Imágenes de páginas

age or people, but common both to the savage and civilized parts of mankind. Poetry must be attributed wholly to the more violent affections of the heart, expressing themselves with a fire and animation very different from the unimpassioned tone of common language; for when the imagination is exalted, and the passions fired by some great or unusual event, the mind labours to express the greatness of its conceptions, overflows the boundaries of ordinary speech, and rushes on in the lofty and swelling strain of Poetry; in striving to convey its ideas to another, it magnifies the subject, pours forth comparisons, and expresses itself in a manner unusually splendid, agreeable, and harmonious.

The earliest records of savage nations were composed in verse: dance and song were their chief amusements -with these they would celebrate their exploits, and the praises of their gods: the illiterate savages, warlike, impetuous, and without refinement, sang the victories of their heroes in wild and fiery measure, and while the maddening strains still sounded in their ears, their chiefs seized the golden opportunity, and led them forth to battle. Thus it was, in ancient times, that the poet and the orator had an equal share with the general or the magistrate in the balance of the state; by their eloquence they were capable of diverting the tide of public feeling into whatever channel they thought proper, and were not unfrequently the means of saving or of ruining a whole nation.

The effect of poetry was greatly heightened by its union with music : every bard


his own verses, and the better to adapt these to the music, they were formed into harmonious periods; hence arose what is now called versification; or the art of forming poetry into regular and musical sentences.

Poetry may be considered as having two principal objects in view, utility and pleasure. Utility its ultimate end, and pleasure the means by which that end is accomplished. Poetry, like Philosophy, is designed to instruct; but while the one appeals to reason only, the other engages the passions as well as reason on its side. While Philosophy leads her followers by a steep and rugged, though nearer path, to the summit of Parnassus, Poetry conducts her almost unconscious train to the same point, by a winding and flowery way.

Poetry is chiefly useful because it is agreeable; it conceals instruction beneath the ornaments of harmony and taste, and by the beauty of its imagery, it embellishes its precepts with an alluring sweetness, and thus captivates the affections and fixes the attention of the reader.

Poetry affords a salutary relaxation to the mind when harassed and fatigued, soothes and calms the tumultuous passions, cheers the spirits when depressed, elevates the mind to the admiration of whatever is great, virtuous, or noble, and excites it to the pursuit of glory and honour.

Thus far Poetry holds no mean rank among the liberal arts; but where it shines with greatest brightness, is in the service of religion, and in the praise of the Creator. What music so sweet as that which springs warm from a grateful heart, in the strains of adoration and praise ? It is the very music of Heaven and the language of Angels. May we not suppose this to be a gift bestowed on man, to be employed in the service of his Maker? It is more than probable, that our first parents, while in Paradise, poured forth the earliest effusions of their pure and thankful hearts, in praise to their heavenly Father, in the rapturous strains of Poetry.

To the sacred language of religion, Poetry appears to be peculiarly adapted : it seems to be its native soil, where it flourishes with most luxuriance and arrives at the highest perfection: this is remarkably exemplified in the sacred poetry of the Hebrews, which infinitely exceeds in sublimity and magnificence of expression any other writings, ancient or modern; but this cannot surprise us when we remember that they are the language of Divine inspiration, and must necessarily bear a stamp of more than human invention.

We are expressly told, that music forms one principal employment of the spirits in bliss: may we not reasonably conceive that this sacred poetry may in some degree (though faint,) resemble that heavenly music poured from the breasts of those countless myriads “who cast their crowns at the foot of the Lamb," and make the celestial abodes to echo with his beloved name?

How delightful is the thought, that while from a humble and grateful heart we sing the praises of our God, our feeble notes rise with acceptance, and mingle with that heavenly choir who worship day and night before the throne.

Sacred Poetry serves greatly to animate the mind, to fix the soul in delightful contemplation on God the author of all good, to tune the heart to praise and thanksgiving, and to melt it into gratitude and love.

What pity then that a talent formed for such high emprize should ever stoop to gild the bait of vice, or soil its plumy wings by fluttering over the debasing pleasures of sense, and thus gorge on earthly food, when it might feast on celestial fare; like the swallow in Madame Guyon's poems, translated by our immortal bard, Cowper, her flight should be upwards. Can I close this essay better than with these beautiful lines :

“ I am fond of the swallow, I learn from her flight,"

Had I skill to improve it, a lesson of love;
How seldom on earth do we see her alight,

“She dwells in the skies, she is ever above."
" It is on the wing, that she takes her repose,"

Suspended and poised in the regions of air ;
'Tis not in our fields that her sustenance grows,

“It is winged like herself, 'tis ethereal fare.” CORNELIA, [The Editor feels no doubt that the insertion of the above article will be pleasing to her readers, as to herself; and that they will unite with her in wishing a continuance of the Essays.]



That which God hath spoken, faith receives as true, and hope relies on as sure; because God is the God of truth. He is called the God of truth or the true God to denote his holy supremacy above all the idol gods of the heathen. He is also designated thus because all truth emanates from him, and leads to him. The revelation which comes from God, a revelation borne witness to, by miracles, by prophecies, fulfilled and yet fulfilling, by its own beautiful harmony and consistency, its uncompromising purity, its enlightening, strengthening, and consolatory tendency; this revelation is the only sure foundation for human trust; and is therefore entitled the Word of Truth in contra-distinction from every system of merely human invention, the fables of pagan mythology, the theories of false philosophy, the prejudices, dreams, and delusions of bigotry, ignorance and superstition; and it is in accordance with the precepts and the promises of this Holy Word that the Christian, framing his life, and forming his expectations, is said to “walk by faith :" for the faith of the true believer is not the unwarranted confidence of a blind credulity; but the credence given by an enlightened judgment to the authenticated record of divine truth. And, alas, without the light of the inspired volume, the soul of man must ever wander in the fields of hopeless uncertainty or be lost in the mazes of error and perplexity; like the dove sent forth by the patriarch, it can find no rest, until it return to him from whom it departed; but without the instinct of that dove, the way to return it knows not; the understanding is darkened, the affections cleave to the earth, and “of the earth earthly” may be written upon every human soul in its natural state; “ There is none that VOL V.

K k

understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God," (Rom. ii. 11.) “none calleth for justice, nor pleadeth for truth.” “Yea, truth faileth, and he that departeth from evil is accounted mad," (Isaiah lix. 4, 15. margin.) “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”—(John i. 5.) Nor will any receive the truth in the love of it, por will any seek after, nor can any bear the image of the heavenly until it please God to “shine into the heart, and give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,"—(II Cor. iv. 6.) who is therefore emphatically termed “ The Truth,” and “ The true light which lighteth every man which cometh into the world :” since by him alone is manifested the counsel, will and perfections of the divine mind. “ To this end," said Jesus, " was I born, and, for this cause, came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth; every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."-(John xviii. 37.) And again, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life;" or the true and only way to life eternal ; " every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me.” “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me." Christ is the Sun of that spiritual system which unfolds its mysteries in the sacred writings to the sincere and diligent inquirer after truth. The soul, taught of God and led by his spirit, beholds the inspired pages irradiated throughout with the beaming glory of Immanuel; sees him to be the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, who was, and is, and is to come: sees in the prophetic visions of ancient days and in the memorial of events taking place in the fulness of time, the same grand and important subjects pourtrayed, namely, “ The sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.” “The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus,” and angels from Heaven, holy men of God, prophets, apostles, evangelists, appear but as the heralds and servants of him, to whom, with one unde

« AnteriorContinuar »