Изображения страниц

The blazing hearth calls up joyous feelings in the humble cot and the lordly dwelling; but ere the material for fuel can be obtained, a portion of our fellow-beings must descend deep into the bowels of the earth, and there, shut out from the light of day, inhaling impure air, confined to a stooping, kneeling, or reclining posture, hew the stubborn rock for hours together. To these, how sweet the return of the Sabbath, which comes to bid them walk erect and breathe freely! When we see the mighty engine, "like a thing of life," bearing swiftly along a city's traffic, or a mass of living intelligence, we extol the inventive powers of the discoverer as almost superhuman, we talk of the beauties of science, the triumphs of art, but we are seldom mindful of the excessive drudgery, the scorching heat, the long night-watchings endured by those engaged in the smelting of metals necessary to the construction of rails and locomotives. To these men how valuable the Sabbath, which brings refreshment to the parched eyelids, rest to the weary limbs. If a choice specimen of textile manufacture be presented for our inspection, we may admire its rich delicate softness, its chasteness of style, its brilliancy of colour, but we are not over careful to remember that in the various manufacturing processes, delicate females and children of tender age are constantly employed, shut up in factories whose atmospheres are heated to a high degree of temperature. To such how gladsome the Sabbath's dawn! which speaks of relief from protracted toil, escape from the noise and whirl of pinions and pulleys, from confinement, dust, and heated air. Nor is Sabbath rest beneficial to those only who are engaged in what are reckoned unhealthful occupations. Its advantages are shared more or less by others. The student, bent on literary and scientific acquirement, might readily impair his bodily and mental powers, but the Sabbath intervening, he returns with renewed vigour to his dissertations, his problems, his crucibles. The shopman, cooped up behind his counter during twelve or fourteen hours per day, dealing out the necessaries and comforts of life to others, would hold a position hardly compatible with the enjoyment of robust health, did he not find some welcome compensation in the Sabbath. By means of the Sabbath the field labourer has his wasted strength renewed, and the in-door workman his cramped limbs relaxed. Most people pursue useful avocations of one sort or other; and whether it be labour of the head or of the hands on which we are engaged, whether it be in the workshop or the warehouse, with the hammer or

the shuttle, the balance or the yard-stick, the first day's rest is still, under the Divine blessing, a happy means of preserving the corporeal frame against confirmed illness and premature decay.

[blocks in formation]

Labour is useful and honourable. Property is the sign of labour and its fruit. To acquire property by honest means is commendable. To be satisfied with earning what is sufficient for mere animal existence, while health and other circumstances permit us to provide in some measure against future contingencies, is to fall short in duty as rational, responsible beings. Unwished for events are of every day occurrence; and over many of these human agency has no control. But Providence does not leave us wholly destitute of the means of lessening and mitigating human ills. Prudence and forethought dictate the necessity of providing in some measure against times of sickness, of commercial depression, by the world named misfortunes, held by the Christian to be chastisements inflicted by the Universal Parent for wise and good purposes. Yet there are times in the experience of the most resolute, when the spirit flags in sight of the tedious, irksome task, quails before the pressure of surrounding difficulties imaginary or real. Our bark seems launched on a troublous sea: the mental hemisphere is darkened the clouds overhead threaten to burst and overwhelm

us: when lo! the light of the blessed Sabbath appears above the horizon like a bow of promise. The gloom insensibly departs; the waves subside; and we steer onward with alacrity and courage.





The institution of the Sabbath is highly favourable to mental culture. The intellectual faculties are talents lent us, and for which we must give account. To educate the higher parts of our nature to the extent that our several spheres in life will allow, is a duty, binding upon all. The word learning, in its usual acceptance, does not imply all that is necessary to true elevation of mind. We might be able to measure the distance, and magnitude of the planets; we might understand the laws that govern the animal and vegetable kingdoms; we might be skilled in the interpretation of languages ancient and modern; we might be able to discourse fluently of the various systems of philosophy, that have hitherto illumed or darkened man's understanding, and yet our highest nature be comparatively a barren waste. Mental culture is

woefully incomplete, unless the moral and religious sentiments are constantly and assiduously cared for. For the due exercise of these feelings, is golden opportunity afforded each Lord's day.

[blocks in formation]

Let us take a Sabbath day's journey into the fields, and what food is there for the contemplative mind! In the soft verdure of Spring and the golden luxuriance of Autumn; in the variegated beauty of the wild flowers that bestrew our path; in the purling of the silver streamlet coursing towards the mighty deep; in the gladsome lowing of cattle upon hill and dale; in the hushed whisper of the breeze; in the hum of insects and the songs of birds; in all that greets the eye and the ear, there is much to stir up within us, admiration of the power, wisdom, and goodness of Him "whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere;" much to enlighten the understanding and improve the heart.

[blocks in formation]

Domestic happiness is by common consent assigned a high place among earthly blessings. How, then, shall we estimate the Sabbath! which is peculiarly the day on which the pleasures of home are felt and appreciated. Amid the hurry and bustle common to working days, the domestic feelings are kept partly in abeyance: in the season of sacred rest full scope is afforded to the exercise of the heart's best affections. How striking the contrast betwixt the noise and turmoil of the busy world and the peaceful calm of the Sabbath in a well regulated family! when those near and dear to each other, commingle cheerfully, profitably. In such a sanctuary God is surely honoured, man blessed!

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

All men, the most advanced, have much to learn, and much to unlearn. By mind communing with mind, each is benefitted, improved. By the coming together of the old with the young, the rich with the poor, the learned with the illiterate, the accomplished with the simple, the variously gifted, one with another, feelings of sympathy, of mutual interest spontaneously spring up. Much of human happiness and improvement depends on social intercourse; and social intercourse is sweetened and elevated by a right use of the Sabbath.

[blocks in formation]


Hail sweet Sabbath day! fairest of all the seven. comest to invigorate tender youth and veteran age; to lighten

the task of the toil worn and weary; to accelerate the march of mind; to strengthen the affections that bind heart to heart. Welcome sweet Sabbath! In thy return, the Divine Paternity is made manifest to all, who have hearts to feel! In thy return, the "Resurrection and the Life" strikes yet deeper root in the believer's soul! In thee, we have an earnest too, and a foretaste, of that Heaven of joy which awaits those who sleep in Jesus, the spirits of the just made perfect!


No. VI.


Not only the motions of the stars, and the structures of human beings, and of all other animals, and of the different members of the vegetable kingdom, but the past history and features of our globe, display such evidences of beneficent design, as necessarily to conduct us to an intelligent and benignant Creator. Our earth is not of yesterday, nor was it made but six thousand years ago, for at least one hundred times that period must have been required for the deposition of one of its strata alone, the oldest sandstone; if we attempt to assign any age to it, its past existence must be counted by tens, if not more probably by hundreds of millions of its own revolutions round the sun. Throughout these unreckonable ages, numerous and vast have been the changes it has undergone; for there is not a portion of its present surface, which has not more than once lain, for centuries at a time at the bottom of the ocean; and been thence as frequently upheaved to the light, by volcanic or other mighty central forces. Nor has this seeming ruin, and these apparent devastations, been without a wise and kindly purpose; each change not only fitted it to be the dwelling place of some new order of sentient beings, peculiarly and exquisitely adapted to its temporary condition; but all these mutations conjoined have brought it to its present state of beauty, variety, fertility, and serviceableness to Man, the youngest and greatest of its inhabitants.

The mere diversity of the surface of the earth, its mere arrangement into mountains and valleys, is evidence both of Design and of Benevolence. How " weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable" would a dead and uniform level have appeared to us, simply regarded as an object of contemplation, those

who have ever been forced to leave a hilly country in which their youth was spent, to reside constantly among plains, however fertile, can alone adequately conceive. That He who made our nature susceptible of great pleasure from variety, has placed that variety around us, is proof that he thought of our happiness even before he called us into existence; and commanded the volcanoes and the deluges of the pre-Adamite periods to make preparation for our enjoyment. Had the surface of our globe been void of elevations and depressions, it would probably have been entirely covered by the waters of the vast ocean, and consequently there could neither have been terrestrial plants nor animals. But suppose it a level, and uncovered by the sea; as rain must have fallen upon it from the atmosphere, had no means of escape into hollows been prepared for its reception, the surface must have been converted into one immense morass, healthy enough in all probability for the dwelling place of the different saurians, but where human life could not have been maintained for a moment. As it is, the moisture raised from the earth and sea by the action of the sun, and suspended in the heavens above us, falls upon the mountains and is conducted down their sides in rivers, which disperse fruitfulness and beauty and health, as they go, and at length rest in the deepest valleys as vast lakes, or find their way directly to the ocean, to begin again their beneficent circuit.

At one time the surface of our globe was composed of nothing but bleak and barren rock. Immediately, however, did the atmosphere and the rains begin to act upon it. Many rocks, including even the hardest, have been gifted with a power of absorbing from the air both oxygen and carbonic acid; which have the effect of decomposing them, and crumbling them gradually down into minute particles. Even at the present moment, this process is going on among some of the most compact of them, to the depth of half-aninch per year; that is, to that depth they are being converted into small gravel or into powder. Rain, by penetrating into the minutest fissures, and cold by there transforming it into ice, combine to split even the firmest textures, and thus expose them more completely to the process of disintegration by atmospherical or chemical agencies. Rivers, again, are constantly wearing away great quantities of solid matter; they frequently scoop out channels even in basalt or granite to the depths of hundreds of feet. This dust they either deposit on their banks, or at the bottoms of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »