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each striving to produce his utmost effect; so perfect are his imitations. He many times deceives the sportsman, and sends him in search of birds that perhaps are not within miles of him, but whose notes he exactly imitates : even birds themselves are frequently imposed on by this admirable mimic, and are decoyed by the fancied calls of their mates; or dive, with precipitation, into the depths of thickets, at the scream of what they suppose to be the sparrow hawk.
The Mockingbird loses little of the power and energy of his song by confinement. In his domesticated state, when he commences his career of song, it is impossible to stand by uninterested. He whistles for the dog; Cæsar starts up, wags his tail, and runs to meet his master. He squeaks out like a hurt chicken, and the hen hurries about with hanging wings, and bristled feathers, clucking to protect its injured brood. The barking of the dog, the mewing of the cat, the creaking of a passing wheelbarrow, follow, with great truth and rapidity. He repeats the tune taught him by his master, though of considerable length, fully and faithfully. He runs over the quiverings of the canary, and the clear whistlings of the Virginia nightingale, or red-bird, with such superior execution and effect, that the mortified songsters feel their own inferiority, and become altogether silent; while he seems to triumph in their defeat by redoubling his exertions.
This excessive fondness for variety, however, in the opinion of some, injures his song. His elevated imitations of the brown thrush are frequently interrupted by the crowing of cocks; and the warblings of the blue bird, which he exquisitely manages, are mingled with the screaming of swallows, or the cackling of hens; amidst the simple melody of the robin we are suddenly surprised by the shrill reitera. tions of the whip-poor-will; while the notes of the kildeer, blue jay, martin, baltimore, and twenty others, succeed, with such imposing reality, that we look round for the originals, and discover, with astonishment, that the sole performer in this singular concert is the admirable bird now before us. During this exhibition of his powers he spreads his wings, expands his tail, and throws himself around the cage in all the ecstasy of enthusiasm, seeming not only to sing, but to dance, keeping time to the measure of his own music. Both in his native and domesticated state, during the solemn stillness of night, as soon as the moon rises in silent majesty, he begins his delightful solo ; and serenades us the live-long night with a full display of his vocal powers, making the whole neighbourhood ring with his inimitable medley.
106.- Dying Thoughts.
[RICHARD BAXTER, one of the most remarkable theologians of the difficult and dangerous times of the seventeenth century, was born in 1615, and spent his childhood at Eaton Constantine, near Shrewsbury. His education was irregular; for he could never obtain the means of going to the University, and in most of his acquirements was selftaught. He was, however, ordained at the age of twenty-three, by the Bishop of Worcester. In 1640, he became the officiating clergyman at the parish church of Kidderminster ; but the breaking out of the civil wars placed him in a difficult position. He endeavoured to steer between the extreme opinions of either party, and thus gave satisfaction to none. He followed the Parliamentary army, where he incessantly preached to the soldiery; but he opposed the overthrow of the monarchy, and subsequently denounced Cromwell as a rebel and a traitor. Upon the restoration of Charles II., he was appointed one of the king's chaplains; but, under the Act of Uniformity in 1662, he was banished from the pale of the English Church, with two thousand other divines. He thus became one of the great leaders of the Nonconformists, and was persecuted in various ways till the Revolution of 1688 established the principles of toleration. His theological writings are raost numerous ; some, of course, have fallen into the same oblivion as the controversies which called them forth; but his practical writings, which were collected about ten years ago, in four octavo volumes, are enduring examples of subtle intellect and untiring energy, united to rare piety and benevolence. The great Barrow said of him, • His practical writings were never mended, and his controversial ones seldom confuted.” Baxter died in 1691.]
When I die, I must depart, not only from sensual delights, but from the more manly pleasures of my studies, knowledge, and converse with many wise and godly men, and from all my pleasure in reading, hearing, public and private exercises of religion, &c. I must leave my library, and turn over those pleasant books no more; I must no more come among the living, nor see the faces of my faithful friends, nor be seen of man; houses, and cities, and fields, and countries, gardens and walks, will be nothing as to me. I shall no more hear of the affairs of the world, of man, or wars, or other news, nor see what becomes of that beloved interest of wisdom, piety, and peace which I desire may prosper, &c.
I answer—though these delights are far above those of sensual sinners, yet, alas! how low and little are they! How small is our knowledge in comparison of our ignorance! And how little doth the knowledge of learned doctors differ from the thoughts of a silly child! For from our 'childhood we take it in but by drops ; and as trifles are the matter of childish knowledge, so words and notions, and artificial forms, do make up more of the learning of the world than is commonly understood; and many such learned men know little more of any great and excellent things themselves, than rustics that are contemned by them for their ignorance. God and the life to come are little better known by them, if not much less, than by many of the unlearned. What is it but a child-game that many logicians, rhetoricians, grammarians, yea, metaphysicians, and other philosophers, in their eagerest studies and disputes, are exercised in? Of how little use is it to know what is contained in many hundreds of the volumes that fill our libraries; yea, or to know many of the most glorious speculations in physics, mathematics, &c., which have given some the title of virtuosi and ingeniosi, in these times, who have little the more wit or virtue to live to God, or overcome temptations from the flesh and the world, and to secure their everlasting hopes; what pleasure or quiet doth it give to a dying man to know almost any of their trifles ?
Yea, it were well if much of our reading and learning did us no harm, and more than good. I fear lest books are to some but a more honourable kind of temptation than cards and dice; lest many a precious hour be lost in them, that should be employed on much higher matters, and lest many make such knowledge but an unholy, natural, yea, carnal pleasure, as worldlings do the thoughts of their lands and honours; and lest they be the more dangerous, by how much the less suspected; but the best is, it is a pleasure so fenced from the slothful with thorny labour of hard and long studies, that laziness saveth more from it than grace and holy wisdom doth. But doubtless fancy and the natural intellect may with as little sanctity
live in the pleasure of reading, knowing, disputing, and writing, as others spend their time at a game at chess, or other ingenious sport.
For my own part, I know that the knowledge of natural things is valuable, and may be sanctified, much more theological theory; and when it is so, it is of good use : and I have little knowledge which I find not some way useful to my highest ends. And if wishing or money
would procure more, I would wish and empty my purse for it; but yet, if many score or hundred buoks which I have read had been all unread, and I had that time now to lay out upon higher things, I should think myself much richer than now I am.
And I must earnestly pray, the Lord forgive me the hours that I have spent in reading things less profitable, for the pleasing of a mind that would fain know all, which I should have spent for the increase of holiness in myself and others; and yet I must thankfully acknowledge to God, that from my youth he taught me to begin with things of greatest weight, and to refer most of my other studies thereto, and to spend my days under the motives of necessity and profit to myself, and those with whom I had to do. And I now think better of the course of Paul, that determined to know nothing but a crucified Christ among the Corinthians; that is, so to converse with them as to use and glorying, as if he knew nothing else; and so of the rest of the Apostles and primitive ages. And though I still love and honour the fullest knowledge, (and am not of Dr. Collett's mind, who, as Erasmus saith, most slighted Augustine,) yet I less censure even that Carthage council, which forbad the reading of the heathen's books of learning and arts, than formerly I have done. And I would have men savour most that learning in their health, which they will or should savour most in sickness, and near to death.
But the chief answer is yet behind. No knowledge is lost, but perfected, and changed for much nobler, sweeter, greater knowledge. Let men be never so uncertain in particular de modo, whether acquired habits of intellect and memory die with us, as being dependent on the body; yet, by what manner soever, that a far clearer knowledge we shall have than is here attainable, is not to be doubted of. And the cessation of our present mode of knowing is but the cessation of our ignorance and imperfection; as our wakening endeth a dreaming knowledge, and our maturity endeth the trifling knowledge of a child; for so saith the Holy Ghost, “ Love never faileth,” (and we can love no more than we know;) but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, (that is, cease ;) whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, (notional and abstractive, such as we have now,) it shall vanish away ; “when I was a child, I spake as a child, understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things, for now we see through a glass," per species, “ darkly,” as men understand a thing by a metaphor, parable, or riddle, “ but then face to face,” even creatures intuitively, as in themselves, naked and open to our sight : “ now I know in part," not rem, sed, aliquid rei, (not the reality itself, but something of the reality,) in which sense Sanchez truly saith, nihil scitur, but then shall I know even as I am known;" not as God knoweth us, for our knowledge and his must not be so comparatively likened, but as holy spirits know us both now and for ever, we shall both know and be known by immediate intuition.
If a physician be to describe the parts of man, and the latent diseases of his patient, he is fain to search hard, and bestow many thoughts of it, besides his long reading and converse, to make him capable of knowing; and when all is done, he goeth much upon conjectures, and his knowledge is mixed with many uncertainties, yea, and mistakes; but when he openeth the corpse, he seeth all, and his knowledge is more full, more true, and more certain, besides that it is easily and quickly attained, even by a present look. A countryman knoweth the town, the fields, and rivers where he dwelleth, yea, and the plants and animals, with ease and certain clearness; when he that must know the same things by the study of geographical writings and tables, must know them but with a general, an unsatisfactory, and oft a much mistaking kind of knowledge. Alas, when our present knowledge hath cost a man the study of forty, or fifty, or sixty years, how lean and poor, how doubtful and unsatisfactory, is it after all ! But when God will show us himself and all things, and when heaven is known, as the sun by its own light, this will be the clear, sure, and satisfactory knowledge. “ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;” and without holiness none can see him. This sight will be worthy the name of wisdom, when our present glimpse is but philosophy, a love and desire of wisdom. So far should we be from fearing death, through the fear of losing our knowledge, or any of the