Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and fortitude, joined with christian rectitude and charity, or, as our Saviour beautifully and emphatically expresses it, than to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves? In fine, if our sole object were to preserve health, to prolong life, or even to give a true relish to sensual enjoyment, could we follow any better course, than to practise christian activity in business, in conjunction with christian moderation and temperance ? These are joys pure and substantial, suited to the dignity of the rational nature, independent of our brutal part. These can never be carried to excess, never succeeded by corroding reflection. Pleasing once, they please and delight us for ever. These, neither birth, nor external events, nor the dispositions of men, nor disease, nor age, can affect. They attend us in society, and forsake not in solitude. When enemies persecute us, they inspire with

courage, and endue us with strength. When false friends abandon us, they remain. They solace adversity, and enhance and adorn prosperous circumstances. They lighten the burdens of life, and disarm death of his terrors. Compared with these, affluence is poor, grandeur is contemptible, sensual pleasure is disgusting. External circumstances are appropriated to no inherent dignity of character, and often the means of debasing it. But religious and moral enjoyments are the peculiar privileges of the wise and good, who

are not excluded from their share of worldly possessions, and can enjoy them with the highest relish. Still, should these be withheld, supported by their internal resources, by conscious integrity, by the exhilarating sense of the Divine favor, and by the glorious prospect of a blessed immortality, the piously wise must, even in adversity and affliction, be possessed of a more abundant store of happiness than can belong to the impious and wicked, placed on the summit of power, basking in the sunshine of prosperity, and resounding the loudest strains of dissolute mirth. Like a rock lowering above the deep, the man of piety and virtue beholds the storm of calamity roar around him, without shaking his resolution, or impairing his strength. When the tempest assails those of a contrary character, they are tossed, like the sand, from surge to surge, and, when the calm returns, sink under the weight of their own adversity.

ADVANTAGES OF THE SYMBOLICAL

STYLE OF THE SCRIPTURES.

SIR W.JONES.

As philosophy derived much of its influence from the powerful imagery of poetry in the ancient tragedies of Greece, so is the religion of revela

tion greatly assisted and enforced by its figurative language, always pertinent and instructive; and, on proper occasions, exceedingly sublime and beautiful.

The two ends of poetry, as they are laid down by the greatest master in the art, are to profit and to delight; to give the best instruction under the most pleasing form. The means it uses for the attaining of these ends, is to inform the mind by presenting to the imagination those pictures and images of truth, which are to be gathered either from created nature or the actions of men, and the various scene of animal and social life. Philosophy and poetry differ in this respect; that the one instructs by words and delivers its precepts literally; the other, by images of things; and if these images are lively and proper, then the mind is delighted with a moral, as the eye with the effect of a picture. Therefore good poetry under proper restrictions, is one of the greatest and best works of human art; and has always been accounted divine, as proceeding from the assistance of heavenly beings. Even in the oratory of prose, the method of managing well an allusion or comparison, is of great value, because it is of great effect. He is the most agreeable speaker, who can open and adorn the argument of his discourse by some apt representation of truth from the nature of things. But in religious subjects, where • If any

it is of the most consequence that men should hear attentively, and be persuaded effectually, there, this manner is most valuable of all.

How beautiful is that admonition of St James, from the propriety of the imagery under which the moral is conveyed! He exhorts to govern the tongue, which, though so small a member of the body, is yet of such great effect, that to govern the tongue is to govern the whole man. man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us, and we turn about the whole body. Behold also the ships, which, though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Nothing upon the subject can possibly exceed the eloquence of this passage; and the apostle carries on his discourse all the way in the same beautiful style of allusion.

How were the lowest among his hearers captivated, when our Saviour discoursed to them in parables, explaining the doctrine of the kingdom of God from the scenes of nature which were daily before their eyes. The constitution of man's mind is still the same, in the rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant; and the principle on which it must be engaged to receive instruction can never alter. We are to learn all things by comparison; and the salvation of our souls depends so much on our improvement under this mode of teaching, that it is wisely provided by the Author of our nature, that we are so much delighted with imitation in every shape. All representations of the stage, which attract the multitude, are nothing but imitations of characters and scenes of imagery. Poetry, painting, and music, all engage the fancy with imitative effects of art. Mirth and sadness, conversation and devotion, the singing of birds and the confusion of a battle, are all imitable in musical sounds.

But this great plan of imitation is no where so conducted, nor carried to such a height, as in the signs and allegories of the holy scripture, which compose the richest scenery on earth. If the fancy of man is delighted with imitation, even in the smallest subjects, how much more, when the originals are objects of an eternal nature, and the delineation of them is from that wisdom, to which the things of time and the things of eternity are equally known; and which framed this visible world as a counterpart to the other.

« AnteriorContinuar »