Графични страници
PDF файл

niche, and another foot is added to the hundreds that remove him from the reach of human help from below. How carefully he uses his wasting blade! How anxiously he selects the softest places in that vast pier! How he avoids every flinty grain ! How he economises his physical powers! resting a moment at each gain he cuts. How every motion is watched from below! There stand his father, mother, brother, and sister, on the very spot where, if he falls, he will not fall alone.

The sun is now half-way down the west. The lad has made fifty additional niches in that mighty wall, and now finds himself directly under the middle of that vast arch of rocks, earth, and trees. He must cut his way in a new direction, to get from under this overhanging mountain. The inspiration of hope is dying in his bosom ; its vital heat is fed by the increasing shouts of hundreds perched upon cliffs and trees, and others who stand with ropes in heir hands on the bridge above, or with ladders below. Fifty gains more must be cut before the longest rope can reach him. His wasting blade strikes again into the limestone. The boy is emerging painfully, foot by foot, from under that lofty arch. Spliced ropes are ready in the hands of those who are leaning over the outer edge of the bridge. Two minutes more and all will be over. That blade is worn to the last half-inch. The boy's head reels ; his eyes are starting from their sockets. His last hope is dying in his heart ; his life must hang upon

the next gain he cuts. That niche is his last. At the last faint gash he makes, his knife-his faithful knife—falls from his little nerveless hand, and, ringing along the precipice, falls at his mother's feet. An involuntary groan of despair runs like a death-knell through the channel below, and all is still as the grave. At the height of nearly three hundred feet, the devoted boy lifts his hopeless heart and closing eyes to commend his soul to God. 'Tis but a moment—there!—one foot swings off !—he is reelingtrembling—toppling over into eternity! Hark! a shout falls on his ears from above! The man who is lying with half his length over the bridge, has caught a glimpse of the boy's head and shoulders. Quick as thought, the noosed rope is within reach of the sinking youth. No one breathes. With a faint, convulsive effort, the swooning boy drops his arms into the noose. Darkness comes over him, and with the words, God! and mother! whispered on his lips just loud enough to be heard in heaven—the tightening rope lifts him out of his last shallow niche. Not a lip moves while he is dangling over that fearful abyss ; but when a sturdy Virginian reaches down and draws up the lad, and holds him in his arms before the tearful, breathless multitude, such shoutingsuch leaping and weeping for joy-never greeted the ear of a human being so recovered from the yawning gulf of eternity.

Sparks from the Anvil.


DR. CHALMERS. It was nature—and the experience of every bosom will affirm it-it was nature in the shepherd to leave the ninety and nine of his flock forgotten and alone in the wilderness, and, betaking himself to the mountains, to give all his labour and all his concern to the pursuit of one solitary wanderer. It was nature—and we are told in the


before us, that it is such a portion of nature as belongs not merely to men, but to angels—when the woman with her mind in a state of listlessness as to the nine pieces of silver that were in secure custody, turned the whole force of her anxiety to the one piece which she had lost, and for which she had to light a candle, and to sweep the house, and to search diligently until she found it.

It was nature in her to rejoice more over that piece than over all the rest of them, and to tell it abroad among her friends and neighbours, that they might rejoice along with her; and, sadly effaced as humanity is in all her original lineaments, this is a part of our nature, the very movements of which are experienced in heaven, “where there is more joy over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance."

For anything I know, every planet that rolls in the immensity around me, may be a land of righteousness and be a member of the household of God, and have her secure dwelling-place within that ample limit which embraces His great and universal family. But I know at least of one wanderer, and how wofully she has strayed from peace and from purity; and how, in dreary alienation from Him who made her, she has bewildered herself amongst


many devious tracks, which have carried her afar from the path of immortality ; and how sadly tarnished all those beauties and felicities are, which promised, on that morning of her existence, when God looked on her, and saw that all was very goodwhich promised so richly to bless and to adorn her; and how, in the eye

of the whole unfallen Creation she has renounced all this godliness, and is fast departing away from them into guilt, and wretchedness, and shame.

Oh ! if there be any truth in this chapter, and any sweet or touching nature in the principle which runs throughout all its parables, let us cease to wonder, though they who surround the throne of love should be looking so intently towards usor though, in the way by which they have singled us out, all the other orbs of space should, for one short season, on the scale of eternity, appear to be forgotten-or though, for every step of her recovery, and for every individual who is rendered back again to the fold from which he was separated, another and another message of triumph should be made to circulate amongst the hosts of Paradise—or though, lost as we are, and sunk in depravity as we are, all the sympathies of heaven should now be awake on the enterprise of Him who has travailed, in the greatness of his strength, to seek and to save us.

And here I cannot but remark how fine a harmony there is between the law of sympathetic nature in heaven, and the most touching exhibitions of it on the face of our world. When one of a numerous household droops under the power of disease, is not that the one to whom all the tenderness is turned, and who, in a manner, monopolizes the inquiries of his neighbourhood and the care of his family? When the sighing of the midnight storm sends a dismal foreboding into the mother's heart, to whom of all her offspring, I would ask, are her thoughts and her anxieties then wandering? Is it not to her sailor boy whom her fancy has placed amid the rude and angry surges of the ocean? Does not this, the hour of his apprehended danger, concentrate upon him the whole force of her wakeful m tions And does not he engross, for a season, her every sensibility and her every prayer ?

We sometimes hear of shipwrecked passengers thrown upon a barbarous shore, and seized upon by its prowling inhabitants, and hurried away through the tracks of a dreary and unknown wilderness, and sold into captivity, and loaded with the fetters of irrecoverable bondage ; and who, stripped of every other liberty but the liberty of thought, feel even this to be another ingredient of wretchedness; for what can they think of but home, and, as all its kind and tender imagery comes upon their remembrance, how can they think of it but in the bitterness of despair ? Oh ! tell me, when the fame of all this disaster reaches his family, who is the member of it to whom is directed the full tide of its griefs and of its sympathies? Who is it that, for weeks and for months, usurps

their every feeling and calls out their largest sacrifices, and sets them to the busiest expedients for getting him back again ? Who is it that makes them forgetful of themselves and of all around them ; and tell me if you can assign a limit to the pains, and the exertions, and the surrenders which afflicted parents and weeping sisters would make to seek and to save him ?

Now, conceive the principle of all these earthly exhibitions to be in full operation around the throne of God. Conceive the universe to be one secure and rejoicing family, and that this alienated world is the only strayed, or the only captive member belonging to it; and we shall cease to wonder that from the first period of the captivity of our species, down to the consummation of their history in time, there should be such a movement in heaven; or that angels should so often have sped their commissioned way on the errand of our recovery; or that the Son of God should have bowed Himself down to the burden of our mysterious atonement; or that the Spirit of God should now, by the busy variety of its all-powerful influences, be carrying forward that dispensation of grace, which is to make us meet for re-admittance into the mansions of the celestial. Only think of love as the reigning principle there ; of love, as sending forth its energies and aspirations to the quarter where its object is most in danger of being for ever lost to it; of love as called forth by this single circumstance to its uttermost exertion, and the most exquisite feeling of its tenderness; and then shall we come to a distinct and familiar explanation of this whole mystery ; nor shall we resist, by our incredulity, the gospel message any longer, though it tells us, that throughout the whole of this world's history, long in our eyes, but only a little month in the high periods of immortality, so much of the vigilance, and so much of the earnestness of heaven, should have been expended on the recovery of its guilty population.

Astronomical Discourses.


J. B. MARSDEN, M.A. The character of this extraordinary man, buried beneath the slanders of two centuries, is now once more disinterred. The eagerness with which it is discussed, and the extreme variety of the conclusions which our living writers draw from it, will probably afford hereafter a curious subject, in the light of which posterity will study the condition of England, and of English feeling, political and religious, in the middle of the nineteenth century. Yet the character of the Protector was made up of few and simple materials, and the dissection of it is by no means difficult. To those, indeed, who regard Puritanism with scorn, and who under that name include the spiritual religion which in its worst days Puritanism always represented, it must be unintelligible, and their descriptions of it will often be absurd. They can neither appreciate his merits nor his faults, for they are ignorant of the sources from which they rose. On the whole, however, it is evident that Cromwell's reputation will gain by the discussion, though not by any means to the extent desired by his modern eulogists. Excessive censure has been less injurious to Cromwell than extravagant applause to his unhappy sovereign. This is but natural ; for the one, indeed, rudely embalms the reputation ; the other, with its superfluous care, corrodes, and at length destroys it; and when the cerements perish we find nothing but dust and bones underneath. The injustice with which Cromwell has been treated has at length recoiled, and the violence of hatred is followed and almost equalled by that of undiscriminating applause. He was scarcely laid in his grave when the sycophants who had composed his court began to fawn upon Charles II., and to offer to their new divinity the grateful incense of their calumny. The most preposterous and disgusting falsehoods were everywhere circulated, and everywhere believed. Cromwell was not only an upstart and a usurper, but every crime defaced his character: he was a profligate, a tyrant, unnatural, a liar; above all, a hypocrite. The last was the favourite charge, which, by the popular method of computation, included all the rest. As the age became profane, Cromwell was made the prototype of seriousness in religion ; and

« ПредишнаНапред »