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Rise, sun of glory, rise and shine
O while I seem to catch the sound
J. A. W.
“We all do fade as a leaf."- Isaiah Ixiv. 6.
I ONCE asked one, who had travelled far, What his notions were, on viewing the Pyramids of Egypt? He replied that, anxiously as he had long desired to behold such stupendous monuments of antiquity, he felt much disappointment when his wishes were accomplished: he looked on these gigantic monuments of sepulchral pride as surprising specimens, indeed, of what the labour and perseverance of man may accomplish: then, faint and fatigued, surveyed the drear and sandy waste around, and heartily wished himself at home.
I believe this traveller's experience not uncommon: we often fancy what is worth examining and remembering to be at a distance; and yet, in the retrospect of our years, it constantly happens that what we thought familiar at the time of its occurrence, is dwelt on, long after its date, with the freshest delights of memory; while objects and events whose magnitude and importance and fame, at the moment, astonished us, if not forgotten, are but coldly and faintly called to mind. It is therefore well, as each year wanes to its close, attentively to consider what peculiar circumstances have distinguished its progress from the course of other years;
and what instructive traits, or embellishing features, it is calculated to add to our mental landscape of the “By-past time.”
If I mistake not, it is Montesquieu who has said that England is a country to think in: and whatever led that political philosopher to suppose our politically free and happy realms the most suitable to the exercise of thought, the character of their climate is such as to decide the contemplative man, who delights silently to survey the beautiful and sublime of nature, in his opinion. And though the astronomer may view the expanse of the heavens with most wonder and delight beneath the cloudless skies of “sunny Italy," the moralist will find, perhaps, more sure scope for meditation in our own wet varying climate. In some countries the only distinction of the seasons is a change from consuming heat to deluging rain, and from the out-pouring floodgates to the glowing furnace of the heavens. In others, winter clothes the landscape, during half the year, in one dazzling garb of frozen snow; and then summer bursts forth, with full luxuriance, and feverish pulse, from the fetters of brumal inclemency. And over Southern Europe, if the four divisions of the year are more distinctly known, still the arid atmosphere of summer withers up the herb of the field, and the foliage of the trees; and gives a sickly aspect to nature, when we expect to see her adorned in all her pride ; while the winter's mild temperature restores its refreshing tints of green to the earth ; and imparts to the vegetable world an appearance of vitality and vigour, rather than of decay. But at home, as month succeeds to month, we often find the progress of Human Life most faithfully depicted in the alternations of the seasons. Spring, like the early days of man's existence, is full of smiles, and hopes, and preparations; and if chills are sometimes felt, and its blooms are sometimes blighted, the fondly anticipated suns of summer are before us, and promise to compensate for every disappointment and delay the husbandman may experience. Then, slowly and imperceptibly that glowing period comes, to which we have anxiously looked forward; fresh and flourishing as manhood in its, prime; but often darkened by clouds, and disturbed by showers, that abate the promises of spring. Anon succeed the shortening days and
chilly nights of autumn; when, like the period of mature life, in which we anticipate the honourable reward of our toils, and an honourable respite from our worldly cares, we find that many hopes have been deferred, and many fears have vanished ;—that we have neither reaped as abundant gain, nor suffered as severe loss, as the changing skies of our spring and summer had led us to expect. And lastly comes winter, like the latter days of man: for a time, perhaps, quietly, and not without enjoyment, as does “a green old age;" but soon darkened by snows and storms—cheerless and chill as human life, when fourscore years are numbered, and the strength which survives their flight is but “labour aud sorrow.” Happy were it for us, if, in contemplating their vicissitudes, which each day and each month presents, we could lay to heart that the immortal soul of man is destined for other scenes, and capable of higher happiness, than this unstable world and this fugitive life can set before him. Let dark Infidelity argue as she may,
“It cannot be, that for abiding place
These reflections have been very frequently
called forth in my mind, since the commencement of last spring, from having uninterruptedly resided in a secluded rural spot from that period ; and, in the autumn just waning away, the recollection of two days which I passed at a short distance from home, serve to fix it as a period in my memory, on which, in after life, I hope frequently to look back with pleasurable feelings.
Early in October I received an intimation, from a clerical friend in the county of T-p-y, that a missionary meeting was to be held in a small old town, situated in his parish : I had attended there, more than once, with much pleasure, and, I trust, some profit to myself; and therefore joyfully obeyed the summons at the appointed
The morning fixed on for the meeting was very fine; and, long before the hour appointed for its opening, most of the respectable protestants, within the circuit of several miles, began to assemble; so that, although the place was little more than a straggling, half-decayed village, the town-hall, capable of holding about three hundred persons, was found insufficient to accommodate the congregated crowd; and an adjournment to the large and ancient neighbouring church was, in consequence, necessary. When the confusion, unavoidably attendant on this change of place, had ceased, it was impossible to look around the sacred edifice without feelings of high gratification. All the audience appeared interested and attentive,