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through the luxuriant thicket, and admits the enraptured gaze to an interminable prospect into the distant regions of the glorious and eternal world which lies beyond the Jordan of death. In truth, "the Christian Life" is not a book, like other books, to be read through consecutively; it is, in the true spirit of its title, a manual of sweet and holy thoughts, to be resorted to from time to time, on divers occasions, and in various moods. Whenever the soul is stirred up and disposed to meditation,-whether by scenes and events from without, or by its spontaneous emotions, the ebbs and tides, the ripples and crested waves, of the inner ocean of spiritual life,—the sacred lyre of "The Christian Life will be found attuned to some melody or other accordant with the soul's vibrations.
As the author himself has lived,-in the world as one that is not of it, as he has rejoiced and suffered,-as he has felt and meditated, as he has wept in weakness, or exulted in strength, -as his eye has wandered over the world, surveying now the busy haunts of men, and now nature's peaceful solitudes,-as pity or indignation, sympathy or abhorrence, sweet delight or bitter sorrow, musing wonder or rapturous admiration, have caused his own bosom to heave, he has embodied his thoughts and sensations in such language as his poetic genius supplied him; and every thoughtful and sensitive Christian mind will therefore find its own life re-echoed, as it were, in the sweetly pleasing numbers of Mr. Montgomery's verse.
Not the least brilliant among these are the meditations on the beauties of nature, for which it is evident that our poet has an open eye. Of all that is charming or majestic in outward scenery, he sings with an enthusiasm fully equal to that of an artistic idolater of nature,-with this only difference, that his eye, open not only to the world of matter, but to the spirit-world by which the former is encompassed on all sides, beholds every where the beauty of the Divine work, and the glory of the Divine presence. himself expresses it :—
"What men call Nature, is a Thought divine,
"Th' unwritten Bible of the woods and fields
That walks creation, feeling Christ is there.
"Nothing is mean, by Power Celestial made,
And nought is worthless, by His wisdom plann'd,
"Oh, could we hail the element divine
That circles round whatever lives or moves,
"One vast cathedral, with its roof of sky,
The earth becomes to reverential souls,
When, deepen'd by such felt divinity,
Our heart-breath'd hymn of ceaseless worship rolls."
It is with such feelings as these, ingrained, so to speak, in his mental constitution, that Mr. Montgomery looks out upon the deep blue waters, and watches the billows rolling in and breaking at his feet; with such feelings that he salutes the Ocean:
Eternity of waters! there Thou art,
Dear to the eye, and glorious to the heart!
Bounding in brightness as they plunge on shore,
"Alone in grandeur, ever-living Sea!
When thy deep thunders with a dying fall
Equally spirited is the language in which he records the impression produced upon his mind by the sight of the Alps :
"All glory to the ancient hills! that to the godless preach Sermons of more stupendous power, than erring man can reach ; Dumb orators to sense they look, but how divinely grand The deep significance they bear to hearts that understand! "The stillness of their frozen trance is more than thunder's tone,Resembling that celestial hush that deepen'd round the Throne When silence through the heaven of heavens for half an hour there reign'd,
And Seraphim before their God eternity sustain'd!
"It is not that the clouds array with myriad-tinted hues
In beautiful contrast with the majestic grandeur of the thoughts excited by the lofty spectacle of the snow-girt mountains, and their ice-bound pinnacles, is the holy melancholy which pervades the following apostrophe to the flowers of the earth:
"Orphans of Eden, their parental soil
Has long been wither'd, and by weeds o'errun;
"But these, like babes whose mothers we deplore,
And waken memories that well may weep!"
The sensations which the works of nature thus excite in the mind of the matured Christian, are admirably traced back to the wonder of the child, when for the first time the beauties of creation burst upon his feeble senses, and give the first impulse to his halfunconscious inner life :
"Oh! for the reverential eye
To Childhood which pertains,
To whom a rainbow like a rapture glows,
Gives a new zest to each new hour
"It smiles on that, and speaks to this,
A child exulted in the bliss
Of all that charms its view;
Personified the whole Creation seems
Into a heart that mirrors back its dreams!'
On the other hand, how strikingly, in a few lines, is the contrast pointed out between all outward nature, and man, in the closing stanzas of the poem entitled "Life is a fading Leaf:"
"Creation finds an everlasting grave;
Where fall the dead leaves, they for ever lie,
"But, man shall triumph o'er an endless tomb,
In heaven immortal, or in hell, the same!"
But we must not linger on the outside, if we may so term it, of "The Christian life." There are deeper mysteries explored by our bard than those which the visible creation spreads out before the eye; he sweeps his harp in accents more significant, and more penetrating than the mere echoes of an inner life rendered back to the soul from the world without. The life of which God is at once the centre and the source, which wells up from within, and is quickened and sanctified from above, calls forth yet sweeter and mightier strains. The longing of the soul for that Divine life, that want of our nature which in its lowest condition declares itself as an unquenchable thirst for unknown happiness, and in its highest state of cultivation can be satisfied by nothing else but God, is expressed in language akin to that of the royal minstrel of Israel:
"As pants the hart for living brooks,
So pines my soul for Thee;
"Thrice Holy One! athirst I am
""Tis here, a bleak and barren land
The inner peace and purity of soul which is at once the fruit of a life sanctified by a sense of the Divine presence, and the condition of the free and full enjoyment of that presence, is exquisitely illustrated by the following image
VOL. XI.-NO. XXII.-JUNE, 1849.
To the process of inward suffering, of secret mortification of soul, through which the heart of man must pass before the storm of its sinful passions is succeeded by the great calm of the peace of God, the author of these poems is no stranger. Many of the most touching and deeply devotional pieces in the collection, have their origin in the chastening sorrows which constitute the discipline of the Christian life. Among the poems of this class we note particularly the one entitled, "Hearts which have no Echoes," which contains passages of great beauty. A few detached stanzas is all we can make room for :
"Some hearts lie wither'd in their transient spring
"Cinctured as by a preternat'ral spell,
Languid their pulse of low dejection beats;
"And thus, there is a loneliness of heart,
In all deep souls a never-enter'd shrine,
No word has fathom'd, and no wisdom can.
"No, rather let such merciful disguise
Move the just thinker into grateful prayer;