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“Do not praise me, mamma, for it is all pleasure !—baby looked so imploringly that I could not resist his mute eloquence."
Well, bring him to the drawing room now, and help me to choose his Spring hat!"
“ Ah, baby!” remarked Elizabeth with an affectionate smile, " you little know what an expensive scrap of humanity you are. How you
make all our backs and arms ache with nursing you; and our ears ache with your noise. Really it would be a good thing if we could put you to bed for a few days occasionally, as I used to do with my doll when I was tired of her.”
“Poor baby!" said Mrs. Ormsby in a tone of compassion, "I am glad you do not know the intolerable burdens you inflict. Your small mental powers would break down under the ponderous load! If you reflect a little, my dear Elizabeth, I think you would view an infant as one of the most interesting objects in creation, instead of scorning it as a source of trouble and annoyance.”
“Dear mamma! How? I am sure I love my baby brother, but I cannot see any thing interesting about such a little irrational.”
Nay, my love, when God breathed into him the breath of life till he became a living soul, He then imparted a spirit of immortality which is never to be extinguished, and must place him far above the rank of the most sagacious irrational.”
“But all the washing, and dressing, and feeding, is such dull tiresome unintellectual work !"
“ It is not dull, if you regard it aright, Elizabeth. Should his life be spared, your brother may use his hands to save hundreds of lives, or his feet to minister to the need of thousands. His voice may be employed in proclaiming the glorious Gospel; his mental powers in translating the Scriptures, or elucidating the truths taught by the marvellous works of the Great Creator. And does it not require intellect to arrange for the correct development and healthy growth of all these means of executing whatever work our Master may give him to do?"
"Ah, if we could always be remembering the future, perhaps one might feel differently; but I was thinking of the present
trouble, while there seems nothing to reward the toil of looking after the body.”
“Why, my dear girl, you cultivate and watch your flower garden with untiring assiduity, and can you look at the exquisite perfection of this little human flower even at its present age, or watch the ease and precision with which he opens and shuts his eyes, uses his hands, or his mouth, and deem him uninteresting ?”
“I never thought of this before, mamma.”
“ Very probably—but if you just follow a child through each stage of infancy, marking the exhibition of its instinct, the spontaneous skill with which it gradually acquires the arts of walking and talking: even the common functions of laughing, sneezing, or murmuring its own soft notes of joy, are all delightful indications of Jehovah's workmanship, and superintending care, which never weary the right-minded observer."
“ Well, baby-mamma will make me regard you a little more complacently,” remarked Elizabeth, looking at the little fellow now rolling on the carpet.
“I have always admired that beautiful little touch of domestic life in the history of Moses, where, after the anxious mother had placed her little one in the frail ark of bulrushes by the river's brink, his sister stood afar off to wit what would 'be done to him. As Christians too,” continued Mrs. Ormsby,
we cannot fail to gaze with peculiar affection upon a being, who, in scripture language, 'not knowing how to discern his right hand from his left,' stands aloof from all participation in actual crime, while he is redeemed from the curse of the first transgression by the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Washed and made white in His blood, should an early grave be his portion, death is but the pale messenger, to convey the purified, emancipated spirit to those heavenly mansions, whose inhabitants are without fault, before the throne of God and the Lamb."
Elizabeth's eyes filled with tears as she raised her infant brother, and imprinted a sister's kiss upon his velvet cheek. “Mamma!” she responded, “ I feel as if I had offended one of Christ's little ones, when I said so crossly," Troublesome baby!'”
“It was not right, certainly, my love, but if your conscience
convicts you of a fault, you know where to seek for pardon and henceforth must try to amend your ways.”
" I will pray for forgiveness; and, mamma, will you show me how to avoid the same fault in future ? Shall I make dear baby my especial charge?”
“ That is not exactly necessary, my love, thank you, for I should then give up both a duty and a pleasure ; as the oldest of a large family you are undoubtedly called upon to assist in the care of the little ones, particularly if you wish your parents • to command sufficient leisure to sympathize in your own more advanced pursuits."
“ To be sure, mamma; but I do not think I could do anything so well as you can."
“ You can try, my dear. A willing mind makes skilful hands; and by divine help an elder sister may be as valuable to a youthful group as the devoted mother, while she will often find a reward in similar mutual love as that between parent and child."
“But, mamma, would it be right for me to try and gain that love from my brothers and sisters which ought to belong to you!"
“ While I act the part of a judicious Christian mother there is no danger of your usurping my share,” replied Mrs. Ormsby affectionately; “ but should infirmity or death remove me, nothing would be more consolatory to me than the assurance that you would supply my place, and win similar filial attachment. I have seen many beautiful specimens of maternal sisters, who have nobly and happily fulfilled these sacred duties. It was the cheerful alacrity of assistance that I meant would be the most acceptable wedding-day gift you could present to your papa and me.”
“Well! we might have guessed and guessed for ever, but I am afraid we really are so ignorant of our own deficiencies that we never should have thought of this! I fancied we were tolerably good brothers and sisters !"
“ You do not often have any serious quarrels, and I suppose are quite willing to help one another, when it does not interfere with your personal convenience, but in our Saviour's code of morals, He goes a little further than this, and counsels the
forgiveness of an offending brother, even until his provocations amount to seventy times seven! His disciples dilate upon the • brotherly kindness,' which added to godliness is to regulate every speech and action: the watchfulness with which we are to reprove that which might possibly prove a stumbling block to our weaker brother. Is your conscience pure upon these points, my daughter ?"
“ Alas! no, mamma!" sighed Elizabeth.
“I am aware,” resumed Mrs. Ormsby, “that attention to the weak and the little ones, must sometimes postpone the reading of a useful book, or the indulgence of some laudable recreation, but the self-denial of a prompt and cheerful fulfilment of the present duty will produce sweet peace, while the little creatures' questions may excite your attention to unthought-of studies ; or you may amuse them, and yourself too, by permitting them to share in the music or drawing you desire to cultivate. To mark the close union which ought to subsist among families, our Lord himself, after his resurrection, passing from the previous graduated appellations of disciples, servants,' 'friends,'-recognises his followers as brethren. How sacred then should such a tie be considered! How sedulously should we imitate the example of our Elder Brother in the relationship; and He pleased not himself !”
E. W. P.
WIT IN RAGS.
I was once invited to a Ragged School to see the boys enjoy the feast which is given annually to them. I was greatly amused to notice the greedy manner in which they ate. One little boy had very wisely brought his father's great coat, that he might, as he said roguishly, have room to eat more! After their tea, the teachers addressed them, and asked them several questions. In one of the addresses, a teacher asked, “And are you not thankful, children, that you can gain so much instruction and pay nothing?"
"Yes, Sir, but we do pay something," exclaimed a boy.
EZEKIEL THE PROPHET.
BIOGRAPHY has very little to do with pedigree, dates, or outward accidents. A man's life consists not in blood, birth, or the abundance of stirring incidents involved in it, so much as in the mental and moral influences it exercises upon other men. The mind is to be followed in all enquiries of the kind, and its history, progress, and development, must be carefully tracked if we wish to grow into its likeness, avoid its errors and eccentricities, or understand that wonderful machinery on the right working of which depends our well-being here and hereafter.
There is much less truth in the world than is generally believed to exist. Of events occurring in our own day, what different versions are current-of those which took place in former ages, we really know very little, so various and contradictory are the accounts which have come down to us. And even these cotemporary narratives are not thought sufficiently perplexing, without the gratuitous and often absurd speculations of our modern writers, as if they could alter facts which took place ages upon ages before their time. First readings and first impressions, we believe to be sacred, and always look with suspicion on any attempt to disturb an old and long-current opinion without very strong reasons for doing so. This intense and restless susceptibility to new lights makes often great havoc with the useful tendencies of early biography, unsettling, and occasionally reversing the moral of a creed, a passage or any incident. We never know when we are safe. An amusing instance of this uncertainty is recorded by the late Rev. Sydney Smith.
“Whoever,” says he, “is fond of the Biographical Art as a repository of the actions and the fortunes of great men, may enjoy an agreeable specimen of its certainty in the life of Aristotle. Some writers say he was a Jew; others that he got all his information from a Jew, that he kept an apothecary's shop, and was an atheist: others say, on the contrary, that he did not keep an apothecary's shop, and that he was a Trinitarian. Some say he respected the religion of his country;