صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

and with the very aspect which the beautiful planet wears to us, and with which it will continue to smile over the couch of dying, or the cradle of reviving day.

THE GRAPES OF GOMORRAH.-PHILIP.

Both young men and maidens venerated the aged Sheshbazzar, and vied with each other in honoring his grey hairs as "a crown of glory." He was a second conscience to all the youth of Beersheba, who studied to maintain a good conscience towards God or man. When the young men looked upon the daughters of the Canaanites, and thought of allying themselves with" aliens from the commonwealth of Israel," they remembered that Sheshbazzar would not bless the forbidden union; and turned their attention to the daughters of the covenant. When the maidens of Beersheba were fascinated by the garb and bearing of the sons of Belial, they felt that they could not meet the eye of the holy patriarch, and drew their veils closer around them in the streets. Thus all the plans of the young had a tacit reference to his opinion, and the hope of his approbation and benediction mingled with their brightest prospects. "What will Sheshbazzar think of me?" was a question, which, however simple in itself, disentangled whole webs of sophistry, and unmasked the most plausible appearances. It revealed the secrets of the heart to the conscience, and the frauds of the conscience to the judgment. It was, indeed, a simple question; but it searched the reins like "the candle of the Lord,"-because all who reflected, felt that the good old man could have no object but their good; and that whatever influence he had acquired over them, was won, not by stratagem, but by weight and worth of character. It was the spell of his fine spirit, which, like the mantle of Elijah, cast upon the plow-man of Abelmeholah, drew them after him as with "cords of love."

Amongst the daughters of the covenant, who listened to his wisdom, and loved his approbation, Rachel was the most enthusiastic. She was modest as the lily of the valley, but sensitive as the tremulous dewdrops which gemmed it. Like the clouds of the spring upon Carmel or Hermon, she wept and smiled in the same hour. Her spirit soared at times like the eagle of Engedi, until lost in the light which is full of glory; and, anon, it drooped like the widowed dove in the gloomy avenues of Heshbon and Kedron. She was alternately glowing

and freezing; too high or too low. In all things, but in her modest gentleness, she was the creature of circumstances. Even in religion, she had no fixed principles. She was feelingly alive to its beauties, but dead to its real spirit. Whilst it in

spired thoughts which breathed, and words which burned with immortality, she was enraptured with it: but when its oracles or ordinances led to thoughts of penitence, or words of humiliation, she had no sympathy of spirit with them. She wept, indeed, over her fallen nature; but not because it was fallen from the moral image of Jehovah. The loss of intellectual power, not the loss of holy feeling, grieved her. She felt deeply mortified, because she could not maintain all the mental elevation of a rational being; and she thought her mortification humility! She deplored the weakness and waywardness of her mind, in the strongest terms of self-abasement; but not because her mind disliked secret prayer and self-examination. She lamented that she had so little communion with God; but it was not the communion of a child with a father, nor of a penitent with a Savior, but the communion of a poet with the God of nature -of a finite spirit with the Infinite Spirit-that had charms for her. She admired the prophets; but not for the holiness which rendered them temples meet for the Holy Spirit to dwell in, and speak from; but because of their mysterious dignity, as the ambassadors of heaven. She gloried in the altars and mercy-seat of the temple; not as they were types of salvation by the atonement of the promised Messiah, but as they were the seat and shrine of the cloud of glory and the sacred fire.

a

All this Sheshbazzar saw and lamented. But Rachel was gentle, and he loved her; she had genius, and he admired her. Men of one idea thought her mad; and men with half a heart deemed her a mere visionary. Sheshbazzar regarded her as young vine among the rocks of the Dead Sea, whose grapes are embittered by the bitumen of the soil; and he hoped, by transplanting and pruning, to displace its poisonous juices. But the difficulty was, to convince her, that even her virtues were like the grapes of Gomorrah, unfit to be presented "before the Lord, in the waive-offering of the first fruits," or to be mingled in "the drink-offering." They were indeed so; for, like the vines of Gomorrah, she bore fruit to herself, not to the glory of God. Her morality was high-toned; but only because she reckoned immorality beneath the dignity of female character. Her taste was simple; but only because she deemed follies unworthy of her talents. Her sympathies were

prompt and tender; but they were indulged more for the luxury of deep emotion, than for the sake of doing good. What became her as a woman, and a woman whom Sheshbazzar reckoned "one of a thousand,” was both the reason and the rule of her excellencies. She never prayed for grace to sanctify or sustain her character: and as her tastes and pursuits were far above even the comprehension, as well as the level of ordinary minds, Rachel never suspected that her "heart was not right with God." The elders of the city had, indeed, often told her so in plain terms, made plainer by the shaking of their hoary heads but, although she was too gentle to repel the charge, she only pitied their prejudices. Sheshbazzar, as she imagined, thought very differently of her; and his smile was set against their insinuations. He perceived this mistake, and proceeded to correct it. He had borne with it long, in hope that it would gradually correct itself. He had made allowances, and exercised patience, and kept silence on the subject, until his treatment of Rachel began to be reckoned weakness, and not wisdom, by his best friends. His plan had been to bear aloft his young eaglet upon his own mighty wings, until she breathed the air of spirits, and bathed in the light of eternity: and then to throw her off upon the strength of her own pinions, that she might, whilst he hovered near to intercept a sudden fall, soar higher in the empyrean of glory, and come down 'changed in the same image," and humbled by the "exceeding weight" of that glory. But the experiment failed: she descended mortified because of her weakness, not humbled because of her unworthiness. He resolved, therefore,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"To change his hand, and check her pride."

'Rachel," said Sheshbazzar, "the first day of vintage is near at hand, and there is but little fruit on my vines: could we not send to the Dead Sea for grapes of Gomorrah, and present them before the Lord, as a waive-offering, and pour them out as a drink-offering?'

[ocr errors]

Rachel was surprised at the question; for it was put solemnly, and betrayed no symptom of irony.

66

Grapes of Gomorrah!" Rachel exclaimed; "ask rather, if strange fire, or. a torn lamb, may be safely presented at the altar of Jehovah? But Sheshbazzar mocketh his handmaid. The curse is upon all the ground of the cities of the plain; and moreover, the grapes of Gomorrah are as bitter as they are beautiful. Even the wild goats turn away from the vines of

Sodom. What does my father mean? The form of thy countenance is changed! Like the spies, I will go to Eshcol or Engedi for clusters to present before the Lord; for the Lord our God is a jealous God."

"True, my daughter," said Sheshbazzar; "and if it would be sacrilege to present the grapes of Gomorrah in the waiveoffering, because they grow on the land of the curse, and have imbibed its bitterness; how must a jealous and holy God reject the homage of a proud spirit? The fruits of that spirit draw their juices from a soil more deeply cursed than the Asphaltic, and of which Gomorrah, when in flames, was but a feeble emblem."

66

But, Sheshbazzar," said Rachel, "to whom does this apply? Not to your spirit; for it is a veiled seraph, lowliest in itself when loftiest in its adoring contemplations. And my spirit-is too weak to be proud. I feel myself a mere atom amidst infinity. I feel less than nothing, when I realize the Infinite Spirit of the universe.”

"It is well, my daughter; but what do you feel when you realize Him as the Holy One who inhabiteth eternity? Rachel! I never heard you exclaim, God be merciful to me a sinner! You have called yourself an atom in the universe-an insect in the solar blaze-an imperfect grape on the vine of being any thing but a sinner. It was not thus that Abraham, and Job, and Isaiah, felt before the Lord. It is not thus that I feel. You think me like the grapes of Sibmah and Engedi, ripe for the service of the heavenly temple. Ah, my daughter! nothing but the blood of the everlasting covenant' keeps me from despair; and there is nothing else between you and tophet."

[ocr errors]

Rachel trembled. She had never marked the humility of the patriarchs, nor paused to consider what the soul and sin must be seeing they required such an atonement. She retired weeping; and, for the first time, retreated into her closet to pray for mercy.

168

SIMPLE STYLE.

LIEN CHI ALTANGI'S DESCRIPTION OF AN ENGLISH FINE LADY.-GOLDSMITH.

To speak my secret sentiments, most reverend Fum, the ladies here are horribly ugly; I can hardly endure the sight of them; they no way resemble the beauties of China: the Europeans have quite a different idea of beauty from us. When

I reflect on the small-footed perfections of an eastern beauty, how is it possible I should have eyes for a woman whose feet are ten inches long? I shall never forget the beauties of my native city of Nanfew. How very broad their faces! how very short their noses! how very little their eyes! how very thin their lips! how very black their teeth! the snow on the tops of Bao is not fairer than their cheeks; and their eyebrows are small as the line by the pencil of Quamsi. Here a lady with such perfections would be frightful; Dutch and Chinese beauties, indeed, have some resemblance, but English women are entirely different; red cheeks, big eyes, and teeth of a most odious whiteness, are not only seen here, but wished for; and then they have such masculine feet, as actually serve some for walking!

Yet uncivil as nature has been, they seem resolved to outdo her in unkindness; they use white powder, blue powder, and black powder, for their hair, and a red powder for the face, on some particular occasions.

They like to have the face of various colors, as among the Tartars of Koreki, frequently sticking on, with spittle, little black patches on every part of it, except on the tip of the nose, which I have never seen with a patch. You'll have a better idea of their manner of placing these spots, when I have finished the map of an English face patched up to the fashion, which shall shortly be sent to increase your curious collection of paintings, medals, and monsters.

But what surprises more than all the rest, is what I have just now been credibly informed by one of this country. "Most ladies here," says he, "have two faces; one face to sleep in, and another to show in company: the first is generally reserved for the husband and family at home; the other put on to please strangers abroad: the family face is often indif

« السابقةمتابعة »