Page images
PDF
EPUB

nitely good and wise schemes, from all the varied courses which the short-sightedness and waywardness-as well as the good intentions and obedient dispositions of his creatures, are at present pursuing.

HOW MEN BEST CO-OPERATE WITH THE PLANS OF PROVIDENCE.

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard."

GARDENING-or the planting and trimming and grafting of shrubs and trees-an occupation which I prefer to all other species of amusement, and which, from my own experience, I particularly recommend to all studious and sedentary persons-is endeared to me, at once by the pleasant and healthful exercise which it affords to the body-by the delightful and quiet excitement which it gives to the faculties of imagination and of hope-and by the moral images which it suggests, and by means of which it connects the humble operations of cultivating a small spot of ground with the great work which is given man to fulfil, as an inhabitant of the wide face of the world on which he finds himself stationed.

It was in this spirit, that, while occupied with my usual morning amusements at this season of the year, and, while planting and pruning those shrubs from which I anticipate, in the ensuing months, the most beautiful condition which my small space of cultivated ground is capable of assuming, I was forcibly reminded of the very interesting words which I have prefixed to this section—and which represent the entire face of our world as one vast garden, which man has been appointed by Divine Wisdom to cultivate, and to carry gradually forward to its greatest possible state of perfection.According to this conception, every man is to be considered as furnished with powers, and with a place in the great vineyard of the divine husbandry, which it is his duty to occupy to the best advantage-a small space in the common work is thus assigned to each individual, in which it is especially his duty to busy himself, the whole being superintended and carried forward by the presiding care, and in subordination to the infinitely wise schemes, of the Master of the household-and the entire result being dependent on the due care of the labourers, and on the union of all their varied exertions, to produce one great, and beneficial, and progressive advancement.

There are indeed, various images under which we are in the habit of speaking of our relation to the Supreme Being, and of the duty, which we owe, in consequence of that relation, to the entire condition of the world in which we live. Thus, we often speak of mankind as the subjects of an empire or kingdom of which the Supreme Mind is the sovereign, and in which we are bound to be obedient to the laws which have been prescribed to us, and to fulfil the purposes which the Sovereign Master has in view to accomplish by our instrumentality. At other times, it is the idea of a great family that presents itself to our imaginations when we think of the condition of mankind upon the face of this world-of the relation in which they stand to a common and beneficent parent-and of the duties of love and obedience which, from that relation, obviously press themselves on our regard. While at other times, as in the words more immediately under review, the image which suggests itself, is that of a great vineyard, in the cultivation of which mankind, throughout all their varieties, and in all the different stations which they occupy, are meant to be employed -for the due management and improvement of which they have individually powers committed to

them-and particular stations assigned—which are, in every case, most wisely adapted to the purposes to be effected-the original assignment of these powers and places, as well as their destined results, being determined by a wisdom and counsel, the full extent and object of which are not always obvious to those who are the subjects of them— and the end in view being hastened or retarded according as the multitude of the labourers are wisely and conscientiously busied in the different stations allotted to them—or are forgetful of their duty, or, mistaking its true direction, apply themselves to objects for which they are either not fitted, or which it was not the intention of the Master that they should especially pursue.

All of the images to which allusion has been made are in themselves of great beauty-and may be severally used with effect, according to the particular object we may happen, at the time of using them, to have in view. But that which represents the wide face of the world as a vineyard or garden, on which the labours of all the husbandmen are to be employed, and which is to exist in a good and advancing condition, or otherwise, according to the ability and extent of their joint labours for its cultivation, is at once pre-eminently pleasing

« PreviousContinue »