Page images
PDF
EPUB

thine eyes

the sons of Korah, and judging by the internal evidence of many, we can only assign him the second class position as a poet, which, however, when considered relatively, is a very bigh one. From a variety of circumstances, too numerous to be now detailed, there are reasons for ascribing the hundred and thirty-uinth to his pen, and I quote it as a specimen of his style, and as a fair sample of early Hebrew religious poetry : “Thou, Lord, hast search'd me out! Surveys- I tremble that I am.'

While yet a stranger to the day Mark when I sit, and when I rise : Within the burden'd womb I lay, By thee my future thoughts are read; My bones, familiar to thy view, Thou, round my path, and round my bed, By just degrees to firmness grew : Attendest vigilant; each word, Day to succeeding day consign’d Ere yet I speak, by thee is heard. Th' unfinish'd birth :--Thy mighty mind Life's maze, before my view outspread, Each limb, each nerve, ere yet they were, Within thy presence rapt I tread, Contemplated, distinct and clear: And, touch'd with conscious horror, stand Those nerves thy curious finger spun, Beneath the shadow of thy hand. Those limbs it fashion’d one by one; How deep thy knowledge, Lord, how wide! And, as thy pen in fair design Long to the fruitless task applied, Trac'd on thy book each shadowy line, That mighty sea my thoughts explore, Thy handmaid Nature read them there, Nor reach its depths, nor find its shore. And made the growing work her care; Where shall I shun thy wakeful eye, Conform'd it to th' unerring plan, Or whither from thy spirit fiy ? And gradual wrought me into man. Aloft to heaven my course I bear- With what delight, great God! I trace In vain; for thou, my God, art there : The acts of thy stupendous grace! If prone to hell my feet descend, To count them were to count the sand Thou still my footsteps shalt attend : That lies upon the sea-beat strand. If now, on swiftest wings upborne, When from my temples sleep retires, I seek the regions of the morn, To thee my thankful heart aspires; Or baste me to the western steep, And, with thy sacred presence blest, Where eve sits brooding o'er deep; Joys to receive the awful guest. Thy band the fugitive shall stay, Shall impious men thy will withstand, And dictate to my steps their way Nor feel the vengeance of thy hand ? Perchance within its thickest veil Hence murd'rers, hence, nor near mestay! The darkness shall my head conceal ; Ye sons of violence, away

! But, instant, thou hast chas'd away When lawless crowds, with insult vain, The gloom, and round me pour'd the day. Thy works revile, thy name profane, Darkness, great God! to thee there's Can I unmov'd those insults see, none;

Nor hate the wretch that hateth thee? Darkness and light to thee are one : Indignant, in thy cause I join, Nor brighter shines, to thee display'd, And all thy foes, my God, are mine; The noon, than night's obscurest shade. Searcher of hearts, my thoughts review; My reins, my fabric's every part, With kind severity pursue The wonders of thy plastic art

Through each disguise thy servant's mind, Proclaim, and prompt my willing tongue Nor leave one stain of guilt behind. To meditate the grateful song: Guide through th' eternal path my feet, With deepest awe my thoughts their frame And bring me to thy blissful seat."

(To be continued.)

[ocr errors]

LONDON: PUBLISHED BY M. PATTIE, 31, PATERNOSTER Row, AND GEORGE

GLAISHER, 470, NEW OXFORD STREET.
Printed by W. Ostell, Hart-street, Bloomsbury.

[blocks in formation]

a

THE POWER OF WORDS AND MOTHERS.
The age demands new forces, and a wiser employment of the old ones.
THE

We stand in presence of a greatness of prosperity and a greatness of danger never conceived by the ancient heroes of Greece and Rome. The march of Cæsar into Gaul was viewed as a marvellous undertaking, but it dwarfs into insignificance before that of the allied armies marching into Pekin. The building a Roman amphitheatre was esteemed a wonderful work; but what was it beside our railways, tubular bridges, factories, and great warehouses ? In a thousand forms we have surpassed the ancients; but there are forms of action in which we have not upheld the right, or acted in accord with the spirit of a true progress. Our mechanical has outstripped our moral progress, and our intellectual advances have not been accompanied by true social amelioration and independence. Englishmen are proud of their railways, as things of to-day, and of our titled ones as the things of yesterday. We bow to God and Mammon. We run about to see Lords and Dukes, and do not honestly set ourselves to work, to find out and help the truly noble and wise whom God bas lent us for our good. We bow to the popular lie of the age, and sit down silent when our voices should be heard, fierce as the trumpet's blast, in the cause of justice. And instead of honestly setting ourselves to work to discover what evil we can cure; what growth of vice or weakness in ourselves we can strangle; what truth we can make our own; we go about looking for a little more money, a little more rest, a little more pleasure, and a little more of that commodity-popular opinion--which men persuade themselves will do as well as the truth ; which we can hold without danger to our trading prosperity, and which we can utter without any danger of being repudiated by society.

We have not duly estimated the value of the old forces--not even the power of WORDS.

What man knoweth their influence and authority? There are words easy to be spoken, which operate as opiates upon the mind, or as the Syren music to charm all power from the soul; words that weave a web of indolence around our actions and render them powerless for good, impotent against evil. There are other words of strength and beauty that sink into the mind, never again to be forgotten; words that fire us with love for what is noble; that rouse us to deeds of heroism, making our VOL. V. NEW SERIES, VOL. I.

D

a

can

hearts to leap, our blood to course so quickly, that we care not though legions be embattled against us. Through their power a new soul seems to have entered within us, and from that a power passes into our right hand, enabling us to contend successfully against the greatest odds. There are words which give new hope to hearts long crushed by despair, which impart strength to the bending knees of age, and others that furnish the light of true life to all who are beginning their earth's career. Words are things, are powers, are as armies, and as agents, which bear the seeds of victory and immortality within them. Their influence for good or evil ever goes on extending itself, and will extend. Speak but the true word, and behold darkness is dispelled, ignorance is slain, and the weak are made strong in freedom and truth.

But speak the false word, and who shall pretend to define the amount of injury inflicted? The most powerful poisons destroy life speedily enough, but there the evil ends; it was only one who partook thereof, and only one

die. Not so with the false word, for it is heard by one and repeated by him unto another, until oft enough it has travelled through a million minds to infect and disease the entire circle. It poisons all who believe, and once obtaining possession of the mind, everything, that prejudice can do in favour of old opinions, is done to prevent its expulsion. The men who desire to blight the fame of worthy men know well enough how the false word and dark insinuation will serve their purpose ; and know, too, that a little activity in circulating it abroad will render it impossible for their innocent victim to destroy the falsehood. So with creeds and modes of government; the great art lies in being the first to fill the mind with ideas. Give them "charming * little hymns" filled with the praise of established systems, and no matter how false the ideas and words, in virtue of being the first planted, they take the deepest root, and the chances are, that in nineteen cases out of every twenty all efforts to root them out will prove unavailing. Thus does the false word, like some deadly Upas tree, continue to rain down misery and deadly influences upon its unfortunate dupes.

Our readers have felt this. All of them so have won for themselves a new life of thought, and who are ready to move with the friends of humanity, have had the battle to fight between the false word and the true. Those earlier theological ideas, false and foreign to man's best interests, had woven themselves in with their very life, and it seemed as though their whole being would be dissolved when they tore them painfully away. If a man would know the evil consequences of false words, let him go on through thirty or forty years of busy life, and then wake up to discover that his theory of life has been, and is, utterly false, unreal, and evil. Well enough, in bitterness of soul, may he turn to curse the teachers who had so grossly deceived him; for having been thus late in the day before discovering the evil, how can he hope to remould and recover his life's losses ?

What are men doing to prevent the repetition of the evil? What are the reformers and men of light doing in order to stay the plague? Do they inquire what should be done? Then we ask them to remember that it was their mothers who taught them religion—who gave a power to all who undertook such teaching. Let the women of England be freed from the priest, and they will no longer repeat the words that shed such a blight over the lives of the best and purest among us. Give the daughters of England a liberal education, and our progress upward is secure. The priests of all Churches are aware of that fact; hence their studied efforts to reach the female. The

a

Jesuits have ever held that women are the best tools the Church can use, for although their sons may not become Churchmen, they will at least have too much of mother's teaching alive in their hearts to prevent them working its absolute ruin. To get the true word of freedom spoken into the ear of youth, we must fill the mind of girlhood with the purest ideas, and train it to the side of liberty.

Thus, every parent can be a working reformer, and, Oh ! ye fathers, heads of families who have now the fair opportunity of laying the foundations upon which to rest a nobler generation, how are ye doing the work? Are ye neglecting your daughters, leaving them to a little music, dancing, and fancy stitching, as though the mere showy were all, the substantial of no value ? Are ye leaving them to gather morbid views of life from French romances, sentimental dramas, and bodiless poetry, as though life were unreal, and they but shadows? Are you leaving them to become tools of the narrow-minded or selfish priest ? Are they not to become mothers, with boys and girls to cluster round their knees? And how shall they stir the young souls to deeds of high daring, and actions worthy of renown, unless now schooled as beings who have minds, hearts, souls, sympathies, and genuine love for the noble—so that when life's holiest duties lie before them for performance, they may be as able, through knowledge, as they are willing by nature, to perform with profit, their allotted tasks? Train them in the realities of life, and then, if rude death should enter to strike down the mainstay of the home, they will be able, as was the mother of Washington, and the mothers of many other noble men, to supply the vacancy-so to guide the helpless ones, that virtue may be loved, and that the truth alone shall be sought, and loved, and spread abroad.

P. W. P.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE REFORMATION.-III.

THE DAWNING OF LIGHT. A BROAD survey of the history of Europe during the Middle Ages is sufficient to convince any unprejudiced mind that the darkness deepened, and the ignorance became ever denser, with the growth of Church power and priestly authority. As this is an important fact, however, we are unwilling to rest it merely on the arguments already adduced. The same conclusion is arrived at by a consideration of what was done so soon as the means of knowledge were obtained by Europe. A just estimate, too, of the nature of Priestcraft, forces a belief of this upon us.

Its nature is to work for its own aggrandisement only, careless of the wants or the interests of mankind at large. So, as we have seen, the Church of Priestcraft encouraged and produced the era of intellectual blindness and dependence, which found its culmination in the ignorance and manifold misery of the tenth century; and then, when men

; had retrograded into savagery, we find that priestly domination over the minds and souls of men was at its height. Out of this, however, Europe was to travel, not alone without the Church's assistance, but against its will ; a new era was to be opened up, in which Reason began to assert its rights, and claim its proper pre-eminence over Authority. The question we have now to ask and answer is this Whence came the light which enlightened Europe ?

Comparisons have often been instituted between Mahometanism and Christianity, and their respective merits discussed. The fair and candid

a

[ocr errors]

inquirer must acknowledge that in both of them, when judged as systems, purporting to embody the entire circle of religious truth, there are weaknesses and shortcomings. Neither of them, in fact, meets all the requirements of the educated intellect, or satisfies all the aspirations of the religious soul. But looking beneath the 'anity in the one case, and the 'ism in the other, it must be admitted they contain in common a basis of eternal truth, whether more or less in either case, it is not our business now to inquire. Christianity, however, has been unfortunate, in having been developed into a system of Priestcraft, while Mahometanism owns no priests. In this lies the weakness of the one and the strength of the other, that Christianity has allowed priests to defile it, while Mahometanism recognises the grand truth, that each man is his own best priest.

It is a fact which cannot be gainsaid by the orthodox champions of the Church, nor yet explained by them, that while the religion which priests called Christianity, was fostering superstition, and bringing down intellectual darkness upon Europe, the religion of Mahomet was found compatible with the intellectual progress of the people professing it. Compare the ignorance of Europe under Charlemagne with the coeval enlightenment of Asia under Haroun al Raschid, and let it be remembered, that while Christian Europe was drifting into the intellectual night of the tenth century, the Saracens were translating the literature and cultivating the sciences and philosophy of ancient Greece. Then, let it be said, whether Mahometanism cannot reasonably lay a claim to superiority on this score ; but let it also be remembered that the superiority is not over Christianity but over Priestcraft. It may be said that there are facts on the other side, and that literature and learning suffered at the hands of Mussulmen. True, most true, but they had no organised system to crush reason and destroy knowledge, whereas in the Church we find an organisation which, so long as it dared, worked to that end. So, wbile under priestly ministrations, Europe descended to the lowest depths of spiritual and intellectual degradation, the followers of the Prophet of Islam were becoming a civilised and scientific people. Thus, in the whirligig of Time, the strange chance turned up that Europe, where literature, learning, and science, had in former times been, if not born, at least cultivated to a higher pitch than elsewhere, now, in her degradation, received at the hands of the Saracens the means of reviving a new era of mental progress.

If we ask whence the light dawned upon the Dark Ages, we have therefore to say that it came from the East, though it reached Europe through a Western inlet. In Arabia it was that the sciences and literature of Greece found their only students during the Middle Ages ; there they found their asylum when they fled before the clouds of superstition and ignorance which settled down on Europe, and with the Arabians- better known in history as the Saracens, and in the present connection by the name of Moors— they invaded Spain. Some speak of that wonderful march of an idea, with its embattled hosts—seen in the rapid conquest of the best part of Asia by the Mussulmen, followed by their invasion of Egypt, their march along the Northern coast of Africa, and their subsequent passage into Spain—as if it were the conquest of Civilisation by Barbarism, and of course Priestcraft is ever ready to instil this idea into men's minds. Nevertheless, it is utterly false. Spain, in common with the whole of what had been the Roman Empire, had, under the influence of Priestcraft, descended into barbarism. Here, in this Spain, the first schools of learning were established in modern Europe, by none other than the Moors ; thence, whatever of culture was found in Europe

« EelmineJätka »