Images de page

with the utmost ease and thoughtlessness by a speaker who will within five minutes be singing loudly,

“ My willing soul would stay

In such a frame as this ;
And sit and sing herself away

To everlasting bliss." Call that acceptable worship! Why, Herbert, I sometimes think it a great marvel that God does not strike us dumb for the blasphemy that is uttered in His service. Look at these phrases, as I have heard them from the lips of a young man of great selfimportance, who would deem it a personal insult if he were not asked to pray,—“Accept, O Lord, these poor unworthy breathings of the chief of sinners, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.” I never knew that young man refuse to pray. I never knew him deem anything he said or did to be a matter of little moment, out of the prayer-meeting. Now, whatever you are, be sincere; remember that the Lord whom you are addressing " looketh on the heart.” He penetrates all disguises, and knows just how much you feel, and how far your language fitly represents your sentiments. Avoid whatever is above or below your real experience.

Two hints as to the bodily position. Avoid much action. Keep your eyes shut.

Now I must close. I trust you will find my hints helpful. Let me summarise them. Avoid length,—the repetition of subjects, phrases, and words,-indefiniteness,-talking to God, monotony, mumbling, noise, and hurry,—familiarity with God, brilliant expressions, grand phrases, hard words,-poetry and obscure quotations from Scripture,—compliments,-insincere and unfelt expressions of exaltation or humiliation and unnatural positions and motions of the body. Or, in other words, Be short, definite, fervent, reverent, simple, and sincere. If you are not in a frame of mind for prayer at the time of the meeting, have the courage to decline to pray. Never be so presumptuous as to stand up and say to God whatever comes first, just because you have been asked to pray. Cultivate the habit and foster the spirit of prayer. And so live that those who join with you may feel that your prayer and your life harmonize with each other. Wishing with you that our prayer-meetings may be more and more the manifestations and the promoters of the highest Christian life, believe me to remain, Yours sincerely,



INGRATITUDE is well-nigh as old as man. None are free from it It is found everywhere. What a contrast was there, of old, between Cana and Calvary. At the former, Christ gave men wine, on the latter, men gave Christ vinegar. Such is the recompense which humanity too often offers a benevolent and merciful God. Much received from Him, little given back to Him, is the general rule. Large blessings, small thanks.

Two grand causes of ingratitude are these-ignorance and forgetfulness. Many are guilty of the evil in question because they do not know, and do not care to know, how numerous their advantages, how great their blessings. They are not cognisant, moreover, of the secret sorrows and invisible trials of those whom they often envy. If they were, they would covet their neighbour's position and possessions less, and value their own more. Others, again, do not appreciate their privileges, not because they are in the dark as to the worth of those privileges, but rather because they receive and use them carelessly, not remembering how needful and beneficial they are.

If we are right in thus partially accounting for the prevalence of unthankfulness, it will be admitted that the statement of a few facts adapted to remove the said ignorance and forgetfulness is no vain, useless task. Such is our present object. In so doing we shall endeavour to illustrate, by examples, the following fact,—that there is a great law of compensation operating in the world, so that there is not that inequality in men's conditions which is often supposed to exist. Though Justice demands two states of being, the present and the future, to complete her divinely-imposed task, yet her power now is not mean and feeble. God's ways are equal. Heaven's balances are right. As Solomon phrased it, “God hath set the one over against the other." We now proceed to the proof.

1. As respects physical blessings there is compensation. This has been so largely written and spoken about by some of late, that it is difficult to refer to it without incurring the charge of either repetition or plagiarism. Albeit, it is so much to the point in the present argument that we should lay ourselves open to deserved censure if we omitted allusion to it. In reference, then, to those portions of the globe which various nations occupy, how much there is in the advantages and disadvantages connected with each which speaks of equalization. This land has capacities and productions which that has not, but has also deficiencies which you do not find in the latter. How common, for example, is it to hear persons speak in terms of praise, and even of envy, concerning Southern and Eastern countries. According to them, there is no scenery so gorgeous and luxuriant, no climate so sunny and spring-like; no temperature so mild, balmy, and delightful; no soil so prolific in yielding, almost without human labour, superb plants, lovely flowers, and richest wines, as those to be found in those latitudes. No leaden sky, no murky clouds, no damp vapours, no fickle weather there. Granted; but there is another and different category to be made out. By the side of these attractions those far-off regions have phenomena of an opposite character. There the volcano nurses its subterranean fire, and sends forth its wrathful, ruinous deluge; there the hollow, ominous sound of the greedy earthquake is heard ere the lives and properties of those who dwell within its bounds are destroyed; there the silent but subtle pestilence charges the atmosphere with poison and decimates whole towns and villages of their population; there the tiger lies in wait for his prey, the crocodile lurks in the tepid rivers, the hateful scorpion pounces upon those who draw too near its cruel fangs, while the fleas and mosquitoes of those countries are enough to drive away all the repose of life.

Nor is this all. Man's mental welfare and political well-being are not usually promoted by the influences of such climates, You will find, as a rule, that mind does not develope as strenuously as in more northern lands. The intellectual stream, it is true, sometimes runs in beauty and even magnificence, but it runs slowly. It is not seldom like a stagnant pool, which requires the angel of inquiry to descend into and trouble the waters. As much may be said of the political condition of these localities. Oriental despotism has passed into a proverb. Prolifio soil, balmy breezes, sunny skies, are not favourable to freedom. Those who enjoy them are frequently careless of civic rights, and reckless of crushing tyrannies. To quote from an able writer, “ Egypt was distinguished as the abode of a peculiarly easy and luxurious life. The means of subsistence were inconceivably abundant. The very soil teemed with life. But the higher faculties of man had little stimulus, the lower being surfeited with food. This easiness of the terms of life is fatal to the noblest elements in man. Look at Naples. No heroism can be extracted from the lazzaroni. Give the fellow a bit of bread, a slice of lemon, and a drink of sour wine, and he will lie all day long on the quays, basking in the sun and the glorious air; and what cares he if empires rise or totter to their fall ? Cyrus expressed a deep truth, which is one of the chief keys to human history, when he said sadly, after the settlement of his hardy Persians in the rich Mesopotamian plains, 'The soil which nourishes such fruits and flowers will not nourish warriors.?"

the higherably abundzious life inguished anies. Teameless of clit

what this.ce and winter must act

Not only are mental and political blessings nurtured by our northern climate, but domestic comforts also. The fog of November, the frost of January, the winds of March, and the rains of April, render a settled abode more needful than in lands of a milder climate. What is the result? Home is the result,-a thing which, in our acceptation of the term, is unknown in many of the regions so much lauded for their natural attractions. So that though our blasts may be rude, our atmosphere chill in winter, they do us good service, inasmuch as they send us indoors to the pleasures of the fireside and the delights of domestic life. Family virtues are cultured, family sympathies are expanded, family interests are secured, at least partially, through an inhospitable climate which forces us to seek the solace of home.

Looking, then, at our subject from a geographical point of view, we find that man is subjected to a wise and beneficent compensation. No one spot concentrates all possible advantages. No one spot concentrates all possible disadvantages. What this country lacks, that possesses, and vice versa. Win and lose, lose and win; give and take, take and give, is the principle upon which man must act. Well, said Goldsmith,

“ But where to find that happiest spot below,
Who can direct, when all pretend to know
The shuddering tenant of the frigid zone
Boldly proclaims the happiest spot his own;
Extols the treasures of his stormy seas,
And his long nights of revelry and ease.
The naked Negro panting at the line,
Boasts of his golden sands and palmy vine,
Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave,
And thanks his gods for all the good they gave.
Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam,
His first, best country, ever is at home.
And yet perhaps if countries we compare,
And estimate the blessings which they share,
Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find
An equal portion dealt to all mankind:
As different good, by art or nature given,

To different nations make their blessings even." Regarded physiologically, also, the great law under consideration is most strikingly carried out. How the senses aid each other in the event of misfortune befalling one of them! Who has not noticed this in the case of blind people ? The loss of sight quickens, in an almost incredible degree, touch, smell, and hearing. More than that. The faculty of memory strengthens. If the blind man cannot read as you can, neither can you remember as the blind man can. Sanderson, the celebrated mathematician, though totally deprived of sight, lectured on optics. How expressive, too, are the countenance, and how intelligible the gestures of the deaf and dumb. By look and by action they sometimes make known their wants as decisively and emphatically as if the lips moved and the tongue spoke. To take another exemplification of physical compensation : it is well known that many suffer from colour-blindness. The nice distinctions in shade, the delicate differences in various hues, are lost upon them. Sometimes the defect in vision is so great that they cannot distinguish green from brown, or pink from blue. We have known such instances within our own circle of acquaintances. That this is a hindrance to much æsthetic pleasure, and even a serious disqualification for certain branches of commerce, as that of a draper, every one must acknowledge. But it is a curious fact that colour-blindness is frequently counterbalanced by remarkable aptness in appreciating beauty of form. The man, therefore, who is not able fully to appreciate a painting, can do full justice to a statue or a piece of sculpture.

Referring once to the topic of these remarks, a friend asked us if we had noticed the amiability of deformed and crippled persons. We replied that we had not. Taking the hint, however, we examined into the matter, and the result is that we are compelled to confirm the observation. As far as our own experience goes, we have usually found that bodily malformation is often counterbalanced by social and domestic excellencies. The poor creature that jerks along on unequal legs, or has a humped back, or has lost a useful limb by disease or accident, generally has a kind heart. Such are usually cheerful, too. Some of the happiest human beings we have met with have been confirmed invalids. We remember one especially. She had been confined to her house, a helpless cripple, for nearly two score years; she was poor; she often had severe pain. And yet she always seemed content, and we have, again and again, gone from her door self-condemned that with health and activity we were not so thankful.

That physical suffering is often a blessed moral culture and an effective spiritual helper we all know. Cases are by no means uncommon in which sickness of body has led to health of soul. The outward man has suffered that the inward man might be "renewed day by day.”

2. As respects social position and pecuniary possessions there is compensation. We are not about to enter on a crusade against money. Wealth is good. Pounds, shillings, and pence are not to be sneered at as necessary evils. They may be the means of bringing almost every kind of blessing, therefore they are not to be denounced, as some folk would have us believe. It is quite time we had done with the senseless tirades which ever and anon are raised against what, in itself, is a boon. Nevertheless, if the rich occupy a vantage ground from which the poor are excluded, the poor are not altogether without compensation.

« PrécédentContinuer »