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without touching their hearts, elevating their fancy, or leaving any durable remembrance. Even of those who pretend to sensibility, how many are there to whom the lustre of the rising or setting sun, the sparkling concave of the midnight sky, the mountain forest tossing and roaring to the storm, or warbling with all the melodies of a summer evening ; the sweet interchange of hill and dale, shade and sunshine, grove, lawn, and water, which an extensive landscape offers to the view ; the scenery of the ocean, so lovely, so majestic, and so tremendous, and the many pleasing varieties of the animal and vegetable kingdom, could never afford so much real satisfaction as the steams and noise of a ball-room, the insipid fiddling and squeaking of an opera, or the vexations and wranglings of a card-table !
But some minds there are of a different make, who, even in the early part of life, receive from the contemplation of nature a species of delight which they would hardly exchange for any other ; and who, as avarice and ambition are not the infirmities of that period, would, with equal sincerity and rapture, exclaim,
“ I care not, Fortune, what you me deny;
To a mind thus disposed, no part of creation is indifferent. In the crowded city and howling wilderness, in the cultivated province and solitary isle, in the flowery lawn and craggy mountain, in the murmur of the rivulet and in the uproar of the ocean, in the radiance of summer and gloom of winter, in the thunder of heaven and in the whisper of the breeze, he still finds something to rouse or to soothe his imagination, to draw forth his affections, or to employ his understanding.
This happy sensibility to the beauties of nature should be cherished in young persons.
It engages them to contemplate the Creator in his wonderful works ; it purifies and harmonizes the soul, and prepares it for moral and intellectual discipline ; it supplies a never-failing source of amusement ; it contributes even to bodily health ; and, as a strict analogy subsists between material and moral beauty, it leads the heart by an easy transition from the one to the other, and thus recommends virtue for its transcendent loveliness, and makes vice appear the object of contempt and abomination
“ O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
of charms which Nature to her votaries yields ?
The pomp of groves and garniture of fields ;
And all that echoes to the song of even :
And all the dread magnificence of heaven :
ON IMPROVEMENT.—(KINGSLEY's Cottage Sermons.)
The Bible is always telling Christian people to go forwards—to grow to become wiser and stronger, better and better day by day ; that they ought to become better and better, because they can, if they choose, improve. This text tells us so ; it says that we shall bring forth more fruit in our old age. Another text tells us, that “ those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength ;” another tells us,
“ shall go from strength to strength.” Not one of St. Paul's Epistles but talks of growing in grace, and in the knowledge of God, of being filled with God's spirit, of having our eyes more and more open to understand God's truth. Not one of St. Paul's Epistles but contains prayers of St. Paul, that the men to whom he writes may become holier and wiser. And St. Paul says that he himself needed to go forward ; that he wanted fresh strength ; that he had to forget what was past, and consider all he had done and felt as nothing, and press forward to the prize of his high calling ; that he needed to be daily conquering himself more and more, keeping down his bad feelings, hunting out one bad habit after another, lest by any means, when he had preached to others, he himself should become a castaway. Therefore, I said rightly, that the Bible is always bidding us go forwards. You cannot read your Bible without seeing this. What else was the use of St. Paul's Epistles ? They were written to Christian men, redeemed men, converted men, most of them better, I fear, than ever we shall be ; and for what ? to tell them not to be content to remain as they were, but to go forwards, to improve, to remember that they were only just inside the gate of God's kingdom, and that, if they would go on to perfection, they would find strength, and holiness, and blessing, and honour, and happiness, which they as yet did not dream of. “ Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” said our blessed Lord to all men.
“ Be ye perfect,” says St. Paul to the Corinthians, and to the Ephesians, and all to whom he wrote ; and so say I to you now in God's name, for Christ's sake, as citizens of God's kingdom, as heirs of everlasting glory, “ Be you perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Now, I ask you, my friends, is not this reasonable ? It is reasonable, for the Bible always speaks of our souls as living things. It compares them to limbs of a body, to branches of a tree, often to separate plants, as in our Lord's parable of the tares and the wheat. Again, St. Paul tells us that we have been planted in baptism, in the likeness of Christ's death; and again, in the first Psalm, which says that the good man shall be like a tree planted by the waterside ; and again in the text of my sermon, which says, “that those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age ; they shall be fat and flourishing."
Now, what does all this mean? It means that the life of our souls is in some respects like the life of a plant ; and therefore, that as plants grow, so our souls are to grow. Why do you plant anything but in order that it may grow and become larger, stronger, bear flower and fruit ? Be sure God has planted us in His garden, Christ's church, for no other reason. Consider again, what is life but a continual growing, or a continual decaying ? If a tree does not get larger and stronger year by year, is not that a sure sign that it is unhealthy, and that decay has begun in it; that it is unsound at heart ? and what happens then ? It becomes weaker and smaller, and cankered, and choked with scurf and moss, till it dies. If a tree is not growing, it is sure in the long run to be dying ; and so are our souls. If they are not growing, they are dying ; if they are not getting better, they are getting worse. This is why the Bible compares our souls to trees--not out of a mere pretty fancy of poetry, but for a great, awful, deep, worldwide lesson, that every tree in the fields may be a pattern, a warning, to us thoughtless men, that as that tree is meant to grow, so our souls are meant to grow ; as that tree dies, unless it grows, so our souls must die, unless they grow. Consider that !
But how does a tree grow? How are our souls to grow ? Now, here again we shall understand heavenly things best, by taking
and considering the pattern from among earthly things which the Bible gives us—the tree I mean. A tree grows in two ways. Its roots take up food from the ground, its leaves take up food from the air. Its roots are its mouth, we may say, and its leaves are its lungs.
Thus the tree draws nourishment from the earth be neath and the heaven above, and so must our souls, my friends if they are to live and grow, they must have food both from earth and from heaven. And this is what I mean.
Why has God given us senses, eyes, and ears, and understanding? That by them we may feed our souls with things which we see and hear, things which are going on in the world round us. We must read and we must listen, and we must watch people and their sayings and doings, and what becomes of them ; and we must try and act, and practise what is right for ourselves, and so we shall, by using our eyes and ears, and our bodies, get practice, and experience, and knowledge from the world round us--such as Solomon gives us in his Proverbs; and so our eyes, and ears, and understanding, are to be to us like roots, hy which we may feed our souls with earthly learning and experience. But is this enough? No, surely. Consider again God's example which he has given us-a tree. If you keep stripping all the leaves off a tree as fast as they grow, what becomes of it? It dies, because without leaves it cannot get nourishment from the air, and the rain, and the sunlight. Again, if you shut up a tree where it can get neither rain, air, nor light, what happens ? The tree certainly dies, though it may be planted in the very richest soil, and have the very strongest roots, and why? because it can get no food from the sky above ; so with our souls, my friends. If we get no food from above, our souls will die, though we have all the wit, and learning, and experience in the world. We must be fed and strengthened, and satisfied, with the grace of God from abovewith the spirit of God. Consider how the Bible speaks of God's spirit, as the breath of God; for the very word spirit means, originally, breath or air, or gas, or a breeze of wind, showing us that as without the airs of heaven the tree would become stunted and cankered, so our souls will, without the fresh purifying breath of God's spirit. Again, God's spirit is often spoken of in Scripture as dew and rain. His grace or favour, we read, is as dew on the grass; and again, that God shall come unto us as the rain, as the former and latter rain upon the earth ; and again, speaking of the outpouring of God's Spirit on His Church, the Psalmist says that “ He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass ; as showers that water the earth ;” and to show us that as the tree puts forth buds and leaves, and tender wood, when it drinks in the dew and rains, so our hearts will become tender, and bud out into good thoughts and wise resolves, when God's Spirit fills them with His grace.
Moreover, the Scripture tells us again and again that our souls want light from above ; and we all know by experience that the trees and plants which grow on earth want the light of the sun to make them grow. So, doubtless, in this case also, the scriptural example of a tree will hold good. Now, what does the sunlight do for a tree ? It does everything, for without light the soil, and air, and rain, are all useless. It stirs up the sap, it hardens the wood, it brings out the blossom, it colours the leaves and the flowers, it ripens the fruit. The light is the life of the tree; and is there not one, my friends, of whom these words are written—that He is the life, and that He is the light—that He is the Sun of Righteousness, and the bright and Morning Starthat He is the light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world, and that in Him was life, and the life was the light of men ? Do you not know of whom I speak ? Even of Him that was born at Bethlehem, and died on the cross, who is now at God's right hand praying for us, offering to us His body and His blood; Jesus the Son of God, He is the light and the life. From Him alone our light must come, from Him alone our life must come, now and for ever.
A GIGANTIC ICEBERG.—(DANA's Two Years before the Mast.)
Ar twelve o'clock we went below, and had just got through dinner, when the cook put his head down the scuttle and told us to come on deck and see the finest sight that we had ever seen. “ Where away, cook ?” asked the first man who was up.
« On the larboard bow.” And there lay floating in the ocean, several miles off, an immense irregular mass, its top and points covered with snow, and its centre of a deep indigo colour. This was an iceberg, and of the largest size, as one of our men said, who had been in the Northern Ocean. As far as the eye could reach, the sea in every direction was of a deep blue colour, the waves running high and fresh, and sparkling in the light, and in the midst lay this immense mountain-island, its cavities and valleys thrown into