Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

By the influence of the former of these

(For the National Magazine.] tendencies, Madame Guyon, after having

SMALL THINGS. followed her imagination into the wildest vagaries, was brought back to sober re

BY ALICE CAREY. ligious truth, and Fenelon's too warm ALWAYS the arms of God are about fancy was kept from either injuriously | us, upholding and protecting and affecting his own religious character, or guiding us to that which is best for us. rendering him, after the first slightly ec- Sometimes afflictions come; but who shall centric movement had been corrected, any say that in their time these are not good other than the safe, as he was eminently for us—that they are not the discipline the sympathizing Christian teacher. By which perfects us? Every step, crooked the latter, Bossuet was driven to dishonor as well as straight, seems to me to bear his own good name, and to damage the us forward on our immortal journey. truth he espoused, through his intempe- This is but the dawning of the long life, rance of spirit and heartless vindictive- and we walk as it were in twilight shadness. To contend, even for the truth, ows; but before us we see the day brightwith such as Fenelon, were a difficult and lening and whitening, and we feel that as almost thankless task ; but to do so in the more light flows in upon us, we shall turn spirit and style of Bossuet, though with an less frequently aside from the way of truth angel's intellect, would betray the cause and righteousness. attempted to be defended.

And while we cannot but mourn over The whole controversy was probably the weaknesses and frailties of ourselves much less an affair of religion than an in- and of our fellow men, we feel that they trigue of the court; and it is well re- have their uses, for God would have made marked of a certain grave divine of that nothing altogether worthless—and the age, that he “ appears always to have a starry heavens and the flowery fields, has smile on his countenance when he men he not made them all? And if he gave tions Quietism ;” and Leibnitz observes, the stars their motions, and makes the sun that " before the war of words began, the to rise and set, and fills the slender rim prelates should have agreed on a definition of the moon to a golden fullness; if he of the word love, and that would have makes the seasons to come in their time, prevented the dispute.”

the winter and the harvest; if he opens the The development of mysticism made on blue eyes of the violets, does he not also this memorable occasion was, after all, make the thistle bloom, and give the bermuch less erratic or intense than what ries of the sumach their sourness? If we has appeared at other times ; but the recognize God's providence in the sungreat names of the parties engaged in the shine, shall we not see it also in the storm ? controversy to which it gave rise, render And while the heavens are darkened shall it memorable in history. The whole affair

n history. The whole affair, we not feel thatis full of instruction for the thoughtful.

"Behind a frowning providence It teaches the essential spirituality of re

He hides a smiling face ?" ligion, which may indeed exist shut in by ecclesiastical barriers, but it is perpetually Surely afflictions spring not from the dust: rising above and breaking over them. It short-sighted at best, we cannot at all also shows the tendency of the human times see their uses, but we doubt not but heart, even when impelled by its religious that the morning will come when it is instincts, to run into fanciful and perni- | night, and we think not the sun is extincious errors; and even in its abjuration of guished when the mist covers up his face, self, to deify the imagination, the emo and why should we feel that love has fortions—the self. It demonstrates most saken us when sharp pains torment us? clearly that only under the steady light Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, of the word of God, of the Bible, ex- and he scourgeth every soul whom he pounded from the pulpit, read in the receiveth. It is the tacit theory of many family, and studied in the closet, can the that God is the author only of what we religious instincts of the heart be per-| term great things—that he cannot come mitted to operate freely without endanger- | down to attend to the small things which ing the salvation of the individual and the belong to life ; but, to my mind, no peace of society.

thought is so beautiful as that all our less.

wants are known, and all our prayers an tle things, than in those which are so above swered,

me. I feel his providence more surely in That with great systems for his care,

the bright little flower at my feet, than in Beyond the furthest worlds we see, the cold planet that is so far away. I can He bends to hear the earnest prayer pluck the one and fold it in my bosom, Of every sinful child like me.

and taste its sweet odors in the air; while And, after all, how shall we say what is the other excites only my wonder and my great and what is small ? with our puny worship, but warms not so well my heart little hands shall we measure things, and with gratitude. The soft green grass that say this is the work of Divinity, and beau- | is pleasant to my feet, warms my nature to tiful and good; and this is a little or a | thankfulness more than the golden pavebad thing, and came into the world we ments which poets tell us are waiting in know not how ? for we can find but one the skies. The arms of a kind mother or great Originator, and must ascribe to a fond sister shelter me better, while I am chance or accident those things which we here, with my earthly needs and nature, think unworthy of God's care ; for if they than the wings of the seraphs-just as the are beneath his care, they could not have harvest apples and the wheaten loaf nourbeen fashioned by his hands.

ish me better than would the food of anI said, we know not what is great and gels. what is small; for all things that are, are I am not of those who regard this life necessary to the great system of things as a small and worthless thing. To me it -nothing is out of place, nothing worth- is a great and a glorious thing to live : to

breathe the common air is a luxury-to In the mechanism of men we find the eat and to drink are pleasant-to see the rivet and the screw as useful as the iron sunset and the sunrise is grandeur enough bar and the heavy beam; and if we wrench to dazzle my mortal vision and to buy them away, we see directly how the most love with love is the filling all my nature ingenious contrivance tumbles apart; and with ecstasy. True, I am but an atom in yet in the divine architecture we auda this world even, but I am sure there is ciously find superfluities.

within me an immortal soul, and I am sure Heaven shield us from arrogance and He who made it will keep it, and that its vain presumption, and temper the right little light can no more go out, than the spirit of inquiry with more of the profit- brightest star in heaven. Nature, that able faith of little children! Our Father stands closest to the spoken inspiration of knoweth what is best for us, and he doeth the prophets, shows us that nothing can all things well; and that which seems perish. Matter takes new forms; the green evil is, perhaps, our best good. We are leaf fades and falls, and resolves itself too much given to lean away from the back to the brown earth; but the matter bosom of Providence, and hug to our hearts is not lost, and the life-principle that shot a creed. We are too much disposed to the greenness up into the sunshine is not listen to the teachings of men, and not to lost, but the earth teems again, year after that voice which speaks to our hearts from year, with the same freshness and beauty. out the heaven of heavens. We let go If anything were perishable, all could be the hand of the angel, and grope our way perishable ; but as the material is indeblindly, and so are lost.

structible, except by divine miracle, shall Give us, ( our Father, more of the we not conclude the spiritual is also imchild's faith! Teach us how to recognize mortal ? for the soul is better than the thee in thy works; for the trees that body. shadow us are of thy planting, and thy I said this life was a good life; and that name is written in the flowers. The brook the spiritual life is higher and better than talks in silver syllables of the plenitude the mortal life, does not contradict it: the of thy mercies; the ripe harvest bows its lower rounds of the ladder are as useful heavy head before thee; and the sea, gnaw- as those at the top, inasmuch as the toping the brown sand in wrath, moans back | most can only be gained by means of the from thy reproving hand, and is still show- lower, and this life, as it were, is the lower ing us that thou art mightier than thy round of existence. The spirit which mightiest works. For myself, I recognize shall wing its way through the long ages God's goodness and greatness more in lit- l of eternity, is here in its chrysalis state. The grain of wheat decays before the destined to be burned up in the fire, or bright blade opens ; and this material form crushed out in the grave, or, at best, a must decay before the wings of the spirit hard apprenticeship, going into freedom expand.

only through death. The present needs of this immortal germ “An angel's arm can't snatch me from must be cared for, in order to educate it the grave—ten thousand angels can't confor higher needs : the culture it receives fine me there.” There is a long bright here is not lost upon it; for every acces- journey before us; and the transient darksion of knowledge is a mark on its immor ness of the tomb precedes but a little the tal nature

breaking of the eternal day. Every good They whose lives have been good and action I do brings its reward; every uppure are ready at death—or rather, when ward step is one more in the long progthe great change comes—to hear the “Well ress; every earnest prayer draws me done, good and faithful servant, enter now nearer to heaven, and every sinful deed into rest."

darkens the splendor of eternity. And it is the disregard of little things We are in a nursery—and pain, and sorin this life which sends ultimately so many row, and disappointment are the instructwhere there is weeping and wailing. The | ors that we needs must have; but we must neglect of one little duty ends not with not feel that we are shifting blindly bethat neglect; but the consequences it in cause of our afflictions, or that God forgets volves are incalculable.

us because of our nothingness in comGood and earnest work is good and parison with the great universe. earnest prayer, and good and earnest | The hairs of our heads are numbered, prayer is good and earnest work; and God and not a sparrow falls to the ground withhears and answers one as well as the out his notice. other : the flowers, and the grass, and the The oak-tree was in the little brown harvest, and the garden, are the answer to acorn once—the broad wings of the eagle the prayer of labor; and faith, and right in the small egg—the freed spirits were eousness, and peace, are the answer to the once children as we are—the Redeemer earnest breathings of the soul. It is a of the world lay in a manger. little thing to put a flower-root in the Earth would be, indeed, the beginning ground; but if the little work be neglect- of heaven, if men realized the importance ed, the glory of the blossom will never of small things—if they could remember bless our eyes : it is a little thing to say, that the greatest achievements of genius Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed resolve themselves into little and obscure be thy name ; but forgetfulness of it leads points—that the happy household, which to forgetfulness of God, and the soul that is a sweet type of heaven, is made happy forgets God is a great way from the king by little offices of kindness—and that the dom.

Master said to the diseased man,“ Wash Neglected kindnesses in the household , and be clean.” It was a little thing. lead to neglect of duties in the greater actions and busier tumults of life ; and so Restless HABITS OF THE CALMUCKS. criminals are made, and scaffolds darken -Besides those Calmucks who are under the bright meadows, and prisons frown the dominion of the Russian crown, there from the smiling tops of the hills. It is a are several divisions of the tribe, each bad, a dangerous doctrine to teach, that governed by separate princes. One of this life is nothing; and that it is good to the most celebrated of these has built a shift off the mortal coil, and go away from palace on the shores of the Volga, not far its working and waiting. The better life from Astrakhan. This appears to be the that waits us should comfort our pilgrim- nearest approach to a settled habitation age, and not with its shining darken the that any of these restless beings have atglory of the earth.

tained to; and so great is their dread of a It is, I affirm, a bad doctrine that this more composed life and industrious habits, life is an insignificant-a hard life, and to that when they are angry with a person, be got over with as little trouble as may they wish “he may live in one place and be, for the mischief it leads to is beyond work like a Russian.” They live chiefly all calculation. Who will bestow care on upon horse-flesh and churned mare's milk, that life which they feel to be worthless, from which a kind of spirit is distilled.

THE RELIGION OF THE POETS.

doctrines as are found in passage after

passage, in the writings of Paul. Earnest SIR WALTER SCOTT.

religion—that which teaches man to endure 66 MHAT which is highly esteemed all, to take joyfully the spoiling of his

1 among men is an abomination in goods, or not to count his very life dear the sight of God.” Such is the verdict to him, that he may finish his course with of the Judge of all upon many of the points joy—is constantly the butt of Scott; and regarding which men are most harmonie some of the most distorted of his characously agreed. We adopt it in all its ters are elaborately drawn, so as in effect extent to guide us in the remarks to discountenance truth. His writings, in which we are now to offer regarding the some places, thus attempt to laugh men productions of one whom myriads delight out of their religion—to do by a sneer, or to honor.

a joke, or a caricature, what Claverhouse The gifts and genius of Sir Walter did with his persecuting hordes, or LauderScott have, perhaps, been more exten- dale with his iniquitous sentences on the sively admired than those of any man that judgment-seat. ever lived. For obvious reasons, Homer Scott says, indeed, in a letter to Lord cannot be compared with Scott in this re- Montague, (1824,) in regard to “ zeal in spect; while even Shakspeare, who admits religion," that “mortals cannot be too no rival near his throne, has not addressed fervid ;' but then the remark is connected himself to so many of the multiform as- with the state of religion at Cambridge pects of our wondrous nature, as did Sir about the time when Simeon had disWalter Scott. In consequence of this, he armed the enmity of many, and rendered seems to form a class by himself, and we evangelical religion an honored instead of are far from wishing to detract by one iota being a persecuted thing; and it was to from what all must concede who have warn a nobleman against that that Scott hearts to feel, or understanding to esti- wrote as he did. In early youth, he had mate the highest attainments of genius. been a hearer of one of the most devoted But just in proportion to our readiness to ministers in Scotland, the friend of Whiteconcede the unchallengeable ascendency field, the correspondent, we think, of Jonaof Scott, should be our watchfulness lest than Edwards, in short, one of the men his power be employed to injure the truth. who were raised up by God to revive his In that respect, our duty to the sacred own work in the northern division of Great cause demands that we should enter a Britain. solemn protest against whatever would The lessons of that man, however, tamper with the holy, or degrade the di- enforced by the devoutness of Scott's vine; and after many years of close fa- | mother, and the steadfast consistency of miliarity with the writings of the great his father, could not reconcile the future novelist and poet, we are deliberately of novelist to the truth of God in its personal opinion that his influence has been very or energetic power. How could they, detrimental to the cause of truth, in mul- when one of his early boon companions titudes of minds. We now design to offer wrote of Scott, “ Drunk or sober, he is some illustrations of this opinion, so un- | always a gentleman;" and adds, “ He lookhesitatingly announced, regarding one of ed excessively heavy and stupid when he the world's most brilliant and honored was drunk, but he was never out of goodidols.

humor!” All that is recorded in his life And we observe, first of all, that certain by his son-in-law, without one expression of Scott's productions elaborately endeavor of regret, or warning ; and if such tendento lower the reputation of some religious cies were carried forward into life, we men. The author professes, indeed, to need not wonder, though that form of enlaugh only at their foibles, and, like Moore, thusiasm which Simeon so largely prohe held it to be one thing to laugh at moted at Cambridge was viewed in the these, and quite another to laugh at re- light of a beacon on a rock by Sir Walter ligion itself. True; but then Scott's ob- Scott. We know not his design in cerlivion or ignorance of what true religion tain of his writings, and do not pretend to is, apparent in page after page, leads him judge of it; but viewing them as now pubto represent as foibles what is the very lic property for good or for ill, we see truth of God, or expose as fanaticism such, much in them to make earnest religion ridiculous—to do with it what Nero did tortures, or malice with its wit and its with the early Christians when he covered sneer. them with pitch and other combustible But these are grave charges. Can they materials, and then set fire to them to be substantiated from Scott's own history? illuminate his gardens by night. Men are Yes, in many ways. Sir Walter Scott thus tricked or laughed out of their re-once and again quotes Scripture, and religion; and talents which rank among the fers to Scriptural subjects, with a view to most noble ever bestowed upon man are turn them into mirth. Unconsciously he employed to amuse by impieties, to thicken joins issue with the infidel in making the the incrustation by which man's heart is word of God ridiculous. Favor toward enabled to ward off the truth, or prevent “ the mingled ravings of madness and the young and the unthinking from ever atrocity” is ascribed to some who met seriously contemplating the religion of death for their faith with a calmness which holiness and of God. Viewed in this amazes us. Or if we turn to his own letlight, we are disposed to place Scott side ters, we shall see enough to exhibit the by side with Burns in the detriment which state of his mind regarding subjects the he did. His genius, we repeat, and repeat most solemn. In a letter, dated 16th again, stands confessed; we yield to none April, 1819, he says to a very intimate in admiring it; but that does not palliate friend :the general tone of his writings. Nay, it

“You must have heard of the death of Joseph makes us deplore the more that such gifts

| Hume .... Christ! What a calamity! Just enshould be so employed in lowering the tering life with the fairest prospects,-full of reputation of religious men, and casting talent.... all this he was one day, or rather the halo of genius round the doings of the

one hour, or rather in the course of five min

utes-s0 sudden was the death and then & despot or the profligate. “Men who had

" | heap of earth !" been betrayed, insulted, harassed, pillaged, and treated in every way like beasts rather

| Again and again we find him—to give than reasonable creatures-(like the people emphasis, as he thought, to a sentence or of Scotland two hundred years ago)—and an expression-taking the name of God by whom? By a perfidious, profane, profli- in vain, and in countless ways rendering gate junto of atheists and debauchees, who it plain, that the truth which he caricatured were not fit for governing even a colony

in others was not ascendant in himself. of transported felons, aided by a set of But to estimate the influence of Scott's Churchmen the most despicable and worth- / writings for good or ill, we must look less that ever disgraced the habit which more closely at his life. His father died they wore, or profaned the sacred func | in April, 1799. An occasion so touching tion in which they impiously dared to of | and solemn will lead to the display of his ficiate." These men Scott caricatured, real feelings, and tell us how that lofty till they spoke only in ridiculous and inco mind was sustained under the shock. He herent jargon. His want of personal wrote to his mother from London on the knowledge of true religion led him to do occasion ; and in that letter we look in them gross injustice ; in some cases he vain for a single glimpse of Christian truth. even makes them use language in violent | To his widowed parent, Scott says :contrast to their profession, while he is

“Your own principles of virtue and religion obviously not aware of the incongruity. I will, however, I well know, be your best supThe wit, moreover, in which some of his port in this heaviest of human afflictions.” characters indulge in the guise of religious people, is of the lowest and most worth

Not one reference to the Man of sorless kind—it is wit at the expense of the

rows—to the promised Comforter—to the word of God. In brief, the views of Scott

Husband of the widow. Then, as to his regarding religion appear to find their

a thoir | father, Sir Walter says :parallel in those of Hume the infidel, who “The removal of my regretted parent from spoke with such gusto of the “ holy rhet- this earthly scene is to him, doubtless, the haporic” of some of the most gifted men

piest change, if the firmest integrity, and the

best-spent life can entitle us to judge of the who were raised up to contend for liber

state of our departed friends." ty, civil and religious, and, by God's help, to make it good, in spite of despotism No reference yet to the Friend of sinwith its dragoons, superstition with its ners—no allusion to him in whose faith

« ZurückWeiter »