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For Members of the English Church.
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Keep thou my feet: I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
How many of us there are who must at some period or other have felt what is so exquisitely expressed in this and the following stanzas! Enough!' yes; and surely the one 'step,' however short in reality, would be too great, too awful, were it not for the guiding radiance that leads us on. In the dark night, long before the dawn, when the Old Year is passing into the New, the 'one step' seems almost more than we know how to contemplate with calmness. As to 'the distant scene,' it comes to us, no doubt-it will come, whether we ask for it or no; for it is that, in fact, which helps to create the awe, and make us pray for the 'kindly light.'
Nevertheless the best feeling of the Christian heart is that which is here expressed: the child-like confiding trust in the guiding beacon; the desire to rest in what is shewn forth, rather than to penetrate into what is hidden-into 'moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent.'
Great peace have they who can in God's strength master their own dark minds, and look only to the light, not to the spectres of the darkness. Heaven help them, and help us all, to tread fearlessly our appointed way. They whose work is done-they who are gone before us-have also their part to play. Their 'angel faces' come before us at these times radiant with sympathy and love. The labours we shared-the joint endeavour to promote any good work, however circumscribed-all the several 'steps' by which certain results were reached;-how is it possible not to feel the hallowing influence of such memories-nay, such companionship?
So again we begin a New Year, and so emphatically utter our welcome and greetings to any who may desire to begin it with us.