Friday, October 15, 2010

Our North Star

James Hervey, Meditations and Contemplations, Vol. 2, pp. 169-171:

Of the polar star, it is observable, that, while other luminaries alter their situation, this seems invariably fixed*. While other luminaries now mount the battlements of heaven, and appear upon duty, now retire beneath the horizon, and resign to a fresh set the watches of the night, this never departs from its station. This, in every season, maintains an uniform position, and is always to be sound in the fame tract of the northern sky.—How often has this beamed bright intelligence on the sailor, and conducted the keel to its desired haven! In early ages those who went down to the sea in ships, and occupied their business in great waters, had scarce any other sure guide for their wandering vessel. This therefore they viewed with the most solicitous attention. By this they formed their observations, and regulated their voyage. When this was obscured by clouds, or inveloped in mists, the trembling mariner was bewildered on the watery waste. His thoughts fluctuated as much as the floating surge; and he knew not where he was advanced or whither he should steer. But when this auspicious star broke through the gloom, it dissipated the anxiety of his mind, and cleared up his dubious passage. He reaffirmed with alacrity the management of the helm, and was able to shape his course with some tolerable degree of satisfaction and certainty.

Such, only much clearer in its light, and much surer in its direction, is the holy word of God, to those myriads of intellectual beings, who are bound for the eternal shores, who, embarked in a vessel of feeble flesh, are to pass the waves of this tempestuous and perilous world. In all difficulties, those sacred pages shed an encouraging ray; in all uncertainties, they suggest the right determination, and point out the proper procedure. What is still a more inestimable advantage, they, like the star which conducted the eastern sages, make plain the way of access to a Redeemer. They display his unspeakable merits: they discover the method of being interested in his great atonement, and lead the weary soul, tossed by troubles, and shattered by temptations, to that only harbour of peaceful repose.— Let us, therefore, attend to this unerring directory, with the same constancy of regard, as the seafaring man observes his compass. Let us become as thoroughly acquainted with this sacred chart, as the pilot is with every trusty mark that gives notice of a lurking rock, and with every open road that yields a fase passage into the port. Above all, let us commit ourselves to this infallible guidance, with the same implicit resignation; let us conform our conduct to its exalted precepts, with the same sedulous care as the children of Israel, when sojourning in the trackless desert, followed the pillar of fire, and the motions of the miraculous cloud.—So will introduce us, not into an earthly Canaan, flowing with milk and honey, but into an immortal paradise, where is the fulness of joy, and where are pleasures for evermore. It will introduce us into to those happy, happy regions, where our sun shall no more go down, nor our moon withdraw Itself; for the LORD shall be our everlasting light, and the days of our mourning, together with the fatigues of our pilgrimage, shall be ended**.

* I speak in conformity to the appearance of the object. For though this remarkable star revolves round the pole, its motion is so slow, and the circle it describes so small, as render both the revolution and change of situation hardly perceivable.

** 1 Cor. xv. 41, 42. The great Mr. Mede prefers the sense here given; and the learned Dr. Hammond admits it into his paraphrase; whose joint authority, though far from excluding any other, yet is a sufficient warrant for this application of the words.

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