. The living and the dead; the
exemplars of the purest, deepest wedded love committed to serving their
fellow man; they rose grandly above the ruins of the place builded by
those mighty self-seeking devotees of Astarte.

Bozrah sat in desolation, knowing no hope and having a bitter past only
and forever to contemplate; the youthful gospel heralds had all life,
rising to new life—hope beyond hope, joy beyond joy, and then life,
hope and joy in endless unfoldments, stretching way through measureless
eternities, all before them. Miriamne was pensive; Cornelius was
chastened by the remembrance of the words she had spoken the day before,
and both subdued by the presence of the majestic monument before them.




CHAPTER XXXV.

THE SISTERS OF BETHANY.

“Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,
No thought her mind admits;
But ‘He was dead and there he sits!
And He that brought him back is there!’

“All subtle thought, all curious fears,
Borne down by gladness so complete;
She bows, she bathes the Savior’s feet
With costly spikenard and with tears.”—ALFRED TENNYSON.

“In the day time He was teaching in the temple, and at night
He went out and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of
Olives.”—LUKE xxi., 37.

“Gethsemane on one side, Bethany on the other ... where He
was wont to pray for His people and weep for a sinful world;
where His feet stood on the eve of His ascension and where
His wondering disciples received from white-robed angels the
promise of His second advent. It will be admitted that above
and beyond all places in Palestine Olivet witnessed ‘God
manifest in the flesh.’”—_Porter’s “Giants of Bashan.”_


After Jesus had been driven from His native Nazareth, He found a home
in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, in the village of Bethany,
on the eastern slope of Olivet. That was sweet, memorable Bethany of
the Gospels; “the perfection of repose,” amid the palm and oak-covered
slopes of Olivet; hidden by its quiet life, as well as its sequestering
mountain, from Jerusalem, that great, throbbing heart of Palestine.

Thither, down the east steps of the Temple, through the “Golden Gate,”
along camel paths that wound past Gethsemane and across fitful Kedron,
the Son of Man often went when worn out by His love ministries, or
harassed by the gainsayings of the great city. So, preaching His new
kingdom, He exalted its cornerstone, the godly home, by electing one
such, that of Lazarus and his sisters, as a rest and a refuge for
Himself. Beyond this He proved His own humanity by seeking earthly
friendships, at the same time exhibiting Himself, though the favored of
heaven, the object of constant angelic regard, as needing, because He was
human, that which humanity ever needs—congenial human fellowships.

The history of that ancient Bethany family, gathered from various
sources, but chiefly from the simple and touching narrative of the
Evangelist John, is full of interest. The mother of that home, to us
nameless, was dead. Yet she was not fameless; that circle of children
in their several relationships witnessed full well of a finest
mother-culture, that had been theirs. The father of that family was
worse than dead; he was a leper, buried alive in the Lazar keeps of the
plague-stricken, and the husband of Martha, the elder sister, early had
left his bride widowed.

That was a circle cut through its center; but affliction had knit
together in deepened affection the few left. The fatherly brother,
Lazarus, well fulfilled his double obligation, and wins admiration, as
do ever those sons and brothers who faithfully take the place of dead
fathers. That he was such a brother, the grief of his sisters when he
died fully proclaimed.

With a few fine sentences John depicts those sisters. Martha, widowed
in life’s morning, but surmounting all morbidness by giving herself to
motherly ministries in her home; and then was Mary, a clinging, trusting,
pious maiden; a poem of faith, a tear-bedewed rose-wreath. When Christ
joined that circle there was presented the finest conceivable ideal of
a home. They served and He blessed, and though their bereavements could
never be forgotten, while His banner of love was over them, they were
able to alleviate the poignancy of their griefs through the hope of a
blessed resurrection and a final, eternal reunion.

The sacred associations gathering about the village of Olivet made it a
place peculiarly attractive to Cornelius and Miriamne; for they, too,
were bereaved; neither in all the world having a single living kinsman of
whom they knew.

They determined, shortly after their final farewell to Bozrah, to take
up their abode at the “House of Dates,” and were unmeasurably delighted
in being able to secure for themselves a house reputed to have been the
identical one occupied by Christ and His choice friends. If it were not
the same, there seemed good reason to believe it was at least on the site
of that ancient sacred domicile.

One day they conversed of their work, their hopes, and the needs of their
field of labor.

“I’m led to think that we should establish a refuge for Magdalenes,
Miriamne.”

“If we did attempt the founding of an asylum for outcasts we would not
belie the memory of a noble woman, who was never a harlot, by applying
to it her name. But my ‘grail’ does not lead me that way. I’d go mad
working for the utterly lost only! No; no, our work must be more radical,
by beginning back of the falling so as to prevent it.”

“Something must be done to educate the women of this country to better
living and higher conceptions of womanhood. We need a school of some
kind.”

“A school? Good, if it be of the right kind; but there have been schools
and schools for men, such as they were, and they have effectually proven
that education alone is not a savior. Learning does not transform the
soul, else God would have given Moses the pattern of a college instead of
that of a tabernacle. My mother used often to tell me that the devil is
superbly educated. The more he knows the prouder and more dangerous he
becomes. I do not despise learning, but since it is impotent to transform
men, why try it as the savior of woman? She who takes counsel less of the
intellect than of the conscience and affections! We must seek for those
we aim to help something surpassing in direct efficacy any thing yet
attempted;” so saying, Miriamne paused.

“Shall we organize a church, ‘fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and
terrible as an army with banners?’”

“There have been churches and churches. It would be vain for me to
attempt to prove to you, a theologian and a churchman, that this you call
the ‘Bride of Christ’ is imperfect or lacking in any energy of reform;
but, though I heartily confess ’tis the choicest institution this side of
the stars, yet I see it professing to have heavenly charity, abounding
light, and measureless joys, leaving the needy without hospitals, the
heathen in ignorance, and most of the world, including many churchmen,
famishing for happiness. The trouble is, it infolds too many wolves and
repels too many lambs. Your flocks are too much given to atoning for lean
living by fat believing; memorizing huge creeds instead of incarnating
them; putting their faith-confessions into themselves rather than
themselves into their faith professions. You churchmen shut your ears to
friendly criticism, sneer at those that censure, and in branding such
heretics proclaim yourselves infallible. I’d not be a vaporing railler,
but I hear within your ecclesiastical bodies of warring factions, of
ambitious and multitudinous leaders, a proof that they are of the
church militant; though theirs is an internecine militating. I doubt if
there has existed Christ’s ideal of a church since Pentecost. He gave a
glimpse of its true outlines there, and it will yet come in its power and
splendor; then, for the pæans!”

“You’d organize, perhaps, a _Vestal Band_?”

“Vestals?”

“Yes; an union of women of pure hearts, committed solely to such works as
those performed in part by the holy sisters of our church fraternities.”

“I revere such as are thus engaged with all my heart; but, churchman,
you are narrow in your plan; even Pagan Rome, which honored Vesta, the
fire goddess, by having an altar to her in every community, held that
the State was a great family, and placed Vesta, the goddess of virginal
purity, near the Penates, or gods of the household and family.”

“I see nothing now in this juxtaposition.”

“They saw that there was ruin to all society if their girls were impure;
hence buried alive a Vestal, if she fell from her vow of chastity. You
have heard, Cornelius, how good Romans were wont to invoke, often, as
their family guardians, the manes of their departed kin; and this very
naturally; they held to the belief that the family tie, the finest,
strongest known among men, outlived, by virtue of its heavenliness, the
shock of death. Imperial Rome trusted much its all-conquering swords, for
this life, but for the life to come it appealed to Jupiter omnipotent or
Minerva, the all-wise. No, no, a ‘Vestal Society,’ such as you imply,
would not suffice. I’ve a broader clientage and vaster scheme in mind,
good churchman husband—”

“Shall I venture another guess?”

“It would be needless. Let me explain myself fully. Good Father Adolphus,
founder of Bozrah’s ‘_Balsam Band_,’ which he sometimes called ‘nursing
preachers,’ told me that in olden times there was in this country a
fraternity of women, banded together to perform works of charity.
They were remembered chiefly for their helpfulness to those that were
in direst need and utterly friendless. They befriended criminals and
social outcasts. He said that the women of Jerusalem who followed
Christ weeping, were, probably, of that fraternity, since it was the
custom of that pious company to offer their tears for those on the way
to execution. More, these women were wont to furnish the pain-dulling
herbs to victims dying condemned. You remember the Christ was offered
such herbs? When I remember the spirit that actuated Martha and Mary, I
readily believe they were members of that pious fraternity. More, when I
remember how, for His own dear sake, they ministered to His human wants,
there comes to my mind the possibility of a perpetual organization, for
God’s sake, ministering to human want, taking the home as its palace, and
to be known to the world by the expressive, winning title, ‘_Sisters of
Bethany_.’”

“Miriamne, if you were not Miriamne, I’d call you Gabriel. I’m dazzled by
these words. In truth, thy ‘_grail_’ is near, I believe.”

“That I seek to build up I’ve explained, and here in Bethany I’ll attempt
it. We’ll have a fraternity of women, Christ-guided, with burning hearts,
and in methods simple, direct and catholic, reaching after women.”

“Now for our pillow prayer, Miriamne. Then side by side, unto wondrous
sleep land, side by side in heart and being at awakening.

“‘The sun of the millennium will rise from behind the family altar,’
Father Adolphus was wont to say. ’Twas well said; redeemed homes are the
fruits of the restoration. Shall I read to-night?”

“Surely we need the Word to understand the throbbings of our own hearts
when our prayers return, dove-like, with olive branches from heaven.”

“What shall I read?”

“What came after Pentecost!”

Then the husband opened to the Gospel Story, and remarking the
‘Ascension,’ read:

“He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given
commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

“To whom also He shewed himself alive after His passion by many
infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the
things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

“When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord,
wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?

“And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the
seasons, which the Father hath put into His own power.

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:
and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea,
and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up;
and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold,
two men stood by them in white apparel;

“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?
This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in
like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”

“And His farewell happened at Bethany? It makes our home seem still more
like the gate of heaven, when I remember this; ‘He’ll come so as He
went;’ what if that meant His next advent is to be at this very place?”

“Or, what if it meant that He would appear the second time, in glory,
at the homes of men; since He elected His home for the gateway of His
earthly exit,” replied the husband. Then they sat for a little while in a
blessed silence; that kind that falls upon souls bowing to a benediction,
or moved by thoughts that are holy beyond expression.

The wife broke in on their reverie: “I wonder how His departure affected
the disciples?”

“I have it all here, darling;” then he took one of his parchments and
read:

“And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands,
and blessed them.

“And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and
carried up into heaven.

“And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

“And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.

“And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with
them, and confirming the word with signs following.”

“I knew it was as I thought! If believers are as they say, enlisted
soldiers, under the blood-stained banners, our Christ has not been true
to His word, or there is universal treason in the camp! The world is not
gospeled and the soldiers have not the miracle power. I tell you husband,
there is need of a revolution, a revival of zeal, an improvement of
methods! The Hospitaler was right. The Christian world needs to be led
along the _Via Dolorosa_ after Jesus and Mary, up to their measure of
utter consecration, to their undying love, to their lofty, soul consuming
zeal!”

And the young gospel herald was silent, for he could not gainsay her.




CHAPTER XXXVI.

THE QUEEN OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID.

“The harp the monarch minstrel swept,
The king of men, the loved of heaven.
...
It softened men of iron mold;
No ear so dull, no soul so cold
That felt not, fired not to the tone,
Till David’s lyre grew mightier than the throne;
Since then, though heard on earth no more,
Devotion, and her daughter, love,
Still bid the bursting spirit soar,
To sounds that seem as from above,
In dreams that day’s broad light can not remove.”—BYRON.

“The king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, ...
and caused a seat to be set for the king-mother, and she sat at
his right hand.”—1 KINGS, 2, 19.


“Miriamne, the heavenly host we imagined to be in bivouac about our
Bethany home, methinks were really present, and gave color and form to my
dreams. I was in a grail-quest all night.”

“What a golden day is such a night! But tell me of the color and form of
your visions, Cornelius.”

“We fell asleep last night conversing of the Ascension; my dreams carried
me on to Pentecost.”

“And what have you brought from the dream-land to help in the stern and
pressing waking hours?”

“A panting heart, as one having climbed mountain above mountain. I burn
to know and feel the whole significance of Pentecost!

“I’ve determined to seek holy companionship and wise guiding by
attendance at the next ‘Harvest Feast’ at Jerusalem. I think I’ll get
peculiar help at the great city.”

“The Israelites will not welcome a Christian to their feast.”

“The one I aim to attend is that that will be observed by the Christian
knights in an upper room, in the great city. They think they have
possession of the identical apartment in which the disciples of our Lord
met and witnessed the glories of Pentecost, after the Ascension.”

“In Joseph of Arimathæa’s house?”

“That is the accepted report. The Hospitaler, whom we believe to be a
‘Grail Knight’ of to-day, is quite earnest in so affirming.”

“Wondrous white-souled Arimathæa! Jewish and a priest, yet secretly
a disciple of Jesus! I dare to liken myself unto that holy man, in a
measure. He left an old faith for a new one, and followed the cup of the
Passion, as I, my ideal.”

“_A good man and a just_,” says the Testament.

* * * * *

“We meet to-night in Arimathæa’s house,” said the Hospitaler to
Cornelius, shortly after the arrival and welcome of the latter at
Jerusalem.

“Can the uninitiated attend?” questioned Cornelius.

“Now, that’s the joy of it, they can; and more, we are to have a number
of Jews present, among them some once priests; but now like that Joseph
of blessed memory, seeing the true light.”

“And the meeting?”

“The exalting of the Word, that’s the need of the hour, world-wide. I
tell thee, young man, set to teach; the needs are not more religions but
more religion, not more revelators or prophets but surer interpreters.
The world blooms with truth on every hand; who will pluck the blossoms?”

And the disciples were again, all with one accord, in the holy upper
chamber.

The Hospitaler, with an abruptness of John the Baptist, merely throwing
back his tunic and exposing the golden sign of knighthood for a moment to
his companions, as he entered, at once began to address the assembly;

“Jews and Gentiles, all children by creation of a common Father—greeting!
The fires of Pentecost are kindled everywhere in Jerusalem, but they are
the old fires and cold enough; sacrifices smoke on the altars, but the
day of such offerings is past.

“Methinks, the offered bulls, goats and lambs, if they could speak, would
cry out against the priestly hands that shed their blood; ‘How long,
how long the blood of our flocks has pointed to the lamb of God, the
All-Savior, who died to save men from sin and beasts from the altar; and
yet we die as if our work were not finished!’

“The beasts join in the wailings of humanity.

“For centuries God’s chosen people celebrated this feast of the harvest,
the joy of Jewry; and now the world’s harvest advenes. Yet, for the most
part, the multitudes see not the ripening. For years the first fruits
were offered, and as yet, the people do not understand that first fruits
mean chosen, choice fruits, the elect of God.

“For centuries, Israel offered the shoulder and heart of the lamb, and



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 33 of 40)