BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.                                3
morning to evening: they perish for ever, without any regard­ing it."
Time, abstractedly considered, as what, in truth, it is—a portion of the vast ocean of eternity—a river flowing from the sea, and flowing to the sea—a channel leading from deep to deep, through shores on which the races of the world are permitted to build for awhile, until the great waters shall once more cover all, and time, as time, " shall be no more,"—must long have defied the skill of man to map out its surface, and write his memorials upon its im­palpable bosom. The thousand keels that sweep over the visible waters of the world, leave on their face traces of their passage more legible and enduring, than do the generations of men, as they come and go, on that viewless and voiceless stream. The ingenuity which has taught man to lay down the plan of the material ocean,—to assign to each spot on its uniform surface, its positive whereabout and actual relation,—and, by a series of imaginary lines and figures, to steer his way across its pathless solitudes, with a knowledge as certain as that which guides him amidst the substantive and distinctive features of the solid earth,— is scarcely more admirable than that which, by a similar device, has enabled him to measure out the expanse of the silent river,— to cover, as it were, its surface with a crowd of imaginary lati­tudes and longitudes, intersecting each other at all points,—and to ascertain, at any moment, by observation, his relative position on the great stream of time.
How long the unaided genius of man might have been, ere it could have fallen upon a scheme for the one achievement or the other, if left to struggle with its own resources, and unassisted by hints from without, we need not conjecture. But, in each case, the solution of the problem was suggested to him, as the materials for working it are still furnished, by the finger of God, himself. The great architect of the universe hath planted in its frame all necessary models and materials for the guidance and use of its human inhabitants ; leaving them to the exercise of those powers and capacities with which they have been furnished, to improve the lessons and apply the examples thus.conveyed. In each of the cases of which we have spoken, the constellations which sur­round the world, and "are the poetry of heaven," have been
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