ePub 版


these sovereigns were incessant, and the people were engaged in almost constant war. Among the rapid succession of princes, history tells us of but few that did not die by violence.


9. In such a state of things, it is obvious that there could be little progress in the arts of peace, or in that culture which proceeds from the diffusion of intellectual light. A limited knowledge of letters existed in the country, and there was, no doubt, much mystical lore among the druidical priesthood, who, at this dark period of society, appear to have led both prince and people as their cheated and deluded captives, whithersoever they pleased.

10. The dominion, indeed, of these artful priests over the mind of the nation, seems to have been absolute, and they exercised it with unsparing rigor. The whole people were subjected to an oppressive routine of rites and ceremor ies, among which the sacrifice of human victims, men, women, and children, was common. The details of these shock ing superstitions, are, indeed, too frightful to be repeated here. It is sufficient to say, that the mission of St. Patrick contemplated the conversion of a nation, wedded to these unholy rites, to the pure and peaceful doctrines of the Gospel.

11. He came alone, armed with no earthly power, arrayed in no visible pomp, to overturn the cherished dynasty of ages; to beat down a formidable priesthood; to slay the many-headed monster, prejudice; to draw aside the thick cloud which overspread a nation, and to permit the light of heaven to shine upon it.

12. There was something in the very conception of this noble enterprise, which marks St. Patrick as endowed with the true spirit of an apostle. We cannot follow him through the details of his mission. It is sufficient to say, that, exercising no power but persuasion, and using no weapon but truth, he proceeded from place to place, and, in the brief space of thirty years, introduced Christianity into every province in this land, and that without one drop of bloodshed. Everywhere, the frowning altars of the Druids fell before him, the superstitious prince did homage to the cross, and the proud priest of the Sun bent his knee to the true God. Christianity was thus introduced and spread over Ireland without violence, and by the agency of a single individual.

13. Where is there a brighter page in history, than this? Where is there a life more ennobled by lofty purposes, more illustrious from its glorious results than this of St. Patrick? Surely, such an individual is no proper theme for ridicule or contempt. If we Americans do homage to the memory of Washington, who aided in delivering our country from tyranny, the Irishman may as justly hold dear the recollection of him who redeemed his country from paganism.

14. Aside from the immediate benefits which St. Patrick secured to Ireland, he has left to all mankind the heritage of a glorious truth, and that is, that in contending with human power, human passions, and human depravity, the minister of Jesus Christ needs no other weapon than truth, enforced by holy example. He has left us an imperishable lesson of wisdom, that moral suasion can overturn that dominion of ignorance and prejudice, which might for ever hold the sword at bay.

15. He has also taught us another truth, worthy of universal remembrance, which is, that the Irish people, wedded as they may be to ancient customs, are still accessible to the gentle appeals of truth and reason. Would to Heaven that those, who attempt to deal with what they consider the superstitions of the Irish, would follow the example of St. Patrick, and treat them as rational beings.

LESSON CXXIX. Departure of Adam and Eve from Paradise.

1. He ended, and they both descend the hill;
Descended, Adam to the bower, where Eve
Lay sleeping, ran before, but found her waked;
And thus, with words not sad, she him received.

2. "Whence thou return'st, and whither went'st, I know;
For God is also' in sleep; and dreams advise,
Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress
Wearied I fell asleep; but now lead on ;
In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee, here to stay,


Is to go hence unwilling. Thou to me
Art all things under Heaven, all places thou,
Who, for my wilful crime, art banished hence.
This further consolation yet secure
I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Such favor, I unworthy am vouchsafed,
By me the promised seed shall all restore.'

[ocr errors]

3. So spake our mother Eve; and Adam heard
Well pleased, but answered not; for now too nigh
The archangel stood; and from the other hill
To their fixed station, all in bright array,
The Cherubim descended; on the ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening-mist
Risen from a river o'er the marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the laborer's heel
Homeward returning. High in front advanced,
The brandished sword of God before them blazed,
Fierce as a comet; which, with torrid heat,
And vapor as the Libyan air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat,
In either hand the hastening angel caught
Our lingering parents, and, to the' eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.


4. They, looking back, all the' eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon.
The world was all before them where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide!
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.

LESSON CXXX. Sonnet, on his Blindness, by Milton,

WHEN I Consider how my life is spent

Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning, chide; "Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?" I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need Either man's work, or his own gifts; who best Bears his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,

And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."



The Power of God, as illustrated by Astronomy.

1. A VERY slight view of the planetary system is sufficient to impress our minds with an overpowering sense of the grandeur and omnipotence of the Deity. In one part of it we behold a globe fourteen hundred times larger than our world, flying through the depths of space, and carrying along with it a retinue of revolving worlds in its swift career. In a more distant region of this system, we behold another globe, of nearly the same size, surrounded by two magnificent rings, which would enclose five hundred worlds as large as ours, winging its flight through the regions of immensity, and conveying along with it seven planetary bodies larger than our moon, over a circumference of five thousand seven hundred millions of miles.

2. Were we to suppose ourselves placed on the nearest satellite of this planet, and were the satellite supposed to be at rest, we should behold a scene of grandeur altogether overwhelming; a globe filling a great portion of the visible heavens, encircled by its immense rings, and surrounded by its moons, each moving in its distinct sphere and around its axis, and all at the same time flying before us in perfect harmony, with the velocity of twenty-two thousand miles an hour. Such a scene would far transcend everything we now behold from our terrestrial sphere, and all the concep



tions we can possibly form of motion, of sublimity, and of grandeur.

3. Contemplating such an assemblage of magnificent objects moving through the ethereal regions with such astonishing velocity, we would feel the full force of the sentiment of inspiration; "THE LORD GOD OMNIPOTENT REIGNETH. His power is irresistible; his greatness is unsearchable; wonderful things doth He, which we cannot comprehend." The motions of the bodies which compose this system convey an impressive idea of the agency and the energies of Omnipotence.

4. One of these bodies, eighty times larger than the earth, and the slowest-moving orb in the system, is found to move through its expansive orbit at the rate of fifteen thousand miles an hour; another, at twenty-nine thousand miles in the same period, although it is more than a thousand times the size of our globe; another, at the rate of eighty thousand miles; and a fourth, with a velocity of more than a hundred thousand miles every hour, or thirty miles during every beat of our pulse.

5. The mechanical forces requisite to produce such motions, surpass the mathematician's skill to estimate, or the power of numbers to express. Such astonishing velocities, in bodies of so stupendous a magnitude, though incomprehensible and overwhelming to our limited faculties, exhibit a most convincing demonstration of the existence of an agency and a power which no created beings can ever counteract, and which no limits can control.

6. Above all, the central body of this system presents to our view an object which is altogether overpowering to human intellects, and of which, in our present state, we shall never be able to form an adequate conception. A luminous globe, thirteen hundred thousand times larger than our world, and five hundred times more capacious than all the planets, satellites, and comets taken together, and this body revolving round its axis and through the regions of space, extending its influences to the remotest spaces of the system, and retaining by its attractive power all the planets in their orbits, is an object which the limited faculties of the human mind, however improved, can never grasp, in all its magnitude and relations, so as to form a full and comprehensive idea of its magnificence.

« 上一頁繼續 »