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An interesting series of fine steel plates, entitled, "Views in the East," from original sketches by Capt. Robert Elliot, R.N. is now in the course of publication; the annexed wood cut is by permission copied from this work.
The city of Benares stands on the left bank of the Ganges, at a part where the river forms a fine sweeping curve of nearly four miles in length. The bank on which the city is situated is the concave side of the river, and is considerably higher than the opposing shore; so that if the town is viewed from a position in the upper part of it, from the breadth of the Ganges at this place, and the lowness of the opposite side, it has the appearance of standing on the margin of a beautifully formed bay.
Benares stands on a spot held peculiarly sacred by the Hindoos, and it has long been considered as the head quarters of brahminical learning.
The edifice, with the high minarets so conspicuous in the annexed sketch, was built by the Mohammedan emperor, Aurungzebe, it is said with the intention of humbling the pride of the Hindoos, as not only VOL. VI. 3rd SERIES.
possessing a very elevated station in the city, but being also erected on the site of a Hindoo temple, removed on purpose to make room for the Mussulman mosque.
The immense flight of steps called the Ghauts of Benares, form a great ornament to the river face of the city. Various Christian missionaries are now laboring in this city.
THE SHORTNESS OF LIFE.
How swift the shuttle flies that weaves thy shroud,
It was at the commencement of the new year that Mr. Raymond's family, who were spending their Christmas vacation under the dear paternal roof, were sitting round a cheerful fire and enjoying themselves with the repetition of their different studies at school. The boys amused themselves by proposing several Latin sentences as a trial of each other's skill in that language. Amongst others, John Raymond said he would quote a phrase from his Latin grammar which was very applicable to the present season. • Memor esto brevis avi.'-"There, Charles," said he to his brother, "construe that if you please." "That I will," replied Charles, "with pleasure," Remember the shortness of life!' "Very well, my dear boy," remarked his father. "And now, John," continued he, "you will gratify me exceedingly, if you will write your thoughts upon that very important sentiment." John, who never manifested any reluctance to answer the wishes of his parents, promised to comply in a few days; in the mean time, he earnestly requested his father to indulge him with his thoughts on the subject, Mr. Raymond instantly acquiesced, and spoke as follows:
THE SHORTNESS OF LIFE.
"There are certain times and seasons, my dear children, wherein we are more than commonly struck with the rapid advance of time. Such are the anniversaries of our natal day, and the commencement and close of every year. We are astonished that so many years of our life have fled, and that the 365 days should have so
quickly vanished. The mind must be insensible indeed, that does not pause and reflect upon the diminished term of life, and that does not enter into the spirit of Job and exclaim, 'When a few years are come I shall go the way whence I shall not return.'
"1. The shortness of life has been frequently acknowledged by the best and wisest of men. When Pharaoh asked Jacob his age, he replied; 'Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been.' He said this, after having lived 130 years. The words of Job are similar, ‹ Man that is born of a woman is of a few days and full of trouble.' Such also is the declaration of David in his prayer, Psalm lxxxix. 47. Remember, how short my time is.' And of St. Paul, 1 Cor. vii. 29. This I say, brethren, the time is short.' "2. The various figures employed in the Scripture strikingly represent the rapidity with which human life passes. 'As for man his days are as grass.' 'When the grass hath attained to its most flourishing state, and all the flowers of the field are in perfect beauty, then the mower entereth with the scythe.' Life is a vapour which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Life is compared to a weaver's shuttle,' The Parcæ or destinies in the Roman mythology were represented with distaffs, spinning the thread ofhuman life. Life is said to pass more swiftly than a post. Job ix. 25. In the east there are messengers who run on foot, and who, by means of relays, dispatch a letter from hand to hand a hundred and fifty miles in less than twenty-four hours. Life is said to pass 6 as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.' Job. ix. 26. Schultens says, it ought to be rendered ships of cane, or the Papyrus; that is, such light vessels, as were used in passing the Nile and other great rivers, &c. The flight of the eagle hasting to the prey is a strong and striking figure. Dr. Manton remarks that, the Scripture useth the more similitudes that by every fleeting and decaying object we might be reminded of our own mortality, as well as to check those proud desires which are in man, of an eternal abode and of lasting happiness in this life. In Job ix. 25. there is a monument of man's frailty set forth in all the elements: Go to the land and there is a post; go to the sea and there is a swift ship; look to the air and there is an eagle.
"The seasons of the year teach us the same lesson. From January to December we indulge in a series of expectation. How we look and wait for the dissolving of the frost and the melting of
the snow! How we watch the expansion of the bud, and the appearance of the flower, from the snow drop to the blushing rose! How delighted are we to have the advance of the foliage and the maturation of the fruits of the field and the garden! Yet how soon does the spring retire to make room for charming summer,' and yellow Autumn. Scarcely however have we listened to the reapers' song and the chorus of harvest home, than the shortened days and the falling leaves betoken the speedy arrival of winter, and the year terminates while we gaze and wonder at the speed of its flight!
Look nature through, 'tis revolution all;
All change, no death: day follows night, and night
"The shortness of life appears in the striking alteration which is produced on mankind. The juvenile appearance is soon exchanged for manhood, and wrinkled age comes on, and then, the tomb! Multitudes die in early life; they just look upon the world and retire, like the traveller who enters an inn, in a far distant land, and after taking some refreshment pursues his journey,
'Alike unknowing and unknown.'
"Well might Job say, when a few years are come; for the longest life is soon past. Should the age of man be extended to fourscore years, yet these are departed ere we are aware. Hence the common remark, human life is a dream, composed indeed of numerous and various incidents; abounding with pleasures and pains, and delights and vexation, but soon terminated! and when passed resembling the vision of the night.
"When a few years are come. In how many instances is this sentence prophetic! Two or three years may be the utmost stretch of mortal existence. And may it not be true that ere this year hath passed, some who are now living may be numbered with the silent dead! The reflection is solemn and affecting, and should lead all to prepare for their departure to the world of spirits.
"For when a few years are come, we must go the way of all flesh. The grave will receive us and the worm will feed sweetly on us. The body will be consigned to the earth-will await the resurrection morn-when the grave will faithfully restore its deposite. But what becomes of the spirit-the soul that never dies? This will go the way whence it shall not return. Its eternal abode will be heaven or hell! Happy the souls who are going the way that leadeth unto life everlasting. Happy the youth who has devoted his earliest bloom to God, and chosen the good part which shall never be taken away.
"The shortness of life should impress us with the necessity of improving it to the utmost; we have no minutes to waste in trifling or in idleness, none to abuse in sin and transgression. Especially should the young set a high value upon time; theirs are golden moments, to be parted with cautiously and with a due regard to receive in return what is worth the barter. The field of knowledge is all before them and like the bee they may gather from flower to flower sweets to charm the mental taste, and lay up a store for the dark days of sorrow and the winter of old age. Immediate attention should be given by them to the things of God. The Bible contains all that is necessary to make them happy, all that can comfort in trouble and direct in difficulty. In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and as he died to save sinners, he invites them to come unto Him, with the assurance that he will receive them into his favor here, and into his heaven hereafter. If there be any thing required to enforce so kind, so gracious an invitation, it is the subject of this essay. "The Shortness of Life.'
"And now, my dear children, let me hope that you will treasure up these remarks in your minds. You have a few weeks before you which you must endeavor to employ in the cultivation of your talents; give attention to reading, to meditation, and to fervent prayer, and may the God of your father be your God, and your guide even unto death."
The children promised to attend to the injunction, and to be mindful, through the holidays and through the year, of the Shortness of Life.