Page images
PDF
EPUB

* * *

say: ‘Both very well in their place, reverend sir ; what God hath joined let no man put asunder : I think it better to believe than to reason, when I have reason to believe that God has spoken; I think it better to reason than to believe, when I have reason to believe that it is only Dr. Pusey or Mr. Newman.' In fact this artifice is in itself the highest insult to reason, since it involves a quiet assumption of the whole question in disputenamely, whether the mysteries of the Oxford tract school are supported by the evidence which proves that they are worthy to be believed in spite of their transcendental character. Of course the Papist uses the same plea for transubstantiation. Doubtless even the Egyptian priest of ancient times often used the same plea, when he had to defend the divinity of cats and onions' against the rationalists of those days, against whom he would unquestionably shake his head, and tell them how superior after all was faith to logic! We await the progress and issue of the great contest without apprehension. Terrible as are these hurricanes of controversy, pernicious as may be their immediate effects on the faith of some and the temper of many—they serve from time to time to purify the atmosphere, and render it salubrious. Let us but be true to ourselves, and we have no fear lest we should be "re-involved,” to use the strong language of Milton,“ in that pitchy cloud of infernal darkness, in which we shall never more see the sun of divine truth again, never hope for the cheerful dawn, never more hear the bird of morning sing."

Let us never forget that christianity was planted, and has grown up, in storms. Discussion is always favourable to it, and has ever been so. Let the wintry blast come. It will but scatter the sere leaves, and snap off the withered branches; the giant tree will only strike its roots deeper into the soil, and in the coming spring-time put forth a richer foliage and extend a more grateful shade.- Edinburgh Review.

TO-MORROW. With all the bitterness of self-reproach, I lately turned my steps towards the house of a christian friend. On entering the abode where I had ever been greeted with smiles, I was surprised to find nothing but sadness. Conscious guilt suggested the suspicion that they knew and reproached me for my neglect ; but my friend soon poured into my bosom her lamentations for the loss of an only child. “ Alas,” cried she, “my Henry is gone; but three days ago he was in full health, and he has this morning breathed his last !!!

I struggled with myself, summed up resolution, and made an awkward attempt at consolation, while my own heart hung heavy in my breast; but I was struck dumb, when the afflicted parent, fetching a deep sigh from the bottom of her heart, exclaimed: “Ah! sir, these consolations might assuage my grief for the loss of my child, but they cannot blunt the stings of my conscience, which are as daggers to my heart! It was but last week I was thinking my Henry is now twelve years

his mind is now rapidly expanding; I know he thinks and feels beyond the measure of his years; and a foolish backwardness has hitherto kept me from entering so closely into serious conversation with him as to discover the real state of his mind, and make a vigorous effort to lead his heart to God. I then resolved to seize the first opportunity to discharge a duty so weighty to the conscience of a christian and the heart of a parent; but day after day my foolish and deceitful heart said, “I will do it tomorrow," till the very day he was taken ill. I had resolved to talk with him that evening, and when he first complained of his head, I was half pleased with the thought that this might lead him to listen more seriously to what I should say. But 0, sir ! his pain and fever increased so rapidly, that I was obliged to put him to bed ; and as he seemed inclined to doze, I was glad to leave him to rest. From this time he was never sufficiently sensible for conversation ; and now he has gone into eternity, and left me distracted with uncertainty concerning the salvation of his precious soul. I know he had arrived to the period when he must be judged as an accountable creature; for I have several times observed in him such efforts of reason and conscience as surpassed many who had seen twice his years. I recollect the favourable symptoms I have discovered, and for a moment hope that the good Shepherd has gathered the lamb into his bosom. But then again I cry, if it should not have been so! That thought plunges me back again into the depths of distress. Dilatory wretch! had it not been my own sin, I might now have been consoling myself with the satisfactory conviction of having discharged the duty of a christian parent, and enjoying the

of age;

delightful assurance of meeting my child before the throne of the Lamb! O! sin of procrastination ! O! the delusion that lurks in the word to-morrow.

S.

SKETCHES OF THE DISAGREEABLES. 1. The Jester.—There are many men about the world who break none of the commandments, and offend against no laws, human or divine, and yet whom it requires a truly christian forbearance to put up with in the social intercourse of life;---men, whose tongues seem to be given them for no other purpose than to make them disagreeable, who are not only dull themselves, but the cause of dulness in others. At the head of all these—both on account of their own high pretensions, and my own especial intolerance and dislike-let me put the professed wits, including under this denomination all wags, droll fellows, story-tellers, practical jokers, &c.—from him who earns the reputation of wit by never omitting an opportunity of saying a cruel thing to the humble genius who never lets a word go harmless, that can, by any torturing, be made susceptible of two meanings. These are a numerous and thriving class; they have a sleek, well-to-do-inthe-world sort of look, an expression of self-complacency, a proneness to laugh at their own jokes, and, by the time they are respectably advanced in life, they acquire a rotundity of figure and a rosiness of gill, from the number of good dinners they have eaten, and bottles of wine they have swallowed. To me, these same men of wit, these droll fellows, are more tiresome than good honest asinine stupidity, that has no thoughts, and pretends to none. Their conversation is ever on the same key. Their thoughts do not flow from their minds by an unforced impulse, nor are they presented in their natural shapes, but are tortured and warped into strange and uncouth forms. All things are looked upon with a view to suggest ludicrous images and associations, and a subject as grave as Hamlet, will, in passing through their minds, acquire the motley livery of a harlequin. Now a joke does very well to break the even and monotonous flow of life: but a perpetual joke-a rattling shower of frivolities, from morning till night—there is something truly frightful in the idea. A dance is well enough at the proper time, but who would desire to jig it through the · streets on his daily concerns? An occasional glass of soda water is very pleasant, but who would wish to have the carbonic acid gas bubbling up and taking him by the nose every time he drinks a draught of cold water? Mirth should be the embroidery of conversation, not the web; and wit the garniture of the mind, not the furniture.

There are certain modes of mind in which a joke is as nauseous as a pill; but your professed wag, either does not heed or does not care for them. He would jest with you by the bedside of your dying mother-would greet the sunrise from Mount Etna with a pun, and tell you a good story on the Table Rock at Niagara. The contemplation of moral or intellectual greatness never elevates him into a momentary self-forgetfulness, nor makes him forfeit his reputation for consistency.

There can hardly a greater misfortune happen to a young man, than that he should be persuaded, either by himself or by his friends, that he has a talent for wit, a turn for satire, and a keen sense of the ludicrous. The notion once embraced, seems to effect a revolution in the whole man. The reputation thus acquired, justly or not, he feels bound to maintain; and what toil and trouble does this necessity impose upon him! What a task does conversation become to him! Everybody has learned to expect a laugh when he opens his lips, and so he will not open them unless he can create a laugh. If he venture upon a sober remark, a jest is supposed to be hidden under its folds. However many thoughts and images may come thronging to his tongue, he must wait to speak till he can speak in his vocation. The natural grace of his conversation vanishes, and, by degrees, the whole mind becomes perverted and incapable of serious action and manly exertions of sober thought.

2. The Exaggerators. There is another class of persons with whom it is somewhat annoying to me to be present, and these are (to coin a word for myself) the exaggerators. These are they who are always ready to die, to faint, to expire at the common occurrences of life; who are in the heights of rapture and the depths of despair; who are ready to give the world—all they are worth, for what might be purchased at a very cheap rate. I cannot go along with these people. I am a plain man, and have neither magnifying nor beautifying glasses for my “mind's eye.” To me a whale is a fish, and a cloud is neither an elephant nor a weasel. I can eat a fig with none the less relish because I

know that with a solar microscope I could see turtles and crabs crawling over its surface. In the presence of such magnificent talkers I am like a dwarf standing by the side of a giant-an owl endeavouring to follow an eagle in his flight. There is, too, a singular improvidence in such conversation. A man ought to be as chary of his superlatives as of his Sunday suit; they are too precious to be worn every day. For, suppose something should occur, which really calls for very strong language; what is to be done? We can say no more than we have already said a dozen times a day. We have used uncommon language on common occasions, and it has no peculiar significance now that the occasion is an uncommon one.

3. The Story Teller. -A class analogous to these last, consists of those whose conversation is made up altogether of anecdotes, and who are commonly esteemed very pleasant men, and, as such, are in great demand at all dinner parties. My objection to these talkers is, that they make that the staple of conversation, which should only be an ornament and an appendage; for where a man has that peculiar gift, the power of relating anecdotes and telling stories well, he is apt to employ it exclusively. There is a want of continuity in a conversation made up of isolated narratives which is unsatisfactory to the mind. There is something disagreeable in hearing constantly—“talking of guns reminds me of a story I used to hear my grandfather tell;” or, “when I was in Europe I heard Lord A. (story tellers are apt to be vain) relate at his table;" or, “my old friend Mr. B. used to tell a story.” One goes away from such a conversation, as if he had been at a feast of scraps, and had come away hungry. The mind craves some more substantial food. We want to have principles discussed, positions attacked and defended by sound arguments, and the very web and woof of the mind displayed. No one ever recollects long, a conversation made up wholly of detached narrative; a thread of connection is necessary to have a vivid impression long survive the sound of the words. All this is upon the supposition that the stories are new, good, and well told; but, unfortunately, most new stories are not good, and most good ones are not new, and it is very easy to spoil one that is both good and new by the manner of narrating it.

4. The Inquisitors.-Another class of disagreeables are the inquisitors, as they may be termed; indeed they have as little mercy

« PreviousContinue »