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has not felt the mighty influence of some little office of kinduess opportunely and delicately performed in one's behalf? "As in filling a vessel," says Boswell, the interesting biographer of Dr. Johnson—" as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one which makes the heart overflow." On the contrary, the first and slightest feeling of distrust, and the merest indication of insincerity or appearance of reserve, may lead to results the most painful, and eventually burst asunder bonds that once appeared infrangible. How important, therefore, in cultivating the charities of life, to beware of the many little things which might cause us either to give or to take offence!
In morals their importance is no less evident. As a single leak, though at first comparatively small, may expose a whole crew to the horrors of shipwreck, so the first and most trifling abeiration from the path of rectitude may involve consequences as baneful as they are lasting. One step leads to another, until the strides ir folly and guilt are successively lengthened, and be-come proportionably rapid. At length a series of actions, like so many confluent streams, which, taken separately, may seem inconsiderable, urge the individual forward with all the impetuosity of a mighty river, forming habits the most inveterate, and constituting the elements of a character equally depraved and dangerous.
As viewed, moreover, in connection with religion, their importance is especially worthy of notice. The earliest intimation of contrition for Bid, and the feeblest breathing* after holiness, may, under the fostering influence of meditation and prayer, prove the germ of permanent and spiritual principles, connected with the salvation of the soul, and bearing the fruit of immortality. "Who hath despised the day of small things?" is the language of God himself. And if he graciously regarded and condescendingly approved of Abijah, "because in him there was found some good things towards the Lord God of Israel;" ought we to neglect, either in ourselves or with reference to others, any, although the faintest desire towards him, and the remembrance of his gracious name? Should we not rather regard it as the incipient influence of the Spirit of God on the mind, and be solicitous to catch the gale of that Spirit to waft us into the ocean of divine love, and ultimately to the shores of hecven?
From the Goraian of Jean Paul,
Excessive grief is the heart's suicide. As the self-murderer is in Silesia buried with his face to the ground, so he who indulges in excessive grief lies with his face turned earthwards, instead of lifting it, as he ought, to the heaven of the past, the present, and the future. Raise thyself up, O man! look around thee, and regard something higher and brighter than earth, with its worms and darkness. Cheerfulness, not enjoyment, is our duty; be it then our aim. In a soul filled with gloominess and distrust, the heavy stagnant air chokes the growth of all spiritual blossoms. Let your heart open to sweet sympathy and^compassion, but not to cold mistrust and dejection, as the flower remains open to the dew, but closes its leaves against the rain. So little is suffering, so much is happiness, a proper part of» our nature, that, with equal measures of delusion, we repent only that which has pained, not that which has given joy.
Great bereavements work afterwards more refreshingly upon the spirit than great joys; so, on the contrary, minor sorrows weaken more than minor joys strengthen. For after the sunstroke of rapture, the chambers of the heart are unclosed to all our enemies, whilst excessive grief opens them easily to our friends. But the happiness of life consists, like the day, not in single flashes, but in steady, mild serenity; the heart here lives in this peaceful and even light (were it but moonlight or twilight) its fairest time. The spirit alone can yield this heavenly calm and freedom from care; fortune cannot, for she gives, as she takes away, by starts; and we ftel ever the shocks of fate, whether they lift us up to heaven or oast us down to earth.
But in what way can man effect this? Not by planting joys, but in uprooting and removing sorrows; so that the soil, unchoked by weeds, may of itself bear sweet fruits: not by man's seeking after joye, and building up for himself heaven upon heaven, which often a single cloud may wholly veil, but by removing the furies' mask from grief, and uncovering and looking upon its daily actor's face. If man has only once unmasked—that is, conquered—grief, he holds already the garden-key of Eden; for there remains to him, besides all the higher blessings of circumstance of duty, the still, untroubled happiness of existence, which, in this freedom from sorrow and joy, can expand in fulness and strength—a happiness which, although in a lower
DESPISE NOT SMALL BEGINNINGS.
degree, the sorage in his hnt, the ton of the Esst under the shadow of his tree, and the countryman on his houee-door bench, enjoy likewise, whilst, without aught to do or aught to receive, he stretches himself there, quietly and at rest, and looks upon and feels the world without. And this tranquil feeling, not sorrow alone, but rapture too, destroys; for as it is an abiding feeling, so too it is a weak one. Thus have we a perennial forget-me-not of joy within us, but Do similar one of pain; and thus is the blue firmament greater than every cloud that is therein, and more lasting too.
THE TREE OF LOVE.
IIT UBS. X* B. SIOOUKNET.
Fast by the dear domestic bower
And by her side a youth was seen,
Her little brother climbed her knee—
"Its roots are deep," the mother said,
"Beyond the darkling grave they spread."
u Thy hand is weak," the father cried,
"Too young thou art to be a bride:"
Serene she spoke, u I loor above
For strength to plant the tree of love."
Before the holy priest she stood,
But when that hallowed cirque of gold
Around their home its branches spread,
DESPISE NOT SMALL BEGINNINGS.
It is related, in the Gentleman's Magazine, of Chantrey, the celebrated sculptor, that when a boy, he was observed, by a gentleman in ths neighborhood of Sheffield, very attentively engaged in cutting a stick with a penknife. He asked the lad what he was doing, when, with great simplicity of style, but with courtesy, he replied, "I am cutting old Fox's head." Foi was the schoolmaster of the village. On this, the gentleman asked to see what he had done, and pronouncing it to be an excellent likeness, presented the youth with a sixpence. And thii may be reckoned the first money Chantrey ever received for the productions of his art.
This anecdote is but one of a thousand tbst might be cited of as many different men, who from small beginnings rose to great stations and influence, and shows the importance of not despising the day of small things, in any condition or circumstances of life. All nature, in fact, is full of instructive lessons on this point, which it would be well for us more thoroughly to study and appreciate.
The river, rolling onward its accumulated waters to the ocean, was in its small beginning but an oozing rill, trickling down some mosscovered rock, and winding, like a silver thread, between the green banks to which it imparted verdure. The tree, that sweeps the air with its hundred branches, and mocks at the howling of the tempest, was in its small beginning but a little seed, trodden under foot, and unnoticed; then a small shoot, that the leaping hare might have for ever crushed. Every thing around us tells us not to despise small beginnings, for they are lower rounds of a ladder that reaches to great results, and we must step upon these before we can ascend higher.
Despise not small beginnings of wealth.
The Rothschilds, Girard, Astor, and most of the richest men, began with small means. From cents they proceeded to dollars; from hundreds to thousands; from thousands to millions. Uad they neglected these first earnings; had they said, "What is the use of saving these few cenUl they are not of much value, and I will just spend them, and enjoy myself as I go," they would not have risen to be the wealthiest among their fellows. It is only by the economical husbanding of small means that they increase to large sums. It is the hardest part of success to gain a little; that little once gained, more will easily follow.
Despise not email beginnings of education.
THE GATE OF PRAYER.
Franklin had but little early education; yet look at what he became, and how he is now reverenced. Ferguson, feeding his sheep on the hills of Scotland, picked up merely the rudiments of education, but subsequently rose to be one of the first astronomers in Europe. Herschel, also, the great astronomer, was in his youth a drummer-boy to a marching regiment; | and received but little more than a drummer-boy's education; but his name is now associated with the brightest discoveries of science, and is borne by the planet which his zeal discovered. A host of instances rise up to testify that by improving the small and perhaps imperfect beginnings of knowledge, they may become as foundation-stones of a temple of learning, which the future shall gaze upon and admire.
Despise not the small beginnings of error.
The walls of a castle have been undermined by the burrowings of email and despised animals, and the beginnings of error, though at first unheeded, will soon, if not checked, sap the foundations of truth, and build up its own wretched dogmas on its ruins. All first errors are small. Despise them not; they will soon increase to great ones, and perhaps devastate society.
THE GATE OF MAYER.
Having been employed, one evening, in reading the first part of the 11th chapter of Luke, which contains various excellent directions and pleasing encouragements relative to the duty of prayer, I leaned back on my sofa, and indulged my contemplations.
I fancied that I was standing opposite a large and ponderous gate, which was the outward entrance to the palace of the king of the country. At the top of this gate I observed the following inscription, written in large golden characters: "Knock and it shall be opened unto you." I felt desirous to do this, but resolved first to notice the manner in which others might act.
I had not waited long, before I saw a gay gentleman, elegantly dressed, approaching in a beautiful phaeton. He staid a few moments; but, on reading the inscription, he exclaimed, "I have no inclination to knock, or to enter this gate; I am too much engaged, and I think all the beauties of the palace would not repay my trouble, if I were to go and examine them." Saying
this, he dashed away down the broad road which was opposite.
The next person I observed, was a man of demure appearance, who seemed to posaeas an affected gravity of oountenance. He went up to the gate in a fearless manner, and appeared secure of admission; for he said that he knew the porter at the gate, that he had associated with i many who had been to the king's palace, and had received many proofs of his Majesty's kindness. He therefore called out to the porter, and desired him to open the gate for one who was a friend to the king, and who was well-known to many of his best servants and officers. To this request, which was repeatedly made, no answer was returned, and at length he departed from the gate, disappointed and confounded.
The third person who attracted my attention, marched up to the gate with an elevated mien and confident step, as if he possessed a right to enter, and was conferring a favor on the Prince by approaching his mansion. He read the inscription on the gate; but, seeing that the knocker was towards the bottom, and that he must fitoop to reach it, he resolved to content himself with striking the door with a stick he held in his hand; but he could not obtain admittance, and went away with indignation.
When I observed these unsuccessful attempts, I was discouraged, and thought it useless for me to try: 1 was therefore going to depart, but, looking to the gate, I saw the inscription written so plainly, and signed by the seal-manual of the King, that I resolved to stay a little longer.
Soon a pilgrim appeared, journeying towards the gate. His eye was fixed intently on the inscription; but he was not sufficiently careful in choosing his way, so that he often stumbled. He knocked at the gate, and it was immediately opened; but, in his hurry, he fell down, and it was shut by the porter, who said to him, "Watch and pray." However, he knocked again, and, being more careful, was then admitted.
I next noticed a poor weary beggar, almost destitute of clothing, and nearly perishing with hunger. When he came to the gate, his eyea glistened with pleasure at reading the inscription. He kneeled down to the ground, and took hold of the knocker; but, on looking at himself, and seeing his unworthy condition to appear before his Lord, I saw tears drop from his eyes; but he soon wiped them off, and resolved, "If I must perish, I will perish in the act of seeking admittance." So he lifted up the knocker and gave a rap, when the gate was imme
THE GATE OF PRAYER.
diately opened, and he was admitted with many cheerful welcomes, while he exclaimed, "Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation."
After this, I beheld another person somewhat similar to the former, though he possessed much more boldness. He continued knocking for a long time without any success; but he was not discouraged, and repeated his efforts with ardor and importunity. While he was thus employed, and appeared to meet with no success, he pulled from his bosom a scroll, and read these words aloud: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." "Yes," exclaimed the pilgrim, "these are the precious words of my Divine Redeemer, who shed his blood on the cross for my salvation, and who is now exalted to heaven as my great Intercessor.'' Then he turned his scroll and read, "We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." As he read these words, he lifted his eyes to heaven, the tears rolled down bis cheek, and he grasped the knocker, and made the gate resound again and again. Still he appeared to be unnoticed:.the gate remained close shut. He seemed to hesitate for a moment; his knocks became fainter; but he again pulled out the scroll from his bosom, and read: "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thankB: for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you." As he read these words, he knocked with still greater energy and importunity. At length he obtained a happy entrance, when he cried out—" This is the gate of heaven."
On again looking around me, I beheld, at some distance, a trenibling traveller advancing towards the gate. As he approached, he was accosted by a man of a haggard look and a frightful countenance, who told him it was of no use for him to seek admittance; because such a person as he was would not only be refused, but punished for his audacity. The traveller made no answer, but continued his course. Soon after, he was solicited by one with whom he was formerly intimate, to go with him down the broad road opposite; and, on his refusal, he was reproached
and abused. When he arrived at the gate, and was about to knock, he began to feel his courage failing, and many fears arose in his mind, lest he should be refused admittance: he was almost inclined to depart; but when he looked at the glorious promise just above him, and saw that A etrong light from heaven seemed to shine upon it, he took courage; he knocked, and was immediately received. He arose from his knees with comfort and joy, and triumphed over all his enemies and all his difficulties.
Having witnessed these pleasing scenes, I resolved to apply for admission without any further delay. I accordingly went up to the gate, and gave so loud a knock that it roused me from my slumber. I was then enabled to reflect on the folly of neglecting prayer—on the sin of performing this duty in a hypocritical, proud, or unwatchful manner—and also en the benefits of an humble, importunate, and faithful spirit of devotion. Blessed are they who watch daily at the gate of prayer, and wait at the posts of her doors 1 They shall be received into the presence of their God, and shall obtain eternal happiness, through Jesus Christ, "the way, the truth, and the life."
How many there are like the gay gentleman in the phaeton. Lucilla, for instance,knows that she is immortal, that she has a soul which thousands of years hence is to be happy or miserable, and yet she has no desire to pray for its salvation. A wolk, a party of pleasure, a visit, or a worldly companion, can engross all her interest, and she goes on down the broad road.
The demure man called upon the porter for admittance, instead of knocking at the gate. I once heard a young man expatiating on the mercy of God, in a company where the conversation turned on the duties of religion. He was honest, he said, and upright, and no man could complain of him. He reverenced his Maker, and obeyed his laws, and he knew he had nothing to fear. Poor man! The question for you is, Do you pray? Have you knocked • at the gate of mercy through a Saviour f Do you daily pray for forgiveness and acceptance in his name? If you do not, you must be disappointed and confounded at last when the Saviour shall say, "Ineverknew you." A great many young persons, of amiable and gentle dispositions and unitnpeached morality, think that they shall reach heaven at last, without knocking at the strait gate.
The third case was that of the proud man, who could not stoop to become a Christian. How many such lofty spirits there are! Alfred is such
a voting mac. He has many companions, who look tip to him with high regard ; and though he secretly cherishes a wish to become a Chris tian, he is ashamed to avow it. He reads his Bible secretly. He prays by stealth. He conceals the little interest he has in his own salvation. He is too proud to stoop to the knocker of the strait gate. He ought to read Mark viii38, and consider it well.
The pilgrim who stumbled and fell at the gale, has many like him among religious inquirers'. The young man who seeks reconciliation with God, must be willing, not only to give up all known sin, but to watch carefully against it. Salvation does not consist so much in pardon as in purification. It makes us safe, it is true; but the great point is, that it makes us holy; and he who does not desire holiness, and is not willing to watch and strive for it, will only stumble and fall.
The other coses do not need a particular explanation, except, perhaps, that I onght to say, that there must have been something wrong about the one who knocked a long time without obtaining admittance. It is, indeed, sometimes true, that the soul of the sincere convert does not, for some time, find peace, but its prayers for forgiveness are always at once heard, if they arc offered aright; and reconciliation with God is secnred, though the mourning soul may not at once become conscious of it. Got1 will always at once receive every returning sinner who comes in the name of Christ, and with sincere desires for forgiveness and sauctification.
BT nOBACB HRESeER, ESQ.
The sultry air scarce rnovi'S the summer leaves;
The clouds, piled up on high, in rugged range
And blackened front, wall up the western sry;
The fields, athirst, and parched with intense heat,
Thai long since drank the rivulet all dry,
Look dead, and make the husbandman feel sad;
The Indian com rolls up its spires to die,
And drooping hangs its tapering tassels low;
The herds have huddled close beneath the shade
Of tower or tree or fence or craggy cliff;
And man, with thirst that spurns to be allayed,
Finds not a nook for wonted rest and ease.
The night comes on, and darkness thickens round—
A lime when torrid sunbeams cease to dart,
And make the fainting plants and flowers to curl
And wither on the arid tracts of earth.
The heated atmosphere begins to move—
The clouds, upheaved, in dark disorder roll
Athwart the heaven, presage of coming shower:
THE OFFENCE Ot THE CROSS.
ET REV. J S. C. ABBOTT.
It is obvious to every reader of tre New Testament, that the preaching of our Saviour and his apostles at times excited great hostility. Many of their hearers were roused to madness aud execrations. Why was thisf Was there any thing arrogant or offensive in the manner of their address? No. Our Saviour, in outward deportment, was as mild and gentle as the Spirit of heaven; and Paul, divinely inspired, assumed no imperious ail's.
What then could have aroused that bitter and unrelenting hostility which led to the crucifixion of the one, and to the daily martyrdom of the other? It was the sentiment; it was the doctrine they preached. There was something in the plan of salvation they proclaimed, offensive to the sinner's heart. What then was this sentiment, this doctrine, this plan of salvation which they preached, which so stung to madness the hearts of guilty men, that they thrust their fingers into their ears, and rushed upon the preachers to destroy them I
Imagine Paul to have gathered around him a concourse in any of the cities of Asia Minor or of Greece, and thus to have addressed them: