Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

warning.” They are tabernacles not mansions. Only in lodgings!” was a consolation to myself and some very dear to me, when we lately sojourned in a strange city; and the apophthegm reconciled us to inconveniences. We were not home, nor did we look for the comforts of home.

But the home is near, with everlasting habitations. Believers “have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens;" and Jesus tells them that it is His Father's house. He passed therein Himself as their forerunner, that He might purge it with His blood, and possess it in their behalf; and the assurance that there

many mansions” in it gives encouragement to all, as showing that "yet there is room.”

Mortals shrink from their death-change, because it is associated in their minds with pain and anguish. They tremble to pass into eternity, because they leave (as they consider) the Known for the Unknown. But wondrous must be the surprise of the emancipated Soul, when it finds in heaven its place prepared, its coming expected, its presence rejoiced in, and “ all things ready” for its use! Here, at last, it meets with a peaceful habitation, a sure dwelling, and a quiet resting-place. (Isaiah, xxxii. 18.) It shall go no more out. It shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Denique cælum!

[ocr errors]

are

CHAPTER XVI.

"BY THE SEA-SIDE.”

“To walk along the shore, when the tide is departed, or to sit in the hollow of a rock, when it is come in, attentive to the various sounds that gather on every side, above and below, may raise the mind to its highest and noblest exertions. The solemn roar of the waves swelling into and subsiding from the vast caverns beneath, the piercing note of the gull, the frequent chatter of the guillemot, the loud note of the auk, the scream of the heron, and the hoarse, deep, periodical croaking of the cormorant, all unite to furnish out the grandeur of the scene, and turn the mind to Him who is the essence of all sublimity.”

GOLDSMITH's “ Animated Nature."

[ocr errors]

IDSUMMER-I am almost ashamed to

make the confession— finds us, rustics,

unsettled and restless. We are out of sorts; and, consequently, we grow petulant. We blame the heat. Even the shadows of the old foresttrees fail, at times, to satisfy us. We are screened by them (as we testily express it) for a season, only to feel the hotter when we quit their precincts. With wooing caresses, the Evening Wind steals upon us, lightly touching our hand, tenderly kissing our forehead, and gently encircling our frame. It brings to us visions of the world of waters; and we depicture the tumbling billows, with snowy crests and green crystalline undulations, over which it swept ere it reached our habitation. We pine for the Ocean, for the freshness of its breezes, for the dash of its waves, for the smoothness of its sands, for the iodine of its very kelp. We dream of the Ten Thousand in their memorable retreat; and heartily do we sympathize in their wild, excited joy, when at last the far rolling waves of the Euxine met their gaze. We remember the Greek islander, as he beheld the lovely vale of Tempe, discovering its only want by the characteristic query, “But where is the Sea ?Oceanward run our thoughts, like the rivers. “Away!" we cry to all that the Country can offer us; and fruits and flowers, now in their maturest loveliness, attract us no more. We treat them like discarded lovers, a while our joy, but at present, in our fickleness, only fit for laughter or disdain. We join the groups that, at this season, led on by like impulses, are seen to wend on their way from remotest rural fastnesses to the shore.

Yet, it is not always that, either in wayward or wanton mood, we thus manifest our predilections. Instances are too many with us, to be pleaded in justification of such longings. There are languid forms, that claim at our hands a kindlier atmosphere than our own. There are pale cheeks, which we hope to have embrowned, after quiet wandering by the sea.

There are shattered nerves, that may be braced only by change and journeying. There are tired brains, that ask for respite from incessant toil. Head-ache and heart-ache may be relieved in some inspiriting watering-place; and expansion of mind, bringing us into new realms of thought, may be ours,

,

while we gaze upon Eternity's fittest emblem, the illimitable Ocean.

Hence it is—though I shall not specify the causeI am, for a while, from home; and describe myself as one, “whose house is by the sea-side.” Through my open casement is borne in to me by the breeze the moaning of the waves, low and soft like the sorrow that is passing into submission. May I not,

I fitly, employ this quiet forenoon in delineating a few of the mental pictures which have been suggested by the sights and sounds that are here around me?

I have heard, in conversation, the phrase "manysided men,” occasionally introduced. I do not know that I affix to it the correct meaning, when I suppose that it expresses the high attainments of such individuals, and their capabilities for manifold duties. Assuming the interpretation to be correct, I reverently designate the Bible, a many-sided Book;" for, in whatsoever position I am placed, or by whatsoever circumstances I be surrounded, I find, respecting those circumstances and position, things fitly spoken. Here, for instance, how companionable is the Bible by the sea-side! From the opening of the volume, which sets forth (Gen. i. 10) that “the gathering together of the waters called He 'Seas," on to the conclusion, when, concerning the new earth, St. John affirms, (Rev. xxi. I) “And there was no more Sea,” what wonderful things are written therein about the Ocean! Who can put from recollection the old world's terrible doom, when all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened; and the waters

[ocr errors]

N

prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died? But the covenant has been entered into, and the promise given, that there shall not be any more a flood to destroy the earth. The restraining limit, moreover, attests Jehovah's sovereignty. Not walls, nor moles, keep back the watery influx; but the sand, so minute in its particles, is placed for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail ; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it.

This majestic element, containing depths that plummet never sounded, covering regions that human foot may not tread, and concealing its secrets from human eyes, may be fitly regarded as an emblem of God's unsearchableness. Thus David (Psal. xxxvi. 6)

1 described His providence :

“ Thy judgments are a great deep.”

Similarly, (Psalm, lxxvii. 19,) he spake of His dispensations :

“Thy way is in the sea,

And Thy path in the great waters,
And Thy footsteps are not known.”

And when Paul (Romans, xi. 33) estimated the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and saw how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out, he immersed his soul into an unfathomable sea, and could only cry out

“O the depth !”

« PreviousContinue »