« PreviousContinue »
And countless stars that twinkle through
E'en all sweet sense of these will fade
THERE is unwritten music. The world is full of it. I hear it every hour that I wake; and my waking sense is sur. passed sometimes by my sleeping, - though that is a mystery. There is no sound of simple nature that is not music. It is all God's work, and so harmony. You may mingle, and divide, and strengthen the passages of its great anthem; and it is still melody, — melody.
The low winds of summer blow over the waterfalls and the brooks, and bring their voices to your ear, as if their sweetness were linked by an accurate finger; yet the wind is but a fitful player; and you may go out when the tempest is up, and hear the strong trees moaning as they lean before it, and
the long grass hissing as it sweeps through, and its own solemn monotony over all; — and the dimple of that same brook, and the waterfall's unaltered bass shall still reach you, in the intervals of its power, as much in harmony as before, and as much a part of its perfect and perpetual hymn.
There is no accident of nature's causing which can bring in discord. The loosened rock may fall into the abyss, and the overblown tree rush down through the branches of the wood, and the thunder peal awfully in the sky; - and sudden and violent as these changes seem, their tumult goes up with the sound of wind and waters, and the exquisite ear of the musician can detect no jar.
I have read somewhere of a custom in the Highlands, which, in connection with the principle it involves, is exceedingly beautiful. It is believed that, to the ear of the dying, (which, just before death, becomes always exquisitely acute,) the perfect harmony of the voices of nature, is so ravishing, as to make him forget his suffering, and die gently, like one in a pleasant trance. And so, when the last moment approaches, they take him from the close shieling, and bear him out into the open sky, that he may hear the familiar rushing of the streams. I can believe that it is not superstition. I do not think we know how exquisitely nature's many voices are attuned to harmony, and to each other.
The old philosopher we read of, might not have been dreaming when he discovered that the order of the sky was like a scroll of written music, and that two stars, (which are said to have appeared centuries after his death, in the very places he mentioned,) were wanting to complete the harmony. We know how wonderful are the phenomena of colour; how strangely like consummate art the strongest dyes are blended in the plumage of birds, and in the cups of flowers; so that, to the practised eye of the painter, the harmony is inimitably perfect. It is natural to suppose every part of the universe equally perfect; and it is a glorious and elevating thought, that the stars of heaven are moving on continually to music; and that the sounds we daily listen to are but part of a melody that reaches to the very centre of God's illimitable spheres
THERE IS A TONGUE IN EVERY LEAF.
There is a tongue in every leaf
A voice in every rill;
A tongue that's never still.
'Tis the great Spirit wide diffused
Through every thing we see,
Time and Eternity.
I see Him in the blazing sun,
And in the thunder-cloud;
When winds are piping loud.
I see Him, hear Him, everywhere,
In all things, – darkness, light,
At the dead hour of night.
I feel Him in the silent dews,
By grateful earth betrayed;
The sunshine and the shade.
And yet, (ungrateful that I am!)
I've turned, in sullen mood,
That they were “very good.”
My sadness on the loveliest things
Fell like ungrateful dew; .
The darkness that encompassed me,
Yet He was patient, — slow to wrath,
Though every day provoked
And promises revoked;
And still the same rich feast was spread
For my insensate heart!
“Oh! Lord, how good thou art !”
The clouds drew up, — the shadows fled
The glorious sun broke out;
Of darkness and of doubt.
THE READING OF THE BIBLE.
THERE are many persons who really wish to study the Bible more intellectually, and to receive more vivid impressions from it, but who do not know exactly what they are to do to secure these objects. I shall therefore describe one of the means which can easily be adopted, and which will be very efficient for this purpose:
Picturing to the imagination the scenes described. There is a very common difficulty felt by multitudes in reading the Bible, which admits of so sure and easy a remedy by the above direction, that I cannot avoid devoting a few paragraphs to the formal consideration of it.
A person who is convinced that it is his duty to read the word of God, and who really desires to read it, and to receive instruction from it, sits down on the Sabbath to the work. He opens, perhaps, at a passage in the Gospels, and reads on, verse after verse. The phraseology is all perfectly familiar. He has read the same passage a hundred times before, and the words fall upon his ear like a sound long familiar, producing no impression and awakening no idea. After going through a few verses, he finds that he is making no progress; perhaps his mind has left his work altogether, and is wandering to some other subject. He turns back, therefore, a few verses, and endeavours to become interested in the narrative; but it is to little purpose; and, after spending half an hour in reading, he shuts his book, and instead of feeling that renewed moral strength and peace of mind, which come from the proper use of the word of God, he feels disappointed and dissatisfied, and returns to his other duties more unquiet in spirit than before. What a vast proportion of the reading of the Bible, as practised in Christian countries, does this description justly portray!
Now some one may say, that this careless and useless study of God's word, arises from a cold and indifferent state of heart toward God. It does unquestionably often arise, in a great degree, from this source, but not entirely. There is another difficulty not connected with the moral state of the heart. It is this: –
Words that have been often repeated, gradually lose their power to awaken vivid ideas in the mind. The clock which has struck perhaps many thousand times in your room, you at last cease even to hear. On the walls of a school-room there was once painted in large letters, “ A place for every thing. and every thing in its place.” But, after a little time, the pupils, becoming familiar with the sight of the inscription, lost altogether its meaning; and a boy would open his disorderly desk, and look among the confused mass of books, and slates, and papers there, for some article he had lost; and then, as he looked around the room, his eye would fall on the conspicuous motto, without thinking, a moment, of the incongruity between its excellent precept, and his own disorderly practice. It is always so. The oft-repeated sound falls at last powerless and unheeded on the ear.
The difficulty, then, that I am now to consider, is, that, in reading the Bible, especially those portions which are familiar, we stop with merely repeating once more the words, instead of penetrating fully to the meaning beyond. In order to illustrate this difficulty and its remedy, more fully, let me take a passage, the sixth chapter of St. John, for example, to which I have opened at random.