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means, again submit it to the wonder of admiring thousands. We talk much of the advance of science, in our day—so did our ancestors, and so will do our latest posterity. But “we are the wise men, and wisdom shall die with us !” No such thing; or he must die in his nonage ; for your children's children will return the compliment you are paying to your
fathers' fathers; and prove you to be about as distant from the truth as you thought those were who went before you."
“Well, well,” added my uncle_assuming one of his kindest and most bewitching looks,—“we must let the world enjoy its round-about; but the Christian wants not only a steadier beacon, but one which will throw its light farther. He has no wish to be lured out of his path, and then left to grope his way back again in the dark; his resource must be a fixed and an abiding one-a present, a very present help in time of trouble.”
“When we are off the coast at sea, we often find it of great use to steer by the help of two objects. We see, perhaps, an old wind-mill and a grey church tower; or, it may be, two lights, a little distance apart ; and as we move in one direction or another, these two points will change places; sometimes shifting to the right or left, and sometimes getting so close together, as to appear like one and the same building. When in this last position, they are said to be on with each other ; ‘the church,' we say, “is on with the wind-mill,' or 'the fixed light is on with the revolving one.' Now thus, my dear little ones, when philosophy is on with the Bible, you may keep your course safely enough. As long as they lead in one direction, you will make the harbour safely; but only let them get a little open,' as we sailors say, and you should lose no time in beating back to your old position. Many have made only for the revolving light; and more have tried to run between them ; but, depend upon it, the right path is that which brings them both together. But I must say a word or two about
“3. The flashing light. I must tell you though, it is by no means an unwelcome sight at sea, when we first catch a glimpse of this light suddenly bursting out at short intervals, and throwing its momentary gleam over the dark, wild waters. But I cannot say I like your flashing lights on shore; and least of all, those of whom we ought to hope better things,-the professors of a many such.
gospel that inculcates constant and unvarying holiness. I dare say you have heard of
'What! you don't mean it,' exclaimed a friend of mine, the other day,— you don't mean to tell me that Mr. Whimple has proved a consummate hypocrite ? and such a flaming professor, too!' Ah! my dear young folks, I hope none of you will ever be satisfied with the name of ‘professor.' Judas Iscariot and Demas were professors. To be only a professor is bad enough ; but to be a flaming professor is to be doubly good-for-nothing. Such characters have been well likened to a rocket; they make a great blaze, and a greater noise, for a little moment, and then leave nothing behind them but a stick and an empty case.
“4. The decreasing light. Do you know any people who resemble these decreasing lights; shining out for a while, like stars of the first magnitude, and gradually dwindling down to mere points which are scarcely discernible ? I dare say you do; and you cannot look upon a more melancholy sight. Indifferent at first about ' little sins,' they fall by little and little! Once they ran well ; they were all life, and love, and warmth, and energy, in the cause of Christ; but the chilling breath of worldly conformity has blighted all their promise of usefulness. They are listless in the closet ; inattentive to the means of public grace ; unaffected, alike by the terrors of the Lord, or the gentle, the considerate, the tender calls of their good and gracious Shepherd. No longer do they feel the fire burn within, while they muse on the great mysteries of redemption; no longer is the life-giving spirit of God's word received, realized, and appropriated; it is not even, to them as one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument;' but all the cheerlessness, and poverty, and coldness, and deadness of the letter, are experienced; while the naked and starving soul thinks sadly of those past days when the candle of the Lord shined
it. But the light is not out. O! grieve not then the Holy Spirit; but turn to Him with strong crying and tears, and he will breathe upon the dying spark, till it flames out again in all its pristine splendour, and cheers the dark waters with its guiding and its warning light.
“Those, too, my dear ones, are like decreasing lights, who turn back from the glorious liberty of the gospel to the weak and beggarly elements of tradition and superstition ; adding to the word of God, and receiving, as their wages, the plagues of a perplexed, and complicated, and incongruous faith ; and a self-mortifying, unprofitable, barren, formal practice. O foolish ritualists ! who hath bewitched you !—for nothing less than witchcraft can have enticed you from the completeness and simplicity of the gospel, to a servile trust in forms and ordinances and sacraments,-in 'posture and imposture, circumflection and genuflection, bowing to the east and curtesying to the west.'!
“5. Coloured lights are very numerous in the Christian church. There are green lights,-men who read and preach the Bible as their own prejudiced views interpret it. They colour it with the notions of party, or of favorite doctrines; coming to it with their minds made up, and determining that whatever other systems it overthrows, it shall dovetail with their own. They have looked at one side of the argument only, and by its light they want to read the other. There are red lights,-men who are all heart, and warmth, and glow, when they touch upon the great truths of the scriptures ; they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. They act upon impulse rather than principle; and think that frames and feelings can affect the stability of the love of Christ. They are averse from head knowledge ; calling it carnal wisdom, and insisting that the heart is everything. There are blue lights, too, in plenty,---living signals of distress ; who dishonor the joyous creed which they profess, by long faces, ominous grimaces, and illiberal remarks. But perhaps, my dears, I am getting ungenerous myself; so, if you please, I must finish with a few words about
"6. Double lights. It is not always true that two are better than one.
Two creeds and two practices are bad enough; and yet how many in the Christian world want to have them. Some will tell you that they make the Bible their rule of conduct, but they have a code of bye-laws framed in the spirit of worldly policy, which leads them often wide away from the mark. They cannot give their full consent to the completeness of revelation; it wants, in their estimation, a little-only a little qualification or amendment, and this the practice and fashion of the world supplies. What a monstrous idea is this ; and yet, with more or less of modification, it is the opinion of almost all the world. It is only when the eye is single that we can expect the whole body to be full of light; and who that has proved the sweetness of the Spirit's teaching, and his efficacy in subliming all our studies and pursuits,-who is there that does not long for greater enlightenment, and closer communion, and growing holiness, and love, that he may here anticipate, as much as possible, the overwhelming manifestations of that day which shall bring him into contact with the spirits of the just made perfect, and place him for ever in the light and blessedness that emanate from the throne of his Redeemer?
MY FATHER'S LETTERS. A BELOVED sister and myself are residing at a pleasant town, several miles distant from what we call our home. Our father's house bears this sweet name, and to that our thoughts recur when it is uttered; there are joys peculiar to home, sometimes realize, but at periods “ few and far between.”
Long absence is somewhat compensated by letters received from my father. When the postman rings in the morning, how am I gladdened if I can trace on an envelope, presented to me, the handwriting of one I so ardently love! The seal does not long intercept my view, it is broken, and all the consolations and sympathies which my father has thrown into the communication flow into
soul. I read it, perhaps, again and again, to comprehend his wishes fully, to get his advice fixed in my memory. Counsel in my perplexity, comfort in my trouble, gladness in my joy, are sure to have a place; not only does the handwriting assure me it is his, but the spirit that pervades it also. If reproof be needed, it is administered with a father's deep tenderness; I cannot help seeing that he takes an ardent interest in all my concerns. Not content with perusing it myself, I often hasten to my sister's dwelling, that she may share the pleasure with me; we talk over the matters it contains, and express to one another our gratitude and love.
Reader! you and I have a heavenly Father; he is the Father of our spirits. We, by the merciful arrangements of his providence, are placed in a nation, and in a family, where we may peruse the “ epistles of his love." We know the handwriting to be his. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy-work.”
“ I read His awful name emblazoned high,
In golden letters on the illumin'd sky.” But the wisdom and goodness which are manifested in the works of nature, are more conspicuous in the discoveries of his word. Is not Revelation “just like him?" Is not its spirit precisely that which enlightened reason would lead us to expect ? Coming from the Father of our spirits, and addressed to children who have foolishly and ungratefully rebelled against him, does it not reveal him as possessed of a heart which throbs with intense solicitude for our welfare? All that a Father can say, is found; all that a father can do, he is declared to have done,rather ought I to say, infinitely more than we could have imagined.
Do we treat the Word of God as we treat our “ father's letters ?” Is it read, believed without misgivings, and acted on? If so, eternal thanks be to his Son, through whom our hearts have been won back to the Father. If the case be otherwise, we have a melancholy specimen of sinful alienation from God to contemplate in our own souls. Let us arise, and say, with the penitent prodigal of old, “ Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son ; make me as one of thy hired servants !” Reader, you have brothers or sisters, it may be, who are indifferent to salvation; go and solicit them to read with you what God has written for your instruction. Talk over the matter with them; that, following his advice and doing his will, you and they may be refreshed with the consolations of his grace below, and ultimately united in his family above.
WILL IT STAND THE FIRE ? There is an old saying, that “All is not gold that glitters;" and though old sayings are not necessarily wise ones, there is sometimes a depth of meaning in them, which many of the wise ones of the present day have not fathomed—at least if their conduct be a proof of the measure of their knowledge. A thing needs but to sparkle, and there are more who, with eager hands,