Imágenes de páginas

was more wretched than can be told. Was it not to be hoped that these severe trials would soften his hard heart, and lead him to seek in the religion of Christ, the only consolations adequate to his adversity ?

Some persons thought so. An eminent Christian of England, the Rev. Dr. David Bogue, sent to the prisoner of St. Helena a copy of his · Essay on the Divine Authority of the New Testament.' Napoleon read the little work with interest and satisfaction. The proofs cited by the author in favour of the divinity of Christianity convinced him, as eye-witnesses attest. True, this was not enough to make him a Christian, but it was enough to awaken in him serious reflections. After Napoleon's death, this copy of the Essay was given to an under officer, a pious man, who had taught English to the children of the Emperor's companions. When the regiment returned to England, this same copy was given back to Dr. Bogue, who received it with much emotion, as a new testimony of the favour of God upon his book.

Another fact: Napoleon had asked to have a Chaplain, and the Italian Abbot, Bonavita, was selected to perform this office. It seems that he was an enlightened and liberal man; a rare thing among the abbots of Italy. Coming to Belgium, he became acquainted with an Englishman, a zealous friend of Bible Societies, and travelled with him to London. The Englishman took occasion to hand Bonavita a splendid copy of the Bible, with the request that he would give it to the unhappy Emperor. The Abbot accepted this Bible with gratitude, and promised that he would recommend Napoleon to read it diligently. In fact, well-informed men attest, that after the arrival of Bonavita at St. Helena, Napoleon read much in the Bible, and that he spoke of it with profound respect.

Who can tell the influence which this divine book exerted upon the soul of the illustrious prisoner? Was he not prepared by misfortune to receive and to feel the great consolations of the word of God? Is it not allowable to hope that the Lord, after having so severely punished, deigned to make him understand these revelations which would be as a balm to his wounds ? We know that the Father of mercies calls labourers into his vineyard even at the eleventh hour, and that be takes no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should repent and live.

I come to a third fact. During the residence of Napoleon at St. Helena, there was a religious revival among the inhabitants of the island, and it extended to the soldiers. They held a religious meeting for exhortation and prayer, a few steps only from the humble dwelling of the Emperor. These soldiers often accompanied in his walks the exile whom they guarded; they remarked the poignant grief imprinted upon his countenance and his conversation. It is easily conceivable that they would feel strong compassion for this man, plunged in such deep disgrace, and that they would especially commiserate his soul, which was soon to appear before God with the responsibility of such a life as bis. They would desire to communi. cate their pious feelings directly to the Emperor ; but this was forbidden them. They would. then have recourse to Him who is prevented by no barrier from pouring out his Spirit. They would pray Him to soothe the severe and long-continued sufferings of the prisoner by the heavenly peace which the knowledge of Jesus Christ imparts.

Were these fervent and persevering prayers wholly lost?“ The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” says an apostle. James v. 16. It is also written, “ Ask, and ye shall receive.” Was it not affecting to see these Christian soldiers besieging the throne of mercy for the old and unfortunate Captain, dying in exile, after baving conquered Europe ? and may not the Lord have been touched with compassion ?

Lastly, (and this is the most interesting fact in my communication) a journal lately publishes a conversation related by Count de Montholon, the faithful friend of the Emperor. Without being responsible for the truth of this conversation, I will copy it literally ; hoping that it may have been really uttered by the Emperor. It deserves to be read with attention.

I know men,' said Napoleon ; ' and I tell you that Jesus is not a man !

• The religion of Christ is a mystery which subsists by its own force, and proceeds from a mind which is not a human mind. We find in it a marked individuality, which originated a train of words and maxims unknown before. Jesus borrowed nothing from our knowledge. He exbibited in himself the perfect example of his precepts. Jesus is not a philosopher; for his proofs are miracles, and from the first his disciples adored him. In fact, learning and philosophy are of no use for salvation ; and Jesus came into the world to reveal the mysteries of heaven, and the laws of the Spirit.

Alexander, Cæsar, Charlemagne, and myself, founded empires ; but upon what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love ; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.

• It was not a day or a battle that achieved the triumph of the Christian religion in the world. No; it was a long war, a contest for three centuries, begun by the apostles, then continued by the flood of Christian generations. In this war all the kings and potentates on earth were on one side ; on the other, I see no army but a mysterious force; some men scattered here and there in all parts of the world, and who have no other rallying-point than a common faith in the mysteries of the cross.

"I die before my time, and my body will be given back to the earth to become food for worms. Such is the fate which so soon awaits him who has been called the great Napoleon !' What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, and adored, and which is extending over the whole earth! Call you this dying ? is it not living rather ? The death of Christ is the death of a God?

Napoleon stopped at these last words ; but General Bertrand making no reply, the Emperor added, “ If you do not perceive that Jesus Christ is God, I did wrong to appoint you General.'

If this language was really uttered by Napoleon, it forms a fine chapter in the defence of Christianity, for which we are indebted to the greatest warrior * of modern times; and it may be believed, * This is an American opinion : an Englishman has just cause to question its correctness.

without any violence, that the prisoner of St. Helena understood and embraced, in his last days, the truths of salvation.

Upon his death-bed be often pronounced the name of the Saviour. Was this too an evidence of his faith in Christ? No human being may answer decidedly this question. After having faithfully col. lected these various indications, we must leave the subject in the hands of God.

I am, &c. Mountauban,

G. de F.


Man in his primeval state, enjoyed all the high and holy privileges which God designed to be his portion. The sacred historian presents us with an animating description, representing our first parents as possessing all the elements which could ensure the most unbounded satisfaction, the most exalted joy. Surrounded by all that was beautiful in nature, his eye wandered over the most lovely landscapes, his ear listened to the most melodious harmony, his taste was gratified by the most delicious fruits ; the choicest perfume scented the air which he breathed ; when he walked forth, he beheld the brute creation subservient to his command, and under his most complete control, “ Thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of thine hands, thou hast put all things under his feet.” Psalm viii. 6. When he turned his thoughts within himself, he was conscious of possessing those faculties which elevated him above all the other portion of creation, endowed with powers of body and mind which could not fail to call forth his most unqualified praise, mingled with feelings of gratitude, and something of the language which inspired the Psalmist David, “ Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.” Psalm ciii. 1. But the highest source of happiness, and the most dignified honour which God placed upon Adam, was permitting him to hold converse with him : 0, what must he have experienced, to have held converse with God, to have been permitted to walk in the light of his countenance, to have contemplated his perfections, and to have enjoyed the constant smile of his approbation,this was his happy condition ; uninterrupted communion with God, undisturbed peace of mind, uncontaminated by sin, no evil passions to curb, no depraved and unholy desires to subdue ; all within was serenity, peace, and joy,—with such high and holy privileges as these, there is no difficulty in supposing the language of his heart was, • What is man that thou art mindful of him ; " Psalm viii. 4, and here we are reminded that the highest privilege of the Christian on earth, is being permitted to hold communion with God. The Psalmist was not a stranger to this exercise ; in the warmth of his devotional feelings he exclaims, “ As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O Cod.” Psalm xlii. 1. And St. John, although banished from the abodes of man by a tyrannical and persecuting prince, and consigned to a place of solitude (yet not of solitude to him,) ascends the mount of communion, and makes the delightful confession, “That he was in the spirit on the Lord's day," Rev. i. 10, and was permitted to behold by vision the ineffable glories of heaven, the saints who have their robes washed, and made white in the blood of the Lamb, and has given us a glowing description of the magnificence and splendor before the throne of God. Enoch was a bright example of one who enjoyed in a great degree this desirable frame of mind;-he" walked with God,” his soul appears to have been occupied with thoughts of God, it was bis meat and drink to do his will, and led him until the glorious termination of his earthly existence, without the pain of dying. “ He was not, for God took him." Gen. v. 24. Communion with God is the connecting link between earth and heaven : many Christians, both in ancient and modern times, have enjoyed it in an eminent degree, and it has shed a sacred lustre over their path to Canaan. The prophet Isaiah gives us an encouraging description of the privileges of those who wait on God. " They shall mount with wings as eagles,” and as the eagle in its lofty Aight keeps its eye upon the sun, so the Christian, in com. munion with God, keeps the eye of his path on the Sun of Righteousness, and when he comes down from the mount of communion, is enabled “ To run and not be weary, to walk and not faint.” Isa. xl. 31. One link in the chain which constituted the happiness of Adam, was the prospect of its continuance; he was not only surrounded by every thing that could enhance his pleasure, and convey the most exquisite enjoyment to his mind; he had the consciousness of its being unfading in its character, and eternal in its duration. The formation of man was for eternity : “ Let us make man,” was the language of the eternal three, “ in our image after our likeness," and what a distinguished being was man, as he came forth from the hand of bis Maker, endowed with powers capable of appreciating and investigating the works of his Creator ; the world in which he was to take up bis residence was the scene of the glory and power of God, designed to be the abode of a countless number of intelligent and happy beings, like himself, the friend and acquaintance of God, created in the same likeness, in knowledge, holiness, and truth. The sacred writer tells us, “ Thou madest him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Psalm viii. 5.) Made the companion of angels, he participated in their sublime joys, and doubtless heard their description of the celestial world, and anticipated the period when he should be removed from his paradisiacal state on earth, to the more glorious paradise of heaven, where his mind would be more expanded, made fully sensible of the character of the great Jehovah, and introduced to felicities beyond the power of human beings to imagine, or the possibility of language to describe.

But now we have to witness a painful reverse of the above picture, and view man as he is, fallen, degraded, and dying. The angels who were Adam's previous companions at bis fall, drive him from paradise. The command of God now came with all its bitter and woeful consequences to him, who, until now, was the object of bis complacent regard. “ Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken.” The curse was now to receive its perfect fulfilment, s Dust thou art, SEPTEMBER, 1842.

2 Z

and unto dust thou shalt return ; " and in all ages of the world down to the present time, man has experienced the effects of this sentence. What ravages has death made amongst mankind : who can stand against his dart : his shafts are flying in every direction : the young, the aged, the learned, the unlearned, have to pay the debt which death demands; which fact suggests to us the necessity of preparing for the great change whenever it shall come, to live daily under the influence of the warning voice of the Redeemer, “ Work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work,” (John ix. 4.) and the solemn injunction of the prophet, “ Prepare to meet thy God.” We are daily reminded that this is not our rest, by the solemn knell, the funeral procession, the garb of mourning, “ For man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets." Eccles xii. 5.

• Friend after friend departs ;
Who has not lost a friend ?
There is no union here of hearts,

That hath not here an end.' Scripture, experience, and history, all testify to the fact, that man is departed from his original excellence. The prophet utters the mournful lamentation, “ The crown is fallen from our heads, woe unto us for we have sinned.” The inspired volume presents us with the humiliating fact, that man is at an awful distance from God, and at that distance willing to remain. How solemn the truth, that the great mass of mankind are heedless of their eternal destinies—that they are only probationers here for another state of existence. Angels must be astonished at the indifference of man to his best interests, they are not unmoved spectators of his unconcern, they who rejoiced at his creation doubtless mourned at his fall : the sacred writer informs us, “ that they desired to look into " the mysteries of his redemption ; and the Saviour himself affirmed, “ that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke xv.7); and, in all ages of time they have been the instruments of effecting the commands of God. They were the harbingers of the Messiah's coming, and first announced his appearance in the world, and they now rejoice to see the prosperity of his kingdom. The christian philanthropist is not insensible to the claims that God has upon his services to promote the welfare of mankind, and awaken a concern in the minds of those who despise the claims of the Gospel, and with angels he rejoices to see the cause of God flourishing amongst men, to see the number of the Saviour's followers daily increasing. Experience and observation teach us the necessity of this exertion : when we look abroad, how many painful instances do we see of the fatal effects of the fall. When we turn over the page of history, what mournful pictures are presented to our view of the consequences of sin. Nation risingup against nation, family against family, individual against individual. War claiming for its victims the tender parent and affectionate husband, who, torn away from the embraces of his family and home, sacrifices his life in a distant land, and, alas ! in how many instances to satisfy the proud and ambitious mind of man : the dark and benighted land of heathenism corroborate the statement of the poet

"The mind untaught is dark as night,

Where every evil dwells,'

« AnteriorContinuar »