Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the tear that trembles in the eye of the peasant is as pure as that which flows from the most refined sensibilities, and springs from a kindred source.

In the north of England we often meet with a great deal of mind amongst the country-people. Some associating link is connected with their commonest occupations. Burns illustrates this beautifully in his Cotter's Saturday Night, when " the frugal wifie” crowns the simple board with her “weelhain’d kebbuck” (cheese kept in store), he makes her

“Garrulously tell How 'twas a towmond auld, sin’ lint was i' the bell.”* The writer recollects being struck with the expressions of an old woman, who was setting forth to her neighbour what she must expect from the rigorous demands of a severe creditor. She exclaimed, “ They will strip thee as bare as the birks at Yule e'en !” What strength is there in the illustration. A birch-tree on Christmas-eve left without a leaf! In the south of England the peasantry have fewer traditions ; fewer national songs ; less historic, less local poetry : they do not, as in the north, meet at each other's houses in an evening, the women, with their wheels, singing as they spin, some favourite ballad, as

“ Ou Ettrick's banks in a summer's night

At gloamint when the sheep drave hame." The menthe battle of. Flodden Field:

“ The flowers o'the forest are a weed awa.” In short, the peasantry in the south are less educated, so that when recalling events or speaking of them, they only dwell on the bare memory of facts, not the memory of the mind or the exercise of intellect. Indeed, in various situations even among the upper classes, many may be found who appear to know nothing of those associations which link existence and the affections with a tune,” or a flower, “ or the time of the year," as Wordsworth, describing one who had no mind, beautifully remarks :

A primrose on the river's hrim,
A simple primrose was to him,

And it was nothing more!”

* Two months old since flax was in the flower. + Twilight.

But to others, the early primrose is an affecting record, recalling childhood, home, spring; and, for a moment, almost the freshness and exuberance with which it once was greeted, though blended with the image of friends sleeping in the dust.

Again, the contrast between the little perishing flower, the emblem of humanity, and the imperishable trust in Him who made it, is impressive. 6. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth : but the word 'of our God shall stand for ever. Scripture connects us with everything, past, present, and future; the links are infinite, reaching from earth to heaven, so that nothing can give so wide a range to the mind; nothing can so constantly and instantly wing the thoughts as the word of God. But this truth is not opposed to the acquisition of knowledge; on the contrary, when knowledge is sanctified, it not only increases the capacity for enjoyment, but brings fresh subjects for praise. For that admiration which is confined to a few objects, and these imperfectly understood, cannot be of that elevated character, which a greater acquaintance with the Divine economy would inspire.

Suppose, for instance, a Christian looking out on a beautiful night, and beholding a multitude of stars gemming the sky, and "the moon walking in her brightness;" impressed with the magnificence of the spectacle, he exclaims, “ The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy-work.” But would not his admiration be greatly exalted, if, instead of looking at those myriads of stars as so mány lucid points garnishing the vast concave, he contemplated them as described by Chalmers ?

By a process of measurement, which it is unnecessary here to explain, we have ascertained first the distance, and then the magnitude of some of those bodies which roll in the firmament; that the sun which presents itself to the eye

under so diminutive a form, is really a globe, exceeding, by many thousands of times, the dimensions of the earth which we inhabit ; that the moon itself has the magnitude of a world; and that even a few of those stars, which appear like so many lucid points to the unassisted eye of the observer, expand into large circles upon the application of the telescope, and are some of them much larger than the ball which we tread upon, and to which we proudly apply the denomination of the universe.

66 The discoveries of science give us to see that the sun, enthroned in the centre of his planetary system, gives light and warmth, and the vicissitude of seasons, to an extent of surface, several hundreds of times greater than that of the earth which we inhabit. They lay open to us a number of worlds, rolling in their respective circles around this vast luminary, and prove that the ball which we tread upon, with all its mighty burden of oceans and continents, instead of being distinguished from the others, is among the least of them; and, from some of the more distant planets, would not occupy a visible point in the concave of their firmament. They let us know, that though this mighty earth, with all its myriads of people, were to sink into annihilation, there are some worlds where an event so awful to us would be unnoticed and unknown, and others, where it would be nothing more than the disappearance of a little star which had ceased from its twinkling."

Such a sublime view as this of Chalmers, when combined with the one which fills the mind almost to overwhelming, that of those unnumbered worlds being peopled with immortal beings, worshippers of Almighty God, such a view would fill the Christian's soul, and with adoring praise, and a force never felt before, he would exclaim “ Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"

But let us stoop from these lofty heights, and consider what more especially belongs to us, namely, thought, as a responsible gift. For what our habitual thoughts are, such is our character. The scientific man's thoughts, devoid of religion, are habitually occupied with discoveries, whilst he remains ignorant of God, and of his Redeemer. The thoughts of the author, or the man of literature, unless sanctified, are absorbed in his books; he reads all things except his Bible; studies all things, except his own heart; and too frequently realizes the description which the psalmist gives of the wicked, “ God is not in all his thoughts.” The reverse of this comprehensive picture describes the heart renewed by grace. God is in all the thoughts. What was David's language? the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul,” Psa. xciv. 19.

“ How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” This is a correct picture of a soul embued with the love of God; for whatever interests the heart deeply, visits the thoughts the first thing in the morning, whether it be joy or grief. Where the trea

66 In

66 Search me,

sure is, there will the heart be also. What a blessing then to have our treasure, our chief joy, in God! for “ in His presence is fulness of joy ;” and at His “ right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Thought is the great instrument by which God communicates with the soul; and its purity or pollution here, will, in a great measure, make heaven or hell hereafter. If the thought of foolishness be sin, how careful should Christians be to watch over their thoughts, and examine what character they bear! How fervently should they pray, O God, and know my thoughts !” The mercy of our heavenly Father is very great in veiling our thoughts one from another.. Nothing short of his infinite love could cover their deformity ; nothing short of the blood of the Lamb could blot out their defilement. And how jealously has the Lord concealed from every eye his own communications to the soul! Heavenly treasure is hidden treasure; heavenly joy, is joy with which the stranger intermeddleth not.

If we would possess this joy, we must seek to have our thoughts sanctified. The Spirit of God must dwell within us,

bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

Then shall the meditation of our hearts be sweet, and we shall realize the beautiful exhortation of the apostle, 66 Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

A. H.

OLD HEARTY. Old John Hart was called Old Hearty, on account of being so much in earnest, and throwing his heart into everything in which he was engaged. One of his favourite sayings was this,

While suns and seasons round thee roll,

Oh serve the Lord with heart and soul ! Old John had no notion of doing things by halves, for he would have it that if a thing was worth doing at all, it was worth doing well. In hand-work, his motto was, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,” Eccles. ix. 10. And in heart-work, such as fearing and loving God, his words were “ I will do it with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength.”'

Edmund Wall, John Hart's nearest neighbour, was fond of his garden, and always kept it in excellent order. The time had come for him to lay down the hedge afresh, to weed his beds, to sow his parsnips, and to plant his potatoes; but just as he was preparing to set about these things, he was laid on a sick bed with a fever. 66 What will become of my garden?” said he one day, rather forlornly, when John Hart had stepped in to see what he could do for him. 66 Leave it alone, Edmund !” said, John, encouragingly, “Leave it alone. Time enough to think of that when you can handle a spade. Look upwards with thankfulness, and trust in Him who can give you seed time and harvest too in his own gracious and merciful way! I warrant your garden will not be hurt. Trust in the Lord, Edmund, for blessed is the man that trusteth in him,' Psa. xxxiv. 8.” And was Edmund's garden hurt while he lay sick of the fever? Hurt ! No! for John Hart took it in hand himself, and engaged so heartily in the work, that he not only dug it, weeded it, sowed the parsnips, planted the potatoes, and new pleached the hedge, but also whitewashed the walls of the cottage. As I said before, John Hart did nothing by halves, and I question whether he had not double the pleasure in doing up his neighbour's garden that he had in attending to his own.

When sickness tries us, or when growing old,

A Christian friend is worth his weight in gold. Bridget Holmes, a poor old errand woman, who got her living by going on market days to the neighbouring towns with her donkey, met with a sad misfortune, for her donkey died suddenly without Bridget knowing that anything was the matter with him. When the news had run through the village that poor Bridget had lost her donkey and was in great distress, some pitied her, and some wondered what she would do; but John Hart, losing no time in pity and wonder, set off at once round the neighbourhood, to get together, by small sums, enough money to buy her another donkey, putting down a shilling himself to begin with. With such hearty good will did he go through what he had undertaken, that in a few hours he had collected not only enough to buy another donkey, but half-a-crown over, to the great joy and thankfulness of poor old Bridget. Many a man would have thought over the matter for a-day or two, and then talked about it for three or four days more, before put

« ElőzőTovább »