Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and dazzle ; and conceals with care that superiority, either of talents, or of rank, which is oppressive to those who are beneath it. In a word, it is that spirit and that tenor of manners, which the gospel of Christ enjoins, when it commands us sí to bear one another's burdens; to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to weep with those who weep; to please every one his neighbour for his good; to be kind and tender hearted; to be pitiful and courte jus; to support the weak, and to be patient towards all men." BLAIR.

CHAP, VI.

PATHETIC PIECES.

SECTION I.

Trial and Execution of the EARL of STRAFFORD, who fell a Sacrifice to the Violence of the Times, in the Reign of CHARLES the First. The Earl of Strafford defended himself against the accu. sations of the house of Commons, with all the presence of mind, judgment, and sagacity that could be expected from innocence and ability. His children were placed beside lim, as he was thus defending his life, and the cause of his royal master. After he had, in a long and eloquent speech delivered without premeditation, confuted all tbe accusations of his enemies, he thus drew to a conclusion : “ But, my Lords, I have troubled you too long : longer than I should have done, but for the sake of these dear pledges, which a saint in leaven has left me." Upon this he paused ; dropped a fear; looked upon his children'; and proceeded. That I forfeit for myself is a trifle : that my indiscretions should reach my posterity, wounds me to the heart. Pardon my infirunity. Something I should have added, but I am not able; and therefore I let it

pass.

Lords, for myself. I have long been taught, that the afflictions of this life are overpaid by that eternal weight of glory, which awaits the innocent. And so, my Lords, even so, with the utnost tranquillity, I submit myself to your judgment, wheth: er that judgment be life or death: not my will, but thine, O God, be done !"

His eloquence and innocence induced those judges to pity, who were the most zealous to condemn lrim. The king him. self went to the house of Fords, and spoke, for some time in

And now my

his defence :' but the spirit of vengeance, which had been chained for eleven years, was now roused; and nothing but Iris blood could give the people satisfaetion,

He was condemned by both houses of parliament; and nothing remained but for the king to give his consent to the bill of attainder. But in the present commotions, the consent of the king would very easily be dispersed with ; and iinminent danger might attend his refusal. Charles, however, who loved Strafford tenderly, hesitated and seemed reluctant; trying every ex pedient to put off so dreadful an office, as that of signing the warrant for his execution. While he continued in this agi tation of inind, and state of suspense, lis doubts were at last silenced by an act of great magnanimity in the condemned Lordl. He received a letter from that unfortunate nobleman desiring tha: his life might be made a saerifice to obtain reconciliation between the king and his people : adding, that he was prepared to die; and that to a willing mind thers could be no injury. This instance of noble generosity was but ill repaid by his master, who complied witli his request. He consented to sign the fatal bill by cominission; and Straf forel was beheadeil on Tower-hill; behaving with all that composed dignity of resolution, which was expected from his oliaracter.

GOLDSMITH..

SECTION II.

An eminent Instance of true Fortitude. All who have been distinguished as servants of Gostor bene actors of men; all who, in perilnus situations, ka acted their part with such honour as to render their names illustrious through succeeding ages, have been eminent for fortitude of mind. Of this we have one conspicuous example in the apostle Paul, whom it will be instructive for us view in a remarkable occurrence of his life. After harin; long acted as the apostle of the Gentiles, his mission called him to go to Jerusalem, where he knew that he was to en counter the utmost violence of his enemies. Just before he set sail, he called together the elders of his favourite church at Ephesus, and, in a pathetie speech, which does great honour to his character, gave them his last farewell. Deeply affected by their knowledge of the certain dangers to which he was exposing himself, all the assembly were filled will distress, and melted into tears. The circumstances were suoli, as might have conveyed dejection even into il resolute mind; and would bave intally overwhelmed the feeble. "They all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him

1

abide me.

sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they should see his face no more.” What were then the sentimente what was the language, of this great and good man? Hear the words which spoke his firm and undaunted mind. “ Be. hold, I go bound in the spirit, to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there; save that the Holy Spirit witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions

But none of these things move me; neither couni I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." There was uttered the voice, there breathed the spirit, of a brave and a virtuous matt. Such a man knows not what it is to shriok from danger, when conscience points out his path In that path he is determined to walk; let the consequence: be what they may.

This was the magnanimous behaviour of that great apos tle when he had persecution and distress full in view. At tend now to the sentiments of the same excellent man, when the time of his last sufferiag approaelied; and remark thi majesty, and the ease, with which he looked on death. am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is lai. up for me a crown of righteousness." How many years o life does such a dying moment overbalance ? Who would no choose, in this manner, to go off the stage with such a son; of triumph in his mouth, rather than prolong his existene through a wretched old age, stained with sin and shame

1

BLAIR.

SECTION LII.

The good Man's Comfort in Affliction, The religion of Christ not only arms us witli fortitud against the approach of evil : but, supposing evils to fa! upon us with their heaviest pressure, it lightens the load b many consolations to which others are strangers. Whil bad men trace, in the calamities with which they are visite the hand of an offended Sovereign, Christians are taught t view them as the well intended cbastisements of a mercifu Father. They hear amidst them, that still voice which good conscience brings to their ear: “ Fear not, for I an

be not dismayed, for I am thy God.”. They apply to themselves 'the comfortable promises wit] whiệh the gospel abounds. They discover in these th

with thee ;

I 2

happy issue decreed to their troubles; and wait with patience till Providence shall have accomplished its great and good designs. In the mean time, devotion opeas to them is blessed and holy sanctuary: that sanetuary in which the wounded heart is healed, and the weary mind is at rest; where the eares of the world are forgotten, where its tumults are biushed, and its miseries disappear ; where greater ohjeets open to our view than any which the world presents; whera a more serene sky shines, and a sweeter and calmer light beams on the afflicted heart. In those moments of derotici, a pious man, pouring out his wants and sorrows to an allmighty Supporter, feels that he is not left solitry and for saken in a vale of wo. God is with him; Christ and the Holy Spirit are with kim; and, though he should be berenved of every friend on earth, he can look up in heaven to a Friend that will never desert him.

BLAIR.

SECTION IV.

The Close of Life. When we contemplate the close of life ; tht-termination oi man's designs and hopes; the silence that now reigns mong those, who a little while ago, were so busy, or so gay: who can avoid being touched with sensations at once awful and tender? What heart but then warms with the glow of humanity ? In whose eye does not the tear gather, an ro volving the fate of passing and shortlived man?

Behold the poor man, who lays down at last the burden of his wearisome life. No more shall he groan under the Joad of poverty and teil. No more shalthe hear the insolent calls of the master, from whom he received his scanty wages. No more shall he be raised from needful slumber on his bed of straw, nor be hurried away from his homely meal to undergo the repeated, labours of the day. While his humble grave is preparing, and a few poor and decayed neighbour are carrying him thither, it is good for us to think, that this man too was our brother; that for him the aged and desticute wife, and the needy, children, now weep; that, neglected as he was by the world, he possessed perhaps both a sound understanding, and a worthy heart; and is now carried by angels to rest in Abraham's bosom. At no great distance from him, the grave is.opened to receive the rich and proud man. For, as it is said with emphasis in the parable, the rich man also died, and was buried.” He also died. His riches prevented not his sharing the same fate with the poor.

man; perhaps, through luxury, they accelerated his doom Then, indeed, “ the mourners go about the streets ;” and while, in all the pomp and magnificence of wo, his funeral is preparing, his heirs, impatient to examine his will, are looking on one another with jealous eyes, and already beginning to dispute about the division of his substance. One day, we see carried along the coitin of the smiling infant; the flower jest nipped as it began to blossom in the parent's view : and the next day, we behold the young man, or young woman, of bloowing form and promising hopes,laid in an untimely grave. While the funeral is attended by a numerous unconcerned company, who are discoursing with one another about the news of the day, or the ordinary affairs of life,let our thoughts rather follow to the house of mourning, and represent to themselves what is passing there. There we should see il disconsolate family, sitting in silent grief, thinking of the sad breach that is made in their little society; and, with tears in their cyes, looking to the chamber that is now left vacant, and to every memorial that presents itself of their departed friend. By such attention to the woes of others, the selfish hardness of our hearts will be gradually softened, and melted down into humanity."

Another day, we follow to the grave, one who, in old age, and after a long career of life, has. in full maturity sunk at last into rest.

As we are going along to the mansion of the dead, it is 'natural for us to think, and to discourse, of all the changes, which such a person has seen during the course la his life. He has passed, it is likely, through varieties of

He has experienced prosperity, and adversity. He has seen families and kindreds rise and fall. He has seen peace and war succeeding in their turns; the face of his country undergoing many alterations; and the very city in which he dwelt

, rising in a manner, new around him. After all he has beheld, his eyes are now closed forerer. He was

a stranger in the midst of a new succession of men. A race who knew: him not, had arisen to fill the earth.

passes the world away. Throughout all ranks and conditions, “one generation passeth, and another generation cometh; and tbis great inn is by turns evacuated, and repleuistrerl, by troops of succeeding pilgrims. O vain and inconstant world! O fleeting and transient life! When will the sons of men learn to think of thee, as they ought ? When will they learn humanity from the afflictions of their brethren ? or moderation and wisdom, from the sense of their on fugitive state!

fortune.

becoming

Thus

BLAIR

« AnteriorContinuar »