« AnteriorContinuar »
The barriers which they builded from the soil
The brown vultures of the wood Flocked to those vast uncovered sepulchers, And sat, unscared and silent, at their feast. Haply, some solitary fugitive, Lurking in marsh and forest, till the sense Of desolation and of fear became Bitterer than death, yielded himself to die. Man's better nature triumphed. Kindly words Welcomed and soothed him; the rude conquerors Seated the captive with their chiefs; he chose A bride among their maidens, and, at length, Seemed to forget—yet ne'er forgot—the wife Of his first and her sweet little ones Butchered, amid their shrieks, with all his race.
Thus change the forms of being. Thus arise Races of living things, glorious in strength, And perish, as the quickening breath of God Fills them, or is withdrawn. The red man, too, Has left the blooming wilds he ranged so long, And, nearer to the Rocky Mountains, sought A wider hunting-ground. The beaver builds No longer by these streams, but far away, On waters whose blue surface ne'er gave back The white man's face; among Missouri's springs, And pools whose issues swell the Oregon, He rears his little Venice. In these plains The bison feeds no more. Twice twenty leagues Beyond remotest smoke of hunter's camp, Roams the majestic brute, in herds that shake The earth with thundering steps; yet here I meet His ancient footprints stamped beside the pool.
Still this great solitude is quick with life. Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers They flutter over, gentle quadrupeds, And birds that scarce have learned the fear of man. Are here, and sliding reptiles of the ground, Startlingly beautiful. The graceful deer Bounds to the wood at my approach. The bee,
A more adventurous colonist than man,
GOD SEEN IN NATURE'S WORKS. WHATEVER leads our minds habitually to the Author of the universe ; whatever mingles the voice of nature with the revelation of the Gospel ; whatever teaches us to see, in all the changes of the world, the varied goodness of Him, in whom “we live, and move, and have our being,” brings us nearer to the spirit of the Savior of mankind. But it is not only as encouraging a sincere devotion, that these reflections are favorable to Christianity; there is something moreover peculiarly allied to its spirit in such observations of external nature.
When our Savior prepared himself for his temptation, his agony, and death, he retired to the wilderness of Judea, to inhale, we may venture to believe, a holier spirit amid its solitary scenes, and to approach to a nearer communion with his Father amid the sublimest of his works. It is with similar feelings, and to worship the same Father, that the Christian is permitted to enter the temple of nature; and, by the spirit of his religion, there is a language infused into the objects which she presents, unknown to the worshiper of former times.
To all, indeed, the same objects appear, the same sun shines, the same heavens are open; but to the Christian alone it is permitted to know the Author of these things; to see his spirit “move in the breeze,and blossom in the spring;” and to read, in the changes which occur in the material world, the varied expression of eternal love. It is from the influence of Christianity, accordingly, that the key has been given to the signs of nature. It was only when the spirit of God moved on the face of the deep, that order and beauty were seen in the world.
It is, accordingly, peculiarly well worthy of observation, that the beauty of nature, as felt in modern times, seems to have been almost unknown to the writers of antiquity. They described occasionally the scenes in which they dwelt ; but, if we except Virgil, whose gentle mind seems to have anticipated, in this instance, the influence of the Gospel, never with any deep feeling of their beauty. Then, as now, the citadel of Athens looked upon the evening sun, and her temples flamed in his setting beam ; but what Athenian writer ever described the matchless glories of the scene? Then, as now, the silvery clouds of the Ægean Sea rolled round her verdant isles, and sported in the azure vault of heaven; but what Grecian poet has been inspired by the sight?
The Italian lakes spread their waves beneath a cloudless sky, and all that is lovely in nature was gathered around them; yet even Eustace tells us, that a few detached lines is all that is left in regard to them by the Roman poets. The Alps themselves,
“ The palaces of nature, whose vast walls
The avalanche, the thunderbolt of snow;"! even these, the most glorious objects which the eye of man can behold, were regarded by the ancients with sentiments only of dismay or horror; as a barrier from hostile nations, or as the dwelling of barbarous tribes. The torch of religion had not then lighted the face of nature. They knew not the language which she spoke, nor felt that holy spirit, which to the Christian, gives the sublimity of these scenes.
There is something, therefore, in religious reflections on the objects, or the changes of nature, which is peculiarly appropriate in a Christian teacher. No man will impress them on his heart without becoming happier and better ; without feeling warmer gratitude for the beneficence of nature, and deeper thankfulness for those means of knowing the Author of this beneficence which revelation has afforded. Behold the lilies of the field,” says our Savior; "they toil not, neither do they spin: yet, verily I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.” In these words we perceive the deep sense which he entertained of the beauty even of the minutest of the works of nature. If the admiration of external objects is not directly made the object of his precepts, it is not on that account, the less allied to the spirit of religion. It springs from the revelation which he has made, and
with the spirit which he inculcates.
The cultivation of this feeling, we may suppose, is purposely left to the human mind, that man may be induced to follow it from the charms which novelty confers; and the sentiments which it awakens are not expressly enjoined as the spontaneous growth of our own imagination. While they seem, however, to spring up unbidden in the mind, they are, in fact, produced by the spirit of religion; and those who imagine that they are not the fit subject of Christian instruction, are ignorant of the secret workings, and finer analogies, of the faith which they profess.
ONE day in spring, Solomon, then a youth, sat under the palm-trees, in the garden of the king, his father, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and absorbed in thought. Nathan, his preceptor, went up to him and said, “ Why sittest thou thus, musing under the palm-trees ?” The youth raised his head, and answered, “ Nathan, I am exceedingly desirous to behold a miracle." "A wish," said the prophet, with a smile, “which I entertained myself in my juvenile years." "And was it granted ?” hastily asked the prince.
“ A man of God," answered Nathan, came to me, bringing in his hand a pomegranate seed. Observe, said he, what this seed will turn to. He thereupon made with his fingers a hole in the earth, and put the seed into the hole, and covered it. Scarcely had he drawn back his hand when the earth parted,
and I saw two small leaves shoot forth, but no sooner did I perceive them, than the leaves separated, and from between them arose a round stem, covered with bark, and the stem became every moment higher and thicker. The man of God thereupon said to me, take notice!' And while I observed, seven shoots issued from the stem, like the seven branches on the candlestick of the altar. I was astonished, but the man of God motioned to me, and commanded me to be silent, and to attend. •Behold,' said he, 'new creations will soon make their appearance.'
“ He thereupon brought water in the hollow of his hand from the stream which flowed past; and lo! all the branches were covered with green leaves, so that a cooling shade was thrown around us, together with a delicious odor. • Whence, exclaimed I, is this perfume amid the refreshing shade ?' • Seest thou not,' said the man of God, the scarlet blossom, as, shooting forth from among the green leaves, it hangs down in clusters ?' I was about to answer, when a gentle breeze agitated the leaves, and strewed the blossoms around us, as the autumnal blast scatters the withered foliage. No sooner had the blossoms fallen, than the red pomegranates appeared suspended among the leaves, like the almonds on the rod of Aaron. The man of God then left me in profound amaze
Nathan ceased speaking. “What is the name of the god-like man ?” asked Solomon, hastily. “ Doth he yet live? Where doth he dwell ?" “Son of David,” replied Nathan, “ I have related to thee a vision." When Solomon heard these words, he was troubled in his heart, and said, “How canst thou deceive me thus ?” “I have not deceived thee, son of David,” rejoined Nathan. “ Behold, in thy father's garden thou mayest see all that I have related to thee. Doth not the same thing take place with every pomegranate, and with the other trees ?”
“Yes," said Solomon, “ but imperceptibly, and in a long time.” Then Nathan answered, “ Is it therefore the less a divine work, because it takes place silently and insensibly? Study nature and her operations; then wilt thou easily believe those of a higher power, and not long for miracles wrought by a human hand.”
F. A. KRUMMACHER.