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the evangelic history a mere fiction ? Indeed it bears not the marks of fiction; on the contrary, the history of Socrates, which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well attested as that of Jesus Christ. Such a supposition, in fact, only shifts the difficulty, without obviating it; it is more inconceivable, that a NUMBER of persons should agree to write such a history, than that ONE only should furnish the subject of it. The Jewish authors were incapable of the diction, and strangers to the morality contained in the gospel, the marks of whose truths are so striking and inimitable, that the inventor would be a more astonishing character than the hero.
Jean Jacques Rousseau.
V.-INSIGNIFICANCE OF THIS WORLD. Though the earth were to be burned up, though the trumpet of its dissolution were sounded, though yon sky were to pass away as a scroll, and every visible glory which the finger of the Divinity has inscribed on it, were extinguished for ever-an event, so awful to us and to every world in our vicinity, by which so many suns would be extinguished, and so many varied scenes of life and population would rush into forgetfulness, — What is it in the high scale of the Almighty's workmanship ? a mere shred, which, though scattered into nothing, would leave the universe of God one entire scene of greatness and of majesty. Though the earth and the heavens were to disappear, there are other worlds which roll afar; the light of other suns shines upon them; and the sky which mantles them, is garnished with other stars. Is it presumption to say, that the moral world extends to these distant and unknown regions ? that they are occupied with people ? that the charities of home and of neighbourhood flourish there ? that the praises of God are there lifted up, and his goodness rejoiced in ? that there piety has its temples and its offerings ? and the richness of the Divine attributes is there felt and admired by intelligent worshippers.
And what is this world in the immensity which teems with them; and what are they who occupy it? The universe at large would suffer as little in its splendour and variety by the destruction of our planet, as the verdure and sublime magnitude of a forest would suffer by the fall of a single leaf. The leaf quivers on the branch which supports it. It lies at the mercy of the slightest accident. A breath of wind tears it from its stem, and it lights on the stream of water which passes underneath. In a moment of time, the life which we know, by the microscope, it teems with, is extinguished; and an occurrence so insignificant in the eye of man, and on the scale of his observation, carries in it to the myriads which people this little leaf, an event as terrible and as decisive as the destruction of a world. Now, on the grand scale of the universe, we, the occupiers of this ball, which performs its little round among the suns and the systems that astronomy has unfolded—we may feel the same littleness and the same insecurity. We differ from the leaf only in this circumstance, that it would require the operation of greater elements to destroy us. But these elements exist. The fire which rages within, may lift its devouring energy to the surface of our planet, and transform it into one wide and wasting volcano. The sudden formation of elastic matter in the bowels of the earth—and it lies within the agency of known substances to accomplish this--may explode it into fragments. The exhalation of noxious air from below, may impart a virulence to the air that is around us; it may affect the delicate proportion of its ingredients; and the whole of animated nature may wither and die under the malignity of a tainted atmosphere. A blazing comet may cross this fated planet in its orbit, and realize all the terrors which superstition has conceived of it. We cannot anticipate with precision the consequences of an event which every astronomer must know to lie within the limits of chance and probability. It may hurry our globe towards the sun-or drag it to the outer regions of the planetary system-or give it a new axis of revolution—and the effect, which I shall simply announce, without explaining it, would be to change the place of the ocean, and bring another mighty flood upon our islands and continents.
These are changes which may happen in a single instant of time, and against which nothing known in the present system of things provides us with any security. They might not annihilate the earth, but they would unpeople it, and we, who tread its surface with such firm and assured footsteps, are at the mercy of devouring elements, which, if let loose upon us by the hand of the Almighty, would spread solitude, and silence, and death over the dominions of the world.
Now, it is this littleness, and this insecurity, which make the protection of the Almighty so dear to us, and bring, with such emphasis to every pious bosom, the holy lessons of humility and gratitude. The God who sitteth above, and presides in high authority over all worlds, is mindful of man; and, though at this moment his energy is felt in the remotest provinces of creation, we may feel the same security in his providence, as if we were the objects of his undivided care.
It is not for us to bring our minds up to this mysterious agency. But such is the incomprehensible fact, that the same Being, whose eye is abroad over the whole universe, gives vegetation to every blade of grass, and motion to every particle of blood which circulates through the veins of the minutest animal; that, though his mind takes into his comprehensive grasp, immensity and all its wonders, I am as much kņown to him, as if I were the single object of his attention that he marks all my thoughts; that he gives birth to every feeling and every movement within me; and that, with an exercise of power which I can neither describe nor comprehend, the same God who sits in the highest heaven, and reigns over the glories of the firmament, is at my right hand, to give me every breath which I draw, and every comfort which I enjoy.
VI.-THE PRACTICE OF PATIENCE. Ar the first address and presence of sickness, stand still and arrest thy spirit, that it may without amazement or affright consider that this was that thou lookedst for, and wert always certain should happen; and that now thou art to enter into the actions of a new religion, the agony of a strange constitution. At no hand suffer thy spirits to be dispersed with fear or wildness of thought, but stay their looseness and dispersion by a serious consideration of the present and future employment. For so doth the Lybian lion, spying the fierce huntsman: he first beats himself with the strokes of his tail, and curls up his spirits, making them strong with union and recollection; till, being struck with a Mauritanian spear, he rushes forth into his defence and noblest contention ; and either 'scapes into the secrets of his own dwelling, or else dies the bravest of the forest. Every man, when shot with an arrow from God's quiver, must then draw in all the auxiliaries of reason, and know that then is the time to try his strength, and to reduce the words of his religion into action; and consider that, if he behaves himself weakly and timorously, he suffers never the less of sickness ; but, if he returns to health, he carries along with him the mask of a coward and a fool; and if he descends into his grave, he enters into the state of the faithless and unbelievers. Let him set his heart firm upon this resolution :-“I must bear it inevitably, and I will, by God's grace, do it nobly.”—Jeremy Taylor.
POETRY CONNECTED WITH SACRED SUBJECTS.
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON THE MANNER
READING OR RECITING VERSE.
In reading or reciting verse a peculiar difficulty is to be encountered at the very commencement, and that is, in making the pauses correctly. The difficulty arises from the melody of verse, which dictates to the ear pauses or rests of its own; and to adjust and compound these properly with the pauses of the sense, so as neither to hurt the ear nor offend the understanding, is so very nice a matter, that it is no wonder good readers of poetry are so seldom to be met with. The regularity of the feet, and the sameness of sound in rhyming verse, more especially, strongly solicit the voice to a sameness of tone; and tone, unless directed by a judicious ear, is apt to degenerate into a song, and a song, of all others, the most disgusting to a person of just taste. For those, therefore, whose ears are not just, and who are totally deficient in a true taste for the music of poetry, the best method of avoiding this impropriety is to read verse exactly as if it were prose, for though this may be said to be an error, it is certainly an error on the safer side.
A rest, or slight suspension of voice, at the end of each line is essential to the rhythmical reading of all verse, a rule particularly to be observed in reading blank verse, every line of which should be made sensible to the ear: at the same time, however, every appearance of singsong must, for the reason above stated, be studiously avoided. The pause of the line where it makes no pause in the sense, ought to be marked, not by such a tone as is used in finishing a sentence, but without either letting