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received them. Can we then be atheists, who worship the great Creator of this world, not with blood, incense, and offerings, (which we are sufficiently taught he stands in no need of,) but exalt him according to our power with prayers and praises, in all the addresses we make to him; believing this to be the only honour that is worthy of him, not to consume the creatures which he has given us for our use, and the comforts of those that want, in the fire by sacrifice; but to approve ourselves thankful to him, and to sing and celebrate rational hymns and sacrifices, pouring out our prayers to him as a grateful return for those many good things which we have received, and do yet expect from him, according to the faith and trust that we have in him." To the same purpose Athenagoras, in his return to this charge: "Diagorus indeed was guilty of the deepest atheism and impiety; but we who separate God from all material being, and affirm him to be eternal and unbegotten, but all matter to be made and corruptible, how unjustly are we branded with impiety! It is true, did we side with Diagorus in denying a Divinity, when there are so many and such powerful arguments from the creation and government of the world to convince us of the existence of God and religion, then both the guilt and punishment of atheism might deservedly be put upon us. But when our religion acknowledges one God, the maker of the universe, who, being uncreate Himself, created all things by his word, we are manifestly wronged both in word and deed; both in being charged with it, and in being punished for it."* "We are accused (says Arnobius) for introducing profane rites and an impious religion; but tell me, O ye men of reason, how dare ye make so rash a charge? To adore the mighty God, the Sovereign of the whole creation, the Governor of the highest powers, to pray to him with the most obsequious reverence; under an afflicted state to lay hold of him with all our powers, to love him, and look up to him; is this a dismal and detestable religion, a religion full of sacrilege and impiety, destroying and defiling all ancient rites? Is this that bold and prodigious crime for which your gods are so angry with us, and for which you yourselves do so rage against us, confiscating our estates, banishing our persons, burning, tearing, and racking us to death with such exquisite tortures? We Christians are nothing else but the worshippers
Athen. Leg. pro. Christian. p. 5.
Contr. gent. lib. i. p. 7.
of the supreme King and Governor of the world, according as we are taught by Christ our master. Search, and you will find nothing else in our religion. This is the sum of the whole affair; this is the end and design of our divine offices; before Him it is that we are wont to prostrate and bow ourselves, Him we worship with common and conjoined devotions, from Him we beg those things which are just and honest, and such as are not unworthy of him to hear and grant." So little reason had the enemies of Christianity to brand it with the note of atheism and irreligion.
THEN came the jolly Sommer, being dight
And now would bathe his limbs with labor heated sore.
Such is Spenser's description of the jolly Sommer.' The same vigorous pencil has personified the summer months of June and July:
And after her came jolly June, array'd
All in greene leaves, as he a Player were;
Like that ungracious crew which faines demurest grace.
Then came hot July boyling like to fire,
He boldly rode, and made him to obay:
We will select two summer landscapes, whose scenes are laid in regions far apart. Scott gives us a charming picture of the mild graces of the season:—
The summer dawn's reflected hue
To purple changed Loch Katrine blue;
The lark sent down her revelry;
Her notes of peace, and rest, and love.
The American poet, Bryant, draws his images from pine-forests and fields of maize, upon which a fiery sun looks down with "scorching heat and dazzling light:"
It is a sultry day; the sun has drunk
Settling on the sick flowers, and then again
The gazer's eye away. For me, I lie
Shaking a shower of blossoms from the shrubs,
And sound of swaying branches, and the voice
Are stirring on his breath: a thousand flowers,
Are twinkling in the sun, as if the dew
Contrasted with this picture how refreshing are the "hedge-row elms," the furrow'd land,"- the russet lawns,"
the meadows trim,"—" the upland hamlets," of Milton's 'L'Allegro.' His "sunshine holiday" is thoroughly English:
To hear the lark begin his flight,
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,