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The vision of Carazan : or, sucial love and beneficence recom
CARAZĄN, the merchant of Bagdat, was eminent throughout all the east for his avarice and his wealth ; his origin is obscure, as that of the spark which by the collision of steel and adamant is struck out of darkness ; and the patient labour of persevering diligence alone had made him rich. It was remembered, that when he was indigent he was thought to be generous ; and he was still acknowledged to be inflexibly just. But whether in his dealings with men, he discovered a perfidy which tempted him to put his trust in gold, or whether in proportion as he accumulated wealth, he discovered his own importance to increase, Carazan prized it more as he used it less : he gradually lost the inclination to do good, as he acquired the power; and as the hand of time scattered snow upon his head, the freezing influence extended to his bosom.
But though the door of Carażan was never opened by hospitality, nor his hand by compassion, yet fear led him constantly to the mosque at the stated hours of prayer : he performed all the rites of devotion with the most scrupulous punctuality, and had thrice paid his vows at the temple of the prophet. That devotion which arises from the love of God, and necessarily includes the love of man, as it connects gratitude with beneficence, and exalts that which was moral to divine, confers new dignity upon goodness, and is the object not only of affection but reverence. On the contrary, the devotion of the selfish, whether it be thought to avert the punishment which every one wishes to be inflicted, or to insure it by the complication of hypocrisy with guilt, never fails to excite indignation and abhorrence. Carazan, therefore, when he had locked his door, and turning round with a look of circumspective suspicion, proceeded to the mosque, was followed by every eye with silent malignity ; the poor suspended their supplication, when he passed by; though he was known by every man, yet no man saluted him.
Such had long been the life of Carazan, and such was the character which he had acquired, when notice was given by proclamation, that he was removed to a magnificent building
in the centre of the city, that his table should be spread for the public, and that the stranger should be welcome to his bed. The multitude soon rushed like a torrent to his door, where they beheld him distributing bread to the hungry, and apparel to the naked, his eye softened with compassion, and his cheek glowing with delight. Every one gazed with astonishment at the prodigy ; and the murmur of innumerable voices increasing like the sound of approaching thunder, Carazan beckoned with his hand : attention suspended the tumult in a moment; and he thus gratified the curiosity which procured him audience.
To him who touches the mountains and they smoke, the Almighty and the most merciful, be everlasting honour! he has ordained sleep to be the minister of instruction, and his visions have reproved me in the night. As I was sitting alone in my haram, with my lamp burning before me, computing the product of my merchandise, and exulting in the increase of my wealth, I fell into a deep sleep, and the band of Him who dwells in the third heaven was upon me. I be. held the angel of death coming forward like a whirlwind, and he smote me before I could deprecate the blow. At the same moment I felt myself lifted from the ground, and transported with astonishing rapidity through the regions of the air. The earth was contracted to an atom beneath : and the stars glowed round me with a lustre that obscured
The gate of paradise was now in sight; and I was intercepted by a sudden brightness which no human eye could behold. The irrevocable sentence was now to be pronounced ; my day of probation was past; and from the evil of my life nothing could be taken away, nor could any thing be added to the good When I reflected that my lot for eternity was cast, which not all the powers of nature could reverse, my confidence totally forsook me ; and while I stood trembling and silent, covered with confusion and! chilled with horror, I was thus addressed by the radiance that flamed before me.
“ Carazan, thy worship has not been accepted, because it was not prompted by love of God; neither can thy righter ousness be rewarded, because it was not produced by love of man : for thy own sake only, hast thou rendered to every man his due; and thou hast approached the Almighty only for thyself. Thou hast not looked up with gratitude, nor around thee with kindness. Around thee, thou hast indeed beheld vice and folly ; but if vice and folly could justify thy
parsimony, would they not condemn the bounty of Heaven! If not upon the foolish and the vicious, where shall the sun diffuse his light, or the clouds distil their dew? Where shall the lips of the spring breathe fragrance, or the hand of autumn diffuse plenty ? Remember, Carazan, that thou hast shut compassion from thy heart, and grasped thy treasures with a hand of iron ; thou hast lived for thyself; and, therefore, henceforth for ever thou shalt subsist alone. From the light of heaven, and from the society of all beings, shalt thou be driven ; solitude shall protract the lingering hours of eternity, and darkness aggravate the horrors of despair.'
At this moment I was driven by some secret and irresistible power, through the glowing system of creation, and passed innumerable worlds in a moment. As I approached the verge of nature, I perceived the shadows of total and boundless vacuity deepen before me, a dreadful region of eternal silence, solitude, and darkness ! Unutterable horror seized me at the prospect, and this exclamation hurst from me with all the vehemence of desire : 0! that I had been doomed for ever to the common receptacle of impenitence and guilt! There society would have alleviated the torment of despair, and the rage of fire could not have excluded the comfort of light. Or, if I had been condemned to reside in a conet, that would return but once in a thousand years to the regions of light and life; the hope of these periods, howev. er distant, would cheer me in the dread interval of cold and darkness, and the vicissitudes would divide eternity into time.' While this thought passed over my mind, I lost sight of the remotest star, and the last glimmering of light was quenched in utter darkness. The agonies of despair every moment increased, as every moment augmented my distance from the last habitable world. I reflected with intolerable anguish, that when ten thousand thousand years had carried me beyond the reach of all but that Power who fills infinitude, I should still look forward into an immense abyss of darkness, through which I shoùld still drive without succour and without society, farther and farther still, for ever and for ever: I then stretched out my hands towards the regions of existence, with an emotion that awakened me.-Thus have I been taught to estimate society, like every other blessing, by its loss. My heart is warmed to liberality ; and I am wealous to communicate the happiness which I feel, to those from whom it is derived ; for the society of one wretch, whom in the pride of prosperity. I would have spurned from
my door, would, in the dreadful solitude to which I was con. demned, have been more highly prized, than the gold of Afric, or the gems of Golconda.
At this reflection upon his dream, Carazan became suddenly silent, and looked upwards in ecstacy of gratitude and devotion. The multitude were stiuck at once with the precept and example ; and the caliph, to whom the event was refated, that he might be liberal beyond the power of gold, commanded it to be recorded for the benefit of posterity.
Creation the product of Divine Goodness. Creation is a display of Supreme goodness, no less than of wisdom and power.
It is the communication of numberless benefits, together with existence, to all who live. Justly is the earth said to be, “full of the goodness of the Lord." Throughout the whole system of things, we behold a manifest tendency to promote the benefit either of the rational, or the animal creation. In some parts of nature, this tendency may be less obvious than in others. Objects, which to us seem useless, or hurtful, may sometimes occur ; and strange it were, if in so vast and complicated a system, difficulties of this kind should not occasionally present themselves to beings, whose views are so narrow and limited as
It is well known, that in proportion as the knowledge of nature has increased among men, these difficulties have diminished. Satisfactory accounts have been given of many perplexing appearances. Useful and proper purposes have been found to be promoted, by objects which were, at first; thought unprofitable or noxious.
Malignant must be the mind of that person ; with a distorted eye he must have contemplated creation, who can suspect, that it is not the production of Infinite Benignity and Goodness. How many clear marts of benevolent intention appear, every where around us ! What a profusion of beauty and ornament is poured forth on the face of nature ! What a magnificent spectacle presented to the view of man! What supply contrived for his wants! What a variety of objects set before him, to gratify his senses, to employ his imderstanding, to entertain
his imagination, to cheer and glad den his heart! Indeed, the very existence of the universe
is a standing memorial of the goodness of the Creator. For nothing except goodness could originally prompt creation. The Supreme Being, self-existent and all-sufficient, bad no wants which he could seek to supply. No new accession of felicity or glory was to result to him, from creatures which he made. It was goodness communicating and pouring itself forth, goodness delighting to impart happiness in all its forms, which in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. Hence, those innumerable orders of living creatures with which the earth is peopled; from the lowest class of sensitiye being, to the highest rank of reason and intelligence. Wherever there is life, there is some degree of happiness; there are enjoyments suited to the different powers of feeling; and earth, and air, and water, are, with magnificent liberality, made to teem with life.
Let those striking displays of Creating Goodness call forth, on our part, responsive love, gratitude, and veneration. To this great Father of all existence and life, to Him who hath raised us up to behold the light of day, and to enjoy all the comforts which his world presents, let our hearts send forth a perpetual hymn of praise. Evening and morning let us celebrate Him, who maketh the morning and the evening to rejoice over our heads; who " openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing." Let us rejoice, that we are brought into a world, which is the production of Infinite Goodness ; and over which a Supreme Intelligence presides. Convinced that he hateth not the works which he hath made, nor hath brought creatures into existence, merely to suffer unnecessary pain, let us, even in the midst of sorrow, receive with calm submission, whatever he is pleased to send: thankful for what he bestows; and satisfied, that, without good reason, he takes nothing away.
It is not in the tremendous appearances of power merely, that a good and well-instructed man beholds the Creator of the world. In the constant and regular working of his hands, in the silent operations of his wisdom and goodness, ever going on throughout nature, he delights to contemplate and adore him. This is one of the chief fruits to be derived from that more perfect knowledge of the Creator, which is imparted to us by the Christian revelation. Impressing our minds with a just sense of all his attributes, as not wise and great only, but as gracious, and merciful, let it lead us to view every object of calm and undisturbed nature, with perpetual reference to its Author. We shall then bebold