Imágenes de páginas

Vivid conceptions.

asked two hours afterward what had been read that morning, would be utterly unable to tell.

But now suppose that this same father could, by some magic power, show to his children the real scene which these verses describe. Suppose he could go back through the eighteen hundred years which have elapsed since these events occurred, and taking his family to some elevation in the romantic scenery of Palestine, from which they might overlook the country of Galilee, actually see all that this chapter describes.

"Do you see," he might say, "that wide sea which spreads out beneath us and occupies the whole extent of the valley? That is the sea of Tiberias; it is also called the sea of Galilee. All this country which spreads around it is Galilee. Those distant mountains are in Galilee, and that beautiful wood which skirts the shore is a Galilean forest."

'Why is it called the sea of Tiberias?" a child might ask.

"Do you see at the foot of that hill, on the opposite shore of the lake, a small town? It extends along the margin of the water for a considerable distance. That is Tiberias, and the lake sometimes takes its name."

"But look-there is a small boat coming round a point of land which juts out beautifully from this side of the lake. It is slowly making its way across the water-we can almost hear the splashing of the oars. It contains the Savior and some of his disciples. They are steering toward Tiberias-now they approach the shore-they stop at the landing, and the Savior, followed by his disciples, walks upon the shore."

Suppose now that this party of observers can remain a little longer at their post, and see in a short time that some sick person is brought to the Savior to be healed. Another and another comes. A crowd gradually collects around him. He retreats slowly up the rising ground, and after a little time he is seen to take his place upon an elevated

Picturing the scene to the mind.

spot, where he can overlook and address the throng which has collected around him.

If this could be done, how strong and how lasting an impression would be made upon those minds! Years, and perhaps the whole of life itself, would not obliterate it. Even this faint description, though it brings nothing new to the mind, will probably make a much stronger and more lasting impression than merely reading the narration. would do. And what is the reason? How is it that what I have here said has impressed this scene upon your minds more distinctly than the simple language of the Bible? Why, it is only because I have endeavored to lead you to picture this scene to your minds—to conceive of it strongly and clearly. Now any person can do this for himself in regard to any passage of Scripture. It is not necessary that I should go on and delineate in this manner the whole of the account. Each reader can, if he will task his imagination, paint for himself the scenes which the Bible describes. And if he does bring his intellect and his powers of conception to the work, and read, not merely to repeat, formally and coldly, sounds already familiar, but to bring to his mind vivid and clear conceptions of all which is represented there, he will be interested. He will find new and striking scenes coming up continually to view, and will be surprised at the novelty and interest which this simple and easy effort will throw over those very portions of the Bible to which the ear has become most completely familiar.

I wish now that every one of my readers would really try this experiment. It will do very little good merely to read the foregoing directions and resolve generally to try in future to form vivid and clear conceptions of what is described when you are reading; you must make a particular effort to learn to do this. Now the next time you sit down to reading the Bible, turn to the 5th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke, and picture to yourself as vividly as possible the scene described there. Do not

West's picture of Christ rejected.

Clear conceptions. think of a shore in general, but conceive of some particular shore. Give it shape and form. Let it be rocky or sandy, or high or low, bordered with woods, or with hills, or with meadows. Let it be something distinct. You may, if you please, conceive it to be a long sandy beach, with a lofty bank and a verdant field behind; or you may have it an open wood, sloping gradually down to the water's edge; or a rocky, irregular coast, full of indentations; or a deep and narrow bay, whose shores are overhung with willows. Let it assume either of these forms, or any other which your fancy may portray, and which may suit the circumstances of the narrative; only let it be something distinct-clear and distinct in all its parts; so that if you had power to represent upon canvass by painting the conceptions of your mind, you might execute a perfect picture of the whole scene.

[ocr errors]

To do this properly will require time and thought. You must be alone, or at least uninterrupted, and your first effort will be a difficult one. The power of forming clear and vivid conceptions of this kind varies greatly in different individuals. The faculty can, however, be cultivated and strengthened by exercise. Historical painters, that is, painters of historical scenes, are enabled to produce very great effects by the possession of this power. West, for example, formed in his own mind a clear, and vivid, and interesting conception of the scene which was exhibited when the crowd of angry Jews rejected the Savior and called for his crucifixion. He painted this scene, and the great picture which he has thus produced has been gazed at with intense interest by many thousands.

I saw this picture in the gallery of the Athenæum at Boston. The gallery is a large and lofty apartment, lighted by windows above, and containing seats for hundreds. As I came up the stairs which lead into the room, and stepped from them upon the floor of the apartment, I found a large company assembled. The picture, which was, as I should suppose, ten or fifteen feet long, stood against one

Effect upon the assembly.

Writing questions.

side of the apartment, and before it, arranged upon the seats, were the assembled spectators, who were gazing with intense interest, and almost in perfect silence, upon the scene. As we came forward before the canvass we felt the same solemn impression which had silenced the others, and it was interesting and affecting to observe, as party after party came up the stairs, talking with usual freedom, that their voices gradually died away, and they stood silent and subdued before the picture of the Savior.

Yes; there stood the Savior in the middle of the picture, passive and resigned, and with a countenance whose expression plainly said that his thoughts were far away. The Roman governor stood before his palace endeavoring to persuade the mob to consent to their prisoner's release. The uncovered and hard-featured soldiery sat at his feet upon the cross which they had been carrying, and were holding in their hands the spikes with which the limbs of the innocent one before them were to be pierced. All the other attendant circumstances were most vividly and strikingly represented. The mob were there, with fury and rage and hate in every variety upon their countenances. Barabbas was there, with his look of hardened and unsubdued guilt-and the centurion's little daughter, whose life Jesus had saved, stood by her father, apparently entreating him to interpose his power to rescue her preserver.

Now, West must have possessed, in order to succeed in executing such a work, the power, first, of forming a clear mental conception of the scene, and secondly, of representing this scene by colors on the canvass. The former of these only is the one necessary for the object I have above described, and you ought, while reading accounts of Scripture scenes, to form as vivid and distinct conceptions of the scenes described as if you were actually intending to represent them by the pencil.

2. Writing questions. A young man, with pen and paper before him, sits down, I will suppose, to the examination of some portion of the Bible, intending to write questions

God's command to Abraham.

Questions upon the passage.

upon the passage, such as he would ask if he were hearing a class in a Sabbath School. Suppose he opens to the account of Abraham's offering Isaac.

The following is the passage; I copy it, that the reader may the better understand the questions.

1. And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham; and he said, Behold, here I am.

2. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering, upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

3. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up and went into the place of which God had told him.

4. Then on the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off.

5. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass: and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again

to you.

He reads this narrative carefully, verse by verse, and writes a question for every important fact stated. Perhaps the questions might be somewhat as follows. The reader, in examining them, is particularly requested to compare the questions individually with the verses in which the answers are contained. I ought also to remark, that I do not offer these as examples of good questions, but only as a specimen of such as I suppose most young persons would write.

1. To what land did God command Abraham to go to offer up his son?

2. How was he to be offered?

3. Was he to be offered on a mountain?

4. How did Abraham travel?

5. What time did he set out?

6. How many attendants had he? 7. How long a journey was it?

8 What is stated in the 6th verse?

« AnteriorContinuar »