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the aid of powerful glasses extends his researches into new tracts of space; and determines the magnitude, the distance, and the orbit of some planet, which revolves in the fields of ether far beyond his unaided sight. His memory preserves the fruits of his studies and experience. Reason guides him to a knowledge of some of the sublimest truths respecting the works and attributes of Jehovah. By the aid of imagination, he can form from the stores of his simple ideas unequalled models in arts and manners, and read with delight those works of fiction, which paint before him specimens of excellency and glory, which far transcend any thing that can be found in real life. In this way he becomes dissatisfied with his present state and acquisitions, and is excited to make renewed efforts after higher attainments, under the animating hope, that in some future period he will realize all these creations of fancy. By the possession of a mind succeptible of religious truth and feeling, he is enabled to discover some of the moral glories of the divine character, and is constituted a religious being.
In addition to these endowments, man possesses native and undying aspirations after enjoyments, more durable and satisfactory, than any which this earth can yield. His restless soul is perpetually searching after some new delight, and struggling, as if anxious to escape from its mortal prison, to wing its upward flight to more congenial skies. Such a mind can never be satisfied with temporal good; it needs an inheritance suited to its nature, and imniortal as the joys of heaven. But this it can never find in foreign objects. Outward possessions do not constitute substantial wealth. True riches belong to the mind, and consist in those internal graces, which qualify man to find his supreme felicity in the habitual discharge of his temporal duty, and in fellowship with divine excellency.
His Creator has not only endowed him with these exalted powers, but he has opened before him an unlimited field of improvement, and surrounded him with motives to put forth all his powers in the pursuit of knowledge. Now it is only upon the supposition, that man is destined for a state of endless duration, that the wisdom and benevolence of God are manifested in this reciprocal relation between the mental attributes of man, and his external means of instruction and discipline. For, if he be made to exist only for a few days, then both the powers of his mind, and his means of knowledge are far too exalted, either for his greatest usefulness or enjoyment. Should you now be assured, that at death you are to sink into eternal oblivion, would you not be prompted to inquire, why then have we been formed with an undying curiosity to know more of the works and character of God, than what is compatible with our present advantage? Why has he spread out before us a boundless prospect ? Why has he strewed the paths of science with increasing allurements, if death is so soon to put a final period to this delightful career of knowledge? Has he lifted the veil from the enchanting scenery, merely in enake us mourn, that it must be quickly covered again in everlasting darkness? Why have we those strong powers of reason and imagination, by which
we can gain that view of the greatness and glories of creation, which makes this earth dwindle to a point, and casts an air of burlesque over the whole scene of human affairs? Is the altar, which conscience has reared in honor of Jehovah, soon to be demolished, and the fire of human devotion to be eternally extinguished ? Why this native longing after immortality; this instinctive horror at the thought of annihilation, if our short stay here bound the period of our being? True, it may be said, that these passions and powers prompt and assist man in his noblest efforts; and that, therefore, they subserve the best external interests of human society. But if man is soon to perish forever, would not a merciful God have taken care to prevent any detraction from his momentary enjoyments, by making him incapable of anticipating such an ignoble destiny? If there be no good for the upright after death, and no evil for the unjust, could not the Creator have supported his throne, without awakening a deceptive fear of future retribution ? and could he not have promoted the moral happiness of man, without palming upon him the delusive hope of heaven? How could we vindicate an earthly monarch, who should educate his son in the best manner to qualify him to inherit his crown and dominions, when it was his purpose to degrade him to the rank of a peasant ?
As the endowments of man thus plainly suggest the end for which he was formed, so, in the second place, all the appointed means of education are actually adapted to exert such an influence over his mind, as is best calculated to qualify him for a future state of being.
In this life our Creator is conducting upon man a process of education upon an elevated scale, suited to his exalted rank, and to his future destination. The works of nature furnish exercises adapted to all the grades of mind. Some of them are sufficiently hard to task the greatest powers; and others so easy as to invite the efforts of humbler talents. The world is the temple of God, and man is the priest of nature, ordained, by being qualified, to celebrate religious service, not only in it, but for it. Placed in this temple, to enjoy the benefits of divine teachings, man appears truly great, the offspring of Jehovah, and the candidate of an unfading crown of glory. Whoever attentively reflects upon the tendency of those instructions which God is imparting to man, must perceive that they are pre-eminently calculated to strengthen his intellectual powers; to purify his heart, and to expand it with benevolent affection; and to strengthen his expectations, that he is destined for a state of immortality. This truth is evident from the character of those manifestations, which God has given of all his attributes. Does the astronomer wish to elevate his soul by witnessing great displays of wisdom and power, let him take up the best telescopes, and bring into his field of vision the countless host of fixed stars. Let him consider them all, as so many mighty globes of fire, forming the centres of new clusters of worlds like the sun in the solar system; let him then permit bimself to be borne on the wings imagination, till he reaches the most distant Ост. 1829.
star that glimmers upon his aided sight, and fancy that he there beholds, on every hand, other suns and other systems, lighted up in endless perspective, whose immense floods of light, though they have been rushing down for nearly six thousand years, have not as yet reached our little planet, and what dilation of mind must he feel, as he thus traverses the immensity of Jehovah's works, and attempts to conceive an idea of that power, which supports the universe, and of that wisdom, which so adjusted the mechanism of the heavenly bodies, that, from the dawn of creation, they have continued to revolve in perfect uniformity and exactness. And if he be a good man, what a glow of sympathetic joy and benevolence must he feel, when he reflects upon the blessedness of that Almighty Being, who, from the throne of his glory, is continually dispensing the means of life and enjoyment to all the worlds which move around him; and is receiving, in return, their hymns of adoration and praise. There are several recorded instances of the powerful effect, which the study of astromomy has produced upon the human mind. Dr Rittenhouse, of Pennsylvania, after he had calculated the transit of Venus, which was to happen June 3d, 1769, was appointed at Philadelphia, with others, to repair to the township of Norriton, and there to observe this planet until its passage over the sun's disk should verify the correctness of his calculations. This occurrence had never been witnessed but twice before by any inhabitant of our earth, and was never to be again seen by any person then living. A phenomenon so rare, and so important in its bearings upon astronomical science, was, indeed, well calculated to agitate the soul of one so alive, as he was, to the great truths of nature. The day arrived, and there was no cloud in the horizon. The observers, in silence and trembling anxiety, waited for the predicted moment of observation. It came—and in the instant of contact, an emotion of joy so powerful was excited in the bosom of Mr Rittenhouse, that he fainted. Sir Isaac Newton, after he had advanced so far in his mathematical proof of one of his great astronomical doctrines, as to see that the result was to be triumphant, was so affected in view of the momentous truth which he was about to demonstrate, that he was unable to proceed, and begged one of his companions in study to relieve him, and carry out the calculation. The instructions, which the heavens give, are not confined to scholars; but they are imparted to the peasant and to the savage. The pious shepherd often feels a sudden expansion of mind, while attempting to form an idea of that power, which spread out and adorned the heavens with so many worlds of light.
Nor are those representations of the attributes of God, which tend to expand the soul, and assimilate it to the divine likeness, confined to the material world. It is from the spiritual world, that the glory of God beams forth in its fullest lusture. Yes; one human mind contains greater riches, and furnishes more ennobling proofs of the being and perfections of God, than are supplied by all the systems of unorganized matter. To raise this mind from ignorance and guilt, and to prepare it for a residence in heaven, God is now expending the wealth of his treasures, and employing the most honorable and powerful agents in his kingdom. It is said that Malebranche, in reading the treatise of Des Cartes upon man, was so overpowered by the sentiments exhibited, that he was obliged to close the book, and pause, until the palpitations of his heart subsided.
The providence of God is eminently calculated to act upon the hopes and fears of man. It is true that rewards and punishments are, in this world, unequally distributed. Fraud and injustice sometimes bask under the sun of prosperity; while honesty and righteousness are chilled under the storms of adversity. But yet the general course of things, in favor of the innocent and against the guilty, fully evinces, that, even in this life, virtue has the decided advantage over vice. Though the cruel oppressor may now prosper, yet he cannot but consider his secret remorse of conscience as a sure presage, that vengeance will overtake him, when inquisition shall be made for blood.
In religious institutions and ceremonies, the mode of instruction is more direct and efficient. The grand design of all the commands and precepts, doctrines and ceremonies of the Jewish economy, and especially, of the brighter dispensation of Christianity, is to exert a purifying and ennobling influence, upon the human mind, to make us victorious over sin, over ourselves, over peril and pain ; to join us to God by filial love, and above all, by likeness of nature, by participation of his Spirit.”
But why has God done so much to exhibit his own perfections ? Did he put forth his powers of creation to relieve the weariness of eternal repose; or to gain the praises of adoring millions ? Surely not. For he was perfectly conscious of his own excellencies before he made the worlds. Neither can the homage and admiration of all his creatures add to his essential glory and blessedness. But he has made this exhibition of himself, and required us to express
before him the homage of our hearts, because this act of worship, and those truths, which respect his own character and designs, have the greatest power to stir the soul, and to form it for its future destination.
(To be continued.)
LESSONS FOR THE YOUNG.
(Translated from a work of Chancellor Niemeyer.)
The Poetic Writings.
not only Job, the Psalms, and the writings of Solomon, but also much in the Prophets.
The poetic works of this nation may be discerned partly in a peculiarity of language, and partly in a certain artificial manner of representing things. They may be arranged in two classes, the Lyric and the Didactic. of both, the Bible contains excellent specimens. The peculiarity of the Hebrew poetry rests, among other things, on the peculiarity of the region, of the climate, of the national character, of the religion, and of the history of the people, and on its being designed for public use. There is, in the imagery, the greatest difference between the oriental and the western nations.
Founded probably on actual occurrences, this didactic poem exhibits a very prosperous and upright man, as plunged into conflict with sufferings of every kind, and driven to the borders of scepticism, till he at last, after a well tried integrity, is restored to his former prosperous state. The greater part of the whole is a dia. logue between Job and his four friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, who contend with him concerning the cause and object of his sufferings, till at length God himself interposes, and pronounces the decisive sentence.
The leading thought, has by some been supposed to be, patience under sufferings; by others, the reward of tried virtue. More accurately, the design is to give a vivid illustration of the truth, that the greater sufferings of one person, are no proof of his being more sinful than his neighbors, but are to be contemplated with reverence as coming from the Maker and Ruler of the universe, who frequently moves in a mysterious way.' This design is manifest from the whole current and plan of the poem.
The time and author are unknown. Some have attributed the work to Moses; some to Solomon, or to a far later poet after the Babylonian captivity, especially on account of the mentioning of Satan.
But there is nothing inconsistent with its being referred to a much earlier and more flourishing period of Hebrew litera. ture.
The poem belongs to the finest, most elevated, and, in many respects, most instructive books of the Old Testament, although Christian light would have led to a still more fruitful discussion, and would more clearly have set forth the ennobling of the inner man as the grand object of outward afflictions that occur under the moral government of the world. See Heb. xii. 5–11. and James v. 11. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. It abounds in excellent moral sayings, lively descriptions of nature, striking comparisons, and exhibitions of human character and passions.