Page images
PDF
EPUB

rising to eminence in any intellectual pursuit, there is not a rule of more essential importance than that of doing one thing at a time; avoiding distracting and desultory occupations; and keeping a leading object habitually before the mind, as one in which it can at all times find an interesting resource when necessary avocations allow the thoughts to recur to it. A subject which is cultivated in this manner, not by regular periods of study merely, but as an habitual object of thought, rises up and expands before the mind in a manner which is altogether astonishing. If along with this habit there be cultivated the practice of constantly writing such views as arise, we perhaps describe that state of mental discipline by which talents of a very moderate order may be applied in a conspicuous and useful manner to any subject to which they are devoted. Such writing need not be made at first with any great attention to method, but merely put aside for future consideration; and in this manner the different departments of a subject will develope and arrange themselves as they advance in a manner equally pleasing and wonderful.

VI. A due regulation and proper control of the imagination; that is, restricting its range to objects which harmonize with truth, and are adapted to the real state of things with which the individual is or may be connected. We have seen how much the character is influenced by this exercise of the mind; that it may be turned to purposes of the greatest moment, both in the pursuits of science and in the cultivation of benevolence and virtue ; but that, on the other hand, it may be so employed as to debase both the moral and intellectual character.

VII. The cultivation of calm and correct judgmentapplicable alike to the formation of opinions and the regulation of conduct. This is founded, as we have seen, upon the habit of directing the attention distinctly and steadily to all the facts and considerations bearing upon a subject ; and it consists in contemplating them in their true relations, and assigning to each the degree of importance of which it

[ocr errors]

is worthy. This mental habit tends to guard us against forming conclusions, either with listless inattention to the views by which we ought to be influenced, or with attention directed to some of these, while we neglect others of equal or greater importance. It is, therefore, opposed to the influence of prejudice and passion,ếto the formation of sophistical opinions,—to party spirit,--and to every propensity which leads to the adoption of principles on any other ground than calm and candid examination, guided by sincere desire to discover the truth.

LESSON LXII.

The Grandame.-CHARLES LAMB.

hill top,

On the

green
Hard by the house of prayer, a modest roof,
And not distinguished from its neighbor barn,
Save by a slender tapering length of spire,
The grandame sleeps. A plain stone barely tells
The name and date to the chance passenger.
For lowly born as she, and long had ate,
Well earned, the bread of service:-hers was else
A mounting spirit, one that entertained
Scorn of base action, deed dishonorable,
Or aught unseemly. I remember well
Her reverend image : I remember, too,
With what a zeal she served her master's house,
And how the prattling tongue of garrulous age
Delighted to recount the oft-told tale
Of anecdote domestic. Wise she was,
And wondrous skilled in genealogies,
And could, in apt and voluble terms, discourse
Of births, of titles, and alliances ;
Of marriages and intermarriages;

[ocr errors]

Relationship remote or near of kin;
Of friends offended, family disgraced-
Maiden high-born, but wayward, disobeying
Parental strict injunction, and, regardless
Of unmixed blood and ancestry remote,
Stooping to wed with one of low degree.
But these are not thy praises; and I wrong
Thy honored memory, recording chiefly
Things light or trivial. Better 'twere to tell
How, with a nobler zeal and warmer love,
She served her heavenly Master. I have seen
That reverend form bent down with age, and pain,
And rankling malady. Yet not for this
Ceased she to praise her Maker, or withdrew
Her trust in him, her faith, and humble hope-
So meekly had she learned to bear her cross;
For she had studied patience in the school
Of Christ, much comfort she had thence derived,
And was a follower of the Nazarene.

LESSON LXIII.

To an Infant.--COLERIDGE.

Au, cease thy tears and sobs, my little life!
I did but snatch away the unclasped knife.
Some safer toy will soon arrest thine eye,
And to quick laughter change this peevish cry.
Poor stumbler on the rocky coast of wo,
Tutored by pain each source of pain to know!
Alike the foodful fruit and scorching fire
Awake thy eager grasp and young desire;
Alike the good, the ill offend thy sight,
And rouse the stormy sense of shrill affright!

Untaught, yet wise, 'mid all thy brief alarms
Thou closely clingest to thy mother's arms,
Nestling thy little face in that fond breast
Whose anxious heavings lull thee to thy rest!
Man's breathing miniature ! thou mak'st me sigh-
A babe art thou—and such a thing am I!
To anger rapid, and as soon appeased-
For trifles mourning, and by trifles pleased -
Break friendship's mirror with a peevish blow,
Yet snatch what coals of fire on pleasure's altar glow!
O thou that rearest, with celestial aim,
The future seraph in my mortal frame,
Thrice holy faith! whatever thorns I meet,
As on I totter with unpractised feet,
Still let me stretch my arms and cling to thee,
Meek nurse of souls through their long infancy!

LESSON LXIV.

Improvement in the Science of Analogy.-PRESIDENT

WAYLAND.

We may anticipate the greatest improvement in the science of analogy from the progress of our race in the knowledge of the character of God. Besides the works which he has created for our instruction, he has condescended to make himself known to us in a written revelation. Here he has taught us the infinity of his power, the unsearchableness of his wisdom, the boundlessness of his omnipresence, the tenderness of his compassion, and the purity of his holiness. Now, it is evident that the system of things around us must all have been constructed in accordance with the conceptions of so ineffably glorious an intelligence. But to such a being as this we are infinitely dissimilar. Compared with the attributes of the Eternal,

our knowledge, and power, and goodness are but the shadow of a name. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so

are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts. So long, then, as we measure his works by our conceptions, is it wonderful if we are lost in inextricable darkness, and weary ourselves in asking of nature questions to which the indignant answer is invariably, No? It is only when, in the profoundest humility, we acknowledge our own ignorance, and look to the Father of lights for wisdom; it is only when, bursting loose from the littleness of our own limited conceptions, we lose ourselves in the vastness of the Creator's infinity, that we can rise to the height of this great argument, and point out the path of discovery to coming generations. While men, measuring the universe by the standard of their own narrow conceptions, and surveying all things through the distempered medium of their own puerile vanity, placed the earth in the centre of the system, and supposed sun, moon and stars to revolve daily around it, the science of astronomy stood still, and age after age groped about in almost rayless darkness. It was only when humility had taught us how small a space we occupied in the boundlessness of creation, and raised us to a conception of the plan of the Eternal, that light broke in like the morning star upon our midnight, and a beauteous universe rose out of void and formless chaos.

And, yet more; the Book of Revelation contains the only. delineation which we possess of the commencement, prosecution and completion of one of the designs of Deity. It is the work of man's restoration to purity and happiness. We here may detect the benevolence which actuates the Almighty, the modes which he adopts to carry that benevolence into effect, the manner in which his infinite wisdom directs all things to the accomplishment of his merciful purposes, and how, in despite of apparently insurmountable obstacles, he, by the simplest means, makes all events conspire to a perfect and triumphant consummation.

« PreviousContinue »