Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

balance, in a measure, the centri- that guided the faculties seems to fugal. But such efforts only weak- be lost, and a morbid impuise urges en his system, by reacting on the them over a troubled ocean in a disease, and render every success. devious track. ive trial to chain the attention more The effect of such a disordered arduous. Many a man, we believe, and uncontrolable condition of the imbibing the prevalent opinion that intellect upon literary and scientific dyspepsia can be cured by neglect. pursuits, every one must see, is exing it, and that it needs no relaxa- tremely unpropitious. Not less untion, mental or corporeal, has so happy is its influence upon the reriveted the disease upon him, byligious experience. The man, for long repeated efforts to force his instance, retires for secret devotion. mind up to the work, that he now His thoughts are turned upon himfinds his energies prostrated, and self : but he cannot confine his athis faculties made the sport of every tention to an impartial survey of his nervous feeling. Was he a math- heart or life. The thoughts will fly ematician? He can be such no to every gloomy spot in the picture, longer, for his mind refuses to be and hold these in bold relief before chained down to patient and fixed the desponding reason. Does he thought. Did he delight himself try to fix his thoughts upon God? the in tracing the philosophy of mind, terrors of the Lord, his justice and or the abstruser doctrines of theolo. holiness, and the threatenings of gy? He finds that there is not the law, darken all the prospect mental strength or steadiness and shut out the sweet light of the enough within him to sustain and Gospel. Does he contemplate the guide him in his laborious flight character and offices of the Lord We have often seen the pow. Jesus Christ? Alas, he sees him of attention so lost, and the mind as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, so enfeebled by these disorders, revealed in flaming fire, taking venthat although there was a sin geance on his enemies, rather than cere desire and effort to feel the the compassionate Redeemer, who force of a chapter of the word of will not break the bruised reed, God which was read, no distinct nor quench the smoking flax, until impression of its meaning remained he send forth judgment unto victoon the mind at the conclusion. 'ry. If he thinks of the Spirit, it is

There are some objects, however, not as a comforter, but as resisted on which the attention of the ner- and insulted by his heart, and devous invalid fixes with painful, and parted forever. If he meditate a sort of involuntary intentness, upon death, and to this subject his From its own complaints and suf. thoughts naturally turn, he is seen ferings, and the gloomy scenes in only as the King of Terrors, aimprospect, it can with difficulty being his irrespective dart, rattling the averted. The nervous man may shroud, opening the grave, and leavforce himself into pleasant and ing corruption and the worm to amusing society; he may mingle feast on the victim. Does he atin the bustle of the city ; or he may tempt to pray? He finds his range over the hills and dales of the thoughts flying so rapidly from country ; still will the mind refuse object to object, that it seems to look abroad with interest, and to him little better than mockwill brood over its own woes, and ery. We speak here not of that conjure up terrific images, until common wandering of mind of change of climate or exercise shall which every Christian has reason have strengthened the system ; to complain, even with the firmest when the mind's healthy action will health, and which is highly sinful. be restored. In short, the helm In the case of the nervous invalid

the difficulty is vastly greater ; be- his dejected feelings he will very cause he has lost in a measure the likely impute it all to his criminal control over his attention. How far stupidity and impenitence. Or supit may be sinful in him, we pretend pose in such a state, he witnesses not to decide : but it is obvious, some awful providence of God, or that it must not only destroy all en- awakened sinners seeking salvation. joyment in prayer, but likewise lead While his brethren around him are him to doubt his sincerity. For he agitated with intense interest, he finds that he can fix his attention, remains unmoved, and almost un. most deeply upon his own maladies affected. Can it be any thing, but and sorrows ; and he will hence be hardened impenitence, he and his likely to infer, that were the love of brethren will ask, on which such God supreme in his heart, he should scenes make no impression ! find as deep an interest exerted by But in nervous complaints there communion with his Heavenly Fa. is always an excess, corresponding

to a deficiency, of excitement. The advanced stages of these There are seasons when the mind complaints are characterised also, of the nervous invalid is brought by an extreme irregularity in the into the most powerful action. And operation of the mental faculties. yet it is not a healthy and well reg. At one time their sluggishness is ulated action. We have often comequalled only by the torpor of the pared a person in such circumstanbodily functions. To this there is ces to a watch that has lost its baloften joined a remarkable obtuse- ance-wheel. Though its parts are ness and confusion of intellect. whirling and buzzing most furiously, Hence it happens, that the nervous yet neither the time of the day is man becomes negligent and super- given, nor any good purpose accomficial. So great is often his indispo- plished. So the nervous man, in sition to mental, as well as bodily his moments of inspiration, may exertion, that pressing necessity seem to be accomplishing wonders, alone will rouse him to action; and and to possess remarkable activity he is the more averse to this, from and clearness of intellect ; and he perceiving that efforts made under may, indeed, strike out some origisuch circumstances almost always nal tracks; yet will his course be increase his complaints. Hence too devious to be useful; and its too, he contents himself with par- few green prospects but a poor tial glimpses of a subject. And he compensation for the dreariness and often finds, when he tasks himself darkness that will succeed. His to the utmost to obtain a thorough religious views, in such seasons of knowledge, his impaired senses con excitement, may also be clear, and vey to the soul only distorted or co- his exercises ardent. But when he loured images.

ther.

has learnt the nature of his comHow painful must be the influ- plaints, he cannot but inquire, with ence of such torpor and deception anxious solicitude, whether all was upon the religious experience. Sup not the result of animal excitement, pose the season of devotion finds the instead of religious principle, or di. man in this state-shall he impute vine influence. it to his disorder, or to his want of It is, however, upon the imagina. interest in the subject, that the sea. tion that the most obvious effects of son passes away in so profitless a nervous complaints are exhibited : manner ? Suppose in this state he not so obvious perhaps to the invahears an interesting discourse, or lid himself, as to others. For to rather finds himself overcome with him, the distorted and magnified sleep in such circumstances: with images of fancy are undoubted re

alities; and it is but rarely that Dark ignorance is lavish of her shades, he discovers their extravagance : whereas others easily perceive ma

And these the formidable picture draws. ny of them to be but the baseless

* It is impossible that an imaginafabric of a vision.” And it is these

tion which is thus disordered in restrange workings of fancy, that have spect to the affairs of this life, should made hypochondriacs. by common not impart a like morbid tinge to consent, the butt of ridicule. In spiritual objects. We should exdeed, many of their imaginations pect that such a man as we have deare so extravagant, none but their

scribed, would be looking continuown risibility can remain unmoved.

ally upon the dark side of every obWhen we see a man firmly believ

ject, and prophesying bitter things ing himself to be made of wax, and

concerning himself. If he dare not dreading on that account to ap

hope for any thing, but sickness, proach a fire ;-another, fancying

poverty, and suffering, on earth, it that his bones have become soft like

will not be probable he will look for tallow, and dare not therefore trust

any thing better beyond the grave. his weight upon them;--another,

His fancy will most likely array wallowing in opulence, yet pining

against him all the sterner features away through fear of want; and

of the divine character, in so dark above all, when we see such a man

a cloud, that the rays of mercy, as as Simon Browne, writing an able

they shine from the cross of Christ, defence of revelation, and yet in

will shoot only a dim and doubtful the dedication of his book to queen

twilight across the gloom. Elizabeth, declaring, with the ut

It has been said by some Christian most sincerity and distressing an

writers, that a man can learn someguish, that“ by the immediate hand

thing of his character from his of an avenging God, his very think

dreams. But what if the nervous ing substance has for more than

invalid were to make these a rule seven years been continually wast

of judgment. It is in his sleep that ing away, till it is wholly perished

fancy riots in her wildest extravaout of him ;" we cannot but smile

gance. And her images, almost at the strange delusion :rather,

without exception, are disgusting or we might have said, we cannot but

terrific. She opens the grave and weep over a soul in ruins. For ca.

digs up the mouldering and festerses of this kind, the very extrava ing dead; she descends into the gance of hypochrondraicism, must

world of despair and plunges her be regarded as decided mental de

victim into the burning lake ; she rangement, to be pitied, not ridi

hurries him over the tumultuous culed. But in the great majority

waters, or sinks him beneath the of instances, nothing approaching

waves; she drags him to the brink these cases, exists in the experience

of the dizzy precipice, and casts him of the nervous invalid. Still, how

over; she leads him to the field of ever, in almost every instance, the

battle and transfixes him with the imagination partakes of the morbid

sword, or to an unequal conflict with influence ; and turning away from

the murderer ; she even drags him the lovely landscape hope would

to the prison or the scaffold, with paint on the future, she fixes her

the full consciousness of guilt for eye alone upon the scenes which

crimes from which when awake, his timidity, despondency, and despair soul shrinks with horror :* have drawn with their sombre hues : *«Some nervous people, in this state of Or as the poet says,

derangement, have so magnified their own guilt, as to make formal confessions of

crimes they never had the most distant Fear shakes the pencil ;---fancy loves

idea of committing." Trotter on Nervous excess,

Temperament. p. 292.

• In broken dreams the image rose temporal affairs, but also in the af“ Of varied perils, pains and woes; fairs of his soul. “His steed now flounders in the brake,

ke, We shall speak, secondly, of the * Now sinks his barge upon the lake;

Now leader of a broken host, , eflects of nervous complaints upon “His standards fall---his honor's lost.” the passions, affections, and con

duct. These are no uncommon scenes Among the first and most characin the dreams of the dyspeptic; and teristic of these, may be mentioned many of this description can say melancholy. This accompanies with Cowper: “To whatever cause them from their commencement; it is owing (whether to constitution and seems, in a great measure, to or God's express appointment,) I result from the stagnation of the am hunted by spiritual hounds in animal spirits. For a state of de. the night season." Shall these pression often comes on without strange and unholy wanderings of the most trivial circumstance in the the imagination be imputed wholly external condition to produce it. to disease, or in part to a wicked A man may be surrounded and caheart, which acts out itself, when ressed by all the kindness and symrestraints are taken off, will be the pathy of friendship; he may be in serious inquiry of the nervous man. the midst of prosperity ; nay, the. If I had a supreme love for God and most cheering intelligence may just holy objects, why should not my fan- have reached him, yet all will not cy as often turn upon these in my avail to raise bis spirits above the dreaming moments, as it does upon pressure of despondency and gloom, all that is ugly, disgusting, and that hang heavy on his soul, until abominable.

time shall have given relief. He After what has been said, it is cannot tell why his feelings are so hardly necessary to describe the ef- sunk, any more than he can avoid fect of nervous complaints in sway- the depression. Religion, it is true, ing the judgment. If sensation by elevating his views, and making convey erroneous impressions to him feel the vanity of the world, the understanding; if memory re- will often raise him to a state of sotain only a partial and indistinct ber serenity; and the endearments view of facts; if the power of at- of friendship, and the liveliness of tention be partially wrested from the social circle, may keep the the hands of reason, and a peculiar spirits from the lowest depths of obtuseness of intellect be manifest despondency : but often the re-aptowards some objects, and a morbid pearance of the sun after a storm, acuteness towards others; and if or a mere change in the direction the reins be given up to a disorder of the wind, or gentle and diverting ed imagination; what is the judg- exercise, will accomplish more than ment, that it should form correct all these causes put together. And conclusions, when the guides to its this because the morbid source of decisions are all thus gone out of the the depression lies in the nervous way ? It alters not the case, though system, not in the mind itself. the nervous man's impressions be W hen these paroxysms of melanmany of them mere spectres of the choly come on and as the disease brain. They make as deep an im- advances they come on often, and pression upon his mind as realities; continue long--the man no longer and, therefore, they are such to him, looks upon objects around him with so far as their infuence upon his the same eyes. He shrinks from the faculties is concerned. His judg- inspection and intercourse of his ment will therefore be warped by fellows, and broods over his trials them, not only in relation to his with a strange sort of relish. Or if

forced abroad by business, or duty, and plunges the unhappy man into every slight instance of unkindness, partial or total insanity. perverseness, or harshness, he An unusual timidity is another meets, goes like a dagger to his of the almost certain attendants heart : and if, as is too frequently upon nervous complaints. The the case, ridicule is cast upon his mere throbbing of the temples, a false imaginations, in order to re- shooting pain which the healthy move them, it only plunges him man would not feel, will sometimes deeper in the mire and leads him to produce a trembling anxiety in the say within himself,

mind of the nervous invalid, and

make him feel as if his last sick“ There is no flesh in man's obdurate ness had seized him : and then his

heart; “ It does not feel for man."

imagination will paint before him

all the terrors of the final struggle All his jealousy is roused by every the agonized parting of friendshipapparent neglect, and even his best the failing of sensation—the attack friends he judges to be enemies, or of delirium-the shroud, the funercruel, if they do not listen with pa- al, and the cold grave. And still tience and sympathy to his tale of worse, his hopeless prospects in fusorrow. His bodily ailments, of- turity will be arrayed in all their ten looked upon as dangerous in blackness before him, awakening the extreme, and gloomy anticipa- the most terrific apprehensions, tions about his property or reputa- and realizing to him all the horrors tion, constitute a part of his suffer- of a hardened sinner's dying hour. ings. But if he be a man of reli. This is the most natural and usugion, it is his prospects beyond the al channel into which the fears of grave that stir up within him a the nervous run. But they are deeper interest and a more distres. excited also in relation to almost sing anxiety. Once he may have every object of pursuit. He dares seen some evidence of personal confide in nothing that has not the piety ; but now he finds nothing certainty of demonstration. His but unbelief, murmuring and im- property, his friends, his good patience. Once he thought that name, all the blessings of life, serve he was at least sincere ; but now only as so many objects of anxiety he discovers that his religious acts and apprehension. 'True, he poswere performed to be seen of men; sesses them now; but he expects and the charge of hypocrisy lies every moment the blow will fall fairly against him. Justly, there that severs them from him. fore, does he feel himself given This leads us to remark that there over to a reprobate mind; and as are one or two peculiarities in relahe looks over the sacred record, tion to these apprehensions. One is, his eye fastens with greediness and that the most trivial circumstances with terrible self-application, upon excite the fears of the nervous man, all those passages that describe the more than those of importance. If awful doom of one who has resist. there are real grounds of alarm in ed the Spirit of God, and is living his case, you will find his eye dionly to fill up the measure of his rected, not so intently upon these, iniquity. When his gloom begins as upon the motes that are floating to depart, these painful forebodings in the field of fancy's telescope. will in a measure subside: yet Another peculiarity is, that furarely does a settled and cheerful ture anticipated dangers, and not hope of heaven succeed; and some those which are real and present, times the melancholy, as in the make the deepest impressions on case of Cowper, becomes settled, his sensibilities. The same man

Vol. I.-No. IV.

« AnteriorContinuar »