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that we shall never pass; if this were the only reason, should it not be enough? Nay, the sin of thus trifling with him and our own immortal souls, by deferring their consideration to a future opportunity, may be the very means of provoking him to withhold that opportunity for ever.
But there is another reason for remembering our Creator in the days of our_youth. The days of our youth are the days of our blessings. It would be hard to find, throughout the whole range of creation, a more glorious and interesting object than youth just entering into active life, just rejoicing as a giant to run his course. Set him alongside of the noblest animal of any other species; compare him with the old and decaying members of his ownand what a difference! In those days we enter into life with a shower of God's blessings upon our heads; we come adorned with all the choicest gifts of the Almighty; with strength of body, with activity of limb, with health and vigor of constitution, with everything to fit us both for labor and for enjoyment; if not endowed with a sufficiency, endowed with what is better, the power of obtaining it for ourselves by an honest and manly industry; with senses keen and observing; with spirits high, lively, and untameable, that shake off care and sorrow whenever they attempt to fasten upon our mind, and that enable us to make pleasure for ourselves, where we do not find it, and to draw enjoyment and gratification from things in which they see nothing but pain, vexation, and disappointment.
But, above all, in the days of our youth, the mind and the memory, with which we have been endowed by the Almighty, are then all fresh, alive, and vigorous. Alas! we seldom think what an astonishing gift is that understanding which we enjoy—the bright light that God has kindled within us—until our old age comes, when we find that that understanding is wearing away, and that light becoming dim. Then shall we feel bitterly, most bitterly, what it is to have enjoyed, in the days of our youth, that privilege which seems to be withheld from all the animals by whom we are surrounded—even the privilege of knowing that there is a God; the privilege even of barely thinking upon such a Being; but more than that, the privilege of studying and understanding the astonishing variety of his works, of observing the ways of his providence, of admiring his power, his wisdom, and his goodness; the power of acquiring knowledge of a thousand different kinds, and the power of laying it up in our memory, and using it when we please; and this in the days of our youth, when the mind is all on fire, brisk, clear, and powerful, and when we actually seem to take knowledge by force, and when the memory is large and spacious, so as to admit and contain the good things that we learn; and where the place that should be filled by knowledge has not yet been preoccupied by crimes, by sorrows, and anxieties.
THE WORLDLING'S AND THE CHRISTIAN'S YOKE.
There is the yoke of pride; and who has not felt its weight? There is scarcely a day of our lives in which our pride is not hurt. Sometimes we meet with direct affront; at other times, we do not think we are treated with the respect we deserve; at other times, we find that people do not entertain the opinion of us which we would wish them to hold; but, above all, how often do we find ourselves lowered in our own opinion ! and then the yoke of pride becomes more uneasy by our endeavors to regain our own good opinion, and to hide the real state of the case from our conscience.
But the Christian's yoke is humility; its very nature depends upon humility : for no one has submitted to the service of Christ, or become his disciple, until fully sensible of his own unworthiness, and, consequently, of his want of the merits of a Redeemer. Thus has the Christian become acquainted with the plague of his own heart—his sin has been often before him; and, however deeply he may lament its guilt, he has lost that blind and haughty selfsufficiency that makes him uneasy at the neglect of others, or afraid to stand the scrutiny of self-examination.
There is the yoke of debauchery and sensuality—that galling yoke which even those who wear it cannot bear to think upon ; and, therefore, they still continue to plunge into drunkenness and profligacy, lest they should have time to think on their lost and disgraceful situation. Those miserable men, when the carousal and the debauch are over, then begin to feel the weight and the wretchedness of the yoke that they are bearing. They then feel what it is to load their bodies with pain and disease, and their everlasting souls with every foul and sinful thought; to have brutalized their nature, or to have sunk it by intoxication, into a state of which brutes seem incapable; and they then feel the weight of their yoke, when this indulgence has put them into such a state of madness and insensibility that they may commit a crime which will be the yoke and the burden of their consciences for the rest of their lives. Is it necessary to compare the Christian yoke with this? We will not disgrace it by naming it in the same breath.
Then there is the yoke of covetousness: and who does not know
all the cares, all the watchings, all the restless days and sleepless nights-and, after all, the endless disappointments—that the most prosperous and successful will have to encounter through life? And then the fearful anticipation of that day, when a man shall find that all these things are as if they had never been !
But the grand difference between the Christian and the man of the world is that the burden of the one is gathering as he proceeds, while that of the other is becoming lighter and more easy : the man of carnal mind and worldly affections clings more and more to his beloved earth, and new cares thicken around his deathbed; his burden is collecting as he advances, and when he comes to the edge of the grave it bears him down to the bottom like a millstone. But the Blessed Spirit, by gradually elevating the Christian's tempers and desires, makes obedience become more easy and delightful, until he mounts into the presence of God, where he finds it «
a service of perfect freedom.”
BLINDNESS OF MILTON.
There lived a divine old man, whose everlasting remains we have all admired, whose memory is the pride of England and of nature. His youth was distinguished by a happier lot than perhaps genius has often enjoyed at the commencement of its career; he was enabled, by the liberality of Providence, to dedicate his soul to the cultivation of those classical accomplishments in which almost his infancy delighted; he had attracted admiration at the period when it is most exquisitely felt; he stood forth the literary and political champion of republican England; and Europe acknowledged him the conqueror. But the storm arose; his fortune sank with the republic which he had defended; the name which future ages have consecrated was forgotten ; and neglect was imbittered by remembered celebrity. Age was advancing. Health was retreating. Nature hid her face from him forever; for never more to him returned
“ Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine." What was the refuge of the deserted veteran from penuryfrom neglect—from infamy-from darkness ? Not in a querulous and peevish despondency; not in an unmanly recantation of principles, erroneous, but unchanged; not in the tremendous renunciation of what Heaven has given, and Heaven alone should take
away; but he turned from a distracted country and a voluptuous court; he turned from triumphant enemies and inefficient friends; he turned from a world, that to him was a universal blank, to the muse that sits among the cherubim, and she caught him into heaven! The clouds that obscured his vision upon earth instantaneously vanished before the blaze of celestial effulgence, and his eyes opened at once upon all the glories and terrors of the Almighty, the seats of eternal beatitude and bottomless perdition. What though to look upon the face of this earth was still denied ? what was it to him that one of the outcast atoms of creation was concealed from his view, when the Deity permitted the muse to unlock his mysteries, and disclose to the poet the recesses of the universe-when she bade his soul expand into its immensity, and enjoy as well its horrors as its magnificence ? what was it to him that he had “fallen upon evil days and evil tongues ?” for the muse could transplant his spirit into the bowers of Eden, where the frown of fortune was disregarded, and the weight of incumbent infirmity forgotten, in the smile that beamed on primeval innocence, and the tear that was consecrated to man's first disobedience!
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD, 1766–1823.
Robert BLOOMFIELD, the author of “The Farmer's Boy," was the son of a tailor at Harrington, in Suffolk, and was born on the 3d of December, 1766. At the early age of eleven, he was literally the Farmer's Boy of his own poem, being placed with a Mr. Austin, a farmer, at Sapiston, in Suffolk. In this situation, which he has so accurately described, and where he first imbibed his enthusiastic attachment to the charms of nature, he con. tinued for two years and a half, when he was apprenticed to his brother George, a shoemaker, in London. His principal occupation was to wait upon the journeymen, and in his intervals of leisure he read the newspaper, and was soon able to comprehend and admire the speeches of Burke, Fox, and other statesmen of the day. A perusal of some poetry in the “London Magazine” led to his earliest attempts at verse, which he sent to a news. paper, under the title of “The Milkmaid," and “The Sailor's Return."
In 1784, to avoid the consequences of some unpleasant disputes among his brethren of the trade, he retired for two months to the country, and was received by his former master, Mr. Austin, with the kindest hospitality. It is to this event we owe the composition of his admirable poem; "and here," observes his brother, “with his mind glowing with the fine descrip
tions of rural scenery which he found in ‘Thomson's Seasons,' he again retraced the very fields where he began to think. Here, free from the smoke, the noise, the contention of the city, he imbibed that love of rural simplicity, and rural innocence, which fitted him, in a great degree, to be the writer of such a thing as 'The Farmer's Boy.''
After this visit to his native fields, he recommenced his business as a ladies' shoemaker in London, and shortly after married a young woman by the name of Church. He then hired a room in Bell Alley, Coleman Street, and worked in the garret of the house. It was here, in the midst of six or seven other workmen, he composed the main part of his celebrated poem. Two or three publishers to whom he first offered it, learning his occupation and seeing him so poorly clad, refused it with almost contempt. But at length it reached the hands of Capel Lofft, Esq.,' who sent it with the strongest recommendations to Mr. Hill, the proprietor of the “Monthly Mirror," who negotiated the sale of the poem with the publishers, Verner and Hood. These gentlemen acted with great liberality towards Bloomfield, to their honor be it said, by voluntarily giving him two hundred pounds in addition to the fifty pounds originally stipulated for his poem, and by securing to him a portion of the copyright. Immediately on its appear. ance, it was received with the greatest applause from all quarters, the most eminent critics coming out warmly in its praise; and within three years after its publication twenty-six thousand copies of it were sold.
His good fortune, which, he said, appeared to him as a dream, enabled him to remove to a more comfortable habitation, and though he continued working at his trade, he did not neglect the cultivation of his poetical talents. His fame was increased by the subsequent publication of “Rural Tales, Ballads and Songs,"
,” “Good Tidings, or News from the Farm,” “Wild Flowers," and "Banks of the Wye." But an indiscriminate liberality towards his numerous poor relations, together with a growing family, brought him into pecuniary difficulties, which, added to long.continued ill health, so preyed upon his mind that he was reduced at last to a state little short of insanity. He died at Shefford, August 19, 1823, at the age of fifty-seven.3
The best poems of Bloomfield are “ The Farmer's Boy," "Wild Flowers," with several of the “Ballads and Tales.” It is enough to say in praise of them that they have received the warmest commendations of
• Editor of the "Aphorisms from Shakspeare," and other works.
· The approbation first bestowed has steadily continued, notwithstanding the contemptuous derision of Byron in his " English Bards." But Bloomfield is in good company, and malignant sneers at Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, and Bloomfield are more sure to injure the lampooner than the lampooned. • I must here insert the beautiful tribute to his memory by Bernard Barton :
It is not quaint and local terms
Besprinkled o'er thy rustic lay,
Its power unlettered minds to sway;
Thy sweetest charms, tby gentlest thrall--