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the builders of Babel, when the latter projected a tower, whose top should reach heaven. They appear to us in the same battle-array as they were seen by Deborah and Barak, when “ the stars in their courses fought against Sisera ;” in the same sparkling constellations as they were seen by the Psalmist, compelling him to exclaim, — “ When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou last ordained, Lord ! what is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?" Once more, -and, Oh ! how touching is the thought !—the stars, the unchanging' stars, appear to us with the same placid magnificence as they were seen by the Redeemer of the world, when,“ having sent the multitude away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray; and when evening was come he was there alone,” and 6 continued all night in prayer to God.”—Matt. xiv. 23. Luke, vi. 12.
6 Cold mountains and the midnight air
Witness'd the fervour of his prayer ;
Watts. The stars, then, have been the points where all that ever lived have met : the great, the small, the evil, and the good; the prince, the warrior, statesman, sage; the high, the low, the rich, the poor; the bond and the free; Jew, Greek, Scythian, and Barba
every man that has looked up from the earth to the firmament, has met every other man among the stars, for all have seen them alike, which can be said of no other images in the visible universe ! Hence,
by a sympathy neither affected nor overstrained, we can at pleasure bring our spirits into nearer contact with any being that has existed, illustrious or obscure, in any age or country, by fixing our eyes — to name no other on the evening or the morning star, which that individual must have beheld a hundred, and a hundred times,
“ In that same place of heaven where now it shines," and with the very aspect which the beautiful planet wears to us, and with which it will continue to smile over the couch of dying or the cradle of reviving day.
Dr. Johnson most eloquently and pathetically touches upon those feelings, which local associations are calculated to awaken, in that well known passage from his “ Tour to the Western Islands," on occasion of his arrival at Icolmkill, the ancient Iona: -“ We are now treading that illustrious island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured; and would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present; advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy, as may conduct us, indifferent and unmoved, over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue! That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force on
the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.”
True and beautiful, not less than sublime and tender, as these sentiments will be acknowledged by every one who has experienced the delight to which they refer, - yet such are the devastations of time, war, and civil changes, that the Saints of Iona, were they to rise from their graves, would have to search for their churches and colleges among those ruins, in which to us, by the force of imagination, they still exist in their glory; and the shade of Miltiades on the plain of Marathon would hardly recognise the battle-field, where he overthrew Persia, and delivered Greece. But the stars, by which the fishermen of the Hebrides,
“ Placed far upon the melancholy main," were wont to steer their little barks in the days of Iona's prosperity, - those stars have never missed, in their arpointed rounds, to rise and set with undiminished splendour upon her desolations. And the very horoscope, to which the sentinels of both armies looked up, in the night-watch, while they longed for the morning, – that same horoscope, on the anniversary-eve of the conflict, never fails to be figured in the firmament over “the plain of Marathon.” The traveller who then is belated there, may well feel “his patriotism gain force," not more from the influence of local emotion” beneath, than from celestial inspiration above. The ever-altering earth is the abode of generation after generation, each leaving it different from what they found it.
In the perpetuity of heaven, successive generations are contemporary. The only objects which all ages have seen must bring together all ages and kindreds, in a manner which nothing else within the forms of matter or the range of mind can accomplish. No fact in history, no collocation of words in any language, no form of thought that ever originated in the mind of man, no single spot on the face of continent or ocean, has been, is, or can be, known to the whole progeny of Adam; but all, without exception, where blindness and imbecility were not combined to cut off individuals from rational communication with their fellow-creatures, - all have either seen or heard of the host of heaven, and, by one bond at least, have been connected with progenitors, contemporaries, and successors, from the creation to the day of judgment.
But these stirring sympathies are not all “the poetry of heaven," composed “ In hieroglyphics elder than the Nile!
There is yet a higher strain. In the paragraph just quoted from Dr. Johnson, we are taught, that “whatever withdraws us from the
power of our senses, and makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings.” Now this is the very essence, and to produce it is the end of poetry; - in illustration of which the stars are pre-eminent. For, by associations of “the past, the distant, and the future,” they so withdraw us from the contemplation
of themselves as objects of sense, that they actually compel us, in the idea of a star, to think not so much of what is visible and present, as of what is remote and unapparent, but not less surely real in it.
When, therefore, we behold the stars, we regard them not only as the things which they seem, -mere glittering sparks ; nor as marking the returns of seed-time and harvest, summer and winter; nor as contemporaries with the whole human race, and binding with the only chain of visible connection all that have been, are, or will be, inhabitants of this globe; — but we think of them, either as sister-worlds of our own, peopled probably with beings of like passions with ourselves, or as fixed luminaries, equal or superior to our sun in bulk and splendour, set in the midst of planetary systems, giving light, and life, and enjoyment, to earths and their moons, which eye hath not seen, and of which ear hath not heard. If we think thus of them individually, what must we conceive of them collectively, but as the most extensive manifestation of the works of God, which nature can afford to the unassisted eye? Nor rest we here; - for when optical science lends the means of drawing out of invisible depths a hundred, nay, a thousand times their number more, imagination itself sinks under the effort to “find out the Almighty to perfection ;” and still the devout worshipper exclaims, –“Lo! these are parts of his ways, but how little a portion is heard of them ! for the thunder of his power, who can understand?” Job, xxvi. 14. In truth, after turning back, weary, yet exalted, from the most excursive range of telescopic vision, he who sees farthest into