Imágenes de páginas

upon all

and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full : into the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”

Thus is revolution, change, instability, written things. The law is impressed on every varying form of nature. It is taught in the revolving skies. It comes up from the heaving depths of ocean. It is proclaimed in the convulsions of the earth; it is whispered in the stirring of the elements. Tbe seasons change. The secret powers of nature are ever at work, and every instant are producing new forms, new combinations, new appearances. If we repose and rest, everything is in motion about us; and the world in which we wake is no longer the world in which we slept. If thought passes in its busy career, or recreates itself with idle and airy visions, yet nature's mighty work goes on; the circulating air, the rolling ocean, the springing or the decaying plant, the waving forest, the flowing river, the bursting fountains, are all undergoing momentary changes.

The elements, too -- what a visitation of mystery and change, of mingled violence and gentleness, is theirs ! Fair visions of beauty and life, sweet and silent influences distilling, as the dew, soft breathings of balmy odors and heavenly melodies, spread themselves through all our senses, like the invisible wind, swaying the cords of an Æolian harp. But rougher touches proclaim other and

The elements minister discipline with pleasure. They often incommode ; they sometimes alarm

We are during a considerable portion of our lives suffering from the inconveniences of climate, and the incessant changes of nature; panting in the heats of summer, or shivering amidst the chills of winter, drenched with the rain or parched with the drought; our footsteps

sterner uses.


weary in the daytime, or stumbling in the darkness of the night. And often, too, the earthly pilgrim's path lies through storm and tempest, through dangers by flood and fire, through whirlwinds and tornadoes, through regions ploughed by the thunder of heaven, and the volcano on earth; where the lightning flashes, and the earthquake rends; where those tokens are, of Almighty power, at which “the dwellers in the uttermost parts of the earth are afraid.”

And thus it is, that in the very processes of nature, powers are at work, and results are produced, which in some form and at some time or other, proclaim to all men their insecurity, and from which all human safeguards are vain. There are vicissitudes, from which riches, if we had them, can purchase no immunity, and from which sagacity, though we were ever so wise, can invent no escape; vicissitudes which alike confound know and ignorance, and baffle strength and imbecility.

Man's task, too, in the toiling world, when he makes himself but a part of that world; man's task, what is it but motion, action, change, forever returning upon itself; a ceaseless revolution which never carries him beyond the circle of his absolute or artificial necessities ? And from these necessities, moreover, there is no exemption. Every human hand is stretched out to procure something that is wanted, or to ward off something that is feared. The case even of boundless wealth, furnishes no exception to this law, for it brings in equal proportion, the care of preserving, and the fear of losing it. And then, for the mass of mankind, behold the scene of their labors, and behold the result. Behold factories multiply, establishments increase, engines, inventions lend their assistance; behold the earth and ocean vexed with human toil, and the ten thousand wheels of commerce busy, and for what? To obtain for man repose ? No; but to procure relief, to meet the demands, no matter whether real or factitious, barely to meet the demands of necessity. All the energies of life are wasted, and to what end ? barely to live. All the possessions of life are accumulated, and to what purpose? to be cared for, to be borne about with us for a little season, then to be laid aside, like the habiliments of a weary day. The entire physical energies of life are put in requisition to support life; and at last they fail even of that; so that there is not only perpetual toil, but toil which in the end is fruitless and unavailing.

Is the condition of the world within, of the mental world, any better? We are speaking, indeed, of the world as it is, and not as it should be ; of the world of the many, and not of the few : is it any better governed or brought to any better account, than the world of man's fortunes and toils? The inward world is as truly as the outward, a world of changes. It is, indeed, more variable and restless, more fluctuating than the sea, more wayward than the wind that bloweth where it listeth. Its workings are more unwearied than the toiling hands, or all the swift and untiring engines of industry. Every feeling is desire, or satiety. Every passion is inflamed with pursuit, or pained with excess. Every mind, in the worldly crowd, is either hurrying in the swift career of exertion, or is pausing, weary, unquiet, unsatisfied at the goal of attainment. Success is a stimulus to greater efforts ; disappointment an apology for complaints and lamentations. The condition of pleasure is never to have enough; of pain, alas ! ever to have too much. Ambition sees more than it can gain ; discouragement sees nothing that it can gain. Wealth has cares, poverty has necessities, and it is sometimes difficult to tell whether the cares or the necessities are the greater burden, and occasion the greater disquietude ; and whether the pride of wealth, or the murmuring of poverty is the less easy and comfortable disposition.

What state of mind, or of the affections then is there, whether desired or deprecated, that may not minister to our annoyance, if that holy principle which brings satisfaction and strength, and harmony to the soul, be wanting?--Knowledge may perplex our curiosity, and ignorance disturb our fear. Mediocrity of talent, failure in a profession, is commonly considered as an occasion of intolerable disquietude; but inferiority itself is not more agitating than the situation of a proud man, exalted in the public opinion, and obliged to satisfy the demands made upon an idolized reputation. Or will you look at the affections, and at the tenure and condition upon which they hold all the treasures of this imperfect state. What we value and highly prize, at some time or other distresses us; and what we dislike, of course disturbs us. If we have friends, we are anxious ; if we have them not, we are forlorn. If we have hopes, we are agitated; if we have not hope, we are depressed.

[blocks in formation]

The word Bible is taken from the Greek word Biblos which signifies book; and the volume to which Christians give that title, by way of eminence, is called The Bible, because of its superior excellency, being the book of books, the best book.

The Bible is called The Scriptures, from the Latin word Scriptura, which signifies a writing; and it is called The Holy Scriptures, because it contains the collection of the writings of holy men, who, at different times, were raised up and inspired of God, for the purpose of publishing his commandments and promises, and the records of his mercies and judgments, for the instruction and salvation of mankind.




ANTIQUITY That the Bible has existed from very remote ages, will not be disputed, except by those who are grossly ignorant. The proofs of its antiquity are, beyond all comparison, more numerous and convincing, than can be advanced in favor of any other book in existence. It has never been without its intelligent witnesses, and zealous guardians ; though some of them have been the greatest perverters of its peculiar principles, or the bitterest enemies of the Christian name.

The Old Testament has been preserved by the Jews, in very age, with a scrupulous jealousy, and with a venera

« AnteriorContinuar »