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66

A BUDDHIST DAGOBA.

of the whole of Burmah, Siam, Thibet, and Tartary. And yet, for as many as believe in it, it is a sad delusion. Perhaps you will be surprised to know that the Buddhists say there is no God. How the world was made, they do not know, but they believe it has existed for four millions o' years, and that all the animals which now dwell upon it have lived during the same space of time, passing through an infinite number of changes, being insects, birds, beasts, or men, according to their good or bad actions. So that, according to this belief, you have lived somewhere much longer than you thought you had, and may have been a bird or an elephant for thousands of years for aught you know. They say that, at certain times, men who have previously lived under countless forms of animals, and have acquired an immense stock of merit, at last obtain almighty power and infinite wisdom. These beings are called Buddhus, or sages, and go about teaching men for some tiine, and are then reduced to nothing. They say that the last one lived about 2,500 years ago ; his name was Goutama, and he was the son of an Indian king. They still pray to him, and to everything or anything connected with him. They worship the prints of his feet-(see “Juvenile Messenger" for February, page 21), the trees under which he rested, the books which are said to contain his discourses; his priests, images of him, and, above all, parts of his body, which they say was preserved when the body itself was burnt on an immense funeral pile, in the presence of sixty thousand princes, and seven hundred thousand priests. Where such numbers of princes and priests found kingdoms and temples it is not easy to conceive. Of the relics of Goutama, that which is considered by far the most valuable, is a piece of ivory, which they believe to be one of his teeth. It is preserved with great

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care, in a place called Kandy, in the interior of Ceylon. It is kept in the “ Palace of the Tooth,” in great style. The case containing it is made of gold, sparkling with precious stones, and in a room hung round with cloth of gold, and guarded by soldiers. There are, however, many thousands of well-shaped buildings, called dagobas, to be found wherever the Buddhists are, which are supposed to contain some part of the body of Goutama, such as a little bit of bosse, or even a hair. Inside of them there are also to be found little images of gold, to which offerings are made. The buildings are solid, with the exception of a small room in the middle, in which the articles are kept. These buildings are of different sizes, some of them very large and lofty. A few of those in the island of Ceylon are nearly as high as the pyramids of Egypt! A priest generally lives near to the building, and every morning and evening he goes and sweeps the courtyard very clean in which the dagoba stands, and arranges sweet-smelling flowers around its ledge. The largest and most celebrated ones are visited by people from distant parts, who bring offerings of rice, clothes, money, and jewels, which they devoutly present; and then they may be seen falling down and worshipping a bit of bone, in the hope of getting to heaven for some time, or at least of being great and powerful the next time they are born!

What miserable delusions these are ! What a wretched degrading thing is idolatry! Truly might the prophet say, when speaking of idols, “ They that make them are like unto them.” But, blessed be God, there is a day coming when the idols shall all be destroyed. The Lord Jesus shall yet reign from sea to sea, from the rivers unto the ends of the earth, and the idols he shall utterly abolish." Let us try to hasten on that blessed time by living to His

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LETTER FROM THE REV. W. C. BURNS.

glory, sending His gospel to distant lands, and praying that His kingdom may speedily come.

LETTER FROM THE REV. W.C. BURNS. You know that in some parts of China there have lately been wars, and, consequently, danger to our Missionaries as well as others. No doubt many of our friends will read with pleasure the following short letter from Mr. Burns:

watow, January 30th, 1857. MY DEAR SIR,—Amid the harrowing accounts which you will be receiving of war and massacre at Canton and Hong Kong, you will naturally feel anxious for our safety here where we are, not only in China, but in the province of Canton ; and I therefore pen a single line to let you know that, at Swatow, up to the present time, we have been permitted to enjoy as much peace as if we had been in a different country, and among another nation. We are here enjoying, as yet, favour in the sight of rich and poor, the rulers and the ruled. In connection with the medical labours of Dr. De la Porte, who comes to us from the foreign shipping station twice a week, we have a large number of visitors to whom the Gospel is preached. A week or two ago the principal local authority in this place, when sick, wanted Dr. D.'s medical assistance, and was very grateful for the aid thus given him ; and we are on such friendly terms with the authorities, that it was from the small fort here, and from the military officer in charge of it, that we, the other day, got the news which had just come per steamer from Hong Kong. He passed

were speaking to the people near the fort, listened with some interest, and

as

we

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then invited us in to take tea and converse with him not only about the quarrel at Canton with the English, but about the Gospel and Christ. Let the people of God, then, while they cease to feel tenderly anxious on our account, abound continually in prayer for this important and interesting sphere of labour, and the many precious souls to whom we may, if the Lord be with us, be able to make known the way of life.

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PASSAGES IN A MISSIONARY'S LIFE. ABOUT sixty-five years ago, a little boy was playing one day on the banks of a village stream in Devonshire. He fell in. No one saw him at the time, and as the waters were swollen by several days' rain, they carried the little boy rapidly below the arch of the village bridge without any one seeing him. He would very soon have been drowned had God not cared for him ; but, through his mercy, a woman happened to be filling her pitcher at the time, and observed a little head floating down the water, and seizing it by the hair, she pulled it ashore. He grew up to be a good boy, and when old enough, was sent to college. He had a godly mother, who often prayed for him, and begged of God to make him a holy and a useful man. The Lord heard her prayers. Her son became a minister, went out as a missionary, first to India, then to Russia, and was the means of making known to many the unsearchable riches of Christ.

About twenty-five years ago, he returned to visit his native village in Devonshire, after travelling over many parts of the world.

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PASSAGES IN A MISSIONARY'S LIFE.

Many changes had taken place during his absence. Those he left in the prime of life were fast growing old, and most of the old people had descended to the grave. His father and mother were both gone, and the house was occupied by his brother. The furniture remained just the same as when he was a boy. There was the old arm-chair, in which his father had so often sat, and on the round table was the large family Bible his godly mother loved so well. At night he was accommodated in the same bed in which he had often slept before, but his busy thoughts would not let him sleep. He thought of the time when he ran about the cottage a frolicsome boy, and of the many dangers and " deaths oft” he had passed through since then ; of all the way the Lord his God had led him when journeying far from home and kindred in foreign lands.

While he thus lay musing on the past, the night passed rapidly away, and at last the light of the morning darted through the little window, and shed a soft white light on the floor. Looking across the little room, his eye caught sight of the spot where his sainted mother, forty years before, took him by the hand, and said, “ Come, my dear, kneel down with me, and I will offer prayer.” This completely overcame him ; he seemed to hear the sweet tones of her voice, and feel her soft hand clasping his. The very expressions she was accustomed to use came into his mind; he burst into tears, and, rising from his bed, he sprang across the room, and falling down upon the spot where she used to kneel, he poured out his heart in thanksgiving to God for giving him a praying mother.

And many more might have joined in the thanksgiving for the grace bestowed on him, for it had been the means of making them what they were. It is believed that more than a hundred men were converted under luis preaching, who

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