« FöregåendeFortsätt »
geous, when the earth itself reels to and fro like a drunkard? Isa. xxiv. 20.; how shall I look up with joy and see my salvation drawing nigh, when the hearts of millions and millions fail for fear?
Now, Madam, lest my meditations set in a cloud, and leave any unpleasing gloom upon your mind, let me once more turn to the brightening prospects of the righteous. A view of them, and their delightful expectations, may serve to exhilarate the thoughts which have been musing upon melancholy subjects, and hovering about the edges of infernal darkness; just as a spacious field, arrayed in cheerful green, relieves and reinvigorates the eye which has fatigued itself by poring upon some minute, or gazing upon some glaring object.
The righteous seem to lie by in the bosom of the earth, as a wary pilot in some well-sheltered creek, till all the storms which infest this lower world are blown over. Here they enjoy safe anchorage, are in no danger of foundering amidst the waves of prevailing iniquity, or of being shipwrecked on the rocks of any powerful temptation. But ere long we shall behold them hoisting their flag of hope; riding before a sweet gale of atoning merit and redeeming love; till they make, with all the sails of an assured faith, the blessed port of eternal life.
Then may the honoured friend to whom I am writing, rich in good works, rich in heavenly tempers, but inexpressibly richer in her Saviour's righteousness-oh! may she enter the harbour, like a gallant stately vessel returned successful and victorious from some grand expedition, with acclamations, honour, and joy! while my little bark, attendant on the solemnity, and a partaker of the triumph, glides humbly after, and both rest together in the haven, the wished-for blissful haven, of perfect security, and everlasting repose!
LETTER TO A LADY.
SOME time ago my meditations took a turn among the Tombs; they visited the awful and melancholy mansions of the dead ;* and you was pleased to favour them with your attention. May I now beg the honour of your company in a more inviting and delightful excursion, in a beautiful Flower-Garden, where I lately walked, and at once regaled the sense and indulged the fancy?
It was early in a summer morning, when the air was cool, the earth moist, the whole face of the creation fresh and gay. The noisy world was scarce awake. Business had not quite shook off his sound sleep; and riot had but just reclined his giddy head. All was serene; all was still; every thing tended to inspire tranquillity of mind, and invite to serious thought.
Only the wakeful lark had left her nest, and was mounting on high, to salute the opening day. Elevated in air, she seemed to call the laborious hus
"Discourses on the vanity of the creature, which represent the barrenness of every thing in this world, and its incapacity of producing any solid or substantial happiness, are useful. Those speculations also which shew the bright side of things, and lay forth those innocent entertainments which are to be met with among the several objects that encompass us, are no less beneficial." Spect. vol. v. No. 393. Upon the plan of these observations, the preceding and following Reflections are formed.
bandman to his toil, and all her fellow songsters to their notes. Earliest of birds, said I, companion of the dawn, may I always rise at thy voice-rise to offer the matin-song, and adore that beneficent Being "who maketh the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice!"
How charming to rove abroad at this sweet hour of prime! to enjoy the calm of nature, to tread the dewy lawns, and taste the unrifled freshness of the air!
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
What a pleasure do the sons of sloth lose! Little, ah! little is the sluggard sensible how delicious an entertainment he foregoes, for the poorest of all animal gratifications.*
The greyness of the dawn decays gradually. Abundance of ruddy streaks tinge the fleeces of the firmament; till at length the dappled aspect of the east is lost in one ardent and boundless blush. Is it the surmise of imagination, or do the skies really redden with shame, to see so many supinely stretched on their drowsy pillows? Shall man be lost in luxurious ease? Shall man waste these precious hours in idle slumbers, while the vigorous sun is up, and going on his Maker's errand? while all the feathered choir are hymning their Creator, and paying their homage in harmony? No. Let him heighten the melody of the tuneful tribes, by adding the rational strains of devotion. Let him improve the fragrant
* See how revelation and reason, the Scriptures and the classics, unanimously exhort to this most beneficial practice. They both invite us to early rising, by the most engaging motives, and the most alluring representations:
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth, Song vii. 11, 12.
Luciferi primo cum sidere, frigida rura
Garpamus, dum mane novum dum gramina canent,
Et ros in tenera pecori gratissimus herba est.-VIRG. Georg. iii.
oblations of nature, by mingling with the rising odours the more refined breath of praise.
It is natural for man to look upward, to throw his first glance upon the objects that are above him.
Straight toward heaven my wondering eyes I turn'd,
Prodigious theatre! where lightnings dart their fire, and thunders utter their voice; where tempests spend their rage, and worlds unnumbered roll at large! O! the greatness of that mighty hand which meteth out this amazing circumference with a span! O! the immensity of that wonderful Being, before whom this unmeasurable extent is no more than a point! And, O! (thou pleasing thought!) the unsearchable riches of that mercy which is greater than the heavens! Psal. cviii. 4.; is more enlarged and extensive, in its gracious exercise, than these illimitable tracts of air, and sea, and firmament! which pardons crimes of the most enormous size, and the most horrid aggravations-pardons them in consideration of the Redeemer's atonement, with perfect freeness, and the utmost readiness! more readily, if it were possible, than this all-surrounding expanse admits within its circuit a ridge of mountains, or even a grain of sand.
Come hither, then, ye awakened trembling sinners. Come,* weary and heavy laden with a sense of your
* The lines which follow, are admirably descriptive of the spirit and practice hinted above. In them, desire pants, prayer wrestles, and faith, as it were, grasps the prize. I take leave to transplant them into this place; and I could wish them a better, a more conspicuous situation, than either their new or their native soil. Their native soil is no other than the lamentation of a sinner, written by Mr Sternhold. Notwithstanding the unpromising genius of the performance, I think we may challenge the greatest masters to produce any thing more spirited and importunate; more full of nature, or more flushed with life:Mercy, good Lord, mercy I crave;
This is the total sum;
For mercy, Lord, is all my suit;
The short sentences; not a single copulative; the frequent repetition of the divine name; the almost incessant reiteration of the blessing so
iniquities. Condemn yourselves. liance on any thing of your own.
Renounce all reLet your trust be in the tender mercy of God, for ever and ever. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Psalm xix. 4. Behold him coming forth from the chambers of the east. See! the clouds, like floating curtains, are thrown back at his approach. With what refulgent majesty does he walk abroad! How transcendently bright is his countenance, shedding day and inexhaustible light through the universe! Is there a scene, though finished by the most elaborate and costly refinements of art, "comparable to these illustrious solemnities of opening sunshine? Before these, all the studied pageantry of the theatre, the glittering economy of an assembly, or even the heightened ornaments of a royal palace, hide their diminished heads, and shrink into nothing." I have read of a person so struck with the splendours of this noble luminary, that he imagined himself made on purpose to contemplate its glories. Oh! that Christians would adopt this persuasion, and transfer it to the Sun of Righteousness! Thus applied, it would cease to be a chimerical notion, and become a most important truth. For sure I am, it is the supreme happiness of the eternal state, and therefore may well be the ruling concern of this present life, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. Nor do I stand alone in this opinion. The very best judge of whatever is valuable in science, or perfective of our nature; a judge who formed his taste on the maxims of paradise, and received the finishings of his education in the third heavens; this judge determines to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. He possessed, in his own person, the finest, the most admired accomplishments; yet pronounces them no better than dung, in comparison of the supereminent excellency of this saving knowledge; (Phil. iii. 8.) passionately desired, and inexpressibly needed. This is the genuine language of ardour; these are beauties obvious to every eye; and cannot fail either to please the judicious taste, or to edify the gracious heart.