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I was walking quietly along in the beautiful lane that leads to Stoke. A little way before me, a large covered cart was standing by the road-side. A horse was feeding near. Two children were playing about on the grass. When I got up to them, the eldest, a little girl, came and dropped a curtsey. She looked so bright and cheerful that I thought I should like to talk a little with her, and she seemed quite as willing to talk to me. Her name, she told me, was Eliza.
6 And where do you live, my dear ?" I asked her. “I don't live anywhere, sir," she said; “we go about in this cart with father and mother.” Her parents, I found, were away at the market, they would soon be coming back, and then the horse would be put in the cart, and carry them to another town; and this was the poor child's life! She was nine years old, she said; and her little brother who sat by quite gravely, listening to us, was six. “ Can you read, my child ?” “O no, sir, nobody did ever teach me.” And she looked up in my face so sorrowfully that I quite pitied her, and said, “Should you not like to learn?” “O) yes, sir, that I should !” and I could see the tears come into her bright eyes. I gave her a little book; you would have been glad to see how pleased she was! She thought that perhaps she could coax her father to teach her--for he was able; her mother could not read herself. “Have you ever heard, my dear, about the great God ?" “O yes, sir, many a time.” “ And where is he?" Now many children w
ve pointed to the blne 'sky, and said, Up in heaven ; but this little maid knew better. She waved her hand round slowly, looked very solemnly in my face, and said, “ All about us, and everywhere.” “Does God see you ?” “ Please, sir, I don't know !" "Not know, my dear! you may be sure that, as he is here, he sees you always, knows all you do, and hears every word you say.” “Do he sir ?" and the poor child looked quite frightened. I suppose she recollected something she had done wrong, and was afraid that God would be angry with her; for she said in a low tone, almost to herself, “Then I must not say wicked words.” “O no, Eliza, for God will be angry
you do, and has said that he will punish wicked people when they die, for ever and ever.” Eliza looked at me now without speaking, full of fear and wonder, but as if she did not quite understand what I said; so I asked her, “Did you never hear of hell?” “No, sir,” “Nor yet of heaven P” “No, sir.” “And were you never told of Jesus Christ, who came into tilae world to save sinners ?” “No, sir.” “Should you not like to hear about all this?" O yes, sir!" and now the tears quite ran down her cheeks. I never saw any one look more anxious and unhappy. For a little while I talked to her, and told her as much as she could understand about the gracious Saviour who died for sinners, and said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me;" about God our gracious Father, who will listen to a poor child's prayer; and about the heaven where all who love him shall meet at last in joy. But I was soon obliged to bid her good bye, and as I walked on, and prayed in my heart that God would teach and love her, I thought of you, my dear children, and gave thanks to our heavenly Father, that you are able to learn of him, and of Jesus, and of the way to be happy for ever.
Are you sorry for little Eliza? I have told you her story that you may understand how sad it is to have a starving, hungry soul. She was starving, for she did not know those things which would have made her truly wise; she was hungry, for she was most anxious to get this knowledge, and full of grief that there was nobody to teach her. And, my dear children, we should all have been left in as sad a case if it had not been for Him who said, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus feeds the soul. To know him is wisdom. He is the truth. For if you believe and understand what he has taught, you know all those things which were so strange and dark to poor Eliza. You have not to say in sorrow, “ There is no one to teach me," for Christ is your teacher, and it is all made plain. You learn of God, for Jesus has told us, when we pray, to say, “Our Father.” You learn of heaven, for how often did he speak of that bright world where God's children shall dwell for ever! You learn the way to be saved, for Christ has promised that whosoever believes in him shall have eternal life. You learn what you ought to do; for these are his own words—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul, and strength ; and thy neighbour as thyself.” The Bible is full of his teachings; it tells us all we need, that we may be good and happy; and to every starving soul the Saviour says, “ Come and learn of me, listen to my words, believe in my love, and you shall never be hungry again. This is the true bread that cometh down from heaven."
But now, my children, let me say to you that it will be of no use to you to know these things, if you do not think of them, and love and try to do them. Suppose I were to tell you, that when the manna lay on the ground in the wilderness, there were some hungry people who said, “No, I will not go out to gather any, I do not want it; I am quite content to stay as I am.” Why you would hardly believe me. You would be quite sure that nobody could ever be so foolish. You are right; it would be foolish indeed, and such persons would deserve to die; but are there no children who do just the same with the bread of life? God has sent it to them, in his great love, but they turn away from it, they do not care for it, they will not have it! Ah, my dear children, it will not be of much use to you that Jesus came to save you, if you do not trust and love him ; it will only make you worse and more unhappy than if he had never come at all. Very sad it would have been to see a poor man dying in the desert, because he would not have the bread that God had sent; but oh, it is sadder still to see men and women, and little children too, letting their souls starve and die, while if they would they might know Christ as their Saviour, and turn to him and live for ever.
And what is it for the soul to die? It is, to go into a world of sorrow, far from God, far from Jesus, and miserable without end. How many will then recollect that they were once able to hear of Christ and his salvation! Oh how they will wish that they had thought of him in time, and loved him as their Saviour! But it will be vain. They will hear of his mercy now no more. No more for ever! My dear children, I do not wish to make you sad, but I must tell you the truth. If you do not receive Christ as the bread of life, your souls must die. Your Father in heaven does not wish you to be lost. Jesus lovingly invites you to come to him. Your minister and teachers tell you that he is able and ready to save you. But if you will not listen to the voice of Jesus, if you do not care to know him, and refuse to seek his love, what can be done? You must go away into everlasting pain; but remember, my children, the fault will be all your own.
I have only one thing more to say about this bread of the soul. It is written in the 51st verse, “If any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever.” The manna, you know, that fell
in the wilderness, could not keep men from death. It saved their lives, and fed them for many years; but when their time had come it could not save them. I think I see an Israelite lying in his tent on the bed of death. He is pale and still, he can scarcely breathe, his spirit will soon be gone. His little child comes in with a morsel of manna, fresh and cool, that she has just gathered from the ground outside. “Do try and eat a little, dear father," she gently whispers. But no, it cannot do him any good, he cannot touch it. Years ago, when a pale hungry boy, he had shouted for joy to see it on the desert ground; it had saved him then from being starved, but it is of no use to him now, his time has come, and he must die. So it is said in the 49th verse: “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.” But “this is the bread that cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.” What then, if we know Christ, and love him, shall we be saved. from death ? Shall we not one day sleep in the grave like others ? O yes, my children, the body will be there, but the soul, the SOUL will live for ever. I have seen a dear child upon the bed of death, and heard him say, "I am not afraid to die, for I know my soul is going to live with Jesus.” And we too, if we know and love him, may have the same joy. The bread of life will be sweet to us on earth, for it is a joyful thing indeed to know Christ and be sure that he is our friend; but far happier will be that world where the souls he loves shall live with him, and of which it is written, in beautiful words I should like you to find when you get home, to learn by heart, and often to think of: “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat: for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
THE GREAT SEA SERPENT. As the existence of this creature has been advocated in our former numbers at pp. 1 and 83, it is with much pleasure that we extract the following letter from the “Illustrated London News” of 14th April. We should have given it last month, had we not been anxious to remove all doubt as to its authenticity, which we have now done by writing to an official friend at
Portsmouth connected with the vessel referred to. His obliging answer settles the question in our own mind, notwithstanding the scepticism of those very learned gentlemen who, in order to negative the existence of this gigantic creature, first describe an object which neither Capt. McQuhæ, nor our present informant ever affirmed that they had seen, and then shew that this imaginary object could not have been a sea serpent. We need scarcely say that the engraving last given exactly agrees with the former one, copied in our January number. To the Editor of the Illustrated London News.
H.M.S. Plumper, Portsmouth Harbour,
April 10th, 1849. Not having seen a sketch of the extraordinary creature we passed between England and Lisbon, and being requested by several gentlemen
you the rough one I made at the time, I sho feel much obliged by your giving it publicity in your instructive and amusing columns.
On the morning of the 31st December, 1848, in lat. 41° 13' N., and long. 12° 31' W., being nearly due west of Oporto, I saw a long black creature with a sharp head, moving slowly, I should think about two knots, through the water, in the north-westerly direction, there being a fresh breeze at the time, and some sea on. I could not ascertain its exact length, but its back was about twenty feet if not more above water; and its head, as near as I could judge, from six to eight. I had not time to make a closer observation, as the ship was going six knots though the water, her head E. half S., and wind S.S.E. The creature moved across our wake towards a merchant barque on our lee-quarter, and on the port tack. I was in hopes she would have seen it also. The officers and men who saw it, and who have served in parts of the world adjacent to whale and seal fisheries, and have seen them in the water, declare they have never seen nor heard of any creature bearing the slightest resemblance to the one we saw. There was something on its back that appeared like a mane, and as it moved through the water kept washing about; but before I could examine it more closely, it was too far astern.
I remain, yours very truly,
A NAVAL OFFICER.