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tion Edict, which allowed Austrian subjects to profess the Protestant religion.

In 1816, the priest from Jedl came with the judge to make the yearly inquiry about the Communion tickets, which were given to all who confessed, the form of which every parishioner was bound to be able to present. All the people were summoned to appear, and when the names of the four or five who had no tickets had been taken down by the judge, he told all to remain where they were while he went away for a time with the priest. Thereupon the bigoted Catholics began to beat and kick the Bible readers in the most brutal fashion. On the return of the judge the poor wounded creatures complained of the treatment they had received, and asked him to give them a written paper, testifying how they had been treated. I will give you a means of testifying. You shall each of you have ten lashes." One of them almost died under the infliction, while another, who had been almost kicked to death, was lifted up, and was in great danger of receiving the three strokes which the other was not fit to receive. But he was spared.

Three years after, these noble confessors determined to pass the examination, as it was called, and formally quit the Romish and enter the Reformed Church. This examination consisted in going for six weeks to the priest to be examined as to the reality of the determination to forsake Rome. The priests interpreted the law to mean that the six weeks was a period of 1,008 hours, and that those hours only should be reckoned which were spent at his house. These examinations were then often extended over two or three years. In the case of these poor people at Svebehov not only was the time thus lengthened out, but the Catholics were 'encouraged to maltreat the would-be Protestants as they returned to their homes, and it was related of one of them, a woman, too, that she was stoned out of the village, outraged in the most horrible fashion, and left half dead at the foot of a crucifix, against which she had been beaten. The schoolmaster brought out his scholars for the purpose of stoning the poor creature ; and now, strange to say, the most devoted and most influential member of the Svebehov community is one of those very scholars. In fact, the steadfastness of the Protestants led many to join them, so that in 1848 they had become a community of 50 persons, and were formed into an annex of the evangelical parish of Rothwasser, a town four hours' distant. The bishop did everything he could to prevent their getting a chapel, but through the exertions of the Protestant superintendent at Wamiswitz they obtained permission to build a small chapel, and to form a cemetery in a field outside the village. The poor people made great sacrifices, gave materials and labour, and now they have a building capable of holding fifty people. In the winter a path has to be dug to it through the deep snow, but in summer it stands pleasantly amid the waving corn, a striking memorial of the troubles of the past.

The little flock now numbers seventy persons. They are still laughed at, and on Sundays anathemas are hurled against them from the pulpit of the Catholic Church. Four times a year a Protestant minister comes and administers the Lord's Supper, and preaches. On other occasions they edify

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themselves as they best ean. But they greatly desire to see a teacher settled among them, and we believe that this wish of their hearts will soon be satisfied through the instrumentality of the Evangelical Continental Society.

R. S. ASHTON.

The Damascus Altar. “And the brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by." So said King Ahaz, and in the sentence revealed a curious phase of human nature. The story is this :—The southern kingdom, Judea, was attacked by the northern Israel, in combination with Syria. Rezin, the king of Syria, in alliance with Pekah, king of Israel, had brought Ahaz into most imminent peril. In his extremity he turned for help to the principal king of Assyria, who was only too glad to give it.

Tiglath-pileser attacked the Syrian king, killed him, and captured Damascus, his capital. Ahaz, saved from his enemies, went up to Damascus to pay his respects to his deliverer. While there, he saw an altar which caught his attention and so struck his fancy that he determined to have one like it in Jerusalem.

It was probably an Assyrian altar, and perhaps one of those which the Assyrian conquerors were accustomed to set up as trophies to mark their conquests. In adopting it, Ahaz was probably influenced not simply by his taste which admired its beauty, but also by a desire to pay homage to the gods in whose honour it was set up.

He sent a pattern of it to Urijah, the priest, with orders to build an altar according to the plan. This was not all. He gave very specifie directions as to the service which was to be paid it.

The old brazen altar which had stood for centuries in front of the temple, and on which the daily sacrifice had been offered morning and evening for generations past, was to be taken away from its appropriate place and set one side, while the new Damascus altar was to be put in its room. "And King Ahaz commanded Urijah, the priest, saying : Upon the great altar burn the morning and evening meat offering, and the king's burnt sacrifice and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land and their meat offering and their drink offerings, and sprinkle upon at all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice : and the bra en altar shall be for me to inquire by, or to get my oracles from.”—2 Kings xvi. 15. That is, all the offerings of whatever kind were to be offered upon the great Damascus altar; all the respect and the homage were to be paid to the gods in whose honour it was set up, while the old brazen altar which had been used in Jehovah's service was kept in reserve for special occasions when some exigency demanded divine direction and divine help. He did not. destroy nor put wholly out of sight the brazen altar. It would undoubiedly be useful on occasions ; but it was left to occupy a subordinate and inferior place, while all the honour was put upon the new altar.

There is a blunt frankness about the transaction, almost amounting to

facetiousness, that interests one. The cool way in which the old heathen altar is put in the front of the temple, while the brazen altar is ordered on one side, yet not put out of sight, but reserved for special exigencies, when the Damascus altar will not do, is very striking. Some men, having determined to have the Assyrian altar in the place of Jehovah's, would have commanded its destruction as a thing whose use was past, and which it were well to put out of sight. Not so Ahaz. He did not consider its use all gone. There might come a time, very probably there would come a time, when the brazen altar would be of essential service. Jehovah had many a time, through His prophets, come to the help of His people, and had instructed them through His priests, and it were a wise and good thing to keep the altar where, when occasion might demand it, he could go and get the direction and the help that might not be obtained from the Damascus altar's service. It was a wise forecast, but a very base and wicked one,- -80 base and wicked that such a man even as Ahaz was ought to have been ashamed of it.

But Ahaz lives, it may be surmised, in the person of many to-day, and has lived so ever since he sent his curious order from Damascus. It may be feared that a good many people have a great Damascus altar that they have set up in the place of Jehovah's altar, and on which they offer pretty much their service, while they reserve the brazen altar for special occasions. They do not thrust the Jehovah altar entirely out of sight; that would not be safe or expedient; there are times when it will certainly be needed, and it will not do to have it all destroyed ; it must be at hand, where one can avail himself it its help. When one is sick, or in trouble and sorrow,-especially if one should be drawing near to death,-one would want the altar of God to go too; the Damascus altar would not answer then. But meanwhile, and for the present, the offerings and the service is given to the Damascus altar.

W. AIKMAN.

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The Little Foxes. I Am inclined to think that our Christian character and influence suffer more from petty foibles and failures than from great offences. They are little foxes that destroy the vines."

We fall into these minor transgressions almost without the consciousness of guilt. Our virtue seems to have had no great and disastrous shock. We have not met the tempter and been overcome in any signal encounter. When we go down on our knees to confess our sins, these “ secret faults,' of which we have scarce taken notice, and which have laid no burden on our conscience, do not come up in painful and humbling remembrance. And yet these are the very defections which eat the life out of our piety, our usefulness, and our comfort.

Our failures in the Christian walk are, like our duties, the great majority of them, small and seemingly unimportant, and therefore often unnoticed and neglected. There are a hundred little duties to one that is great, as we are accustomed to estimate great and small. We are seldom called to stand forth as elect champions of God, and truth, and goodness, and

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maintain some valiant fight, while the trumpets sound and the banners wave, and the eyes of hosts look on. But most of our work consists of humble ministries of love and help, of little minute fidelities, kept on no record-except on God's remembering page ; and here we are likely to come short.

So in the matter of temptation. Bring upon us some grand test of courage and constancy, and we rise to the occasion and stand fast. It is a conflict worthy of our best heroism, and all our soldier-blood is stirred. Indeed, the large and bold experiments upon our faith and faithfulness are, in their own greatness and boldness, weak and ineffectual. Ask one of us to deny our Master, or forswear our Bible, or trample on the sanctity of the Sabbath, or blaspheme God's name, or join some foul conspiracy against life, or character, or property, and our instant and indignant reply would

“Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing ?” But how many times a day do we lose calmness, and patience, and all self-control over little incidents that are so trifling in themselves that they do not attain to the dignity of a mention on the pages of our diary. Great trials you could have borne. These petty irritations are too much for you. They take all the pleasantness from your face, all the sweetness from your temper. In such moods you are no comfort to yourself or anybody else. You do not recommend religion now. You are peevish, sour, intolerant, intolerable, and altogether unlovely.' It is not a vulture tearing out your liver ; it is only a mosquito stinging you. But the little insect poisons all your peace and fairness.

We need to keep watch against these small irritations—to be constantly on guard lest they betray us into an unseemly behaviour ; to remember that our most positive influence resides in these minor demonstrations ; and to beseech a Divine keeping that we become not the prey of such insignifi. cant tormentors.

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The Excuses of Unbelief.

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When our Saviour was crucified, the chief priests, with cold-blooded, derisive malignity, said: “Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe." This was the test by which to try the claims of Jesus. Yet there was an eternal necessity " that Christ should suffer.' Their test but betrayed their ignorance of what God had revealed.

There are men now who are ready to prescribe to the Almighty what eridence shall sufficiently attest to them the claims of Jesus. “Let prayer be answered in the way that we prescribe, that we may see and believe. Let the language of the Bible be in accordance with modern science, that we may see and believe. Let Christian consistency be such as we prescribe, that we may see and believe." These are their tests. And these betray great ignorance on their part as to the question at issue.

A scientist proposes to ascertain (whether prayer should be offered for the sick, by having one half of the patients in the hospital prayed for and the

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other half not. One so confident in his own reason should at least propose & reasonable test. It would be impious towards God, as well as wanting in benevolence towards men. For its intent would be to dictate to the Almighty to tempt God, to put Him to the test, and see whether He would subject His claim to be approached by men in prayer, to infidel caprice. It is sad that one so eagle-eyed in exploring the works of God, should be so blind to His word-should betray so much ignorance of the nature of prayer and of the Divire promise to it. “Every one that asketh receiveth,” when the prayer he offers is for his own spiritual good—for the Holy Spirit; for we know beforehand that “this is the will of God, even our own sanctification.” But when we pray, as we cannot help praying, that the imperilled life of one dear to us may be prolonged, we do not pretend to know beforehand whether what we desire, and, with deference to the Divine will, ask for, shall be granted. God answers prayer-bestows blessings in answer to it—when He either removes or alleviates affliction, or strengthens us to bear it. The Apostle Paul “besought the Lord thrice,” that what he terms a “thorn in the flesh” might depart from him. This earnest and repeated prayer of a righteous man was answered-answered to his full satisfaction, but not by the removal of the affliction. Suppose that Paul had staked his faith, and that of all mankind, in God as a hearer of prayer, on having that “thorn in the flesh” removed ! Prayer offered with the purpose and intent of—without warrant from him-putting the Almighty to the test, we may well think would be “ blown stifling back on him who breathed it forth.” One of the wise men of the East covertly compares Tyndall to Elijah. Strange that so brilliant and subtle a mind did not detect the closer analogy of the “precatory test” to His who said, “ If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down,' which was met by the silencing reply, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

E. A. W.

Take care of your Thoughts. A CARE of our thoughts is the greatest preservative against actual sins. It is a most certain truth, that the greatest sin that ever was committed, was at first but a thought. The foulest wickedness, the most monstrous impiety arose from so small a speck as a first thought may be resembled to. The most horrid thing that ever was done, as well as the most noble and virtuous action that ever was accomplished, had no greater beginning. Of such a quick growth and spreading nature is sin, that it rivals even the kingdom of heaven, which our Lord telleth us“ is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field ; which, indeed, is the least of all seeds ; but when it is grown up (in those countries) it is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches of it,” (Matt. xiii. 31). “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God : for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man ; but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then when his lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin : and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” It

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