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THE BIRDS OF THE BIBLE.
BY REV. H. HARBAUGH. “ARE not five Sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God.”—OUR SAVIOUR.
The words Tzeppur in Hebrew, and Struthio in Greek, are used, in the sacred writings to designate, not only a particular but also a whole class of birds. There is a particular bird called Sparrow; but there is also a class of birds which are all called, in general, Sparrows, although each one has also its own specific name. Naturalists, especially Goldsmith, rank all birds, from what is less in size than a pigeon down to the humming-bird, as belonging to the Sparrow kind.
Sparrow is, therefore, sometimes synonomous with "little bird.” This will account for the reason why the word is sometimes translated "bird," as in Leviticus 14: 4, and at other times "sparrow," as in Psalms 84: 3. As the whole class of birds called Sparrows, have a general likeness to each other in all their habits, as well as their size, it is not necessary to determine-which it is perhaps impossible to do-whether the sacred writings allude to the species of Sparrow in particular, or to all little birds in general. We will confine ourselves to the bird which is known under the specific name, Sparrow; a description of which will make plain all the allusions to it contained in the Bible.
There are three kinds of Sparrows now known among us, and they are no doubt the same as are alluded to by David, King of Israel, and by Jesus our ever blessed Redeemer and Saviour.
THE SONG SPARROW. This is the most numerous and the most generally diffused in this country, of all our Sparrows. It is also
the earliest, longest and sweetest songster. It is the first to break, with its hymns of joy, the silence of winter, in early spring-time, and its notes are heard latest in autumn. It is said, that some even remain with us during the winter, in close sheltered meadows and swamps.
In the summer it sits for hours at a time in some small busb, and chants its pleasant and artless notes as if for their own sweet sake. It loves the borders of rivers, of meadows, and of swamps, no doubt on account of the low brush which abound in such localities, and which it particularly loves.
It builds its nest upon the ground under tufts of grass, building it of dry grass, and lining it with horse hair. Sometimes it also builds in the thick low branches of pine and cedar trees, five or six feet from the ground. It is of a chestnut color, marked and streaked with dirty white. Its breast is decked with spots of a chestnut color.
THE CHIRPING SPARROW. This species is perhaps still more familiar and domestic than the song sparrow. In the summer it loves villages and cities, where it builds its nest in the branches of trees in the streets and gardens, and gathers for its food the crumbs in the yard and before the door. It lines its nest softly with the hair of cows and other animals. Towards autumn it becomes less 80ciable, and departs to the fields and brush till the weather becomes too severe, when it departs to the south. The frontlet of this little bird is black, its crown chestnut, its upper parts are variegated with black and chestnut, and the under parts pale ash.
THE FIELD SPARROW. This is the smallest of the Sparrows. It loves dry fields covered with long grass, builds a small nest on the ground at the foot of a bush, and lines it with horse hair. It does not sing, but has a kind of chirruping, much like a cricket. This species of the Sparrow abounds in the Carolinas and Georgia. When they are disturbed, they haste to the bushes and cluster so closely together that a dozen may be shot at a time. In color it resembles the other two species.
All these different kinds of Sparrows are friendly birds, and love the habitations of man. They are pert, quick, loquacious creatures, and fond of motion. They are not found in deep solitudes, but in the open and thickly settled country. Indeed this is the case with all small birds. Various reasons exist, why sparrows and other small birds love the habitations of men, and the open country. Here they are not so much exposed to those larger. birds which are often their enemies and seek to devour them, since these ferocious birds generally dread_the abodes of men, and like all robbers keep at a distance. Tender buds, seeds and insects, which constitute the food of all small birds, are also not so abundant in deep forests, as in cultivated regions. Thus, fears on the one side, and favors on the other, make these birds the companions of man. A wise and good God has made it so. They fill the groves and trees around with their melody; and, in the fields, they speed the weary hours of toil with their cheerful songs. “All is yours.” For man—for the joy of man a kind God has made it so! Let him that has a heart for it, praise Him.
The love which these birds have for the society of man, and their distaste for deserts and loneliness, explains that beautiful passage in the 84th Pslam : “The sparrow hath found out a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God." This Psalm was no doubt written by the royal singer while he was in banishment from the throne and the sanctuary through the rebellion of his unnatural and ungrateful son. In his exile he remembered with what joy and music the different domestic birds, and among them the sparrow, dwelt around the sanctuary-he saw them as he went up to worship, their nests and their brood unisturbed—they are still there, while he is afar off! The allusion is touching! As one that is home-sick, longs to see even the smallest familiar object around the homestead, and in a sense, envies even the birds that sing in the trees along the garden fence and in the orchard, so does this pious king, the tendrils of whose heart are twined in eternal associations around the sanctuary, long to exchange his exile for the place of the swallows and sparrows, whom no misfortunes chase from the home of their choice.
From the small size of the sparrow, and the consequent smallness of its value in the market, our blessed Saviour takes occasion to illustrate the doctrine of particular Providence. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing ? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." —Math. 10: 2931, Luke 12: 6, 7. The illustration is one that ought to move the heart of all christians who are of little faith.” If God thinks of so small a bird as a sparrow, defends it and provides for it, will he not much more do so to an immortal being, created in his image, redeemed
by his blood, and destined for his glory in an endless life? In the sparrow, that bounds over the ground before us, there is more than a volume can teach, to inspire confidence and joy in the Providence of God.
And will my God to sparrows grant
That pleasure which his children want! Besides the above, there is only one other passage in the English Bible where the word sparrow occurs.
This is in Ps. 102: 7. _“I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.” Here, however it is plain that the word should have been rendered “bird ;" as also it is rendered in the German Bible. There is nothing in the habits of the sparrow that can apply to this passage. It is not a lonely, mourning, sorrowing bird ; but just the opposite, cheerful, bustling, happy and fond of company. Besides, this lonely bird on the house-top, is associated
as in the preceding verse, with the pelican of the wilderness, and the owl of the desert. This bird must be like them in its nature and habits; and the afflicted Psalmist speaks of his own sorrowful and lonely spirit, as mingling his groans and lamentations with its notes of wo—sitting in the gloom of his own spirit through sleepless nights, and like a gloomy nocturnal bird, pouring his grief in sad notes into the ears of a slumbering world.
We will not thoughtlessly pass by the sparrow, nor disregard its notes when it sings in the bush beside our path. A crowned Poet
sung about it, and the Saviour spake of it. Sweet truths are associated with it. It is not the least interesting of the sacred Birds of the Bible.
So our little errors
Lead the soul away
From the paths of virtue,
Oft in sin to stray.
Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
Like the heaven above.
Sown by youthful bands,
Far in heathen lands.
EARLY DEATH. Early in the morning a damsel went into the garden to gather a wreath of beautiful roses. She saw only buds, closed and half open, suffused with dew, fresh and fragrant. "Not yet will I pluck you," said the damsel. “I will wait till the sun opens your bosoms, then ye will have lovelier tints and sweeter odor.”
She came at noon, and behold! the worm had reveled in the roses, the sun had faded them, and they were lifeless and pale. The damsel wept! And on the next morning she gathered her flowers early.
Those children whom God loves best he gathers early out of this life, before the sun smites them, before blight is in their hearts. The Paradise of children is a high stage in the heavenly blessedness; the most righteous adult cannot reach it. For his soul has received deeper stains of sin.
BY J. M. WILLIS GEIST. THE age just closing has been emphatically the age of Steam. Steam has imparted a new soul to Commerce, to Mechanics, to Art and Science. It has brought the two great rivals of the civilized world, by nature separated by over three thousand miles of unfathomed deep, within a ten days neighborship of each other. Nor have the operations of this great vaporial civilizer been confined to the heavy interests just named. It has condescended to humbler though little less utilitarian spheres. That which drives the leviathan castle through the elementary rage of the great deep, has also become the familiar working friend of the farmer and housewife. It pumps water for the husbandman's cattle and boils food for his swine. It cooks his dinners and warms his chambers. It churns his butter and imparts the finest flavor to his coffee. Steam, in a word, has wrought a complete revolution in the commercialand utilitarian departments of the world's history.
We have spoken of the age just closing as the age of Steam: for the year 1853, big with the hopes of the prophetic future of Human Progress, has whispered in our incredulous ears that “the days of Steam are numbered!" The age of CALORIC is upon us! Commerce, Mechanics, Agriculture, Art and Science, Porkulture and Epiculture, all are henceforth to be served most faithfully and obediently by a newly discovered Motor ; and this agent of wonderful achievements for the future is simply heated air, applied, on the Ericsson principle, as a substitute for Steam. Already has Caloric driven the complicated machinery of industry by land, and its experimental advent by sea has fully established its motive claims upon the commercial world.*
Farewell, then, to the age of Steam! and all hail to the youth of Caloric!
But before we bid good-bye to Steam in such eulogic style,
We are surprised to see that many of our scientific savans (the editor of the Scientific American among the number) are endeavoring to prove Errics. son's Caloric Ship a failure, because in her experimental trip she only made six or seven miles an hour, being nearly three times as long in reaching Wash. ington as the Baltic was a year ago. This learned editor should remember that the Savannah, the first Steamer which crossed the Atlantic, (1819,) was twenty-six days in running from New York to Liverpool, or nearly three times as long as the Baltic now requires to make the same voyage. The first ex. periment in Caloric navigation has therefore been as successful as the first ex: periment in Ocean Sreamers. Is modern science to ignore the possibility of scientific progress? We fear the persecutors of Galileo, Columbus, De Caus, Fitch and Fulton, still live, by metempsychosis, in Scientific Gotham!