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"The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point!
ADDISON's Cato. The following by Menu, is worthy of our own enlightened age: he says, “Single is each man born, single he dies, single he receives the reward of his good, and single the punishment of his evil deeds." "When he leaves his corpse, like a log or a lump of clay, on the ground, his kindred retire with averted faces; but his virtue accompanies his soul.” “Continually, therefore, by degrees, let him collect virtue for the sake of obtaining an inseparable companion, since with virtue for his guide he will traverse a gloom how hard to be traversed."
Now, there must be something in the nature of things to cause this doctrine to linger in the minds of men in the absence of revelation; and perhaps the chief reason it has been so fondly entertained by the wise and good is, its being so well calculated to suppress vice, and because it is so encouraging to the cultivation of the mental faculties and the constant practice of virtue. Never was reason more terribly outraged, never were human passions more awfully rampant and violent, than when the citizens of Paris wrote over the gateway of their cemetery, "Death here is an eternal sleep !"
"O argument for truth divine,
In that reserved, that endless life.” We argue, it is needful for the soul to be immortal, in order to justify the ways of divine providence, and to explain the enigma of human life. In looking over the history of nations, of families, and of individuals, not only do we find much that is mar
vellous to our minds, but much that is darkly mysterious and difficult, yea sometimes impossible for us to reconcile with the divine goodness, wisdom and justice. We allow that it is good in a probationary state, and especially in the present position of human nature, that man's lot should be a strange intermingling of sunshine and showers, light and darkness, flowers and thorns, bitter and sweet, good and evil; but how frequently are we perplexed and prostrated to see the holy and pure laid in the dust, whilst evil and iniquity proudly stalk forth victoriously triumphant. To say nothing of the origin of moral evil, and the moral and religious aspect of the world, from nearly the commencement of time down to the present moment; yet how perfectly past our comprehension the existence of the world's Pharoahs, Neros, Claverhouses, and Jeffries, men who have been allowed to act directly contrary to nature and to God, to practice the most barbarous cruelties on the innocent and unoffending, and to retard for centuries the progress of civilisation, humanity, and religion.
Who can fathom the mystery of the long reign of ignorance and superstition, with their black catalogue of wreaking crimes ?-of slavery with its heartless wrongs, and galling oppressions ;-of war, with its dreadful carnage, and “garments rolled in blood,” its widowed wives and orphaned children, its scalding tears and withered hearts ?
We grant that frequently we are permitted to see unmistakeable proofs of a retributive Providence, but the full measure of retribution can only be awarded in a future state. The secret wrongs, the private injuries, the domestic sufferings imposed by the evil, and known to none save the patient, cowed, enduring victim, can only be fully redressed at the bar of the Almighty.
How many have fallen never to rise, the riotims of the foulest slander and calumny? How many
have been overwhelmed in sorrow and ruin irretrievable, by the avarice, cupidity, or ambition of another, whose character they have abhorred, and whose deeds they have deprecated? Truly there need be a life where the vicious and unrelenting shall meet with the just recompense of their doings; and truly there need be a quiet haven, where the shattered bark of the innocent and the down-trodden shall repose for ever at peaceful anchorage. Yes!
“There is a calm for those who weep,
A rest for weary pilgrims found ; .
Low in the ground,
A star of day.
Shall never die !" Another argument in favour of this doctrine we derive from the greatness and grandeur of man's emotional and intellectual nature. Like the remains of many ancient cities, the mind of man is magnificent in its very ruins; and it has been remarked, that man must be immortal because he can grasp the idea of immortality. However this may be, unquestionably he stands at the head of all created beings that exist on the face of the earth. Who can view the discoveries of science, the attainments of art and the achievements of industry, without being impressed with the greatness of mind, and its infinite superiority to everything else? Who can read the works of such men as Shakspere and Milton, Locke, and Bacon, and Newton, without rising to the thought that such spirits must live for ever? Enough to answer the ends of present life, and not more, has been given to the inferior part of creation; but who can believe that such vast powers can have been imparted to man merely to serve and adorn his present ephemeral existence? and especially when we remember that these powers are only fully developed after he has travelled a long way on the journey of life. Surely this were on the part of the Creator only to mock and tantalise him with the prospect of endless being, and just as he is ready to rise to the enjoyment of it, to quench the unfettered spirit in eternal night. Better far for man never to have been at all, than with his mighty powers only to have lived in the present narrow, contracted scene. The mortality of the body is sufficiently affecting, without having to mourn the everlasting extinction of the soul. As the gladness of the spring, the beauty of the summer, and the grandeur of the autumn continually pass away, so pass the succeeding generations of men: a few fleeting years of joy and sadness, the happy day, the merry laugh, the fleeting hour of jocund mirth and hilarity, intermingled with many sighs and bitter tears, then darkness closes o'er the scene, and all is hushed in unbroken, interminable silerce.
We ask, can this be all? Is this the climax of our unceasing care, and toil, and pain? It cannot be. Verily there must be somewhere in God's universe, a spot where man shall at least regain his former beauty and grandeur; else he had better been a prowling beast of prey, or a fading forest tree,yea, the most fragile flower that blooms would have the advantage of him.
It is a glorious thing to be, but to be a man bespeaks the soul immortal! These thrilling joys, these wasting sorrows, these exquisite pleasures, these piercing pains; this soaring power of thought, this deep-welling fount of feeling, beyond the ability of tongue to utter or pen to paint, are a certain pledge of a future, yea an eternal existence. And, better still—" life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel."
EFFECT OF PRINTING ON CIVILISATION.
REV. JAMES MALCOLMSON.
[The following essay on “The Effect of the Invention of
Printing on Civilisation,” will be read with the more interest when the necessary explanation is made, that it was written as a “Saturday morning exercise,” whilst Mr. Mal. colmson was a student at St. Bees Theological College, near Whitehaven. The practice in writing such essays is, that the subjects are not known beforehand; the time allowed is two hours, and no book of reference is allowed. This essay was "commended," and we think deservedly. The writer is now Curate of St. Thomas's Church, Hyde, and Lecturer to the Society of Arts, London.]
The written and printed History of the World is for the most part a history of general progress. If we glance back at the various periods of English history, or take a more enlarged retrospect of the domains of the long past epochs of universal history, we shall find the essential elements of true civilisation kept in abeyance on account, to a very great extent, of the want of some extensive and comprebensive means of communicating informalion, and the intelligence which then prevailed amongst mankind. And even the so-called brightest periods of civilisation are darkened and mystified by very much of fable and superstition.
The great elements of true civilisation (i.e. of civilisation in its most extended and expansive meaning,-for be it observed, that it is peculiarly one of those words which has with the growth of