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every age the wise have loved, as bringing with it sentiments and affections more valuable than all the splendours of the day. Its first impression is to still all the turbulence of thought or passion which the day may have brought forth. We follow with our eye the descending sun—we listen to the decaying sounds of labour and of toil; and, when all the fields are silent around us, we feel a kindred stillness to breathe upon our souls, and to calm them from the agitations of society. From this first impression there is a second which naturally follows it: in the day we are living with men, in the eventide we begin to live with nature; we see the world withdrawn from us, the shades of night darken over the habitations of men, and we feel ourselves alone. It is an hour fitted, as it would seem, by Him who made us to still, but with gentle hand, the throb of every unruly passion, and the ardour of every impure desire; and, while it veils for a time the world that misleads us, to awaken in our hearts those legitimate affections which the heat of the day may have dissolved. There is yet a further scene it presents to us. While the world withdraws from us, and while the shades of the evening darken upon our dwellings, the splendours of the firmament come forward to our view. In the moments when earth is overshadowed, heaven opens to our eyes the radiance of a sublimer being; our hearts follow the successive splendours of the scene; and while we forget for a time the obscurity of earthly concerns, we feel that there are “yet greater things than these.' There is, in the second place, an “eventide’ in the year—a season, as we now witness, when the sun withdraws his propitious light, when the winds arise and the leaves fall, and nature around us seems to sink into decay. It is said, in general, to be the season of melancholy; and if by this word be meant that it is the time of solemn and of serious thought, it is undoubtedly the season of melancholy; yet it is a melancholy so soothing, so gentle in its approach, and so prophetic in its influence, that they who have known it feel, as instinctively, that it is the doing of God, and that the heart of man is not thus finely touched but to fine issues. When we go out into the fields in the evening of the year, a different voice approaches us. We regard, even in spite of ourselves, the still but steady advances of time. A few days ago, and the summer of the year was grateful, and every element was filled with life, and the sun of heaven seemed to glory in his ascendant. He is now enfeebled in his power; the desert no more ‘blossoms like the rose;’ the song of joy is no more heard among the branches; and the earth is strewed with that foliage which once bespoke the magnificence of summer. Whatever may be the passions which society has awakened, we pause amid this apparent desolation of nature. We sit down in the lodge “of the wayfaring man in the wilderness, and we feel that all we witness is the emblem of our own fate. Such also in a few years will be our own condition. The blossoms of our spring, the pride of our summer, will also fade into decay; and the pulse that now beats high with virtuous or with vicious desire, will gradually sink, and then must stop for ever. We rise from our meditations with hearts softened and subdued, and we return into life as into a shadowy scene, where we have “disquieted ourselves in vain.' Yet a few years, we think, and all that now bless, or all that now convulse humanity, will also have perished. The mightiest pageantry of life will pass— the loudest notes of triumph or of conquest will be silent in the grave; the wicked, wherever active, “will cease from troubling, and the weary, wherever suffering, “will be at rest. Under an impression so profound we feel our own hearts better. The cares, the animosities, the hatreds which society may have engendered, sink unperceived from our bosoms. In the general desolation of nature we feel the littleness of our
DR ANDREw THoMson (1779–1831), an active and able minister of the Scottish church, was author of various sermons and lectures, and editor of the Scottish Christian Instructor, a periodical which exercised no small influence in Scotland on ecclesiastical questions. Dr Thomson was successively minister of Sprouston, in the presbytery of Kelso, of the East Church, Perth, and of St George's Church, Edinburgh, In the annual meetings of the General Assembly he displayed great ardour and eloquence as a debater, and was the recognised leader of one of the church-parties. He waged a long and keen warfare with the British and Foreign Bible Society for circulating the books of the Apocrypha along with the Bible, and his speeches on this subject, though exaggerated in tone and manner, produced a powerful effect. There was, in truth, always more of the debater than the divine in his public addresses; and he was an unmerciful opponent in controversy. When the question of the abolition of colonial slavery was agitated in Scotland, he took his stand on the expediency of immediate abolition, and by his public appearances on this subject, and the energy of his eloquence, carried the feelings of his countrymen completely along with him. The life of this ardent, impetuous, and independent-minded man was brought suddenly and awfully to a close. In the prime of health and vigour he fell down dead at the threshold of his own door. The sermons of Dr Thomson scarcely support his high reputation as a church-leader and debater.
DR THOMAS CHALM ERS.
The most distinguished and able of Scottish divines during this period was THOMAS CHALMERs, D.D., and LL.D., one of the first Presbyterian ministers who obtained an honorary degree from the university of Oxford, and one of the few Scotsmen who have been elected corresponding members of the Royal Institute of France. He was a native of Anstruther, in the county of Fife, and born March 17, 1780. His father was a shipowner and general merchant in the town, and Thomas, when not twelve years of age, was sent to college at St Andrews. The Scottish universities have been too much regarded as elementary seminaries, and efforts are now making to elevate their character by instituting some preliminary test. of admission, and improving the professorial chairs. Chalmers had little preparation, and never attained to critical proficiency as a scholar, but he had a strong predilection for mathematical studies, which he afterwards pursued in Edinburgh under Professor Playfair. He was also assistant-mathematical teacher at St Andrews. Having studied for the church, he was, in 1803, ordained minister of Kilmany, a rural parish in his native county.
Here the activity of his mind was st'sly displayed. In addition to his parochial labours, he “lectured in the different towns on chemistry and other subjects; he became an officer of a volunteer corps; and he wrote a book on the resources of the country, besides pamphlets on some of the topics of the day; and when the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia was projected, he was invited to be a contributor, and
Dr Thomas Chalmers.
engaged to furnish the article “Christianity,” which he afterwards completed with so much ability. At Kilmany, Dr Chalmers received more serious and solemn impressions as to his clerical duties, and in an address to the inhabitants of the parish, there is the following remarkable passage:
[Inefficacy of mere Moral Preaching]
And here I cannot but record the effect of an actual though undesigned experiment which I prosecuted for upwards of twelve years amongst you. For the greater part of that time I could expatiate on the meanness of dishonesty, on the villainy of falsehood, on the despicable arts of calumny—in a word, upon all those deformities of character which awaken the natural indignation of the human heart against the pests and the disturbers of human society. Now, could I, upon the strength of these warm expostulations, have got the thief to give up his stealing, and the evil-speaker his censoriousness, and the liar his deviations from truth, I should have felt all the repose of one who had gotten his ultimate object. It never occurred to me that all this might have been done, and yet every soul of every hearer have remained in full alienation from God; and that even could I have established, in the bosom of one who stole, such a principle of abhorrence at the meanness of dishonesty that he was prevailed upon to steal no more, he might still have retained a heart as completely unturned to God, and as totally unpossessed by a principle of love to Him, as before. In a word, though I might have made him a more upright and honourable man, I might have left him as destitute of the essence of religious principle as ever . But the interesting fact is, that during the whole of that period in which I made no attempt against the natural enmity of the mind to God, while I was inattentive to the way in which this enmity is dissolved, even by the free offer On '" hand, and the believing acceptance on the
other, of the gospel salvation; while Christ, through whose blood the sinner, who by nature stands afar off, is brought near to the heavenly Lawgiver whom he has offended, was scarcely ever spoken of, or spoken of in such a way as stripped him of all the importance of his character and his offices, even at this time I certainly did press the reformations of honour, and truth, and integrity among my people; but I never once heard of any such reformations having been effected amongst them. If there was anything at all brought about in this way, it was more than ever I got any account of. I am not sensible that all the vehemence with which I urged the virtues and the proprieties of social life had the weight of a feather on the moral habits of my parishioners. And it was not till I got impressed by the utter alienation of the heart in all its desires and affections from God; it was not till reconciliation to Him became the distinct and the prominent object of my ministerial exertions; it was not till I took the Scriptural way of laying the method of reconciliation before them; it was not till the free offer of forgiveness through the blood of Christ was urged upon their acceptance, and the Holy Spirit given through the channel of Christ's mediatorship to all who ask him, was set before them as the unceasing object of their dependence and their prayers; it was not, in one word, till the contemplations of my people were turned to these great and essential elements in the business of a soul providing for its interest with God and the concerns of its eternity, that I ever heard of any of those subordinate reformations which I aforetime made the earnest and the zealous, but, I am afraid, at the same time the ultimate object of my earlier ministrations. Ye servants, whose scrupulous fidelity has now attracted the notice and drawn forth in my hearing a delightful testimony from your masters, what mischief you would have done had your zeal for doctrines and sacraments been accompanied by the sloth and the remissness, and what, in the prevailing tone of moral relaxation, is counted the allowable purloining of your earlier days! But a sense of your heavenly Master's eye has brought another influence to bear upon you; and while you are thus striving to adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour in all things, you may, poor as you are, reclaim the great ones of the land to the acknowledgment of the faith. You have at least taught me that to preach Christ is the only effective way of preaching morality in all its branches; and out of your humble cottages have I gathered a lesson, which I pray God I may be enabled to carry with all its simplicity into a wider theatre, and to bring with all the power of its subduing efficacy upon the vices of a more crowded population.
From Kilmany Dr Chalmers removed, in 1815, to the new church of St John's in Glasgow, where his labours were unceasing and meritorious. Here his principal sermons were delivered and published; and his fame as a preacher and author was diffused not only over Great Britain, but throughout all Europe and America. His appearance and manner were not prepossessing. Two acute observers— John Gibson Lockhart and Henry Cockburn—have described his peculiarities minutely. His voice was neither strong nor melodious, his gestures awkward, his pronunciation broadly provincial, his countenance large, dingy, and, when in repose, unanimated. He also read his sermons, adhering closely to his manuscript. What then, it may be asked, constituted the charm of his oratory? ‘The magic, says Cockburn, ‘lies in the concentrated intensity which agitates every fibre of the man, and brings out his meaning by words and emphasis of significant force, and rolls his magnificent periods clearly and irresistibly along, and kindles the whole composition with living fire. He no sooner approaches the edge of his high region, than his animation makes the commenci."g awkwardness be forgotten, and then converts his external defects into positive advantages, by shewing the intellectual power that overcomes them; and getting us at last within the flame of his enthusiasm. Jeffrey's description, that he “buried his adversaries under the fragments of burning mountains,” is the only image that suggests an idea of his eloquent imagination and terrible energy.” A writer in the London Magazine gives a graphic account of Dr Chalmers's appearance in London: “When he visited London, the hold that he took on the minds of men was unprecedented. It was a time of strong political feeling; but even that was unheeded, and all parties thronged to hear the Scottish preacher. The very best judges were not prepared for the display that they heard.
Canning and Wilberforce went together, and got into a pew near the door. The elder in attendance stood close by the pew. Chalmers began in his usual unpromising way, by stating a few nearly self-evident propositions neither in the choicest language nor in the most impressive voice. “If this be all,” said Canning to his companion, “it will
never do.” Chalmers went on—the shuffling of the
congregation gradually subsided. He got into the
mass of his subject; his weakness became strength,
his hesitation was turned into energy; and, bringing
the whole volume of his mind to bear upon it, he
poured forth a torrent of the most close and con
clusive argument, brilliant with all the exuberance of an imagination which ranged over all nature for illustrations, and yet managed and applied each of them with the same unerring dexterity, as if that single one had been the study of a whole life. “The tartan beats us,” said Mr Canning; “we have no preaching like that in England.” Chalmers, like the celebrated French divines—according to Gold
smith—assumed all that dignity and zeal which become men who are ambassadors from Christ. The English divines, like timorous envoys, seem more solicitous not to offend the court to which they are sent, than to drive home the interests of their employers. The style of Dr Chalmers became the rage in Scotland among the young preachers, but few could do more than copy his defects. IIis glowing energy and enthusiasm were wanting. In Glasgow, Chalmers laboured incessantly for the benefit of his parishioners, and organised a system of Sabbath-schools and pauper management which attracted great attention. He was strongly opposed to the English system of a legal provision for the poor, and in his own district of Glasgow voluntary contributions, well managed, were for many years found to be sufficient; but as a law of residence could not be established between the different parishes of the city, to prevent one parish becoming burdened with a pauperism which it did not create,
his voluntary system was ultimately abandoned. In 1823 Dr Chalmers removed to St Andrews, as professor of moral philosophy in the United College; and in 1828 he was appointed professor of divinity in the University of Edinburgh. This appointment he relinquished in 1843, on his secession from the Established Church. He continued an active and zealous member of the rival establishment, the Free Church, until his death, May 30, 1847. His death, like that of his friend, Dr Andrew Thomson, was awfully sudden. He had retired to rest in his usual health, and was found next morning dead in bed, ‘the expression of the face undisturbed by a single trace of suffering.’
* Memorials of his Time, by Henry Cockburn, 1856.
The collected works of Dr Chalmers, published during his life, fill twenty-five duodecimo volumes. Of these the first two are devoted to Natural Theology, volumes three and four to Evidences of Christianity; five, Moral Philosophy; six, Commercial Discourses; seven, Astronomical Discourses; eight, nine, and ten, Congregational Sermons; eleven, Sermons on Public Occasions; twelve, Tracts and Essays; thirteen, Introductory Essays, originally prefixed to editions of Select Christian Authors; fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen, Christian and Economic Polity of a Nation, more especially with reference to its Large Towns; seventeen, On Church and College Endowments; eighteen, On Church Extension; nineteen and twenty, Political Economy; twenty-one, The Sufficiency of a Parochial System without a Poor-rate; twenty-two, three, four, and five, Lectures on the Romans. In all Dr Chalmers's works there is great energy and earnestness, accompanied with a vast variety of illustration. His knowledge was more useful than profound; it was extensive, including science no less than literature, the learning of the philosopher with the fancy of the poet, and a familiar acquaintance with the habits, feelings, and daily life of the Scottish poor and middle classes. The ardour with which he pursues any favourite topic, presenting it to the reader or hearer in every possible point of view, and investing it with the charms of a rich poetical imagination, is a striking feature in his intellectual character." It gave peculiar effect to his pulpit ministrations; for by concentrating his attention on one or two points at a time, and pressing these home with almost unexampled zeal and animation, a distinct and vivid impression was conveyed to the mind, unbroken by any extraneous or discursive matter. His pictures have little or no background—the principal figure or conception fills the canvas. The style of Dr Chalmers is far from being correct or elegant—it is often turgid, loose, and declamatory, vehement beyond the bounds of good taste, and disfigured by a singular and by no means graceful phraseology. These blemishes are, however, more than redeemed by his piety and eloquence, the originality of many of his views, and the astonishing force and ardour of his mind. His Astronomical Discourses contain passages of great sublimity and beauty, and even the most humble and prosaic subject, treated by him, becomes attractive and poetical. His triumphs are those of genius, aided by the deepest conviction of the importance of the truths he inculcates.
After the death of this popular divine, no less
* Robert Hall seems to have been struck with this peculiarity. In some Gleanings from Hall's Conversational Remarks, appended to Dr Gregory's Memoir, we find the following criticism, understood to refer to the Scottish divine: ‘Mr Hall repeatedly referred to Dr —, and always in terms of great esteem as well as high admiration of his general character, exercising, however, his usual free and independent judgment. The following are some remarks on that extraordinary individual: “Pray, sir, did you ever know any man who had that singular faculty of repetition possessed by Dr -? Why, sir, he often reiterates the same thing ten or twelve times in the course of a few pages. Even Burke himself had not so much of that peculiarity. His mind resembles that optical instrument lately invented; what do you call it?" ** You mean, I suppose, the kaleidoscope.” “Yes, sir, an idea thrown into his mind is just as if thrown into a kaleidoscope. Every turn presents the object in a new and beautiful form; but the object presented is still the same. * *. His mind seems to move on hinges, not on wheels. There is incessant motion, but no progress. When he was at Leicester, he preached a most admirable sermon on the necessity of immediate repentance; but there were only two ideas in it, and on these his mind revolved as on a pivot."”
than nine volumes were added to his works—Daily Scripture Readings, Sabbath Scripture Readings, Sermons, Institutes of Theology, and Prelections on Butler's Analogy, &c. These were edited by the son-in-law of the deceased, the Rev. Dr Hanna, who also wrote a copious life of his illustrious relative, extending, with extracts from writings and correspondence, to four volumes.
[Picture of the Chase—Cruelty to Animals.]
The sufferings of the lower animals may, when out of sight, be out of mind. But more than this, these sufferings may be in sight, and yet out of mind. This is strikingly exemplified in the sports of the field, in the midst of whose varied and animating bustle that cruelty which all along is present to the senses may not for one moment have been present to the thoughts. There sits a somewhat ancestral dignity and glory on this favourite pastime of joyous old England; when the gallant knighthood, and the hearty yeomen, and the amateurs or virtuosos of the chase, and the full assembled jockeyship of half a province, muster together in all the pride and pageantry of their great emprize– and the panorama of some noble landscape, lighted up with autumnal clearness from an unclouded heaven, pours fresh exhilaration into every blithe and choice spirit of the scene—and every adventurous heart is braced and impatient for the hazards of the coming enterprise—and even the high-breathed coursers catch the general sympathy, and seem to fret in all the restiveness of their yet checked and irritated fire, till the echoing horn shall set them at liberty—even that horn which is the knell of death to some trembling victim now brought forth of its lurking-place to the delighted gaze, and borne down upon with the full and open cry of its ruthless pursuers. Be assured that, amid the whole glee and fervency of this tumultuous enjoyment, there might not, in one single bosom, be aught so fiendish as a principle of naked and abstract cruelty. The fear which gives its lightning-speed to the unhappy animal; the thickening horrors, which, in the progress of exhaustion, must gather upon its flight; its gradually sinking energies, and, at length, the terrible certainty of that destruction which is awaiting it; that piteous cry which the ear can sometimes distinguish amid the deafening clamour of the blood-hounds as they spring exultingly upon their prey; the dread massacre and dying agonies of a creature so miserably torn—all this weight of suffering, we admit, is not once sympathised with; but it is just because the suffering itself is not once thought of. It touches not the sensibilities of the heart; but just because it is never present to the notice of the mind. We allow that the hardy followers in the wild romance of this occupation, we allow them to be reckless of pain, but this is not rejoicing in pain. Theirs is not the delight of the savage, but the apathy of unreflecting creatures. They are wholly occupied with the chase itself and its spirit-stirring accompaniments, nor bestow one moment's thought on the dread violence of that infliction upon sentient nature which marks its termination. It is the spirit of the competition, and it alone, which goads onward this hurrying career; and even he who in at the death is foremost in the triumph, although to him the death itself is in ' the agony of its wretched sufferer is wholly out of Jill Il
Man is the direct agent of a wide and continual distress to the lower animals, and the question is, Can any method be devised for its alleviation? On this subject that Scriptural image is strikingly realised: “The whole inferior creation groaning and travailing together in pain, because of him. It signifies not to the substantive amount of the suffering whether this be prompted by ":Marine of his heart, or only permitted through
the heedlessness of his mind. In either way it holds true, not only that the arch-devourer man stands pre-eminent over the fiercest children of the wilderness as an animal of prey, but that for his lordly and luxurious appetite, as well as for his service or merest curiosity and amusement, Nature must be ransacked throughout all her elements. Rather than forego the veriest gratifications of vanity, he will wring them from the anguish of wretched and ill-fated creatures; and whether for the indulgence of his barbaric sensuality or barbaric splendour, can stalk paramount over the sufferings of that prostrate creation which has been placed beneath his feet. That beauteous domain whereof he has been constituted the terrestrial sovereign, gives out so many blissful and benignant aspects; and whether we look to its peaceful lakes, or to its flowery landscapes, or its evening skies, or to all that soft attire which overspreads the hills and the valleys, lighted up by smiles of sweetest sunshine, and where animals disport themselves in all the exuberance of gaiety—this surely were a more befitting scene for the rule of clemency, than for the iron rod of a murderous and remorseless tyrant. But the present is a mysterious world wherein we dwell. It still bears much upon its materialism of the impress of Paradise. But a breath from the air of Pandemonium has gone over its living generations; and so “the fear of man and the dread of man is now upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, and upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into man's hands are they delivered: every moving thing that liveth is meat for him; yea, even as the green herbs, there have been given to him all things.' Such is the extent of his jurisdiction, and with most full and wanton licence has he revelled among its privileges. The whole earth labours and is in violence because of his cruelties; and from the amphitheatre of sentient Nature there sounds in fancy's ear the bleat of one wide and universal suffering—a dreadful homage to the power of Nature's constituted lord. These sufferings are really felt. The beasts of the field are not so many automata without sensation, and just so constructed as to give forth all the natural signs and expressions of it. Nature hath not practised this universal deception upon our species. These poor animals just look, and tremble, and give forth the very indications of suffering that we do. Theirs is the
distinct cry of pain. Theirs is the unequivocal physiog
nomy of pain. They put on the same aspect of terror on the demonstrations of a menaced blow. They exhibit the same distortions of agony after the infliction of it. The bruise, or the burn, or the fracture, or the deep incision, or the fierce encounter with one of equal or superior strength, just affects them similarly to ourselves. Their blood circulates as ours. They have pulsations in various parts of the body like ours. They sicken, and they grow feeble with age, and, finally, they die just as we do. They possess the same feelings; and, what exposes them to like suffering from another quarter, they possess the same instincts with our own species. The lioness robbed of her whelps causes the wilderness to ring aloud with the proclamation of her wrongs; or the bird whose little household has been stolen, fills and saddens all the grove with melodies of deepest pathos. All this is palpable even to the general and unlearned eye: and when the physiologist lays open the recesses of their system by means of that scalpel, under whose operation they just shrink and are convulsed as any living subject of our own species—there stands forth to view the same sentient apparatus, and furnished with the same conductors for the transmission of feeling to every minutest pore upon the surface. Theirs is unmixed and unmitigated pain—the agonies of martyrdom without the alleviation of the hopes and the sentiments whereof they are incapable. When they lay them down to die, their only fellowship is with suffering; for in the prison-house of their beset and bounded faculties there can no relief be afforded by communion with other interests or other things. The attention does not lighten their distress as it does that of man, by carrying off his spirit from that existing pungency and pressure which might else be overwhelming. There is but room in their mysterious economy for one inmate, and that is, the absorbing sense of their own single and concentrated anguish. And so in that bed of torment whereon the wounded animal lingers and expires, there is an unexplored depth and intensity of suffering which the poor dumb animal itself cannot tell, and against which it can offer no remonstrance— an untold and unknown amount of wretchedness of which no articulate voice gives utterance. But there is an eloquence in its silence; and the very shroud which disguises it only serves to aggravate its horrors. —Sermons.
[Insignificance of this Earth.]
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 realise 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 known 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.—Astronomical Discourses.
[The Statute-book not necessary towards Christianity.]
How comes it that Protestantism made such triumphant progress in these realms when it had pains and penalties to struggle with? and how came this progress to be arrested from the moment it laid on these pains and penalties in its turn? What have all the enactments of the statute-book done for the cause of Protestantism in Ireland? and how is it, that when single-handed truth walked through our island with the might and prowess of a conqueror, so soon as propped by the authority of the state, and the armour of intolerance was given to her, the brilliant career of her victories was ended? It was when she took up the carnal and laid down the spiritual weapon—it was then that strength went out of her. She was struck with impotency on the instant that, from a warfare of principle, it became a warfare of politics. There are gentlemen opposed to us profound in the documents of history; but she has really nothing to offer half so instructive as the living history that is now before our eyes. With the pains and penalties to fight against, the cause of Reformation did almost everything in Britain; with the pains and penalties on its side, it has dono nothing, and worse than nothing, in Ireland.
But after all, it is a question which does not require the evidence of history for its elucidation. There shines upon it an immediate light from the known laws and principles of human nature. When truth and #"