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these creatures are comparatively inert and mute in dark, cloudy weather. How the lark soars in the sunshine, “rising and singing,” as Bishop Taylor says, “ as if she had learnt music and motion from some angel, passing through the air on his ministries here below," till as we gaze we can feel her exstacy become sympathetic, and in vain would our dazzled eyes seek to penetrate to where she disappears in the cloudless ether
O'er fell and fountain sheen,
O'er moor and mountain green,
Over the cloudlet dim,
Over the rainbow's rim,
Musical cherub, thus soar thou away! We have lived in various localities of the British Isles : in the South of England, where it is mostly equable and serene; in Ireland, with its smiles and tears; one day all tearful rain, the next all smiling sunshine; in Edinburgh, clear and breezy; in Glasgow, which lies low, and is besides infested with the smoke of numerous factories, we have been three weeks without seeing more than a few hours of sunshine; and from this cause we believe many persons feel ill and low spirited there, who have been accustomed to the clear air of other places in the Shetland Islands (where this is written) the damp heaviness of the atmosphere is still more severely felt, especially by those who are not natives. Though so much farther north than London, the cold is not nearly so intense here in winter: this arises chiefly from our insular position. In summer the air is cooler, but for the most part of the year the sky is darkened by fogs, or surcharged with vapour, wafted by frequent high winds from the surface of the circumjacent seas, so that we often do not see the sun's disc or catch one of his bright enlivening rays for weeks together. The well known French philosopher, Biot, during a nine month's sojourn in Shetland, engaged in scientific observations, was delighted with our profound retirement and repose ; with the primitive simplicity of manners, and with the ever-varying aspect of the restless ocean ; and he often said, “Shetland only wants sunshine to be a paradise.”
“Ah! but then," we would reply, "had we the sun, we should have many other things we want ; fertile soil, majestic trees,
singing birds, fruits and flowers, and influx of population. And then farewell to our quiet retirement."
Here, by the way, is argument for contentment and gratitude in every situation, arising from the conviction that the gifts of nature are more equally distributed than we might at first sight suppose.
One Sabbath lately, when there had been an early, though not deep fall of snow, and when attendance on public worship was out of our power, a clear frosty sky and a cheerful glimpse of sunshine invited us to breathe the open air in the garden, for the first time for many days. Notwithstanding the appearance of winter desolation around us, the sun's beams were so grateful and exhilirating, we were led to draw a parallel between the natural sunshine, and that gracious Divine influence which is at once the source of life and happiness to the heavenward bound pilgrim. In how many passages of scripture the perfections of Jehovah and the graces of his Spirit, are compared to the sun and the light, must be familiar to every reader.
The subject divides itself into two aspects; the first of which is, that Jehovah himself, the Father of Lights, (James i., 17,) is also the author and giver of spiritual as well as of natural life, and of all that renders it either desirable or useful. The Shecinah, or symbol of the Divine presence, was a manifest illustration of such passages as these; “Thou coverest thyself with light as with a garment.” (Ps. civ. 2.) “God is light." (1 John, i. 5.) “Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.” (1 Tim. vi. 16,) And those visions of the glory of our Redeemer, vouchsafed to his favored servants when " His face did shine as the sun,” (Matt. xvii. 2,) and “His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength,'' (Rev. i. 16,) confirm the idea we have before adverted to, as natural to uninstructed man, that the unobscured luminary of day is the only finite object we are acquainted with, meet to symbolize Jehovah's uncreated and dazzling majesty. Thus then, when we consider all the benefits we receive from the natural sun, we may have a comprehensive and not incorrect idea of the relation in which we stand to the “ Sun of righteousness," if indeed He has “risen on us with healing in His wings.” (Mal. iv., 2.) Oh let us sedulously examine whether we be of those who fear Him, to
whom is made this all important promise. For as the inhabitants of our planet could not exist, altogether, without the solar influence, although that influence should at times be exerted through the intervening obscurities of clouds and mists, so neither can a Christian be truly such, until the sun of grace quicken the soul from its death of sin, (Ephes. ii. 5, v. 14.)
This beauteous earth of ours was not more shapeless, chaotic, and dead, when it “ was without form and void,” ere yet the omnipotent Word had said “ Let there be light," and“ light was,” than the soul of man is lifeless, inert, and unprolific of aught good or lovely, until “ God who at first commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in his heart to give the light of the knowledge of God, in the face of Jesus Christ,” (2 Cor. iv. 6.) Thus, and thus only, can we be “turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,” (Acts xxvi. 18.)
But further, as dark, cloudy weather, or a hazy climate is productive of inactivity, churlishness, and weight on the physical frame, crushing its energies, and slowly it may be, but yet surely, undermining its healthfulness and vigour, so does the clouding of Jehovah's face have the effect of rendering the soul joyless and listless, in running the Christian race. Hence our need to offer up such aspirations as these “ Make thy face to shine upon thy servant,” (Psa. xxxi. 16., cxix. 135, lxvii. 1, lxxx. 3.) “Jehovah lift up his countenance on thee, and give thee peace,”(Num.yi. 26.)
The hiding of God's face, as it is termed by theologians, is confessedly a difficult subject, and some have resolved it into mere sovereignty on the Lord's part, that many good men have “walked in darkness, and seen no light,” (Isa. 1. 10.)
It has also been remarked, however, that the New Testament saints do not complain as did those of old, Job. xxix. 3, Ps. xxx. 7, Job xiii. 24, Is. xlv. 15,) that the light of their Father's countenance was withdrawn. When Jesus had brought life and immortality to light by his own life, death, and resurrection, his believing followers lived under a better covenant which is established on better promises,” (Heb. viii. 6.) And therefore, their triumphant language oftener is “ We are the children of the light, and of the day,” (1 Thes. v. 5,) “ Shewing forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light,” (1 Peter ii. 9.)
Nor can it, we imagine, be otherwise with the careful, consistent, prayerful Christian. As the mists and exhalations which sometimes obscure the sun's radiance, are from the earth, and not from him, so do the mists of ignorance or prejudice, and the clouds of sin or unbelief, darken our spiritual sky, and shut out our comforts. On the contrary, when the Christian walks closely with God, and distrustful of his own heart, and abjuring his own doings, looks to the Lord alone for bliss and direction, it would seem as if he ought not to experience much of gloom or despondency. Under a sense of acceptance in the Beloved, such an one will rejoice in the gifts of Providence, resting on the promise, that to him who seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all other things shall be added.
Over the works of nature he will cast an eye of holy rapture, while he exclaims, “ My Father made them all.” His physical frame may be uneasily constituted ; temptations from malignant influence may be permitted to assail him, or the Lord may think fit to visit him with trials and suffering, yet still he will be more or less cheered or supported. He is made to feel that nothing cani separate him from the love of Jesus, and that his “ light affliction, which is for a moment, worketh a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Even while walking through the valley of the shadow of death, he experiences what one has said, “ It is not dark.” The rod and staff of the Chief Shepherd comfort him; and when the gloomy mists of mortality fly asunder, and the unveiled glory of God, and of the Lamb, burst on his sight, how soon will all the clouds and storms of his earthly pilgrimage be forgotten, and swallowed up in the victory Jesus hath secured for his own. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. xiii. 43.)
But there is a second and still more practical point of view, in which we wish our readers to reflect with us on this subject. The sun is indeed the source of light and heat to our planetary system, and various orbs and objects reflect the light they receive from him, and give forth a portion of his heat. So also the church is said to be “ fair as the moon, clear as the sun.” (Song. vi. 10,) and prophetic of her latter day glory, she is commanded to "arise and shine." (Isa. Ix. 1.) So also “the path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect
day.” (Prov. iv. 18.) Very numerous accordingly are the exhortations to Christians, to walk as children of the light. (Ephes. v. 8. Rom. xiii. 12. Isa. viii. 20. Phil. ii. 15. Matt. v. 14-16.) These several passages imply that the believer's daily life shall give evidence, by its clearness, its purity, its love, its cheerfulness, that its original is divine: cheered and kept in vigor by the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness, the Christian pilgrim studies how to reflect the graces he has received. Dr. Watts has beautifully described his path in words which, though now so familiar, will still bear repetition.
Just such is the Christian-his course he begins,
And travels his heavenly way!
Of rising in brighter array. Oh! may our young readers unweariedly strive so to travel on their Zion-ward journey, that thus bright may be their paththus, glorious its termination !
THE DEAF MUTE. (From Kinniburg's " Memoir of Helen Silvie”.)* Helen Silvie was born at Dunblane. She lost her hearing by fever when a little girl, about five years of age, and two years thereafter became an inmate of the Edinburgh Institution for the education of the Deaf and Dumb. At the time she joined school she could speak some words and phrases, although very indistinctly; but being an extremely shy child, she could not be induced to continue articulation. She consequently soon lost what little knowledge she had of language, and, when she commenced her course of education, was nearly in the same state as those deaf from birth. For a time she was peevish and discontented, and, her heart being left to commune with its own bitterness--no ray of light penetrating the settled gloom of her condi. tion, and no mode of communication open to her with those around her,-can it be matter of surprise that she was so? No sooner,
* Edinburgh: Kennedy, London: Hamilton and Co.