網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

river.

waters by channels through the solid land. And, again, in that lofty tower, while the world sleeps, an eye, filled with wonder and delight, looks through the narrow tube, widening for human view the limits of the material creation. And again, in another portion of the canvass, flows a mighty

For

ages did it flow, and heard no sound but its own deep murmur. But now it groans under the wealth of nations, and many a cry of active toil echoes over its bosom through the day, or "pierces the ear of dull night.” The innumerable tree-tops of the forest on its banks, which sang for centuries a lonely song, like some immense wind-harp, lo! they sink and vanish—for some magic wand waves over them, and shining cities spring from the ground, their forms changing, as we look, with a perpetual stir, as if they were but a new order of living, sleepless, creatures.

Certainly human life is a strange thing, and this earth a scene of wonders. But all is explained to us in the revelations made from heaven by Jesus Christ. In these revelations we are assured that this world is not man's final, as it is his first, abode--that it is only a scene of preparation for a world above itself,—that in this scene every man is left free to choose his own course, and build up his own character. This life is just what we should expect a life of probation to be for creatures constituted as men are. It is just what we should expect would be a brief life hastening to its own close and to the introduction of a higher life. “All these things shall be dissolved.” And well does the Apostle exhort us in view of this solemn truth,—“What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and goodness!"

A rational curiosity would prompt us to turn our view inward to these mysterious capacities of ours, and outwards to the constitution of things mid which we live. And it would seem that in harmony with this prompting, the whole order of nature is established on the plan of soliciting us to reflection. Nothing seems intended to lap man into oblivious slumber. The heavens are now calm, and now convulsed. Now the zephyr fans the cheek, and anon the whirlwind uproots the forest. Now the orb of day bursts into the heavens, and the earth lies rejoicing in his light:—a few hours pass, and the burning lamps of other worlds hang in silence all over the solemn skies. The spring smiles, but not so long that the world is lulled into repose, ere comes the scorching heat of summer:--and soon the living green changes to the sober tints of autumn,—and before men have gathered the earth's abundance into the granaries, they hear in the far distance the roa: of the coming winter-blast.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

But what time, if we should select, seems so peculiarly appropriate to reflection, as the close of the year,--when the sun declining from the usual height of his mid-day tracks, moves with bowed head and beam aslant through the heavens, and the earth, putting off its air of fresh rejoicing, assumes the aspect of musing melancholy. We look back into the months that have passed, and the fresh tombs of friends stretch over the whole line of vision. We look forward, and can almost read the inscriptions on our own monumental marble. On how many new-made graves does the sun every evening set? Nay, at every step of his progress through the heavens, how many thousands of graves does his flaming eye behold into which it never looked before! His warm light falls on the cold corpses of young and old, the wise, the innocent, the beautiful. And how greatly uncertain it is, whether we survive again his annual course. Our names are in the urn, and the hand of death is there selecting. God only knows who shall be drawn.

But whether we live through the days of the year that is begun, or not, there isa day which, as the Holy Word is true, we must all meet. It is the day of the Lord.We are to be judged for the deeds done in the body. At the voice of Jesus, the shades have left the sepulchre,—and the light of immortality streams through its long-darkened chambers. The voice, with which man cries out for knowledge respecting his own fate in futurity, no longer comes sounding back in barren echo to his ears. No longer does the truth, in some moment of precious influence flash in upon his understanding, and, then again, when he seeks to lay hold of it, vanish in deeper gloom, as to the eye of the wondering child vanishes the bright thunderbolt.' To the wisest of the ancient sages,-to Socrates, and Plato, and Cicero,—the light from the world beyond came out dimly and struggling hard with clouds. “For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."

If, then, we believe in our own immortality, let us act as immortal beings. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work or device, or knowledge or wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.” And the whole burden of the Preacher's exhortation is that life in itself has no value. Life is naked opportunity. What is it to you, or to me, or to anybody, if it be not improved? It is a pendulum swinging in slow vibration over the calm face of a sleep

ing man! It is an hour-glass, which, examined with a curious wonder at first, is soon held in a careless hand, and perchance not noticed again till its last sands are running! It is tidewater gaining with noiseless step upon the ocean-rock, which rings with the shouts of those who, engaged in idle sport, forget approaching danger! Shall we not all, then, take heed to the Apostle's admonition. “Let our loins be girded about, and our lights burning,--and we ourselves like unto men who wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching."

C. A. B.

CORRESPONDENCE.

To the Edilors of the Western Messenger.

GENTLEMEN :- I have just received the sixth number of your valuable periodical, and hasten to thank you for the vindication of the character of Dr. Priestley it contains, and the just, but well merited rebuke, you have bestowed on Mr. Leonard Woods, Jun.

I had the honor of being personally acquainted with Dr. Priestley, (the highest honor I can hope to attain,) and if every page of his voluminous works did not bear witness to the fact, I could of my own knowledge aver that Mr. Woods' charge is false, and that he is a calumniator of the dead.

Heretofore the most bigoted Orthodox pupil, whether of the School of St. Peter, St. Paul, or St. Andrew, has never had the hardihood to brand Dr. Priestley with the name of Atheist; and it was reserved for the meek and Christian-like Mr. Woods Jun. to cap the climax of abuse which has, by the enemies of free enquiry, been heaped upon the memory of that truly great and good man. wish I could say Mr. Woods Jun. stood alone--charity might then plead the adjunct to his name in mitigation of the offence, but I observed a few weeks ago in the Presbyterian (a paper conducted by a reverend and aged father of the Church) a paragraph in which Dr. Priestley is styled the “God-denying Priestley."

If Orthodoxy cannot be sustained but by the perpetual violation of the ninth Commandment--a total disregard of the commands of the Saviour--and the manifestation of a spirit diametrically opposed to that of his gospel, the sooner it falls the better.

I am with best wishes for the success of your undertaking, Gentlemen, yours very respectfully,

BENJ. BAKEWELL. Pittsburgh, Dec. 25, 1835.

[blocks in formation]

A SERMON; BÝ REV. N. L. FROTHINGHAM, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS.

Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? For they say, the Lord seeth us not: the Lord hath forsaken the Earth.-Esekiel viii, 12.

AMONG the visions of the prophet Ezekiel was one on this wise. The form of a hand took him up by the locks of his head between heaven and earth, and transporting him out of the land of captivity set him down in his own Jerusalem. The temple rose before him; for it had not yet been laid in ruins by the Babylonian soldiery. But what he saw in it was worse than the foreign army, that was so soon to batter down its walls. There was an idolatrous statue erected on its very porch, and the rites of the heathen were celebrated in its sacred places. The Seer was commanded to dig into the wall, where was a secret door; and when he entered he found himself in apartments, that had “every shape of creeping things and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the walls round about.” The leading men of the nation were assembled there in profane worship, and "a thick cloud of incense went up” from the censors that they were swinging in their hands. Then came to him a divine voice, “Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every one in the chambers of his imagery? For they say, the Lord seeth us not: the Lord hath forsaken the Earth."

We are not to regard this description as altogether a fanciful one. Instances of such apartments as it represents have

not been wanting. We are told by a Roman historian, that round the room in African Thebes, where the body of one of the kings appeared to be buried, a multitude of chambers was built, which had beautiful paintings of all the beasts that were held sacred in Egypt.

For the Egyptian these symbols had nothing impious in them. They were the forms, in which he had been always taught to embody his religious sentiments. No divine law had forbidden him to set up his graven image, or to picture forth in the likenesses of earthly things the great powers of heaven. No divine doctrine had taught him to conceive the object of his worship without the help of these visible representations. All these respects were very different with the Israelite. Those figures, whether depicted in colors or sculptured in stone, were to him the emblems of a foreign superstition, against which he had been solemnly warned. The su institutions of his country raised him above them; and if he went back to the reverence of such heathen signs, he became an apostate from the faith of his fathers, and a renouncer of the truth of God. No wonder then, that the prophet,

“When by the vision led, His eyes beheld the dark idolatries

Of alienated Judah," should conceive of these practicers of profane rites, as having prepared a place for secret conclave, removed from the light of day, where they might observe their new customs in privacy. No wonder that he should describe them not as degenerate merely, but impious, saying, “The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth." For what could be the religion of men, who had cast off the acknowledgment of Jehovah, the living and the true, and turned to pay homage to dumb statues and senseless pictures? What but a ceremony amusing the senses, instead of a faith that should exercise their reason, appeal to their consciences and touch their hearts? It was natural for them to say, the Lord seeth us not, when they had ceased to recognize Him: the Lord hath forsaken the earth, when they had forsaken the commandments of His holy law. For He draws nigh to the soul in proportion as it is raised towards Him, and to that which strays wholly away from Him He cannot appear to exist. They did well, therefore, to retire where His sun would not shine upon their idolatry, and to hide from all faithful eyes the portraitures of abomination that were traced upon the walls of their dark retreat.

« 上一頁繼續 »