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"STRAINING AT A GNAT.” “Ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith."-MATTHEW xxiii. 23. Two noted Greek pirates were once captured and condemned to death at Malta. It was observed, that the beef and anchovies among the stores of & captured English ship had alone remained untouched. They were asked the cause of this singular procedure, and replied, that it was the time of the great fast of their Church. They would not commit such a sin as tasting fish or flesh. They were plundering and murdering men, women, and helpless children, but they would not transgress the canons of their Church by eating meat upon fast day. They looked to their strict observance of these things as a merit for which God would grant them success in their infamous work.
A man came down from the hills to a Neapolitan priest to confess a sin which lay heavy upon his conscience. In the busy season of Lent, while engaged in making cheese, some of the whey had fallen upon his lips, and, miserable man that he was, he had swallowed it. * Free
distressed conscience,” he besought, “ from its agonies, by absolving me from my guilt."
"Have you no other sins to confess ? ” asked the priest. "No, I do not know that I have committed any other.”
“We often hear of robberies and murders committed in your mountains. Have you never been concerned in these?”
“Yes, but all of us do these things. We never account them as crimes needing confession and absolution.' may
smile at such a type of conscientiousness; but if we search strictly our own hearts, may we not find there some similar "straining at a gnat,” which, with our greater light, is far more inexcusable? Are we not all tempted to think more of a strict outward observance of our religious duties, than of deep, inward, hourly communion with Jesus?
“ PRELEEMINARIES.”—It has long been my deep conviction, that there is a very prevalent tendency in congregations to underrate the importance of the devotional parts of public service. Dr. Robert Lee complains of the subordinate place which worship too commonly occupies in the minds of Presbyterians, in comparison with the sermon, which, he says, “is the first, second, and third thing, and, indeed, nearly everything, in our public worship.” He tells of an Edinburgh church, much frequented by strangers, in the lobby of which a gentleman was standing till the devotional services were terminated, when he was promised a seat. To encourage
perseverance, the old woman who kept the door assured him thus: "Dinna weary, sir; ye'll no hae lang to wait; the doctor 's no lang in gettin' through the preleeminaries.” We may never have heard the exercises of praise and prayer described as “preleeminaries,” but have we never heard them spoken of as the “ introductory” parts of the service? The sermon is instruction, the other engagements of the house of God are worship: In preaching, man addresses his fellows; in praise and prayer, we speak to God. “Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes." —Rev. J. T. Feaston.
"THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY.”
(By Josephine Pollard.)
To catalogue our ills,
Of that which it distils.
And drive away the sun,
At what ourselves have done.
Serve to augment our pain,
The blossoms that remain.
And walks through gloomy ways,
Are longer than the days.
But we our penury make;
We doubt, and dare not take.
And every tear we shed,
And many a joy has sped.
And bravely rides the gale,
Or in the tattered sail,
The restfulness she knew
And swept her through and through,
Of sorrow and of pain;
And only clouds remain.
God's purpose to impair,
The livery we wear.
We know not which is best,
The Sunday School Times.
There is no future for a Church that does not reach the young.
THE LAW OF LOVE. "That boy disturbs the peace of the whole class,” exclaimed Mr. Kemp, as he pointed to a restless little fellow at the end of the seat. “Sit still, sir,” he added sternly, as the boy, who really seemed to be all hands and feet, began to drum with the one, and beat a tattoo on the bottom of the seat with the other. "I am about forming a new class for Miss C- -,” replied the
superintendent, looking somewhat sadly at the perplexed teacher. “ Shall I take Frank Turner and give him to her?”
"I don't think a lady can manage him;" said Mr. Kemp, “but I confess I should like to have him away from these good boys.”
So Frank was duly placed in Miss C-s class. The superintendent detained Mr. Kemp a moment after school to make a suggestion.
"Say nothing to Miss C- about her scholar; I want him to have a fair chance with her, and begin with a white record.”
Miss C—, a fair, sweet young lady, very calm and gentle in her mien, took her seat on the next Sunday, in the middle of her class, six restless little people, with eager eyes looking at her, ready to drink in her teachings'; six immortal souls that should live forever. Putting up a silent prayer for help to Him who is able to give it, she began her work. Frank, his black eyes dancing with fun and mischief, attracted her attention first. He had a pocketful of little paper balls, which he was slyly throwing here and there. He was just aiming one at Mr. Kemp's head, when Miss —'s little gloved hand was laid gently on his own.
"That is very good fun, Frank,” she said, “ but it is not right to-day; I want you for my chief staff in this class, so put those away, and find my place for me while I am writing down your names.”
Feeling a new sense of responsibility, the little " chief of staff,” found the place in his teacher's Bible. The lesson for the day was on the “new commandment,” and the little fellows listened with close attention, as Miss C-called it the eleventh, and bade them think often of the Saviour's law of love.
“Frank Turner has turned over a new leaf since he left my class,” observed Mr. Kemp to the superintendent a few weeks after. “I wish I knew Miss C- 's secret for managing unruly boys.".
" I think it is a very simple one," said the superintendent. - has learned that love is the fulfilling of the law. Her loving persuasion has done more for Frank than our stern authority. Let us hope that she will be able to lead him to Jesus, the ever-loving."—S. S. Times.
An ATHEIST REBUKED.-A noted and out-spoken infidel had caused his creed to be briefly written over the mantle in his study, "God is Nowhere." His little child coming in, in artless faith, slowly spelled out the motto thus: G, O, D, God,-i, s, is,-n, o, w, now,-h, e, r, e, here! "God is now here!” It is said that this simple incident was the means of that infidel's conversion.
GRANDCHILDREN. GATHER together, you great and goodly company who are interested in the grandchild in your own house, and let us help each to a better understanding of the meaning and the richness of this relation. We will not begin with the creation or the deluge, nor undertake to give a history of grandfathers and grandchildren since the day of Enoch; nor will we go into the philosophy of the parental love, that is the key to the whole matter. We know that we love our children, first of all, from a certain instinct, because they are ours; and we know that, while with the lower animals this love ceases with the dependence of the young animal upon the parent for aliment, with the human being the love deepens as the relation of parent and child is ripened and strengthened by growing sympathy and mutual service. Now this very affection that we have for our own children does not rest in them alone, as they grow in
and knowledge, and rise into youth and maturity. We still yearn for a little child to love, and there is a void in the house where there is none. Good Providence has benignly met this need of our nature by ordaining, that when our children grow up, their place shall be supplied, or rather truly filled, by children of theirs; and so the child is not set aside, but rather restored in the grandchild.
I do not exactly know how to analyze the kind of affection that is ready to cling to a grandchild. We love that little fellow at once, without waiting for moralist or theologian to define the feeling or urge the duty. He is blood of our blood, and bone of our bone, and in the form that most expresses dependence and wins protection. He is the child of our child, and we love him for our sako, for his mother's or father's sake, as well as for his own sake. We see in him not only bimself, but the whole world of affection with which he is related. In that boy or girl in our daughter's arms, we see as in a mirror the face of our daughter when she was in her mother's arms; and that mother's face smiles again upon us with new grace, whether from the earthly home or from the heavenly mansion.
Then this child is nearer our heart from being an interpreter of the plan of God for our human life. He shews to us how it is that God is ever educating us for himself, and calling us to live in fresh and undying affection, by ever setting, like Jesus, a little child in the midst of us. If we have only our own children to love, the time will come when they will grow up, and be full of new interests and cares that may come between them and our hearts. When these children of ours have children, their affections are softened, and their hearts are quickened toward us and ours toward them by this new attraction, that sends a child into the family, not to be a rival of any, but the friend of all.—Rev. Samuel Osgood, D.D., in “Harper's Magazine.”
HOME.—God help us to make home heaven-like, that heaven may be home-like; that, as the dear circle on earth grows narrow and poor, the kinsmen of our hearts may gather on the far shore to await the blest reunion, where we and all who belong to us, whom our souls claim by the rights and hold by the bands of love, shall be forever with each other and with the Lord.—Rev. J. Baldwin Brown.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER. The Rev. J. G. Woods relates a curious Jewish legend respecting the introduction of the starling into Palestine :
"Many years ago a strange bird appeared in Jerusalem. caught, and brought before a celebrated rabbi for examination, in order that he might decide whether it belonged to the clean or the unclean birds. After examining it, he could not make up his mind to either side of the question, and left the disputed point to be settled in a different way. He ordered the bird to be placed on the roof of a house, and to be carefully watched, in order that the birds which associated with it might be noticed. For some time no birds of any kind would recognise the stranger, until at last there came a raven from Egypt which claimed acquaintance with it. In consequence of this the starling was ever afterwards classed with the raven, and considered as an unclean bird.”
Let our youthful readers learn from this the evil of bad company, since we shall surely be damaged in our reputation, if not in our actual habits, by association with ungodly men. He who would hopefully offer the prayer, “ Gather not my soul with sinners," must anxiously take heed that he stand not in the way of the wicked in his daily life.--Sword and Trowel.
BE COURTEOUS.-Sabbath school teachers should always be courteous to their pupils. Nobody appreciates a little attention so much as a child, and with no one will a little go so far. Children have claims upon us all the more sacred if they are friendless and neglected. They have rights which older people are bound to respect.
A WORLD WITHOUT PRAYER.-Did you ever reflect what the world would be if for one day the voice of prayer was hushed ?-if no petition went up for the restraining power of God on the acts of wicked men-no blessing of heaven was invoked on prayerless friends and neighbours ? Oh! we should learn then how much we owe to these prayers. Even the most hardened sinners are saved from a thousand evils by the prayers of their godly associates. If there had been but ten righteous men in Sodom, it would have been spared its fearful doom.-S. S. Times.
NOTICE TO CORRESPONDENTS. The matter for each Number of the Magazine requires to be in the hands
of the printers not later than the middle of the month before publication. The insertion of communications sent later cannot be guaranteed.
Intelligence. GREENOCK SABBATH SCHOOL UNION. | terly Meeting of this Union :-“On -The following is the report sub- this, the occasion of the First Quarmitted, on 3d May, at the First Quar- terly Meeting of our Sabbath School