Imatges de pÓgina

If, in this cool, dispassionate narrative, where the figures, and splendid expressions of poetry are not admitted, the artless declarations, that all the high hills were covered, that the mountains were covered fifteen cubits, that all creatures on the dry land died, that after a hundred and fifty days the ark struck on a mountain of Ararat, that two months and a half after the tops of other mountains became visible; if all these, and other expressions, we have quoted, do not prove the deluge universal, no language can be explicit, no confidence can be placed in his tory or inspiration. Those, who reject the plain, simple narrative of the flood, may as well reject the history of the fall, or the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and scoff at all religion.

Still cavils are made. It is inquired, whence could water be found to cover the earth so deep? Those, who inquire, may perhaps reject the fact, unless they are satisfied, as to the means of its being accomplished. They may as well inquire how God created the world, or how he can be self-existent and eternal; and if creation, self-existence, and eternity be not explained so as to be understood, reject the creation, self-existence, and eternity of God. When there is conclusive evidence of a fact, it demands our belief, however incomprehensible it may be. He, who kindled the sun, and created the sea and dry land, would create floods to fulfil his threatening, unless there were other means. Most men are satisfied that water was furnished by natural means. But the fear of be

ing tedious to the reader forbids us to give a sketch of their different theories.*

Whatever system be adopted, it was indubitably a terrible day, when all nations were destroyed. This is confirmed by the nature of the fact, and the description of the Bible. The fountains of the great deep were broken up; the windows of heaven were opened; clouds gathered; the light of the sun was obscured ; the atmosphere dissolved in rain. Doubtless for such a purpose the sun and the winds would be so directed, as to bring into operation all the waters of the world, the snow of the mountains, the ice of the poles. The · chain of Caucasus, of Taurus, of the Alps, of Atlas, Lebanon, and the mountains of the moon, the Andes and Alleganies, yielded their snowy robes, and sent their roaring torrents to the plains below.

The north and

south poles, those amazing cupolas of ice, whose diameter in winter is six thousand miles, dissolve like flakes of snow in a southern breeze, and pour their floods into the swelling oceans. The streights of Behring, of Hudson, Davis, and the opening of the Baltic rise, foam and roar, with new fury; their rapid currents, white as the falls of Niagara. The oceans roll their billows to the equator. The currents meet; the waters rise; they wheel; awful whirlpools are formed; counter currents tear up the bottom of the deep; the shells, which formed its pavement round the Antilles, and the Cape de Verd Islands, are driven

* See Whiston, Burnet, Buffon, St. Pierre, Whitehurst, and Encyclopedia, article, Deluge.

to the plains of Normandy; those, which adhered to the rocks of Magellan, are dashed on the hills of Burgundy; huge banks of madrepores are tossed on the isle of France; horizontal layers, the wreck of fishes, sea weeds, shells, corals, and pastes of marble, are spread over the greater part of Europe, and form the soil at the present time. By the same flood the eastern part of the continent is covered with a vegetable mould three or four hundred feet deep.*

Terrific darkness, wild uproar, and destruction, extend to every country. Islands of ice, loaded with white bears, run aground amid the palm trees of the torrid zone; elephants of Africa are wafted into the fir groves of Sibe ria, and the plains of Carolina. The bones are found there to this day. Palaces and cities disappear, washed away as dust on the shores. The cottage on the mountain is filled with consternation and despair. The increasing darkness, the howling winds, the roaring thunders, the rising

waters, show them there is no es

cape. In the midst of day, it is a dismal night of horror. The glare of the lightning shows them the objects of danger and dismay in more tremendous forms, How comforting now would be that religion, they had always despised, or even that humanity they had never cultivated? Could they now look up to God, as their Saviour, and to heaven as their home, they might with admiration gaze on the awful scene around them; they might welcome the first surge that should burst on the mountain's top.


· In China, St. Pierre.

Some relief would it be could they sympathize together in this moment of misery and terror; nothing but unkindness and reproaches are seen or heard. Instead of repenting themselves, instead of rejoicing at the deliverance of Noah, when by the lightning's blaze they have a glance of the lordly ark, floating in safety on the stormy world, they pour their imprecations on him, as a praying hypocrite. But their hour is come. The billows rise; the highest mountains are covered; Atlas and Lebanon are overwhelmed as pebbles on the shore. All flesh dies. The sea boils as a caldron. The world is a sea without a shore. The inhabitants are gone; they sleep in their watery graves; they hear not the raging of the tem pest. Such are the wages of sin.


REDEEMING THE TIME. THE general meaning of these words may be expressed by the much time as possible for the best following paraphrase. Save as purposes. Buy the fleeting moments out of the hands of sin and Satan, of sloth, pleasure, and worldly business; and use them for God. But only one particu lar way of redeeming time will now be considered, that is, con tracting to a proper degree the time of sleep. This has been too little regarded. Many, who are conscientious in other respects, are not so in this. They seem to think it a matter of indifference, whether they sleep more or less. Let us, then, attend to this important branch of Chris. tian temperance; What is it to redeem time from sleep? It is

to take only that quantity of to require assistance in walking

sleep, which nature requires, and which is most conducive to health of body, and vigour of mind. It is allowed, that one quantity is not suited to all. Bishop Taylor has assigned, for the general standard, only three hours in twenty four. Baxter supposes, that four hours will suffice. But the best observation teaches, that, in general, the human body can scarcely continue in health and vigour without six hours. This, it is thought, may be properly considered, as the common standard.

But one and another may say; "why so particular, and scrupulous? what harm is there in lying from ten to six or seven in summer, and from ten to eight or nine in winter, as most of my neighbours do?" But consider, candid read er; if you daily spend in sleep only one hour more, than nature requires, you throw away seven hours every week, which would amount to more than fifteen whole days in a year. If you live to the age of fifty, this waste of time would be seven hundred and fifty days, or, making allowance for the usual sleep, about a thousand days. What an injury to your worldly substance! How much might you do in this time to promote your temporal advantage! How much might you do for the benefit of others!

Spending unnecessary time in sleep is injurious to health, especially in persons who are subject to nervous complaints. The great benefit which health receives from early rising, may be illustrated by the following instance. A young person was reduced to so low a condition, as

across the room. Supposing it necessary in her enfeebled state, she often slept eight or nine hours, to the great damage of her health. Meeting some observations on early rising, she was induced to make the trial. By rising one quarter of an hour earlier every morning, she soon lessened the time of sleep to six hours. By persevering in this practice, and in other suitable methods, her strength gradually increased; her complaints, which had long baffled medical skill, subsided, and health returned.

How injurious to the soul, as well as to the body, is needless sleep. Such a waste of precious time is surely a great sin against God. How much benefit might we derive from a right use of the time, which some waste in sleep! "I take it for granted, (says Mr. Law) that every Christian, who is in health, is up early in the morning. We censure the man, who is in bed, when he should be at his labour. Let this teach us, how odious we must appear in God's sight, if we be in bed, shut up in sleep, when we should be praising God, and are such slaves to drowsiness, as to neglect our devotions for it." Did not our blessed Lord use to pray early? Was not devout Anna day and night in the temple? Did not the primitive Christians esteem it a sacred duty to be seasonable in their devotions? If you waste unnecessary hours in sleep, and so abridge or prevent your religious exercises; is it not a symptom of a carnal temper, and a dangerous state ? Does it not indicate, that you are not under the influence of that lively, zealous, and watchful

spirit, which appeared in Christ, and is necessary to the comfort and usefulness of his followers? Let these thoughts rouse you, Shake off sloth and dulness. "Awake, thou that sleepest, and call upon the name of Christ, and he shall give thee light." And to prevent your ever indulging again in needless sleep, solemnly consider, how precious time will appear when your last day arrives, and how earnestly you will then desire those hours and days, which have been wasted in guilty slumber.



An unworthy Object of Pursuit.

Os many subjects the opinion of the world is at absolute variance with reason, and the plainest dictates of common sense; and, perhaps, in few instances is this variance more observable, than in the estimate which is commonly formed of the importance and value of worldly applause. It has been coveted, courted, admired, and extolled in every age and country, by the peasant and the clown, as well as the prince and the sage. It has been an idol, promising to the myriads of its followers every thing, which could gratify the heart of man, but bestowing nothing; and, in reality, served with the costliest offerings of peace, health, contentment, and constantly demanding hecatombs of human victims. Poetry, and the other fine arts, have obsequiously become its high priests: even history and biography, instead of deterring men from a service so unreasonable by ex

hibiting the whitened bones of the slain, have but too frequently strengthened the delusion, by displaying the diadem of the conqueror. Amid this splendour of worship, it comes to pass, that the youth, who has any pretensions to eminence, even in his own view, looks forward, half entranced, to the period when his brow shall be crowned with laurels, and his name become deathless in song.

To specify all the ways in which a desire of applause exhibits itself, would be to mention every action which has been admired, every possession which has been coveted, not by the proud alone, or any other single class of men, but by the humble, as well as the exalted, the sottish, as well as the intelligent. It is not requisite that a thing should be of any use to mankind, either present or future, real or apparent, that it may become an object of the most ardent pursuit. Far from it. Things insignificant, things despicable, things. abominable, have been thought by their possessors, and by many others like them, to be entitled to high respect, and distinguished honour. A few pages of the Panoplist may be usefully employed, in examining some of the most common paths of ambition;

for if those which are most trodden, should be proved to lead to disappoint ment and disgust, the rest, beyond controversy, cannot boast a better character.

The female part of our species seem chiefly to aim at celebrity from the beauty and dress of their persons. For proof of this, were any proof necessary, I should point your attention in

general to places of resort for amusement, and other purposes. In every public assembly, the profusion of female decorations, and the eagerness with which the beauties of the person are protruded upon the spectators, irresistibly evince that many, in this way, aim at dis tinction. It might be an ungrateful, but could not be an unfriendly task to show the folly of indulging this passion. To say that beauty is a possession worthy of no regard, would perhaps be more than the most rigid moralist would be willing to assert. But that a being of immortal powers should take more pleasure in admiring that corruptible part of itself, which fades even while it is gazed at; which is constantly exposed to accident, disease, and decay; which must soon become one of the most loathsome objects in creation, and mingle with the common dust, than in contemplating and enlarging the capacities of the soul; that those things should be the chief objects of our exultation, which most proclaim our weakness, seems a truth not at all calculat ed to flatter our penetration or our wisdom.

That riches should be the means by which many hope to be eminent, is not quite so strange. The immediate importance which they give, the force which Horace declares to be potentius ictu fulmines, the distresses from which they appear to rescue, and the flattering comparison which is made between the possessor and those who surround him, afford some pretext for the acquisition. Yet when sought as the way to fame, the mode is chang

ed, the folly remains. She personates not now the idiot with a party-coloured robe, but rather the busy lunatic with his haste, and bustle, and stupendous projects. Still, multa petentibus dcsunt multa, is unquestionably the motto of the whole tribe, and this alone is sufficient to overthrow all their pretensions to enjoyment, in the object of their pursuit.

There is one species of repu tation aimed at by some of the rich, which is pre-eminently worthy of animadversion. It is that of the spendthrift. His chief gratification must be presumed to be in exciting admiration and envy; for no man would ever hurry through the tediousness of a dissipated life, were he not encouraged by the thought that the world around him imagined him happy. How contemptibly im. potent in mind must he appear, then, how miserably incapable of carrying his own plans into execution, frivolous and unworthy as they are, who pursues such a course of conduct as must inevitably plunge him from his imagin ary height to the depths of real neglect, scorn and misery. With out penetration to discover the obvious evils that await him, without courage to change his conduct, or perseverance to continue in a right course, were it changed; without magnanimity to meet his fall, or patience to endure it, he flies from his duns, or seeks refuge in a prison; proceeds from squandering to villany; and dies, scoffed at by his companions, unlamented by his friends, and unpitied by the world.

Courage demands a high place among those qualities, which so confidently promise to elevate those, who possess them, above

« AnteriorContinua »