Obrazy na stronie

34. But few there are upon this ball of earth,

That know Contentment's pure and perfect state, Fain all would be nobility by birth,

Or by ambitious actions would be great. Some would again the part of Casar act,

And stain with blood the fertile fields of Gaul, With smiling eye view cities burn'd and sack’d,

While prostrate o'er the land the murder'd millions fall.

35. Horrid ambition, that can raise a throne,

From sanguine heaps of fellow mortals slain, Rather by doing good, oh! gain a crown,

Then thou art worthy honours, let them rain. To ameliorate the suff'rings of mankind,

From aged Sorrow's eye to wipe the tear, To raise the weary and afflicted mind,

Are acts that well deserve a noble praise to bear.


Such as great Howard, in the latter days,

In heavenly charity has dared to do;
Be thou humane, and follow all his ways,

Pursuc a path, 'tis worthy to pursuc.
May oft as rises pale the evening star,

The village maids around his tomb repair, Shed on the green turf oft the paly tear,

Spread flower's o’er his sod, the sweetest of the year.

37. Here pause my youthful lyre, here pause awhile,

Let all thy quiv’ring strings be lain aside, Should fair Columbia now but deign to smile,

Their youthful poet's hopes are gratified. Forgive, my country, oh! forgive my choice,

Of foreign theme, for this my first essay; Should I dare rouse again poetic voice,

Then will I sing of thee, and all my tribute pay.



(Concluded from page 124.)

The following animated and alarming representation from Massillon's sermon “On the Death of a Sinner,” exhibits a specimen of impassioned eloquence, wonderfully adapted to display the talents of an accomplished pulpit orator, in giving energy to expression, by the solemnity of his tones, the agitation of his countenance, and the pathos communicated by the judicious use of emphatic pauses.

In the former part of this admirable discourse, the good bishop of Clermont most forcibly represents the futility of sensual enjoyments, and the high and sacred responsibility of the christian character: and then presents to the contemplation of his audience, the death bed of a merely nominal christian, who had finished his course, and passed his period of probation," unsanctified by penitence and prayer"--and “ without God in the world.”

« Behold what the expiring sinner experiences in the recollection of his past life: sins which pass in dreadful array before him the errors of childhood--the dissipations of youth-the vices and disorders of a more advanced period; perhaps, the shameful excesses of a licentious old age. Ah! brethren, while we riot in the enjoyment of health, we perceive but the surface of our conscience: we recal only a vague and confused remembrance of our past life: we contemplate only the passions which enchain us, not the crimes which they compel us to commit: an entire life spent in habits of iniquity appears then only as a single sin. But on the bed of death, the darkness which enveloped the conscience of the sinner is dissipated. The more he searches his heart, the deeper and more numerous are the stains which he discovers in it: the lower he descends into that black abyss, the more hideous are the monsters of horror which present themselves to his sight; he is lost in the chaos, and bewildered with terror and amazement! To enlighten and purify that heart, an entire new life would be necessary-But, alas! Time flies with


[ocr errors]

rapid wing--and but a few moments now remain to precipitate a confession of crrors and of crimes which require the expiation of a holy and a christian life, but which can now but a few moments precede the awful judgment of a just and omnipotent God, Alas! we often complain, during life, of a treacherous memory; so that the minister of God is under the necessity of remedying our inattention, and of assisting us to know and to judge of ourselves. But in that last liour, the expiring sinner shall require no assistance to recal the remembrance of his sins: the justice of God which during health had delivered hiin up to all the profundity of spiritual darkness, will then awaken and enlighten him, with the thunderings and lightnings of his wrath.

“Every thing around his bed of death awakens the remembrance of some error or some crime: servants whom he has scandalized by his example-children whom he has cruelly neglected--a wife whom he has rendered miserable by unkindness and infidelity-ministers of the church whom he has despisel riches which he has abused--the luxury in which he has revelled, and for which the poor and his creditors have suffered-the pride and magnificence of his buildings which have been reared by the inheritance of the widow and the orphan, or perhaps by a public calamity-every thing, in a word, “the heavens and the earth’ says Job shall reveal his iniquity and rise up against him;' shall recal to him thc frightful history of his passions and his crimes. His eyes seek some resting place; but in vain: they can find nothing to dwell upon, but the dreary representations of death-yet even these the remembrance of the past, and the vicw of the present, though they awaken agonies inexpressible, might be supported by the expiring sinner, could he confine his attention to these: though wretched, he would not be so completely overwhelmed with misery as he is by the thoughts of futurity, which convulse hiin with horror and despair, that futurity, that incomprehensible region of darkness which he now approaches, conscience his only companion: that futurity, that unknown land, from which no traroller has crer returned, where he knows not whom he shall find, nor what aw.its liim: that futurity, that fithomless abyss, in the contemplation of which his mind is lost and berrildercela unel into thich he must now plunge, ignoran:


'of his destiny: that futurity, that tomb, that residence of horror; where he must now lie down amongst the ashes and the mouldering carcasses of his ancestors: that futurity, that incomprehensible eternity, the view of which in prospect he cannot support: that futurity; in a word, that dreadful judgment seat of God, before which he must now appear, to render an account of a life, every moment almost of which has been blackened by sins. Alas! while he only looked forward to this terrible futurity, at a distance, he made an infamous boast of not dreading it: he boldly braved its terrors: he continually demanded with a tone of blasphemy and derision, “who is returned from it?" he ridiculed the vulgar apprehensions, and piqued himself upon his superior intelligence and undaunted courage. But, from the moment that the hand of God is upon him; from the moment that death approaches near to him—that the gates of eternity unfold to receive him, and that he touches upon that awful futurity, against which while at a distance he seemed so strongly fortified-ah! then, he becomes weak, trembling, dissolved in tears, raising his suppliant hands to heaven; or, gloomy, silent, agitated, revolving in his mind the most dreadful thoughts, and alternately expecting consolation or relief from tears and lamentations, from frenzy and despair.

“ Yes, my brethren, this inconsiderate, unhappy mortal, who had uniformly lulled himself in his excesses; uniformly flattered himself that one pious moment alone was necessary, one sentiinent of compunction before death, to appease the anger of a justly incensed, yet merciful God, despairs now of his clemency: in vain is he told of his eternal mercies; for he feels how utterly unworthy he is of them. In .vain the appointed minister of religion endeavours to sooth his terrors, by opening to him the bogom of divine love, and announcing the promises of pardonthese assurances cannot console him, because he well knows that the charity of the church, which never despairs of salvation for her children, cannot avert the awful judgment of a just and omnipotent God. In vain does the holy preacher descant upon forgiveness and grace; a secret and terrifying voice resounds from the bottom of his heart, and tells him that there is no salvation for the impious; ansl that he should have no confidence in consolations which are dictated by compassion rather than by

2 E


truth: in vain is he exhorted to apply to those last remedies which the church offers to the dying: he regards them as desperate expedients which are useless when hope has expired: and which are bestowed more for the consolation of the living, than from any prospect of benefit to those who are departing. Servants of Jesus Christ are called in to support him in his last moments; while all which he is enabled to do is to envy their happy lot, and to writhe under the hopeless misery of his own. His friends and relations are assembled round his bed to receive his last sighs; but he averts from them his eyes, because they serve but to renew the remembrance of his sins. Death at last arrests him; and the spiritual pastor endeavours to cherish and to animate by prayer and soothing exhortation the expiring spark of life. Depart, christian soul!' says he: he says not to him, “ Prince, Grandee of the world, depart!' though during his life the public monuments might have been insufficient to emblazon the number and pride of his titles. In this last moment, he receives that title alone which he had obtained by baptism, the only one which he had disregarded; though the only one, of all the pompous train, which can accompany him into eternity. Depart, christian soul!' alas! he

. has lived as though the body formed his only being and treasure. He had endeavoured to persuade himself that his soul was but animated matter: that man is but a composition of flesh and blood, and that his cxistence perishes with his body. He now, however, is convinced that his body indeed is clay, and about to return to its kindred dust; but that his soul is immortal: that image ofthe Divinity--that sublime and intelligent principle which is capable of knowing, adoring, and loving its Almighty Creator, and which must now quit its earthly mạnsion, and appear before his awful tribunal to receive a retribution, 'according to the deeds done in the body.' · Depart, christian soul! you who have considered the earth as your abiding country, when it was but a place of pilgrimage and probation, through which you were appointed to pass in your way to the mansions of eternity. The church desires to announce glad tidings to you, in announcing the expiration of your trial, the dissolution of your earthly prison, your emancipation from the fetters of clay; but alas! it can only thereHy confirm your terrors and increase your wo.'


« PoprzedniaDalej »