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baptized. And what, let me ask, does this mean? What, but that our children are included in the covenant of
is given to them; that they are born into Christ, into whose name they are baptized; and that it is God's intention that they should be brought from the first into contact with Divine principles, institutions, and influences; that God's spirit should so operate on their hearts from the first, in the formation of holy principles, habits, and character, that they should be Christ's, belonging to His Church, from the beginning, and that they should never go into the world at all, or at all lead a sinful life.
If this be so, then we should recognise and act upon the blessed fact that our children are born into Christ; that while they come into the world possessing a sinful nature, yet that they are also born into a state of redemption. It therefore follows, that they go direct to heaven, if they die in their infancy, for of such, says our Lord, are the kingdom of heaven; and that, if by God's mercy they are spared, they should be baptized into the name of Christ, as a recognition of the blessed fact that they do not belong to the devil or the world, but that they are God's children, the property of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that, too, by the purchase of His precious blood. Their baptism also introduces them into a state of religious privilege from which they should not be kept any longer than can be avoided. And this state of religious privilege, as I apprehend it, means, that they should be instructed in all the principles and truths of our holy religion ; that they should be trained up in the exercise of all its duties and ordinances ; and that we should expect, and take it as a matter of course, as Christian parents, that they should grow up to love and serve God, and as members of Christ's Church, the subjects of God's kingdom in this world.
And surely we find the warrant for all this, not only in the teachings of Holy Scripture, in the very constitution of the Church, and the very genius of Christianity, but also in the constitution of our children thermselves, in the first principles of our own nature. Children have not only bodies that have to be cared for by their parents, and minds, intellectual powers, to be developed and irained, but they have also a moral nature, moral and spiritual powers, which it is the duty of the parent to train rightly, to develope, and to direct to their proper uses. This latter, indeed, is the most important part of their nature, and that to which all the other parts should be subordinate. Take a child, study its nature from the first, and you will find, that long before the mental powers awake there is in it, alive and vigorous, the sense of right and wrong. This sense, the conscience, awakens as an instinct, at the slightest hint. The will is seen in the mere child, the spiritual reason too; and chiefly the affections. The whole experience of the human race manifests that at that precise period when the mental powers, owing to the rapid growth of the frame and the corresponding feebleness of the brain, are weakest and most unsuitable to exertion or to training, then are they most susceptible of impression, most capable of emotion. So much so, indeed, that men often look back with feelings of wonder, and almost of awe, to the bigh and radiant glory that they feel to have shed its beams upon their infant soul—the glory, undoubtedly, of
the moral powers in the first awakening. Of this emotion in the child, Wordsworth speaks in his immortal ode :
“ There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
To me did seem
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The rainbow comes and goes,
The moon doth with delight
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair ;
But yet I know, where'er I go;
That there hath passed away a glory from the earth.” This glory, which the great poet so beautifully and justly attributes to infancy and childhood, we recognise as the first awakening glow of the moral affections of the child, demanding that spiritual food and support to them which the parent is authorised to give; that training which they are then best qualified to receive.
Nor need this glory pass away, if the parent walk himself in the faith of things unseen and eternal, if the child be trained by him to walk in the light of heaven, and under the shadow of the Almighty ; if the home be a sanctified temple and dwelling place of God's presence and His teaching. Then, indeed, the eye of the child would in all things continue to see the glory of the unseen God, and not the external world alone be apparelled in celestial light; but from youth to age the human being so trained would walk through life canopied with light from the unspeakable glory ; crowned with a halo and a radiance of moral beauty that we see in few at the present day.
We have thus briefly indicated what is the true normal growth of the Church. And surely we shall all admit that it is a source of increase that is being too much neglected both by Christian parents and the Church. Each has a pressing duty to discharge in relation to it. The duty of the parent, which is the great right of the child, is the right of being dedicated to God by the formal act of baptism. But then this dedication should be considered in its true light and meaning. It is now little more than a form, a meaningless ceremony, alluded to without any realizing sense of what it is and of what it involves. And yet, from it, rightly considered, how many consequences flow! The right that all children thus dedicated to God should be trained up in His name and His word—that His law should be made the rule of their lives—that the written Word should be their study—that the home should be a sanctified temple of God's presence and grace, and not a mere abiding-place to eat and drink in, but a temple, wherein father and mother shall be, as it were, "priests and kings,” sanctified teachers and sanctified governors of their household in Christ perpetually! This is the great claim the child has upon the parent ; and this claim, we say, is verified and established by all parts of the human nature of the child, which cry
aloud for such a consecration; and children are then, and then only, placed in their proper position towards man and God, when so dedicated, so united in covenant to the eternal Zion, through the eternal Spirit. This is the highest teaching to the spiritual nature of the child, and the most complete and perfect education that its faculties and its necessities require and demand. Nor is the duty of the Church to be overlooked, for the child has rights upon the Church, which is but a larger family, and which rights and duties cannot be neglected without great loss to both the Church and her children. The Church should practically look upon the children as her own, take care of them, and provide instruction for them, and also make a place for them in her ordinances and fellowship. But is she doing this ? Alas! no. At best she is doing it only imperfectly, and while she is exerting every endeavour to obey the serious command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature," she is too much overlooking that equally important, and let me add, equally imperative command, given to the chief of the Apostles, “ Feed my lambs.”
HANDEL.-II. We now approach what may be called the middle period of Handels life-in other words, that period which is least poetic and attractive to the general reader. All persons feel the charm of childhood and youth, with their blooming hopes and rich possibilities. All persons can see a ripened and reverent beauty in an honourable old age, especially when crowned with great achievements. But the middle period of life is the period of toil, of struggle, of conflict. It bas neither the smiling sweetness of rosy morn" nor the glowing richness of sunset eve. It is the unpoetic day, characterized by “burden and heat."
Our hero entered upon this new epoch in his history with £10,000, the profits of his previous works. With this capital he entered into partnership with the proprietor of the Haymarket Theatre for three years, in order to bring out Italian operas. He then went on the Continent to collect a company of competent singers. Voyaging and travelling were not very secure and commodious in those days, and international sentiment was not so friendly and confiding as now ; but Handel pressed through all difficulties, and returned to this country with a fine staff of vocalists and instrumentalists. On December 2nd, 1729, appeared “Lothario," and on February 24th, 1730, appeared “Parthenope,” two original Italian operas. Look at this wonderful man! With all the complicated anxieties of a theatre-manager pressing upon his mind, he can yet sit down at odd moments and compose immortal music. He must have had a wonderful capacity for right down-hard work. Indeed he had a robust frame. He was broad-set, full chested, and of dignified and commanding appearance. His brain partook of the general healthiness
of his constitution. He could originate far-reaching and elaborate conceptions, and he could toil through any amount of detail and drudgery.
On February 2nd, 1731, appeared another Italian opera entitled “Porus.” Whence did Handel obtain his inspiration for such elevated and noble music as appears in these operas ? Most assuredly not from the words to which the music was set, for in most cases these were wretched and puerile in the extreme. Also, considering the licentiousness of the age in which he lived and worked, the moral elevation of his music is still more surprising. Surely he was a " light shining in a dark place.”
On January 25th, 1732, Handel brought out" Ætius," andon February 15th the same year “Sosanne" appeared. It is easy to record this; but very difficult to realize the exhaustive character of the labour necessary to the production of such gigantic works.
When we see this willing and gifted man toiling so thanklessly to enrich posterity but to exhaust himself, we think of Solomon's word, “ This is a sore travail. For what hath a man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun ? For all his days are sorrow, and his travail grief ; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night.”—Ecc. ii., 22, 23.
This year of 1732 is memorable in the history of music in England as well as in the history of Handel as a musician. An incident, which need not be detailed here, induced him to perform “Esther" in public, which was a marked success. The public at once appreciated and applauded. This was the first public performance of an oratorio. Hitherto the English people had heard of oratorios as private luxuries, but now that source of instruction and delight was made public. It opened up a new mine of wealth to the gifted composer. It was a new source of power; it suggested a magnificent opportunity, and it contributed to the glory of England and the undying fame of Handel.
The suggestions of Providence in this case as in so many others in our world, were adopted reluctantly and slowly. Handel's heart was set upon Italian opera, but God was gradually leading him to the sacred oratorio. Handel's operas repeatedly and successively failed ; bis oratorios have succeeded beyond all example, and bave established the reputation of their composer.
During this fruitful year appeared “Twelve Sonatas, or Solos, for Violin or German Flute,” which were composed for the Prince of Wales. Probably many musicians have regretted that Handel did not set a greater value on his instrumental music, and that he did not compose more. Indeed he never suspected how much it was likely to be esteemed by posterity. He also brought out another Italian opera this year, "Orlando,” in which there is music written for an instrument now completely obsolete, namely the “Violetta Marina," tor it is not only not in use, but no one seems to know what it is.
Besides achievements in composition, Handel had to manage the tempers and whims of singers-by no means an uncommon difficulty. A distinguished lady singer, named Cuzzoni, declared that she would not sing the air “Falsa imagine"; this was at a rehearsal of “Otho,” one of Handel's beloved Italian operas. This threw the composer into
such a passion that he took up the lady in his arms, carried her to the window, and threatened to fling her out if she would not sing ; adding, “ I know you are a very devil, but I shall now let you know that I am Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.” The lady consented. In later years Handel was frequently heard to say, “Oh, the sins and passions I have to answer for, occasioned by the graces and accomplishments of that lady!”
Music exerts a strange influence on the nerves, and renders musicians particularly liable to irritation. The tuning of stringed instruments was very distressing to Handel, and consequently this was generally done before his arrival. On one occasion a wag tried an experiment; he went and unscrewed all the violins and basses after they were tuned for the evening's performance. The Prince of Wales was expected. Duly the musicians came and took their places, little suspecting what was in store for them. Handel came and took his seat at the organ, and waited until the Prince showed himself at the door ; he then gave the word of command, “ Con spirito." Judge of the startling effect—all the strings out of tune, and“ con spirito," besides! The horrified musician jumped from his seat, overturned a double bass, seized a kettle-drum and flung it at the first violinist, lost his wig in the transaction, and came to the front to apologize, but was unable to say a word for vexation; while the house rang with laughter. The Prince came to pacify him, probably enjoying the joke as much as he would have done the music.
On March 17th, 1733, “Deborah ” was performed. This is a lovely oratorio on the heroine of this name, whose exploits are recorded in the Book of Judges. “Deborah " was a failure, as regards attendance. Handel had latterly become unpopular; rivals were jealous of him, their cause was espoused by the “upper ten,” and many fierce personal attacks were made upon our hero in the publications of that time. Handel was accused of fondness for noise because he made a greater use of choruses than had been the custom, and because he augmented the orchestra; he gave great offence also because he would insist upon the true representation of his musical ideas, and would not allow favourite singers to flourish away in any way they liked for their own glorification ; also he intensified vexation by enhancing the price of admission. Handel had to pay the penalty of supremegenius. He was a great innovator, and wbile some of his merits were appreciated others were denounced. He was far ahead of his generation, and by the financial losses he sustained and the calumny he endured, paid the price of that colossal fame he has so gloriously
It has been recently said that Handel's genius was essentially warlike. In his music he marshals his columns as if to make a grand attack, and seems to take his hearers by storm. In his personal career, also, he displayed the genius of the warrior. When assailed by the combined forces of rank, of rivals, and of ribaldry he proudly and sternly fought out his battle, until his victories placed him beyond the reach of rivalry and criticism. Even when the fight was fiercest, which was in the year 1733, he composed his Athaliah,”
," and went to Oxford in June to perform it before the University. It was received with “vast applause," say the chronicles