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A SABBATH DAY AT KINNETLES.
“ Hail Sabbath ! thee I hail, the poor man's day,
The pale mechanic now has leave to breathe
LAST Sabbath day I spent in a neighbouring city. How different the throng of its streets, the chime of its bells, and the holiday appearance of its people, with the sacred quietness and holy serenity which now reign around this peaceful glen! Some scenes when they become too common pall and cloy the appetite, and the wisest of men's sayings, lose by repetition half their value. But who ever wearies by gazing on the
. cherished scenes of their youth, or of listening to the hallowed sound of the sabbath bell ? O how precious is the rest of the holy Sabbath ; sweet
1 earnest and foretaste of that serene and everlasting rest, which remaineth for the people of God in the Zion that is above. May the day never come when its blessed calm shall be broken by the chariot wheels of commerce or of pleasure, or its holy worship exchanged for the shout of merriment and revelry. Avert, O God of nations, from our beloved country, that heinous neglect of the Sabbath and its duties, which, like the ever-increasing waves of the stormy sea, threaten to obliterate the landmarks of our fathers, and overwhelm the people in its black and scowling waters.
You have often, dear reader, in the quietude of your closet, perused with a holy delight, the glowing and extatic raptures of the poet, descriptive of Sabbath morning in the country. Try now definitely to realize them.
Look abroad on the beautiful scenes of Nature, and then inwards to your own exulting soul, and say if you do not feel the truth of the description. There is indeed throughout the domains of Nature, a universal and spiritual-like repose. Not only are the sounds of rural labour hushed into silence, but a softer hymn cometh from the golden tinted woods, and a lower and less fretful song from the bonnie burn as it flows quietly and sweetly by. In the low grassy holms, and in the flower-begemmed meadows, the kine are quietly feeding, and on the upland lea, fragrant with its white and purple clover, the horse enjoys his much prized freedom, rolling himself on the grass in all the playful enjoyment of his liberty. A faint bleating now and then from the hills, does not disturb, but is in fine keeping with the general picture of repose and happi
It is man,
But much of this quiet loveliness is owing to your own feelings of sacred reverence for the holy day. Without these, even though the whistle of the ploughboy, and the song of the milkmaid be mute, the scenes of Nature would ever continue the same.
It is not Nature that changes, but man. who, under divine influence, invests her on this day, with these holy and sweet associations, and attunes her harp of ten thousands strings to the solemn minstrelsy of heaven. It is the mind that throws a charm, or otherwise, on everything around us. The man whose broken heart is over-burthened with grief and poignant sorrow, experiences no pleasure and sees no beauty in the richest scenes of Nature, but let the load of grief be removed, and everything is changed into beauty, and joy, and gladness. So it is with regard to the Sabbath.
With a heart dead to all holy affections and spiritual influences, we see Nature on this day, just the same as we do on any other day, and behold her with no higher, or more reverential feelings of emotion ; but let a live coal from off the holy altar touch the heart, and the soul be strung to the music of heaven, and everything assumes a new aspect, what was dark becoming light as the noon-day sun, and every object surrounded as with a halo of seraphic glory.
Hush! there is my father quietly reading his bible in the arbour—come, we shall not disturb him, and as we go, I
may relate to you the simple routine of our Sabbath day at Airniefoul, the description of one day applying to the first day of the week, with scarcely any variation, throughout the year.
The household at the farm and mill all rise just about as early as they do on other days; but no noise or bustle is observable; a hushed stillness sweetly pervades all their movements. My father, when the weather is fine, reads for sometime in the little summerhouse ; or if otherwise, he seats himself for the same purpose by the large kitchen ingle till the breakfast hour, when the whole inmates assemble together as one family under one patriarchal head. A chapter is then read, with an appropriate psalm, or hymn, when a prayer is fervently offered up, embodying confession of sin, gratitude for by-past mercies, and supplication for the guidance and direction of the Most High, during the services of the holy day. After church service and a quiet walk in the garden, or by the daisied meadow which skirts the murmuring burn, and an hour or two devoted to the perusal and study of some favourite tome of divinity, the evening is closed in the same devout and solemn manner, with this exception, that the psalm or paraphrase is sung to the plaintive airs of Martyrdom, or Dundee, or of some other old and favourite tune; and though the cadence be rude and unmelodious, it is, doubtless, sweet to the ears of the God of Sabaoth, who requires not orchestral symphonies but the homage of devout and believing hearts. Religion is not, as some would have us believe, a cold
and gloomy thing. Eminently practical, it enters into all the scenes of life, sweetening our enjoyments, deepening our affections, hallowing our thoughts, elevating our desires, soothing our sorrows, and lightening our cares. It was in this cheerful light that my revered father regarded our holy religion and its every-day duties, and hence, instead of dark and troubled clouds of ominous gloom ever brooding mysteriously over his sequestered home, a halo of sweet and silvery brightness, ever encircled with celestial radiance the blessed spot on which he, and his happy household, dwelt.
I know not, dear reader, to what distant lands in future years my footsteps may lead me, nor to what sublime Cathedral services I may listen, but of this I am persuaded, that no clime on earth, however gorgeously beautiful, no pompous ritual however attractive and fascinating, shall ever erase from my heart the cherished altar-scene of my happy childhood home, or hush the rude music of its holy songs.
What heart does not glow with the deepest emotion at the scene described by the unfortunate Pringle, when in the wild solitudes of an African valley, with the wild beasts of the forest as listeners, his little family group offered up praise and prayer as they were wont in the peaceful glens of Scotland ? But what heart can fully enter into the feelings of the lonely emigrants, when for the first time in that savage wilderness, the plaintive melody of the songs of Zion was borne upon the pestilential breeze; what tongue can tell their poignant grief when their troubled thoughts wandered to the homes they had left, in a land whose every association and remembrance entwined themselves around their heart-strings the firmer and the closer the further their feet wandered from its much loved shores!
And by a natural transition, remember the constancy of the Jews in captivity.—"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land ? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning, if I do not remember thee let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."
But 'tis now near the hour of prayer, and the Sabbath bell will soon break in silvery sweetness over our peaceful glen. Already some of our people are skirting the wood on their way to the House of God. As we follow in a little family group, let us observe the hilly road before us crowded with anxious travellers, clad in glowing and not unpicturesque costumes, all pressing onwards to worship in the distant village church. The top-boots of the farmer, and the red plaid and snood of the cottar are there, blended with the dazzling colours of the "gudewife's" newest dress, the bright tints of the scarlet plush of the ploughman's habiliments, and the gaudy hues of the flaunting ribbons of the sweet and bonnie lasses. Every homestead in the glen, every lonely cot on the hill-side, sends its quota of devout worshippers.
Beautiful Sabbath morning! We wend our way midst wayside flowers and golden sunshine, melody of hymning brooks and woodland birds, along the white and dusty road; now on the upland lea 'mong bleating lambs, anon in shady groves of beech and elm, on through the hazel copse and gowand holm, the mountain streamlet murmuring at our feet, reflecting on its tremulous bosom the passing vision--pilgrims on the march, by smiling faces, silvery voices cheered of Godsent happy children,-each starting far from different points yet all arriving glad beneath the same blest, sacred roof at last. Beautiful emblem of the true church of Christ, divided into many sects and parties setting out on their Zionward march from many different points, and pursuing their way by many different paths, but all gathering into one happy, glorions company at the gates of Paradise !