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Oh! 'twas a sight, – that heaven, – that child, -
And how felt he, the wretched man
And hope, and feeling, which had slept
Fresh o'er him, and he wept, — he wept !
Blest tears of soul-felt penitence!
In whose benign, redeeming flow
Of guiltless joy that guilt can know.
And now behold him kneeling there,
[T'he style of this piece advances from “ tranquillity” and “ repose" to
6 aniination.” The “ quality” of voice is 6 pure tone,” throughout; the last poetic quotation being in the mood of deep “pathos." The prose portions of this extract are so much in the spirit of poelry,
that they adopt its musical utterance, to a certain extent. Still, the transition to verse should be distinctly felt by the ear, the moment a quotation commences. This effect is usually perceptible in a deeper, softer, and slower utterance, than belongs to prose.]
It is the dawning hour of day. The air is calm as an infant's breathing: the sky is clear, and grayly tinged with the returning light.
“ The early star shoots down; and day is breaking,
A rustling of the waking leaves and flowers.” The animal and insect world is now astir: the creatures that delight in darkness and in night, have retired, in their turn, to rest : the more cheerful creatures of the day, (for so we are taught to consider them, yet, for any thing we know to the contrary, the bat may be a merrier fellow than the swallow, and the owl as lively as the lark, though he affects an imperturbable air of gravity,) those who delight in sun and shower, — are already risen to enjoy their old pleasures, their new loves, and bird-like friendships, and fresh hunting-places. Some of these happy creatures are already providing for the wants of the day only, thinking nothing of the morrow : others, who are not summer-livers only, but mean to winter here, are hoarding for their winter necessities; and all are pursuing that work of their lives which Nature appointed them to do, and are doing it cheerfully and industriously. “ The bee has left his honeyed home, and humming
Drowsily a few short snatches of his song,
Then, nestling to his work, shuts-to his golden wings!” Man, only, sleeps and is slothful, and, when he wakes, repines at the task assigned him, and murmurs much, and sings not a single note of praise or pleasure. But behold the dawning!
“ As some broad river's tide, (whose ebbing left,
With blaze and beauty, like a theatre,
Where a great, many-millioned people thronged.”
Than the last part of night, and first of day," — twilight, with all its shadows and solemn glooms, is gone; and now it is perfect day. But, before that cheerful advent of the light, “What various scenes, and, oh! what scenes of woe,
Were witnessed by that red and struggling beam ! The fevered patient, from his pallet low,
Through crowded hospital beheld it stream;
The ruined maiden trembled at its gleam; The debtor waked to thoughts of gyve and jail ;
The lovelorn wretch from love's tormenting dream; The wakeful mother, by the glimmering pale, Trimmed her sick infant's couch, and soothed his feeble wail.”
But “the universal blessing," light, has laid, as with the rod of Moses, the serpent thoughts of darkness, fear, superstition, and despair; and holier thoughts and aspirations, and the voices of birds, if not of men, are heard filling the aisles, and thrilling the high dome of Nature's temple, with their “ national hymn" of praise.
[The hortatory parts of sermons, require, — from the manner of direct
address, — the full " orotund” voice of public speaking. Without this quality, there can be no dignified or impressive effect, such as belongs to all true eloquence. Earnestness, warmth and pathos, are the principal traits of “ expression," in the following extract. The glowing and eloquent style demands the full effects of oratory and of poetry, in the utterance of every sentiment. The most vivid and thrilling elocution is required, throughout.]
Would you know the value of the principle of faith to the bereaved ?' Go, and follow a corpse to the grave. See the body deposited there, and hear the earth thrown in upon all that remains of your friend. Return now, if you will, and brood over the lesson which your senses have given you, and derive from it what consolation you can. You have learned nothing but an unconsoling fact. No voice of comfort issues from the tomb. All is still there, and blank, and lifeless, and has been so for ages.
You see nothing but bodies dissolving and successively mingling with the clods which cover them, the grass growing over the spot, and the trees waving in sullen majesty over this region of eternal silence. And what is there more ? Nothing? - Come, Faith, and people these deserts! Come, and reanimate these regions of forgetfulness ! Mothers ! take again your children to your arms, for they are living. Sons ! your aged parents are coming forth in the vigour of regenerated years. Friends! behold, your dearest connections are waiting to embrace you. The tombs are burst. Generations, long since lost in slumbers, are awaking. They are coming from the east and the west, from the north and from the south, to constitute the community of the blessed.
But it is not in the loss of friends alone, that faith furnishes consolations which are inestimable. With a man of faith, not an affliction is lost, not a change is unimproved. He studies even his own history with pleasure, and finds it full of instruction. The dark passages of his life are illuminated with hope; and he sees, that, although he has passed through many dreary defiles, yet they may have opened at last into brighter regions of existence. He recalls, with a species of wondering gratitude, periods of his life, when all its events seemed to conspire against him. Hemmed in by straitened circumstances, wearied with repeated blows of unexpected misfortune, and exhausted with the painful anticipation of more, he recollects years, when the ordinary love of life could not have retained him in the world. Many a time he might have wished to lay down his being in disgust, had not something, more than the senses provide us with, kept up the elasticity of his mind. He yet lives, and has found that “light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.”
The man of faith discovers some gracious purpose in every coinbination of circumstances. Wherever he finds himself, he knows that he has a destination :- he has, therefore, a duty. Every event has, in his eye, a tendency and an ain. Nothing is accidental, — nothing without a purpose,
nothing unattended with benevolent consequences. Every thing on earth is probationary, — nothing ultimate. He is poor; – perhaps his plans have been defeated; — he finds it difficult to provide for the exigencies of life; - sickness is permitted to invade the quiet of his household; — long confinement imprisons his activity, and cuts short the exertions on which so many depend; — something apparently unlucky mars his best plans; - new failures and embarrassments among his friends, present themselves, and throw additional obstructions in his way:— the world look on, and say, “ All these things are against him.”
Some wait coolly for the hour when he shall sink under the complicated embarrassments of his cruel fortune. Others, of a kinder spirit, regard him with compassion, and wonder how he can sustain such a variety of woe. A few there are, a very few, I fear, who can understand something of the serenity of his mind, and comprehend something of the nature of his fortitude. There are those, whose sympathetic piety can read and interpret the characters of unexpected worth by unexpected misfortune, invigorating certain virtues by peculiar probations, thus breaking the fetters which bind us to temporal things, and
“From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
In infinite progression.” When the sun of the believer's hopes, according to come mon calculations, is set, — to the eye of faith it is still visible. When much of the rest of the world is in darkness, the high ground of faith is illuminated with the brightness of religious consolation.
Come, now, my incredulous friends, and follow me to the bed of the dying believer. Would you see, in what peace a Christian can die? Watch the last gleams of thought, which stream from his dying eyes. Do you see any thing like apprehension ? The world, it is true, begins to shut in. The shadows of evening collect around his senses. A dark mist thickens and rests upon the objects which have hitherto engaged his observation. The countenances of his friends become more and more indistinct. The sweet expressions of love and friendship are no longer intelligible. His ear wakes no more at the well-known voice of his children; and the soothing accents of tender affection .die away, unheard, upon his decaying senses. To him the spectacle of human life is