Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

the sympathies of our souls, and we go to carry to them the knowledge of God and the way of Salvation through his crucified Son. Some of you will doubtless meet each other on earth again. Perhaps you will revisit these scenes and revive the friendships here formed, and rejoice in the recital of one another's success in the contests of life. But those of us, two of us, who have been given to the heathen, now bid a long and last farewell to these consecrated balls of learning, to this unrivalled valley, these hills, and streams, and shades_farewell to you, the friends and companions of our college days -farewell to these instructors, whose counsels will go with us to the world's end-farewell to all we love”

- A movement in the gallery of the church drew the eyes of the great assembly toward a scene of confusion, and a lovely girl was borne in the arms of her friends from the house into the open air. The vale lictory was soon concluded, and young Richardson was by the side of Mary Lentley. But who was Mary Lentley?

She was the daughter of one of the many substantial farmers in Berkshire, and, as oiten happens with college students, Charles Richardson had not been so sinitten with the charms of study as to be blind to other beauties, and he had found in Mary Lentiey charms that his books had never revealed. She had been the companion of many of his walks; he had read, and she haiheard him real, the books that both of them loved, and with kindred sympathies they had drank at the purest fountains of joy, even at the wells of living waters. He ha I learned to love her tenderly and devotedly, and his soul was linked indissolubly to her, before he had made known his fixed purpose to be a missionary to the distant heathen. But when he broke the subject to her and asked if she would share the trials and the labors of such a service for the sake of him, and more for Christ and the perishing, she leaned upon his shoulder and looking up confidingly said, Whither thou goest, I will go; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried.”

But the parents and friends of Mary thought differently, as soon as the subject reached their ears, and they interposed objections of affection and authority, and “refused to let her go.” The missionary spirit was not so widely difiusel in the churches then as now, and even now such instances of parental interference are of no unfrequent occurrence. This put a new aspect

upon the affair, and the young lovers were called to examine a new and delicate question. Should Charles abandon the heathen for the sake of Mary? Should Mary desert and offend her parents for the sake of Charles ?

Here was a question that has since troubled many a young heart. Had Mary, early and before she had given her heart to Charles Richardson, loved the heathen and consecrated herself to their salvation ; had she been sighing after them, and praying that the way might be opened for her to go to them with the bread of life, she would have had less difficulty now to come to a decision. · But she knew that she first loved Christ, then she loved Richardson, and then, when she knew that he was going to the far off heathen, she was willing to go with him, to suffer and die. How much there was in this willingness that had respect to the souls of the heathen, and how much to him who had her heart's fondest love, she would not confess even to herself. Shall she now break the hearts of her parents who declare that they cannot live without her, and will never consent to part with her, or shall she sweeten their last days with a daughter's love, while she serves the Saviour in her own quiet sphere? With Richardson it was a foregone conclusion. He must go. His heart said so, his conscience approved the decision, and the “ fondness of a creature's love" must not come between him and the work to which the Lord had called him.

It was a time of trial to them both. They had spent hours in prayer, anxiously seeking to learn what God would have them do, striving to bring their minds into sweet acquiescence with the will of heaven, though that will should sunder ties dearer than those that bound them to life. At last the decision was reached. They would part. Mary Lentley would yield to her parents' wishes and devote her life to them, and Richardson would give her up and go to the foreign field. God would approve the sacritice and give them strength to make and sustain them by his grace through years of loneliness and sorrow. They would be true to each other, though oceans were between them, and meet again in a brighter world where parting is un. known.

Having arrived at this conclusion, and look. ing fervently to heaven for help, Mary felt that she had done right and God would keep her. She thought she had given up all, and was now Christ's only; and when Commencement day approached she resolved without hesitation to attend, and listen to the valedictory of her

108

THE CHRISTIAN PARLOR MAGAZINE.

still loved Charles. But she knew not her own heart, nor the strength of the ties that bound her to one whom she had surrendered. And never till his words of farewell fell on her ears, and the tide of sympathy that swelled in the assembly overwhelmed her soul, never till she heard him in broken accents speaking of seeing those scenes, those friends no more, never till that moment, had the reality of her sacrifice risen in full strength before her mind; and no wonder that her delicate frame sunk under the crushing thought.

Charles lingered near her for some days, until her mind regained its self-possession, and as the native energy of her soul, strengthened by deep devotion, returned to her support, she reexamined the subject and again decided that they must part. He acquiesced, though not until he had exhausted every argument and added sweet entreaties, but in vain. Duty, she said, calls you to go and me to stay.

Richardson had yet a course of study to pursue in preparation for the missionary work, and two or three years must be spent in this pursuit at a distance from Mary Lentley. As the point was now settled that Mary was not to be his companion, and as none beyond the immediate circle of friends were acquainted with the facts which we have just related, it was an obvious dictate of propriety on the part of both of them to appear as if these things had not been. Time, it was said, would restore to the broken spirit of Mary its wonted elasticity; grace would heal the wound her young heart had received, and she would be happy and useful among the friends who could not spare her for the heathen.

She knew better, but murmured not. « God's will be done,” she whispered in secret into the ear of Him who comforts those who mourn, and in the loneliness of her desertion she felt that she should never find happiness, till she found it in heaven.

When his course of study was completed, Richardson yielded to the advice of his friends, and found another to whom he was united, who should be his companion in the labors of missionary life, and a useful helper in the great field to which he was destined. But was his heart in this new relation, or was it away in the valley of Berkshire, with his early love ?

A few years roll by. Under the burning sun of India and breathing an air that has been fatal to many of the noblest sons and fairest daughters of the American church, Richardson toiled with the ardor of genius fired by the strongest love

of Christ and the souls of perishing men. A shade of melancholy had settled on his spirit, but this was not to be wondered at; and he labored silently and zealously, striving to win the wandering to the Saviour of sinners.

His wife sickened, and languished, and diedleaving him alone in a land that never appeared to him so much like the region and shadow of death, as now that his companion was taken from him, and his own health soon gave way. He struggled against the increasing conviction that he ought to return to the land of his fathers, and gather strength in the pure air of his native hills; and there was something in his heart that assured him he would be happier if one still dear to him might yet be permitted to join him in his life of self-denial for Christ.

Again he is on the deep with his face toward his native land. He reaches it after an absence of four long years, and makes his way with all haste to the spot where he left his heart when he went to the heathen. The rural home of Mary Lentley is in sight. Quiet and lonely as when he last left it with a sad heart; the same flowers were blooming at the door, and the same sun was shining cheerfully above it, but Mary was not there.

After Richardson went abroad Mary quietly set herself to the more diligent service of her master, in the Sabbath school, and in the abodes of sorrow and sickness ; like an angel of mercy seeking to chase away sadness from others' hearts, while it was but too evident that the canker was at work at her own. Her parents saw with grief the gradual progress of disease, her wasting strength, her fading cheek and the sure presages of the approach of evil; they could not conceal from themselves the cause. But it was too late to find a remedy. In the weakness of parental fondness they had crossed her hopes, and the blight that had fallen on her prospects settled on her soul. Month after month she trod her path of silent usefulness, cheerful when cheerfulness made others blest, but again relapsing into deeper gloom when the motive was withdrawn. And thus, without making her grief the subject of mention even among those most dear, she sunk into the

grave. That grave had been made a year when Richardson found it in the village church-yard, and wept over the ashes of one whom he had loved so tenderly in the days of his youth. Better would it have been for him and better doubtless for the poor heathen, had Mary Lentley been allowed to foliow the impulses of her own heart, and to share the trials of the mis.

[blocks in formation]

sionary life with one whose love would have made a wilderness a paradise for her. But it might not have been better for Mary Lentley. She was early taken home. She

gave

her heart to Christ in the morning of life, and early was she called to his bosom. Her memory still lives in the hearts of those who knew her, and when I was last in the valley that was her birthplace and burial-place, the simple story was told me, and I brought away a few flowers that withered soon, like her from whose grave I gathered them.

It has often been said that there is much romance about modern missions. But I would that every man, who forsakes his parents, and sisters, and country, and goes to the far heathen, might have one to keep him company, to whom he has been bound by the tenderest ties of youthful love, who will more than make up all that he has left behind, as his trials are sweetened by the joys of domestic bliss. It is bad philosophy as well as miserable religion that thinks it good for man to be alone.

[blocks in formation]

Eve of that holy day, when from his works
The Lord Jehovah rested! Oh, how calm,
How still, how emblematic of that hour,
When in his own immensity enthroned,
Systems, and suns, and waters broad and deep,
Earth, with her mountains, valleys, hills, and man-
Unsullied by one sin, surpassing fair,
Lay out before his all-pervading eye,
Perfect, complete, and beautiful and “good.”

How holy, and how tranquil is this hour!
The world shut out, each baser sense withdrawn,
Thus sweetly resting from all earthly care,
From every vexing and distracting thought.

How good is God! How tenderly he deals
With all his children! Now he gives to man
Repose and rest. Exhausted nature, tired,
Wearied, oppressed-hails joyfully this hour,
The earnest of a day of holier hours.

Eve of God's holy day, when promises,
Like leaves from off the Tree of Life,' are seen
Falling around, imparting joy and peace;
Healing the sin-sick soul with glimpses sweet
Of Canaan's fair and unbeclouded skies.

The eve for secret prayer, when Faith draws back
The curtain that conceals a brighter day;
The eve when Hope comes garlanded with flowers,
Anticipating holier, happier years;
When holy Love sheds gracious influence round,
Soothing the spirit with her balmy breath.

Faith, Hope, and Love; sweet guests, Heaven's angels
Sent to earth to guide, to cheer, to elevate
Frail beings of a day, glimmering awhile
Like insects in the sun ; careering swift

[ocr errors]

In thousand varied forms, borne by a strange
Exciting power amid the whizzing crowd,
"Till one by one, successive disappears.

The eve for deep reflection, sober thought,
When the rapt soul holds converse with its God;-
The soul, great instrument of thousand strings,
Each one subserving some important end
In the great plan one day to be revealed;
Changing as clouds, unstable as their hues,
One hour in joy, the next o'erwhelmed with wo;
Floating around; but for the sacred word,
But for God's holy day, without a chart,
Without a compass to direct its course,
A helmless, shattered, and a feeble bark,
The sport of winds and waves, and lowering storms ;-
-On this blest eve that brings the week its close,
By grace renewed, the spirit falls at rest
In peaceful, happy quietude at home,
Subdued, in holy harmony with heaven,
Humbly awaiting the illustrious morn

Which opes a Sabbath never more to end.
Sag Harbor, L. I., June 8th, 1844.

THE TRUE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE.

BY REV. JAMES M. MACDONALD.

“An angel's wing would droop, is long at rest.”—Wilcox.

It is in right employment that true happiness
consists. The drones of society may strive to
persuade themselves that they are happy, and
they are so, if happiness consist in dozing away
existence-happy as the Cappadocian slave, or
the brute that dozes in the stall; but, as Dr.
Good observes, “ should you distil the aggre-
gate of insignificant incidents that compose the
whole tenor of their feeble lives, not a drop,
perhaps, of the essence of true happiness would
ascend in the alembic.”

To every form of being is assigned
An active principle : howe'er removed
From sense and observation, it subsists
In all things, in all natures, in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks,
The moving waters, and the invisible air-
Whate'er exists, hath properties that spread
Beyond itself, communicating good,
A simple blessing, or with evil mixed;
Spirit that knows no insulated spot,

No chasm, no solitude, from link to link
It circulates, the soul of all the world's

THE EXCURSION. Action is the universal law. Its authority reaches all substances and beings, from the meanest plant to the noblest world; from the ephemeral insect to the immortal seraph. Man must obey it. He can no more violate it, either as a physical, intellectual, or moral being, with impunity, than it could be suspended in the material world without disaster.

Better to create occupation than to live with. out it. How many are unhappy from having nothing to do! A French nobleman, it is said, to escape depression and ennui, had recourse to the art of an engraver. “ Any engagement," remarks Dr. Paley, which is innocent, is bet. ter than none, as the writing of a book, the building of a house, the laying out of a garden, the digging of a fish-pond, even the raising of a cucumber or a tulip.” Activity, as it respects our physical being, is a first law, and the re

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

wards of obedience to it are a joyous animal existence, health, elasticity, bodily volume and force, a useful life and the approbation of God.

The objects which claim the investigation of the human mind are numerous, and spread themselves in all directions around our earthly abode. They are nothing less than the works of God in every department, in all their copiousness, variety, and grandeur. Nature is a volume put into our hands expressly for our perusal, and an acquaintance with it is essentially connected with our highest and best interests. To a reflecting mind it is obvious that we are indebted to such knowledge for many peculiar advantages, and for our most exquisite enjoyments. We are furnished with faculties fitted for the acquisition of knowledge. But these powers of acquisition will prove wasted or abused talents, except as a man yields to the force of the great law of action. The mind must be urged on in the process of obtaining knowledge, and expanding its powers. To preserve its healthy action, its just and natural balance, it must be kept in constant exercise. Action is the appropriate element of the mind; it increases the energy of its powers, and opens a way for that energy to be expended. Intellectual employments bring their own reward. New impulses lead to new discoveries, and thus open new sources of pleasure. But there are penalties attending mental supineDess and sloth. The mind will prey upon itself. “Unemployed talents are sure to revenge themselves upon their possessors. They will not lie in the mind like lightning in a cloud, without injuring their sanctuary or losing their energy; but will impair at once their shrine and themselves. Great powers were created for great purposes; and when not applied to them they assail each other like wild beasts in a cage. Memory keeps conscience sleepless, and imagination torments both. The visions of fancy become the realities of sensation. The brain burns sensibly, and the palpitations of the heart are the pulsations of the soul. Thoughts are substances, and feelings convulsions.”*

To arrive at the true enjoyment of rational beings, the powers with which the Creator has eodowed us are not to slumber in inaction. The universe is spread out as a volume through which we may range, selecting whatever is most worthy of pursuit from its ample stores. But let it be borne in mind that no great and valuable attainments can ever be made, except by vigorous mental exertion. Nature wili not

open her store-house, and introduce the listless observer into her arcana. She will not divulge her mysteries by accident, nor be cheated into revealing them. He alone, who is diligent in searching, like Theseus in the labyrinth of Crete, will find the key by which he may unlock, and the secret thread which shall guide him through all her labyrinths.

Obedience to the law of moral action is also inseparably connected with the highest useful. ness and the purest enjoyments of man. Influence, which by the mass of men is so imperfectly understood, is always inseparable from moral action. A man's duties do not, and cannot all centre in himself; there are obligations from which he can never be absolved, and to the Author of his being he is bound to render his homage, fear, and obedience.

Persons distinguished for habits of active benevolence, are seldom known to become irasci. ble, misanthropic, and sick of life. True charity exerts a tranquillizing influence on the soul ; it is an antagonist principle to every disquieting passion ; and it is kindred to the calm, pure, and ennobling impulses which give the direction, and make up the sum of a happy life. Right employment is the true philosopher's stone. In seeking to promote the happiness of his fellow. creatures, a man finds the best solace for his

He is not perpetually employed in a gloomy introspection, he looks - beyond himself, perhaps discovers others more unhappy. It is in philanthropic exertion that the diseased mind finds its restorative power. Let actionnoble, generous, virtuous action—be our law : " 'Twill sweep distemper from the busy day, And make the chalice of the big, round year,

Run o'er with gladness.” Let every faculty be enlisted ; let time be duly prized. It was one of the three things which Cato, the wise and virtuous Roman, in reviewing his life, regretted, that he had permitted a day to pass without performing any virtuous action.

The history of the past teaches us what changes and revolutions in the state of society a single man may effect. Even the examples of perverted moral action present striking illustrations of individual power, and while they should stimulate to greater vigor the friends of virtue and of man, they utter an impressive warning against such a perversion of the noblest faculties of our nature. What an instance of lofty but perverted genius we have in Lord Byron ! His productions minister to the worst passions

own sorrow.

Robert Philip.

« AnteriorContinuar »