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The Last Poem.

Thus speaks the suffering body to the patient soul.

132

Then doth the Soul make answer.

With the wings of longing when wilt thou fly

To the hills of the glorious land on high,

To Christ thine eternal love?

Thank Him for me, though vile I be,

That His grace for me hath a share;

That He took our sorrows and felt our need,

That we are His love and care.

Ask Him, that safe in his tender Hand

In sweet rest I may lie,

When we part at the bounds of the pilgrim land,

Thou, soul and I.

I thank thee that thou on the pilgrim road

Hast been my comrade true;

Often wert thou a weary load,

Yet didst thou bear me through.

When the Day shall come that is to dawn

Shall all thy sorrows be past and gone;

Therefore let us give thanks and praise,

For His love who guarded us all our days,

And for hope of the joy that is to be,

For thee and me.

How did Matilda die? We know no more. Her death is mentioned in the Mechthild Book, Matilda von Hackeborn being one of those present at her death. But, alas! as it often happens in the search for mediæval facts, we are met instead by a relation of visions and dreams. Matilda von Hackeborn tells us no more than how she beheld in a vision the departure of the soul of her namesake.1111Matilda the Béguine’s own words relating to the death of a friend may better describe her own— “He laid him down upon the breast of God In measureless delight, Enfolded in the tenderness untold, The sweetness infinite.”    The account given by Matilda of Hackeborn is but an evidence of the unreal state of those who were for ever craving for some fresh revelations to supplement the Word of God; who unconsciously to themselves were walking, so far, by sight, and not by faith, and by the sight, moreover, of a disordered body.

133

The difficulty is to realise that in these imaginary histories we are reading the writings of some who, like Matilda of Hackeborn, had, in spite of their visions, real intercourse with God.

That Matilda of Magdeburg had this true intercourse, based upon the written Word of God, that she was one of those of whom the Lord Jesus said, “I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him,” there can be no doubt in any Christian mind. It was the time of the conflict of light with darkness, of the prejudices of early education with the experiences of communion with the living God. The heart received much that contradicted the nominal belief, and this inconsistency was not remarked by the recipient of the truth, because the mind was not called upon to act in the matter. It was left in inert subjection to the teaching of the Church.

When nearly three hundred years later the mind asserted its rights, and the Reformers gave at length Scriptural proofs of that which 134 the “Friends of God” had experienced, all might have been well. But, alas! the weight was shifted to the other side, and that which had been a matter of the heart became after a while a matter of the reason, to be discussed and assented to by those who had no heart in the question. We have to suffer for this in our days. Let us learn not to be contented with proofs in black and white, valuable as they are. We need that communion of heart with God by the power of the Holy Ghost, which needs no proof, and which is the only remedy for our lukewarmness, our worldliness, and our joylessness.


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