« AnteriorContinuar »
ART. 18.—MUSINGS ON NATURE,
And Human Knowledge, without Faith in the Spiritual World.
There can be no sight more full of melancholy than Nature, looked upon as being without a God. Creation seems then soulless-lifeless—a corpse, beautiful indeed, but sadder even from its surpassing beauty, or rather it seems in a swoon—its sense suspended, with mere animal functions in action. Trees grow and decay —the planets roll mechanically in their courses—the stars look down with fixed and death-like gazeman springs from, and returns to dust. It is as the wise preacher has said in his desponding vision—"One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and passeth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about unto the north: it whirleth about continually; and the wind turneth again into his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; into the place whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All thing are full of labor: man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be: and that which is done is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the sun.” Such, and no more than this is creation without a God. All is one sad monotony of change. He who rests his hopes in it strives to draw water from a broken cistern.
Alike vain is he who trusts to his own understanding solely for happiness. Knowledge indeed is pleasant and useful. But that knowledge which is built on the mere understanding of what the senses perceive, however much it may gratify the curiosity or minister to the comforts of life, is but a half-way sort of knowledge and has an alloy of bitterness. If knowledge does not rise above the sensuous to faith in the eternal and spiritual, it can hardly be called a blessing. Its light shines into every dark corner, which false hope had peopled with happy visions, and disenchants life of many of its fondest illusions. It shows the folly and spoils the relish for the childish joys of the multitude, and dispels the dream of the world's vain pursuits and empty rewards. It detects the bitter pill through its golden covering. “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity,” is the sum total of its philosophy. If some higher power would offer to make us perfect in that knowledge which ex
plores the sensible world and sometimes the common ways of mankind, without lifting us up to a faith in things unseen and above the senses, in prudence we should refuse the offer. "In much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” I do not know where this truth is illustrated in more glowing colors, than in an ideal vision from a popular author—a fiction in its details, but true in its principles. A man sick of life, besought a spirit to give him knowledge, that it Inight heal his discontents. The spirit reluctantly complied and unsealed the supplicant's eye to the world's sensuous reality. The man stood on the same spot as before, but how changed was all around. Each breath of air, no longer seeming the tide of life, appeared a wave of animalculæ, poisonous, fetid. He saw decay as it really lies, in the veins of the smallest things that moved, and corruption every where engendering new life. He looked đown upon his own shape, and saw his own veins swarming with a motelike creation of shapes, springing into hideous existence from his own disease, and mocking the human destiny with the same career of love, life and death. The form of her he loved, was a mass of decaying and changing atoms. He shrunk in horror from that knowledge which only shows, that all is corruptible-earth a charnel-house, and decay the world's God. But another change came over him. "Lo! the heavens were lit up with a pure and glorious light, and from the midst of them there came forth a voice which rolled slowly over the face of the charnel earth, as the voice of thunder over the valley of the shepherd. "Such,” said the voice,"such is nature, if thou acceptest nature as the first cause—such is the universe without a God.”
Such, we echo, leaving the guise of fiction, such is the universe without a God; such is that knowledge which rises not to the faith, that this corruptible shall put on incorruption; this mortal put on immortality, and death be swallowed up in victory.
s. 0. Cincinnati,
(Continued from page 701.) Translated from the German of De Wette. The determination which Theodore had now taken to give up the profession of a preacher had cost him much thought and anxiety, it would distress his mother, it would produce disturbance in the plans of the family. He felt reluctant to communicate it to her, and would perhaps have postponed the intelligence had not Landeck quickened his movements. Having taken care to keep the memory of his sister warm in Theodore's heart, by telling him from time to time, something interesting about her, he now informed him that Teresa had a suitor who was favored by her father, but toward whom she felt no inclination, and whom she could not therefore resolve to accept. He added, with a laugh, that her disinclination towards such an agreeable young man, in all things calculated to please her, must certainly have its reasons.
Theodore could not master his emotion, and confessed at once his attachment to the beautiful Teresa, his hope of a return, and his determination to relinquish the vocation of a preacher, however hard it might be to tell his mother of his intention.
“And will you then go with me and enter into the service of the state, in our city?" asked Landeck with earnestness. Theodore assented, and Landeck replied—“That is enough to make my sister firm; I need but write her that you are coming with me, and she can understand the rest."
Theodore begged of him to say to her nothing with respect to his love; for he had not courage to confess this inclination to his mother at the same time with his determination to change his profession--and he considered that it would be a want of filial duty to conceal from her the inclination he revealed to its object. Landeck promised to say nothing about it, and would, even if he had not promised, have been restrained by his sense of propriety from so doing.
Theodore communicated to John the resolution he had taken. After having witnessed the failure of his last attempt to interest him in theology, John could not be surprised at this result. These two friends vowed mutual fidelity under all circum
stances, however far their paths of life might separate. And now Theodore undertook the difficult task of announcing his conclusion to his mother. The following letter was not written without great emotion.
“Dear Mother,–You know how much I love you, and depend upon you, you will therefore believe that I deeply sympathize with the pain this letter will cause you.
The long struggle which I have gone through, is at last over, and I am firmly determined not to enter the clerical profession. I have done every thing to obtain a religious conviction from which I might honestly preach as a Christian teacher—but it has been impossible. The accompanying letter to the good pastor contains the detailed account of the reasons which determine me to take this step; and he can communicate to you as much of them as you care to know. Dear mother, your love for me is so pure, and your whole life has been such a sacrifice for your children; you prize so highly individual freedom, and hate nothing so much as dissimulation and self-deception; your strong heart has already risen above so much pain- that I trust you will not endeavor to shake my purpose by arguments, nor by an excessive sorrow, which I cannot bear. If you have no objection to the plan, I propose to go to ***, and occupy a post under government which Landecks father has promised me. If I may not labor for the kingdom of heaven in the small and quiet circle of a country preacher, I yet trust, with God's aid, to work for him in a wider sphere. I am inspired with the thought of exercising an influence, beneficial to millions, from the higher stations of society, and to help to introduce a better form of German government. This prospect, dear mother, must supply the place of that which you are forced to renounce. Your mind, your heart, will go with me in those higher circles. I shall ever keep before my eyes my God and my mother-and with honest effort will strive to forward truth, justice, and human happiness. Every thing else, we will, for the present, leave as it is; with your health you may long superintend our ancestral estate; and perhaps I may return, after a circle of years passed in active labors, to the place where I passed the happy hours of youth, and cheer the last years of your life. At all events, I will seize every season of leisure to pass with you and my loved sister, and this
prospect will content the tender Frederica." After a few weeks, Theodore, with some tremor, broke the seal of a letter from his mother, in reply to his. It very much relieved his mind. We also insert this letter in which is so
beautifully expressed the noble mild spirit of his mother, and her pious submission and content.
“Your determination, my dear Theodore, though I have seen its approach, has certainly deeply shaken me. However much we may be prepared for sacrifices, our weak hearts are sorely pained by the final necessity of renouncing a loved possession, or a cherished wish. So it has been with me. At our last leave taking, I left you, as you know, to your free choice, and honestly resolved to acquiesce in it: and now it costs me tears to do so. But this, my dear son, must not make you weak or infirm of purpose; keep to your determination, and do not waver or tremble, for the scripture says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."* I have fulfilled my vow by doing all I could to induce you to enter upon
profession of a clergyman, but I will not bring to the Lord an unwilling offering. Your intention of going to * ** and entering into the state's service, appears to be too closely connected with your idea of relinquishing theological studies, for me to say any thing against it
. I only add the warning-be not blinded by the glitter of the great world; keep true to your heart and the pious feelings, which you have still preserved notwithstanding your theological doubts. If you do this, and I certainly expect it, you will soon be aware, that only in the calm circle of domestic life can a fixed blissful activity and peace of mind be found. It will be well for you to make this experience for yourself; mine cannot help you, and I will not urge it upon you. May God guide you upon your new path of life, and may his grace be near you."
“Frederica is very sad, because you will leave our circle; but I hope she will acquiesce in this. My old pious friend, the Pastor, who writes you by this opportunity, has contributed much to render me contented. He feels satisfied with you so far as this, that you have complied with his requests, and not acted hastily or lightly; and he recognizes in the direction your path of life has taken, a higher guidance, as also do I. Again, my son, remain pious, faithful, and honest, and all will eventuate well.”
Theodore was so much moved by this self-denying love of his mother, that he had almost faltered in his purpose, and he was only kept up by the thought, that he could not be false to his convictions of truth. For nothing makes us more inclined to obedience, and to yield up our own will, than ready self-denial on the part of those who have a right to expect from us compliance with their wishes, and whom we have disturbed by our self-will. Theodore vowed to his mother