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Come, knit hands, and beat the ground,
In a light fantastic round. The lady who is lost"in the blind mazes of the tangled wood,” soliloquises of her loneliness in a strain of mingled fear and courage; using amongst other beautiful similes, that of the “sable cloud" with "silver lining," which has so often been borrowed since by the minor poets. She presently sings a sweet song, hoping her brothers will hear her voice. Comus listening, exclaims :
“Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould
I never heard till now. Comus speaks to the lady, and offers to conduct her to a low but loyal cottage, where she will be safe :Comus. “I know each lane, and every alley green,
Dingle or bushy dell, of this wild wood,
My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood.”
“Shepherd, I take thy word,
The brothers, while in quest of their dear sister, converse of her danger, and the shield afforded by virtue and chastity. The elder brother exclaims :
Virtue could see to do what virtue would
She has a hidden strength.
But when lust,
Where no crude surfeit reigns." The rescue of the lady having been effected, the attendant spirit flies aloft, singing :
"Mortals, that would follow me,
Heaven itself would stoop to her.” My object in addressing you has been to awaken in the minds of some a love for poetry, and the culture of poetry. The life of every man is partly sensuous, partly spiritual, partly imaginative. In
our spiritual life we are taught that we to live by faith, not by sight; not by sight of the things of this world, because they are too gross, and too delusive to be the legitimate guide of our steps; not by sight of the things of the world to come, because they are far above and beyond the reach of our mental vision; but by faith. Even so in our imagination, we live not by sight; not by dwelling among the sordid and utilitarian aspects of the things around us, but by faith in the beautiful, the sublime, and the relations which all things bear to the spirit within us, and to spirits superior to our own. If I may so use this theological term, I would say that by the exercise of faith in that ideal, or imaginative world, we may to a certain extent be weaned from the emptier vanities of the world, and from its coarser delights, and may acquire a thirst for delights yet more refined than those of the imagination itself. The imagination of man is among those awful gifts imparted to him by his Creator, that by means of them he may be trained up and educated to the exercise of those high spiritual powers, which are to be continually expanding and improving throughout the whole duration of the existence of the beatified spirits who stand ministrant before the Divine throne. Of all those to whom has been committed the office of disclosing to us the boundless resources and the purifying energy of a heart-inspired imagination, Milton is the noblest and the most exalted; and in respectfully directing your thoughts to the study of his works, I should be glad indeed to believe that I am leading you to the vestibule of the temple where others daily wait to assist, and partake of, and to direct your worship.
THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
MR. CHRISTOPHER HAWORTH.
(Thx following thoughtful lecture is the composition of a
working man. It was read before the Eclectic Mutual Improvement Society, Ardwick, Manchester.]
That man has a mind distinct from the matter of which his body is composed, and not the result of any combination of essences, or of any mere organisation of matter, however subtle and refined, we would content ourselves here by referring for proof to the physiological fact, that whilst the atoms which enter into the composition of his body are continually passing off, and being substituted by fresh ones, so that in the course of a few years not a single atom now entering into the composition of the whole shall remain; yet the mind, down to the latest hour of life,--during which period several of these changes may have been passed through-ever retains a certain and vivid consciousness of its own personal identity.
The doctrine of the soul's immortality cannot be fally demonstrated by reason: all that she can aecomplish is to establish a possibility, or, at the utmost, a probability; the certainty of it must necessarily be the subject of revelation.
To a few of the facts which go to shew the thing not only possible, but highly probable, it is the purpose of this paper to call attention.
There is the indestructibility of matter. It never has been-it never can be annihilated by any process or force with which we are acquainted : only that power which brought it into being can cause it to cease to exist. Chemistry tells us that the totality of matter is the same now as it was at the beginning of the creation : that is, that the earth has not really lost one single particle from the beginning of time till now; and that all we can mean by waste and destruction, resolves itself simply into decomposition and recomposition, ad infinitum. Now, if the Creator has (and as far as we can see He has) imparted endless being to that which is least, dead, unconscious, inert matter, is it not much more likely that He would impart the same property to conscious, intelligent, nobler mind ?
Another, and a strong presumptive argument for the immortality of the soul, we draw from the instincts of the soul itself. It has been truly said,
“Man never is, but always to be blest." This is not the case with the inferior animals : the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea, and the cattle of the forest, seem to attain to and to enjoy the utmost perfection of their being. The merry lark, rising from the dewy greensward, and trilling his cheerful lay as he soars amid the orient splendours of the new-born sun; the cow, stretched her full length, and ruminating at leisure on the flower-bespangled grassy knoll; puss, reclining at her ease, and purring away on the warm hearthrug ;-each seems the image of perfect satisfaction and contentment. They are little troubled with memories of the past, and still less made either uneasy or joyous by anticipations of the future. Not so with man. Whatever his attainments in wealth, in knowledge, in power and social influence, still he is not satisfied; he is ever stretching forward to something yet beyond, which, when he has attained, he finds