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time lording it over his subjects of the forest? It is well known, that when any one of these learned animals is allowed to return to his own kind, they do not welcome him among them. Instead of respecting his attainments, and looking up to him, as a “master of arts,” they either avoid his society, or destroy his life. Thus, it is evident, that knowledge acquired even by the sovereign of the forest, tends to degrade his nature. How perfectly opposite to the above remarks are the capabilities of man, and the effects of knowledge in the human being ! He can comprehend a multitude of simple ideas, and by uniting or comparing them is able to draw important consequences from them; or, he can trace the most distant results to their first elements. He can perceive the connexion of one truth with another, and proceed from cause to cause till he reaches the Cause of all created beings. Endowed with superior wisdom he becomes the object of honorable distinction among his brethren. They venerate and esteem, and imitate him. By a sort of magic he charms the feelings of others,—guides their thoughts and thus gains an undisputed sovereignity over the circle of friends, which his attractions formed at first, and by which he ever keeps them in harmony and delight.
Another point of difference between us and mere animals, is seen in their destitution, of what I would call systematic strength or the management of power. The greatest force in them, is never directed by any faculty which enables them to subdue the weakest of their fellow brutes to a state of servitude, or any other form of dependence. Yet, man, though but a feeble creature, can render the most powerful and fierce of animals subservient to his purposes. The most ignorant of human savages can do this, while the utmost sagacity of brutal power is incapable of any such effort. All nature appears tributary to man, as lord of the creation, and is made submissive to his pleasure. The whale, the eagle, the lion, the monster of the deep, and monarchs of the earth and air, are destroyed for his use, and tamed or imprisoned for his amusement. The mines give out their riches for his benefit ; the stars above yield him homage, finding for him a path across the world of waters," and the wings of the wind stoop to bear him, at his direction, to every region of the globe.
Again, there is, I think, no real sympathy in the brute creation agreeing in nature to human affection. Young nestlings, it is true, are often nourished with much of apparent tenderness; but this maternal regard continues no longer than the parent-bird is without the inclination to build another nest. Hence, even the dove (the fabled emblem of affection) drives out her former family when other young ones are hatched. I have seen poor little canary birds left unfledged to starve, while their mother was flying about the cage gay and cheerful, without the least remorse or concern at the cruelty of her conduct. This goes to prove that the parent bird had no indulgence beside the feeling which turned wholly upon herself, and was without that sensation which constrains to pity and to relieve the distresses of others; and devoid also of that sense of duty and fondness which is kept alive by the constant presence of those we love; and whom “ we love much, simply because we have loved them long.”
But, by far the greatest help which I have received on examining this object, was, by consulting the Sacred Scriptures upon it. There I am told, that “the understanding of man is the candle of the Lord.” If this is an illusion to the lamp in the sanctuary, then, reason is to the soul, what the sacred light was to the temple, without which, its glory was invisible. I find, moreover, in this holy volume, that our souls are honored with the guardianship of celestial agents; that infernal spirits employ all their influence to lead them away from God, being aware that, of all creatures within the reach of their malignity, there are none so dear to him as the souls of men. “ The Father himself loveth you,” said our Saviour to his disciples; and he did not regard his own life a sacrifice too great for human redemption. The Holy Spirit too, is graciously promised, as another Comforter who will abide with us for ever, and who, in conducting the redeemed over “ life's rough sea" will rebuke the storms, and bid defiance to the many pirates that may endanger their voyage to the land of rest.
But while I admire the superior capabilities of the human soul, it becomes me to be concerned about the final state of my I am
an heir of endless bliss or pain;", and if I die
without that new heart which God approves, the irrational creatures will have this advantage over me, that they have violated no law, despised no mercy, and therefore, are incapable of trembling before the frown of justice, or of feeling the pain of guilty recollections for ever. I have reason, and the means of instruction from the word of God; and I am hastening to that world wherein my conscious spirit will be for ever expanding itself to the accumulating joys of eternity, or for ever left to the wretchedness of that opposite state of existence in which the souls there would think it an infinite privilege to be permitted to change their destiny for that of “the beasts that perish.”
I remain, my dear Father,
I. C. F.
THE QUERISTS' SOCIETY.
Your valuable little Magazine has been read by us, for many years, with unabated pleasure. It has occurred to us that we might in some small degree add to its useful contents, by communicating a plan which has been pursued by our large family circle, for some time, with increasing profit and pleasure, and which, if generally known to your youthful readers, might be the means of obtaining some imitators amongst them. The plan to which I allude, is a weekly meeting of the members of our own family, and any young friends who may like to join us, denominated the “ Querists' Society," the rules of which are as follow :
Ist. That the members of this society meet at o'clock on the evening of every
2nd. That two or three) questions be brought by each member, which being exchanged for two (or three) others, be answered the following week.
3rd. That the questions have for their object religious improvement, the cultivation of the mind, and the exercise of the imagination.
4th. That one penny be forfeited for the omission of a question and answer.
5th. That one penny be forfeited for any inaccuracy in spelling or grammar.
6th. That the same fine be exacted for an absence of beyond five minutes of the appointed hour of meeting.
7th. That the same fine be exacted if any conversation irrelevant to the objects of the meeting be introduced. 8th. That fines be given to the
Society. 9th. That Mr, or Mrs.
be appointed president and treasurer.
A book has been kept, in which is inserted weekly any original answers, which may meet with general approbation ; from that collection I send the annexed specimens. Should they meet with your approval, we shall have pleasure in occasion. ally sending you others.
Into how many different stages may the life of man be divided? describe each
As the division of life into stages is merely arbitrary, we find it variously divided by poets and moralizers. Shakspeare, it is well known, has distinguished seven stages; others have compared life to the morning, noon, and evening of the day; and others again have imagined a renewal of the human frame to take place every seven years; but I think still more frequently we meet with a comparison drawn from the seasons of the
year. The spring may be compared to life just budding forth, when it appears clad in all the freshness and verdure of existence, ere it has been nipped by the early frost, or faded by the drought of summer. In the next season, although deprived of some of the simple fascinations of infancy and youth, and sometimes overpowered by the rays of a meridian sun, maturer beauties unfold themselves, in preparation for the autumn of existence, which produces the fruits of a more lengthened experience; yet here again life is subject to troubles incidental to that period, which, like the insects of that season, destroy the mellow fruit, the buds of which had been spared by the early frost. In the dreary face of winter, bereft of all that is beautiful to the outward appearance, we have a fit emblem of old age, when the keener faculties are so often blunted, and the pilgrimage is become labor and sorrow.
yol. V, 3rd SERIES,
To this incomplete sketch of the progress of life, I will endeavor to add a few observations, in order to apply the subject to ourselves. The first that occurs to me is, that each of these seasons of life has its proportionate joys and sorrows. I am inclined to doubt the generally received opinion, that “ childhood is the happiest stage of life," and do not exactly sympathise with the exclamation of the poet,
“ How thy long lost hours I mourn,
Never, never to return." The hours of innocent enjoyment afforded in this period of life, when weighed against the petty mortifications, the jealousies, and the passions of youth, yet unsubdued by the exercise of reason and religion, reduce its share of happiness to a much more even balance with that enjoyed in later life, than perhaps a practical retrospection induces many to imagine. The past we are apt to array in colors too bright for reality, especially if the present, or the future, be overclouded. The smiling infant presents a picture of complete happiness, until we change the scene, and see it “ mewling and puking in its nurse's arms,” and exciting our compassion from sufferings which the diseases incident to infancy oblige it to undergo. We may experience a similar change of feeling, if from viewing the school-boy on the play-ground, we turn to behold him
creeping like snail unwillingly to school,” or at his desk, poring over a task which the volatility of his youth renders irksome and difficult.
It is allowed that many are the anxieties, and oftentimes oppressive, the mental sufferings of more mature life, unknown to that credulous age in which the future is made by anticipation a thornless road, adorned with unfading blossoms; but then are they not counterbalanced by those many social pleasures, that " feast of reason and that flow of soul,” and those solid comforts afforded by religion, of which childhood rarely partakes ?
Nor do I think we should limit the chief happiness of life to its meridian, How often, after its fatigues and anxieties are over, does an honorable and peaceful old age display charms of which we may well be ambitious. It is when the outward prospect is blank and dreary, that we prize the