Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE BIRD LET LOOSE.

The bird, let loose in eastern skies,'

When hastening fondly home,
Ne’er stoops to earth her wing, nor flies

Where idle warblers roam.
But high she shoots through air and light,

Above all low delay,
Where nothing earthly bounds her flight,

Nor shadow dims her way.
So grant me, God, from every care

And stain of passion free,
Aloft, through Virtue's purer air,

To hold my course to Thee!
No sin to cloud-no lure to stay

My soul, as home she springs ;-
Thy Sunshine on her joyful way,

Thy Freedom in her wings!

THIS WORLD IS ALL A FLEETING SHOW.

This world is all a fleeting show,

For man's illusion given;
The smiles of Joy, the tears of Woe,
Deceitful shine, deceitful flow-

There's nothing true but Heaven!
And false the light on Glory's plume,

As fading hues of even;
And Love, and hope, and Beauty's bloom
Are blossoms gather'd for the tomb-

There's nothing bright but Heaven!
Poor wanderers of a stormy day,

From wave to wave we're driven;
And Fancy's flash, and Reason's ray,
Serve but to light the troubled way-

There's nothing calm but Heaven!

THOU ART, O GOD!

Thou art, O God, the life and light

Of all this wondrous world we see;
Its glow by day, its smile by night,

Are but reflections caught from thee.
Where'er we turn, thy glories shine,
And all things fair and bright are Thine!
When Day, with farewell beam, delays

Among the opening clouds of Even,

* The carrier pigeon, it is well known, flies at an elevated pitch, in order to surmount erery obstacle between her and the place to which she is destined.

And we can almost think we gaze

Through golden vistas into heaven-
Those hues, that make the sun's decline
So soft, so radiant, Lord, are Thine!
When Night, with wings of starry gloom,

O’ershadows all the earth and skies,
Like some dark, beauteous bird, whose plume

Is sparkling with unnumber'd eyes-
That sacred gloom, those fires divine,
So grand, so countless, Lord, are Thine!
When youthful Spring around us breathes,

Thy spirit warms her fragrant sigh;
And every flower the Summer wreathes

Is born beneath that kindling eye.
Where'er we turn, thy glories shine,
And all things fair and bright are Thine!

THOMAS DICK, 1774.

No author of the nineteenth century has a higher claim upon the respect and gratitude of the world than the venerable Christian philosopher, Dr. Thomas Diek. He was born near Dundee on the 24th of November, 1774. His father, a linen manufacturer, was distinguished no less for his intelligence than for his eminent Christian character, and his mother, a woman of exemplary piety, taught him to read the New Testament before he entered any school: thus he had the early advantages of the best of all schools, a truly Christian home.

A simple incident early directed the studies of Dr. Dick to astronomy. When only nine years old, while walking in his father's garden about nine o'clock in the evening, his attention was directed by a maid-servant to the north, which was quite suddenly illuminated by the Aurora Borealis. He was struck with amazement as well as terror; and so powerful was the impression made upon his mind that he was very early led to make eager inquiries for such books as would reveal to him some of the mysteries of astronomy and meteorology; and he actually constructed a rude telescope himself, by which he could see the rings of Saturn. His father, seeing the strong bent of his son's mind, had good sense enough not to keep him any longor in his factory, and at the age of sixteen he began to study Latin, with the view of entering the university.

In 1794 he became a student of the University of Edinburgh, and in the spring of 1795 was nominated teacher to the Orphans' Hospital in that city. Here he continued two years, and then left to pursue his academical studies. About this time his mind began to be impressed with serious religious views, and the study of the Scriptures and works upon divinity and theological criticism engrossed much of his thought and attention. In 1801, having gone through the regular course of study as a student of divinity in the Secession Church, he obtained his license and began to preach; and for several years officiated in different parts of Scotland. On being warınly invited by the Rev. J. Jamieson and his session, to superintend a school connected with tho Secession Church at Methven, he accepted the call. Here he instituted classes for the teaching of the sciences to the people, and projected the plan of those libraries for the working classes which are now so common in England. After ten years of gratifying and successful labor at Methven, he removed to an educational establishmeni at Perth, and during ten more years he taught, studied, and wrote, and finally built his little cottago on the high grounds of Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, where he retired “ to hold communion with the stars,"I and where he now (1853) resides at the advanced age of seventy-nine, in the full possession of his mental powers, and omitting no opportunity of doing good.2

Dr. Dick has been peculiarly styled the “Christian Philosopher," from his efforts to demonstrate the compatibility and harmony of all true philosophy with the Christian plan of redemption and the truth of the life to come, and from the success with which he has explained the philosophy of religion. The inquiries of this patient and laborious philosopher over the whole fields of physical and moral science, have been so varied and extensive, and so subservient to the cause of sound morality and religion, that he has acquired a celebrity deservedly extensive, and has won for himself a high place in the estimation of good men, His whole life has been spent in instructing mankind with his tongue and pen, and consequently the reward of senates and the applause of courts have not been his. “llis worldly position has been an humble one. The teacher pines, while the warrior triumphs. Truly, however, the position of such men as Sir David Brewster and Dr. Dick transcends all other worldly conditions. The honor and glory of the warrior are not such as will pass with him beyond this life, for they are compatible with none of the moral attributes of tho Deity; but he who has been devotedly, in all humbleness of heart, a blessing to mankind, will haro the reward of the blessed in the fulness of God's presence."

[ocr errors]

"In 1837 Dr. Dick visited London, where he published his “Celestial Scenery." About the same time he visited Paris, and embraced the opportunity of visiting the observatory there. Shortly after this the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by the Faculty and Trustees of Union College. Schenectady, New York.

"I may state that at Frankfort on the Maine, in the summer of 1850, at the Peace Congress then and there held, I had the pleasure of an interview with this venerable Christian philosopher. In stature he is rather below the medium height; and though in body he appeared somewhat enfeebled from his advanced age, he showed a vigor of mind unimpaired, while his countenance was radiant with those benevolent affections and philanthropic feelings which have characterized him from his earliest years.

3 The following is, I believe, at correct list of Dr. Diek's works in the order of publication :1. “The Christian Philosopher, or the Connection of Science with Religion,” 1823; 2. “The Philosophy of Religion, or an Illustration of the Moral Laws of the Universe," 1825; 3. “The

THE IMMENSE DISTANCE OF THE STARS.

Some readers, from their ignorance of the mathematical principles of astronomy, and from being incapable of appreciating the observations to which we have referred, are apt to view with a certain degree of skepticism the conclusions ich astronomers have deduced respecting the distances and magnitudes of the stars. Perhaps the following considerations, level to the capacity of every man of common sense, may have a tendency to convince even the most skeptical that the stars are situated at an almost incalculable distance from the earth.

Suppose a telescope to magnify four hundred times, that is, makes a distant object appear four hundred times nearer, and four hundred times larger in diameter, than to the naked eye. With an instrument of this description I have been enabled to read a person's name, the letters of which were not above half an inch in length or breadth, at the distance of more than two miles. When this telescope is directed to the moon, it enables us to perceive the shadows of its mountains, and other minute portions of its scenery, and even to distinguish rocks and cavities less than a mile in diameter. When directed to the planet Venus, it exhibits it as a large splendid body, with either a gibbous, a balf-moon, or a crescent phase. When directed to Jupiter and Saturn, it makes these orbs appear several times larger than the moon does to the naked eye, and enables us to perceive the dark belts which run across the one, and the rings which surround the other. Now, if this same instrument be directed to the fixed stars, it shows them only as so many luminous points, without any well-defined diameters. It brings to view hundreds and thousands of stars which the naked eye cannot discern; but although they appear somewhat more brilliant, they appear, on the whole, no larger in diameter than the stars in general do to the unassisted sight. This circumstance I consider as a palpable and sensible evidence of the immense distance of the fixed stars; for bodies at the distance of nine hundred, and even of eighteen hundred millions of miles, appear magnified in proportion to the power of the instrument; and why should not the fixed stars appear magnified in the same proportion, and present to the eye large disks like the planets, were it not on account of their incalculable distance ?

We thus prove to a demonstration that the nearest stars are renature, man is not forgotten by his Maker; his hand supports him, his wisdom guides him, and his overflowing goodness provides, in a thousand different modes, for his happiness and enjoyment. He shares the Divine beneficence and care in common with all the bright intelligences that people the amplitudes of creation, and is as amply provided for as if the Almighty had no other world under his superintendence. Within the moral government of the Creator of the universe he may rest secure and confident that he is not overlooked amidst the immensity of being, for his presence pervades the infinity of space, and his knowledge extends to the minutest movements of all his creatures. Under his paternal care, not only man, but the crawling worm, the fluttering insect, the little ant, and even the microscopic animalculum, find a home and provisions, as well as the highest order of his creatures; for “he openeth his hand and supplicth the wants of every living thing."

THE TENDENCY OF KNOWLEDGE.

Knowledge has a tendency to unite the hearts of all who are engaged in its pursuit: it forms a bond of union among its votaries more firm and permanent than that which unites princes and statesmen,-especially if it is conjoined with Christian principles and virtuous dispositions. Congeniality of sentiments and similarity of pursuits gradually weaken the force of vulgar prejudices, and tend to demolish those barriers which the jealousies of nations have thrown around each other. True philosophers, whether English, Swedish, Russian, Swiss, German, or Italian, maintain an intimate and affectionate correspondence with each other on every subject of literature and science, notwithstanding the antipathies of their respective nations. It is a well-known fact, that, during the late war, when political animosities ran so high, the National Institute of France announced prizes for the discussion of scientific questions, and invited the learned in other nations, not even excepting the English, to engage in the competition; and one of our countrymen, Sir Humphry Davy, actually obtained one of the most valuable and distinguished of these honorary awards.

When knowledge is conjoined with a recognition of the Christian precept, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” its possessor will easily be made to enter into such considerations as the following, and to feel their force :—That all men, to whatever nation or tribe they belong, are the children of one Almighty Parent, endowed

with the same corporal

11

« AnteriorContinuar »