Obrázky na stránke

the general level of society, that it removes them, as it were, from all the ordinary sympathies of our nature. And though we read at times of their galas, and their birth-days, and their drawing-rooms; there is nothing in all this to attach us to their interests and their feelings, as the inhabitants of a familiar home, as the members of an affectionate family. Surrounded as they are with the glare of a splendid notoriety, we scarcely recognise them as men and as women, who can rejoice and weep, and pine with disease, and taste the sufferings of mortality, and be oppressed with anguish, and love with tenderness, and experience in their bosoms the same movements of grief or of affection that we do ourselves. And thus it is, that they labour under a real and heavy disadvantage.

Now, if, through an accidental opening, the public should be favoured with a doinestic exhibition—if, by some overpowering visitation of Providence upon an illustrious family, the members of it should come to be recognised as the partakers of one common humanity with ourselves— if, instead of beholding them in their gorgeousness as princes, we look to them in the natural evolution of their sensibilities as men—if the stately palace should be turned into a house of mourning-in one word, if death should do what he has already done,–He has met the Princess of England in the prime and promise of her days; and, as she was moving onward on her march to a hereditary throne, he has laid her at his feet.—Ah! my brethren, when the imagination dwells on that bed where the remains of departed youth and departed infancy are lying—when, instead of crowns and canopies of grandeur, it looks to the forlorn husband, and the weeping father, and the human feelings which agitate their bosoms, and the human tears which flow down their cheeks, and all such symptoms of deep affliction as bespeak the workings of suffering and dejected nature—what ought to be, and what actually is, the feeling of the country at so sad an exhibition? It is just the feeling of the domestics and the labourers at Claremont. All is soft and tender as womanhood. Nor is there a peasant in our land, who is not touched to the very heart, when he thinks of the unhappy stranger, who is now spending his days in grief, and his nights in sleeplessness-as he mourns alone in his darkened chamber, and refuses to be comforted -as he turns in vain for rest to his troubled feelings, and cannot find it—as he gazes on the memorials

of an affection that blessed the brightest, happiest, shortest year of his existence—as he looks back on the endearments of the bygone months, and the thought that they have for ever fleeted away from him turns all to agony-as he looks forward on the blighted prospect of this world's pilgrimage, and feels that all which bound him to existence is now torn irretrievably away from him ! There is not a British heart that does not feel to this interesting visitor, all the force and all the tenderness of a most affecting relationship; and, go where he may, will he ever be recognised and cherished as a much-loved member of the British family!


Sitting in the Chair of the Scorner. The third and last stage of impiety, is “ sitting in the chair of the scorner," or laughing at all religion and virtue. This is a pitch of diabolical attainment, to which few arrive. It requires a double portion of the infernal spirit, and a long experience in the mystery of iniquity, to become callous to every sense of religion, of virtue, and of honour; to throw off the authority of nature, of conscience, and of God; to overleap the barrier of laws divine and human; and to endeavour to wrest the bolt from the red right-hand of the Omnipotent. Difficult as the achievement is, we see it sometimes effected. We have seen persons who have gloried in their shame, and boasted of being vicious for the sake of vice. Such characters are monsters in the moral world! Figure to yourselves, my brethren, the anguish, the horror, the misery, the damnation such a person must endure, who must consider himself in a state of enmity with heaven and with earth; who has no pleasant reflection from the past, no peace in the present, and no hopes from the future; who must consider himself as a solitary being in the world; who has no friend without to pour balın into the cup of bitterness he is doomed to drink; who has no friend above to comfort him, when there is none to help; and who has nought within him to compensate for that irreparable and that irredeemable loss. Such a person is as miserable as he is wicked. He is insensible to every emotion of friendship; he is lost to all sense of honour; he is seared to every feeling of virtue.

In the class of those who sit in the chair of the scorner, He may include the whole race of infidels, who misemploy

the engines of reason, or of ridicule, to overthrow the Christian religion. Were the dispute concerning a system of speculative opinions—which of themselves were of no importance to the happiness of mankind-it would be uncharitable to include them all under this censure. But on the Christian religion, not only the happiness, but the virtue of mankind depends. It is an undoubted fact, that religion is the strongest principle of virtue with all men; and, with nine tenths of mankind, is the only principle of virtue. Any attempt, therefore, to destroy it, must be considered as an attempt against the happiness, and against the virtue of the human kind. If the heathen philosophers did not attempt to subvert the false religion of their country, but, on-the contrary, gave it the sanction of their example; because, bad as it was, it had considerable influence on the manners of the people, and was better than no religion at all; what shame, what contempt, what infamy ought they to incur, who endeavour to overthrow a religion which contains the noblest ideas of the Deity, and the purest system of morals that was ever taught upon earth? He is a traitor to his country, he is a traitor to the human kind, he is a traitor to Heaven, who abuses the talents that God has given him, in impious atteinpts to wage war against Heaven, and to undermine that system of religion, which, of all things, is the best adapted to promote the happiness and the perfection of the human kind. Blessed, then, is the man who hath not brought himself into this sinful and miserable state—who hath held fast his innocence and integrity, in the midst of a degenerate world; or if, in some unguarded hour, he hath been betrayed into an imprudent step, or overtaken in a fault; hath made ample amends for his folly, by a life of penitence and of piety.



The Plurality of Worlds not an Argument against the Truth

of Revelation. Keep all this in view, and you cannot fail to perceive how the principle, so finely and so copiously illustrated in this chapter, may be brought to meet the infidelity we have thus long been employed in combating. It was nature—and the experience of every bosom will affirm it -it was nature in the shepherd, to leave the ninety and


nine of his flock forgotten and alone in the wilderness, and, betaking himself to the mountains, to give all his Jabour, and all his concern, to the pursuit of one solitary wanderer. It was nature—and we are told, in the passage before us, that it is such a portion of nature as belongs not merely to men, but to angels—when the woman, with her mind in a state of listlessness as to the nine pieces of silver that were in secure custody, turned the whole force of her anxiety to the one piece which she had lost, and for which she had to light a candle, and to sweep the house, and to search diligently until she found it. It was nature in her to rejoice more over that piece, than over all the rest of them; and to tell it abroad among friends and neighbours, that they might rejoice along with her --And, sadly effaced as humanity is in all her original lineaments, this is a part of our nature, the very movements of which are experienced in heaven, where there is more joy over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance.” For any thing I know, every planet that rolls in the immensity around me, may be a land of righteousness, and be a member of the household of God; and have her secure dwelling-place within that ample limit, which embraces his great and universal family: But I know at least of one wanderer; and how wofully she has strayed from peace and from purity; and how, in dreary alienation from him who made her, she has bewildered herself amongst those many devious tracks, which have carried her afar from the path of immortality; and how sadly tarnished all those beauties and felicities are, which promised, on that morning of her existence when God looked on her, and saw that all was very good —which promised so richly to bless and to adorn her; and how, in the eye of the whole unfallen creation, she has renounced all this goodliness, and is fast departing away from them into guilt, and wretchedness, and shame. Oh! if there be any truth in this chapter, and any sweet or touching nature in the principle which runs throughout all its parables; let us cease to wonder, though they who surround the throne of love should be looking so intently towards us—or though, in the way by which they have singled us out, all the other orbs of space should, for one short season, on the scale of eternity, appear to be forgotten--or though, for every step of her recovery, and for every individual who is rendered back again to the fold from which he was separated; another and another message of triumph should be made to circulate amongst the hosts of paradise-or though, lost as we are, and sunk in depravity as we are, all the sympathies of heaven should now be awake on the enterprise of him who has travailed, in the greatness of his strength, to seek and to

save us.

And here I cannot but remark how fine a harmony there is between the law of sympathetic nature in heaven, and the most touching exhibitions of it on the face of our world. When one of a numerous household droops under the power of disease, is not that the one to whom all the tenderness is turned, and who, in a manner, monopolizes the inquiries of his neighbourhood, and the care of his family? When the sighing of the midnight storm sends a dismal foreboding into the mother's heart; to whom of all her offspring, I would ask, are her thoughts and her anxieties then wandering? Is it not to her sailor-boy, whom her fancy has placed amid the rude and angry surges of the ocean? Does not this, the hour of his apprehended danger, concentrate upon him the whole force of her wakeful meditations ? and does not he engross, for a season, her every sensibility, and her every prayer?

We sometimes hear of shipwrecked passengers thrown upon a barbarous shore; and seized upon by its prowling inhabitants; and hurried away through the tracks of a dreary and unknown wilderness; and sold into captivity; and loaded with the fetters of irrecoverable bondage; and who, stripped of every other liberty but the liberty of thought, feel even this to be another ingredient of wretchednessfor what can they think of but home? and, as all its kind and tender imagery comes upon their remembrance, how can they think of it but in the bitterness of despair? Oh tell me, when the fame of all this disaster reaches his family, who is the member of it to whom is directed the full tide of its griefs and of its sympathies ?—who is it that, for weeks and for months, usurps their every feeling, and calls out their largest sacrifices, and sets them to the busiest expedients for getting him back again ?—who is it that makes them forgetful of themselves and of all around them ?—and tell me, if you can assign a limit to the pains, and the exertions, and the surrenders, which afdicted parents and weeping sisters would make to seek and to save him?


« PredošláPokračovať »