« ZurückWeiter »
terrific billows, by which some of God's saints have been hemmed in, till they saw no way of escape: the waters seemed to rise higher and higher, threatening to overwhelm them : their feet had almost gone, their steps had well nigh slipped, the enemy came in as a flood, and waves of temptation followed in such rapid succession, that the very breath of prayer was almost stifled.
“ Has this sea its prescribed limits ?” said I. “Has the Almighty fixed bounds to the rage of our great enemy? Yes," faith replied “ however boundless his power may seem, he is a conquered and a chained foe: he may come very far, but it is only. So far' as God permits him. He may foam and swell with rage, but 'tis in vain; the Rock of Ages shelters, the everlasting arms of Israel's God support: and He who controls the mighty deep, on which I gaze, no less restrains the enemy of my soul.”
I trust that many of you, my young friends, have, through constraining grace, set out in the narrow way; expect not to find it easy to tread, and free from all troubles; it is a way of pleasantness, the glory of the celestial city gleams upon it, the sun of righteousness lights the traveller, the waters of the river of life roll there for his refreshment: but there are thorns in the way, there are enemies to be encountered, and the clouds of sin will often cast a gloom around. It is through much tribulation that we must enter the kingdom. Shall this discourage you ? Oh no, for Jehovah has promised to go before you, and to be also your rereward, He is a wall of fire round about you; He is your strength and your salvation. Afflictions will come—but he will permit them only “ So far" as they are needed for the promotion of his glory in your sanctification; the fire will be hot, but he who calls the gold his crown of glory, will regulate the heat, and sit by the furnace. Temptations too, will come, perhaps very soon, and you may be almost conquered, but remember that even they have their “ So far," and no further. Satan too, shall be foiled with his own weapons, for his assaults shall drive you to the strong for strength, and you shall conquer by the power of the Captain of your salvation.
ALL IN ALL.
It is a singular fact that mankind should have lived for ages without any practical application of one of the simplest and most obvious principles both of nature and of revelation, and that it should have been left for the nineteenth century to illustrate a doctrine in itself as old as the creation, and in its bearings and results exhibited almost as early to the human race.
We cannot, however, allow any originality to a system, in whatever guise it may be clothed, and however illustrious may be those names under sanction of which it is put forward, that was taught and practised in the garden of Eden, emblazoned in the bow of promise, and directly applied by the Spirit of Inspiration speaking through the patriarch of Uz, in those memorable words, “ Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee; who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this ?"
In this process of instruction, “from the known to the unknown," we can see nothing artificial or that is indebted to human forethought or invention. It is God's own mode; and from the earliest times, they who have looked for wisdom where alone it can be found, have carried out this simple but majestic system to the same extent as those who now advance it encumbered with all the parade usually attendant upon human schemes of teaching. As long as the heavens have declared the glory of God, and the earth his goodness; as long as the eternal power and Godhead have been associated with the “ things that are seen;" so long has that method of tuition been adopted which leads us from facts and observation to reasonings and analogies, from causes to effects, and from the minutest parts of creation to the infinity of Him, “ who filleth all in all.”
We cannot then allow the merit of originality to that favorite axiom of a modern school of education". Tout est en tout;', though we are willing to bestow every commendation upon those who are emulating each other in their schemes for drawing out the youthful mind in the most engaging manner, and in attempting to overthrow that unamiable and unsatisfactory drudgery which has
too long usurped the name of “ education.” To know God, and to know ourselves, we understand to be the great business of our lives on earth; and every thing in the discipline of our minds should bear upon these important ends. And we have the best of teachers with regard to both. In creation, even if we view it apart from revelation, God has not “ left us without witness to his power, his greatness, or his goodness. But this, as has been well remarked, is “ but an odd volume from a great author,” which as“ book openeth book,” will never be rightly understood till the heart is quickened by the entrance of that word which giveth understanding to the simple. And in precisely the same manner has he taught us something of ourselves. The question of the psalmist must be in the mouth of all who, in the vaster works of his fingers, see the terrible majesty of the Lord God omnipotent- What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou visitest him ?” Here again, however, God magnifies his WORD above all his name; for the deist might have read, and has read, his own littleness in the inference that flows naturally out of these views of the extent and glory of creation. But he could not, by the severest scrutiny, attain from these premises any knowledge of the fact, that He who is before all things, and by whom all things consist, should so love this creature of his hands as to lay aside his glory, and take on him the seed of Abraham that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest, on his behalf to make reconciliation for his enormous rebellion against the framer of the ends of the earth!
It is clear, then, we think, that nature is the first form in the school which God himself has instituted for our instruction, and that, whilst it cannot teach us all that it becomes us to be acquainted with, it occupies a very important place in that system of nurture and admonition by which we are to be trained up to a proper exercise of those faculties with which God has blessed us.
In carrying out this principle, could we do it with success, we are sure that we should open to our young friends such scenes of pleasure and of profit, of wonder and enjoyment, that they would regret the loss of all that time which has gone by without any application of it: But let us try.
It is now the “ spring and play-time of the year,” and we cannot, if we would, sit poring over our “ tasks" at home. To be sure we ought not to have any; but if our teachers persist in calling all we learn by that ugly name, we suppose we must account them such. But what is knowledge but light? and “ truly the light is sweet," --sweet even to the youngest prattler before he can articulate the “ Open !" that welcomes every new plaything which we put into his hands. He knows enough to be anxious to know more, and feels sufficient interest to warrant a delightful lesson from mamma, which will end too soon if it lead not even from the most trivial of all occasions to majestic and important truths. It is an idle and untried excuse that is so often resorted to, to silence the enquiries of our little folks, that the questions which they are so ready to put, are “ill to solve," and will not admit of answers which they are able to understand. Nature is simple and exact in all her laws, whilst art is crabbed and complex. Talk of gravity and attraction to a child and he will not guess your meaning, but his perplexity is a verbal, rather than an actual one.
Your object is to make him acquainted with the thing and not the word, and an appeal from “the seen to the unseen,” will soon set his anxiety at rest.
Here is a snowdrop on the bank beneath the lauristinus-the first of those earliest seals to that indulgent promise, “while the earth remaineth, seed-time, and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.” It hangs its delicate head, but not because the rude winds of March have visited its slender form too roughly. It was so fashioned by the hand of Him who clothes the grass of the field ; and is a beautiful illustration of many of the laws that regulate the universe. “There is something curious” says a recent writer, “ in considering the whole mass of the earth from pole to pole and from circumference to centre, as employed in keeping a snow drop in the position most suited to its vegetable health.” There is something more than curious in it, and beautifully illustrative of the care of our Heavenly Father, who numbers the very hairs of our head. Had its stalk been less pliant, or the earth's attraction less powerful, it never could have hung its waxen bells so gracefully, or have grown to such advantage. Here are attraction, then, and gravity in the simplest form, associated with the very building of the world itself, and teaching the grateful truth in all its beauty, that the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary, but watches with a parent's care over the minutest evidences of his manifold wisdom.
“But why is it necessary,” we think some one is saying, " that flowers should ever hang their heads like the lowly snowdrop ?” Shall we send them to the garden or the school-room for an answer? It would be rather hard, perhaps, at this inspiring season, “that calls the unwonted villager abroad," to shut them up from the glories of created nature, and therefore we will take them to the former, though we must anticipate by a few months the glorious reign of summer. But here we have a cluster of white lilies," those flowers made of light”—so well depicted that they bring at once before us the sunny days of June, the dark and delicious shadows of the scentless rose and the streaming gold of the laburnum : let us look at their interior arrangement for a few moments, and we shall have our enquiries satisfactorily adjusted.
The long club-shaped apparatus in the centre is by botanists termed the pistil, and the six crosslets round it are the stamens. The pollen, or farina as it is usually called, contained in the anthers or thick ends of these stamens, must come in contact with the extremity of the pistil before the flower can produce seed; and as it hangs its head, and does not, like the tulip or the crocus, the primrose or the hepatica, stand erect, this end could not be accomplished were the pistil shorter than the stamens. The same law
then of gravity brings down upon the proper point the “ fertilizing meal” without which, the flower would continue barren, and at last become extinct.
But let us turn to this sheltered bank, and wander for a little while amongst its dry leaves and ash stubs, till we light upon a root of primroses—those pale stars of earth, gleaming from their firmament of green, homely but always welcome harbingers of the days of shadow and sunshine, when all below is health and beauty, and the fleet clouds above us,
-now huddling, now dispersing,