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itself with other bodies, more ready to carry on the work of combustion. The oxygen of the blood-discs is, we are led to believe, thus “ active.” Unlike many retail dealers, these tiny tradesmen improve instead of injuring the goods that pass through their hands.
“Breathing," then, as it appears to us moderns, is a far more complicated matter than the ancients thought it when they talked of its cooling their excited breasts, and yet we most likely have not got half to the bottom of it. But the more complicated the process the more chances are there of its getting wrong. To the ancients there seemed to be only one way of suffocation, a stoppage of the breath ; but we can see several ways. The passage to the lungs may be stopped, or the chest may cease to work the bellows-actions, or the air may be wanting in oxygen, though it enter the lungs never so freely, or the discs may be sick and inapt to carry on their oxygen trade, be there ever so much in the lungs, and sickness may come upon them either through disease of the body influencing the blood, or through some subtle poison paralysing them, striking them helpless at one blow. In any of these ways a man may be cut off from the breath of life. In the first cases, though no air enters the lungs, the blood has still some breath to last the body a little while. But only for a little while; the fire that burns in our tissues though silent and invisible, is imperious and fierce. Oxygen, fresh oxygen, it must have constantly and continually, or else the whole vital machine is shaken by convulsions and hurries on to death. As we said above, we may starve ourselves of food for hours or days, for the blood's store of food is but slowly used ; but we cannot starve ourselves of air even for a few minutes, so quickly is the blood's breath consumed.
HENRY WARD BEECHER'S CHURCH.
FOR many years, this church upon Brooklyn Heights has been, to the best of the visitors to the metropolis, the most interesting object in or near it. Of Brooklyn itself—a great assemblage of residences, without much business or stir it seems the animating sonl. We have a fancy that we can tell by the manner and bearing of an inhabitant of the place whether he attends this church or not; for there is a certain joyousness, candour, and democratic simplicity about the members of that congregation which might be styled Beecherian, if there were not a better word. The church is simply the most characteristic thing of America. If we had a foreigner in charge to whom we wished to reveal this country, we should like to push him in, hand him over to one of the brethren who perform the arduous duty of providing seats for visitors, and say to him: “There stranger, you have arrived; this is the United States, the New Testament, Plymouth Rock, and the Fourth of July, this is what they have brought us to. What the next issue will be, no one can tell; but this is about what we are at present."
We cannot imagine what the brethren could have been thinking about when they ordered the new bell that hangs in the tower of Plymouth Church. It is the most superfluous article in the known world. The New Yorker who steps on board the Fulton ferry-boat about ten o'clock on Sunday morning finds himself accompanied by a large crowd of people who bear the visible stamp of strangers, who are going to Henry Ward Beecher's church. You can pick them out with perfect certainty. You see the fact in their countenances, in their dress, in their demeanour, as well as hear it in words of eager expectation. They are the kind of people who regard wearing apparel somewhat in the light of its utility and are not crushed by their clothes. They are the sort of people wno take the “ Tribune," and get up courses of lectures in the country towns. From every quarter of Brooklyn, in street cars and on foot, streams of people are converging toward the same place. Every Sunday morning and evening, rain or shine, there is the same concourse, the same crowd at the gates before they are open, and the same long, laborious effort to get thirty-five hundred people into a building that will seat but twenty-seven hundred. Besides the ten or twelve members of the church who volunteer to assist in this labour, there is employed a force of six policemen at the doors, to prevent the multitude from choking all ingress. Seats are retained for their proprietors until ten minutes before the time of beginning; after that the strangers are admitted. Mr. Buckle, if he were with us still, would be pleased to know that his doctrine of averages holds good in this instance; since every Sunday about a churchfull of persons come to this church, so that not many who come fail to get in.
There is nothing of the ecclesiastical drawing-room in the arrangements of this edifice. It is a very plain brick building, in a narrow street of small, pleasant houses, and the interior is only striking from its extent and convenience. The simple, oldfashioned design of the builder was to provide seats for as many
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people as the space would hold; and in executing this design he constructed one of the finest interiors in the country, since the most pleasing and inspiriting spectacle that human eyes ever behold in this world is such an assembly as fills this church. The audience is grandly displayed in those wide, rounded galleries, surging up high against the white walls, and scooped out deep in the slanting floor, leaving the carpeted platform the vortex of an arrested whirlpool. Often it happens that two or three little children get lodged upon the end of the platform, and sit there on the carpet among the flowers during the service, giving to the picture a singularly pleasing relief, as though they and the bouquets had been arranged by the same skilful hand, and for the same purpose. And it seems quite natural and proper that children should form part of so bright and joyous an occasion. Behind the platform rises to the ceiling the huge organ, of dark wood and silvered pipes, with fans of trumpets pointing heavenward from the top. This enormous toy occupies much space that could be better filled, and is only less superfluous than the bell ; but we must pardon and indulge a foible. Blind old Handel played on an instrument very different from this, but the sexton had to eat a cold Sunday dinner; for not a Christian would stir as long as the old man touched the keys after service. But not old Handel nor older Gabriel could make such music as swells and roars from three thousand human voices--the regular choir of Plymouth Church. It is a decisive proof of the excellence and heartiness of this choir, that the great organ has not lossened its effectiveness.
It is not clear to the distant -spectator by what aperture Mr. Beecher enters the church. He is suddenly discovered to be present, seated in his place on his platform, an under-sized gentleman in a black stock. His hair combed behind his ears, ånd worn a little longer than usual, imparts to his appearance something of the Puritan, and calls to mind his father, the champion of orthodoxy in heretical Boston. In conducting the opening exercises, and, indeed, on all occasions of ceremony, Mr. Beecher shows himself an artist, both his language and his demeanour being marked by the most refined decorum. An elegant, finished simplicity characterizes all he does and says; not a word too much, or a word misused, nor a word waited for, nor an unharmonious movement, mars the satisfaction of the auditor. The habit of living for thirty years in the view of a multitude, together with a natural sense of the becoming, and a quick sympathy with men and circumstances, has wrought up his public demeanour to a point near perfection. A candidate for public honours could not study a better model. This is the more remarkable, because it is a purely spiritual triumph. Mr.
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Beecher's person is not imposing, nor his natural manner graceful. It is his complete extirpation of the desire of producing an illegitimate effect; it is his sincerity and genuineness as a human being; it is the dignity of his character, and his command of his powers,—which give him this easy mastery over every situation in which he finds himself.
Extempore prayers are not, perhaps, a proper subject for como ment. The grand feature of the preliminary services of this church is the singing, which is not executed by the first talent that money can command. When the prelude upon the organ is finished, the whole congregation-almost every individual in it as if by a spontaneous and irresistible impulse, stands up and sings. We are not aware that anything has ever been done or said to bring about this result; nor does the minister of the church set the example, for he usually remains sitting and silent. It seems as if every one in the congregation was so full of something that he felt impelled to get up and sing it out. In other churches where congregational singing is attempted, there are usually a number of languid Christians who remain seated, and a large number of others who remain silent; but here there is a strange unanimity about the performance. A sailor might as well try not to join in the chorus of a forecastle song as a member of this joyous host not to sing. When the last preliminary singing is concluded, the audience is in an excellent condition to sit and listen, their whole corporeal system having been pleasantly exercised.
The sermon which follows is new wine in an old bottle. Up to the moment when the text has been announced and briefly explained, the service has all been conducted upon the ancient model, and chiefly in the ancient phraseology; but from the moment when Mr. Beecher swings free from the moorings of his text and gets fairly under way, his sermon is modern. No matter how fervently he may have been praying supernaturalism, he preaches pure cause and effect. His text may savour of old Palestine, but his sermon is inspired by New York and Brooklyn; and nearly all that he says, when he is most himself, finds an approving response in the mind of every well-disposed person, whether orthodox or heterodox in his creed.
What is religion ? That, of course, is the great question. Mr. Beecher says: Religion is the slow, laborious self-conducted EDUCATION of the whole man, from grossness to refinement, from sickliness to health, from ignorance to knowledge, from selfishness to justice, from justice to nobleness, from cowardice to valour. In treating this topic, whatever he may pray of read, or assent to, he preaches cause and effect, and nothing else. Regeneration he does not represent to be some mysterious, miraculous influence exerted upon a man from without, but the man's own act, wholly and always, and in every stage of its progress. His general way of discoursing upon this subject would satisfy the most rationalized mind; and yet it does not appear to offend the most orthodox.
One remarkable thing, however, about his preaching is, that he has not, like so many men of liberal tendencies, fallen into milk-and-waterism. He often gives a foretaste of the terrific power which preachers will yield when they draw inspiration from science and life. It cannot be said of his preaching, that he preaches “ Christianity with the bones taken out." He does not give “twenty minutes of tepid exhortation," nor amuse his auditors with elegant and melodious essays upon virtue.
We need not say that his power as a public teacher is due, in a great degree, to his fertility in illustrative similes. Three or four volumes, chiefly filled with these, as they have been caught from his lips, are before the public, and are admired on both continents. Many of them are most strikingly happy, and flood his subject with light. The smiles that break out upon the sea of upturned faces, and the laughter that whispers round the assembly, are often due as much to the aptness as to the humour of the illustration: the mind receives an agreeable shock of surprise at finding a resemblance where only the widest dissimilarity had before been perceived.
Of late years, Mr. Beecher never sends an audience away half satisfied; for he has constantly grown with the growth of his splendid opportunity. How attentive the great assembly, and how quickly responsive to the points he makes! That occasional ripple of laughter,-it is not from any want of seriousness in the speaker, in the subject, or in the congregation; nor is it a Rowland Hill eccentricity. It is simply that it has pleased heaven to endow this genial soul with a quick perception of the likeness there is between things unlike; and, in the heat and torrent of his speech, the suddenly-discovered similarity amuses while it instructs. Philosophers and purists may cavil at parts of these sermons, and, of course, they are not perfect; but who can deny that their general effect is civilizing, humanizing, elevating, and regenerating, and that this master of preaching is the true brother of all those high and bright spirits, on both sides of the ocean, who are striving to make the soul of this age fit to inhabit and nobly impel its new body?
The sermon over, a livelier song brings the service to a happy conclusion; and slowly, to the thunder of the new organ, the great assembly dissolves and oozes away.
The Sunday services are not the whole of this remarkable