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THE SAILORS AND THE CANNIBALS. A NEW ENGLAND whale ship foundered in a gale, some years since, in the Pacific. Her crew took to the boats, and after toiling for several days and nights, two of the boats came in sight of an island. One of them was run through the surf, and the crew jumped on shore, making signs to the natives to express their destitute condition. But no pity dwelt in those savage breasts. Rushing upon the exhausted seamen with their clubs, they instantly killed them, and made preparations to feast upon their bodies ; for they were cannibals.
Seeing the fate of their companions, the other boat's crew pulled hastily away from that dreadful spot, and after almost incredible suffering, were picked up and saved.
Some years passed away, and another ship was wrecked in the same seas and near that island. Her commauder had been second mate of the former ship, and was saved, with the boat's crew who witnessed the destruction of their shipmates by the cannibals. Again he approached the island a wrecked mariner, and reduced by hunger and exhaustion to a feeble emaciated state. He recognised the fatal shore, and told his companions of the cannibals who dwelt beyond it. But they were too weak to put out to sea again. To do so was to die. They could but die if they landed, and perhaps the savages might be merciful. They landed, therefore, though in great fear. Perceiving none of the natives, they hauled their boat up on the beach, and sought the shelter of the adjacent woods, in hopes of finding fruits or berries for subsistence. But once in the woods, their fears increased. They moved stealthily along, alarmed at the crackling of the dry
THE SAILORS AND THE CANNIBALS.
branches beneath their feet, and at every unusual rustling of the leaves. Death seemed to speak in every sound, and to leer upon them through every opening glade of the forest. Cold sweats gathered on their sun-browned brows, and more than once they halted and consulted on the propriety of returning to their boat. But as often they resolved to advance, especially as they found themselves ascending a wooded hill, which they hoped might furnish them a nook or cave in which to hide. Thus trembling, they proceeded. They approached its sunimit, which was bold and rocky. The foremost party ventured from the shelter of the trees to view the island. Cautiously he stole, step by step, to the mountain's brow, until his eye caught light of the village below. Then he literally sprang into the air, clapped his hands, and shouted, “Safe! safe! SAFE!"
“ What is the matter ?” asked his companions, who thought him crazy.
“We are safe, I tell you! We are safe!" he replied, pointing to the village on the plain below.
Looking down, the now joyful seamen beheld a church lifting its modest front above the huts of the natives. Then they shared in the transports of their companion. They leaped, they wept, they rejoiced. They knew by that church the missionary was there. They knew that where he lived cannibalism must be dead. They accordingly descended to the plain, and found, instead of a cruel death, a hearty, generous hospitality.
Rabbi Eliezer said, “Turn to God one day before your death.” His disciples said, “How can a man know the day of his death ?” He answered them, “Then you
should turn to God to-day, perhaps you may die to-morrow; thus every day will be employed in returning."
THE MISSIONARIES AND THE FISH. I REMEMBER listening, years ago, to the plain and touching story of a silver-haired old missionary, who had spent many years labouring among the Indians about the upper lakes. One little incident peculiarly impressed my childish mind.
The winter had come on before its time, and that too with unusual severity. All communication with distant stations, from whence they had been accustomed to obtain supplies, was cut off, and provisions which had been sent before, were intercepted by hostile nations. The few friendly Indians around them were extremely needy, and could hardly supply themselves with food, so no assistance could be expected from that source. It would be impossible to communicate with distant friends before the opening of spring, and long before that they must all die of starvation, unless Providence sent them food almost as miraculously as he did to Elijah.
Only a little corn-meal was left, one dreary night, when the humble missionary circle sat down to supper. Only one resource was left them. Their Father in heaven was as near them as ever, and they knew their agonising cry would reach his throne. For hours they knelt together, and entreated earnestly and believingly that he would help them in this time of need. At last, with spirits strengthened and wonderfully lightened, they laid them down and slept. About two o'clock in the morning the old missionary was aroused by a loud rapping on the window sill. Springing up, he grasped his weapons instinctively, and again listened. Directly he recognised the voice of a friendly Indian, who told him in his own language, that the fish were coming down the river, and
A RELIGION FOR ALL WEATHERS.
they must hurry and secure them. He perceived that the air was very warm and soft, a wonderful change from the weather at sunset ; still, it seemed incredible that fish should be found in the river at that season, However, he went down with his guide to the bank, and there saw, with unutterable amazement, immense shoals of finny creatures apparently only waiting to be caught. The rest of the night was spent in taking them, and enough were obtained to last them through the winter. The wind changed next day, and the fish were all frozen stiff, nor did another thaw come ; so they were well preserved without the trouble of salting. It seemed like nothing less than a miracle, as no fish had ever been heard of there before at that time of the year.
Thanksgivings to God were as deep and fervent as supplications for aid had been ; and ever after, when times of peculiar distress and trial came, they had but to re. member their unexpected supply of food that dark wintry night, in order to feel new zeal and courage in the prosecution of their arduous work.
Never does the night of affliction seem so utterly dark and rayless as just before the glad sunlight breaks upon its midnight gloom. God often allows his children to be reduced to the very greatest straits the very hour before relief is afforded.
A RELIGION FOR ALL WEATHERS. THERE is a fishing village on the coast of Cornwall, where the people are very poor, but pious and intelligent. Last year they were sorely tried.
The winds were contrary, and for nearly a month they could not put to sea. At last, one Sabbath morning the wind changed, and some
of the men whose faith was weak went out towards the beach, the women and children looking on sadly, many saying with sighs, “I'm sorry it's Sunday, but—," "If we were not so poor."
“But if !” said a sturdy fisherman, starting up, and speaking aloud : “surely, neighbours, you're not going with your buts and ifs to break God's law.”
The people gathered around him, and he added, "Mine's a religion for all weathers, fair and foul. This is the love of God, that ye keep his law.' "Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy;' that's the law, friends. And our Lord came not to break but to fulfil the law. True, we are poor ; what of that? Better poor, and have God's smile, than rich, and have his frown. Go, you that dare ; but I never knew any good to come of a religion that changed with the wind.”
These words in season stayed the purpose of the rest. They went home and made ready for the house of God, and spent the day in praise and prayer. In the evening, just when they would have been returning, a sudden storm sprang up, that raged terribly for two days. After the tempest came settled weather, and the pilchard fishery was so rich and abundant, that there was soon no complaining in the village. Here was a religion for all weathers. Remember the words, “ Trust in the Lord and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed.”
Bright passages that strike your mind,