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distressing in that day; in ours, so irradiated with light that we can scarcely put | ourselves in the position of the afflicted one who asks them. We know, but, alas! we too generally make little use of our knowledge, that one may plead with God even as a man pleadeth with his neighbor, that he invites us even thus to plead, to come boldly to his throne of grace. We know who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean, and the question, If a man die, shall he live again? has been gloriously answered by Him who hath brought life and immortality to light.
In the midst of these utterances of grief and sadness, bordering at times upon the very blackness of despair, there are occasional glimmerings of a better spirit, showing us a mind shattered, but not wrecked by the fury of the storm. He is in deep water, the billows are threatening to engulf him, but even now I hear from his lips language that has been uttered from the heart of many a tempest-tossed pilgrim -cast down, but not destroyed, perplexed, but not in despair. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him, and all the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come. Till his change comes! Where did Job get that word? He spake but now of death as of an endless sleep, he seemed to doubt if man shall live again, and now he speaks the language of Christ's own blessed gospel as uttered by the very chief of the apostles in the meridian light of the Spirit's illumination—the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed. Till my change come!
A little while after he gives utterance to a sentiment that has thrilled the souls of myriads who lived and died ere the fullness of time had come, that has been a talisman to the afflicted believer in every age, his watchword in the darkest hour. Job introduces it with great solemnity. O, says he, O that my words were now written! O that they were printed in a book, that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever. And what is the sentiment he would have thus perpetuated? Ye have heard it a thousand times I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.
I am not ignorant of the attempts that have been made to destroy the force and the spirituality of this language, to refer it all to Job's bodily afflictions and to an expectation of worldly prosperity. But this is trifling with the sacred record. In this case, as in many similar ones, the plain meaning of the words, the interpretation that would be put upon them by a simple-hearted, unlearned reader, is doubtless the true one. And Job's request was granted. His words have been written in a book. Aye, they have been graven with an iron pen upon the everlasting rock. Resting upon the simple assurance, I know that my Redeemer liveth, the shouts of victory have risen above the groans of agony called forth by the rack, the gibbet, and the funeral pile.
But how was it, that even after this glorious declaration Job seems still to be in heaviness-to be disposed to murmur and complain. I answer, even yet he has a lesson to learn. That lesson was the necessity of utter and entire dependence, notwithstanding all that he had done or could do, upon the infinite merits of that Redeemer whose existence was now revealed to him. Job had been upright in his dealings; he prided himself upon his integrity. He had been charitable to the poor; he gloried in his benevolence. He had endeavored to obey the commandments of God; he wrapped himself in selfrighteousness. Appealing to his Maker, he had ventured to say, Thou knowest that I am not wicked. Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. O! he exclaims, that one would hear me; behold, my desire is that the Almighty would answer me. Even yet he hopes to merit something at the hand of God; to throw into the scale his good works, and though he knew that his Redeemer lives, he seems not yet to know that he only appropriates to himself the merits of that Redeemer who casts away at once and forever every other hope, who gives up
Every plea beside, Lord, I have sinn'd, but thou hast died." Then God answered Job out of a whirlwind and said: Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man, and answer thou me. God is then represented, in a speech of surpassing majesty, as convincing Job of his ignorance and weakness. He reminds
him also of his omnipotent power, of his glory as seen in the creation, and asks, Who hath prevented me that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine, that is, Who hath laid me, or can lay me, under any obligation? Do I need my creatures? How hast thou profited the infinite and all-sufficient God by aught that thou hast done. Now comes the hour of Job's triumph. He listens, appalled, abashed, overwhelmed. I have heard of thee, he exclaims, by the hearing of the sea, but now mine eye seeth thee, that is, I had some faint conceptions of thy character, of thy majesty and power, but now the eye of my mind clearly perceives thee, and the same light that reveals the purity and all-sufficiency of thy nature discloses to me mine own vileness and utter helplessness. Wherefore, he continues, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. But why should Job repent? and why this loathing and self-abhorrence? In the presence of a God of infinite purity and of unsullied holiness, a God who cannot look on sin, who chargeth his angels with folly, in whose sight the heavens are not clean, the dust is the only fitting place even for him who has aimed to keep God's perfect law and to walk uprightly before him. He that has any other feelings, that depends for a moment upon anything he has done or can do, knows little of himself, and little of his God. The perfect and upright Job exclaims, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. And this, I say, is the hour of Job's triumph. The days of his mourning are ended; the clouds are scattered; his captivity is turned, and the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning.
Two or three general remarks will close the subject. And first, God's dealings with the children of men are frequently unfathomably mysterious. They were so to Job, still more so to his friends, and to all who, in his own day, were made acquainted with his history. Even to us, who are permitted to look down upon the man of Uz from the eminence on which we dwell, to read his history by the light of successive revelations, there is much that is dark and unfathomable. That the enemy should be allowed so severely to harass and afflict so good a man; that he should be left so long to grope in darkness; these things, and others
that might be mentioned, are full of mystery. Equally clear is the lesson taught by Job's history, that God's ways, though mysterious, are right. Purposes of his infinite wisdom were subserved by the afflictions of his servant. Job himself was taught more of God and more of himself than he could have learned in any other way. The knowledge he obtained, though purchased in the furnace of affliction, was cheaply purchased-was worth more than it cost.
So he reckoned, when he came forth like gold—when his afflictions were ended, and the remembrance thereof was like a dream when one awaketh. Rejoicing in the clear light of a noon-day sun, what matters it that at early dawn it was enveloped in clouds! Or, the haven gained, the port entered, does not even the remembrance of the raging wind and the roaring sea enhance the happiness of home, and call for louder pæans of exulting gratitude? But not for himself alone did Job live, and suffer, and triumph. To his cotemporaries in that early age, and to succeeding generations, as they read or heard his story, were revealed by it great and fundamental truths, of which, as we have seen, the wisest were previously profoundly ignorant. Job's history taught them that prosperity in this life is no certain evidence of the favor of God; that adversity and affliction here are no sign of his disapprobation. It showed them that man in his highest and holiest efforts merits nothing at the hand of God, and that all he is or hopes to be is by His sovereign grace. It afforded a practical demonstration of the evangelical truth that in this world God's children may expect tribulation, and taught them that the tempter's power is bounded by limits assigned by infinite wisdom and infinite love. It threw light, too, compared with what we have, indeed, mere twilight, but a sure precursor of the dawn and the noon-day, upon the grand central truth of all revelation, there is a days-man between worms of earth and the King of glory. And, finally, it taught them-and if it teach us, not in vain did Job suffer, nor in vain have we perused this outline of his history—that man's place is in the dust before God; that after all that we have done our only hope of deliverance and salvation is in utter self-abhorrence, in repentance as in dust and ashes.
LOVERS OF NATURE.
NE evening last summer, happening
ing held in a meadow at some short distance from town, my attention was forcibly arrested by a wild-looking character who stood on the outer circle of the audience, and who was listening with much attention to what was going forward. A more perfect picture of destitution than this individual presented could not be readily imagined. He was a young man, apparently about twenty years of age. Though his sallow face was haggard and hungerworn, there was an expression of intelligence in his large dark lustrous eyes, which strangely contrasted with his mendicant attire. He wore a very dingy and tattered round canvas frock, through the rents of which appeared his olive-colored skin; a pair of ragged trowsers, which hung in shreds about his legs, and a dilapidated hat, somewhat fancifully garnished with oak-leaves. Shoes and stockings he had none. At his back, attached to a leathern strap, hung a basket amply filled with a variety of herbs; and a long staff on which he rested with both hands, added much to his picturesque and striking aspect.
I had stood near him for some minutes, watching and much pleased by his evident appreciation of the eloquent address which was being delivered, before I became aware that he had a companion no less worthy of observation than himself. This was a large and beautifully spotted snake, which was coiled round his left arm, and which, | darting forth its forked and agile tongue, as it moved its head restlessly to and fro, appeared as if soliciting the sympathy of the spectator on behalf of his patron. It was perfectly harmless, having no fangs; and, saving a little boy, who clung to his father's side, while his countenance was puckered up into an expression of unmitigated terror, no one present seemed to be apprehensive of its manifesting any feeling of hostility.
As soon as the meeting had broken up, I spoke to the "snake charmer," as some people called him, and made inquiries as to the habits of the reptile to which he seemed so fondly attached. He told me that he had had it for some months, and that it was quite "domesticated;" that it was of no pecuniary value, being merely a common wood-snake. He fed it on
milk, of which it was very fond; and when I asked him where he got the milk from, he told me that he went round to farm
might easily get it by dishonest meaus if he chose, as there were plenty of cows in the meadows through which he passed in his country rambles, from whom he could obtain it without fear of discovery, yet he assured me, with an artless earnestness which forbade my doubting his sincerity, that he had never stolen anything in his life, and that sometimes, in the winter months, not a morsel of food passed his lips for two days together.
With respect to himself, he gave me the following curious particulars; but there was evidently a love of the marvelous in his manner, which prevented me from attaching entire credence to every word he uttered. At the same time, there was nothing in his statements which were inconsistent with his extraordinary habits and mode of life. He observed that he had never known either father or mother. The first thing he could remember was being carried about by an old man in a forest; but where that forest was situate, he had no idea whatever. The old man used to gather mushrooms, which he sold to the salesmen in the different markets. In dry weather he and the old man always slept in the forest; but when it happened to be wet they removed to some brickfields, where they were allowed by the brick-makers to build themselves a kind of shelter with the straw mats used to cover the bricks when it rained. One night, on waking up, he found the old man was gone, and, looking about, discovered him lying dead on the rows of burning bricks, where he had apparently laid himself down for greater warmth, and fell into a slumber from which he never awoke. After the old man's death, he continued his employment of gathering mushrooms and plants of various kinds for the herbalists, and was getting a "decent" subsistence, when he was taken up for robbery, under somewhat peculiar circumstances.
A poor washerwoman, it appears, who was taking home a basket of clothes in a hand-barrow, was attacked by a party of ruffians, who ran off with the basket, having first seated and bound the poor woman in the barrow from which her property had been abstracted. One of the articles so stolen was dropped on the road, and he
(the snake-charmer) happening to pick it up, was suddenly seized by a constable, and the evidence of his guilt being considered conclusive, he was tried and sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labor. This, the poor fellow said, with tears in his eyes, was the severest trial he ever had in his life. He had no friends to speak to his character; he was known to be an outcast, and was pronounced, almost as a matter of course, a thief. One advantage, however, which he derived from his confinement was, that he learned to read-a practice in which he took much pleasure, as a wellthumbed Testament and some tracts which he carried about with him, and which had been given him on his discharge from prison, satisfactorily testified.
invariably died within a short time afterward.
When I remonstrated with the snakecharmer on his wandering mode of life, and advised him to quit it for some more settled calling, he shook his head, and remarked that he had been in prison once, and that he never wished to lose his liberty again. I saw it was futile to argue longer with a mind so singularly constituted, and so I left him, having first given him a few tracts, for which he thanked me in terms of becoming civility.
Somewhat similar in point of genius, though widely different in all other respects, is the worthy man, who for a long period has been the chosen hair-dresser of myself and family. He has one of the finest aviaries of any person in his line of business that I am acquainted with. His shop is fitted up with cages containing a choice collection of canaries, linnets, bullfinches, starlings, and other vocal performers of that kind. These are the joy of his life. They wake him in the morning with their cheerful harmony; they solace him as he weaves intricate fronts or curls, and rebellious wigs; and they afford him inexhaustible matter for conversation with his inquisitive customers.
No small portion of the poor outcast's knowledge, however, had been obtained by his attending camp - meetings, and listening to the itinerant lecturers whom he had met with in traveling from one place to another. This singular being had notions as strange as himself of natural phenomena; but there was a poetic coloring about his views, which distinguished them from the chimeras of a weak or vulgar intellect. He believed, he said, that the stars were inhabited, and he had sometimes laid awake all night in the forest watching them; and when he saw one fallening of his nerves, which have always
from the sky, he fancied he could hear a sound like the distant wail of despair upon the wind, as if it were the empire of some lost spirit which had been conquered by a mightier power, and cast into darkness for evermore.
Though his pronunciation was bad, his diction was much superior to what might have been expected from one who had enjoyed such limited opportunities for book study. There was also an innocent pleasantry about him, which deepened the sympathy which his squalid habiliments alone were calculated to inspire. A person standing by asked him if he had ever caught a weasel, at which he smiled, and answered in the negative, assigning as a reason that they could only be caught asleep, and adding quaintly, that they always rose earlier than he did. His acqaintance with the habits of insects generally was very minute and instructive. He told me that he had been stung repeatedly by wasps, but that the wasp, when it had left its sting in the wound,
Last summer I met him down at Newport, whither he had gone for the strength
been somewhat infirm, for he is a most amiable and soft-hearted creature, and would not, I really believe, inadvertently brush down a cobweb without an apology and a pang of remorse. On asking him how he liked that fashionable wateringplace, he shook his head and smiled faintly. He had been there only two days, and said that he missed the society of his birds; he could not sleep at night for fear of anything happening to them, or his apprentice forgetting to feed them during his absence. And then, when he awoke of a morning, instead of the house ringing with the carols of his little pets, there was nothing to be heard but the sullen surging of the sea; and if he looked out of his window, he only saw an expanse of ocean with a solitary sea-gull floating on it, or vast pieces of pasture land without a shrub large enough for the support of a titlark.
"Yet birds, sir," said he in reply to my comments on his favorite pursuit; "birds delight me because they seem so happy;
so comparatively exempt from sorrow and pain. All animals which tread upon the earth partake more or less of the misery which is inseparable from it; but the lark, which rises above us, seems also to rise above the infirmities which are the inheritance of our fallen nature."
"Yet birds mope," I replied; "a captive even in a golden cage pines for the freedom of its native woods."
"That is true," said the hair-dresser; "but then you see, sir, he suffers from the unkindness of those who deprive him of his freedom. In his natural state, I fancy the life of a song-bird is one of joy-pure joy."
"If those are your sentiments, my friend, I am surprised that you don't emancipate all your slaves at once."
"Well, sir," returned he, with a contracted brow and a sigh, "I have often thought it was cruel in me to keep them confined, but I couldn't part with them now; and, another thing, if they were to be turned loose in the world, every one of them, poor creatures! would be killed by their brethren, who don't know what civilization is."
"That is hardly consistent with the 'pure joy' which you fancy belongs to the feathered tribe in their wild state-❘ eh ?"
My worthy barber looked rather puzzled for a moment; but presently a smile lighted up his pallid countenance, and announced that the solution of the mystery was near at hand.
"It does at first sight," he observed, "appear rather at variance with their gentle natures, and yet, I have no doubt it is a merciful provision, if we only knew all a bird that has been once thoroughly domesticated would never again be able to bear the hardships which those endure with ease who have always lived in forests; it would perish, as you or I would do, sir, if we were turned out of our comfortable dwellings, and were clothed and fed as scantily as the earliest inhabitants of this country were; so it may be a humane feeling which prompts wild birds to kill those who have been caged, and who would inevitably die a lingering and painful death if left to provide shelter and food for themselves."
My worthy friend has in his collection one or two birds of remarkable talent. There is a goldfinch who will at the word
of command stand on the right leg, then on the left, then tuck his head under his wing as if playing at bo-peep, and then lay on the table as if completely exhausted or even dead. Another, a linnet, draws water from a well in a thimble, in a most workmanlike manner. Then there is a magpie, who, when at home, resides in a wicker cage, but who is much more frequently found hopping about the door-way and chattering for the amusement of little boys, without either rhyme or reason.
My friend, in addition to cutting hair and making bird-cages, is a kind of Hullah among his feathered songsters; he teaches them their notes, and gives to a canary the vocal accomplishments of a nightingale, by which its value is greatly enhanced. He has also written a little work on song-birds, and is often consulted by his lady customers, when their favorites are laboring under any temporary indisposition. He told me that he was called up one cold night in December to go and see the pet parrot of an old lady, supposed to be suffering from some mortal ailment, which had caused its kind owner much anxiety and alarm; and although he could do nothing but assure her that there was no ground for any serious apprehension, the old lady made him accept a fee for his professional attendance and opinion.
What he most dreads is a thunderstorm. I was in his shop one day, and was much surprised at the concern which he exhibited lest any of his birds should suffer from fear of the lightning. The operation of hair-cutting was entirely suspended; pocket-handkerchiefs were carefully put over the cages; and I really believe, if the storm had lasted much longer, that he would have put up his shutters and discontinued business for the day.
It is said, "one touch of nature makes the whole world kin." In like manner, all lovers of nature, however high in social position, will recognize in the characters which I have described, that congeniality of taste and feeling, by virtue of which, however humble they may be, they are made worthy to associate with the most distinguished naturalists of their class. Such powers of appreciating the works of the great and good Creator as are thus often detected in persons occupying the humblest stations in society, should teach us never to despise those who seem to be beneath us.