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of the kindred, in a different sphere, has recorded his estimate of the nature and value of all the pleasures of sin,
“Just like the snow-falls on the river,
A moment white, then gone for ever.” Nor is happiness the peculiar allotment of genius. The man whose brow Heaven has wreathed with its own glory; who can hold converse with nature in her most secret mysteries,—gifted with the eagle eye and seraph soul,-lord of the realms of thought,-magician of the heart; he, too, is unsatisfied and thirsts. In the awful and scarred visage of Dante, whom the boys pointed out in the streets as “the man who had been in hell," and in his fearful descriptions of anguish, wrung from his own soul, read the unhappiness of genius. Hearken to the solemn queries and meditations, brief, abrupt, and startling, which sometimes break through the merriment of Shakspere, and you
discern a soul ill at ease. Byron makes no secret of his misery ; but publishes all the changes of that inner life, whose essence was bitterness. Burns's letters, and the sad reflections we meet occasionally in his poetry, tell how sin had blighted all his joys. Montaigne's dark questionings cast a shade over even his merry countenance. Hazlitt's life was one of misery. Genius, by placing its possessor in circumstances to see the bliss attainable by man, with its grand ideal never realized, makes his misery all the deeper; while, with quenchless thirst, he pursues a happiness the world cannot yield.
The conqueror and king share the same fate. The men, whose ambition has overrun many lands, or who enjoy the grandeur of a throne, have not in these the source of bliss. Their misery has been the world's proverb. Men will never weary of repeating the story of Alexander weeping that there were not other worlds for him to conquer. This raging thirst impelled him onward to his early death. Napoleon, flushed with victory, and crowned with glory, could not be satisfied without unbounded power, and wrought his ruin by his thirst; until, like a chained eagle on a barren rock, he presented before the eyes
of the world one of the most striking illustrations of the grandeur and the misery of man.
Go to the death-beds of worldlings, and you will have the most painful confirmation of our argument. What satisfaction is there? You witness the stolid apathy, or the writhing remorse, or the lamentation at departure, or the dread anticipation of that “ fearful something after death,” but do you
of that peace, that hope, that triumphant confidence of victory, which the Christian enjoys and manifests in that trying hour? When all the forms and fashions of the things of time are pass
how can the soul that has lived in and for them alone be happy ? How died Voltaire, the idol of France ?_in inconceivable torment. How died Mirabeau ?-lamenting his departure, and still athirst for more fame and glory. The attendants on Queen Elizabeth heard her
“ Millions of money for an inch of time !” Hume, it is true, jested; but even if his infidelity were true, how unphilosophical was his spirit !
Read the report of all ages on the insufficiency of earthly things to satisfy. Here is a brief extract. How strikingly has Aristotle told us of man's dissatisfaction with his present condition, and thirst for another, as containing the wished-for happiness, when he says, "The sick man considers health, the poor man riches, as the chief good.” And hear the greatest of the Roman satirists, as in his own felicitous style he depicts the same; how the soldier envies the merchant, and the merchant the soldier; the lawyer his client, and the client the lawyer. Thus all the world thirsts after a condition not its own. Our great countryman, who exclaimed, “What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue !” was fully aware of the fleeting, unsatisfying character of the world. The Psalmist joins the voice of inspiration with these, when he says,—"Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain : he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them, Psa. xxxix. 6. Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity,” Psa. xxxix. 5—while his royal son, who had every opportunity of trying the world, with means to extract from it whatever bliss it could impart, after he had exhausted all its experiences, utters his verdict on the whole,“Vanity of vanities ; all is vanity." Desirous to let the disappointed speak for themselves, we close with the language of an admired poet, who sang his exquisite productions in the saloons of grandeur, amid the applauses of beauty :
66 This world is all a fleeting show,
For man's illusion given;
There's nothing true but Heaven! “And false the light on glory's plume,
As fading hues of even; And love, and hope, and beauty's bloom, Are blossoms gather'd from the tomb;
There's nothing bright but Heaven! “Poor wanderers of a stormy day,
From wave to wave we're driven ; And fancy's flash, and reason's sway, Serve but to light the troubled way; There's nothing calm but Heaven!”
In contrast, Jesus speaks of the water that he shall give. “He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” What can be more delightful than this announcement, proceeding from the lips of the Great Teacher himself, the everlasting God?
In another place, the Redeemer uses the same figure: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water;" which the evangelist thus interprets,—“This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” The Holy Spirit is thus set forth as the source of all satisfaction to man. He, received by faith in Jesus, becomes the soul's purifier and refresher. From His influence proceeds everything which makes man's life lovely and divine. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," Gal. v. 22. Is it possible to read these words, and not see that the religion of Christ is eminently adapted to man? Is he guilty ? it comes to him with a message of peace; and, “ being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Rom. v. 1. Is he helpless ? it asks no putting forth of strength; “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly,” Rom. v. 6.; and its only requirement is, “Believe and live.” Has he a heart to love, which is twining its affections round things which can never satisfy ? it comes to him with all the winning aspects of divine affection, till it engages his heart in love to God—its satisfying object-become its “ portion for ever.” Does he pant for pleasure ? it meets his whole demand; for it is “joy,” a “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” 1 Pet. i. 8. Are his unregulated passions sources of continual disquiet ? it lays its taming hand upon them; for it produces “longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, temperance." Does conscience witness to the excellence of the law of love ? it is "goodness.” Does the soul of man refuse to be happy under the shadow of doubt ? it is “faith.” The parched traveller, as he bathes his burning brow, and cools his fevered lips at the living fountain, feels its coolness and its freshness adapted to his need, and goes on his way joyously, with renewed strength. So feels the weary sinner, as, turning with disgust from all the disappointing allurements of the world, he bows in humble contrition and self-renouncing faith before the cross of Jesus, and knows that the entering in of the Spirit is as life from the dead. It is “as cold water to a thirsty soul.” And through life, it refreshes and invigorates. It is not like a pool, which may become stagnant and breed mephitic vapours, but a living, leaping spring : not distant, but within. It keeps the heart fresh while passing through the most withering experiences of life.
The possessor of the religion of Christ has a constant source of satisfaction and comfort. Is he afflicted ? he can say, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal,” 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. Do all things seem adverse to him ? he knows that “all things work together for good to them that love God,” Rom. viii. 23. If his goods are spoiled, he can take it joyfully, “knowing in himself that he has in heaven a better and an enduring substance," Heb. x. 34. Of “the suffering of this present time,” he says, it “is not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us," Rom. viii. 18. And it "springs up into everlasting life.”
6 Rivers to the ocean run,
Nor stay in all their course :
Each speeds it to its source."
So is the tendency of the divine life towards the everlasting. If the soul thirsts, it is but “ for the fresh waters of that lovely clime.” Heaven-descended, the religion of Christ seeks its native seat. The soul that has tasted of its blessedness on earth has received the pledge of celestial joys, and expects to realize the fulness of those beginnings of bliss, when led by “the Lamb to living fountains of waters,” in the paradise of God.
Reader, do you thirst ? then hear the invitation of Jesus, « Come to me, and drink.” “ The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely," Rev. xxii. 17.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close,
It was one of the dark wintry days of December, and the first gloom of twilight was falling upon the congregation assembled for evening service in the church of a large country town. Gas had not been admitted into the building ; but a handsome chandelier of about thirty branches was suspended over the middle aisle. Very handsome it was, and as splendid as highly polished brass could make it; but there it hung, with its numerous wax tapers, coldly and cheerlessly, while the daylight slipped away, gradually but surely, threatening all around with darkness and discomfort. Presently, however, a man made his appearance, bearing a tall wand, to the end of which was fastened a small and crooked bit of waxlight, whose insignificant little flame seemed a mere spark in the midst of the tall arches and wide aisles along which it moved. It was pleasant to observe this little light (mounted, as it was, on the top of the wand), visiting taper after taper among the richly wrought and elegantly twisted branches of the chandelier, pausing for a second or two at each—perhaps rather longer with one more obstinate than its neighbours—and leaving every one of those hitherto cold and dead-looking masses a light bright as itself, and shedding lustre and beauty on the highly burnished brass of the chandelier, and diffusing its welcome brilliancy over the congregation below. It was rather a slow process, but the little crooked taper moved on perseveringly, bending earnestly towards the cold wick it strove to enkindle, and consuming itself away by the vehemence of its exertions. In time the whole thirty were lighted up—the man disappeared with the little waxlight, and the chandelier flashed forth in all its dazzling magnificence-a thing at once of beauty and utility. The indistinct words on the pages of the books below cleared up into meaning, and enabled the assembled worshippers to unite in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving.
One could scarcely recall this little incident to remembrance without falling into a train of reflections, so closely did it resemble the effects produced by the kindly influence of a single individual over a family circle or a surrounding neighbourhood,
- for how much of happiness may be spread around even by one glad and friendly spirit. The indulgent father--the affectionate