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You will not wait then for my coming feet—
Father-I'm going home!
To the good home you spoke of, that blest land
I must be happy then:
From pain and death you say I shall be free,
Brother-the little spot
I used to call my garden, where long hours
Plant there some box or pine,
Sister—my young rose tree,
That all the spring has been my pleasant care,
And when its roses bloom,
I shall be gone away, my short life done;
Now, mother, sing the tune
You sang last night; I'm weary, and must sleep
Morning spread over earth her rosy wings,
Ay, thou art for the grave; thy glances shine
As light winds, wandering through groves of bloom,
The Mystery of Life.
To the reflecting mind, especially if it be touched with any influences of religious contemplation or poetic sensibility, there is nothing more extraordinary than to observe with what obtuse, dull and common-place impressions, most men pass through this wonderful life, which Heaven has ordained for us.
Life, which, to such a mind, means every thing momentous, mysterious, prophetic, monitory, trying to the reflections, and touching to the heart, to the many, is but a round of cares and toils, of familiar pursuits and formal actions. Their fathers have lived: their children will live after them: the way is plain; the boundaries are definite; the business is obvious; and this to them is life.
* * *
But life indeed-the intellectual life, struggling with its earthly load, coming, it knows not whence, going, it knows not whither, with an eternity unimaginable behind it, wi an eternity to be experienced before it, with all its str
and mystic remembrances, now exploring its past years, as if they were periods before the flood, and then gathering them within a space as brief and unsubstantial, as if they were the dream of a day-with all its dark and its bright visions of mortal fear and hope; life, such a life, is full of mysteries. In the simplest actions, indeed, as well as in the loftiest contemplations, in the most ordinary feelings, as well as in the most abstruse speculations, mysteries meet us everywhere, mingle with all our employments, terminate all our views.
The bare art of walking has enough in it to fill us with astonishment. If we were brought into existence in the full maturity of our faculties, if experience had not made us dull, as well as confident, we should feel a strange thrilling doubt, when we took one step, whether another would follow. We should pause at every step, with awe at the wonder of that familiar action.
For who knows any thing of the mysterious connection and process, by which the invisible governs the visible frame? Who has seen the swift and silent messengers, which the mind sends out to the subject members of the body? Philosophers have reasoned upon this, and have talked of nerves, and have talked of delicate fluids, as transmitting the mandates of the will; but they have known nothing. No eye of man, nor penetrating glance of his understanding, has searched out those hidden channels, those secret agencies of the soul in its mortal tenement.
Man, indeed, can construct machinery, curious, complicated and delicate, though far less so than that of the human frame, and with the aid of certain other contrivances and powers, he can cause it to be moved; but to cause it to move itself, to impart to it an intelligent power, to direct its motions whithersoever it will, this is the mysterious work of God.
Nay, the bare connection of mind with matter, is itself a mystery. The extremes of the creation are brought together, its most opposite and incongruous elements are blended, not only in perfect harmony, but in the most intimate sympathy. Celestial life and light mingle and sympathize, with dark, dull and senseless matter. The boundless thought hath bodily organs. That, which in a moment glances through the immeasurable hosts of heaven, hath its abode within the narrow bounds of nerves, and limbs, and senses.
The clay beneath our feet, is built up into the palace of the
soul. The sordid dust we tread upon, forms, in the mystic frame of our humanity, the dwelling place of high reasoning thoughts, fashions the chamber of imagery, and moulds the heart that beats with every lofty and generous affection. Yes, the feelings that soar to heaven, the virtue that is to win the heavenly crown, flows in the life blood, that in itself is as senseless, as the soil from which it derives its nourishment. Who shall explain to us this mysterious union-tell us where sensation ends, and thought begins, or where organization passes into life?
* * * * * *
Turn to what pursuit of science, or point of observation we will, it is still the same. In every department and study, we come to a region in which our inquiries cannot penetrate. -Everywhere our thoughts run into the vast, the indefinite, the incomprehensible; time stretches to eternity, calculation to 'numbers without number,' being to Infinite Greatness. Every path of our reflection brings us, at length, to the shrine of the unknown and the unfathomable, where we must sit down, and receive with devout and childlike meekness, if we receive at all, the voice of the oracle within. * * *
Nor is there a plant so humble, no hyssop by the wall, nor flower nor weed in the garden that springeth from the bosom of the earth, but it is an organized and living mystery. The secrets of the abyss are not more inscrutable, than the work that is wrought in its hidden germ. The goings on of the heavens are not more incomprehensible than its growth, as it waves in the breeze. Its life, that which constitutes its life, who can tell what it is?
The functions that constitute its growth, flower, and fruit, the processes of secretion, the organs or the affinities, by which every part receives the material that answers its purpose, who can unfold or explain them? Yes, the simplest spire of grass has wonders in it, in which the wisest philosopher may find a reason for humility, and the proudest skeptic an argument for his faith.
Life, I repeat-and I say, let the dull in thought, let the children be aroused by the reflection-life is full of mysteries. If we were wandering through the purlieus of a vast palace, and found here and there a closed door, or an inaccessible entrance, over which the word MYSTERY was written, how would our curiosity be awakened by the inscription! Life is such a wandering: the world is such a structure; and over many a door forbidding all entrance--and over many a mazy labyrinth, is written the startling inscription, that tells
us of our ignorance, and announces to us unseen and unimaginable wonders. The ground we tread upon is not dull, cold soil, not the mere paved way, on which the footsteps of the weary and busy are hastening, not the mere arena, on which the war of mercantile competition is waged; but we tread upon enchanted ground.
The means of communication with the outward scene, are all mysteries. Anatomists may explain the structure of the eye and ear, but they leave inexplicable things behind; seeing and hearing are all mysteries. The organ that collects within it the agitated waves of the air, the chambers of sound that lie beyond it, after all dissection and analysis, are still labyrinths and regions of mystery.
That little orb, the eye, which gathers in the boundless landscape at a glance, which in an instant measures the near and the distant, the vast and the minute, which brings knowledge from ten thousand objects in one commanding act of vision-what a mystery is that! * * * * *
And there are mysteries, too, thickly strewed all along the moral path of this wonderful being. There are mysteries of our holy religion.' Miracles of power, giving attestations to its truth, ushered into the world. Wonders of heavenly mercy are displayed in its successive triumphs over the human soul. Gracious interpositions, too, of the teaching spirit, and a succoring Providence, help the infirmities and struggles of the faithful.
And the results, moreover, this great and solemn trial of human nature, that is passing on earth, are as mysterious as the process-the heavenly interposition and the human effort, and these too, alike mysterious-the heavenly interposition-certain but undefinable: the human will strangely balanced somewhere, but nobody can tell where, between necessity and freedom.
Goodness, in the heart, is a mystery. No language can define it, which does not equally need definition. No man can tell what it is. No man can know but by an inward experience, and an experience in reality inexpressible. Goodness is a breath of the soul, we know not from whence: it cometh and it goeth, like 'the wind that bloweth where it listeth;' it is the inspiration of the Almighty.
And sin!-how great and tremendous is that mystery! That beneath these serene and pure heavens, which beam with the benignity of their Maker; that amidst the fair earth, amidst ten thousand forms of perfection, the spoiler should