Page images
PDF
EPUB

Stretching from horizon to horizon, as far as the eye could reach, — losing itself like, a limitless wall in the clouds above, – it came pouring its green and massive waters onward, while the continual and rapid crash of falling forests and crushed cities and uptorn mountains thus fell, one after another, under its awful power, and the successive shrieks that pierced the heavens, rising even above the deepening roar of the on-rushing ocean, as city after city, and kingdom after kingdom, disappeared, produced terror and horror inconceivable, indescribable. “ The fountains of the great deep were broken up.”

But the last cry of human agony was at length hushed ocean now mingled with ocean, and the waves swept on without a shore. O, what a wreck was there! Not shivered masts and broken timbers, the remains of some gallant vessel, were seen on that turbulent surface, but the fragments of a crushed and broken world. It was a noble wreck -splendid cities and towers, gorgeous palaces, gay apparel, the accumulated wealth and luxury of twenty centuries, strewing the bosom of the deluge, like autumn leaves floating on the surface of some forest stream. .

But amid the sudden midnight that had wrapped the earth, and the frenzy of the elements, and utter overthrow and chaos of all things, there was one heart that beat as calmly as in sleep ; one brow, over which no breath of passion or of fear passed; one spirit, whose serene trust never wavered ; for in the solitary ark, that lifted to the heaving billows, the aged patriarch knelt in prayer. Amid the surging of that fierce ocean, his voice may not have been heard by mortal ear; but the light of faith shone round his aged form, and the moving lip spoke a repose as tranquil as childhood's on the bosom of maternal love.

The patriarch's God ruled that wild scene, and Noah felt

Turbulent, disturbed, agitated, tumultuous, being in violent commotion. - Gorgeous, showy, splendid, magnificent, glittering with gay colors. Chaos, that confusion, or confused mass, in which matter is supposed to have existed, before it was separated into its different kinds, and reduced to order by the creating power of God.

his frail vessel quiver in every timber, without one tremor himself. Upborne on the flood, the Heaven-protected ark rose over the buried cities and mountains, and floated away on a shoreless deep. Like a single drop of dew, this round sphere of ours hung and trembled — a globe of water in mid heaven.

I have often wondered what the conversations were during the long days and nights that lonely ark was riding on the deep. As it rose and fell on the long-protracted swell, mas. sive ruins would go thundering by, whole forests sink and rise with the billows, while, ever and anon, an uptorn hill, as, borne along by the resistless tide, it struck a buried mountain, would loom for a moment like some black monster over the waves, then plunge again to the fathomless bottom. Amid this wreck and these sights, the ark sailed on in safety.

How often, in imagination, have I pictured it in the deluge at midnight! To a spectator what an object of interest it would have been! Round the wide earth the light from its solitary window was the only indication of life that remained. One moment it would be seen far up on the crest of the billow, a mere speck of flame amid the limitless darkness that environed it, and then disappear in the gulfs below, as if extinguished forever.

Thus that gentle light would sink and rise on the breast of the deluge, the last, the only hope of the human race. Helmless, and apparently guideless, its wreck seemed inevitable; but the sea never rolled that could extinguish the starlike beam that told where the ark still floated. Not even che strong wind that the Almighty sent over the water to dry it up, driving it into billows that stormed the heavens, could sink it. Though it shook like a reed in their strong grasp, and floundered through the deep gulfs, it passed unerringly

Loom, to appear above the surface either of sea or land, or to appear larger than the real dimensions, and indistinctly, as a distant object, a ship at sea, or a mountain. - Fathomless, that of which no bottom can be found, depth that cannot be measured : less, 106. — Flounder, to fling the limbs and body, as in making efforts to move to struggle, roll. toss, and tumble.

on to the summit of that mountain on which it was to rest, and at length struck ground, and ceased its turbulent motion.

Noah waited a week, and then sent forth a raven to explore the deep. Though the waters still swept from mountain to mountain, the myriad carcasses that floated on the surface furnished both food and resting-place, and he returned no more. He then sent forth a dove. It darted away from the place of its long confinenient, and sped on rapid wing over the flood, now turning this way and now that, looking in vain with its gentle eye for the green earth, and at last turned back toward the ark of rest. The tap of its snowy wing was heard on the window, and the patriarch reached forth his hand and took it in. The fierce pantings of its mottled breast, and its drooping pinions, told too well that the earth gave no place of repose. But the second time it was sent abroad, it returned with an olive leaf in its mouth, showing that the earth had risen from its burial, and was sprouting again and clothing itself in verdure.

Then the patriarch went forth with his family, and stood on Mount Ararat; and lo, the earth was at his feet - but how changed! Cut into gorges, which showed where the strong currents swept, and piled into ridges, it bore in every part marks of the power that had ravaged it.

Noah and his family were alone in the world, and he built an altar there on the top of the solitary mountain, and lifted his voice in prayer, and the Almighty talked with him as “friend talketh with friend," bidding him go forth and occupy the earth. And as the flame of the sacrifice rose from the mountain top, bearing the patriarch's prayer heavenward, the promise was given that the earth should never again be swept by a deluge; and lo, God's signet ring appeared in the clouds, arching the man of God, - a warrant that the covenant should never be broken.

Baptized by the flood — consecrated by the altar — illumined by the first fresh rainbow, Ararat stood a sacren inountain on the earth.

J. T. HEANLEY.

24. The Fall of Niagara.

The thoughts are strange that crowd into my brain,
While I look upward to thee. It would seem
As if God poured thee from his “hollow hand,"
And hung his bow upon thine awful front;
And spoke in that loud voice, which seemed to Him
Who dwelt in Patmos for his Savior's sake,
" The sound of many waters ;” and had bade
The flood to chronicle the ages back,
And notch his centuries in the eternal rocks.

Deep calleth unto deep. And what are we,
That hear the question of that voice sublime ?
O, what are all the notes that ever rung
From war's vain trumpet, by thy thundering side i
Yea, what is all the riot man can make
In his short life, to thy unceasing roar!
And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to Him
Who drowned a world, and heaped the waters far
Above its loftiest mountains ? — A light wave,
That breaks, and whispers of its Maker's might.

J. G. C. BRAINARD.

25. The Voices of the Dead.

I have seen one die — the delight of his friends, the pride of his kindred, the hope of his country;- but he died ! How beautiful was that offering upon the altar of death! The fire of genius kindled in his eye; the generous affections of youth mantled in his cheek; his foot was upon the threshold of life; his studies, his preparations for honored and useful life, were completed; his breast was filled with a thousand glowing, and noble, and never yet expressed aspis rations; — but he died !

He died; while another, of a nature dull, coarse, and unsefinea; of habits low, base, and brutish; of a promise that had nothing in it but shame and misery, - such a one, I say, was suffered to encumber the earth. Could this be, if there were no other sphere for the gifted, the aspiring, and the approved to act in? Can we believe that the energy just trained for action, the embryo thought just bursting into expression, the deep and earnest passion of a noble nature just swelling into every beautiful virtue, should never manifest its power, should never speak, should never unfold itself? Can we believe that all this should die, while meanness, corruption, sensuality, and every deformed and dishonored power, should live? No, ye goodly and glorious ones; ye godlike in youthful virtue! — ye die not in vain ; ye teach, ye assure us, that ye are gone to some world of nobler life and action.

I have seen one die. She was beautiful; and beautiful were the ministries of life that were given her to fulfil. Angelic loveliness enrobed her; and a grace, as if it were caught from heaven, breathed in every tone, hallowed every affection, shone in every action — invested, as a halo, her wliole existence, and made it a light and blessing, a charm and vision of gladness, to all around her; — but she died.

Friendship, and love, and parental fondness, and infant weakness, stretched out their hand to save her ; but they could not save her; and she died! What! did all that loveliness die? Is there no land of the blessed and the lovely ones, for such to live in? Forbid it, reason, religion ! bereaved affection and undying love, forbid the thought ! It cannot be that such die in God's counsel, who live even in frail memory forever!

I have seen one die — in the maturity of every power, in the earthly perfection of every faculty; when many temptations had been overcome, and many hard lessons had been learned; when many experiments had made virtue easy, and

« PreviousContinue »