Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

for me in this Sermon, to leave the Souls of the departed " Righteous (while their Bodies sleep in the Grave), in the Hand or holy keeping of God; and there shall no Torment touch them: In the sight of the Unwise, (and of them only), they seemed to Die, and their Departure is taken for Misery, and their going from us to be Utter Destruction; but they are in Peace; for though they be punished in the sight and estimation of men, yet is their Hope full of Immortality; and having been a little Chastized, they shall be a great deal Rewarded; for God proved them, and found them worthy for Himself;" (as it is set forth in the Book of Wisdom, Chap. III. Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

take but two nights and one day, and we shall have his Hero, /K\ F. •-.s, for our Companion or Fellow-traveller, and a Sibyll or Prophetess for our Leader and Guide. She first shews him the place where the Path leading to the Mansions of the Good and Happy, divides from that leading to the abodes of the Unhappy and Miserable.—

Hie locus est, purtes ubi se viajindit in ambas:

Dextera yute Ditis, magni sub Moenia tendit,

Sic iter Elysium nobis. Lib. VI, 1 540—i2.

Virgil then first describes the crimes and various cases of the miserable, that nothing might remain to cloud our Joy, when we come to his beautiful description of the happy places of Elysium, and the characters of those Heroes and Worthies whom he places there. The period which he assigns to them in passing from the Grave to their Consummation in Happiness, is a Thousand Years, a period not different from that asserted by other writers, sacred and profane ; if some of those writers did not take, their hint from him, especially the Millenarians.

Has omnes, ubi Mille rotatn vofaere per Annos

Letbxum ad Fluvhuii Dens evocat agmine inagno;

Scilicet immemores supera ut convexa revisant

Rursus, et incipiant in Corpora velle reverti.—Lib. VI. 1.748, &c. Virgil first speaks of infants, those supposed newly Dead, " deprived "of sweet Life, out of the Course of Nature, snatched from the Breast, "and buried in an untimely Grave;" who, though they never actually sinned, and are not mentioned as the objects of Rewards or Punishments, are properly disposed of, at the entrance of those Mansions which he is about to describe, till their places within be assigned them. It also casts a Melancholy Solemnity over the scene, and interests the Mind in preparing for so grave a representation as he is to give, and for relishing its innumerable Beauties.—

"Continue auditx voces, vagitns et ingem,

"Infantumque anitnx jlentes in limine primo ,•

"Shios dulcis -jitx exortes, et ali Ubere raptos,

"Abstulit atra dies, etfunere mersit ncerbo. 1. 426—429.

Next to those, he mentions " such as had been condemned to Death "by False Accusations,"Falso damnati crimine mortis.—1.430; for which some of our Critics, with the learned Dr. Warburton at their head, have VOL. I. T

censured him, as having given a place, in his Hades, or Mansions of the Dead, among other Sufferers, for innocent persons unjustly oppressed by Calumny and Slander. In the next ranks are placed Suicides, who although, free from Crimes, justly deserving death; yet, becoming sick of the Light, threw away their own lives, as Arrant Cowards.

"Proximo deinde tenent moesti [oca, qui sibi lethum

"Insontes peperere manu, Lucemque perosi,

"Projicere Animas.—1. 434, Sic. Near to the abodes of those, he places the Fields of Mourning, (properly so called), where, hid in remote by-paths, and covered in Myrtlegroves, those wander, whom Cruel Love, with his envenomed darts, consumes away, and whose cares Death itself could not relieve."

§)uos durus Amor crudeli tabe peredit,

Secreti celant calles, et myrtea circum

Siha tegit. Curie rum ipsa in Morte relinquunt.—1. 442, &c. Virgil then sinks the Abodes of the Miserable twice as deep towards the Shades downwards, as the Prospect from the earth upwards to the ethereal Throne of Heaven, was before. "Turn Tartarus ipse

"Bis patet in prieceps tamtam, tenditque sub umbras,

"§>uantus ad cttherium cxli suspectus Olympum."—1. S77, &c. And this he did to fill it with those who were Guilty indeed! And here we cannot but think we find the Model or Description, which warmed and expanded Milton's Imagination in his sublimely poetical account of the Fall and Fate of Lucifer and his associates, in his Paradise Lost, after their Rebellion against the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth. Here we refer to what Virgil writesc oncerning Earth's ancient Progeny—the Giants and young Titanian Brood, cast down with thunderbolts, to the profoundest depths of the new Abyss. The two sons of Aloeus, Otus and Ephialtes, whom Homer makes nine cubits broad, and nine ells high, when they were but in the ninth year of their age; and who attempted with impious hands to overturn the spacious Heavens ; and thrust down Jove from his exalted Throne.

"§>ui manibus magnum rescindere aelum

"Aggressi, superis^ue Jovcm detrudere regnis.—1. 583, &c.

Thus likewise St. Paul, (2 Tim. Chap. I. Ver. 12),—" I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him, against that Day. The crown promised to the Faithful Pastors is not to be bestowed on their separate Spirits, (1 Pet. Chap. V. Ver. 4.), until the Chief Shepherd shall appear, or until the Redemption of the

Here young Tityus, the foster son of the Earth, also lay overthrown, or cast down, whose body extended over Nine viibole Acres of Space, and a huge Vultur, with her tortuous Beak, pouncing his immortal Liver and Bowels, as a fruitful source for unceasing punishments.—

"Nee nan et Titian. Terrae omniparentis alumnum

"Cernere erat; per Ma novem cui jugera corpus

"Porrigitar; rostroque immanis Vultur obunca

"Immortale jecur tondens,foecundaque poenis

"Viscera, rimaturque epulis, habitatque sub alto

"Pectore: necjlbris requies datur ulla renatis.—1. 595, Sec. He next touches on other Crimes and other Punishments; such as of those slain for Adultery, and who joined in impious Wars against their Country; who, while life remained, had been at enmity against a Brother; had lifted a parricidal Hand, against a Father; who had wrought Deceit against a Client; or who heaped up their own ill-acquired AVealth, for self-enjoyment, without feeling for others.—

"ffic, qvibus invisi Fratres, dum vita manebat

"Pulsatusve Parens, etfraus innexa Client!;

"Aut qui divitiis soli incubuere repertis,

"Nee partem posuere svis

"Shiique ob Adulterium casi: quique arina secnti

"Impia, nee veriti dominorum fall ere dextras;

"Indus! poenam expectant. 1. 608, &c.

Virgil lastly, wearied as it were with enumeration, lumps his Guilty, «r takes them in the gross; mentioning only a few for the rest; as Sisyphus doomed, with perpetual Labour, to heave a huge and unwieldy Stone against the rising mount; Ixion bound to his ever-rolling wheel, stuck

Body from the Grave; when they shall receive a Crown of Glory that fadeth not away."

Thus it appears to be the true Scripture Doctrine, that the Souls of the Departed are not to be consummated in their future state of Happiness, or of Misery, until re-united to the Body at the Resurrection; and that during the intermediate time they are in the Keeping of God; which is enough for us to know, and all that is given us to know, in the present Life, on this deep and mysterious subject!

tound with hissing Serpents; Tantalus held under the impending rock, striving to touch the cup which forever eludes his parched Lips; with the Lapithx, Pirithous, and others, guilty of every enormous crime whick imagination can suggest! Concluding this first part of his labour—

"Had I a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,

"An iron voice and adamantine lungs,

4' Not half the horrid scene could 1 disclose,

"Repeat their crimes, or count their dreadful woes.

4* ShiiJ memorem Lapitbas, Ixiona, Piritboumque?—1. 601-" 2?e quitrc doceri,

"$hiam poenam, aut qux forma viros fortunave mersit.

"Saxum ingens volvunt aliis, radiisque Rotarum

"District! pendent

"Vendidit bic Auro Patriam'

"Hie Tbalamum invasit Natie, vetitosque bymemtos;

"Ausi omnes immane nefas, ausoque potiti.

"Non mibii si Linguie centum iint, oraque centum,

"Fcrrea vox, omnes scelerum comprendere Jbrmos

"Omnia poenarum perevrrere nomina passim 1. 614, &c.

Having finished this part of his work, Virgil begins his beautiful Description of the happy Parts of his Elysian Fields; and the Employment of the joyous and blessed inhabitants, whom he has seated there.

"Some exercise their limbs on grassy plains, in sports contend, and ,wrestle on the yellow sand. Some beat Harmony, in the mingled Quires of Dancers, and accompany the same with sacred hymns; while Thracian Orpheus, the chief Quiristcr and Priest of Apollo, in his long robe, leads the bands in melodious laysk through the seven distinguished notes of Music, and strikes the strings, now with his fingers, now with his ivory quill."

"Pars in gramineis exercent membra paliestris;

"Contendunt luJo, etfulva luctantur arena;

"Pars pedibus plaudunt cboreas, et carmina dicunt.

"Nee non Tbreicius longa cum vests sacerdos

"Oblorpiitur numeris septem discrimina vocum:

"yunique eadem digitis, jam ptctine puisat eburno.—1. 642, Sec.

The Poet now hastens to conclude his description of magnanimou* heroes, &c. by a picture of Happiness which nothing can exceed in nature or imagination. The remembrance of those scenes which most delighted men while alive, will still influence their spirits, when separated from the body by death. An army halting or resting for refreshment on a march, their accoutrements, camp equipage, arms, &c. carelessly, but safely, disposed of near them, and their beasts of burden, or of draft, feeding; happily around them, is a pleasing, although a familiar sight to a Soldier— and thus Virgil describes the ghosts or spirits of his departed soldiers— "The arms and empty chariots of the Chiefs are seen at a little distance. Their spears stand fixed in the ground; and, up and c}own, their horses feed at large throughout the plain. The same passion or fondness, which they had for chariots and arms when alive, and the same delight in breeding and training up beautiful and shining steeds, which distinguished them when above ground, follow and are attached to them in their Eiysian mansions underground!

"Arma procul, cnrrusfjue virutn miratur inanes:

"Slant terra defixa: bastx, passimque soluti "Per campos pascuntur Equi. S>uie gratia currum

"Armoruwfue fuit vivis, qua euro nilentes

"Pascere equos, eadem scquitur tellurt repostos.—1. 651, &c. The Poet, however does not employ all the inhabitants of his Eiysian Fields in warlike exercises, sports and games, and the like. He brings up some chosen bands of worthies of the first rate, to close his description; namely, a band associated and made up of those who suffered, and bled, in fighting for thevir country.—

"Manus, ob patriam pvgnando, tndnera passi.—1. 6GO. Priests who preserved themselves pure and holy, amidst all the temptations of life.—

"Sacerdotes casti, dum^lta manebat.—1. 661.

Pious and inspired Prophets and Poets, who taught or sung the sublime doctrines of Religion, and things worthy to be dictated by a God.

"Pii -votes is" Pbcebo digna locuti.—1. 662. .

With all those worthies of every age and nation, who were the benefactors of mankind, lovers of their country, and improved the lot of life,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »