« ÎnapoiContinuați »
6. It teaches us our native dignity, the design of our creation, the duties we owe to our God, ourselves, our families, our parents, our children, and our fellow-men. It teaches us how to live and how to die. It arms the Christian in panoply complete, snatches from death its poisoned sting, from the grave its boasted victory, and points the soul to its crowning glory, a blissful immortality beyond the skies.
THE BLIND PREACHER.
[This is an extract from one of a series of Letters written by Mr. Wirt, under the assumed name of the British Spy.]
1. I HAVE been, my dear S- -, on an excursion through the counties which lie along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge. A general description of that country and its inhab itants may form the subject of a future letter. For the present, I must entertain you with an account of a most singular and interesting adventure, which I met with in the course of the tour.
2. It was one Sunday, as I traveled through the county of Orange, that my eye was caught by a cluster of horses tied near a ruinous old wooden house, in the forest, not far from the road-side. Having frequently seen such objects before in traveling through these States, I had no difficulty in understanding that this was a place of religious worship.
3. Devotion alone should have stopped me to join in the duties of the congregation ; but I must confess that curiosity to hear the preacher of such a wilderness, was not the least of my motives. On entering, I was struck with his preternatural appearance. He was a tall and very spare old man; his
a A range of mountains in Virginia.
head, which was covered with a white linen cap, his shriveled hands, and his voice, were all shaking under the influence of a palsy; and a few moments ascertained to me that he was perfectly blind.
4. The first emotions which touched my breast were those of mingled pity and veneration. But how soon were all my feelings changed! The lips of Platoa were never more worthy of a prognostic swarm of bees, than were the lips of this holy man! It was a day of the administration of the sacrament; and his subject, of course, was the passion of our Savior. I had heard the subject handled a thousand times. I had thought it exhausted long ago.
5. Little did I suppose that in the wild woods of America, I was to meet with a man whose eloquence would give to this topic a new and more sublime pathos than I had ever before witnessed. As he descended from the pulpit, to distribute the mystic symbols, there was a peculiar, a more than human, solemnity in his air and manner, which made my blood run cold, and my whole frame shiver.
6. He then drew a picture of the sufferings of our Savior; his trial before Pilate; his ascent up Calvary; his crucifixion; and his death. I knew the whole history; but never, until then, had I heard the circumstances so selected, so arranged, so colored! It was all new; and I seemed to have heard it for the first time in my life.
7. His enunciation was so deliberate, that his voice trembled on every syllable; and every heart in the assembly trembled in unison. His peculiar phrases had that force of description, that the original scene appeared to be at that moment acting before our eyes. We saw the very faces of the Jews; the staring, frightful distortions of malice and rage. We saw the buffet; my soul kindled with a flame of indignation; and my hands were involuntarily and convulsively clinched.
8. But when he came to touch on the patience, the forgiving meekness, of our Savior; when he drew, to the life, his blessed eyes streaming in tears to heaven; his voice breathing to God
a Plato, a celebrated philosopher, by descent an Athenian; born B. C. 429.
a soft and gentle prayer of pardon on his enemies, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,”—the voice of the preacher, which had all along faltered, grew fainter, and fainter, until his utterance being entirely obstructed by the force of his feelings, he raised his handkerchief to his eyes, and burst into a loud and irrepressible flood of grief. The effect was inconceivable. The whole house resounded with the mingled groans, and sobs, and shrieks of the congregation.
9. It was some time before the tumult had subsided, so far as to permit him to proceed. Indeed, judging by the usual, but fallacious standard of my own weakness, I began to be very uneasy for the situation of the preacher. For I could not conceive how he would be able to let his audience down from the height to which he had wound them, without impairing the solemnity and dignity of his subject, or perhaps shocking them by the abruptness of the fall. But no! the descent was as beautiful and sublime as the elevation had been rapid and enthusiastic.
10. The first sentence, with which he broke the awful silence, was a quotation from Rousseau." "Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ like a God!" I despair of giving you any idea of the effect produced by this short sentence, unless you could perfectly conceive the whole manner of the man, as well as the peculiar crisis in the discourse. Never before did I completely understand what Demosthenes meant by laying such stress on delivery.
11. You are to bring before you the venerable figure of the preacher; his blindness, constantly recalling to your recollection, old Homer," Ossian, and Milton,' and associating with his performance, the melancholy grandeur of their geniuses; you are to imagine that you hear his slow, solemn, well-accented enunciation, and his voice of affecting, trembling melody.
12. You are to remember the pitch of passion and enthu
• Rousseau, (Roo-so';) a man of eminent learning, born at Geneva, 1712. b Sócrates, a celebrated philosopher, born at Alopéce, near Athens, B. C. 569. c Demosthenes, a celebrated Athenian orator, born B. C. 385. d Homer, a celebrated Greek poet. He flourished B. C. about 900. e Os'sian, a Caledonian bard, who flourished in the year A. D. about 300. f Milton, (John;) an eminent English poet; born 160S.
siasm to which the congregation were raised; and then, the few minutes of portentous, death-like silence, which reigned throughout the house; the preacher, removing his white handkerchief from his aged face, (even yet wet from the recent torrent of his tears,) and slowly stretching forth the palsied hand which holds it, begins the sentence: "Socrates died like a philosopher," then pausing, raising his other hand, pressing them both, clasped together, with warmth and energy to his breast, lifting his "sightless balls" to heaven, and pouring his whole soul into his tremulous voice- -"but Jesus Christ like a God!' If he had been in deed and in truth, an angel of light, the effect could scarcely have been more divine.
[The reader may scan the following piece, and tell to what kind of verse it belongs. See Construction of Verse, p. 68.]
1. JESUS, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee,
All I've sought, or hoped, or known,
2. Go, then, earthly fame and treasure,
With thy favor, loss is gain!
I have set my heart on thee;
All must work for good to me!
3. Soul! then know thy full salvation,
Something still to do or bear!
4. Haste thee on, from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
BENEVOLENCE OF GOD.
1. It is saying much for the benevolence of God, to say, that a single world, or a single system, is not enough for it: that it must have the spread of a mightier region, on which it may pour forth a tide of exuberancy throughout all its provinces; that, as far as our vision can carry us, it has strewed immensity with the floating receptacles of life. and has stretched over each of them the garniture of such a sky, as mantles our own habitation; and that, even from distances which are far beyond the reach of human eye, the songs of gratitude and praise may now be arising to the one God, who sits surrounded by the regards of his one great and universal family.
2. Now it is saying much for the benevolence of God, to say, that it sends forth these wide and distant emanations over the surface of a territory se ample; that the world we inhabit,