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27. Wife, Children, and Friends.
WHEN the black-lettered list to the gods was presented,
In vain surly Pluto maintained he was cheated,
For earth becomes heaven with-wife, children, and friends
If the stock of our bliss is in stranger hands vested,
When drawn on the firm of wife, children, and friends.
Though valor still glows in his life's dying embers,
How blessed was his home with-wife, children, and friends
The soldier, whose deeds live immortal in story,
For one happy day with-wife, children, and friends.
The dayspring of youth, still unclouded by sorrow,
Though spice-breathing gales on his caravan hover,
The bower where he sat with — wife, children, and friends.
But drear is the twilight of age, if it borrow
No warmth from the smile of — wife, children, and friends
Let the breath of renown ever freshen and nourish
W. A. SPENCER.
28. Insignificance of this Earth.
THOUGH the earth were to be burned up, though the trumpet of its dissolution were sounded, though yon sky were to pass away as a scroll, and every visible glory which the finger of the Divinity has inscribed on it were extinguished forever, - an event so awful to us, and to every world in our vicinity, by which so many suns would be extinguished, and so many varied scenes of life and population would rush into forgetfulness, what is it in the high scale of the Almighty's workmanship? A mere shred, which, though scattered into nothing, would leave the universe of God one entire scene of greatness and of majesty.
Though the earth and the heavens were to disappear, there are other worlds which roll afar; the light of other suns shines upon them; and the sky which mantles them is garnished with other stars. Is it presumption to say that the moral world extends to these distant and unknown regions? that they are occupied with people? that the charities of home and of neighborhood flourish there? that the praises of God are there lifted up, and his goodness rejoiced in? that there piety has its temples and its offerings? and the richness of the divine attributes is there felt and admired by intelligent worshippers?
And what is this world in the immensity which teems with worlds? and what are they who occupy it? The universe at large would suffer as little in its splendor and variety by the destruction of our planet, as the verdure and sublime magni
tude of a forest would suffer by the fall of a single leaf. The leaf quivers on the branch which supports it. It lies at the mercy of the slightest accident. A breath of wind tears it from its stem, and it lights on the stream of water which passes underneath.
In a moment, the life, which we know by the microscope the leaf teems with, is extinguished; and an occurrence so insignificant in the eye of man, and on the scale of hist observation, carries in it, to the myriads which people this little leaf, an event as terrible and decisive as the destruction of a world. Thus we may see the littleness and inseurity of these myriads. Now, on the grand scale of the universe, we, the occupiers of this ball, which performs its round among the suns and systems that astronomy has unfolded, may feel the same littleness and insecurity. We differ from the leaf only in this circumstance, that it would require the operation of greater elements to destroy us. But these elements exist.
The fire which rages within may lift its devouring energy to the surface of our planet, and transform it into one wide and wasting volcano. The sudden formation of elastic matter in the bowels of the earth and it lies within the agency of known substances to accomplish this may explode it into fragments. The exhalation of noxious air from below may impart a virulence to the air that is around us; it may affect the delicate proportion of its ingredients; and the whole of animated nature may wither and die under the malignity of a tainted atmosphere. A blazing comet may cross this fated planet in its orbit, and all the terrors which superstition has conceived of such an event may be realized.
We cannot anticipate with precision the consequences of an event which every astronomer must know lies within the limits of chance and probability. It may hurry our globe towards the sun, or drag it to the outer regions of the planetary system, or give it a new axis of revolution; and the effect, which I shall simply announce without explaining it, would be to change the place of the ocean, and bring another mighty flood upon our islands and continents.
These are changes which may happen in a single instant of time, and against which nothing known in the present system of things, provides us with any security. They might not annihilate the earth, but they would unpeople it, and we, who tread its surface with such firm and assured footsteps, are at the mercy of devouring elements, which, if let loose upon us by the hand of the Almighty, would spread solitude, and silence, and death over the dominions of the world.
Now, it is this littleness and this insecurity which make the protection of the Almighty so dear to us, and bring with such emphasis to every pious bosom the holy lessons of humility and gratitude. The God who sitteth above, and presides in high authority over all worlds, is mindful of man; and though at this moment his energy is felt in the remotest provinces of creation, we may feel the same security in his providence, as if we were the objects of his undivided
It is not for us to bring our minds up to this mysterious agency. But such is the incomprehensible fact, that the same Being, whose eye is abroad over the whole universe, gives vegetation to every blade of grass, and motion to every particle of blood which circulates through the veins of the minutest animal; that, though his mind takes into his comprehensive grasp immensity and all its wonders, I am as much known to him as if I were the single object of his attention; that he marks all my thoughts; that he gives birth to every feeling and every movement within me; and that, with an exercise of power which I can neither describe nor comprehend, the same God who sits in the highest heaven, and reigns over the glories of the firmament, is at my right hand, to give me every breath which I draw, and every com fort which I enjoy.
Dr. Thomas Chalmers, the author of the above extract, is one of the most distinguished of the Scottish divines, and one of the few Scotsmen who have been elected corresponding members of the Royal Institute of France. His knowledge is extensive, including science no less than liter
ature, the learning of the philosopher with the fancy of the poet. The ardor with which he pursues any favorite topic, presenting it to the reader or hearer in every possible point of view, and investing it with the charms of a rich poetical imagination, is a peculiar feature in his intellectual character, and is well calculated to arrest attention. Robert Hall, a distinguished English divine, was forcibly struck with this peculiarity, and observed, in his usual free and independent manner, that Chalmers' mind resembled a kaleidoscope. "An idea thrown into it is just as if thrown into
kaleidoscope. Every turn presents the object in a new and beautiful form, but the object presented is still the same." Chalmers always gave peculiar effect to his pulpit ministrations by concentrating his attention on one or two points, and pressing these home with zeal; in this way he gave a distinct and vivid impression, unbroken by any extraneous or discursive matter. His pictures have little or no background; the principal figure or conception fills up the canvas. - Cyclopedia of English Literature.
The Pebble and the Acorn.
"I AM a Pebble, and yield to none!'
The pelting hail and the drizzling rain
The Acorn was shocked at this rude salute,