« PreviousContinue »
our knowledge, and power, and goodness are but the shadow of a name. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts. So long, then, as we measure his works by our conceptions, is it wonderful if we are lost in inextricable darkness, and weary ourselves in asking of nature questions to which the indignant answer is invariably, No? It is only when, in the profoundest humility, we acknowledge our own ignorance, and look to the Father of lights for wisdom; it is only when, bursting loose from the littleness of our own limited conceptions, we lose ourselves in the vastness of the Creator's infinity, that we can rise to the height of this great argument, and point out the path of discovery to coming generations. While men, measuring the universe by the standard of their own narrow conceptions, and surveying all things through the distempered medium of their own puerile vanity, placed the earth in the centre of the system, and supposed sun, moon and stars to revolve daily around it, the science of astronomy stood still, and age after age groped about in almost rayless darkness. It was only when humility had taught us how small a space we occupied in the boundlessness of creation, and raised us to a conception of the plan of the Eternal, that light broke in like the morning star upon our midnight, and a beauteous universe rose out of void and formless chaos.
And, yet more; the Book of Revelation contains the only delineation which we possess of the commencement, prosecution and completion of one of the designs of Deity. It is the work of man's restoration to purity and happiness. We here may detect the benevolence which actuates the Almighty, the modes which he adopts to carry that benevolence into effect, the manner in which his infinite wisdom directs all things to the accomplishment of his merciful purposes, and how, in despite of apparently insurmountable obstacles, he, by the simplest means, makes all events conspire to a perfect and triumphant consummation.
Now, when we compare the system of man's redemption with the system of the material universe, we shall find them, in many respects, analogous. Both are the conceptions of the same infinite Deity. Both are designed to promote the happiness of man. They differ only in this, that the one is adapted to his physical, the other to his moral wants. It would, therefore, be totally unlike any of the other works of God, if that system, of which the outline of the whole is known, did not shed abundant light upon those portions of the other system which yet remain unknown. And to this must be added another consideration. It cannot have escaped the attention of any thinking mind, that the progress of every science, since the revival of letters, has served to shed new light upon the Book of Revelation. Geography has borne witness to the truth of its delineations, the discovery and interpretation of ancient writings have illustrated its antiquities, political economy, has confirmed the truth of its ethics, while intellectual philosophy is establishing the science of testimony, and fixing the principles of interpretation. And all this is evidently but in its very commencement. Who can foresee the glory of the result, when the full blaze of every science shall be concentrated upon the page of everlasting Truth, and thence reflected, with undiminished effulgence, upon the upward path of baptized philosophy !
And, lastly; as the constitution under which we are placed is a moral government, God bestows his richest blessings in strict accordance with the moral character of his creatures. May we not hope, then, that with the improvement of our race in piety, he will invigorate our powers of discovery; and, specially, that that “Spirit, who above all temples does prefer the upright heart and pure," will be sent to instruct us; that “what is dark in us he will illumine--what is low, raise and support?” Then, at last, every obstacle to our progress in knowledge and virtue having been removed, we shall enter upon that career of improvement for which we were originally designed by our Creator. Then, as at the beginning, shall God look upon all the works which he has made, and behold, all will be again good. Then shall the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout aloud for joy.
Hurricane in Barbadoes in August, 1831. Described by
one of the Moravian Missionaries.
How little do we know what a day may bring forth! Wednesday last (August 10th) the sun shone brightly on this rich and highly cultivated island, adorned with many an elegant mansion : the following morning, all was devastation and ruin. About 7 o'clock on Wednesday evening, the sky assumed an unusual appearance; and it seems that those who understand this climate dreaded the coming evil. The wind continued to increase, and blew cold. My husband and myself retired to rest between ten and eleven o'clock. About twelve, the storm, blowing tremendously from the west, awoke us. Brother Taylor now came into our room, and brother Morrish proceeded with him to examine the doors and windows of the house, to ascertain that all
—this being a point of great importance; for, if the hurricane once gets entrance, it carries all before it. We now quitted our bed-room, and repaired to the hall, which is in the centre of the building : it was well we did so; for, in a short time, our apartments were a mere wreck. At this time, the storm was raging with frightful fury from the north, forcing in the rain, which fell in torrents, at every crevice, till the floor of our hall was covered. The brethren having returned to us from a second attempt to secure the weaker parts of the building, we all knelt down, and brother Taylor commended us in earnest prayer to the Lord, imploring him that, whether it was for life or for death, our minds might be kept stayed upon him. Just then succeeded a portentous calm, which lasted about fifteen minutes ; the elements, as if exhausted by their late rage, sunk into silence. Alas! it was but to collect fresh force, to renew the fearful work of destruction. Loud sobs and moans now attracted our attention; and, on opening the door, we found the white people and negroes from an adjoining estate, half naked, and drenched in rain : their dwellings had been entirely destroyed, and they had hardly escaped with their lives : we had just time to supply them with dry clothing, and to collect our own negroes around us, whose huts had been blown down, when the tempest recommenced from the opposite point, with redoubled violence. How vain, how puny, seemed all the bars and contrivances of man at this moment! We heard our porch torn to pieces, and one huge object after the other driven with violence against the house; and the rain, streaming down, told us that the roof above must have given way. The brethren hastily raised a sofa to the window, which seemed yielding; and then we of the missionary family clung to one another, as if we would enter eternity together. It was an awful moment! Every eye was fixed on that side of the house against which the tempest beat with a fury that nothing appeared able to resist. In the expectation that, the next instant, it would fall upon us, flesh and blood shrunk from the thought of being crushed under the tottering building; but I shall ever look back with gratitude and wonder at the peace which kept my soul during this trying season. Hour after hour passed without bringing us one ray of hope. One of our poor people came knocking importunately at the window, imploring shelter for his motherless baby. As soon as we durst, we opened the door to them, and despatched one of the negroes, with whom our hall was filled, in search of a neighboring manager's family. The
negro soon returned with them: the party consisted of seven, including a little child : the females were sadly cut and bruised, drenched with rain, and half dead with cold and fatigue : one article of clothing after the other being torn from them by the wind, and themselves hurled from rock to rock, they at last took shelter under a trash heap, where they were in danger of being suffocated by the numbers that crowded about them : they had taken leave of each other, and commended themselves to God, expecting every moment to be launched into eternity: many and earnest were their exclamations of thanksgiving, when they found themselves under shelter : we removed their wet clothes, which was no easy task, on account of their sprains and bruises, rubbed them with spirits, and wrapped them in blankets. Brother Taylor then
gave out the first verse of the hymn
" Commit thy every grievance
Unto his faithful hand,” &c.,
which we sang. He then read the texts of the day, prayed, and concluded with the last verse of the hymn.
The storm having a little abated, the brethren ventured out; but, oh! what dismay was painted on their countenances, when they returned with the intelligence that our beloved church and school-room were gone—the one a heap of ruins—the other carried, floor and all, into the gully below! A little after, I went out; but in vain should I attempt to convey to you a picture of the scene of desolation which presented itself. Immediately around, the sight was most distressing—the negro-houses, stable and other out-buildings destroyed, and sad havoc made in all our apartments. But it is the Lord! therefore we are still, And, indeed, while we sing of judgment, we would sing first, and loudly sing, of mercy. Oh, that I could tell you of all the goodness of our God to us in this trying dispensation! In answer to our prayers, he preserved our house from utter destruction; while many who, the evening before, were in affluence and luxury, were left shelterless, or obliged to take refuge in a negro-hut, a cellar, or some hole in a rock. And could you see that part of our dwelling