« AnteriorContinuar »
MEDITATION ON THE TOP OF THE DOME OF ST
Even now, where Alpine solitudes ascend,
London, 4th April 1820. ELEVATED far above London, and even the tops of the highest spires, I feel as if I were the only individual in this great metropolis that breathes uncontaminated air. The cloud of smoke rolling to the westward, increasing in its progress, and obscuring the most fashionable part of the town, is the only sign of life that I see in this great wilderness of houses, except in the immediate vicinity of St Paul's Church-yard, where carriages and crowds on the streets are seen ; otherwise it has the appearance of an extensive cemetery. The spires, monuments, and obelisks appear to mark where
the more illustrious dead are laid. The houses are built so close, and the streets so narrow, that it is only a few of the leading streets that are seen, and they appear as avenues to the dwellings of the dead.
Majestic Thames rolling its waters to the ocean, with numberless wherries skiffing along its bosom, and the surrounding scenery of hill and dale, diversified with villages, impress the mind with nobler ideas than all this undefinable mass of building. How varied must the scenes be that are now passing around me, though hid from my view! How many at this moment are entering on life's transitory scene, while others, wearied with its fluctuating cares and sorrows, and worn with toil and disease to life's lowest ebb, are leaving their material dwellings to join the world of disembodied spirits ! Thousands are now dancing on the giddy maze of folly, careless of their fellow-mortals, who are lying on beds of languishing, and are sick of life. Evanescent are all earthly enjoyments; they wither at the touch of time, and too often leave their votaries the prey of sorrow and disease; too low is the hope that is built beneath the heavens, it is liable to be blasted by every changing breeze. Man but flutters for a few years, and then is gone! Like the fly eddying within the vortex of the candle, every circle draws it nearer destruction; so every year bringeth man nearer the grave... The lot of all
human grandeur is to dissolve in ruin ; race succeeds race; they tread awhile this mixed scene, then vanish away, and all their labours soon decay ; even the time will come when this ornament of art will crumble to dust.
The deep-toned organ now bursts on my ear, and now it dies away ; again it reverberates with redoubled force; now I hear the sweet voices of the choristers singing Jehovah's praise. How sweet is praise ! it is the most exalted part of devotion. In praise, the soul rises with all that assurance and filial love with which children approach their parents. How sweet the song of Jesus' love! it is a theme of praise in which Abraham rejoiced, and Jesse's son touched the strings of sweetest melody; it is a song which all the saints on earth sing with gladness, and the blest in heaven sing for ever.
In the view to the east, Cheapside, the Bank of England, and the Royal Exchange, recall to the mind the accumulating power of commerce, and the great sums of wealth that lie buried from the view. Can wealth be a blessing when it is denied to the greater part of the children of God ? In tracing the progress of the sons of poverty up to wealth, and the general effect it has on society, we too frequently find, that as their wealth increases their piety decreases. They assume an importance above their fellows: valuing others in proportion to their possessions. They despise and contemn others who are
not as rich as themselves. Therefore, it need not surprise us that God, in his providence, deprives his children of this world's wealth, that they may be heirs of eternal life. The Monument commemorates that dreadful conflagration which laid London in ashes. When the whole city was in flames, the feelings of the inhabitants must have been agonizing; they beheld their city burning, their possessions perishing, and a great portion of them perhaps had little hope of a future rest! To them it mụst have been the extreme of horror and despair ! faint emblem of the wicked in the day of judgment, when the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and this terrestrial dwelling vanish from their sight. When the blackness of darkness settles on their souls at the fiat of that awful voice, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye
took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, but ye
visited me not." The Tower leads the mind to meditate on the times that are gone. It once was the seat of royalty, but now the depository of the instruments of death and the trophies of war. Here many a bold assertor of liberty hath been immured, and here the whimsical and cruel Henry the Eighth bebeaded Anne Boleyn, his queen. .