Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

the sooner you set in quest of victory the better. Remember that thy own comfort is involved, beyond the power of separation, with that of thy fellow-creatures. Take care that the manner of shewing mercy, or of conferring obligation mar not the matter of the benefit. The man who refuses graciously, impresses on the heart a more favorable idea of himself, than he who grants with harshness, insolence or pride. True goodness considers, together with what is written on tables of stone, what is engraven on the living tables of the heart, and from the heart, communicates itself to the forehead, the eyes, the lips, the hand; impressing on the whole the law of kindness."

III. The philosopher will cast his eyes along the group scattered over the plains adjoining to BethlehemJudah, and will reflect in a different manner; perhaps thus. "What an endless variety do I observe in the ways and works of the great Creator and Ruler of the universe! Blended with that variety, what mutual relation and dependence! The head, the hands, the feet; the parts which are more noble, and those which are more dishonorable, forming one regular, harmonious body where there is nothing redundant, nothing deficient. Every thing has its use, every thing has its end. Shade imperceptibly softens into shade; light imperceptibly brightens into light. The transitions are so sweet and gradual, that the eye is never offended, nor overwhelmed. It is the same thing in the body social and politic. Every one stands in need of another. The prince and the peasant meet in a certain point. How many things have they in common! How many things

to interest and attract each other!

"Look but to that field. The persons are few; and the conditions much fewer. But even there I see the order, the subordination which Providence has established through the whole extent of the vast universe. There walks the dignified, respectable proprietor of the laud, who can trace his title to possession through

many generations; exulting in hereditary wealth and honors, without arrogance, vanity or sensibility. Boaz, a prince in his tribe, but a plain man, who knows that he derives bis subsistence from the bosom of the earth, who disdains not to mingle with his menial servants, sit down to a participation of their homely fare, to dip bis morsel in the same vinegar, and to lie down to sleep in the threshing-floor.

"There the servant who is set over the reapers stirs from ridge to ridge, from company to company, the bond of union between the master and the laborers. Behold him as the trusted humble friend of Boaz, repayin confidence with fidelity; praising the industrious, encouraging the faint, chiding the careless, stimulating the slow. As the sympathizing friend of his less favored fellow-servants, recollecting how lately he emerged from the same obscurity and subjection, excusing the frailty of nature, covering the faults of thoughtlessness, administering reproof and chastisement with lenity and moderation, bestowing commendation with cheerfulness and cordiality,

"As we descend, a new station, a new character rises into view, the glory and the strength of every land under heaven, the poor, the honest, the mauly, the vir tuous, the useful, the important part of the community. Not they who handle the harp and the organ, but they who put their hands to the plough and the sickle. There they toil, there they sweat, there they sing; there they beguile the fatigues of the day in innocent mirth, and untutored, artless, guileless, unmalignant conversation; and purchase and sweeten the repose of the night, with unoppressive industry, with friendly. communication, and pious, unaspiring submission to the pains, the privations, the necessities of their lowly estate,

"These constitute the numerous, the great and good class of our fellow-creatures; who shine in the eye of reason, of patriotism, of philosophy, of religion. They stand not forth the prominent figures in the piece,

but their number, their equality, their want of characteristic distinction, conter upon them the greater value.

"But ah, there is beneath them, a subordinate rank, which awakens all that is human in us. They have health and strength and will to labor; their reward is sure; they support the heat and toil of the day, with the sweet assurance that the thickening shades, that the twelfth hour will bring with them, the payment of their hire, the means of subsistence, of domestic joy, of regulated gratification. But look into the background of the piece, and observe that female, that stranger, that orphan, and her a widow; to work unable, to beg ashamed. She has seen better days. Time was, the wind of heaven was not permitted to visit her face too roughly; she was waited upon, and mimistered unto; now she is become the scorn of clowns, or lower still, their pity. Where is the lowness of condition, from whence it is not possible still to fall! Be what thou wilt, O man, there are some looking up to thee with envy and desire: be what thou wilt, there is still cause to say, "God I thank thee I am not as other men.”

""

But observe, my young friend," continues our philosophical monitor, "all these gradations, and infinitely more than can be pointed out, are links in the great chain of human existence; tear one asunder, and and the concussion is felt through the whole. The gleaner, the reaper, the overseer, the master of the household are so many successive steps in the same scale; the most distant not very remote; the nearer hardly distinguishable; all are reduced to the same level before Him, who says to Gabriel, Go, and he goeth, and to the sparrow hovering on the wing, Fall to the ground, and instantly he drops. And again, young man void of understanding, observe, and observe it well, and lay it up in thine heart, how near the extremes of human condition are to one another! the

gleaner after the reapers, is but a step or two from the possession of the whole. Wait but a few days, and she who is liable to be insulted, at best pitied, shall be, in her turn, caressed, flattered, submitted to and learn, from the whole, the folly of being insolent, self-conceited, or unkind, unsocial or uncomplying, when the sun of prosperity shineth upon thy tabernacle; or of being discontented, dejected, careless or mean, when the common ills of humanity overtake thee. That poor inflated creature, who like another Nebuchad nezzar talks in loud swelling words of vanity, of the great Babylon which he has built, I once knew a cringing minion, ready to lick the dust from the feet of the man whom he now struts by as if he were a stranger. That poor boy whom he disdains to set with the dogs of his flock, is evidently rising into consequence, which is one day to eclipse all the tawdry honors of upstart gentility, and self-assumed importance. My son, derive thy greatness from thyself, from wisdom, from virTake care to adorn thy station, thy possessions, by native goodness. Pitiable indeed is thy condition, if rank, or affluence, or even talents, serve only to render thy folly or profligacy more conspicuous.

tue.

"

IV. Once more, let me suppose a man of genuine piety contemplating the interesting scene before us, and entering with wonder and delight into the plans of the Eternal Mind. His meditatious will flow in still a different channel, he will view the same object through still a different medium. "Behold," will he say, "how sweet is the smell of a field which Jehovah haih blessed! happy Boaz, rich in lands and in corn, rich in man-servants and maid-servants, rich in the dutiful and affec tionate attachment of thy people, rich in thine own integrity and composure of spirit: but richer far in the favor and approbation of the Almighty: the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow therewith. Happy family, thus dwelling together in unity; where love is the governing principle, where the

VOL. 111.

2 R

fear of God sweetly expresses itself in unfeigned benevolence to man! How can that house but prosper, where religion has established her throne? Look at that happy plain over which the bountiful hand of nature has spread her rich exuberance. The Lord maketh that wealth. Behold the patriarchal master: the meanest slave he treats like a child: hearken, the voice of peace and benediction dwells on his lips, distils like the dew. Behold the way to be loved and respected by inferiors. Be to them an ensample of piety, of purity, of charity; bind them to you with cords of love; sweet and faithful, cheerful and efficient is the service of affection. These men will yield obedience not for wrath only, but for conscience sake; their heart is in their work; they need no overseer; they will neither be negligent nor dishonest: they know that the eye of God is continually upon them; they know that the interest of the master is their own.

"How happily religion adapts its influence to every relation and condition of life! How it guards the heart alike from foolish pride and impious discontent, at what bounty has bestowed, or wisdom denied! How it bu manizes, dignifies, exalts the soul! How it enforces, extends and refines the maxims of worldly prudence! How it illustrates, binds, and enlivens the precepts of morality How it amplifies, expands, regulates, brightens the views of philosophy; referring every thing to God, deriving all from him, carrying all back to him again! O man, till thou hast founded thy domestic economy in religion, thou hast not begun to keep house. Let thy possessions be ever so fair, ever so extensive, they want their principal charm, their highest excellence, till the blessing of Heaven be asked and obtained.

"Mark yet age, how a good man's footsteps are all ordered of the Loru. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths Boaz came forth with no farther view than to see the progress of his harvest,

« AnteriorContinua »