« ForrigeFortsæt »
Indeed, a proper knowledge of the Bible itself demands such an acquaintance with common things; and that renewed mind will best appreciate its sublimities, and cherish the loftiest and most endeared views of God and Christ, which has been thus instructed. But we must trace our young student on his journey, which it would appear from his own account, was neither sad nor solitary. "The lark," he says, “was my companion all the way, flying before me, quivering in the air—
"Ecce suum tirile, tirile, suum tirile tractat.'
The weather was warm and serene; now and then a refreshing breeze sprang up from the west, and a rising cloud was observable in that quarter." The forest had its minstrel no less than the open country. Having reached Högsta, a mile and a quarter from Upsal, he says, "Here the forest began to thicken; the charming lark, which had till now attended my steps, here left me, but another bird welcomed my approach to the forest-the red-wing, whose warblings from the tops of the spruce fir, were no less delightful." And now, mellowed by distance, and linked with happy associations, he hears, for the first time, “the cuckoo, a welcome harbinger of summer."
It is this susceptibility to all the indications of the natural world, that characterizes an observant and intelligent mind, and though we do not plead for this companionship and communion with nature, as in itself a means of arriving at a right knowledge of its Great Author, we love to trace its operations in the young mind, and, as far as may be possible, to imbue it with the nobler tendencies of that word which God has magnified above all his name. interest once excited, will lead to observation; and observation, properly elaborated in the mind, forms the basis of sound and useful knowledge. God himself gave the first lesson in this important branch of instruction, when he directed Adam to the contemplation of the various trees in Eden, and brought before him all the beasts of the field to receive their names. He directed the gaze of the father of the faithful to the stars of heaven; and called the attention of Job and his associates to those parts of his works and ways, which were not too overwhelming to be understood by human wisdom. The noble army of holy men of old, who have left us such an exhaustless treasury of the true wisdom, were all observers, who extended their enquiries to the three kingdoms of God's
government, in nature, providence, and grace. What a hideous distortion of Christianity is that, which would persuade us that its Great Author is best glorified by a morose and morbid indifference to intellectual acquirements, and requires us to turn coldly away from all that philosophy or science delights in. Is the Infinite Mind to be best understood and loved by hedging about our own minds with ignorance and prejudice; or he who has said, “all things are your's;" to be honored by our refusal to find "good in every thing?" The religion of the Bible is an ennobling, exalting, enlightening system, that calls out and sublimes the intellect and the affections, and transforms us into the image of Him who created us. The infinitely holy is the infinitely wise, and whilst we are commanded "to grow in the love of God," we are enjoined to perfect ourselves no less in the "knowledge" of Him.
The mere act of observation is full of pleasure. The child in his earliest days, derives the greater part of his enjoyment from this source; and as he is taught to think, and reason upon what he sees, he feels a growing interest in the pursuit. At first he does little more than see, but by so doing, he is laying up the seeds of thought in his young mind. We should like to write a history of thinking, from its origin to its full development in useful action; but the theme is too copious to be fully handled at present. There are many varieties of observers in the world; some of whom scarcely deserve the title, whilst others look into things with a shrewd and discriminating accuracy. Nothing escapes their notice, and where an interest is excited towards any particular object, it is examined in all its points and relations with the most rigid and business-like care and patience. We may find abundant examples of this in the work under consideration.
"Here and there," says our traveller, "in the woods (of Helsingland), lay blood-red stones, or rather stones which appeared to have been partially stained with blood. On rubbing them, I found the red colour merely external, and perfectly distinct from the stone itself; it was in fact a red byssus." Thus, where scientific observation saw nothing but a minute plant; popular inspection would have found materials for some legendary tale of horror, while both observers might have contended that they had facts for their foundation.
Our young friends, we know, are fond of pictures; here is one,
sketched by Linnæus while descending Norby Knylen, the highest mountain in Medelpad.
"We endeavoured to descend on the south side, which was the steepest, and where rocks were piled on rocks. We were often obliged to sit down, and in that position to slide for a considerable way; had we then met with a loose fragment of rock, or a precipice, our lives had been lost. About the middle of this side of the mountain, an eagle-owl started up suddenly before us; it was as large as a hen, and the colour of a woodcock, with black feathery ears or horns, and black lines about the bill. I wished for my gun, which I had left, finding it too troublesome to carry up the hill. Immediately afterwards we perceived a little plat of grass, fronting the south, and guarded as it were, with rocky walls on the east and west, so that no wind but from the south could reach it. Here were three young birds and a spotless egg." This little bit of nature is worth a volume of scientific description, or theoretical enquiry. We are at once introduced to the solemn and solitary bird “at home," in its oasis of the rock-a home selected with wonderful instinct, from the bleak and barren waste, and in every way fitted for the safety and comfort of the unfledged and helpless family it sheltered. Can we ever afterwards see the poor eagle-owl moping in its wiry prison, at the Zoological gardens, without reverting to its free and happy dwelling-place among the mountains; or picturing the little grassy nook, from which it was so seldom scared by the foot-fall of the passing traveller?
It is well to be picking up facts, and making observations, even when we do not see their bearing, and are almost inclined to think them unworthy of record. A fact is always valuable: the world of realities, is the world of usefulness. "Close to the church (of Hasjo, in Medelpad), says Linnæus, “a large stone is to be seen. The credulous vulgar relate that when the church was building, some malignant beings, of gigantic size, were desirous of knocking it down, but the stones thrown for that purpose fell short of the sacred spot. As a confirmation of this history, they shew the evident marks of four huge fingers and a thumb on the upper side of the stone."
Now, leaving for the present, the principles involved in this silly legend; though these, absurd as the story seems, are worthy of a few remarks, we have a fact of peculiar interest in these days of
geological research; the marks in question, will very probably turn out to be the foot-prints of some extinct animal allied to the Chirotherium, and similar to those in our national museum, which have excited such intense interest in the present day.
Even traditions, which are in general but rampant and unfruitful grafts upon the tree of knowledge, should not escape the attention of the studious collector of facts; as they not only draw attention to these facts themselves, but frequently enfold doctrines of extensive application and usefulness. We shall find this to be the case both with the preceding, and the following incidents.
"The people" (at Hamränge), says our adventurer, "talked much of an extraordinary kind of tree, growing near the road, which many persons had visited, but none could find out what it was. Some said it was an apple-tree which had been cursed by a beggarwoman, who one day having gathered an apple from it, and being on that account seized by the proprietor of the tree, declared that the tree should never bear fruit any more. Next morning I arose with the sun, in order to examine this wonderful tree, which was pointed out to me from a distance. It proved nothing more than a common elm. Hence, however, we learn that the elm is not a common tree in this part of the country."
The mind will guess, where it cannot know: it is naturally curious and inquisitive; its very essence seems to lie in action; it must be at work. This is the testimony of experience all the world over; for what has been said of the members, is equally true of the mind:
"Satan finds some mischief still
It is this mental hungering and thirsting that wants direction and satisfaction. Insatiable as the horse-leach, it is constantly crying out, "Give! give!" and when the wholesome bread of knowledge fails, it will revel on swine's food, and fill its stomach with the husks of error, superstition, or impiety. Do we not find then in these little anecdotes, a striking illustration of the wise man's remark, "that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good?" Ignorance is the mother of devotion; but, it is a devotion which says, "We know not what we worship." In other words, it leaves us at the mercy of deception, under whichever of his myriad forms he chooses to appear, and we are led captive by him at his will, to
find that the "bliss of ignorance" consists in the lowest and most degrading mental subjection. Every system of religion, therefore, that inculcates devotion upon this ground, is unequivocally bad. Christianity asks no reserve." It is a scheme of light and perfection. Look into it as you please; go on from strength to strength; from glory to glory; and you have still an unlimited extent of territory before you. We will not beat you back from the threshold of the holy place: come into the very secret of God's tabernacle, and hold communion with the MOST HIGHEST Himself, who, as he is perfect in knowledge, demands that you should follow on to know him as the only wise God your Saviour, in all the fulness of his grace and wisdom. We are not come to Mount Sinai, with its lightnings and thunder, but to the mercy-seat of Zion; to the blood of sprinkling; to the arms of our elder brother, who has promised to enrich us, even here, with all wisdom to receive, and with all utterance to express, the glorious things that appertain to the gospel of salvation. The Bible is the property of the world; and wo to him who fences it with unauthorized anathemas! or shouts "Reserve!" as he hears above him the wings of the apocalyptic angel, bearing to every land and nation under heaven the glad tidings of God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. "Reserve' the doctrine of the Cross!"
On one occasion, observes Dr. Bennett, I stood up to preach in a burial ground at Dundee. It was the night of the fair; and there were some who had heard of Rowland Hill; who had lately been on a similar tour, and they expected to have something like the fun of the fair, in hearing some of his eccentricities. A young man very much devoted to self-improvement finding that I had no diverting eccentricities, turned his attention in another direction, and said, "I will now study the right pronunciation of the English language; " and with this view alone he was listening. But my subject was, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit