Page images
PDF
EPUB

keeping the human mind from stagnation, and for eliciting truth. We should, therefore, learn not only to tolerate but to respect the views and predilections of other people, however they may differ from our own.

Arthur. Yet surely we ought to regret it when we think, and are almost sure, that people are in the wrong?

Father. We ought to be very sure of that, indeed, before we even regret it: there are, however, some errors of opinion, which are so injurious in their consequences, and which show such a perversion of mind in those who hold them, that we ought not only to regret but to counteract them by every fair and gentle means in our power. But there are very widely differing opinions, on less essential points, amongst persons of equal piety, learning and genius; and while it is both curious and instructive to observe this, it is, at the same time, most consoling and satisfactory to remark how, in all things most important, the wise and good agree. Observe that large compartment opposite to us, entirely occupied by works on divinity. Doubtless there is much error and much lumber mingled there with what is valuable and true. Yet, with respect to all those amongst these writers who may be fairly called men of piety, what a happy harmony would, after all, be found to exist in their sentiments! There is, indeed, no consideration more satisfactory to the inquiring mind, than this universal agreement of good men, in opinion and experience, on essential points. Nor is there any reflection more impressive than to consider the weight of argument and force of persuasion which their united testimony affords, as to the importance of the subjects on which they write. Thus the very sight of these books preaches silently as persuasive and eloquent a sermon as can be heard from any pulpit.

Arthur. Then, father, it seems one may, by a little reflection, get more good from the outside of a book than many people do from its contents. Father. Why truly, it is more profitable to reflect

without reading, than to read without reflecting. But let
us suppose that all the forcible arguments, lively repre-
sentations, affecting appeals—all the warnings, threaten-
ings, invitations, persuasions, that the piety, benevolence
and genius of these various writers have employed (with
their “diversity of gifts, but the same spirit”) in remind-
ing mankind of the infinite importance of their eternal
interests—suppose, I say, that all this mass of persuasion
could be collected into a focus, and with its united force
bear
upon

the mind-would not the effect be overpowering!-and yet this would be no false impression, nothing more than the real nature of the case would justify; no more than we should constantly feel if our minds were not blinded with sin, and rendered strangely insensible by earthly objects.

Arthur. But how would it be possible to retain such a strong impression, supposing one could feel it for a moment?

Father. We must remember that, after all, no power of human eloquence, nor all its powers united, would be sufficient to enlighten the darkness of the mind of man. But one ray of light from above-one powerful word from Him who can open the eyes of the understanding, and cause things to be “ spiritually discerned,” will instantly effect the happy, purpose. Therefore, however diligent we might be in using and improving every means for exciting profitable impressions, all would be vain, unless we are perpetually seeking this all-powerful influence. But if we do ask and seek it earnestly, God will assuredly bestow it; even that habitual impression of the superior importance of our future and eternal interests which constitutes a spiritual mind, and which will cause our affections and conversation to be in heaven.

Arthur. There are many books not exactly on religious subjects, that yet are very profitable.

Father. Yes; and this is the case even with the writings of some men who were wholly ignorant of true reli

1

gion, and which affords, indeed, an additional argument in favor of it. Men of thought, wisdom and genius, in the darkest times, have borne witness to the truth of the divine declaration, that “wisdom excelleth folly, as much as light excelleth darkness.” The laws of God, written in the hearts and consciences even of them who “knew not God,” are thus vindicated and enforced ; so that when, either in thought, word or action, we offend against them, we at the same time oppose the combined sense, wisdom, experience, and the general testimony of all mankind.

Solomon, I dare.say, was never in such a library as this; yet he expresses a sentiment which is very suitable on such an occasion, when he sums up

all the

sage

refleo tions he had been making on the vanity of the world, in this concise sentence :—“Of making many books there is no end :" (he would, indeed, have thought so, if he had lived in these days!)—and he evidently spoke from experience, when he added, "that much study is a weariness to the flesh.” “Let us then,” he says, “ hear the conclusion of the whole matter ;-Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty and the whole wisdom of man."

LESSON CIII. .

M. S. C.-CHARLES SPRAGUE,

I KNEW that we must part-day after day, I saw the dread destroyer win his way; That hollow cough first rang the fatal knell, As on my ear its prophet-warning fell ; Feeble and slow thy once light footstep grew, Thy wasting cheek put on death's pallid hue, Thy thin, hot hand to mine more weakly clung, Each sweet “Good night” fell fainter from thy tongue.

I knew that we must part—no power could save
Thy quiet goodness from an early grave:
Those eyes so dull, though kind each glance they cast,
Looking a sister's fondness to the last;
Thy lips so pale, that gently pressed my cheek;
Thy voice-alas! thou couldst but try to speak;
All told thy doom, I felt it at my heart;
The shaft had struck-I knew that we must part.

And we have parted, Mary—thou art gone!
Gone in thy innocence, meek-suffering one.
Thy weary spirit breathed itself to sleep
So peacefully, it seemed a sin to weep,
In those fond watchers who around thee stood,
And felt, even then, that God, even then, was good.
Like stars that struggle through the cloud of night,
Thine eyes one moment caught a glorious light,
As if to thee, in that dread hour, 't were given
To know on earth what faith believes of heaven;
Then, like tired breezes, didst thou sink to rest,
Nor

one, one pang the awful change confessed.
Death stole in softness o’er that lovely face,
And touched each feature with a new-born grace;
On cheek and brow unearthly beauty lay,
And told that life's poor cares had passed away.
In
my

last hour be Heaven so kind to meI ask no more than this to die like thee.

But we have parted, Mary—thou art dead!
On its last resting-place I laid thy head;
Then, by thy coffin-side, knelt down and took
A brother's farewell kiss and farewell look :
Those marble lips no kindred kiss returned ;
From those veiled orbs no glance responsive burned:
Ah! then I felt that thou hadst passed away,
That the sweet face I gazed on was but clay;
And then came Memory, with her busy throng
Of tender images, forgotten long;
Years hurried back, and, as they swiftly rolled,
I saw thee, heard thee, as in days of old;

[ocr errors]

Sad and more sad each sacred feeling grew,
Manhood was moved, and Sorrow claimed her due;
Thick, thick and fast the burning tear-drops started ;
I turned away—and felt that we had parted.

But not for ever-in the silent tomb,
Where thou art laid, thy kindred shall find room :
A little while, a few short years of pain,
And, one by one, we'll come to thee again;
The kind old father shall seek out the place,
And rest with thee, the youngest of his race;
The dear, dear mother, bent with age and grief,
Shall lay her head by thine in sweet relief;
Sister and brother, and that faithful friend,
True from the first, and tender to the end,
All, all, in His good time who placed us here,
To live, to love, to die and disappear,
Shall come and make their quiet bed with thee,
Beneath the shadow of that spreading tree;
With thee to sleep, through death’s long, dreamless night,
With thee to rise, and bless the morning light.

LESSON CIV.

Clouds.-SCIENTIFIC TRACTS.

Clouds are collections of vapor in the air, rendered visible by condensation. They seldom rise very high. Sometimes they rest upon the earth's surface, constituting what is termed fog. Sometimes they are a mile above the surface of the earth, sometimes more ; but they seldom rise higher than two or three miles. Very thin, fleecy clouds, however, sometimes rise to the height of four or five miles. But why do they not rise to the surface of the atmosphere?- The density of the atmosphere rapidly decreases upwards. One half of the whole quantity of

« PreviousContinue »