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year. In the spring, we see the leaves in their infant state, the bud; they then gradually expand into their proper shape, and assume the light blooming healthful green of the early summer; this soon changes into a more decided colour, when they seem to have attained a state of meridian luxuriance which all lovers of nature must have observed. After this, we can trace in them the slow decay of autumn, and then they drop one by one, till we look for them and they are gone! Winter, nature's destroying angel, sends forth her messengers of death,—the piercing blasts and nipping frosts, and the leaves as if partakers in the penalty of man's transgression, must all obey her call and die! I need not draw the parallel—the type of man's progress from the cradle to the grave is manifest; and no one can deny, that each race of leaves proclaims, in tones louder than words, “ One generation passeth away, and another cometh.” And who shall say, that this was not the lesson which they were originally intended to convey. Our heavenly Father need not have made the leaves susceptible to climatic changes, but having done so, let us not refuse to hear him speaking in his works, but thankfully receive his gracious warnings in whatever way they come.
Secondly, let us consider the manner which our Almighty Creator has chosen for the growth of grain. The fact of its not being quickened except it die, and the far more excellent nature which it acquires from death, is an unmistakeable type of man's mortal and immortal natures, and brings home to our hearts the cheering conviction, that it need not seem “an incredible thing to us that God should raise the dead.”
I might multiply instances to any extent, but I should defeat my object if I did so, which is to lead you to think profitably for yourselves. In short, it will be found that the whole creation is acting a grand charade for our profit, and that it strives by silent, but impressive motions, to remind us, that “in God we live, move, and have our being;" and by attending to her clues, we shall, with the poet
“Find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything." II. Nor would I be thought in the least to underrate the immense advantages arising from the study of literature. This may also be turned to the most useful account for the promotion of habitual piety, as yielding abundant provision for profitable reflection. For if an increased knowledge of men do not bring with it an increased love of God and a growing feeling of dependence upon him, it is a proof that we have studied very superficially, that “we have known nothing yet as we ought to know.” For what can be more absurd than to pay greater attention to the actions of subordinate agents, than to the great Prime Cause of all that is done by them. It is just as foolish as to admire the tool instead of the skill of the artificer, who uses it for the accomplishment of his designs. And there is precisely this difference between the study of one who does not love God, and of one who is truly pious. The former sees in history an accumulation of facts which interests him; but the latter has this additional lustre to his interest—he proves from experience that nothing happens by chance, but that all is brought about in a wonderful manner, to fulfil the high purposes of a God of love.
Let us, by way of illustration, consider one or two periods in the history of our country. An ordinary reader of the annals of Queen Mary's reign will find that she was a violent Romanist, and that the Protestants were in consequence cruelly persecuted, and this as a bare fact may strike him as being a dreadful thing; but the child of God reads it with very different feelings, and while the facts interest him, and the cruelties shock him, he discovers that there was a necessity for the horrors of that reign; that the people who had gown so lukewarm in their love of truth, must be roused from their lethargy by the exhibition of error in its true colors.
Turn we now to the time of Charles the first—that gloomiest period in the annals of our country, when every man's sword was against his brother, and suspicion marred all the sweet ties of friendship—when superstition and fanaticism conspired to disgrace the professors of a religion of love and truth, and the charity of the gospel seems almost to have been extinct. The man of the world may wonder that, if God indeed overrule all things, he should have allowed circumstances to have taken so calamitous a course. But to the believer, there is no difficulty in reconciling this apparent contradiction. In the undoubted tendency of the mind of the king to favor popery, he sees a reason for the violent reaction in the minds of the people, and he is convinced, that if that reaction had not been as strong as it was, the aggressions of false teachers could not have been withstood. In the general character of the king, too, he does not fail to see a proof that God was watching over his church. Had Charles been a man who would have made those concessions which the just privileges of his subjects required, so far as we can judge from the complexion of the age, he might almost have had his own way with regard to religion. Thus history affords proofs that God sees the end from the beginning, and brings good out of apparent evil. Is it not useful and instructive to search for them ?
III. It seems superfluous to shew at any length, how the studies of science are adapted to lead the thoughts to God. I am sure every one of my readers who knows anything at all of the beautiful simplicity of the laws of nature, will so frequently, from the consideration of them, have felt his breast warmed with love and adoration of their Almighty Framer, that he will not for a moment question the tendency of the study of them to promote habitual piety.
IV. I sincerely hope I have now furnished some useful hints for the improvement both of leisure and studious hours. I must not conclude without a few words on the necessity of bringing forth the works of righteousness, as another most important test of the existence of love to God in our hearts. It is not so easy to prescribe for actions as for thoughts, since the former so much more fettered by peculiar circumstances than the latter. But there is one thing which may be common to all, a sincere desire to do the utmost of our several abilities, and a fixed resolution to find out what we can do for God. But as all desires and resolutions are utterly useless without the strengthening grace of God, let me earnestly beg you not to omit to ask him for it, that when you know what he will have you to do, you may be able to perform it.
COPY OF A ROMISH INDULGENCE. For those who are accustomed to regard Pardons and Indulgences as by-gone absurdities, the following copy of a Bull, issued only seven years since, may possess some interest. It is extracted from Sir Culling Eardley's “Romanism in Italy," published in 1845, and well deserves perusal by all who wish to know what Popery really is in the present day.
It is worthy of remark that though the Indulgence is specially granted for the year 1844, it bears date in 1843; and that the “pastoral zeal of our holy father," the Pope, requires “the wonted alms" to set it going; or, in other words, that Job's touching appeal is less moving than the chink of silver.
By Pope Gregory XVI.
The holy Job, to express the ingratitude of his friends who abandoned him in his misfortunes, thus, with energetic expressions manifested his feelings—“My brethren have passed me as a brook, which hastily traverse the valleys.” Job vi. 15. The unhappy souls that dwell in purgatory, knowing that God has placed their pardon in the hands of the faithful, and that the completion of their happiness in a certain way depends on them, wait with holy impatience for offices of such great moment to be rendered to them; but seeing that so far from being touched by the pains which they suffer, they maintain an insensibility quite contrary to Christian charity, they bitterly exclaim, like holy Job, “Our brethren have passed us by.” Wherefore our holy father, moved by pastoral zeal for those souls, exhorts you, O faithful, to co-operate for the alleviation of their pains by the indulgences which he concedes to you.
And to you, D. Antonino di Natale, who have given the wonted pious alms fixed by us, Ferdinand M. Cardinal Pignatelli, Archbishop of Palermo, General Apostolic Commissioner of the Holy Cross, for the soul of Luciano di Natale, and have received this holy Bull, to you is confirmed the above Indulgence. Given in Palermo, 6th September, 1843.
(Signed.) Ferdinando Ma. Carde.
Pignatelli Arcio di Palermo
The original is ornamented by four wood-cuts, occupying the positions indicated by the figures 1, 2, 3, 4. The first is a rude representation, very like that on our commonest Christmas carols, of Saints Peter and Paul. The second, the Pope's insignia ; the third, a very rude cross potent, and the other, the official seal and legend of Cardinal Pignatelli.
THE PRIVILEGED CHAMBER,
BEING LAST THOUGHTS OF GOOD MEN.
HALYBURTON.- "Here is a demonstration of the reality of religion, that I, a poor, weak, timorous man, as much afraid of death as any, am now enabled, by the power of grace, composedly, and with joy, to look death in the face."
REV. S. MORELL.-On the last day of this devoted young minister's life, he remarked, that he should once more wish to commit his soul to God, and then added, “I should like to understand the secrets of eternity before to-morrow morning." His desire was granted. In his last moments he indulged in language like this—“None can know, none can conceive the happiness I possess, the peace
my soul is filled, but the sincere disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. Redeemer of mankind, give me strength to bear even joy-this joy !"
JOHN OWEN.--"Oh, brother Paine, the long-looked for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever get done, or been capable of doing."