Изображения страниц


(Concluded from page 178.)

The characteristic phase and features of an autumnal Sabbath, such as that we have imperfectly described, in its serenity, repose and peace, are truly delightful. To place man in harmony with such a scene and season, the spirit, both of worship and virtue, is needful; and, to be entirely accordant, it must be the spirit and sentiment of Christianity, the religion which teaches a worship of love and a beneficent virtue. A conception wide of this is barely possible, as the devout inspiration of the time and scene is almost and necessarily a filial piety, springing aloft to the Father; and the spirit of virtue stirred within us (under the circumstances) is unconsciously that of the "Wisdom from above, pure and peaceful, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits."

[blocks in formation]

Hath half become a weariness, and hope
Thirsts for serener waters, go abroad
Upon the paths of Nature; and, when all
Its voices whisper, and its silent things
Are breathing the deep beauty of the world,
Kneel at its simple altar, and the God

Who hath the living waters shall be there."

The intellect of man betrays its limit and weakness too often by error and change for the boast with which it is sometimes named; and if man bear any sympathetic, any analogous relation to higher orders of intelligent and spiritual beings, it might be conjectured that the resemblance or kindred nature is more in a pure, a generous, and high sentiment of devotion and virtue, which may be human attainment, than in strength and brightness of intellectual ken; and perhaps the conception is just and true, that a more direct and striking impress of Divine perfection, a more express evidence of creative energy and inspiration of Deity lies in the pure, the powerful, and lofty issues from the heart of man, than from his understanding alone and separate.

It may be observed that this is equally the truth of Nature and Revelation; we find alike in both those suggestions and inspirations, the spirit and the truths which purify passion, which dignify sentiment, which elevate affection; and which, though knowledge may be partial, and reason erring, "dark and blind," best fit mortals for the company of seraphs, and to

be led by them to the throne of God. I would incidentally mention here, in illustration, that in my own intercourse with the poor and uneducated, there is also a manifestation of this truth. In the kindness and love with which the ignorant poor often give their time and labour to assist each other, (without which they would die tenfold,) and in the power of their faith and steadfastness of hope, in their exemplary passive virtue, their patience and resignation, their devout submission and trust, I have witnessed a spirit and a sentiment challenging all my esteem and admiration; and this in, apparently, a dark and ignorant mind of poverty's lot, unaided by intellectual culture, and, above all, which that alone could inspire or teach

The generous sentiment of humanity, so beautiful and admirable in the religion of Jesus, his own fervent and exalted spirit of philanthropy, and the divine teaching of his "Good Samaritan," finds features accordant and analogous in Nature; for the ingenuous mind cannot surrender itself to the influence of God's creation, without feeling that the diffusive good in it, the never ceasing beneficent activity through out, the generous offer of unlimited supply to his wants and his pleasures; of beauty to his eye, music to his ear, a feast of every sense, and sweet refreshment and joy to his heart; he cannot be conscious of this and sensible to it, without knowledge of the truth that Nature is a great teacher of kindness and charity, as well as purity and worship; and that herein is a beautiful and impressive harmony, again, in the two Revelations of works and word: in the former we behold the seed yielding fruit a hundred fold, in the latter we read of the multiplied barley loaves by the benevolent Saviour to feed the many around him.

The analogy of the Natural and the Moral world is too obvious and striking in some respects to be overlooked by any reflecting observer. I do but glance at it in remarking that as there is light and shade in the one, there is joy and sorrow in the other; and again, to conceive a painting of outward nature and moral life, we behold contrasted tempest and calm in the former, passion and peace in the latter; again, in the world are witnessed the earthquake and volcano, and when the ravage and desolation are passed, nature's beneficent powers are again triumphant, and flowers and fruits, and " corn and wine and oil" cover the waste; so also in the world of man and moral life we see the fearful strife of nations, of guilty passion and crime; whence war and revolution, rebellion with the wide-spread misery of social discord, but to these succeed

contrition and suffering, reflection and peace; the dear-bought but precious wisdom of painful experience. As sweet and fertile effects and influences issue in the wake of the storm and tempest of the Natural world; so in Moral life, "Sweet are the uses of adversity," from great apparent evil in both comes rich and great good. But if this be so, and such the actual moral world and analogy with nature, man reads at once an interesting and instructive lesson in this accordant aspect of material and spiritual things; and, from the nature and impression of both, he may turn his view with the stronger interest and admiration to the accordant genius and spirit of Christian faith. Indeed we may say the spirit of man is forcibly turned to the Christian system as alone appropriate to this moral nature and economy, and necessary to its direction, regulation, and welfare. If we also conceive the scheme of Christian faith as a portraiture or painting before the outward eye (and the idea brings to view the immortal Cartoons of Raffaelle), there will appear on the canvass both light and shade, as in Nature and Man. Revelation, we know, embraces commands, threatenings, promises. In that faith there are revealed doctrines to awe, others to instruct, others to console; a future discovered, which though still in one sense the dark mystery of an hereafter, yet has some bright and beautiful flashes of light shooting athwart the gloom. A God is made known to us, both Ruler and Father; much given to form and strengthen faith, and equally to sustain and brighten hope; much to subdue passion, repress guilt and crime, and encourage virtue; quite as much to succour weakness and console suffering; and the whole taught by One of like passions with ourselves, whose works and words, whose character and life stamped truth on all he taught; with a wisdom which compelled credence of inspiration from above; and a virtue which, because so winning and worthy, was felt to be most elequent and persuasive teaching, but which all felt to be human virtue, essential to human excellence and happiness. Fairly and fully reasoned, may it be that Man, and Nature, and Christianity have a common source and origin; much in common, in traits and constitution, reciprocally to expound and illustrate each other; and much in their relation and analogies to lead the reflecting and ingenuous man to conclude that the religion of the Christian Prophet is a part of a great whole, the result of God's perfection and providence: that it is one with Man and Nature; that there is a responsive voice of testimony in the human breast that all may hear and under

stand who attentively read the Record and themselves; and that not till man has enlightened his mind and purified his heart, and consecrated his spirit at the Christian shrine, can he either understand himself or read aright the world around him. London, April 4, 1849.



W. M.

We now arrive at a foully blotted page of the English Annals, or rather of the history of the so called Christendom of the middle ages, for our country, though a sharer, was by no means alone in the disgrace, I mean the treatment of the Jews; of that

"Amazing race! deprived of lands and laws,
A general language, and a public cause;
With a religion none can now obey;
With a reproach that none can take away.
A people still! whose common ties are gone,
Who, mixed with every race are lost in none."


The tribe who found no rest for the sole of their foot, who had a continually fainting heart, a trembling and sorrowful mind, these people were accounted, by the half barbarians of Europe, during the dark ages, as thoroughly ac cursed of men, as the lawful victims of every one's oppression, as those whom it was a merit to despoil, whose lives were given to them as a prey, whose property lay at the mercy of any disposed to take it, and who were of far less value than the hound or the falcon ministering to the savage sports of the baron, or his ruffianly follower. Scott, with inimitable accuracy, describes them as a race, which, during these dark ages, was alike detested by the credulous and prejudiced vulgar, and persecuted by the greedy and rapacious nobility;" and he further remarks, that " except, perhaps, the flying fish, there was no race existing on the earth, the air, or the waters, who were the objects of such an unremitting, general, and relentless persecution as the Jews of this period. Upon the slightest and most unreasonable pretences, as well as upon accusations the most absurd and groundless, their persons and property were exposed to every turn of popular fury; for Norman, Saxon, Dane, and Briton, however adverse their races were to each other, contended which should look with greatest detestation upon a people whom it was accounted a point of religion to hate,

to revile, to despise, to plunder. and to persecute. The kings of the Norman race, and the independent nobles, who followed their example in all acts of tyranny, maintained against this devoted people, a persecution of a more regular, calculated, and self interested kind. It is a well known story of King John, that he confined a wealthy Jew in one of the royal castles, and daily caused one of his teeth to be torn out, until, when the jaw of the unhappy Israelite was half disfurnished, he consented to pay a large sum, which it was the tyrant's object to extort from him. The little ready money that was in the country, was chiefly in the possession of this persecuted people, and the nobility hesitated not, to follow the example of their sovereign, in wringing it from them, by every species of oppression, and even personal torture.' I again with much satisfaction refer you to "Ivanhoe," for there, in a captivating form, and in a moderate compass, you have the substance of many scarce and almost inaccessible volumes, and life-like pictures of the Jews, of the Crusades, and the dark ages.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The Crusades were peculiarly unfavourable to the race of Abraham. Dreaded as the Saracen was, he was not despised, and as he and the Christian were brought into more frequent conflict with each other, though hard blows were exchanged and the struggle was always of the most determined kind, still, something like mutual respect was entertained between the warriors, and the brief truces were marked by courteousness on either side. But in these feelings, whether of respect or kindness, the Jew had no share. The Turk was as hard and as inexorable as the Christian. All men hated and persecuted him. He was an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word among them. The Jews were strictly for bidden to be present at the Coronation of Richard the First, at Westminster. Some of the wealthy among them, who had brought rich presents to the King, hoping thereby to ensure his protection, ventured to disobey the Royal Edict, and mixed themselves with the throng of spectators. They were however, discovered, and many, even in the presence of the King fell a sacrifice to popular fury. The tumult was not confined to the Church. The houses of many of the Jews of London were ransacked, and all who had not time to escape were put to death, including some even of the leading citizens, who were supposed to favour them. Nor was this all, the flame spread to distant parts of the kingdom. Fifteen hundred of them, including their wives and

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »