صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[merged small][ocr errors]


And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her,

Weep not.

How multiform are the miseries of human life! Yonder stands one, waiting for a hand to guide him. The eye is extinguished; and while day smiles on the face of nature, night gathers forever round his head. There is another, whose ear never drank in a stream of melody-the organ is closed against strains which steal through that avenue into the heart of his neighbour-"he never heard the sweet music of speech," nor perceived the tones of his own unformed, untuned, unmodulated voice. Here is a third, who appears before me, without the power of utterance-the string of the tongue was never loosened, and he never spake the organs of speech are deranged, or were never perfectly formed he hears tones which vibrate on his heart ;-but he cannot impart through the same medium the same pleasurable sensation. These could not escape the compassionate eye of Jesus. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, limbs to the maimed, health to the sick, strength to decrepitude.-But yonder is the chamber of death. Darker is the cloud that broods there. Where the tongue was silent, the eye was eloquent-when the palsied limb refused to move, the ear heard, and discriminated sounds which melt the passions, and stir the spirit within us: it was sad to tend the couch of sickness-but still we seemed to have some hold upon the sufferer, and he have some interest in life. But that is the bed of mortality, and the young, the beautiful, the only hope of her family is stretched there-and there is Jesus also rousing her from death as from a gentle slumber, and restoring her to the arms of her parents. There is yet another class of suffering worse than death. It glares in the eye, it raves in the voice, struggles in the limbs of that man, whose throne of reason imagination has usurped, and over the whole empire of his mind madness reigns in all its accumulated horrours. Visions-horrible visions of unreal and inconceivable objects float before his disordered senses,—while he hears not, he distinguishes not, he regards not the voice of parent, or of wife, or of child, or of friend. The spirit sits surrounded by the ruins of nature, terrified amidst shattered, and useless, or perverted organs; and covered with the midnight of despair. Oh, let the compassionate eye of the Saviour fix upon this object !—and it does-he meets him coming from among the tombs-he speaks the word—he calms the tempest-behold "the man sitting at his feet, clothed, and in his right mind."

Jesus wept. How great was the compassion of our Saviour! He found on earth an hospital full of the sound of lamentation, a dormitory in which some are every day falling asleep; and those who remain are mourning over those who to them are not. He has brought a cordial to revive our spirits, while we are bearing our portion of this general sorrow, and he has opened to our view a land of rest.

We learn here, that "casting out devils," was another phrase for restoring reason to the distracted. Diseases were supposed to be the infliction of evil spirits. As their existence is now seen to be impossible, we are to learn from our Saviour's example, to do good, though we should not always explain every thing connected with our charity.



Let your moderation be known unto all men.

By moderation we mean a steady pursuit of those objects and duties, which pertain to our situation, talents and prospects. This is but another definition of our motto-the importance of a well regulated energy. It is certainly in our power, by the vigorous exercise of our mental faculties, to reduce the objects which are magnified and distorted by the magic of passion, to their natural shape and just dimension. We can reason with our prejudices and struggle with our feelings; and in this invisible conflict, exert resistless strength, and obtain the greatest of all victories. We can avail ourselves both of our own experience, and of the advice and example of others. In the world around us, instances are not wanting of the fatal effects of rash and precipitate action; nor of the high and lasting advantages, which attend a discreet and wise conduct. Great and powerful are the motives to acquire a similar dominion over ourselves.

Why should not we, as well as others, stem the swelling tide, hold fast the helm of reason, and compel those disproportioned desires and aversions, which are excited by partial or exaggerated views, to give place to such as are rational and moderate, and accommodated to the true situation in which we stand and the real nature of the objects with which we are surrounded?

If God has fired us with strong passions this is the cross he has called us to bear. We are to take it up and follow our Master. When internal tumult would destroy our energy, we should then interpose some attractive object, and in this way elude unrestrained emotions, rather than encounter their undivided force.-The lenient hand of time will do much; but the exercises of religion will do more, to shorten this kind process of nature. Religion will sanctify while it guides, it will render our passage through the tempestuous region of passions, not only safe but salutary. By directing these powerful principles to right objects, and restraining their excesses, we may compel the most vehement to minister to the noblest purposes; just as the mariner takes advantage of mighty currents and boisterous winds, the sooner to reach his desired haven. These great and awful powers, whether belonging to the natural world, or the moral and intellectual, should be regarded with reverence. Like the lightning and the thunder of heaven, their course is sometimes tremendous; but, without them, all nature would be inanimate, and destitute of vital energy. Characters altogether unimpassioned may wind through an ambiguous course, without either doing or receiving much good or evil: but all the great energies of virtue, as well as vice, belong to minds susceptible of ardent and powerful emotions. Even in St. Paul himself the same constitutional warmth and impetuosity, which inflamed the persecutor, afterwards inspired the apostle and animated the martyr. That the springs of action might never fail, nature has been endued by its benevolent Author, with impulses and affections verging towards excess; but then, he has also given us the power of reason and religion to maintain the counterpoise; and to apply, where necessary, their assuaging influence. Let the considerations which reason and religion present, induce calmness of spirit, temperance of action, and steady perse





But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

THE latter part of the book of Jonah, from which the above text is taken, opens a memorable and instructive scene. It represents the weakness of human nature; the illusion of the passions; the bad effects that flow from the want of self-government. In the text, we find a prophet, a great prophet, an advocate of righteousness, and a denouncer of the judgments of heaven, fallen into rather disgraceful circumstances; forgetting the dignity of his office; and losing the command of himself; discomposed and agitated by passion. And, what is the cause, we exclaim, which could call forth such harsh expressions, from the lips accustomed to dispense the oracles of God? Had any blasphemy been uttered? Had any shocking deed of injustice or unmercifulness been perpetrated? No, nothing of all this. Jonah had proclaimed the overthrow of Nineveh. But the inhabitants, having humbled themselves before God, in dust and ashes, had been forgiven; the predicted overthrow suspended; and more than six score thousand persons, in the maturity of life, preserved from the threatened destruction.

Unfortunately, this most joyful reverse militated against the credit of Jonah's prediction, and he feared to meet the scorn of those, by whom he had been regarded with reverence. Yet if Jonah had exceeded his commission, by foretelling absolutely, that Nineveh must perish, whether she repented and turned from her evil works, or not; the humility of the prophet should have retracted; at any rate, the feelings of the man ought to have relented. But it seems, (by whatever means he contrived to harden his heart) he rather wished to see that populous city laid in ashes, than that the least imputation should fall upon his own prophetic character.

Then came the expostulating voice of God, "Dost thou well to be angry ?" The mild rebuke, however, was either little attended to, or soon forgotten; and the disappointed prophet, conceiving the sentence of destruction to be only delayed, and not remitted, retires, and waits on the outside of the city, to see the issue. There, oppressed by the sultry east wind, and (in consequence of the withering of a gourd, which for a while had afforded him a friendly shade) left exposed to the sun's scorching rays, which now beat upon his head, and aggravated the vexation of his unquiet mind, "he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live."-Then, a second time, came the mild expostulation of conscience, and of God, "Dost thou well to be angry for the gourd ?" Stung with rage, and overcome by his passion, he replied, "I do well to be angry, even unto death!" Angry? With whom? With God, the Father of Mercies? For what? For pardoning a vast multitude, all humbled in dust and ashes before him? Who is it that ? a thus arraigns the clemency of heaven? A prophet? a holy man preacher of repentance? and from the ignoble motives of avowed selfishness and vanity? Could a small personal interest, or, as he himself might think it, a very great one, plead against the voice of nature, and harden his heart against every sentiment of humanity?

Let the failings of good men teach us to be humble, watchful and diffident. Let true religion, such as dwelt in the soul of Christ, pervade our spirits; it will be to our hearts what gravitation is to the universe, it will keep all our passions within the orbit of reason and usefulness.




And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee.

DISINTERESTED Giver! your Saviour blesses you; your God will reward you. You have done good without requital, and selected objects of benevolence where there is no power to recompense. Happy man-going out of yourself, you have gathered the expanded pleasures of disinterested generosity. Your experience has verified the wisdom of the Saviour's maxim. He felt the divine consciousness of such actions, and he was anxious that his disciples should enjoy his blessedness. Such benevolence is like that of the Eternal Father which seeks no recompense. Thus our Saviour, from the fulness of his heart and his personal experience, said, Thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee.

If we consider our own frame, or the constitution of the world around us, we must perceive that the divine Providence destines us to be "members one of another," mutually dependant, and according to the need and the urgency of the occasion, mutual instruments of relief and comfort. As, in the vegetable world, the plant, whose stem is too slender for its own support, shoots out tendrils, or entwines its pliant form round some other of more firm and erect stature; so human infirmities and necessities have the like power of fastening upon the heart of man, and entwining about its inmost affections. From the plaintive helpless infant, to the deep manly sorrows that struggle to escape the notice of the world, through every gradation of wa and weakness, the heart of man is not formed to witness without emotion, the necessities and sorrows of his kind; nor to withstand, without self-violence, the eloquence of the appeal: and they who have gradually hardened themselves against the pleadings of nature, are not more blessed by the callousness thus superinduced upon their minds. They may accumulate the outward materials of enjoyment; but they have not learned truly to enjoy. They find that man's life consists not "in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." They are perhaps surrounded with scenes of gaiety and grandeur-their dwellings resound with the voice of mirth and festivity. They may deign sometimes to listen to the modulated sounds of fictitious and elegant distress; taking good heed that not one note of real woe shall grate upon their ear, or ruffle the serene surface of their soul.

But in this inclement world we must sometimes suffer. Care and grief will invade us. Now, if we are doomed to suffer, it is more blessed to suffer for others, than for ourselves-with God and man to pity and comfort us, rather than unpitied and uncomforted to bear the load of human frailty and misery alone. To those, who, in the days of their prosperity, have done their utmost to banish want and misery from the world, how greatly softened is the rugged vale of affliction by "the blessings that follow them, from those that were ready to perish!" How much less sadly and mournfully do the tears flow, intermingled with those of the widow and the orphan, the aged and disconsolate, to whose necessities they once ministered, and whose sorrows to alleviate once gave a charm and lustre to their brightest hours of gladness. Sweet and consoling were the recollections of Job under his heaviest sufferings-"When the eye saw me, it blessed, me, and when the ear heard me, it gave witness to me, because I delivered the poor and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him."




Take no thought for the morrow.

In the original, this text means, Be not unreasonably anxious,— be not disturbed by future cares.-Under just subordination, to higher interests, and higher duties—a vigorous and steady prosecution of the business of our respective stations-a moderate pursuit of temporal advantages, and avoidance of temporal inconveniences and evils, is allowable, justifiable, commendable. Having adopted the measures which prudence suggest, and followed them with the ardour their importance demands, we are then to possess our souls in tranquil reliance on divine Providence.

Certainly, the happiest state, and the most favourable to virtue and piety, is not that in which the mind is altogether disengaged from the affairs of the world; but that in which it is in a great measure occupied by a succession of honorable and active pursuits; yet not so much engrossed by them, as to exclude proper intervals of sedate reflection. Such a mixture of the contemplative and active life, as men's different stations, dispositions, and abilities allow, forms the best shelter for innocence, opens the amplest field for usefulness, and offers the fairest prospect of content and happiness. On the contrary, that heart-corroding, joy-consuming anxiety (with respect to the affairs of the world, and their remote issues,) which disturbs the hours of leisure and reflection, which devours the comforts both of dom estic and social life, and which therefore no possible success can ev er repay, is as baneful to the improvement of the mind as to its enjoyment; and alike hostile to religious virtue, and to human happiness. In the first place, the immediate sensation of an anxious mind is itself an evil of no small magnitude and the effects which it produces are similar to the bitter fountain whence they flow. The very countenances of men immersed in the world's intricate concerns, betoken the over loaded mind; and under all the most studied airs of urbanity, the suspicious, unsympathizing aspect shews the heart a stranger to tranquillity. When this disproportioned solicitude becomes habitual, they are, of course, consigned for the remainder of their days, to those cankered cares, those insatiable cravings which eat out the soul of happiness. In the mean time, (the body sympathizing with the mind,) health is impaired sleep flies from the eyelids: the temper is soured all the good dispositions of the soul languish even the understanding suffers; and all its faculties, from being overstrained, lose their proper tone and energy: yet in the midst of this general wreck of nature, still the desire of accumulating continues and increases; adheres inseparably like an empoisoned and corrosive vestment to what remains of the being it thus miserably consumes; and while life yet lingers in his exhausted veins, accompanies the wasted soul, and macerated body, to the grave. There is no need to overcharge the picture for who is ignorant that the world may boast of its martys as well as religion. But amongst this crowd of voluntary victims, there are, perhaps, none more pitiable, than those who feel their cares increase with their Let this habpossessions, and their anxieties with their abundance. it be formed, the man becomes his own tormentor; and all the blessings of Providence are reversed when the mind itself is so industrious in searching for vexation, and so ingenious in sharpening its edge.

« السابقةمتابعة »