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The art of computing time by means of mechanical contrivances, of various kinds, is of great antiquity.
The importance of such a process is evidently implied in the construction of the universe itself—the most exact and majestic chronometer of which it is possible to form any conception. The sun, moon, and stars, were from the creation intended not merely as lights to divide the day from the night, but "for signs and for seasons, and for days and years." The diurnal and annual movements of the earth, the apparent revolution of the stars, the precession of the equinoxes, and other phenomena of the heavenly bodies, furnish us with ample means for measuring and correcting time.
At a very early period some of these natural means of chronometry were duly appreciated, and practically made use of. According to Herodotus, who wrote about 2,300 years ago, the Babylonians and Egyptians understood "the pole, the gnomon, and the division of the day." The temples of India, and some of their astronomical structures shew that, in some respects, the same knowledge had extended at least as far eastward as Benares. The Chinese we believe to be mere pretenders in this matter.
One of the most ancient kinds of time-piece, properly so called, was the Clepsydra, or water-clock, an apparatus for measuring the hours by the lapse of water from a graduated vessel, such as that represented in the centre figure of our engraving. We have no sufficiently accurate description of any of these ancient contrivances, to enable us to decide upon their correctness; and our present example, though copied from a work of great research and value, appears to be rather an idea than a fac-similo of any actual specimen. A highly ornamented instrument of the same kind, though belonging only to the seventeenth century, is shewn on the left side of our plate.
Long after the invention of clocks and watches, the hourglass, though but a modification of the clumsy and antique water-clock, continued in use. The beautiful specimen given in our engraving belongs to the sixteenth century. During the following century the hour-glass was in common use; and many of our zealous puritan preachers regulated their discourses by it. Hogarth, in one of his engravings, has satirised the still later use of this instrument in the pulpit, where he has represented it in connection with Arthur Warwick's wellknown volume of apothegms, entitled "Spare Minutes," to insinuate the undue length of some of these sermons. There are still a few country churches where this appendage may be seen, and many which contain indications of its former existence.
"THE NEW IDEA."
Edith had long anticipated the pleasure of hearing a discourse from a favorite divine; and when it was announced that he would preach in the neighbourhood of her father's residence, she cheerfully walked several miles, and even stood throughout the service, happy to have secured a post within hearing, while crowds were compelled to return unable to gain admission to the large building in which the congregation met.
"Oh, mamma!" she exclaimed, on reaching home, "how I should like to hear Dr. H. frequently—his sermon was full of new ideas!"
"Indeed! my love!" replied Mrs. M., " but I trust they were all drawn from the same Scriptures you have in your own hand."
"Certainly, mamma! every point was beautifully illustrated by texts from the Bible; and seemed so obvious, I wondered they had not occurred to me before."
"That is not very surprising, my dear girl, whon you remember the great disparity of years between yourself and Dr. H.—to say nothing of his long and diligent study of sacred literature."
"And besides, mamma, a mind so much superior in power, must be able to comprehend more than people who are not so talented!"
"Doubtless! and this is one of the benefits of such teachers, who can communicate some of their rich discoveries to those who are less gifted."
"How delightful it must be, mamma, to possess a mind able to perceive the full meaning of all Scripture, and education enough to know and compare other great men's thoughts upon all subjects.'"
"Life is too short now, my love, for this xmion of all knowledge in one person."
"That is a pity, mamma, for even the emphasis with which Dr. II. read his text, seemed to explain its meaning better than I had ever understood it before; and as he went on with his sermon, and quoted cluster after cluster of beautiful passages to prove his divisions, the whole Bible seemed lighted up with clearer instruction."
"Had you never read these same passages before, Edith P"
"Oh yes! dear mamma, very often; but they had not struck my attention."
"Perhaps you were so familiar with their words, as not to think of their meaning F"
Very likely; for I can remember hearing them over and over again, long before I could read them myself. Sometimes, mamma, I almost wish I had been born a heathen, so that I might know the delight of reading the Bible for the Jirst time."
"But, my child, suppose your lot had been cast where the Bible had never come?"
"Oh, mamma, I should not like that; but on one of the South Sea Islands, for instance, just before the missionaries went there."
"My love, if you were to consult those South Sea islanders, they would express their sorrow at not now understanding the Scriptures better, for all its ideas are so different from their heathen notions, they find it difficult to understand its sublime doctrines; and its story of Christ's love, so strange and wonderful, they can hardly believe it to be true; so that they only accept with trembling, till God touches their hearts, and enables them by his Holy Spirit to experience its life-giving energy and peace."
"If it were possible to grow up so ignorant of the Bible in England, mamma, would there be the same disadvantage in reading it for the first time?"
"Perhaps not exactly the same, but a very similar perplexity as to its meaning, of which I can give you a proof. A Christian friend of mine was thrown into intimate association with a refined and accomplished lady, who had never read the Scriptures since as a giddy school-girl in some fashionable seminary, she had occasionally heard a chapter or two without heeding them. My friend was privileged to introduce the sacred volume at a season when her mind was peculiarly susceptible to the great truths it teaches, and she read with avidity, receiving its glorious promises of atonement with a joy only proportioned to her contrition for the sin of which her own conscience had convicted her; but ever and anon she misunderstood isolated texts, and her patient instructress was hastily summoned to relieve her of the doubt and anxiety to which she would never have been exposed, if she had in early life enjoyed the benefit of careful instruction in the comparison and gleaning of religious truth, in which she continually lamented her deficiency; often remarking to my friend, who was then quite young, how thankful she ought to feel for having been in childhood taught such inestimable knowledge."
"But, mamma, if I continue studying the Bible, shall I ever find out all its meaning?"
"I believe, my dear Edith, that you would ever find in it an inexhaustible treasury of divine wisdom and love. Indeed, every aged Christian bears testimony to the new discoveries