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our mortal nature is capable, and in the general aspect of sobriety, order, and profound respect which pervades the thickly-peopled city, how much more is to be felt where man exists in a state of greater simplicity, in the rude home of the peasant, or in those little groups of humble dwellings gemming the fertile plain, in the midst of which the tall village spire rises and points to heaven. It is not here as in the city, that the loud peal of many bells announces the hour of prayer, but the single bell tolling at intervals, is converted into music by the fresh pure morning air, and the many simple and delightful associations connected with that well-known sound. Perhaps a beloved and revered minister is there to welcome his people once again within the fold of Christian communion, families separated by the occupations of the week, now meet to offer
up their fervent prayers together; the village pauper stands upon the same foundation as the village lord, and looks upward with the same calm countenance to meet the light of heaven; the comely-habited maiden closes the wicket of her father's garden, and hastens at the universal call; while the feeble steps of infancy and age, blending their weakness and their humble confidence together, are heard slowly advancing along the solemn aisle. No sooner is the simple service ended, than a cordial recognition takes place between the pastor and his congregation, and often between those who meet too seldom—the rich and the poor-the exalted and the lowly: and kind questions are asked of the suffering or the absent, followed by visits of Christian love, and words of consolation, to those who are debarred the privilege of meeting their brethren and their friends within the consecrated walls of the church.
It is on these days, that through the stillness of the summer air, we often hear the mournful cadence of distant and harmonious voices, singing at intervals their low sweet requiem over the bier of a departed friend, as they bear him to his last long home beneath the outstretched arms of the sheltering elms, that skirt the precincts of the dead, and cast their sombre shadows athwart the beams of the declining sun. Perhaps it is a venerable parent who has been quietly translated to his place of rest, and the tears of the surrounding mourners fall into the grave without bitterness, and almost without regret; for the poor have happier thoughts of the last call, announcing the termination of mortal suffering, than those whose progress through this world is less interrupted with hardship, toil, and pain.
But it is quite as possible that the lifeless form for which that bier is spread, should have been the rustic beauty of the fair and the festival, the pride of the village, the belle who bore away the palm of admiration from her less lovely sisters, who now stand weeping by her side, without one touch of envy, or one wish, except to call her back to trace again the flowery meadows, to sing her songs of native melody, and to meet them with her ever-beaming smile of youth and joy. But it may not be. And she who was so fondly cherished, so tenderly beloved, so flattered and admired, is consigned to the cold prison of the tomb, and left to the unbroken silence of her solitary sleep.
With the Sabbath evening in the village, are connected a thousand agreeable associations, which those who are not alive to the true poetry of life, are unable to enjoy. Nor is it the least portion of the satisfaction afforded by this day, to see the cattle that have borne their share in the labour of the week, without par
ticipating in its reward, browsing in the cool pastures, or resting their toil-worn limbs
upon the sunny slopes of the verdant hills. The shady lanes around the village afford shelter and refreshment to many a persecuted animal that knows no other day of rest; and as we pass along, we see groups of rosy children wandering hand in hand in quest of wild flowers, or the purple fruit of the bramble, which seems to be the only inalienable property of childhood; or we meet with families going half-way home with a beloved son or daughter, whose portion of servitude is now cast in some distant hamlet, from whence the occasional return is an event of long promise, and widely participated joy. Around the open door of the peasant are other groups of more infantine beauty, and as the father stands beside them, with the Bible in his hand, the fond mother looks alternately at him and them, as if the whole wealth of her existence were centred in these her household treasures ; while retiring into some quiet nook of the cottage or the garden, the little patient pupil of Sabbath discipline carefully cons his lesson for the coming week.
Farther on, within a neatly trimmed enclosure, where the red daisy, and the dark green box, mark out the boundary lines surrounding the rose tree, the sweet briar, and the climbing honeysuckle, stands the quiet habitation of an ancient dame, who diligently spells out the meaning of the sacred page, in uninterrupted loneliness and peace. In the distance we hear the sound of many voices joining in hymns of prayer and praise—the old and the young—the feeble and the firm, raised together in one delightful symphony of gratitude and love: and if scattered here and there, we find little companies of the idle, the thoughtless, or the gay, they are still those whose outward decency–whose fresh bright looks of health and happiness, evince a respect for the Sabbath, and a participation in its universal calm.
It is after the contemplation of scenes like these, that we return to our homes, more happy in the thought, that the young have their serious moments, the widely separated their time of meeting, the ignorant their seasons of instruction, the old their consolation, and the weary their day of rest.
It is not however to the public offices of religion, that its poetical interest is confined. If we look into the private walks of life, we behold this powerful principle working the