Imatges de pÓgina




noon, noun, nine, stolen, fallen, swollen, barn, mourn, name, linen, banner, foreign, lessen, flaxen, frozen, reason.

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The Christian Sabbath.


WERE an intelligent citizen of one of the most refined nations of antiquity permitted to revisit the earth at the present day, and observe the changes which had taken place since his time, there is nothing, I think, that would more forcibly arrest his attention, than the influence which the Christian religion has exerted on the character and condition of mankind. For example, were that great and good man, Socrates, at this moment among us, instituting a comparison between the present state of things in the world, and that which subsisted in his own age, I doubt not it would be his spontaneous and hearty confession, that he now witnessed, in no inconsiderable measure, that intellectual and moral advancement of his species, which was formerly the dearest hope of his heart, and the anticipation of which was the greatest solace of his sufferings and the only reward of his labors.

He would acknowledge that the human race had gone forward in a path that might be tracked by its exceeding brightness; that there was much more of wisdom, of virtue, and of enjoyment in the world ; that the nations had become more civilized ; that the mass of the people were more enlightened and moral; and that a more correct estimate of the nature and sources of happiness had diffused itself through society. He would admit that his own city, the queenly Athens, the seat of arts and arms, with all its wealth, and philosophy, and refinement, might well be

after a

termed barbarous, when contrasted with those communities of modern times, that enjoy the comforts of social life, act from the suggestions of good sense and moral principle, and are at all times animated by the desire of improvement.

He would naturally be led to inquire what were the causes of this great progress in society; and I believe that,

deliberate survey of the several agents that might be supposed to have produced this effect, he would come to the conclusion that the spirit, the principles, and the institutions of Christianity had had by far the greatest share in the work. He would remember that, in ancient times, they had many things which they presumed would conduce to the wellbeing of man. They had an ingenious religion and a subtile philosophy. They had a literature and arts, which were the glory of their age, and have been the admiration of all succeeding times. They had wise men and great men innumerable. They had dominion, and territory, and fame. They had everything but those peculiar blessings which have been conferred upon the world by Christianity and the Christian Sabbath.

The Christian Sabbath! That is an institution so novel, so peculiar, so dissonant from all his former experience, that it attracts the particular notice of our Athenian visitor. For six successive days, he sees all around him activity and busy life; in the streets, the moving multitude ; in the fields, the joyful occupations of the husbandman; industry in the workshop, enterprise on the public walks, and thrift at home. The morning of the seventh day arrives, and the scene is changed. The din of labor has ceased; the workshop is closed; the fields are vacant; the public places are deserted; the streets are a solitude. He listens, but his ear can catch no sound. He fears that some terrible judgment has fallen upon the devoted city, and that the inmates of its dwellings are lifeless.

But soon this mysterious and melancholy silence is broken; a strange sound strikes upon his ear. It is the sound of the

Sabbath bell. At the signal, he observes the inhabitants issuing from their homes. He goes forth himself, and is borne along by the swarming multitude. He remarks an entire change in the appearance of the population. The very countenances in which, but the day before, he had read the deep traces of anxiety and toil, are now tranquil and composed. The habiliments of industry, too, are laid aside, and a simple and decent habit distinguishes the day of rest from the day of labor. The mixed multitude enters what seems to him a place of public resort. He thinks, doubtless, it is the school of some eminent philosopher, who there proposes to teach men wisdom. He has a curiosity to hear the system which he teaches, that he may compare it with those prevalent in his own times; and he accordingly enters.

He finds gathered there persons of all ages, ranks, and conditions, engaged with solemn demeanor in what he supposes to be a religious service. He listens to the address of the officiating priest, and he confesses that he has at last heard what he had long sought, yet sought in vain, among the discordant and bewildering systems of ancient theology. He hears the welcome declaration, that a Savior " hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light; that the hour is coming in which all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.”

Christ crucified might, indeed, appear foolishness to his conceited countrymen assembled in the Areopagus. They might mock when Paul preached to them of the resurrection of the dead. But to the enlarged and enlightened mind of Socrates, it would present itself as a most reasonable and acceptable doctrine. To him, who had himself died a martyr in the cause of truth and virtue, a crucified and a risen Savior would appear

“ the power of God and the wise dom of God.” When reflecting, at the close of the day, on all that he had seen and heard, he would testify that this stated season of rest and worship was a most useful and blessed institution. He would acknowledge that the sacrifices and ceremonies of his national religion were but as the shadows of that spiritual worship in which he sees the highest and the humblest, in this Christian land, unitedly engaged He would admit that all the gorgeous processions and splendid festivals of which antiquity could boast were but poor pageants when contrasted with the simple repose and silence of the Christian Sabbath.

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ng :- king, spring, sung, young, length, strength; — being

nothing, writing, reading, hanging, bringing, singing.

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How still the morning of the hallowed day!
Mute is the voice of rural labor, hushed
The ploughboy's whistle and the milkmaid's song.
The scythe lies glittering in the dewy wreath
Of tedded grass, mingled with fading flowers,
That yester-morn bloomed waving in the breeze.
Sounds the most faint attract the ear, - the hum
Of early bee, the trickling of the dew,
The distant bleating midway up the hill.
Calmness sits throned on yon unmoving cloud.
To him who wanders o'er the upland leas,
The blackbird's note comes mellower from the dale;
And sweeter from the sky the gladsome lark
Warbles with heaven-tuned song; the lulling brook
Murmurs more gently down the deep-worn glen;
While from yon lowly roof, whose curling smoke

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O'ermounts the mist, is heard, at intervals,
The voice of psalms, - the simple song of praise.

With dove-like wings, Peace o'er yon village broods;
The dizzying mill-wheel rests; the anvil's din
Hath ceased; all, all around is quietness.
Less fearful on this day, the limping hare
Stops, and looks back, and stops, and looks on man,
Her deadliest foe. The toil-worn horse, set free,
Unheedful of the pasture, roams at large;
And, as his stiff, unwieldy bulk he rolls,
His iron-armed hoofs gleam in the morning ray.

But chiefly Man the day of rest enjoys.
Hail, SABBATH! thee I hail, the poor man's day.
On other days the man of toil is doomed
To eat his joyless bread, lonely; the ground
Both seat and board; screened from the winter's cold,
And summer's heat, by neighboring hedge or tree;
But on this day, imbosomed in his home,
He shares the frugal meal with those he loves ;
With those he loves he shares the heart-felt joy
Of giving thanks to God, — not thanks of form,
A word and a grimace, but reverently,
With covered face and upward, earnest eye.

Hail, SABBATH! thee I hail, the poor man's day.
The pale mechanic now has leave to breathe
The morning air, pure from the city's smoke;
While, wandering slowly up the river's side,
He meditates on Him, whose power he marks
In each green tree that proudly spreads the bough,
As in the tiny dew-bent flowers that bloom
Around its roots; and while he thus surveys,
With elevated joy, each rural charm,
He hopes, yet fears presumption in the hope,
That heaven may be one SABBATH without end.

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