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lence in all ages and countries, even among newly discovered nations that have had no previous interchange of thought with other parts of the world, prove it to be one of those mysterious and instinctive beliefs, to which, if left to ourselves, we should naturally incline.”
I may say that I am a total unbeliever in anything of the sort—entirely skeptical on such points. “It's all moonshine"—and yet the very next new moon, if I happen to see it first over my right shoulder, and am “lucky” enough to have even a “wee siller” in my pocket, any one standing by can note the involuntary satisfied smirk on my face. Look at the thousand and one minor superstitions of New England. It is good luck if you fall up-stairs; bad luck to-rock an empty chair; for a child to look in a mirror, or to have its nails pared before it is a year old, is certain death; to break a mirror is death to some member of the family; must not pick up a pin if the point is toward you; if the house is in “apple-pie order” no company will come -vice versa, a crowd; to have the right ear burn, some one is praising you; "an itching palm,” money is coming to you. But time would fail me to speak of half that are as common as cows in a pasture.
In every Southern State and family superstitions are to be found-mainly of African origin, to be sure -but there they are!
Washington Irving tells of the old squaw spirit who had charge of the great treasury of storm and sunshine for the region of the Hudson, as the Indians believed. She dwelt in the highest peak of the Catskill mountains. Here she kept Day and Night shut up in her wigwam, letting out only one of them at a time. She made new moons every month, and hung them up in the sky, cutting up the old ones for stars. The great Manitou, or master spirit, employed her to manufacture clouds. Sometimes she wove them out of cobwebs, gossamers, and morning dew, and sent them off, flake after flake, to float in the air, and give light summer showers. Sometimes she would brew up black thunder-storms, and send down drenching rains to swell the streams and sweep everything away.
Have colleges and Christianity been able to do away with the superstitions of “thirteen at a table," or “ beginning anything on a Friday"? Nay; what became of the captain who defiantly began the building of his ship on that "unlucky day,” finished it on Friday, launched it on Friday, sailed on Friday? These “ foolish notions” (?) are not confined to the ignorant entirely, to servants, to negroes and the unenlightened. The argument is not sound—will not prove.
“Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ve are too superstitious."
In the book of Job: “In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: it stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God?”
In the Greek and Roman poets—in Homer, “ the father of song,”-in Ossian: “A dark red stream of fire comes down from the hill. Crugal sat upon the beam; he that lately fell by the hand of Swaran, striving in the battle of heroes. His face is like the beams of the setting moon. His robes are of the clouds of the hill. His eyes are like two decaying flames. Dark is the wound of his breast. The stars dim-twinkled through his form; and his voice was like the sound of a distant stream. My ghost, O Connal! is on my native hills, but my corse is on the sands of Ullin. Thou shalt never talk with Crugal, or find his lone steps in the heath. I am light as the blast of Cromla; and I move like the shadow of mist. Connal, son of Colgar! I see the dark cloud of death. It hovers over the plains of Lenna. The sons of green Erin shall fall. Remove from the field of ghosts. Like the darkened moon he retired in the midst of the whistling blast.”
And what of Shakespeare: “Macbeth," with its witches — worse than Maiola — “Hamlet," with its ghost, and “Julius Cæsar," chock-full of the supernatural? The superstition of the “evil eye,” which, like many others, has come down from the Middle Ages is still firmly believed in in Ireland and in the Highlands of Scotland. In Milton and in Spenser, in
Chaucer and in Dryden, in Coleridge's “Ancient Mariner,” in Longfellow's “Skeleton in Armor,” in Poe's “Raven,” in Dickens, as well as in Scott, glimpses, or more, of the supernatural and of superstition can be seen and read. “It is all a mystery—I can't understand,” “The whole thing is very mysterious,” are expressions that we use from childhood to the grave. But we are not to trust in “old wives' fables," nor in “cunningly devised fables,” but in “the living God, who giveth richly all things to enjoy."
Dean Swift says: “If God should please to reveal unto us this great mystery of the Holy Trinity, or some other mysteries in our holy religion, we should not be able to understand them, unless He would bestow on us some new faculties of the mind.”
And another great divine has said that if we had one more sense 'we might be able to see the spirit world. “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” If we had a few more faculties we might be able to understand “all mysteries and all knowledge”; but it is God's plan that we shall walk by faith—that we shall "believe and obey” with what He has been pleased to give us. We cannot be God-only the “creature” of His hand—“of His court but not of His counsel," " the sheep of His pasture.” Humility, and not pride and ambition, must be ours. “Who by
searching can find out God?” In the natural world what we do not see with the naked eye is far beyond what we do see; and men, to their immortal praise, sacrifice their time, their fortune, their sleep, that they may learn, with telescope and microscope, and give to the world just one little chapter more of the wonderful, mysterious and marvelous works of Almighty God. But the things which belong to the supernatural, the spiritual world, cannot be learned nor “found out” with any of man's inventions, however great they may be. They must be “spiritually discerned” with the “eye of faith ” alone. Simply: “I believe.”
“In its sublime research, philosophy
May measure out the ocean-deep-may count
There is no weight nor measure:-none can mount
Though kindled by Thy light, in vain would try
“ Lord, forever at Thy side
Let my place and portion be:
Clothe me with humility.
“ Meekly may my soul receive
All Thy Spirit hath revealed ;