Imágenes de páginas

the world pays homage ; he looked round upon his nobles ; but every countenance was pale, and every eye was upon the earth. No man opened his mouth ; and the king first broke silence, after it had continued near an hour.

“ Mirza, terror and doubt are come upon me. I am alarmed as a man who suddenly perceives that he is near the brink of a precipice, and is urged forward by an irresistible force : but yet I know not whether my danger is a reality or a dream. I am as thou art, a reptile of the earth : my life is a moment, and eternity, in which days, and years, and ages, are nothing, eternity is before me, for which I also should prepare : but by whom then must the faithful be governed ? By those only, who have no fear of judgment ? by those only, whose life is brutal, because like brutes they do not consider that they shall die? Or who, indeed, are the faithful! Are the busy multitudes that crowd the city, in a state of perdition ? and is the cell of the Dervise alone the gate of paradise ? To all, the life of a Dervise is not possible : to all, therefore, it cannot be a duty, Depart to the house which has in this city been prepared for thy residence: I will meditate the reason of thy request; and may He who illuminates the mind of the humble, enable me to determine with wisdom.”

Mirza departed; and on the third day, having received no command, he again requested an audience, and it was granted. When he entered the royal presence, his countenance appeared more cheerful ; he drew a letter from his bosom, and having kissed it, he presented it with his right hand. “My Lord!” said he, “ I have learned by this let. ter, which I received from Cosrou the Iman, who stands now before thee, in what manner life may be best improved. I am enabled to look back with pleasure, and forward with hope ; and I shall now rejoice still to be the shadow of thy power at Tauris, and to keep those honours which I so late. ly wished to resign." The king, who had listened to Mirza with a mixture of surprise and curiosity, immediately gave the letter to Cosrou, and commanded that it should be read. The eyes of the court were at once turned upon the hoary sage, whose countenance was suffused with an honest blush; and it was not without some hesitation that he read these words.

“ To Mirza, whom the wisdom of Abbas our mighty lord has honoured with dominion, be perpetual health! When I heard thy purpose to withdraw the blessings of thy government from the thousands of Tauris, my heart was wounded with the arrow of affliction, and my eyes became dim with Sorrow. But who shall speak before the king when he is troubled; and who shall boast of knowledge, when he is distressed by doubt? To thee will I relate the events of my youth, which thou hast renewed before me; and those truths which they taught me, may the Prophet multiply to thee'

“ Under the instruction of the physician Aluzar, I obtain ed an early knowledge of his art. To those who were smit ten with disease, I could administer plants, which the sun has impregnated with the spirit of health. But the scenes of pain, languor, and mortality, which were perpetyally ris sing before me, made me often tremble for myself. I saw the grave open at my feet: I determined, therefore, to con template only the regions beyond it, and to despise every acquisition which I could not keep. I conceived an opinion, that as there was no merit but in voluntary poverty, and si lent meditation, those who desired money were not proper objects of bounty ; and that by all who were proper objects of bounty, money was despised. I, therefore, buried mine in the earth ; and renouncing society, I wandered into a wild and sequestered part of the country. My dwelling was a cave by the side of a hill. I drank the running water from the spring, and eat such fruits and herbs as I could find. To increase the austerity of my life, I frequently watched all night, sitting at the entrance of the cave with my face to the east, resigning myself to the secret influences of the Prophet. One morning after my nocturnal vigil, just as I perceived the horizon glow at the approach of the sun, the power of sleep became irresistible, and I sunk under it. I imagined myself still sitting at the entrance of my cell ; that the dawn increased ; and that as I looked earnestly for the first beam of day, a dark spot appeared to intercept it. I perceived that it was in motion ; it increased in size as it drew near, and at length I discovered it to be an eagle. I still kept my eye fixed steadfastly upon it, and saw it alight at a small distance, where I aow descried a fox whose two fore-legs appeared to be broken. Before this fox the eagle laid part of a kid, which she had brought in her talons, and then disappeared. When I awake,, I laid my forehead upon the ground, and blessed the Prophet for the instruction of the morning, I reviewed my dream, and said thus to myself, Casrou, thou best done kell to renounce the tumult, the business, and vanities of life: but, thou hast 28, yet only done it in part; they art still every day busied in the search of food; thy mind is not wholly at rest ; neither is thy trust in Providence complete. What art thou taught by this vision ? If thou hast seen an cagle commissioned by Heaven to feed a fox that is lame, shall not the hand of Heaven also supply thee with food, when that which prevents thee from procuring it for thyself, is not necessity, but devotion ?-I was now so confident of a miraculous supply, that I neglected to walk out for my repast, which, after the first day, I expected with an impatience that left me little power of attending to any other object. This impatience, however, I laboured to suppress, and persisted in my resolution : but my eyes at length began to fail me, and my knees smote each other ; I threw myself backward, and hoped my weakness would soon increase to insensibility. But I was suddenly roused by the voice of an invisible being, who pronounced these words : Cosrou, I am the angel, who, by the command of the Almighty, have registered the thoughts of thy heart, which I am now commissioned to reprove. While thou wast attempting to become wise above that which is revealed, thy folly bas perverted the instruction which was vouchsafed thee. Art thou disabled as the fox ? hast thou not rather the powers of the eagle ? Arise, let the eagle be the object of thy emulation. To pain and sickness, be thou again the messenger of ease and health. Virtue is not rest but action. If thou dost good to man as an evidence of thy love to God, thy virtue will be exalted from moral to divine ; and that happiness which is the pledge of paradise, will be thy reward upon earth.'

“ At these words, I was not less astonished than if a mountain had been overturned at my feet. I humbled myself in the dust; I returned to the city ; I dug up my treasure; I was liberal, yet I became rich. My skill in restoring health to the body, gave me frequent opportunities of curing the diseases of the soul. I grew eminent beyond my merit; and it was the pleasure of the king that I should stand before him. Now, therefore, be not offended ; I boast of no knowJedge that I have not received. As the sands of the desert drink up the drops of rain, or the dew of the morning, so do I also, who am but dust, imbibe the instructions of the Prophet. Believe then that it is he who tells thee, all knowledge is profane, which terminates in thyself; and by a life · wasted in speculation, little even of this can be gained. When the gates of paradise are thrown open before thee, thy mind shall be irradiated in a moment. Here, thou canst

do little more than pile error upon error: there, thou shalt 'build truth upon truth. Wait, therefore, for the glorious vision; and in the mean time emulate the eagle. Much is in thy power; and, therefore, much is expected of thee. Though the Almighty only can give virtue, yet, as a prince, thou mayst stimulate those to beneficence, who act from no higher motive than immediate interest : thou canst not produce the principle, but mayst enforce the practice. Let thy virtue be thus diffused ; and if thou believest with reverence, thou shalt be accepted above. Farewell! May the smile of Him who resides in the heaven of heavens be upon thee; and against thy name, in the volume of His will, may happiness be written!"

The king, whose doubts, like those of Mirza, were now removed, looked up with a smile that communicated the joy of his mind. He dismissed the priage to his government; and commanded these events to be recorded, to the end that posterity may know, “ that no life is pleasing to God, but that which is useful to mankind.”



Character of the Great Founder of Christianity. NEVER was there on earth any person of so extraordinary a character as the Founder of our religion. In him we uniformly see a mildness, dignity, and composure, and a perfection of wisdom and of goodness, that plainly point him out as a superior being. But his superiority was all in his own divine miad. He had none of those outward advantages that have distinguished all other lawgivers. He had no influence in the state ; he had no wealth ; he aimed at na worldly power. He was the son of a carpenter's wife, and he was himself a carpenter. So poor were his reputed parents, that at the time of his birth his mother could obtain no better lodging than a stable ; and so poor was he himself, that he often had no lodging at all. That he had no advantages of education, we may infer from the surprise expressed by his neighbours on hearing him speak in the synagogue : " Whence hath this man these things ? Wat wisdom is this which is given him ? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary ? Are not his brethren and sisters with us?” This point, however, we need not insist on; as from no education, that his own or any other country could have afforded, was it possible for him to derive that supernatural wisdom and power, that sanctity of life, and that purity of doctrine, which so eminently distinguish him. His first adherents were a few fishermen ; for whom he was so far from making any provision, that, when he sent them out to preach repentance and heal diseases, they werę, by his desire, furnished with nothing, but one coat, a pair of sandals, and a staff. He went about in great humility and meekness, doing good, teaching wisdom, and glorifying God, for the space of about three years after the commencement of his ministry ; and then, as he himself had foreseen and foretold, he was publicly crucified. This is the great personage, who at this day gives law to the world. This is he, who has been the author of virtue and happiness to millions and millions of the human race. And this is, he whom the wisest and best men that ever lived have reverenced as a Divine Person, and gloried in as the deliverer and saviour of mankind.



The spirit and laws of Christianity superior to those of every

other religion. The Morality of the gospel gives it an infinite superiority over all systems of doctrine that ever were devised by man. Were our lives and opinions to be regulated as it prescribes, gothing would be wanting to make us happy : there would be no injustice, no impiety, no disorderly passions. Harmony and love would universally prevail. Every man, content with his lot, resigned to the Divine will, and fully per. suaded that a happy eternity is before him, would pass his days in tranquillity and joy, to which neither anxiety, nor pain, nor even the fear of death, could ever give any interruption. The best systems of Pagan ethics are very imperfect, and not free from absurdity; and in them are recommended modes of thinking unsuitable to human nature, and modes of conduct wuich, though they might have been úseful in a political view, did not tend to virtue and happiaegs universal. But of all our Lord's institutions the object is, to promote the happiness, by promoting the virtue, of all mankind.

« AnteriorContinuar »