תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

and never unveiled till now-a scene the world would scarcely deign to look at, but one on which God looks down with smiles—a scene, in which no prince or princess is the actor, but one which princes might come down from their thrones to emulate :-a devout and humble woman, wrestling with the Angel of the Covenant, and as a prince obtaining power to prevail !

“The farewell to his mother drove her to her knees. There is such a thing as special faith in prayer. It was such to this dear saint, when she went to plead for her poor son. She felt his sorrows and her own; and God was pleased not only to show her that all her help was in him, but to enable her to feel that to him could her heart turn as her only God in covenant, and from him could she find unutterable relief. She did not leave her closet, till she found the full relief she sought, and till her mind was confifidently assured that God would remember mercy for her child ! It ought to be recorded, that on that very morning, it pleased the Holy Ghost, as she afterwards ascertained, to knock off the chains from this unhappy prisoner, and introduce him into the liberty of the sons of God. He had not gone far, before he had such a view of the perfections of God, that he wondered he had never seen their beauty and glory before. There was nothing in God now which distressed him. He had lost all his opposition to the divine sovereignty; and such were his views of this adorable perfection, that he could not refrain from exclaiming, 'O glorious sovereignty! O glorious sovereignty!' He retired a small distance into the woods, that he might be the more at liberty to contemplate the character of God, and adore and extol his holy and amiable sovereignty: but he here saw so much of God, that his mind was almost lost in the overwhelming manifestation. The scene was altogether new. There was a wonderful change either in God or in him. Everything was gilded with light and glory; and now and then, as he gazed at the splendor and majesty of the divine character, he would still exclaim, 'O glorious sovereignty! It does not appear that in all this he was bribed into acquiescence. His mind was so constantly occupied in viewing the perfections of God, and in meditating on his word and works, and so continued for several weeks, that he did not think of himself with any degree of concern.' Such is the nature of genuine religion. It is far from being indispensable to our cordial acquiescence in God's character and government, to be persuaded that we are interested in his mercy."*

* A new and revised edition of the Memoir of Mr. Mills has been recently issued from the press of Messrs. Perkins and Marvin of this city, and well deserves the attention of the religious public.

AMUSEMENTS.

From the Spirit and Manners of the Age.

At a time when the mental resources of individuals were far more limited than they are now, cards were introduced to remove the ennui of the social scene. A taste for literature and science has operated, it is true, to their exclusion from many companies where they were once cordially admitted; but, unhappily, their influence is still very extensive. The writer has not un frequently heard the question mooted of late, 'What harm is there in cards ?' Nor is he conscious of any difficulty in meeting the interrogation.

- Is there no harm, it may be replied, in the sacrifice of time ? Are so many precious hours to be squandered with impunity? It cannot be.

“ Time, the supreme !—Time is eternity;

Pregnant with all eternity can give;
Pregnant with all that makes archangels smile;
Who murders time, he crushes in the birth

A power etherial, only not adored.” The excitement of corrupt feelings, and the worst passions of the human bosom, must also be mentioned. Who that is fond of play,' has not marked the baleful look of scorn? Who has not observed the rising, perhaps the dominance of anger ? Who has not listened to mutual recriminations, to the boisterous triumphs of selfishness, and to expressions which announced the subjugation of every benevolent emotion ? And who does not know that the course of gaming may be traced in perfidy and blood ? Instances are numerous in which, like a fearful vortex, it has engulfed honor, fortune, character, and life. Many a wretch, who now paces the streets in abject penury, could tell of overwhelming losses to which the domestic card-table was the precursor. Many an orphan is struggling with insuperable difficulties, because his guardian, enchained by this vice, most treacherously betrayed his trust. And many a widow is there, whose countenance accords with the sableness of her attire, and from whose eyes would gush a torrent, were you to allude to that which made her dearest friend a suicide. It is granted that the results of this recreation, as it is termed, are not always of this disinal character ; but it must be maintained, that in no case whatever are they favorable to the interests of morality, and that, to be safe from the bite of a venomous reptile, it should be crushed in the egg. He who would avoid precipitation to the base of a rock, must not trifle on the summit; and on this principle we are required, by the highest authority, to 'abstain from all appearance of evil.' No sooner do we look without dismay on the semblance of what is wrong, than we are in danger of sinking into the full reality, though we might previously have regarded it with abhorrence.

“ Vice is a creature of such hideous mien,

That to be hated needs but to be seen;
But seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace." It is, therefore, at best but an ingenious fallacy to contend, that because persons play in private parties, or for small sums, no injury can arise ; since, by so doing, an avenue is kept open for all the pestiferous accompaniments of an ensnaring, and often fatal amusement.

Of dancing it would be unjust and injurious to speak in mild and equivocal terms. Nothing can be more absurd than the pretext for its necessity so commonly stated, that it is indispensable to easy and graceful manners; for many are destitute of them who have been initiated by fashionable teachers, and others, who have not been, have possessed this attraction. Were it otherwise, the result ought to be inestimably valuable, to be commensurate with the inevitable sacrifice. Of what may a woman, entering the public assembly in all the charms of loveliness, so well remind us, as the victim of former times, garlanded with flowers, approaching the altar ? Health, which casts over that countenance so many beauteous hues, and which gives to that step so much elasticity and firmness, must suffer, and may be lost, in such midnight revelries. To this, the usual attire may greatly contribute, while it cannot be assumed without impairing the delicacy of its wearer; giving scope to the feelings of pride, and to the love of display, which it is of vast importance to repress, and assisting to induce habits of extravagance at variance with honor and peace. Nor can it be denied that other emotions frequently have birth, of an order, if possible, more exceptionable. Struggles for precedency, the exultation attendant on personal distinction, the proud consciousness of superiority in dress, in skill, or in immediate association ; the efforts at mortifying others, which frequently inflame the passions, and violently agitate the whole frame, and betray a state of mind and of heart which every lover of his species should strive to avert. Strange is the infatuation which conceals the fact, that every departure from the appropriate sphere of moral principle makes way for others; and that the most fearful consequences may result from an aberration which once seemed inconsiderable. Still more so is it when it is not seen, that, having proceeded far from the line of rectitude, the individual is in imminent danger of a lapse, which once would have been deemed impossible. Not unfrequently do the public journals describe to us some of the miseries of violated engagements, and heart-rending scenes of pollution and wo, which had never met the eye of the mind, had it not been for the vain imagination that a small part of what is manifestly evil may be good;-had not circumstances been permitted and applauded, in which they undoubtedly originated.

The limits of this paper will allow of but few remarks on theatrical representations; and indeed, they would be inappropriate to its subject, since they have no solid claim to the character of amusements. For recreation, we must repair to other sources. The stage can neither relieve the mind from severe attention, nor recruit the animal spirits by an agreeable suspension of effort ; its effort, on the contrary, is the excitement of the passions, which is always attended by a feverish restlessness, and followed by painful exhaustion. A sanguine hope is entertained by many that the attractions of the theatre are on the decline. It is an interesting feature of the present age, that notwithstanding every exertion on the part of managers in our towns, they often receive much less encouragement than they have been accustomed to experience. And there are reasons for thinking that this will be increasingly the case, from the want of dramatic materiel. Tragedy has long been on the wane, and Comedy is now rapidly declining. Not a few characters which amused the play-goers of thirty or forty years ago, are too gross to be tolerated now, when the licentiousness of speech and compositions, then so common, is becoming extremely rare. In the lapse of years, there has been not only an improvement in delicacy of feeling, but also a diminution of those personal peculiarities, to the embodying of which the actor looks for his highest fascination and applause. In the intercourse, and especially the mental improvement of society, a sort of homogeneity of character has been induced, which will render difficult the comedians finding new parts, and which will give to many of those now exhibited with eclat, an unnatural air. A glimpse of a period in which the influence of the stage shall be greatly diminished, is truly animating to a benevolent mind. Those who are acquainted with its history, drawn not by the hand of interested panegyrists, but by that of truth, need entertain no apprehension that a commensurate evil can arise from its ruins. On the contrary, when the sound is heard, “ Įt is fallen," the most powerful engine ever devised for the destruction of man's dearest interests will have been demolished.

If it is asked on what principle amusements should be selected, the words of an eminent individual will furnish an appropriate reply: -“If there is something wholesome in them which almost refuses corruption ; if the advantage they produce balance their mischief; if by scattering their oils around, they contribute to smooth, without poisoning the waves of life ; if their direct or chance expense does not break in upon that treasury which every man keeps for his neighbor; if they are not so closely allied to the amusements of the bad as to break down the wall of partition between us and them ; if they have no tendency to wean society from more profitable employments ; if, lastly, they do not encroach on that handful of time bestowed on man to do the business of eternity.-If all this be true of any of them, I will say of him who uses them, he may be a Christian, and a good Christian, but I shall think him the most distin

guished Christian who uses them the least. The good, like the great man, (why, alas ! are not the terms convertible ?) will ever seek his pleasures in the field of his duties, and, though he suffers mere amusement, will seldom court it.”

THE CHARACTER AND MISERY OF AN IRRELIGIOUS YOUTH.

From the (English) Youth's Magazine.

“I never look at an irreligious young person," observed a most pious and estimable individual, “ without cherishing a feeling of pure and unmixed pity ; and when I think of the idle habits he forms, of the improper associations he cultivates, of the unsubstantial and pernicious pleasures, he pursues, and of the amount of good he might be rendered instrumental in securing, were he governed by the principles of the Gospel, the impression produced on my mind, is at once mournful and overpowering.” This reinark is equally just and incontrovertible, though at the same time, it is scarcely possible for us to assent to its truth, without being the subjects of depressing and painful emotions. I do not feel solicitous to lessen the dignity of youth; to deface the beauty and tarnish the lustre of the youthful character; or to indulge in censorious and splenetic remarks, in relation to the habits, the conversation, the deportment, and “the ruling passions” of young people; but it must excite the profound and unmingled regret of every person of sober and accurate reflection, and especially of enlightened and devout feeling, to perceive so inconsiderable a number of those, who are encircled by all the beauty, richness, and splendor of “the vernal season of life," sitting at the feet of Jesus ; breathing the lovely and celestial spirit of the Gospel; discovering that humility, decision, energy, sweet simplicity of character, and entire consecration of their powers, attainments, and resources, to the divine Redeemer, by which commanding features a child of God is at once beautified and distinguished.

Young people, who have left ‘vanity fair;' whose conversation is emphatically in heaven; whose tone of hallowed and devout feeling is at once unequivocal and commanding; who discover the mind of Christ wherever they go; and who are unceasingly solicitous to exhibit the matchless beauty and the unsearchable riches of Jesus to those around them, without any regard to age, sex, or capacity, are, in the most painful sense, “strangers in the earth'-resembling green and fertile spots in the desert of human life; and while these are beauteous and luxuriant, all around discovers complete drought, aridity, and desolation.

Asa minister of Christ, when I meet with young persons, I do not feel desirous of knowing, in the first place, whether they possess a variety of exterior or minor attractions. I like to meet with a youth of intelligence, who is extensively acquainted with literature and

« הקודםהמשך »