« VorigeDoorgaan »
of the work he came to accomplish, he never made light of social and domestic relations. In his youth, he was subject to his parents ; thus exemplifying the necessity of obedience to the fifth commandment. When enduring the tortures of crucifixion, with a filial respect and attachment worthy of him who came to be an example in all things, he commended his mother to the care of his most beloved follower, with the request that he would henceforth care for her, as for his own mother; and also requested her to watch over that friend with maternal care.— Blessed Redeemer, thanks for such a glorious example!
But while he honoured the moral law, by thus honouring his parents, he did not forget to enjoin upon his followers this momentous truth, “ Whoso loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and whoso loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.” This precept he confirmed by his life. When he must be about his Father's business at the temple of Jerusalem, he did not hesitate to forsake his parents, even though it cost them many an anxious thought, and many a sorrowing tear. Again, when giving instructions to the multitude, and his mother and brothers sent in a request to see him, instead of obeying the summons, he seized upon the suggestion, and with a peculiar force and beauty, declared that those who did the will of his Father in heaven, were to be regarded as his mother, his sisters, and his brothers; or, in other words : “ Who claim my attention as mother, and sisters, and brothers? Those who do the will of my Father. Let me urge this upon you, and let it be a motive for you to lead holy lives.” At the marriage in Cana of Galilee, when his mother interfered in his official duty, he hesitated not to rebuke her; thus giving another example of not allowing love to friends to interfere with glory in God. Who was better calculated than he, who was so holy of heart, to enjoy the pleasures of the family circle, and contribute to the welfare of his beloved parents? It must have been truly unmingled happiness, for one of such spotless purity to make pleasant the life, and smooth the dying pillow of so guileless a mother as the virgin Mary. But he could give up all for the sake of promoting the salvation of men.
So his followers should not give way to the unrestrained indulgence of this passion, any more than that of avarice or appetite. To the Christian who does this, the eye of faith is dim. His mind has become so warped by the things that concern himself, that he forgets the temporal woes, the everlasting doom, of the unconverted. He forgets what Christ has done for his own soul. He forgets that Christ has promised to be with all his faithful servants to the end of the world. He forgets that heaven is the home of rest, where all enjoyment is to be consummated. He forgets that himself and friends are in the hands of God; that he can send a loathsome disease into his family, as a punishment for swerving from duty; that he can send death, that unyielding executioner, whose blow no parental anxiety can stay, no filial tears avert. But when the love of Christ is uppermost, and zeal for him prevails, self-denial is found to be as requisite in this as in any other respect. So was it with the pious mother of Samuel J. Mills, the father of American benevolence. She thought she had given him up
entirely to the work of the Lord; but when he announced his determination of going to the heathen, she started back, and refused consent. After she had retired to her closet, however, and communed with her Saviour, she rejoiced in the prospect of the self-denial she was to make. So in the case of another, who many years ago bid adieu to his native land. After a long time of unavailing argument with a widowed mother, he one day said to her, “Now, mother, to-morrow we will spend as a day of fasting and prayer; and if, at its close, you say I am wrong in my decision of going to the heathen, I will stay at home.” At night they met, and, with a countenance full of joy, she said, “Go, my son, and the Lord go with you." · That Christian is to be loved, who loves his family; but he is to be emulated, who loves Christ better!
THE PHILOSOPHY OF A SUMMER RAIN. It is a morning of sunshine. The pure air is delightful to breathe. Our acquaintance, as they meet us, say by their rapid step and cheerful salutation, that existence is a pleasure. We thought so before. The birds seem to think so, and are making every tree vocal with their lively music. The road is wet, and spotted, at short intervals, with little pools, gathered in the scattered hollows of the way. How changed since the day before yesterday. The weather had been very dry for weeks before. Many gardens had withered. The farmer had begun to speak of his crops with anxiety. The great staples of home consumption were suffering, and did not promise to reach their ordinary size, or, without a speedy change in the weather, (perhaps not then,) any thing like their usual abundance. Upon plain lands of a light soil, the surface was so baked by the sun, that the share penetrated with difficulty, and turned up a furrow of little freshness. The foliage was soiled. Travellers were dressed in uniform suits of russet. Every window and door gave admittance to dust almost as subtle as air, and shelves, goods, books, manuscripts, chairs, tables, sofas, sideboards and carpets, were clouded with earth, to the annoyance of every body, and ample employment of clerks and house-maids. The atmosphere, thus choked with dust, we were doomed to breathe from fifteen to twenty times a minute.
How grateful the change! Nature is refreshed. The foliage is bright again; the herbage is green once more; the drooping leaves of the fainting trees are revived. Man has fresh hopes, and breathes in fresh spirits.
With what kindliness the rain has fallen! First, distilled an almost invisible dew; then after some time came a heavy mist; then at short distances apart, gentle showers; and lastly, continuous rain. Thus parched vegetation has not been drowned by a sudden flood, as garden or green-house plants sometimes are, when watered in a hot noon by a young florist. Every leaf and blade, absorbing strength with moisture at every pore, has, with intelligent and benevolent skill, been gradually prepared for the overflowing tide of nourishment.
How much more highly we prize the sweet air and landscape of translucent green, from having been long without them! So, on recovery from sickness, there is a delight beyond ordinary health in the elastic spirits, the sense of energy that solicits employment, and the open placid flow of the blood, long chased by fever through the veins. It may be one end of deprivation, to quicken our pleasures and our gratitude. Such certainly is the benevolent tendency of a change from enjoyment to suffering, and then from suffering to enjoyment. Such is the effect in respect to pleasure upon all hearts, and, in respect to gratitude upon the truly pious. Now this tendency and consequence cannot happen without the foreknowledge and design of the great Master of events. One intention of temporary suffering may be therefore said to be, to inspire us with a more delightful sense of our blessings, and to draw from our souls a sweeter hymn of praise to the merciful Giver, by the influence of contrast.
May not this reasoning shed a gleam of light upon the existence of evil in the world ? Suffering cannot be essential to perfect happiness, or sin to perfect holiness; for the angels are perfectly holy and happy. The tendency of sin itself is to utter, hopeless misery, but the tendency of the contrast between sin escaped and piety enjoyed, is certainly to gladness and praise. On a change of heart, the strongest expressions of rapture are usually from the lips of men who have been grossly vicious before, but who now prove the reasonable nature of their religious hopes by the piety of their lives. It was a woman whose sins are said to be “ many," and who is described as emphatically “a sinner," that, at a Pharisee's house, as Jesus, having put off his sandals, reclined at his meal, “ stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” Luke, chap. vii.
And when the Pharisee inferred from this circumstance, that the Saviour must be ignorant of her character, and so could not be a prophet, he met the conclusion with the following appropriate parable.
“ There was a certain creditor which had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most? And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss; but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
To the consequences of sin, there seems to be annexed a law of redeeming, overruling power to the converted soul. By contrast, the miseries of former impenitence are made to heighten the joys of piety, and to fan the ardour of holy and grateful affection. Bountiful God! thou art good, even in the vicissitudes of thy providence.
USE OF WATER IN HOT CLIMATES. The hardy Arabs of the desert have no other habitual drink than water, and even this, when on an expedition of war, trade, or plunder, is often in small quantities, and far from being pure; but yet, what drinkers of wine or porter could undergo the fatigue and exposure to which these people are habitually subject? Water is the habitual, and, we may add, only drink for millions of the inhabitants of Asia and Africa, to whom nature, in many parts of those continents, has been by no means niggardly in physical power and symmetry of form. The same may be said of that large population scattered over the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Are additions of an alcoholic or vinous nature required in the climates of the tropics, where the languor of the animal frame is considerable, and corroborants seem to be indicated ? Dr. Johnson, editor of the Medico Chirurgical Review, in his Tropical Hygiene, tells those who go to hot climates :
“In short, the nearer we approach to a perfectly aqueous regimen in drink, during the first year at least, so much the better chance have we of avoiding sickness; and the more slowly and gradually we deviate from this afterwards, so much the more retentive shall we be of that invaluable blessing, health.
"It might appear very reasonable, that, in a climate where ennui reigns triumphant, and an unaccountable langour pervades both mind and body, we should cheer our drooping spirits with the mirth-inspiring bowl; à precept which Hafiz has repeatedly enjoined. But Hafiz, though an excellent poet, and like his predecessor Homer, à votary of Bacchus, was not much of a physician; and without doubt, his ' liquid ruby,' as he calls it, is one of the worst of all prescriptions for a “pensive heart." I remember a gentleman at the Prince of Wales's Islands, some years ago, who was remarkable for his convivial talents and flow of spirits. The first time I happened to be in a large company with him, I attributed his animation and hilarity to the wine, and expected to see them flag, as is usual, when the first effects of the bottle were past off; but I was surprised to see them maintain a uniform level, after many younger heroes had bowed to the rosy god. I now contrived to get near him, and enter into a conversation, when he disclosed the secret, by assuring me, he had drunk nothing but water for many years in India! that in consequence his health was excellent -his spirits free-his mental faculties unclouded, although far advanced on time's list; in short, that he could conscientiously recommend the 'antediluvian' beverage, as he termed it, to every one that sojourned in a tropical climate."
The experience of the most competent judges is decidedly favourable to the use of water, as the exclusive beverage in the West Indies. The celebrated Dr. Jackson, at one time at the head of the medical staff in the British West Indies, and who had served in the southern states in the revolutionary war, thus speaks of himself:
“I have wandered a good deal about the world, and never followed any prescribed rules in any thing; my health has been tried in all ways; and, by the aids of temperance and hard work, I have worn out two armies, in two wars; and, probably, could wear out another before my period of old age arrives. I eat no animal food, drink no wine or malt liquor, or spirits of any kind; I wear no flannel, and neither regard wind nor rain, heat nor cold, where business is in the way."
How common, and yet how beautiful and how pure, is a drop of water! See it, as it issues from the rock, to supply the spring and the stream below. See how its meanderings through the plains, and its torrents over the cliffs, add to the richness and the beauty of the landscape. Look into a manufactory standing by a waterfall, in which every drop is faithful to perform its part, and hear the groaning and rustling of the wheels, the clattering of shuttles, and the buz of spindles, which, under the direction of their attendants, are supplying myriads of fair purchasers with fabrics from the cotton-plant, the sheep, and the silkworm.
Is any one so stupid as not to admire the splendour of the rainbow, or so ignorant as not to know that it is produced by drops of water, as they break away from the clouds which had confined them, and are making a quick visit to our earth, to renew its verdure and increase its animation? How useful is the gentle dew, in its nightly visits, to allay the scorching heat of a summer's sun! And the autumn's frost, how beautifully it bedecks the trees, the shrubs, and the grass; though it strips them of their summer's verdure, and warns them that they must soon receive the buffetings of the winter's tempest! This is but water, which has given up its transparency for its beautiful whiteness and its elegant crystals. The snow, too, what is that but these same pure drops thrown into crystals by winter's icy hand ? and does not the first summer's sun return them to the same limpid drops ?
The majestic river, and the boundless ocean, what are they? Are they not made of drops of water? How the river steadily pursues its course from the mountain's top, down the declivity, over the cliff, and through the plain, taking with it every thing in its course! How many mighty ships does the ocean float upon its bosom! How many fishes sport in its waters! How does it form a lodging-place for the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Danube, the Rhine, the Ganges, the Lena, and the Hoang Ho!
How piercing are these pure limpid drops ! How do they find their way into the depths of the earth, and even the solid rock! How many thousand streams, hidden from our view by mountain masses, are steadily pursuing their courses, deep from the surface which forms our standing place for a few short days! In the air, too, how it diffuses itself ! Where can a particle of air be found which does not contain an atom of water!
How much would a famishing man give for a few of these pure, limpid drops of water? And where do we use it in our daily suste