Obrazy na stronie

to our friends, we can hardly speak to them before they bid us farewell. We see them for a few moments, and in a few moments more their countenances are changed, and they are sent away. It matters not how near and dear they are. The ties which bind us together are never too close to be parted, or too strong to be broken. Tears were never known to move the king of terrors, neither is it enough that we are compelled to surrender one, or two, or many, of those we love; for though the price is so great, we buy no favor with it, and our hold on those who remain is as slight as ever. The shadows all elude our grasp, and follow one another down the valley.

We gain no confidence, then, no feeling of security, by turning to our contemporaries and kindred. We know that the forms which are breathing around us are as shortlived and fleeting as those were which have been dust for centuries. The sensation of vanity, uncertainty, and ruin, is equally strong, whether we muse on what has long been prostrate, or gaze on what is falling now, or will fall so


If every thing which comes under our notice has endured for so short a time, and in so short a time will be no more, we cannot say that we receive the least assurance by thinking on ourselves. When they, on whose fate we have been meditating, were engaged in the active scenes of life, as full of health and hope as we are now, what were we? We had no knowledge, no consciousness, no being; there was not a single thing in the wide universe which knew us. And after the same interval shall have elapsed, which now divides their days from ours, what shall we be? What they are now.


When a few more friends have left, a few more hopes deceived, and a few more changes mocked us, we shall be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb: the clods of the valley shall be sweet unto us, and every man shall follow us, as there are innumerable before us." All

power will have forsaken the strongest, and the loftiest will be laid low, and every eye will be closed, and every voice hushed, and every heart will have ceased its beating. And when we have gone ourselves, even our memories will not stay behind us long. A few of the near and dear will bear our likeness in their bosoms, till they too have arrived at the end of their journey, and entered the dark dwelling of unconsciousness. In the thoughts of others we shall live only till the last sound of the bell, which informs them of our departure, has ceased to vibrate in their ears. A stone, perhaps, may tell some wanderer where we lie, when we came here, and when we went away; but even that will soon refuse to bear us record: "time's effacing fingers" will be busy on its surface, and at length will wear it smooth; and then the stone itself will sink, or crumble, and the wanderer of another age will pass, without a single call upon his sympathy, over our unheeded graves.

Is there nothing to counteract the sinking of the heart which must be the effect of observations like these? Is there no substance among all these shadows? If all who live and breathe around us are the creatures of yesterday, and destined to see destruction to-morrow; if the same condition is our own, and the same sentence is written against us; if the solid forms of inanimate nature and laborious art are fading and falling; if we look in vain, for durability, to the very roots of the mountains, — where shall we turn, and on what can we rely? Can no support be offered? can no source of confidence be named? O, yes! there is one Being, to whom we can look with a perfect conviction of finding that security which nothing about us can give, and which nothing about us can take away.

To this Being we can lift up our souls, and on him we may rest them, exclaiming, in the language of the monarch of Israel, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God!" "Of old hast thou

laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."

Here, then, is a support which will never fail; here is a foundation which can never be moved — the everlasting Creator of countless worlds, "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity." What a sublime conception ! He inhabits eternity, occupies this inconceivable duration, pervades and fills throughout this boundless dwelling. Ages on ages before even the dust of which we are formed was created, HE had existed in infinite majesty, and ages on ages will roll away, after we have all returned to the dust whence we were taken, and still HE will exist in infinite majesty, living in the eternity of his own nature, reigning in the plenitude of his own omnipotence, forever sending forth the word which forms, supports, and governs all things, commanding new-created light to shine on new-created worlds, and raising up new-created generations to inhabit them.

The contemplation of this glorious attribute of God is fitted to excite in our minds the most animating and consoling reflections. Standing as we are amid the ruins of time, and the wrecks of mortality, where every thing about us is created and dependent, proceeding from nothing, and hastening to destruction, we rejoice that something is presented to our view which has stood from everlasting, and will remain forever. When we have looked on the pleasures of life, and they have vanished away; when we have looked on the works of nature, and perceived that they were changing; on the monuments of art, and seen that they would not stand; on our friends, and they have fled while we were gazing; on ourselves, and felt that we were as fleeting as they; when we have looked on every object to which we could turn our anxious eyes, and they have all told us that they could give us no hope nor support, because they were

so feeble themselves, we can look to the throne of God: change and decay have never reached that; the revolution of ages has never moved it; the waves of an eternity have been rushing past it, but it has remained unshaken; the waves of another eternity are rushing toward it, but it is fixed, and can never be disturbed.

[ocr errors]



0:- not, lot, hot, bond, gone, shone; - hostile, jocund, college, knowledge, torrid, florid.


[Translated from the Russian of DERZHAVIN.]

O THOU Eternal One! whose presence bright
All space doth occupy, all motion guide;
Unchanged through time's all-devastating flight;
Thou only God! There is no God beside!
Being above all beings! Mighty one!


Whom none can comprehend and none explore;
Who fill'st existence with thyself alone;

Embracing all,-supporting, - ruling o'er,-
Being whom we call God!—and know no more.

In its sublime research, philosophy

May measure out the ocean-deep; may count The sands or the sun's rays; but, God! for thee

There is no weight nor measure:— none can mount Up to thy mysteries. Reason's brightest spark,

Though kindled by thy light, in vain would try To trace thy counsels, infinite and dark;

And thought is lost, ere thought can soar so high,
Even like past moments in eternity.

Thou from primeval nothingness didst call
First chaos, then existence. Lord, on thee
Eternity had its foundation: all

Sprang forth from thee of light, joy, harmony,
Sole origin; - all life, all beauty thine.

[ocr errors]

Thy word created all, and doth create;
Thy splendor fills all space with rays divine.
Thou art, and wert, and shalt be, glorious! great!
Light-giving, life-sustaining Potentate!

Thy chains the unmeasured universe surround;
Upheld by thee, by thee inspired with breath.
Thou the beginning with the end hast bound,
And beautifully mingled life and death.
As sparks mount upwards from the fiery blaze,

So suns are born, so worlds spring forth from thee;
And, as the spangles in the sunny rays

Shine round the silver snow, the păgeantry Of heaven's bright army glitters in thy praise.

A million torches, lighted by thy hand,

Wander unwearied through the blue abyss:
They own thy power, accomplish thy command,
All gay with life, all eloquent with bliss.
What shall we call them? Piles of crystal light?
A glorious company of golden streams?
Lamps of celestial ether burning bright?

Suns lighting systems with their joyous beams? But thou to these art as the noon to night.

Yes; as a drop of water in the sea,
All this magnificence in thee is lost:
What are ten thousand worlds compared to thee?

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »