« PredošláPokračovať »
work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou regardest him ?” In the same manner, when I considered that infinite host of stars, or, to speak more phil. osophically, of suns, which were shining upon me, with those innumerable sets of planets or worlds, which were moving round their respective suns when I still enlarged the idea, and supposed another heaven of suns and worlds rising still above these which we discovered, and these still enlightened by a superior firmament of luminaries, which are planted at so great a distance that they may appear to the inhabitants of the former as the stars do to us—in short, while I pursued this thought, I could not but reflect on that little insignificant figure which I myself bore amidst the immensity of God's works. I was afraid of being overlooked amidst the immensity of nature, and lost among that infinite variety of creatures which in all probability swarm through all these immeasurable regions of matter. We shall, however, utterly extinguish this melancholy thought, if we consider, in the first place, that God is omnipresent; and in the second, that he is omniscient.
If we consider him in his omnipresence, his being passes through, actuates, and supports the whole frame of nature. His creation and every part of it is full of him. There is nothing he has made that is either so distant, so little, or so inconsiderable, which he does not essentially inhabit. His substance is within the substance of every being, whether material or immaterial, and as intimately present to it as that being is to itself.
In the second place, he is omniscient as well as omnipresent. His omniscience, indeed, necessarily and naturally flows from his omnipresence. He cannot but be conscious of every motion that arises in the whole material world which he thus essentially pervades; and of every thought which is stirring in the intellectual world, to every part of which he is thus intimately united. Were the soul separate from the body, and with one glance of thought should start beyond the bounds of the creation--should it for millions of years continue its progress through infinite space with the same activity, it would still find itself within the embraces of its creator, and encompassed round with the immensity of the Godhead.
In this consideration of God Almighty's omnipresence and omniscience every uncomfortable thought vanishes. He cannot but regard every thing that has being, especially such of his creatures as fear they are not regarded by him. He is privy to all their thoughts, and to that anxiety of heart in particular which is apt to trouble them on this occasion; for as it is impossible he should overlook any of his creatures, so we may be confident that he regards with an eye of mercy those who endeavour to recommend themselves to his notice, and, in an unfeigned humility of heart, think themselves unworthy that he should be mindful of them. ADDISON.
39.-LUXURY AND AVARICE. Most of the trades, professions, and ways of living among mankind, take their original either from the love of pleasure or the fear of want. The former, when it becomes too violent, degenerates into Luxury, and the latter into Avarice.
When a government flourishes in conquests, and is secure from foreign attacks, it naturally falls into all the pleasures of luxury; and as these pleasures are very expensive, they put those who are addicted to them upon raising fresh supplies of money, by all the methods of rapaciousness and corruption; so that avarice and luxury very often become one complicated principle of nature in those whose hearts are wholly set upon ease, magnificence, and pleasure. The most elegant and correct of all the Latin historians observes, that, in his time, when the most formidable states of the world were subdued by the Románs, the republic sunk into these two vices of a quite different nature, luxury and avarice; and accordingly describes Catiline as one who coveted the wealth of other men, at the same time that he squandered away his own. This observation on the commonwealth, when it was in its height of power and riches, holds good of all governments that are settled in a state of ease and prosperity. At such times men naturally endeavour
to outshine one another in pomp and splendour, and having no fears to alarm them from abroad, indulge themselves in the enjoyment of all the pleasures they can get into their possession; which naturally produces avarice, and an immoderate pursuit after wealth and riches.
As I was humouring myself in the speculation of these two great principles of action, I could not forbear throwing my thoughts into a kind of little allegory or fable, with which I shall here present my reader.
There were two very powerful tyrants engaged in a perpetual war against each other : the name of the first was Luxury, and of the second Avarice. The aim of each of them was no less than universal monarchy over the hearts of mankind. Luxury had many generals under him, who did him great service, as Pleasure, Mirth, Pomp, and Fashion. Avarice was likewise very strong in his officers, being faithfully served by Hunger, Industry, Care, and Watchfulness; he had likewise a privy counsellor who was always at his elbow, and whispering something or other in his ear: the name of this privy counsellor was Poverty. As Avarice had conducted himself by the counsels of Poverty, his antagonist was entirely guided by the dictates and advice of Plenty, who was his first counsellor and minister of state, and concerted all his measures for him, and never departed out of his sight. While these two great rivals were thus contending for empire, their conquests were very various. Luxury got possession of one heart, and Avarice of another. The father of a family would often range himself under the banners of Avarice, and the son under those of Luxury. The wife and husband would often declare themselves on the two different parties; nay, the same person would very often side with one in his youth, and revolt to the other in his
Indeed the wise men of the world stood neuter; but, alas! their numbers were not considerable. At length, when these two potentates had wearied themselves with waging war upon one another, they agreed upon an interview, at which neither of their counsellors was to be present. It is said that Luxury began the parley, and after having represented the endless state of war in which they were engaged, told his en
emy, with a frankness of heart which is natural to him, that he believed they two should be very good friends, were it not for the instigations of Poverty, that pernicious counsellor, who made an ill use of his ear, and filled him with groundless apprehensions and prejudices. To this Avarice replied, that he looked upon Plenty (the first minister of his antagonist) to be a much more destructive counsellor than Poverty; for that he was perpetually suggesting pleasures, banishing all the necessary cautions against want, and consequently undermining those principles on which the government of Avarice was founded. At last, in order to an accommodation, they agreed upon this preliminary, that each of them should immediately dismiss his privy counsellor. When things were thus far adjusted towards a peace, all other differences were soon accommodated, insomuch, that for the future they resolved to live as good friends and confederates, and to share between them whatever conquests were made on either side. For this reason, we now find Luxury and Avarice taking possession of the same heart and the same person between them. To which I shall only add, that since the discarding of the counsellors above mentioned, Avarice supplies Luxury in the room of Plenty, as Luxury prompts Avarice in the place of Poverty. Spectator.
If we consider the domestic influences of Slavery, we must look for a dark picture indeed. Slavery virtually dissolves the domestic relations. It ruptures the most sacred ties on earth. It violates home. It lacerates the best affections. The domestic relations precede, and, in our present existence, are worth more than all our other social ties. They give the first throb to the heart, and unseal the deep fountains of its love. Home is the chief school of human virtue. Its responsibilities, joys, sorrows, smiles, tears, hopes, and solicitudes, form the chief interests of human life. Go where a man may, home is the centre to which his heart turns. The thought of home nerves his arm, and lightens his toil. For that his heart yearns when he is far off. There he garners up his best treasures. God has ordained for all men alike the highest earthly happiness, in providing for all the sanctuary of home. But the slave's home does not merit the name. To him it is no sanctuary. It is open to violation, insult, outrage. His children belong to another, are provided for by another, are disposed of by another. The most precious burden with which the heart can be charged, the happiness of his child, he must not bear. He lives not for his family, but for a stranger. He cannot improve their lot. His wife and daughter he cannot shield from insult. They may be torn from him at another's pleasure, sold as beasts of burden, sent he knows not whither, sent where he cannot reach them, or even interchange inquiries and messages of love. To the slave marriage has no sanctity. It may be dissolved in a moment at another's will. His wife, son, and daughter, may be lashed before his eyes, and not a finger must be lifted in their defence. He sees the scar of the lash on his wife and child. Thus the slave's home is desecrated. Thus the tenderest relations, intended by God equally for all, and intended to be the chief springs of happiness and virtue, are sported with wantonly and cruelly. What outrage so great as to enter a man's house, and tear from his side the beings whom God has bound to him by the holiest ties? Every man can make the case his own. Every mother can bring it home to her own heart.
And let it not be said, that the slave has not the sensibilities of other men. Nature is too strong even for slavery to conquer. Even the brute has the yearnings of parental love. But suppose that the conjugal and parental ties of the slave may be severed without a pang. What a curse must slavery be, if it can so blight the heart with more than brutal insensibility, if it can sink the human mother below the Polar she-bear which " howls and dies for her sundered cub."
Let it not be said, that numbers of families are often separated in all conditions of life. Yes, but separated under the influence of love. The husband leaves wife and children that he may provide for their support, and carries them with him in his heart and hopes. The sailor, in his lonely night-watch,