Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

AUTUMN.-RELIGIOUS PRODIGALITY.-A CHRISTIAN'S DEATH.

565

THE DEATH OF THE CHRISTIAN.

that after she fell asleep,” after he died lected, namely, a preparation for death. that morning, about the time you would We forget that life is soon to cease ; and see the morning star going up into the are too indifferent about providing for the heavens, the Saviour said to him, “ Come, winter of the grave. We perceive the thou blessed little child,” and took him to blast of time quenching our glories; but be with him for ever in heaven.

we listen not to its warning voice, although we know not how soon this cumbrous coil of mortality may be laid in the dust.

Death is a grand secret; we know not (From the German of Lavater.)

beforehand when, how, or by what means, Death suddenly presented himself before we, or our friends, shall be brought under a Christian.

its dominion; we know not what disease “Welcome ! thou messenger of immor- or disaster will be the door to let us into tality; thrice welcome !" was the salutation the road whence no one returns; we can. of the good man.

not describe how the knot between body “How is this,” said Death,—“Son of and soul is untied; we know not how the sin, dost thou not fear my approach ?” spirit of man leaves the tenement of clay, “No: he who is a Christian indeed, may and goes, “To be, we know not what; and view thee undismayed."

live, we know not how." “ Canst thou behold me attended by Assured, therefore, that we must all die, sickness and disease,-canst thou observe sooner or later, it behoveth us to be ready, the cold sweat distilling from my wings,- that our last end may be the best. Let us without shuddering ?".

not delay one moment, for we know not “ Even so," replied the believer in Jesus. how soon God may call us to give an ac“And, wherefore is it that thou tremblest count of our stewardship. not ?"

Preston Brook.

S.S. “ Because it is by them I am assured of thy speedy approach.” “And who art thou, O mortal ? that my

RELIGIOUS PRODIGALITY. presence hath no power to terrify?" A religious prodigal may appear an ano

“I am a Christian !” smiling with benig- malous term; but it is presumed a few nity on his stern visitor.

considerations will convince all of its jusDeath then breathed upon him,--and in tice, as applied to many characters of the an instant they both disappeared. A grave present age. had opened beneath their feet; and I could There are indeed but few, comparatively, observe something lying therein. I wept. among the class we would denominate as Suddenly the sound of celestial voices at prodigal of wealth, since none can return tracted my attention, and, looking towards more than they have received from the heaven, I saw the Christian in the clouds; Parent of all good ; nor can we ever do his countenance was irradiated with the more than our duty requires, toward the same smile that I had before observed amelioration of the distressed. upon it, and his hands were clasped toge. may be prodigal in the extent of our donather. Glittering angels then approached tions to public objects, so as to paralyze him, shouting, and the Christian shone our exertions in private benevolence toresplendent as themselves. Again I wept. wards those with whose wants we are well I now looked into the grave, and at once acquainted, and who, in the course of properceived what it contained ;-it was the vidence, appear to require assistance at our Christian, having disrobed himself for his hands. This prodigality either inflates the flight.

mind with public applause, or wounds our Preston Brook.

S.S. kindly feelings in denying aid to the

wretched, and betrays us to neglect our duty to God and man.

He is a religious prodigal, whose osten

tatious beneficence gilds the lists of subThe withered frame-the ruin'd mind, The wreck by passion left behind ;

scriptions; but who, in a few years or The shriveli'd scroll—the scatter'd leaf,

months, informs the world that he has been Sear'd by the Autumn's blast of grief.

lavish of his creditors' just demands.

Such characters are dangerous to Christian NOTWITHSTANDING the great temporal society ; they bring reproach upon the preparations against winter, made by man, cross of Christ. and even insects; yet it is to be lamented But the prodigals most baneful in their that the principal object is too much neg- example, are those who engage in the

But we

AUTUMN.

POVERTY AND MISFORTUNE FAVOURABLE

TO LETTERS.

management or operation of divers societies moderate order, may be wearied and weakwhich may be within their sphere, but all ened by constant engagements, which might of which are, either virtually neglected, or have proved a blessing, if well directed and the leisure and talent employed, when concentrated. divided, becomes of little importance to We ought not to forget that the mounany. Committees are swelled with many tain torrent is noisy, and ever varying its such persons, who are like weights rather course, whilst the little stream fertilizes the than wheels in the machinery of commu soil; that whilst meteors dance on the nities. In vain do they lament they have sky, the glimmering taper diffuses useful no time to discharge this or that duty. light; and that the glowing comet, in an The hours required to fulfil conscientiously extended course, is of little benefit to manthe engagements of a local benevolent kind, whilst the moon's calm light dispels society, are absorbed in the attendance the midnight darkness. upon meetings for distant objects : and

E. J.J. their zeal, time, and talents, evaporate in words ; they are ever occupied in the employment of five talents; which do not produce the proper interest of one.

There are those, who, prodigal in the Op this truth the ingenious volumes of the business of public associations, leave them- Family Library, which detail the pursuit of selves no time to dispense religious know- knowledge under difficulties, afford numerledge in their own families; who, whilst ous illustrations.- Erasmus, Kepler, and they correct the vices of the depraved, Schæffer laboured under the most disexpose their own children to the pestilential heartening poverty. Wolfgang Masculus influence of neglect : who train the young sang ballads through the country, and of another flock, to the injury of their own begged his way from door to door, in order lambs, whom the wolf ofttimes devours : to purchase the means of commencing who soothe the afflicted stranger, whilst study; and William Postellus, on his road their partners in life bear their domestic to Paris, was in such a destitute condition, sorrows alone, or their relations languish that he assisted at harvest, in order to raise in affliction.

the means of proceeding; yet these two There are others, who, in the cultivation have obtained extraordinary characters as of other men's hearts, neglect their own; learned men. Sebastian Castalio, author such persons resemble those who helped to of an elegant Latin version of the Scripbuild Noah's ark, but entered not into it. tures, was for many years so poor that he These can descant upon the love of God, laboured whole days in the fields, in order and talk of communion with him, but they to obtain the means of subsistence. Pope have no time to enjoy these blessings. Adrian VI. was the son of a humble bargeFrequent in public devotional engagements, man, and, when at school, had such a scanty the closet is neglected, and the sacrifice allowance as to be unable to purchase made of their own peace for the benefit of candles whereby to study at night. others. Such often fall away, because they Claude Lorraine was an apprentice to a have no root ; always sowing, but they pastry-cook. Salvator Rosa was, in the neither plough nor weed their own hard. early part of his life, so poor, from the cirening hearts.

cumstance of his being obliged to support From the extent of these charges, some his mother and family, that, after finishing may be ready to ask, “Who then shall a picture, he was scarcely able to purchase assist in forwarding the mighty objects the canvass for another. “ It is related of which Missionary, Bible, and other socie- the painter, Joseph Ribera, commonly ties, contemplate ?" The answer is obvious. called Lo Spagnoletto, that, after having for Let the love of Christ constrain us in every some time pursued his art at Rome in good work ; let every man give according great indigence, he was patronized by one as he hath, let him that hath little give his of the cardinals, who, giving him apartmite; and he that hath much give plen- ments in his palace, enabled him to live at teously : "every man according as he pur- his ease; but that, after a while, finding poseth in his heart;" “ always remember- himself growing indolent amidst his new ing we should provide things honest, not comforts and luxuries, he actually withdrew only in the sight of the Lord, but also in himself from their corrupting influence, and the sight of all men.” Again, let us take voluntarily returned to poverty and labour heed that our good be not evil spoken of. —thus exhibiting the choice of Hercules in Let us estimate our talents by a knowledge real life, and verifying the beautiful fiction of ourselves. Judgment and ability, of of Xenophon.”

Miles Davies, a writer on antiquities, is Auvergne, he remarked in all of them the said to have hawked his productions him same characters : that is to say, mounself from door to door. The Rev. William tains excavated in the form of a tunnel, Davy affords an extraordinary instance of lava and ashes, which exhibited incontestperseverance. Wishing to publish his able proof of the agency of fire. The Salt

System of Divinity," but finding that it Sea, on the contrary, is a lake of great would cost two thousand pounds, a sum length, curved like a bow, placed between beyond his means, he actually turned two ranges of mountains, which have no printer himself, and, with a quantity of cast mutual coherence of form, no similarity of off type she, after thirteen years' of unre composition. They do not meet at the two mitting toil, finished the publication of his extremities of the lake ; but while the one work, which extended to twenty-six vols. continues to bound the Valley of Jordan, 8vo, of nearly 500 pages each.

and to run northward as far as Tiberias, Even exile and imprisonment, depressing the other stretches away to the south till it as they are to the spirits, have not damped

loses itself in the sands of Yemen. There the literary and scientific ardour of some are, it is true, hot springs, quantities of individuals. Ovid spent the last years of bitumen, sulphur, and asphaltus; but these his life in banishment among barbarians, of themselves are not sufficient to attest the after being stripped of his possessions, yet previous existence of a volcano.With some of the finest of his works were written respect indeed to the engulfed cities; if at that period. Boethius's “Consolations we adopt the idea of Michaelis and of of Philosophy," a work deservedly ad Busching, physics may be admitted to mired, was written while its author was explain the catastrophe, without offence to confined, and under sentence of death. religion. According to their views, Sodom Buchanan commenced his Latin version of was built upon a mine of bitumen; a fact the Psalms whilst lying in prison. Cer which is ascertained by the testimony of vantes wrote his “Don Quixote,” in con Moses and Josephus, who spake of the finement. Tasso produced several of his wells of naphtha in the valley of Siddim. ablest pieces whilst shut up in a monastery, Lightning kindled the combustible mass, under the imputation of being deranged. and the guilty cities sank in the subterThe French translation of the Scriptures raneous conflagration. Malte Brun ingewas commenced by the author, Le Maistre, niously suggested that Sodom and Gomorin the Bastile. The celebrated Madame rah themselves may have been built of biRoland, who perished during the Revolu tuminous stones, and thus have been set in tion, wrote her “Memoires” during the two flames by the fire from heaven. months she spent in prison previous to her

According to Strabo, there were thirteen execution. Sir Walter Raleigh's extraor

towns swallowed up in the Lake Asphaldinary work, the “History of the World," tites ; Stephen of Byzantium reckons eight; was written in the Tower, whilst Sir Walter the book of Genesis, while it names five, as was expecting that death which he even situated in the Vale of Siddim, relates the tually received. Lady Jane Grey, and destruction of two only; four are mentioned Queen Mary, of Scotland, both solaced the in Deuteronomy, and five are mentioned by hours of their imprisonment by literary the author of Ecclesiasticus. labours; and James the First of Scotland, The marvellous properties usually aswhilst a captive in England, wrote his signed to the Dead Sea by the earlier trabeautiful allegory, “The King's Quhair,” vellers have vanished, upon a more rigid which is considered the finest poem that investigation. It is known that bodies sink, had then been produced, with the excep

or float upon it, in proportion to their spetion of the poems of Chaucer.

cific gravity, and that, although the water is so dense as to be favourable to swimmers, no security is to be found against the

common accident of drowning. Josephus, The celebrated lake which occupies the indeed, asserts that Vespasian, in order to site of Sodom and Gomorrah, is called in ascertain the fact now mentioned, comScripture, the Dead Sea. Among the manded a number of his slaves to be bound Greeks and Latins it is known by the name hand and foot, and thrown into the deepest of Asphaltites, the Arabs denote it Bahar part of the lake ; and that so far from any Loth, or sea of Lot. M. de Chateaubriand of them sinking, they all maintained their does not agree with those who conclude it places on the surface until it pleased the to be the crater of a volcano : for, having Emperor to have them taken out.—But seen Vesuvius, Solfatara, the Peake of the this anecdote, although perfectly consistent Azores, and the extinguished volcanoes of with truth, does not justify all the in

THE DEAD SEA.

OF

THE

HABITS AND CUSTOMS

rences which have been drawn from it.

many will not even eat or drink what a fly “ Being willing to make an experiment," has been found in. says Maundrell, “I went into it, and found On passing a church mounted, they that it bore up my body, in swimming, with alight from their horse or mule, and kiss an uncommon force ; but as for that rela. the gateway or tree in front, according to tion of some authors, that men wading into the distance they are at when passing; and it were buoyed up to the top as soon as if at a distance, they take up a stone, and they got as deep as the middle, I found it, throw it upon a heap, which is always upon trial, not true.”—Edinburgh Cabinet found on the road opposite to the church. Library.

In Abyssinia, a traveller, who sees in the wildest deserts large piles of stones, might be led to attribute the custom to the same

ABYSSINIANS.

motive which occasions similar piles to be Their manner of dancing consists rather in found in Arabia, where some one has been the motion of the shoulders and head than killed and buried, and all who knew him, as in that of the legs or feet. When several they pass, throw a stone on his grave; dance at a time, they move round in a ring. but this is not the case here, those stones The men jump a great height at times, being thrown there by Christians, who know while the women sink down by degrees, that the nearest church lies opposite to the making motions with the head, shoulders, spot: and on this account an Abyssinian and breast, until they nearly squat on the traveller, when he sees such a pile of stones, ground. They afterwards spring up in a knows that he is opposite to a church, and, lively manner, and go round as before.

in consequence, kisses the pile, and adds The Abyssinians, while they profess to another stone to the heap. The priests are be rigid followers of the Christian faith, are numerous beyond belief. yet ignorant of the greater part of its pre There are priests and deacons, who go cepts; which arises chiefly from the want of about to the different towns, or residences a good example being shewn to them by of chiefs, where they find employment in those of the superior class. The heads of teaching children to read. Their school is their clergy are in general the greatest held generally in a churchyard or in some drinkers in the whole country, and at feasts, open place near it, sometimes before the the quantity of raw meat which they con residence of the master, and in that case, sume, and the ravenous manner in which during the rains, they are all crowded up in they devour it, exceeds all belief; indeed, a small dark hut, learning prayers by word they behave more like drunken beasts, when of mouth from the master, instead of from a in company, than civilized beings.

book. When a boy is somewhat advanced Notwithstanding the libertine conduct of the in learning, he is made to teach the younger Abyssinians, they strictly keep all their fasts, However few the scholars, the maswhich are very numerous, and on those days ter has in general great trouble with them, never eat or drink till about three o'clock in and, in addition to the ordinary punishments, the afternoon, which time they compute by numbers are constantly obliged to be kept measuring so many lengths of the foot given in irons. The common way of punishing by the shade of the body on level ground. scholars is as follows: the schoolmaster This, indeed, is the only way in which they stands over them with a wax taper, which cuts keep time in Abyssinia. Their great Lent, as severely as a whip, while five or six boys which commences in February, lasts fifty-six pinch the offender's legs and thighs; and, if days. Their years are called after the they spare him, the master gives them a four Evangelists—that of John is the leap- stroke with the taper ; but the correction year. They reckon the number of years considered most effective for these young from the creation of the world to the birth Abyssinian rogues, is that of having irons of Christ, five thousand five hundred ; and put upon their legs for many months together, from the birth of Christ to the present time, which, in one instance I knew, proved fatal. one thousand eight hundred and five; the It was a grown Agow boy, about thirteen latter being about nine years short of our years of age, who had more than once contime. The administering of the holy sacra trived to get his irons off, and desert from ment is quite a public ceremony. After receiv- the school ; for which the master, by desire ing it, they place their hands to their mouths, of the parents, put so heavy a pair of irons and go their way; nor will they on any upon his ankles, that he found it impossible consideration spit that day, even if a fly by to get them off: and this enraged him so chance be drawn into the mouth by their much, that he drew his large knife, cut breath, which at other times would occasion his own throat, and soon afterwards exthem to vomit, as they detest a fly; and pired.

ones.

manner.

Funeral Ceremonies. The priests came, person of either sex, or a priest, is by and the customary prayers were read, and them when they expire, the moment my poor child was carried away to be the breath departs, the cries and shouts buried, his mother following in a distracted which have been kept up for hours before,

After the funeral, the people are recommenced with fury; the priests read returned to my house, and, when they had prayers of forgiveness while the body is cried for a half an hour, I begged they washed, and the hands put across one anwould leave off, and let me have a little rest, other upon the lower part of the belly, and as I found myself unwell. They complied, tied to keep them in that position, the jaws and left me with only a few friends; but in tied as close as possible, the eyes closed, the a few minutes, the people of Antalo, my two great toes tied together, and the body acquaintances, hearing of my misfortunes, is wrapped in a clean cloth and sewed up, came flocking, and began their cry; and I after which the skin called meet, the only was obliged to sit and hear the name of my bed an Abyssinian has to lie upon, is tied dead boy repeated a thousand times, with over the cloth, and the corpse laid upon a cries that are inexpressible, whether feigned couch and carried to the church, the or real. Though no one had so much bearers walking at a slow pace. According reason to lament as myself, I could never to the distance of the house from the church, have shown my grief in so affected a man- the whole route is divided into seven equal ner, though my heart felt much more. parts; and when they come to the end of every

Before the cry was over, the people with seventh part, the corpse is set down, and devves were standing in crowds about my prayers of forgiveness offered to the Supreme house, striving who should get in first ; and Being for the deceased. Every neighbour the door was entirely stopped up, till at last helps to dig the grave, bringing his own my people were obliged to keep the en- materials for the purpose, and all try to trance clear by force, and let only one at a outwork one another. Indeed, when a time into the house. Some brought twenty stranger happens to die where he has no or thirty cakes of bread, some a jar of maze, acquaintances, numbers always flock to assist some cooked victuals, fowls and bread, some in burying him; and many of the townsa sheep, &c.; and in this manner I had my people will keep an hour's cry, as if they house filled so full, that I was obliged to go had been related. out into the yard until things were put in There is no expense for burying, every order, and supper was ready. The head- one assisting his neighbour, as I have above priest came with a jar of maze and a cow. mentioned. But the priests demand an What neighbours and acquaintances bring exorbitant sum, from those who have proin the manner above mentioned, is called perty, for prayers of forgiveness; and I have devves. The bringers are all invited to eat seen two priests quarrelling over the cloth of with you; they talk and tell stories, to divert a poor dead woman, the only good article your thoughts from the sorrowful subject; she had left. If a man dies and leaves a they force you to drink a great deal ; but I wife and child, the poor woman is drained remarked, that, at these cries, when the of the last article of value she possesses, to relatives of the deceased become a little purchase meat and drink for those priests, tranquil in their minds, some old woman, for six months after her misfortune, otheror some person who can find no one to wise they would not bestow a prayer upon talk to, will make a dismal cry, saying, her husband, which would disgrace her and “Oh, what a fine child ! and is he already render her name odious amongst the popuforgotten ?” This puts the company into lace. In this manner I have known many confusion, and all join in the cry, which families ruined. An Agow servant of Mr. perhaps will last half an hour, during which Coffin's, who had been left behind with me the servants and common people standing on account of ill health, died at Chelicut about will drink out all the maze, and when where he had formerly taken a wife; and well drunk, will form themselves into a gang the little wages he had saved had enabled at the door, and begin their cry; and if their him and his wife to keep a yoke of oxen, masters want another jar of maze to drink, she having a piece of land of her own. they must pour it out themselves, their knowing the man to be very poor, and the servants being so drunk that they cannot great regard he had for his master, I was stand. In this manner they pass away a induced to give a fat cow and a jar of maze day, without taking rest.

to the priests, 10 pray for the poor man's I must say, however, that the first part soul. This they took, and the poor woman of the funeral is very affecting: and the made what corn she had into bread and only fault I can find is, that they bury the beer for them; after which they refused to dead the instant they expire. If a grown keep their weekly fettart (prayers of forgive20. SERIES, NO. 24.-VOL. II.

4 c

168.--VOL. XIV.

« ForrigeFortsæt »