Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

are,access to the most exalted society and renewalof the most tender connexions. The former is pointed out in the Scripture, by "joining the innumerable company of angels, and the general assembly and church of the first-born;by sitting down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven;" a promise which opens the sublimest prospects to the haman mind. It allows good men to entertain the hope, that separated from all the dregs of the human mass, from that mixed and polluted crowel in the midst of which they now dwell, they shall be permitted to mingle with prophets, patriarchs, and apostles, with all those great and illistrious spirits, who have shone in former ages as the servants of God, or the benefactors of men; whose deeds we are accustomed to celebrate; whose steps we now follow at a distance ; and whose names we pronounce with veneration.

United to this high assembly, the blessed, at the same time renew those ancient connexions with virtuous friends, which had been dissolved by death. The prospect of this awakens in the heart, the most pleasing and tender sentiment that perhaps can fill it, in this mortal state. For of all the sorrows which we are here doomed to endure,none is so bitter as that occasioned by the fatal stroke which separates us, in appear. ance for ever, from those to whom either nature or friendship had intimately joined our hearts. Memory, from time to time, renews the anguish; opens the wound which seemed once to have been closed; and, by recalling joys that are past and gone touches every spring of painful sensibility. In these agonizing moments, how relieving the thought, that the separation is only temporary, not eternal; that there is a time to come of re-union with those with whom our happiest days were spent : whose joys and sorrows once were ours; whose piety and virtue cheered and encouraged us; and from whom after we shall have landed on the peaceful shore wbere they dwell, no revolutions of nature shall ever be able to part us more! Such is the society of the blessed above. Of such are the multitude composed, who 16 stand before the throne,”

BLAIR. SECTION VI, The clemency and amiable character of the patriarch JOSEPH.

No human character exhibited in the records of Scripture, is more remarkable and instructive than that of the patriarch Joseph. He is one whom we behold tried in all the vicissitudes of fortune ; from the condition of a slave, rising to be

ruler of the land of Egypt.; and in every station acquiring by his virtue and wisdom, favour with God and man. When overseer of Potiphar's house, his fidelity was proved by strong temptations, which he honorably resisted. When thrown into prison by the artifices of a false woman, his integrity and prudence soon rendered him conspicuous, even in that dark mansion. When called into the presence of Pharaoh, the wise and extensive plan wbicb he formed for saving the kingdom from the miseries of impending famine, justly raised him to a high station, wherein his abilities were eminentlydisplayed in the public service. But in bis whole history, there is no circumstance so striking and interesting, as bis behaviour to his brethren who had sold him into slavery. The moment in which ne made himself known to them, was the most critical one of his life, and the most decisive of his character. It is such as rarely occurs in the course of human events ; and is calculated to draw the highest attention of all who are endowed with any degree of sensibility of heart.

From the whole tenour of the narration it appears, that though Joseph upon the arrival of his brethren in Egypt, made himself strange to them, yet from the beginning he intended to discover himself; and studied so to conduct the discovery, as might render the surprise of joy complete. For this end, by affected severity, he took measures for bringing down into Egypt all his father's children. They were dow arrived there ; and Benjamin among the rest, who was his younger brother by the same mother, and was particularly beloved by Joseph. Him he threatened to detain ; and seemed willing to allow the rest to depart. This incident renewed their distress. They all koew their father's extreme anxiety about the safety of Benjamin, and with what difficulty he had yielded to bis undertaking this journey. Should he be prevented from returning, they dreaded that grief would overpower the old man's spirits, and prove fatal to his life. Judab, therefore, who had particularly urged the necessity of Benjamin's accompanying his brothers, and had solemnly pledged himself to their father for his safe return, craved, upon this occasion, an audience of the governor; and gave bim a full account of the circumstances of Jacob's family.

Notbing can be more interesting and pathetic than this discourse of Judah Little knowing to whom be spoke,he paints is all the colours of simple and natural eloquence, the distressed situation of the aged patriarch, hastening to the close of life ; long afflicted for the loss of a favourite son, whom he

supposed to have been torn in pieces by a beast of prey; labouring now under anxious concern about his youngest son, the child of bis old age,who alopewas left alive of his mother, and whom pothing but the calamities of severe famine could have moved a tender father to send from home,and expose to the dangers of a foreign land. “ If we bring him not back with us, we shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant, our father, with sorrow, to the grave. I pray thee therefore let thy servant abide, i nstead of the lada bondman to our lord. For how shall I go up to my father,and Benjamin be not wit hme? Iest I see the evil that shall come on my father.”

Upon this relation Joseph could no longer restrain himself. The tender ideas of his father, and his father's house, of his ancient home, his country, and his kindred, of the distress of his family, and his own exaltation, all rushed too strongly upon his mind to bear any farther concealment,

" He cried, Cause every man to go out from me; and he wept aloud." The tears which he shed were not the tears of grief They were the burst of affection. They were the effusions of a heart overflowing with all the tender sensibilities of pature. Formerly he had been moved in the same manner, when he first saw his brethern before him." His bowels yearned upon them; be sought for a place where to weep. He went into his chamber; and thenwashed bis face and returned to them." At that period his generous plans were not completed. But now, when there was no farther occasion for constraining himself, he gave free vent to the strong emotions of his heart. The first minister to the king of Eygpt was not ashamed to show, that he lelt as a man, and a brother. “ He wept aloud: and the Egyptians, and the house of Pharaoh, heard him."

The first words which his swelling heart allowed bim to pronounce, are the most suitable to such an affecting situation that were ever uttered ;_" I am Josephi doth my father yet live ?"_ What could he, what ought he, in that impassioned mo nent, to have said more? This is the voice of nature her. self, speaking her own language; and it penetrates the heart: no pomp. of expression i no parade of kindness; but strong affection hastening to utter what it strongly felt. "His bretaren could not answer him ; for they were troubled at his presence.” Their silence is as expressive of those emotions of repentaoce and shame, which, on this amazing discovery, fiHed their breasts, and stopped their utterance, as the few words which Joseph speaks, are expressive of the generous agitations which struggled for vent withio him. No painter

could seize a more striking moment for displaying the characteristical features of the human beart, than what is here presented. Never was there a situation of more tender and virtuous joy, on the one band ; nor, on the other, of more overwhelming confusion and conscious guilt. In the simple narration of the sacred historian, it is set before us with greater energy and higher effect, than if it had been wrought up with all the colouring of the most admired modern eloquence.

SECTION VII,

BLAIR.

ALTAMONT.

hold! you

The following account of an affecting, mournfulerit, is related

by Dr. Young, who was present at the inelancholy scene. The sad evening before the death of the noble youth,whose last bours suggested the most solemn and awful reflections, I was with him. No one was present, but his physician, and an intimate whom he loved, and whom he had ruined. At my coming in, be said, “ You and the physician are come too late. I have neither life nor hope. You both aim at mira. cles. You would raise the dead !” Heaven, I said, was mere ciful-"Or,” exclaimed be,~“ I could not have been thus guilty.

What has it not done to bless and to save me! I hare been too strong for Omnipotence ! I have plucked down ruia.”—Isaid, the blessed Redeemer,- Hold !

wound me!- That is the rock on which I split: I denied his name !!!

Refusing to hear any thing from me, or take any thing from the physician, he lay silent,as far as sudden darts of pain would permit, till the clock struck : Then with vehemence he exclaimed ; " Oh, time ! time ! it is fit thou shouldst thus strike thy murderer to the heart !-How art thou fled for ever !-A month !--Oh, for a single week! I ask not for years ! though an age were too little for the much I bave to do.” On my saying, we could not do too much : that heaven was a blessed place _56 So much the worse."Tis lost ! 'tis lost !-Heaven is to be the severest part of hell !"

Soon after, I proposed prayer,—"Pray you that can, I never prayed. I cannot pray-nor deed i. Is not Heaven on my side already ? It closes with my conscience. Its severest strokes but second any own. ." Observing that his friend was much touched at this, even to tears+(wifo could frebear? I could not)- with a nost affectionate look be said,

K к

me

ܪ

eel."

“Keep those tears for thyself. I have undone thee. Dost thou weep

for ? that is cruel. What can pain me more ? Here his friend, too much affected, would have left him. "No, stay—thou siill mayst hope; therefore lear me. How madly have I talked ! How madly hast thou listened and believed! but look op my present siate, as a full answer to thee, and to inyself. This body is all weakness and pain; but my soul, as if stung up by torment to greater strength and spirit is full powerful to reason ; full mighty to suffer. Add tbat wbich thus triumphs witoin the jaws of immortality, is doubtless, immortal— And, as for a Deity, nothing less than an Almighty could inflict what

I was about to congratulate this passive, involuntary confessor, on his asserting the two prime articles of his creed, ertorted by the rack of nature, when he thus,very passionately exclaimed :-No, no ! let me speak on. I have not long to speak.-My much injured friend ! my sonl, as my body, lies in ruins ; in scattered fragments of broken thought-Remorse for the past, tbrows my thought on the future Worse dread of the future, strikes it back on the past. I turn, and turn, and find no ray. Didst thou feel half the nountain that is on me, thou wouldst struggle with the martyr for his stake ; and bless Heaven for the flames !--that is not an everlasting flame ; that is not an unquenchable fire.”

How were we struck ! yet, soon after, still more. With what an eye of distraction, what a face of despair, he cried out ? "My principles have poisoned my friend ; my extravagance has beggared my boy ? my vukindness bas murdered my wife !--And is there another hell? Oh! thou blasphemed, yet indulgent LORD GOD! Hell itself is a refuge, if it bide me from thy frown!” Soon after, his understanding failed. His terrified imagination uttered horrors not to ve repeated, or ever forgotten. Andere the sun (which, I hope, bas seen few like him) arose, the gay, young, noble, ingenious, accomplished, and most wretched Altamont, expired!

If this is a man of pleasure, what is a man of paip ? How quick, how total, is the transit of such persons ! In what a dismal gloom they set for ever! How short, alas! the day of their rejoicing !-For a moment they glitter--they dazzle! In a moment, where are they? Oblivion covers their memories. Ah ! would it did ! Infamy snatches them from oblive ion. In the long living annals of infamy their triumpbs are recorded. Thy sufferings, poor Altamont! still bleed in the bosom of the heart-stricken friendfor Altamont had a

« PredošláPokračovať »