Billeder på siden

crying for bread, but without getting any; we are ready to cry out with the prophet, [1] O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people !

It was this deplorable state of Jerusalem that made the prophet vent perpetually such warm complaints, such tender prayers as these. [l] Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness, and of thy glory: Where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels, and of thy mercies towards me ? Are they restrained ? ... [m] But now, O Lord, thou art our father ; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we are all the work of thy hand, ... Behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burnt up with fire; and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord? Wilt thou hold thy pcuce, and afflict us very sore?


It is not surprising, that the Spirit of God should have described, in the Scriptutes, the different characters of men in such lively colours. He implanted in our hearts all the rational sentiments they have; and he knows much better than we do, such as our degeneracy has added to them.

Who does not at once see the ingenuous candour and innocent simplicity of childhood, in the[n] relation which Joseph makes to his brethren of those dreams, which were to excite their jealousy and hatred against him, and which really had that effect?'

When Joseph discovers himself to his family, he speaks a very few words, but then they are the ex[k] Jerem. ix. 1,

[m] Ibid. Ixiv. 8-12. Il) Isa. lxiii, 1

[n] Gen. xxxvii, 8.



N 4

pression of nature itself; [o] I am Joseph : doth my father yet live? This is one of those strokes of Eloquence which are inimitable. Josephus the historian was not touched with this beauty, or, at least, did not preserve it in his relation; for the long discourse he substitutes for it, though very beautiful, does not supply its place.

There is a passage in the Acts, which paints in a wonderful, and at the same time natural manner, a sudden and impetuous joy. St. Peter had been thrown into prison, and miraculously released from it; when he came to the house of Marv, mother to John, where the faithful were assembled in prayer, [p] having knocked at the door, a maiden named Rhoda, knowing his voice, instead of opening it, (so great were the transports of her joy) ran to the faithful, to tell them that St. Peter was at the door.

Grief, particularly that of a mother, has also a peculiar language and character. I do not know whether it would be possible to represent them better, than we find them in the admirable story of Tobias. As soon as this dear son was set out upon his journey, his mother, who loved him tenderly, was inconsolable for his absence; and being plunged in the deepest sorrow, she bewailed herself incessantly: but her afiliction was infinitely greater, when she found he did not return at the time appointed : [9] My son is dead, seeing he stayeih long: and she began to bewail him, and said: Now I care for nothing, '

my son, since I have let thee go, the light of mine eyes. My son is dead. And she went out every day into the way which they went, and did eat no meat in the day-time, and ceased not whole nights to bewail her son Tobias. We may judge of the effect which Tobias's return with Raphael produced. The dog', who had followed them all the way, ran before them, and as though he had carried the news of their arrival, he seemed to testify his joy by the motion of his tail

, and his caresses. Tobias's father, though blind, rose up, and [0] Gen. xlv. 2, 3.

[9] Tob. x. 4, 5, 7. [] Acts xii. 14.


bégan to run, though at the hazard of falling every moment; and taking one of the servants by the hand, he ran to meet his son. Being come up to him, he embraced him, and his mother afterwards, when they began toweep for joy. Then, after worshipping God, and returning him thanks, they sat down. This is a most exquisitely finished description ; and the penman, in order to make it still more natural, did not omit even the circumstance of the dog, which is entirely natural.

A word which the ambitious Haman happens to let fall, discovers the whole state of their souls who abandon themselves to the insatiable desire of ho, nours. He had reached the highest point of fortune to which a mortal could attain, and every one bowed the knee to him, except Mordecai. [ro] Yet, says he to his friends in confidence, all this aruileth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate. M. Racine did not forget this circumstance, and has made a very happy use of it.

Dans les mains des Persans jeune enfant apporté,
Je gouverne l'empire où je fus acheté.
Mes richesses des rois égalent l'opulence.
Environné d'enfans, soutiens de ma puissance,
Il ne manque à mon front que le bandeau royal.
Cependant, des mortels aveuglement fatal !
De ces amas d'honneurs la douceur passagère
Fait sur mon cæur à peine une atteinte légère.
Mais Mardochée assis aux portes du palais
Dans ce cæur malheureux enfonce mille traits:
Et toute ma grandeur me devient insipide,
Tandis que le soleil éclaire ce perfide.

Englished. “ Brought when an infant into Persia's state, “ I 'rule the empire, where I once was sold. “ The richest kings I equal now in wealth ; - And bless'd with children who support my power, “The royal diadem alone I have not. [r] Esth. v. 13.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* And yet what fatal blindness governs mortals ! “ The transient sweets of all these mighty honours

Convey but little pleasure to my heart, " Whilst Mordecai, that sits before the gates “Of the king's palace, racks my tortur'd soul : “ And all my grandeur is to me insipid, “Whilst the bright sun beholds that wretch alive.”

I shall conclude with a passage in Scripture, where the suppression of a single word describes in a wonderful manner the character of a person whose soul is strongly fixed on an object. The Spirit of God had revealed to David, that the ark would at last have a fixed habitation on mount Sion, where should be built the only temple he would have in the world. [s] This king and propliet, in the highest raptures, and in a manner drunk with holy ecstasies; without relating what passed within himself, nor whom he speaks of; and supposing that the minds of the rest of mankind as well as his own are entirely fixed on God, and on the mystcry which had just been revealed to him, cries out; [t] His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion, more than all the dwellings of Jacob. He will therefore change his promises no more; and the Lord will no more depart from Israel: his habitation will henceforward be fixed among us ; his ark will wander no more; his sanctuary will no longer be uncertain, and Zion shall in all ages be the seat of his rest; his foundation is in the holy mountains.

It is from the same sentiments of joy that Mary Magdaleu, when she was seeking Christ in the grave, wholly intent upon the object of her love and desires, imagining it was a gardener she saw, says to him, without telling him whom she spake of, [u] Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. [r] Transported,

[s] Repletus Spiritu Sancto civis [1] Ps. lxxxvii. 1, 2, iste, & multa de amore & desiderio [u] John xx. 15. civitatis hujus volvens secuin, tain- [z] Vis amoris hoc agere solet quam plura intus apud se medita- in animo, ut quem ipse semper cotus; erumpit in hoc, FUNDA. gitat,nullum aliuin ignorare credat, MENTA EJUS. S. August. in S. Gregor. Pap. Ps: lxxxvi.


as it were, out of herself, by the ardour of her love, she thinks every one ought to think of that person whose idea possesses her whole soul; and that all must know him she is seeking.

The Psalms only would furnish an infinity of admirable examples in every kind of Eloquence; the simple, the sublime, the tender, the vehement, the pathetic style. The reader may peruse what bishop Bossuet has said on this head, in his second chapter of his preface to the Psalms, intitled, De grandiloquentiá & suavitate Psalmorum, i. e. Of the majesty and sweetness of the Psalms. The lively and sublime genius of that great man is visible in every part of it. I shall quote but one passage from it in this place, which might suffice to shew, in what manner a taste of the beauties of the Holy Scripture may be attained: it is that where [y] David describes a storm.

“Sit exempli loco illa tempestas: Dixit & adstitit spiritus procellæ : intumuerunt fluctus: ascendunt

usque ad cælos, & descendunt usque ad abyssos. “ Sic undæ susque de que volvuntur. Quid homines ?

Turbati sunt, & moti sunt sicut ebrius : & omnis

eorum sapientia absorpta est; quam profectò fluc“ tuum animorumque agitationem non Virgilius, non " Homerus, tantâ verborum copiâ æquare potuerunt. “ Jam tranquillitas quanta ; statuit procellam ejus in

auram, & siluerunt fluctus cjus. Quid enjin sua

vius, quàm mitem in aurain desinens gravis procel“ larum tumultus, ac mox silentes fluctus post frago

rem tantum ? Jam, quod nostris est proprium, ma“jestas Dei quanta in bac voce; Dirit, & procella adstitit! Non hîc Juno Eolo supplex : non hic

Neptunus in ventos tumidis exaggeratisque vocibus sæviens, atque æstus iræ suæ vix ipse interim pre

Uno ac simplici jussu statim omnia pera


“ guntur.”

[ocr errors]

“Let us use as an example, the tempest as de“scribed by the Psalmist : He spake, and the spirit

of the storm came forth The wates ascend. They rise unto the clouds, and sink ezen unto the abyss. ) Ps. cvi. 25, &c.


« ForrigeFortsæt »