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and at once dispelled all the fears and apprehensions with which I approached him. He lifted me froin the ground, and, taking me by the hand, "Mirza," said he, "I have heard thee in thy soliloquies: follow me."
5. He then led me to the highest pinnacle of the rock, and placing me on the top of it, "Cast thy eyes eastward," said he, “and tell me what thou seest." "I see," said I, "a huge valley, and a prodigious tide of water rolling through it." "The valley that thou seest," said he, "is the valley of misery; and the tide of water that thou seest, is part of the great tide of eternity." "What is the reason," said I, "that the tide I see rises out of a thick mist at one end, and again loses itself in a thick mist at the other ?"
6. "What thou seest,” said he, "is that portion of eternity which is called time, measured out by the sun, and reaching from the beginning of the world to its consummation. Examine, now," said he, "this sea, that is thus bounded with darkness at both ends, and tell me what thou discoverest in it." "I see a bridge," said I, "standing in the midst of the tide." "The bridge thou seest," said he, "is human life: consider it attentively." Upon a more leisurely survey of it, I found that it consisted of three-score and ten entire arches, with several broken arches, which, added to those that were entire, made up the number of about a hundred.
7. As I was counting the arches the Genius told me that this bridge consisted, at first, of a thousand arches; but that a great flood swept away the rest, and left the bridge in the ruinous condition I now beheld it. "But tell me farther," said he, "what thou discoverest on it." "I see multitudes of people passing over it," said I, "and a black cloud hanging on each end of it "
8. As I looked more attentively, I saw several of the passengers dropping through the bridge into the great tide that flowed underneath it; and, upon farther examination, perceived there were innumerable trap-doors that lay concealed in the bridge, which the passengers no sooner trod upon, but they fell through them into the tide, and immediately disappeared. These hidden pit-falls were set very thick at the entrance of the bridge, so that throngs of people no sooner broke through the cloud, than many of them fell into them. They grew thinner toward the middle, but multiplied and lay closer together toward the end of the arches that were entire.
9. There were indeed some persons-but their number was very small-that continued a kind of hobbling march on the a So-lil'-o-quy, talking to one's self.
broken arches, but fell through, one after another, being quite tired and spent with so long a walk. I passed some time in the contemplation of this wonderful structure, and the great variety of objects which it presented.
10. My heart was filled with a deep melancholy to see several dropping, unexpectedly, in the midst of mirth and jollity, and catching by every thing that stood by them to save 'themselves. Some were looking up toward the heavens in a thoughtful posture, and, in the midst of a speculation, stumbled and fell out of sight. Multitudes were very busy in the pursuit of bubbles, that glittered in their eyes and danced before them; but often, when they thought themselves within the reach of them, their footing failed, and down they sunk.
11. In this confusion of objects, I observed some with cimeters in their hands, and others with lances, who ran to and fro upon the bridge, thrusting several persons on trapdoors, which did not seem to lie in their way, and which they might have escaped had they not been thus forced upon them.
12. The Genius, seeing me indulge myself in this melancholy prospect, told me I had dwelt long enough upon it.— "Take thine eyes off the bridge," said he, "and tell me if thou yet seest any thing thou dost not comprehend." Upon looking up, "What mean," said I, "those great flights of birds that are perpetually hovering about the bridge, and settling upon it from time to time? I see vultures, harpies, ravens, cormorants, and, among many other feathered creatures, several little winged boys, that perch in great numbers upon the middle arches."
13. "These," said the Genius, "are Envy, Avarice, Superstition, Despair, Love, with the like cares and passions that infest human life." I here fetched a deep sigh. "Alas!" said I, 66 man was made in vain! how is he given away to misery and mortality! tortured in life, and swallowed up in death!" The Genius, being moved with compassion toward me, bid me quit so uncomfortable a prospect. "Look no more," said he, "on man, in the first stage of his existence, in his setting out for eternity; but cast thine eye on that thick mist, into which the tide bears the several generations of mortals that fall into it."
14. I directed my sight as I was ordered, and—whether or no the good Genius strengthened it with any supernatural force, or dissipated part of the mist that was before too thick for the eye to penetrate-I saw the valley opening at the farther end, and spreading forth into an immense ocean, that
a Cim'-e-ter, a short sword.
had a huge rock of adamant running through the midst of it, and dividing it into two equal parts. The clouds still rested on one half it, insomuch that I could discover nothing in it; but the other appeared to me a vast ocean, planted with innumerable islands that were covered with fruits and flowers, and interwoven with a thousand little shining seas that ran among them.
15. I could see persons dressed in glorious habits, with garlands upon their heads, passing among the trees, lying down by the sides of fountains, or resting on beds of flowers; and could hear a confused harmony of singing birds, falling waters, human voices, and musical instruments. Gladness grew in me upon the discovery of so delightful a scene. I wished for the wings of an eagle, that I might fly away to those happy seats; but the Genius told me there was no passage to them, except through the gates of death that I saw opening every moment upon the bridge.
16. "The islands," said he, "that lie so fresh and green before thee, and with which the whole face of the ocean appears spotted, as far as thou canst see, are more in number than the sands on the sea shore. There are myriads of islands behind those which thou here discoverest, reaching farther than thine eye, or even thine imagination can extend itself. These are the mansions of good men after death, who, according to the degrees and kinds of virtue in which they excelled, are distributed among these several islands, which abound with pleasures of different kinds and degrees, suitable to the relishes and perfections of those who are settled in them. Every island is a paradise, accommodated to its respective inhabitants.
17. "Are not these, O Mirza, habitations worth contending for? Does life appear miserable, that gives thee opportunities of earning such reward? Is death to be feared, that will convey thee to so happy an existence? Think not man was made in vain, who has such an eternity reserved for him." I gazed with inexpressible pleasure on those happy islands. At length, said I, "Show me now, I beseech thee, the secrets that lie under those dark clouds that cover the ocean, on the other side of the rock of adamant."
18. The Genius making me no answer, I turned about to address myself to him a second time, but I found that he had left me. I then turned again to the vision which I had been so long contemplating; but, instead of the rolling tide, the arched bridge, and the happy islands, I saw nothing but the
a Gar'-lands, wreaths of flowers.
long, hollow valley of Bagdat, with oxen, sheep and camels grazing upon the sides of it.
The Eternity of God.
1. Ir all who live and breathe around us are the creatures of yesterday, and destined to see destruction to-morrow; if the same condition is our own, and the same sentence is written against us; if the solid forms of inanimate nature and laborious art, are fading and falling; if we look in vain for durability to the very roots of the mountains, where shall we turn, and on what can we rely? Can no support be offered; can no source of confidence be named? Oh yes! there is one Being to whom we can look, with a perfect conviction of finding that security, which nothing about us can give, and which nothing about us can take away.
2. To this Being we can lift up our souls, and on him we may rest them, exclaiming in the language of the monarch of Israel, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or even thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." "Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment, as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."
3. The eternity of God is a subject of contemplation, which, at the same time that it overwhelms us with astonishment and awe, affords us an immoveable ground of confidence in the midst of a changing world. All things which surround us, all these dying, mouldering inhabitants of time, must have had a Creator, for the plain reason that they could not have created themselves. And their Creator must have existed from all eternity, for the plain reason that the first cause must necessarily be uncaused.
4. As we cannot suppose a beginning without a cause of existence, that which is the cause of all existence must be self-existent, and could have had no beginning. And, as it had no beginning, so also, as it is beyond the reach of all influence and control, as it is independent and almighty, it will have no end. Here then is a support which will never fail ; here is a foundation which can never be moved-the everlasting Creator of countless worlds, "the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity."
5. What a sublime conception! He inhabits eternity, occupies this inconceivable duration, pervades and fills throughout this boundless dwelling. Ages on ages, before even the dust of which we are formed was created, he had existed in infinite majesty; and ages on ages will roll away, after we have returned to the dust whence we were taken, and still he will exist in infinite majesty, living in the eternity of his own nature, reigning in the plenitude of his own omnipotence, for ever sending forth the word which forms, supports, and governs all things, commanding new created lights to shine on new created worlds, and raising up new created generations to inhabit them.
6. The contemplation of this glorious attribute of God, is fitted to excite in our minds the most animating and consoling reflections. Standing as we are amid the ruins of time, and the wrecks of mortality, where every thing about us is created and dependent, proceeding from nothing, and hastening to destruction, we rejoice that something is presented to our view which has stood from everlasting, and will remain for ever.
7. When we have looked on the pleasures of life, and they have vanished away; when we have looked on the works of nature, and perceived that they were changing; on the monuments of art, and seen that they would not stand; on our friends, and they have fled while we were gazing: on ourselves, and felt that we were as fleeting as they; when we have looked on every object to which we could turn our anxious eyes, and they have all told us that they could give us no hope nor support, because they were so feeble themselves; we can look to the throne of God: change and decay have never reached that; the revolution of ages has never moved it; the waves of an eternity have been rushing past it, but it has remained unshaken; the waves of another eternity are rushing toward it, but it is fixed, and never can be disturbed. Greenwood.
The Sea and its Inhabitants.
1. THE sea carries indubitabled evidences of a most wise and gracious ordination. How grand, surprisingly grand and majestic, are the works as well as the attributes, of an omnipotent Being! What are the canals in all the coun
a Per-vades', passes through.
c Fleet'-ing, transient, flying away.
d In-du'-bit-a-ble, admitting of no doubt.