Page images

while the dreamy god, like the fabled part of our village community, when Somnus, charmed by poppies and som- Reuben condescended to mingle in their niferous herbs, sleeps in some dark cave, society. The poison of his principles on a bed of down, encircled by black spread through their veins in as subtile curtains, and never takes part in mun- manner, as does the poison of the asp dane affairs.

through the veins of the hapless being Such opinions did Reuben Flint hold, who receives its bite. Many, through who, but a few years ago, was the pest his influence, were led into the paths of of our village. But whence arose these immorality and irreligion, and walked opinions ? As I have looked upon his hand in hand with him, through the hazy emaciated form, something ever whis- wilds of atheism. Apt to learn that pered within me that it was guilt. There which is evil, they learned to laugh at was something, indeed, in that form, our good old rector, to forsake his fold, which conveyed a sense of guilt un and to term his holy occupation priestcraft

. pardoned, to every one who could spell They were not, however, so skilful as human nature. The restless motion of Reuben in the dark subject. When his downcast eye was a true index of a pressed for a reason why they thought guilty conscience; and this, no doubt, chance made the world, that there was worked him into the belief that there was no God, and that they had no soul ; their no God in heaven or earth, no soul in only reply was, “ Reuben Flint tells us man, and no future existence.

so, and you know he is a wonderfully In former years Reuben moved in the clever man." “Besides,” some of them higher classes of society. He was, in- would add, “Reuben is a good man, he deed, beloved by them, and courted for is not above taking his glass with us, as his wit and humour. His education,

the saints are. Let them show themmorever, entitled him to a place in that selves as humble, and we will listen to society. Deeply versed in the classic what they say; we will then hear both lore of the ancients, and not less so in sides of the question over a full glass." that of the moderns, he could interest The reader may be sure that Reuben you by rich quotations from those trea- was a thorn in the sides of our rector. sures of learning. But it has been said, He was indeed, and one of a severe

nature. He wished to turn him into the "Not lofty intellect the heart keeps clean

right way; but Reuben avoided all his From moral taint, or yet illumes the mind By nature dark.”

counsel by declining to confer with him.

If he saw him in the distance, Reuben This was verified in the character of would turn into some other road; or, if Reuben. By degrees he began to lead there was an alehouse near, he would take a profligate life; and still, as he advanced shelter there. Once, however, they step by step in the path of vice, he pro- fairly had a race, and nimble as were the ceeded further and further into the night heels of Reuben naturally, and spurred of atheism, and descended lower and on as he was by coward fear, our reclower in the scale of society. His latter tor overtook him just as he was hiding years were spent, indeed, amongst the himself in a nook in the wall. There, it rustics of our village, although he had is said, he read Reuben such a lecture as the means of supporting himself in a made him tremble, to the no small amusehigher style of life. But we cannot ment of some truant boys who had wonder at this conduct, for, as Reuben joined in the race. This fact, for a short promulgated his views publicly on the time, seemed to shake the faith of some subject of the composition of man; that of his followers; but their leader rallythey were all composed of perishable ing over his glass, so as to term him matter, it would have been folly in him "bigot,” they rallied over theirs, and to have kept himself aloof from the low- matters went on as before. est society. Besides, he held the notion Our rector, at length, despaired of ever that mankind should possess all things reclaiming Reuben by his own skill; and in common.

This notion, however, he knowing full well that Reuben deemed did not carry into practice'; for, though and called his sacred office priestcraft, he he idled away his time on the same ale- called in laymen to his aid, hoping bench with the meanest sot, he reserved thereby to effect his holy purpose. to himself the right of emptying his own Among those whose aid he solicited, I glass.

It was some time, however, beThat was an evil day for the rustic fore I had an opportunity of conversing

was one.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

with Reuben, for he cared but little saith not; but certain it is, that t to converse with any one in the village, wheels of his watch made no moveme except his own companions. But, at until he took the key in his hand, ai length, I perceived him walking towards wound up the chain ; which, when he ha me, in the moss-grown retreats; and done, he looked Reuben full in the fac strange to relate, as we met, Reuben and exclaimed, “You see that I can himself commenced a conversation. more than Chance now; I have set t?

“I have been thinking,” said he, wheels of my watch in motion." “ while looking on the scene around us, “I see to what point you are direct what a lucky move the atoms which ing your course,' said Reuben; “bu composed chaos made, when they flew what has your watch to do with th into the beautiful order in which we now world ?” see this earth."

"Nothing, whatever," I replied; "only “That is an excellent idea," I replied; I imagine that if this watch was made by and taking my watch out of my waistcoat the hand of ingenuity, which is proved pocket, and holding it up to his view, by the fact, that it would not move its I added, “ and it solves the question wheels without my aid, then, this magwhich I have for years endeavoured to nificent globe must have been formed by answer, namely, since no maker's name some almighty Being, and must now be is engraved thereon, who made this in- sustained, in its diurnal rotation round genious piece of mechanism ? What an yonder glorious luminary-which astroidiot I must have been not to have nomical fact you cannot gainsay-by the thought of this before! Who made it ? same hand.” No hand, mortal or immortal, was em- Apropos," exclaimed Reuben, ployed in its construction; it came to whose looks denoted that he did not gether by chance. Reuben, I thank you relish this logic, and that he wished to for your observations !"

change the topic, “I have often wonAt that moment I looked upon its dered why you hold the opinion, that wheels, and saw they had ceased their the world at large, or rather I should evolutions, and tapping it gently, “How say, Christendom maintains concerning is this?” I exclaimed, “there is some

the soul of man.” thing the matter with it; its wheels “And why should


wonder ?" stand still.”

said I, somewhat surprised at his exProbably it wants winding up ; or, pressing himself thus freely. perhaps the spring is broken," said “Because I know,” he replied, " that Reuben.

you are acquainted with the opinions of the “ I hope not the latter,” I replied; ancients on this subject, than which no“but, if it is, chance must repair it.' thing can be more unsatisfactory. You Examining the works, however, I found know that Socrates doubted of its exit had only run out its chain; and intent istence; and that Epictetus says, that upon convincing Reuben of his folly, I what is fire, in our composition, returns ejaculated this apostrophe : “Chance, to that element, what of earth to earth, thou madest this watch which I hold in what of air to air, and what of water to my hand ; and a very beautiful watch it water. You, know, also, that Cicero is, and a very good watch when in re- and Plato give to it the attributes of the pair. But you must know that, hitherto, Divine Being, and suppose it to have when there has been any thing the mat- been from all eternity uncreated and selfter with it, I have been unwise enough existent; and that some hold its postto send it to a mechanic to be repaired; existence as well as pre-existence, while and when it has wanted winding up, others believe it to be a quality; and the I have taken the key, at the end of my imperial Stoic maintained, that every chain, and wound it up with my own body would be lost and buried in the hands. Now, I do not intend to do this universal substance, and that every soul any more, for I find, from the reasoning would be absorbed and sunk in the uniI have just heard, that thou madest it, versal nature. What did the school of and thou must repair, and wind it up for Aristotle teach? That the soul, after the future. I pause to observe thy its separation from the body, will neihandiwork."

ther joy nor grieve, love nor hate, nor be Now, whether Chance was offended by subject to any passions of the like nature; this familiar apostrophe, or whether it neither will it remember, think, or unworks only when it pleases, this deponent ..derstand. What, then, did the school of





Zeno teach ? That the soul died with | firmation from my own senses. Reuthe body. And the school of Pythagoras ? ben, I feel that I have a soul. When I The transmigration of souls; a doctrine awake in the morning, and reflect upon which he no more believed, than did the visions of the night; the imaginary Ovid, who perpetuated it in his immor- flights I have taken, and the imaginary tal Metamorphoses. The fables of the transactions I have been engaged in, I mythologic poets, were contrived simply feel that it was the workings of a soul, to impress on their hearers a reverence stirring within., When I reason on any for their fabulous gods. But what boots subject, I feel that it is by the powers

of it to talk of the ancients? You know, a soul. When I converse, I feel that that the opinions of the wiser sort of my words are dictated by a soul. When moderns differ as much on this point as again, I lift up my arm, or advance a did they.

What do some physicians step”-I said, and suited the action to think of the soul ? That it is a com- the word, which made Reuben shrink, plexion. And musicians ? That it con- as though he feared the weight of the sists of harmonies. They differ also, staff I held in my hand— "I feel that it both ancients and moderns, as widely as is the motion of a soul. But I neither to its seat as they do with reference to depend upon inferences which I can its existence. Some place it in the draw from the writings of ancients or heart, others in the veins; some in the moderns, or upon the evidence of my brain, and others in the stomach ; some own senses in this matter. Revelation say it is all in all, and in every part; and teaches me, that I have a soul, and that others, that it is not contained, but all it is an immortal principle, which will contains. Now, amidst such conflicting exist for ever in weal or woe.” opinions, what are we to think of the “And so you really believe," exclaimed matter? Is it not our wisdom to con- Reuben, affecting a look of surprise, clude, that we have no soul at all?” " that man has a soul ! but if you do, it is

Just then a mole was seen peering its more than some can say, with truth, who head out of a molehill, which it had been are paid for teaching such a dogma.". upturning whilst Reuben was revelling “I drop a tear of pity over such chaamong these opinions concerning the racters,” replied I; " but, if men are so

and calling his attention to the ac. venal, as to promulgate what they do not tion of the little creature, I asked, “Do believe, merely for a provision in this you

know who this mole represents ?” life, does that affect the great question “I do not,” he replied.

before us ?” And seeing that Reuben “Then I can inform you," I rejoined. wanted to escape from the question of “It is the representative of man in a revelation, I brought him at once to the state of nature. As that creature gropes its point, by asking his opinion of its eviweary way through the dark bowels of dence. the earth, without one ray of blessed “ Rey-e-la-tion,” answered Reuben light, so blindly does man, left to him- reluctantly. "I can only say what self, pass through this world ; ever con- others have said before me, that we have jecturing, but knowing nothing for a no revelation. Are you so weak as to certainty. It is true, Reuben, I know think that, if there is a Being presiding what these great men have broached over the universe, that he would deign concerning the soul of man ; but when I to reveal his will to such a few collected read their pages, I always bear this in atoms as man?" mind, that I am reading the works of “Not," I replied, “if man were only those who wrote by the glimmering light atoms; but as he is in possession of a of that pitiful taper, intellect! These soul, worth, in the estimation of Heaven, men, therefore, are not my oracles on ten thousand worlds, I can believe that he the subject of the soul of man : and yet, has deigned to reveal his will to man, and if I were to draw an inference from I should aceount that day, the most evil their varied conjectures, by my own un- of all my days, when I could part with aided reason, I should come to a very this fundamental principle of my different conclusion from that which you

interrupted Reuben, appear to have arrived at. I should con- while an exulting smile played upon his clude that man had a soul; but the lips, “I have a thought. The immortal knowledge of what principle it is, the Byron has remarked, that the Old reach of mortal thought is too feeble to Testament, which you consider as part of attain. And this would derive a con- your revelation, makes no mention of a


soul ;




- And now,"

[ocr errors]

place of torment, which your saints are tion, continued : “Suppose we sele so fond of apportioning to those they are one, by way of trial, from the immor pleased to designate sinners.”

Shakspeare :” and I commenced Har “ Has the bard made such a remark?” let's Soliloquy on Death. I asked.

"To be, or not to be: that is the question “He has,” replied Reuben.

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer “ Then,” I continued, “I maintain

The stings and arrows of outrageous fortune ;

Or to take up arms against a sea of troubles, he knew but little of its contents. What And by opposing end them ? To die-to sleep did good old Israel mean, when in the No more : and by a sleep, to say, we end

The heart ache, and the thousand natural shock prospect of death, he exclaimed, 'I have

That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation waited for thy salvation, O Lord ?' Devoutly to be wished. To die-to sleepGen. xlix. 18. Would he have termed

To sleep!--perchance, to dream! ay, there's th

rub! an oblivious sleep salvation ? What, For in that sleep of death, what dreams may again, did the patriarch Job mean, when come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, he said, 'I know that my Redeemer

Must give us pause. There's the retrospectliveth, and that he shall stand at the That makes calamity of so long life, latter day upon the earth : and though

For who would bear the whips and scorn o' the


my skin worms destroy this body, The oppressor's wrong; the proud man's conyet in my flesh shall I see God: whom tumely ; I shall see for myself, and mine eyes

The pangs of despised love; the law's delay;

The insolence of office; and the spurns shall behold, and not another; though That patient merit of the unworthy takes, my reins be consumed within me,” Job

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin ? Who would fardles bear xix. 25-27. Does not this passage To groan and sweat under a weary life? prove the fallacy of the poet's assertion,

But that the dread of something after death

(That undiscovered country, from whose bourn and breathe a sweet hope of a hereafter ? No traveller returns) puzzles the will; And would you, rather than possess such

And makes us rather bear the ills we have,

Than fly to others that we know not of, a hope, persuade yourself that you are

Thus conscience does make cowardsupon an equality with the brutes that graze around us ? Think of how much

Now, whether the conscience of Reucomfort you deprive yourself; and re

ben was awakened out of its slumbers, flect, have you never had 'a bosom and was transforming him into a coward, friend, whom you would wish to meet

I cannot aver; but certain it is, that, again, if not in this, in some better dearly as he loved Shakspeare, before world ? I know you have. And would the recitation was concluded, he turned you not possess this hope? I know you

himself round, and walked hastily away. would. Reuben, the whole tenor of the

It is certain, also, that the conversaOld Testament proves that there is a

tion was lost upon him, for he trod the future state; and I would recommend

same wild round of atheism as before.

He was indeed the you to give it an attentive perusal, and after that, to read its faithful com- “Grey-beard corrupter of our listening youth ;" mentary, the New Testament. You and heads older than his own, looked will"

to him for his opinion of death and I was going on to say, that he would eternity. find the latter elucidate the former most But there is one remarkable fact, happily ; but Reuben looking fiercely which must not be omitted, and that is, upon me, exclaimed, “I have no time to that not one who had led a moral life, listen to your sermon, or to attend to sought comfort at his hands ; the profliyour advice. I thought, when I com- gate alone wished to be convinced that menced a conversation with you, that I there was no hereafter: a fact which conshould find you a rational being, and that firms the poet's supposition, " that guilt you would have met me on my own classic is the parent of atheism." With such ground, and have quoted rational authors, characters as these Reuben would lounge such as you know I love, in defence of over the ale-bench for hours together, your opinions, that man has a soul; but carousing and holding up death as a buginstead of that, I find you are a supporter bear to frighten old women an

childof priestcraft.

ren, but at whom wise men, like them"Reuben," I replied, "if a passage selves, laugh. Thus it was that they from any profane author would put you boasted over their cups ; but when death into a good humour again, I would came, many of them, it is said, trembled, quote it with pleasure.' And putting and wished to avoid his grasp, a "little myself into a proper attitude for recita- / space," that they might repent. Reuben

[ocr errors]

was, however, true to his principle to the beast that perishes, and possessed a
last, and he exhibited it to our village, never-dying soul, he now exists in weal
by keeping our good old rector from his or woe.

Reader, we do not presume to assign And now the “atoms” of which he the eternal destiny of Reuben Flint; was composed have blended with the that belongs to the prerogative of his common dust. His existence in this Maker alone : but we shed the tear of world has ceased, and if his notions were pity over his memory, and hold him out correct, he has proved his affinity to the to you a beacon, that you may brute creation ; but if they were not, avoid the dangerous and fatal shoals if he was of a superior order to the l of infidelity. THE RECORDER.


[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]



derived from thetch,

an ark,” like No, No-Ammon, Diospolis, or Thebes, Noah's, the memory of which would was the most ancient capital and re- naturally be preserved by the first setnowned city of Egypt. It was most tlers after the deluge in all parts of the probably built by the first settlers, earth. Bruce, indeed, observes, that Mizraim and his family; whence Egypt “the figure of the temples in Thebes is generally styled, 6. The land of Miz- do not seem to be far removed from raim,” in the original Scriptures, though the idea given us of the ark.” usually rendered, “ The land of Egypt." In s.c. 87, Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, The origin of the city is certainly lost sought to murder her son Alexander; in the remote infancy of human settle- who, discovering the design, caused her ments and institutions. The Egyptian to be put to death, when the people rename of the city was No, Ezek. xxx. volted, and placed Lathyrus, his elder 14; to which was added Amon, or brother, on the throne. In the course Amoun, which, according to Herodotus, of the war, Thebes was taken and dewas a title of Jove among the Egyptians. molished by the conqueror, _B.c. 82, This would suggest that the city denoted after a siege of three years. From that was the chief seat of the worship of Ju- time, this extensive city, once more piter Ammon. And such was No; for than twenty miles in circumference, went the Septuagint renders Ezek. xxx. 15, to decay. But so massive and substantial by Diospolis, “the city of Jove," on were the structures, that the ruins now, account of its devotion to the worship after two thousand years of dilapidation of Jupiter. The Grecian name of the and neglect, fill the beholder with surcity was Thebes, which was probably 1 prise, and have preserved most inter


« PreviousContinue »