Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]

more glorious, more substantial in his triumph than the specious, evanescent triumph of death.

Is the dominion of death universal, does it extend over all that is transitory and mortal; so is the dominion of life no less, and yet far more extensive, as it extends over all that was, and is, and is to come. Nothing perishes, nothing dies totally and forever. Nothing perishes, that shall not be restored, nothing dies that shall not live again. Even in the vegitable kingdom, death and corruption are the germ and preparatives for new entrances and forms of life. The seed-corn cannot spring up, not blossom, not bear fruit, except it die. And if the winter with its frosts seem to starve and to kill, yet the genial spring revives all again with renovated pomp and beauty. Let then the earth be covered with graves, and the dead be heaped on the dead; all this is no more than sowing for the future general harvest, and this harvest will be the richer and more glorious, the richer the sowing was.

In the long, wide field of God, the father of mankind, nothing is sown that shall not again shoot up, and bloom in far more beauty and perfection, than it did in his former state. Nay, even without regard to this revivification of all that once was dead, the dominion of death, apparently so universal, is not so in fact. No, only dust, only substances that are formed of dust, only the visible, gross, terrestial shell of living and spiritual beings are subject to his destructive power. The energy by which they are animated, is indestructible, the spirit that inhabits them has no death to fear, no dissolution and corruption; it thinks and lives and acts even then, and thinks and lives and acts still more freely and nobly, when its shell is demolished, when its shell in the grave lies a prey to corruption. Only the dust returns to the earth from whence it is taken; but the spirit ascends to God, whose breath, whose image it is, with whom it has already been in affinity and communion. And to whom it is destined and able ever nearer to approach, with whom to have ever greater communion. O death,

where is then thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? How limited is thy power! How fallacious is. thy triumph! Thou has demolished the tabernacle of clay, but the inhabitant of the tabernacle which you hast destroyed, has risen upon its ruins, is not destroyed with it: that still lives which thou didst intend to annihilate. The immortal, which thou thoughtest to shut up in the dark and silent tomb and to bind with the bonds of corruption at the same time with the mortal, has soared aloft to its creator God, and lives and rejoices in the splendor of his light.


Domestic Happiness.

NOTHING can more usefully engage our attention than Human Nature and Human Life. The proper study of mankind is Man. His origin and his end; the structure of his body and the powers of his mind; his situation and his connexions; are all capable of yielding us boundless and edifying instruction.

In observing mankind, the private and familiar views of their character are by far the most curious, interesting, and profitable. The greater part of our history is composed of minute and common incidents; and little and ordinary things serve more to discover a man, and conduce more to render him useful than splendid and rare occurrences. Abroad a man appears cautious; at home he is unreserved. Abroad he is artificial; at home he is real. Abroad he is useful; at home, he is necessary; and of this we may be fully assured, that a man is in truth what he is in his own family, whether vicious or virtuous, tyrannical or mild, miserable or happy.

One of the most agreeable scenes we can ever survey upon earth, is a peaceful and happy family;

where friendship comes in to draw more closely the bonds of nature; where the individuals resemble the human body, and if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, and if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice; where every care is divided, every sorrow diminished, every joy redoubled, by discovery, by sympathy, by communion; where mutual confidence prevails, and advice, consolation, and succour are reciprocally given and received. To such a sight God himself calls our attention; "Behold how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Some things are good but not pleasant, and some things are pleasant but not good. Here both are combined, and the effect is fragrant as the sacred perfume, and reviving as the influences of Heaven.

"Who will shew me any good?" is the cry. The world passing along hears it, and says, Follow me, emulate this splendour, mix with this throng, pur sue these diversions. We comply. We run, and we run in vain. The prize was nigh us when we began; but our folly drew us away from it. Let us return home, and we shall find it. Let us remember that happiness prefers calmness to noise, and the shades to publicity; that it depends more upon things cheap and common, than upon things expensive and singular; that it is not an exotic which we are to import from the ends of the earth, but a plant which grows in our own field and in our own garden.

It does not depend upon RANK and AFFLUENce. It is confined to no particular condition; the servant may enjoy it as well as the master; the mechanic as well as the nobleman. It exhilarates the cottage as well as the palace. What am I saying; What says common opinion? Dost it not invariably associate more enjoyment with the lowly roof, than with the towering mansion? Ask those who have risen from inferior life, whether their satisfaction has increased with their circumstances; whether they have never advanced to the brow of the eminence they have as

C c

cended, and looking down sighed, "Ah! happy vale, from how much was I sheltered while I was in thee!" There can be indeed but one opinion concerning the wretchedness of those who have not the necessaries of life. But "Nature is content with little, and Grace with less." "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." "Better is a dry morsel and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices and strife."

"Let not ambition mock thy useful toil,

"Thy HOMELY joys, and destiny obscure ; "Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile, "The short and simple annals of the poor." In vain will he be tempted to go abroad for company or for pleasure, whose home supplies him with both. "And what," says he, “ are the amusements and dissipations of the world? I have better enjoyments already; enjoyments springing fresh from our rural walks, from our social evenings, from our reading and conversation, from our cheerful lively mutual devotion. Here are pleasures perpetually renewing, and which never cloy. Here are entertainments placed easily within our reach, and which require no laborious preparation, no costly arrangement. Here I acknowledge only the dominion of nature; and follow only the bias of inclination. Here I have no weaknesses to hide, no mistakes to dread. Here my gratifications are attended with no disgrace, no remorse. They leave no stain, no sting behind. I fear no reproach from my understanding, no reckoning from my conscience; my prayers are not hindered. My heart is made better. I am softened, prepared for duty, allured to the Throne of Grace. And can I be induced to exchange all this, O ye votaries of the world, for your anxieties, confusion, agitations, and expense ? Shall I part with my ease and independence, for the trammels of your silly forms, the encumbrance of your fashions, the hypocrisies of your crowds? Shall I resign my freedom for the privilege of your slave

ry, which so often compels you to disguise your sentiments, to subdue your genuine feelings, to applaud folly, to yawn under a lethargy of pleasure, and to sigh for the hour of retirement and release? Shall I sacrifice my innocent endearments, to pursue the fatal routine of your dissipation, the end of which is heaviness, and from which you return deprived of seasonable rest, robbed of peace of mind, galled by reflection, disinclined to prayer, feeling the presence of God irksome, and the approach of death intolerable?"

"Domestic Happiness, thou only bliss
"Of Paradise that has escap'd the fall!
"Thou art not known where pleasure is ador'd,
"That reeling goddess with a zoneless waist,
"Forsaking thee, what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown."


On Patience.


Patience is to be displayed in bearing PROVOCA"It must needs be that offences will come." Our opinions, reputations, connections, offices, businesses, render us widely vulnerable. The characters of men are various; their pursuits and their interests perpetually clash. Some try us by their ig norance, some by their folly, some by their perverseness, some by their malice. There are to be found persons made up of every thing disagreeable and mischievous; born only to vex, a burden to themselves, and a torment to all around them. Here is an opportunity for the triumph of patience, here is a theatre on which a man may exhibit his character, and appear a fretful, waspish reptile, or a placid, pardoning God. We are very susceptive of irrita

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »