« ZurückWeiter »
spring to the enjoyment of its object! With what exulting transports to accommodate itself to its exalted destiny! .
Yet this world, with all its pomp and power attendant on its possession; this world, whose sovereignty in prospect would absorb every faculty of our nature, is declared by our Savior to be far inferior in value to a single soul. To one accustomed to estimate every thing by a worldly standard, this may appear, at first, a startling proposition. Yet even such a man cannot withhold his assent, when he considers the excellent nature of the soul itself, the eternity of existence to which it is destined, and the surprising proofs of the estimate at which it is held by higher intellects than ours.
As God pervades the universe, directing and controlling its complicated operations; so the human soul, in a far lower sphere, it is true, and with far inferior, yet similar powers, rules with absolute dominion that tabernacle of clay in which it dwells. Is God infinitely superior to the universe of matter which he governs? In like manner, though not in equal degree, is the soul of man superior to the frame which it inhabits, and to the kindred earth from which that frame was formed.
The soul also contains within itself a principle of immortality, which adds immeasurably to its excellence. Every thing else in our world is subject to decay. The fairest flower must wither; the tallest oak of the forest must waste away and fall; man's own body must sink into the grave, and return to its kindred dust; the proudest palace that his hands have built, must crumble into ruins; the fame which we vainly call immortal, must fade and be forgotten; the earth itself must cease its revolutions, and perish in the final conflagration. But the soul, more noble, more excellent than all, shall never die ; ignorant of decay, it shall live on throughout the boundless ages of eternity!
Why is it that the hosts of heaven continue still to bend an attentive eye on this far distant planet? Is it to mark with what precise exactness it accomplishes its days and months and years? Is it to observe the dreary stillness that pervades its depopulated regions, or contemplate the hue of universal death that has gathered on its aspect, and deformed its beauties? No; it is an object of still greater interest that attracts their eager gaze; it is that single soul, more valuable in itself than all that earth possesses of beauty and of grandeur, which causes them to stoop from their exalted thrones in fixed attention. That soul repents; it casts its load of unshared misery, the intolerable burden of unpardoned sin, at the foot of the cross; it receives the promised rest; immediately there is joy in the celestial courts; a new emotion of delight pervades the bosoms of the heavenly host, from the lowest scale of angelic being to Gabriel who standeth in the presence of God. What, then, must be the value of that soul whose progress can attract the scrutiny of angels; whose safety can create a jubilee in heaven!
LESSON XLVIII. PROMISES OF RELIGION TO THE YOUNG. In every part of Scripture, it is remarkable with what singular tenderness the season of youth is always mentioned, and what hopes are afforded to the devotion of the young. It is to that age, that some of the most direct promises are addressed, and of individuals of that age, much interesting incident is recorded. It was at that age, that God visited the infant Samuel, while he ministered in the temple of the Lord, “ in days when the word of the Lord was precious, and when there was no open vision." It was at that age, that his spirit fell upon David, while he was yet the youngest of his father's sons, and when among the mountains of Bethlehem, he fed his father's sheep.
It was at that age, also, “ that they brought young children unto Christ, that he should-touch them : and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased and said to them, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” If these, then, are the effects and promises of youthful piety, rejoice, O young man, in thy youth! Rejoice in those days which are never to return, when religion comes to thee in all its charms, and when the God of nature reveals himself to thy soul, like the mild radiance of the morning sun, when he rises amid the blessings of a grateful world.
If already devotion hath taught thee her secret pleasures ; if
when nature meets thee in all its magnificence or beauty, thy heart humbleth itself in adoration before the hand which made it, and rejoiceth in the contemplation of the wisdom by which it is maintained; if, when revelation unvails her mercies, and the Son of God comes forth to give peace and hope to fallen man, thine eye follows with astonishment the glories of his path, and pours at last over his cross those pious tears which it is a delight to shed; if thy soul accompanieth him in his triumph over the grave, and entereth on the wings of faith into that heaven “where he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High,” and seeth the “society of angels and of the spirits of just men made perfect,” and listeneth to the “ everlasting song which is sung before the throne ;' if such are the meditations in which thy youthful hours are passed, renounce not, for all that life can offer thee in exchange, these solitary joys.
The world which is before thee, the world which thine imagination paints in such brightness, has no pleasures to bestow that can compare with these. And all that its boasted wisdom can produce, has nothing so acceptable in the sight of Heaven, as this pure offering of thy soul. In these days, “the Lord himself is thy shepherd, and thou dost not want. Amid the green pastures, and by the still waters” of youth, he now makes “ thy soul to repose.”
But the years draw nigh, when life shall call thee to its trials; the evil days are on the wing, when“ thou shalt say thou hast no pleasure in them ;” and, as thy steps advance, “ the valley of the shadow of death opens,” through which thou must pass at last. It is then thou shalt know what it is to “ remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” In these days of trial or of awe, “his Spirit shall be with you,” and thou shalt fear no ill; and, amid every evil which surrounds you, “he shall restore thy soul. His goodness and mercy shall follow thee all the days of thy life;" and when at last the “ silver cord is loosed, thy spirit shall return to the God who gave it, and thou shalt dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
INVITATION TO THE YOUNG. REMEMBER now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, While the evil days come not, Nor the years draw nigh, When thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. While the sun, or the light, Or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, Nor the clouds return after a rain:
In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, And the strong men shall bow themselves, And the grinders shall cease because they are few, And those that look out of the windows be darkened; And the doors shall be shut in the streets, When the sound of the grinding is low, And he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, And all the daughters of music shall be brought low:
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, And fears shall be in the way, And the almond tree shall flourish, And the grasshopper shall be a burden, And desire shall fail : because man goeth to his long home And the mourners go about the streets.
Or ever the silver cord be loosed,
“ They that seek me early shall find me.”
Thou youthful wanderer in a flowery maze,
And joy's pure sunbeams tremble in thy ways;
Waken rich feelings in the careless breast,
Come, and secure interminable rest.
Soon will the freshness of thy days be over,
And thy free buoyancy of soul be flown; Pleasure will fold her wing, and friend and lover
Will to the embraces of the worm have gone; Those who now love thee, will have passed forever;
Their looks of kindness will be lost to thee; Thou wilt need balm to heal thy spirit's fever,
As thy sick heart broods over years to be.
Come, while the morning of thy life is glowing,
Ere the dim phantoms thou art chasing, die ;
Fades like the crimson from a sunset sky:
Which lights the future with a fadeless ray; Oh, touch the scepter! win a hope in heaven;
Come, turn thy spirit from the world away!
Then will the crosses of this brief existence
Seem airy nothings to thine ardent soul, And shining brightly in the forward distance,
Will of thy patient race appear the goal :
The spirit lingers in unclouded bliss,
W. G. CLARK
A Scene of the French Revolution.
D’Aubigne. Yes, my poor child !
Oh! shall we gaze again