« AnteriorContinua »
that summer which has shone on others.
On so very few is length of days bestowed, that it is a fatal error to trust to the winter, or even the autumn of life, for the opportunity of making your peace with God. But if happily you shall be permitted to accompany the march of time through its varying seasons, may it please the Almighty to bless you with virtuous happiness in all; that when the latest change it knows, the winter of your little life be past, your sleep of death may be with Christ—with Christ to wake again to that second spring which shall bloom through all eternity.
TRUE HAPPINESS NOT FOUND ON EARTH.
True happiness is not the growth of earth;
The search is useless, if you seek it there :
'Tis an exotic of celestial birth,
And only blossoms in celestial air.
Sweet plant of paradise! its seed is sown
In here and there a plant of heavenly mould!
ON THE DEATH OF A CHILD.
She was even yet in childhood, but she seemed
Her young heart leaning with a perfect faith
With what a marvellous vigor can the soul
There she lay ;-peaceful as if in slumber.
Her pulse had stopped,
To see if yet she breathed ;—when suddenly
She started in her bed, upright; spread out her arms,
And fixing upon space her kindling eyes,
On the Power of Conscience,
GENESIS, XLII, 21, 22.-And they said one to another, we are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear: therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? Therefore behold also his blood is required.
THIS book of Genesis displays a more singular and interesting scene, than was ever presented to the world by any other historical record. It carries us back to the beginning of time, and exhibits mankind in their infant and rising state. It shews us human manners in their primitive simplicity, before the arts of refinement had polished the behaviour, or disguised the characters of men; when they gave vent to their passions without dissimulation, and spoke their sentiments without reserve. Few great societies were, as yet, formed on the earth. Men lived in scattered tribes. The transactions of families made the chief materials of history; and they are related in this book, with that beautiful simplicity, which, in the highest degree, both delights the imagination, and affects the heart.
Of all the patriarchal histories, that of Joseph and his brethren is the most remarkable, for the characters of the
actors, the instructive nature of the events, and the surprising revolutions of worldly fortune. As far as relates to the text, and is necessary for explaining it, the story is to the following purpose:-Joseph, the youngest, except one, of the sons of Jacob, was distinguished by his father with such marks of peculiar affection, as excited the envy of his brethren. Having related to them, in the openness of his heart, certain dreams which portended his future advancement above them, their jealousy rose to such a height, that they unnaturally conspired his destruction. Seizing the opportunity of his being at a distance from home, they first threw him into a pit, and afterwards sold him for a slave; imposing on their father by a false relation of his death. When they had thus gratified their resentment, they lost all remembrance of their crime. The family of Jacob was rich and powerful; and several years passed away, during which they lived in prosperity; without being touched, as far as appears, with the least remorse for the cruel deed which they had committed.
Meanwhile, Joseph was safely conducted by the hand of Providence, through a variety of dangers, until, from the lowest condition, he rose at last to be chief favorite of the King of Egypt, the most powerful monarch at that time in the world. While he possessed this high dignity, a general famine distressed all the neighbouring countries. In Egypt alone, by means of his foresight and prudent administration, plenty still reigned. Compelled to have recourse to that kingdom for supply of food, the brethren of
Joseph, upon this occasion, appeared in his presence, and made their humble application to him, for liberty to purchase corn; little suspecting the governor of the land, before whom they bowed down their faces to the earth, to be him, whom long ago they had sold as a slave to the Ishmaelites. But Joseph no sooner saw, than he knew his brethren; and, at this unexpected meeting, his heart melted within him. Fraternal tenderness arose in all its warmth, and totally effaced from his generous breast the impression of their ancient cruelty. Though, from that moment, he began to prepare for them a surprise of joy ; yet he so far constrained himself as to assume an appearance of great severity. By this he intended, both to oblige them to bring into Egypt his youngest and most beloved brother, whose presence he instantly required; and also to awaken within them a due sense of the crime which they had formerly perpetrated. Accordingly his behaviour produced the designed effect. For while they were in this situation, strangers in a foreign land, where they had fallen, as they conceived, into extreme distress; where they were thrown into prison by the Governor, and treated with rigour, for which they could assign no cause; the reflection mentioned in the text arose in their minds. Conscience brought to their remembrance their former sins. It recalled, in particular, their long-forgotten cruelty to Joseph; and, without hesitation, they interpreted their present distress to be a judgment, for this crime, inflicted by Heaven. They said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish