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and the recognition of a great and glorious truth; yet I cannot sever them. That the custom prevails, with extravagant additions, such as the periodical digging up and caressing of the dry bones, among some people lost in the lowest depths of barbarism, and destitute even of a ray of spiritual understanding, does not militate against the supposition. It is in such circumstances that we find the rites of propitiatory sacrifice observed with jealous care, and practised with unsparing cruelty. Yet who questions the divine origin of the sacrificial rite, or sails to recognise in it a testimony to the truth of holy writ, proving that the sons of Noah, of whom the whole earth was overspread, transmitted, each to his descendants, an obligatory knowledge of the act which they with their fathers first performed upon issuing from the ark, by offering on an altar the victims miraculously preserved for that purpose ? I know it is a question with some, whether the doctrine of the resurrection of the body was held in the patriarchal church; but so clear to my apprehension is the language of Scripture on this point, that I never could contrive to perplex myself with a doubt. I believe it to have been as well understood by the earliest of the Old Testament saints as the nature and end of sacrifices. I love to.think so. And on an old illegible grave-stone I can find
a lesson written, beyond the mere tale of
how the fashion of this world passeth away. The feeling to which I refer the origin of monuments erected on the spot where the dead moulder, is distinct from that which would record their names in historical tablets. In the former there would be something as humiliating as in the latter there is honourable distinction, were it not connected with a higher destiny. The old custom of burning the dead is far less harrowing to the mind, than, on deliberate reflection, is the fearful process of gradual decomposition, and ultimate mingling with a cold damp soil. The ancients enclosed in an urn the calcined mass obtained from their funeral pyres, and stored it up; but to put a mark upon the spot where corruption and the worm are fulfilling their slow, noisome task on the body of a beloved object, does really seem like a tri
umph of faith over sight, of hope over experience, worthy of those who have been taught concerning them that sleep in Jesus, that their scattered dust shall rise again. Then, how sublime becomes the language of a grave-stone ! “Stop,” says the crumbling monument of by-gone generations,—“Stop, passenger, and mark me. Here lies a brother of your race; I show you precisely where he was laid under the sod. Dig now, even to the centre, in quest of the frame so fearfully and wonderfully made. Search, sist every handful of earth as you cast it forth, you shall not find a vestige of my charge. All is resolved into the parent element, beyond the power of your keenest investigation to separate or discern the one from the other. Yet, read me again. Here lies that mortal; and hence he shall again come forth, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. What you toss around you is the corruptible that must put on incorruption; the mortal that must put on immortality. Go, learn from my defaced surface a lesson of faith-Blessed are they which believe, yet see not.” Summon me not, therefore, from gazing on this crumbling head-stone. I may rove far, and look upon many an object, before I encounter a monitor at once so humble, so venerable, so faithful, and so just.
DURING a day's visit to the great metropolis, I had occasion to pass through one of the narrow streets of Bloomsbury; and there, suspended from a nail, below a dirty ground-floor window, I saw a cage of very small dimensions, in which was a fullgrown lark. Painful as it is at all times, and under any circumstances, to behold any of God's creatures in captivity, there is something peculiarly revolting to every humane feeling when the prisoner is a British bird, formed to rejoice and revel in our own free atmosphere. But in this case, something more touching was superadded. Just on the top of the opposite house fell a ray of brilliant sunshine; while a casual opening between some roofs presented the most inviting track of azure sky: and, to complete the picture, several sparrows were fluttering and twittering upon the tiles. The poor lark, with back depressed, beak pointing upwards, and wings half-listed from his sides, stood close to the front of his cage, as in the very act to spring, and rise to the spot on which his eyes were intently fixed. But, alas! the prison-bars were around him; and, taught by sad experience, he forbore the efforts which would have but bruised and lacerated his tender frame. I walked on, under feelings of indignant sympathy, almost regretting that the laws of property forbade my opening the cage-door and setting the captive free. I could not forget the poor lark: alike in the broad, busy street, in the narrow, cheerless lane, and in the spacious square, thickly set with trees and flowering shrubs, did the image of the pining prisoner haunt me. I believe it was the attitude of the bird, rather than the mere fact of his captivity, that moved me so much. It was that he evidently felt his doom—that he saw his way to happier scenes; and yet, from utter hopelessness of success, refrained from trying the wires, of which he but too well knew the unyielding strength. A lark—a creature made to soar, and sing at a height whereto the eye of man cannot follow him, though the ear may catch those powerful tones of free and fearless melody: a lark—to whom the highest tree-top is an insignificant exaltation, and the circuit of a hundred fields too narrow for his ken: a lark to be shut in, where, literally, he had not space to stretch his aching wings, and where no enlivening sunbeam, no gush of pleasant air, could reach him; where the windings of a dirty lane bounded his prospects, and the discordant din of annoying sounds alone fell on his ear. Poor bird' where in this world shall I find a suitable comparison for thee ? Perhaps in him, who, having once felt that he was originally created to inhabit a higher sphere, and that his true field of enjoyment lies far, far beyond the wretched vanities of earth, is yet so tied and bound with the chain of his sins, that he cannot break away. He has tried it in his own strength, and has been cast down wounded. He looks at the children of God in the world, and sees that they have a sunbeam shed upon them which never visits him:
they can rise towards heaven, and pour wide the songs of praise which his heavy heart refuses to utter. He feels himself a captive—he longs to be free—he gazes upwards, and stands, as it were, prepared to start away; but still he moves not a step towards the accomplishment of his desire; for his prison-door is fast, and open it he cannot, by any skill or power of his own. He hates his dungeon; he hates all that surrounds him of sight and sound, so uncongenial to the new nature that he begins to feel. His soul is prepared for liberty, but it is yet heavy within him; and his secret cry is, “I am so fast in prison, I cannot get loose.” Happy mourner! escape is nigh. No fellow of thine, no created being, is permitted to loose the bonds that enchain thee; but the pitifulness of His great mercy who has purchased thee at the price of his own blood, and whose property, therefore, thou art, will surely do so. It is He who has directed thine upturned gaze to those regions after which thou pantest; and He, ere long, will stretch the liberating hand, and withdraw the mysterious bolt, and make thee free indeed. Then, up and away to the loftiest heights of unfettered contemplation, where the eye of carnal reason cannot pursue thee, and bid the concave echo to thy song. And then again, like the descending lark, shut close thy pinions to thy breast in shrinking self-abasement, and fall, low as the dust of the earth, to wonder at the height thou hast attained. Nestle among kindred sods of the field, until the Sun of Righteousness, casting another of his glowing beams upon thy soul, shall once more call thee heavenward, to rise, and rejoice, and make melody, in an atmosphere all thine own.
THE BALL 00N.
Quietly seated near the window, on a clear evening, very lately, my attention was attracted to an object floating far aloft, which I knew to be a balloon. Recent events had attached a painful interest to the scene; and as my eye followed the receding speck, and imagination pictured the aerial voyagers looking down from their dizzy height, I fell into a train of thought, founded on the query, whether such perilous exploits can bear the test of scriptural examination,-can be lawful to a Christian man. The precept was forcibly brought to mind, “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I can well conceive that I eat and drink to the glory of God, when I desire, by due sustenance, to render my bodily powers more active in the duties of my particular sphere and calling; and, in like manner, a blessing may be conscientiously asked on many actions that have apparently no immediate connexion with the glory of God, but to which, under right government, they ultimately tend. I cannot, however, think thus of the desperate venture made by those who commit themselves to an element in which they are not fitted to move, and where they cannot for an instant sustain themselves, but by the aid of machinery, that may fail them in the moment of greatest need. The same objection may, in some measure, be advanced against a sea-voyage ; but there is this material difference, that, formed as our globe is with intersecting oceans, the great command of Christ,-" Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature,” cannot be fulfilled without the aid of navigation; and whatever conduces to the exercise and improvement of that art, is, in the eye of a Christian, “to the glory of God.” But who can, in the act of stepping into a balloon, utter from his heart the prayer, —“Keep thy servant from presumptuous sins?” Who can persuade himself that such wanton hazarding of life and limb will, directly or indirectly, promote “the glory of God?” Is there any spot of earth, otherwise inaccessible, but to which the Gospel may be carried in a balloon 7 Is there any warrant in Scripture for expecting that the providential succour continually afforded those “that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters,” will be extended to such as, for the gratification of idle curiosity, or the pampering of their boastful vanity, essay to “mount up with wings as eagles,” in a sense and a fashion that God never intended or authorized man to mount in 7 No. Assuredly, thought I, as the balloon gradually disappeared from my sight, those poor people are doing nothing to
the glory of God at this moment, unless their presumption should be overruled to the permanent humbling of their high aspirations. High —The black speck had floated off towards the west, and in the dark, cool blue of the eastern sky, a brilliant star had already become visible, twinkling with liquid lustre through the air. Alas for the height that our ballooning brethren, with all the powers of gas, can aspire to . That little star had thrown open the illimitable, unfathomable ocean of space: and the idea of a balloon, at its utmost attainable distance from earth, was that of a buoy bobbing about in seeming independence, under the bows of its own ship. Man is so very little, at the tip-top of his self-invested greatness, so very earthly in his most aerial flights, that, until he becomes, by regenerating grace, a temple of God, he can excite no admiration unmixed with pity, in a breast where the law of truth is written. That twinkling star had cast a sad cloud on the achievements of the aëronauts. They had not ascended high enough to add a hair's breath to the apparent diameter of any heavenly body; but they soared at a fearful altitude as regarded their own safety. The question forced itself on my mind,-Are they now, with adoring thankfulness, acknowledging the hand that upholds them in their giddy course, and looking to that hand alone for a safe return to earth 2 Have their souls risen heavenward, even in the small proportion in which their bodies have ascended; and do earthly things appear as little in their estimation as to their visual organs? Do they consider that, fly where they may, their destination is fixed beyond recall,—“To dust thou shalt return;” and that, after a while, the globe from which they have wantonly started off for a small season, shall in turn glide away from them, and for ever ? They must yet again be launched forth on space; but whether caught up to meet the Lord in the air, or borne away to regions of eternal woe, I greatly fear this all-important question is not the subject of their converse, under circumstances so strikingly calculated to force it on them. And why not? Because, I have come to the conclusion, that no man who holds his life and faculties as a trust committed to him for the glory of God, will, without any adequate motive, place them in such manifest jeopardy. Surely he would, through grace, be enabled to think of his Master on the pinnacle of the temple, and answer the presumptuous suggestion in the words of that Master-" It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
D REA MIN G.
AMoNG the many beauties of Campbell's earlier poetry, and, indeed, in the whole collection of our lighter modern lyrics, there is nothing more true to nature than the little piece called “The Soldier's Dream.” So short as to become a favourite song, it contains within it the story of a life; and I question whether among men there is one whose heart's recess it would not reach. The contrast between present and past is slightly, yet how powerfully sketched' The soldier, who bivouacs “Where thousands had sunk on the ground overpower'd, The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die,” represents himself in a situation that combines as many images of hardship, horror, or peril, as ever were compressed into two lines: “Reposing that night on my pallet of straw, By the wolf-scaring faggot that guarded the slain;” and then comes the exquisite transition to all that is soft, and familiar, and endearing, in the tranquillity of rural scenery; “I flew to the pleasant fields, travers'd so oft In life's morning watch, when my bosom was young; I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft, And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.” This gem of a poem will probably commend itself to the feelings, just in proportion as the contrast is marked, and deep, and striking, between what is and what has been. The traveller, who, from a distant spot, where clouds are louring and the rough breeze assailing him, looks back to behold the home he has quitted, with all its sweet associations gathered round it, lying just within the range of a slanting sunbeam, and thereby thrown out in warm and beautiful relief from the shadowy region that interposes—such a traveller will linger to gaze on the past with feelings peculiar to the dark and dreary present.
Thus it is with the dreamer, who, during the hours of sleep, has been carried back to scenes long lost, and heard the tone of voices long silent. He cannot recall the sweet vision, but he closes his eye, and summons memory to recount to him what memory has recently shown him. She has, as it were, unlocked the casket containing jewels that once were his, but now are hers only; and feasted his sight with what has for ever eluded his grasp. And he submits, for it is the universal lot of man; but he sighs over the treasure that never looked so lovely as when for ever lost. How wonderful is this faculty of the mind I write under the impression of recent experience, having retraced in a dream the beloved haunts of early years, expatiating as I thought, to one who had never before seen them, on the various objects, the noble relics of antiquity, and beautiful intermixture of orchard and garden-ground. At one spot I paused—it was an old brick house, placed back in a neglected, overgrown shrubbery. That building I have not seen for nearly a quarter of a century, nor has any circumstance brought it to my remembrance. I never visited the inmates, but merely knew their name as residents there. I had long forgotten that name, and stood, as it seemed, for a few moments, until enabled to recall it. I awoke with a vivid recollection of all the minutiae connected with the old house—never remarkable for any thing to me or others—and with the aspect of its former inhabitants portrayed with the liveliest fidelity to my mental view. In all this there was nothing extraordinary, merely because every body has experienced something similar. Yet, among the phenomena of mind, as acted upon by external circumstances, this faculty of receiving the impresssion of an indifferent object, retaining it through a series of years amid a multitude of after-impressions,—I may say burnt into it, such was the severity of the stamp-and restoring it on demand is most wonderful. It is a part of the mystery of our compound being that makes itself felt; it strikes a chord, causing the whole heart to vibrate ; it brings home to us the beautiful remark of Chalmers, that every man has in himself his own peculiar and exclusive world, into the recesses of which the dearest, the most sympathising of friends cannot enter.
There breathes not the mortal to whom I could unfold the long chain of recollections revived by the single idea of a passing dream. Some would listen, would try to sympathise, but, except by transferring the feeling to their own bosoms, and connecting with it their individual experience, no sympathy could they afford; nor would that be a real participation of my thoughts, but an awakening of their own. There is only one to whom the desolate heart can turn with the deep and sweet conviction that he knows all. An awful consideration indeed, when we call to mind the innumerable transgressions that stand recorded together with those scenes and events; but to him who is in Christ Jesus, him to whom there is now no condemnation, being redeemed from the curse of the law and brought nigh to a reconciled Father, it is a thought full of heavenly consolation. The heart knoweth its own bitterness; God is greater than the heart, and knoweth all things. If in his wise dispensations he has seen good to crush the flowers, and to suffer many thorns to remain, he knows the sweetness of the former, the keen points of the latter, and weighs in a just balance the burden that he has laid on his child. He does not, like our fellowman, make light of the sorrow, nor, like ourselves, view it in exaggerated proportions; but with the perfection of wisdom, knowledge, and tender compassion, “He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are but dust.” It is astonishing with what soothing power a dream may come across a harassed mind, blunting the edge of the present with sweet remembrances of the past: and I should be slow to deny to the God of all consolation the praise due for this mercy. Those who from a distempered digestion, or otherwise, are habitually oppressed by gloomy and terrific dreams, scruple not to pray against the visitation why should they whose bosom is soothed by visions of a very opposite tendency, hesitate to render thanks to the Giver, not only of the staff that supports our pilgrim-step on the heavenward path, but of the little wild flower that flings a breath of momentary fragrance across it?
WOL. II. 25
THE WHITE PLUMES.
WALKING slowly on a sultry day along the high path that skirted a public road, my attention was roused by the sudden question of a little child, “What is coming behind us? See, it is all black and white.” I turned, and saw a mourning-coach, through the side-windows of which projected the ends of a small coffin, with its velvet pall; followed by a similar carriage, containing three or four gentlemen in black cloaks. The usual attendants, with their long staves, walked with measured steps on either side the coaches, their hat-bands being of white silk, as were those of the drivers. But what had chiefly attracted the observation of my little companion, was, the stately plume of white feathers waving on the heads of noble horses, whose glossy coats of jet black, velvet housings, long flowing manes and tails, and majestic bearing, as they paced along with restrained animation, could derive no additional grace from what, nevertheless, gave a striking finish to the spectacle. “It is a baby's funeral,” said I. “But why are the feathers white 7 I thought all funerals went in mourning, and white is no mourning, you know.” I explained to the little inquirer the custom of substituting white for black on such an occasion; and then gratified his wish by accompanying, or rather following, the procession to the church, which was not sar distant. Why are the plumes white? I mentally repeated, and looked again at those waving crests. In point of fact they were not white, for the dusty road had imparted to them enough of its own substance to disguise their snowy aspect. Belonging, as they certainly did, to the pomps and vanities of this world, they wore its livery —defilement. Still, as distinguished from customary black, they were white plumes, and, with the other admixtures of that hue, shed light upon the darksome accompaniments, like sunshine breaking into smiles the cloudy shadows on some distant hill. “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,” was the text that occurred to my mind: and I dwelt upon the “sure