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Interesting in an eminent degree is the condition, past and present, of the Jews in Rome. According to Dr. Manning, the Ghetto is the Seven Dials of the city—a quarter indescribable on account of its squalid filthiness, and crowded with about four thousand five hundred inhabitants, though the area should only suffice for a quarter of its present occupants. The number of captive Jews brought into the city by Titus is supposed to have exceeded a hundred thousand, and the treatment of the unfortunate race during eighteen centuries—from the day of their national ruin to the inauguration of a reign of liberty six years ago—has been harsh in the extreme. Still they have survived the cruelty of the bondage which has been imposed ; and while taking in notions of the nature of the Gospel from the persecuting fanaticism of Popery, this densely-crowded Ghetto is a place of contrast such as perhaps no other rookery could parallel. Miss Barlee says :
“The Jews' fair, which is held weekly in the Ghetto, is a most curious scene to witness, and well worth a visit from the traveller to Rome, if it be only for the chance he may have of securing valuable antiquities in the shape of old coins, china, glass, &c. Curious old books may be had for the veriest trifle, and many a precious volume is often secured by savants, who know its value, for a few francs. What was apparent everywhere was rags, and such rags in many cases as one turned one's head away from in disgust. These, nevertheless, were arranged in full view through the narrow doorway of the shops, around which they were likewise suspended, whilst women and children sat on low stools sorting, separating, and mending them.”
Such was the aspect of the Roman rag fair when viewed superficially-in the background there are stores of goods of fabulous value. One day during the winter of last year an inquisitive lady determined on exploring the Jewish quarter on her own account, and what she saw and heard well repaid for the trouble and inconvenience incurred :
“When she first entered the streets she was somewhat startled by hearing the peculiar Jewish sound, riz., a low hiss, by which the shopkeepers make known to one another that customers are among them, and one or two of them followed her, inviting inspection of their goods. Entering one shop, she was about leaving in disgust at the contents when the shopkeeper shut the door behind her, and told her he could show her that which she would not despise. Her curiosity was now aroused, and she professed her desire to see whatever he had to exhibit. Taking a key down from a peg, the man beckoned her to follow him, which she did across a filthy alley, more like a gutter than a roadway, when he turned into a still narrower court, and opening the wooden doors of an archway, led her on till be came into a low vaulted chamber, in which, in all the pride of possession, he ex: hibited to her the wealth of the Indies : satins, velvets, brocades, laces, &c., piled up in stacks to its roof. Then commenced an offer of sale on the part of the shopkeeper; but although curiosity had led Mrs. to the Ghetto, she had neither the means nor the wish to make any such costly purchases. Laces were, however, pressed on her at 200 to 300 francs a yard, and velvets and satins at a proportionats price. What could she do? She spoke little Italian, and every attempt was taken as a prelude to further bargaining, and it was some time before she could get rid of the Jew's importunity.”
The absurdities and superstitions of English Ritualism not seldom bear fruit in Rome. A certain young lady told our author that “she had made
the stations of sixteen different churches, having said her prayers in each, besides twice ascending the Santa Scala, or Holy Staircase, on her knees." This devotee entertained a singular affection for her departed grandmother, and hence surrendered to that relative any advantage which may have accrued from her piety. She had been captivated by the follies of Ritualism in England, and naturally supposed that she was only advancing towards the goal of perfection by drinking at the fountain-head of Popery in Rome.
Though righteously shorn of his temporal power, the Pope is less the enemy and deceiver of mankind than he was in past times. The attractions of his Church are the lusts of the eyes and the lusts of the flesh. With him and his satellites sin is not half so heinous a thing as the Bible says, since transgression can be wiped away at a cheap rate and indulgences granted according to your means. The very splendour of the papal ritual, together with the masterpieces of architecture in which the services are celebrated, tend to prove that the system is but a compromise with heathenism. Greed of power and sacerdotal pride are the basis of the entire fabric.
To those who desire in a handy form a succinct account of the various missions in Rome, all undertaken since the inauguration of the reign of liberty, Miss Barlee's work will prove acceptable. Dr. Manning's “Italian Pictures” is a book more widely known and more generally entertaining. The costly series of engravings with which the pages are embellished are no less educational than pleasing, though they do not in any degree outshine the freshness and brilliancy of the letterpress descriptions. Stay-at-home travellers will find the Doctor one of the pleasantest of companions; to tourists who intend “doing ” Italy for pleasure he will prove a valuable guide.
G. HOLDEN PIKE.
The Day of Small Things. The most successful toilers are those who know best how to serve God in "small things.' The Almighty never despises the day of small things," or else He would not put His mighty oaks into acorns, or His golden graincrops into little seed-bags.
Nearly all the greatest and best things had their feeble beginnings. The Mississippi begins as a rivulet; the splendid suspension bridge at Niagara first went over the deep chasm as a mere kite-string. And the noblest, holiest Christian lives had their origin in some word faithfully spoken, or in the reading of a tract, or the offering of a broken and brief prayer, or in a solemn resolution to quit favourite sins and yield to Jesus. One sentence seems to have brought Peter and John to follow Christ. One sentence converted the jailer of Philippi. Now if every Christian life sprouted out of the act of a single hour, and was probably the result of some humble agency,
then it is a sin and a folly to “despise the day of small things.”
Cases to illustr this truth thicken in our memory. A goodly woman spoke kindly to her maid-servant about her soul; the gardener overheard the conversation through a hedge, and was himself convicted of his sins. Stray arrows often hit the mark. The late Dr. William Wisner once stopped on a hot summer day at a Berkshire farmhouse for a glass of water. He talked faithfully with the young lady who gave him the refreshing draught, and directed her to the “ living water.” Long years afterwards, a middle. aged woman introduced herself to the Doctor on a steamboat, and thanked him for the plain, kind word that brought her to the Saviour. Harlan Page, coming early to a meeting, found a stranger sitting there, and politely spoke to him. The conversation went on until the man who said that “Christians had always kept him at arm's length" before—was melted into penitence. On the last day of the year 1867 I met a man of fifty in the streets, and said to him, “Had not you and I better begin the new year with a new life?” That simple remark set him to thinking, and resulted in his conversion.
The lesson of all these cases, and of innumerable others like them, is that the most effectual way to save sinners is to use the day of small things, and seize our opportunities. Nearly all revivals start with a single man or woman. One live coal can kindle a great flame.
There is another view of this matter. As the usefulness of a Christian grows out of little deeds well done, so the influence of many Christians is terribly poisoned by little sins. Alas ! how great sinners we may be in small things ! Little irritations of look and manner-little meannesses in our daily dealings—little fibs and insincerities of speech-little jealousies and spites-little neglects of kind acts we might do—all these are the "little foxes” that have spoiled many a goodly vine. Pile up enough tiny snowflakes on a railway track, and they will blockade the most powerful locomotive. So I verily believe that the aggregate sum of Christians' daily incon. sistencies and neglects of duty often block up a revival, and stay the progress of Christ's kingdom. Jesus Christ laid great emphasis on “ keeping the least of His commandments.” That was an awfully mischievous spark that lighted Chicago into a blaze ; but it was once only a spark !
This brings me to say to the unconverted : It is a fatal mistake to think that any wilful sin is a trifle. . If you are lost, my dear friend, it is not likely that one huge crime like Judas', or Pilate's, or Ananias' will sink you to perdition. It will be the sum of your daily sins left unrepented of—the aggregate of thousands of offences against God's law and God's love. I pray you, do not say, “Oh, this is not much." No sin is a trifle. No sin is harmless.
My last thought is that life is a series of steps. Each step counts. Coming to Jesus is a single step. It may be the work of a moment. It may turn on a small pivot. And you will never come to Christ, or never reach heaven while you continue to “despise the day of small things."
T. L. CUYLER.
It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are, the more gentle and quiet we become towards the defects of others.
“I don't see but I get on well enough as I am.”
So you say. You are light-hearted, prosperous, with plenty of friends in easy circumstances, full of bright hopes ; what more do you need ?
It is you to whom the Saviour writes, “ Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing
God offers you the promise that all things shall work together for your good if you love Him ; but you expect they will any way; they have seemed to, so far. He proposes to guide you by His counsel, but you would much rather choose your own way; you have need of nothing in that line. He holds out to you pardon, if you will repent; but you do not care for it; to be sure you are not as good as you should be—but then, who is ? Christ will take away the sharpness of death and the sting of the grave, if you trust in Him ; but
; you do not wish to think anything about death and the grave ; why should you ? you that feel your life in every limb?
So you are rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing. The Gospel may be glad tidings to the broken-hearted and the hopeless, the sick and the criminal, but it is nothing to you.
But how is that? There was more to it; the Saviour said, “Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing ; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked-," can any one be all that and not know it ? Not a great while ago a pleasant young lady, two years a happy wife, took one of those malignant colds that tighten their grasp upon the life till nothing can loosen it. The young husband and all her friends saw with anguish that consumption had marked her, and yet the lovely, unconscious victim went on planning for life when she was already in the valley and shadow of death. Only the day before she died she was talking over what dresses she should need in the summer when she should be well and travel with her husband, and no one had the heart to tell her how fast she was gliding out of this world into another. What if you should be going slowly and steadily down to death while you are all the time fancying you shall be better soon ? Christ is the Life ; severed from Him there is nothing for us but spiritual death. This enfeebled conscience, this contentment away from God, are among the worst symptoms. It is the wretchedest part of the wretchedness not to know you are wretched.
As I was walking through the halls of an insane asylum with the superintendent, a fine-looking old gentleman handed him a scrap of
paper covered with senseless characters, saying, “It's a present for you, doctor ; a check for a large sum." “Oh,” said the doctor, can you spare so much ?” “Oh, yes,” replied the patient, with a lofty air, as well as not.” The only durable riches must be wealth of soul. Did you ever pity a young girl talking and acting as if she had money without end, when you knew, as she did not, that her father was on the verge of bankruptcy? - With that same pity the angels may look on us when we rejoice in being “increased in goods ” which they know to be worthless.
The world promises to pay you a great deal, but the day is not far off, at farthest, which will take you to a country where its bills will not pass. And even while we live here our plenty may be worse than poverty for us. What is the use of riches but to make us better off? And if we take them so as to make us worse off, are we not poorer than the poorest ? Character is the only real thing there is to us. Nothing is easier to forget nor more vital to remember than that. Unless we have a wealth of love and truth within us, we are miserably poor, whatever outside goods we have.
" And knowest not that thou art blind.' We think we see well—but we fix our gaze on magnificent castles of cloud in the air, and think they are real and stay for our coming. We see near objects, out of all proportion, large and solid, while the vast horizon of everlasting truth fades into unsubstantial mist.
Our notions are often distorted and false as the fancies of one born blind. When the glamour dies away, and all things stand in the colourless light of eternity, life will take on a new aspect.
“And knowest not that thou art naked." Did you ever dream of suddenly finding yourself in the street, or in church, not half dressed? Can there be such an awakening to shame and contempt for us when all the respectability and reputation and friendships and surroundings of earth fall away from us, and leave the very soul naked before God ?
But our Makerand Judge does not wish us to cower before Him, "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” He is our Saviour too. He goes on, “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold triod in the fire, that thou mayest be rich ; and white •raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” You think
you “get on very well ” as you are. He sees that you might get on vastly better. He pities you in your unconscious wretchedness, as we pity a child that laughs and plays upon its mother's grave. No, not like that, for He knows He can still save you. He would make you drop the bright garlands of poison ivy, that He may fill your hands with fragrant treasures of unfading flowers. As you stand frowning and discomforted to have Him tear away your self-complacency, He says tenderly, “ As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten : be zealous, therefore, and repent.”
Dear reader, it is because He loves you, because He wants to enrich you with treasures that will last your own, though heavens and earth should flee away, that He tries to make you see you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Yield yourself to the severity of His kind
Let Him show you just what you are—just how little your life amounts to. Humble yourself before Him, and He will lift you up.
The same love that pierces your apathetic comfort, and tears up the world's deceitful promises, and strips away the poisoned robe of selfish pleasure, will give you riches and beauty and joy over which neither disaster nor death can