« PreviousContinue »
proud pre-eminence of asserting all was false: nothing real existed either around, above, beneath; they "grieved to be forced" to such extremity, but they were convinced that the Evangelist's message was an "invention of priestcraft," and reverence for it "childish foolery," or "bibliolatry." Strange to say, these clever wights were amongst the younger of the throng! Whence could they have gained the superior wisdom on which they plumed themselves? One marvelled how their scanty years had yielded time to compass that investigation of which the hoary sage of antiquity pronounced "It as too wonderful for me; I cannot attain unto it." The judgment of early life is seldom mature. Glancing at the official directory for appropriate nomenclature, it was written "The Fool hath said in his heart, there is no God!"
The larger proportion of visitors, however, exhibited an utter vacuity of expression; they cared not whence they came, nor whither they went. Amused with passing scenes, they heard the message addressed to them as a very pleasant song, or a dismal tragedy, calling forth its fitting smile or tear; and that was all! Alas! for those who "forget God," for they also will be turned into hell with "the wicked."
Closely allied to these careless ones, was a group of querulous aspect, who regarded every accommodation as their due, and readily joined in bemoaning the absence of any fancied good. They were objects of pity, for endless annoyances beset their path; people crowded and disturbed them with unseasonable mirth or grief: because they had not a "Roc's egg," every other luxury was unavailing. "Envy is the rottenness of the bones."" In everything give thanks." Some were displeased because all the world could not adopt their shibboleth, or enjoy their customs; but many shall be last who were first, and shall be first who were last. Here and there was one of those bustling bodies who were so anxious to set every one to rights, that their own attire appeared sadly tattered and disfigured. "Study to be quiet and to do your own business,” was a more suitable, than agreeable, exhortation to these wellmeaning but troublesome guests.
One could not but remark, with lively interest, the placid smile of the way-worn mourner, whose glistening eye read the
sweet assurance, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." Serene and happy faces betokened hearts filled with love, joy, and peace. The songs of Zion-"harp notes of another sphere"rose softly above earth's Babel sounds! Gathered from the north and the south, from the east and the west, it was pleasing to trace the fellow-feeling existing among those widely dispersed of the Lord's flock, as they sought out and lingered near the holy spot, where God's Word might be seen and read of all men, in that sea-girt island's Palace of Industry.
Reader, that countryman are you? You have doubtless mingled erewhile with the crowd of aliens and foreigners. Are you now a free man of the celestial city ?-a subject of its Great King? If so, are you careful to wear its distinguishing costume, the garment of praise? to speak its language of contentment; to breathe its atmosphere of love; to keep its laws of high integrity; to walk in the strict and narrow course prescribed? Wherever you may be, remember your speech bewrayeth you. Let your conversation be such as becometh saints; and if you would not be of the provinces inhabited by the fearful and the unbelieving, take heed lest you be among the Borderers; lest you should be one of those who, though not far from the kingdom of heaven, should be just far enough to be shut out, to the darkness and woe of lost and impenitent sinners. See to it, at once, that your name be inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life!
"I'd rather have it there impressed
Than in the bright archives of fame,
E. W. P.
THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY.
NOT many things have happened to me in the course of my life which can be called events. One great event, as I then thought it, happened when I was eight years old. On that birthday I first possessed a piece of gold.
How well I remember the occasion! I had a holiday, and was reading aloud to my mother. The book was the "Life of Howard, the philanthropist." I was interested in it, though the style was considerably above my comprehension; at last I came to the following sentence, which I could make nothing of; "He could not let slip such a golden opportunity for doing good."
"What is a golden opportunity?" I enquired. "It means a very good opportunity."
"But, mamma, why do they call it golden?”
My mother smiled, and said it was a figurative expression, "Gold is very valuable, and very uncommon; this opportunity was a very valuable and uncommon one; we can express that in one word, by calling it a golden opportunity.”
I pondered upon the information for some time, and then made a reply to the effect, that all the golden opportunities seemed to happen to very rich people; or people who lived a long time ago; or else to great men whose lives we can read in books-very great men, such as Wilberforce and Howard; but they never happened to real people whom we could see every day, nor to children.
"To children like you, Orris ?" said my mother, "Why, what kind of a golden opportunity are you wishing for just now?" My reply was childish enough.
"If I were a great man I should like to sail after the slave ships, fight them, and take back the poor slaves to their own country. Or I should like to do something like what Quintus Curtius did. Not exactly like that; because you know, mamma, if I were to jump into a gulf, that would not really make it close.” "No," said my mother, “it would not."
"And besides," I reasoned, "if it had closed, I should never have known any of the good I had done, because I should have been killed."
"Certainly," said my mother; I saw her smile, and thinking it was at the folly of my last wish, hastened to bring forward a wiser one.
"I think I should like to be a great lady, and then if there had been a bad harvest, and all the poor people on my Lord's land were nearly starving, I should like to come down to them
with a purse full of money, and divide it among them. But you see, mamma, I have no golden opportunities."
"My dear, we all have some opportunities for doing good, and they are golden, or not, according to the use we make of them." "But, mamma, we cannot get people released out of prison as Howard did."
"No, but sometimes by instructing them in their duty; by providing them with work, so that they shall earn bread enough, and not be tempted and driven by hunger to steal, we can prevent some people from being ever put in prison.”
My mother continued to explain that those who really desired to do good, never wanted opportunities, and that the difference between Howard and other people was more in perseverance and earnestness_than in circumstances. But I do not profess to remember much of what she said, I only know that, very shortly, she took me into my grandfather's study, and, sitting down, began busily to mend a heap of pens which lay beside him on the table.
He was correcting proof sheets, and knowing that I must not talk, I stood awhile very quietly watching him.
Presently I saw him mark out a letter in the page, make a long stroke in the margin, and write a letter d beside it.
Curiosity was too much for my prudence; I could not help saying
"Grandpapa, what did you write that letter d for ?"
"There was a letter too much in the word, child,” he replied, "I spell 'potatoes' with only one p, and I want the printer to put out the second."
"Then d stands for do'nt, I suppose," was my next observation; "it means do'nt put it in."
"Yes, child, yes-something like that."
"If it had not been my birthday, I should not have had courage to interrupt him again. "But, grandpapa, 'do' begins with d, so how is the printer to know whether you mean 'do,' or 'do'nt?" "
My grandfather said "pshaw!" turned short round upon my mother, and asked if she had heard what I said?
My mother admitted that it was a childish observation. "Childish!" repeated my grandfather, "childish! she'll never
be anything but a child-never; she has no reasoning faculties at all." When my grandfather was displeased with me, he never scolded me only for the fault of the moment, but inveighed against me in the piece, as a draper would say.
"Did you ever talk nonsense at her age-ever play with a penny doll, and sing to a kitten? I should think not."
"I was of a different disposition," said my mother gently. "Aye," said the old man, "that you were. Why, I would'nt trust this child, as I trusted you, for the world; you were quite a little woman, could pay bills, or take charge of keys; but this child has no discretion-no head-piece. She says things that are wide of the mark. She's-Well, my dear, I did'nt mean to vex you-she's a nice child enough, but bless me! she never thinks, and never reasons about anything."
He was mistaken. I was thinking and reasoning at that moment. I was thinking how delightful it would be if I might have the cellar keys, and all the other keys hanging to my side, so that every one might see that I was trusted with them; and I was reasoning, that perhaps my mother had behaved like a little woman, because she was treated like one.
"My dear, I did not mean that she was worse than many other children," repeated my grandfather, "come here child, and I'll kiss you."
My mother pleaded by way of apology for me," She has a very good memory."
'Memory! aye, there's another disadvantage. She remembers everything, she's a regular parrot. Why, when you, at her age, wanted a punishment, if I set you twenty lines of poetry, they'd keep you quiet for an hour. Set this child eighty— knows 'em directly, and there's ever so much time wasted in hearing her say 'em into the bargain."
"I hope she will become more thoughtful, as she grows older," said my mother gently.
"I hope she will-there's room for improvement. Come and sit on my knee, child. So this is your birth-day. Well, I suppose, I must give you some present or other. Leave the child with me, my dear, I'll take care of her. But I wont detain you, for the proofs are all ready. Open the door for your mother, Órry. Ah! you'll never be anything like her-never.”