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“It seems you will all have reason to thank Dr. Greaves that his invitation has put you upon such a course of self-examination, my dear sons and daughters,” remarked papa archly; "the learned say, that the first step to wisdom is to know our own ignorance, but remember that we do not go into company to display our own acquirements. Young persons, especially, are to learn, not to teach, unless, indeed, you are seated near a younger and less informed person that yourself, and then any instruction should be communicated in the most modest unassuming manner; but if you attend your kind friends with the determination to dismiss all vain thoughts of shining, and just try to please others without obtrusiveness, and be pleased yourselves, I doubt not we shall have an agreeable report of your evening's entertainment.”
These observations produced the desired effect. The young people thought no more of appearing as adepts upon subjects which are better learned as the recreation of a life-time but pursued their usual routine of business and study till the appointed day, when in a state of pleasurable tranquillity they repaired to their host's mansion.
Several of their intimate companions were in the saloon where they took refreshments, and on entering the drawing room they found a large circle already assembled. Dr. and Mrs. Greaves received them with graceful cordiality, and placed them near pleasant acquaintance. The spacious apartment was plainly, though very comfortably, furnished. There was a luxurious fire, and an ample array of lights judiciously disposed, displayed the rich treasures of natural curiosities which were the tasteful ornaments with the fine pictures adorning the walls. An organ, piano-forte, and harp, stood in the room ; and futes were at hand, for the family were all musical, and Dr. G. who ranked high in the medical profession, was often refreshed, after a hard day's toil among his patients, with the sweet strains of Beethoven, or Mendelsohn: but we will hear our young friends' own story.
“Well children,” said their father at breakfast next morning, "you look all the brighter for your last evening's visit, I think, instead of the wearied countenances which usually greet us after midnight revels."
“Oh! papa, pray do not call any of our parties, revels; that sounds so much like unchristian amusements."
“I fear, in truth, my dears, many of the modern amusements can claim no higher title, but I trust you have never mingled in such—now tell us all about
visit?" “ It was one of the most delightful combinations of the grave and
gay that I ever met with, papa,” said Jane. “Jane describes it very accurately, papa,” added Edward, “ for some how, while amused all the while, one was conscious also of galuing knowledge on such a variety of subjects. I felt as though I had enjoyed a peep at a splendid country, whose every nook I longed to explore more thoroughly."
“Indeed! were there many scientific or clever men there ?”
“ There were one or two strangers, whose conversation seemed animated and intelligent, but most of the visitors we had met elsewhere, though I had never found them so interesting before.”
Perhaps you were uncommonly disposed to be pleased with every body," observed the mother gently.
“No! mother," answered Harold, “I do not think that was the reason. I fancy, Archibald,” he continued turning to his brother, " that the curiosities scattered about, had something to do with the style of conversation, for you know we never dreamed of young Mr. H. being anything more than a graceful dancer, till that exquisite group of mosses, and lichens, led him to mention his own botanical collections."
“And how many interesting things, he told us, he had seen with his own eyes,” rejoined Archibald, “and our singing friend, too, Mr. S., seemed equally at home among stones and minerals."
“Did you have any music, Jane ?”
“Oh yes! mamma, just enough, now and then, to vary the evening. We had different sorts of national music, as well as music of different dates! There was a history of music lying on the table, which suggested that.”
“Then, Isabella, do not forget that charming episode, when we all tried our skill at composition.”
“What! did you all write an essay upon a given subject ?” enquired papa with an air of simplicity.
“ Not exactly that, papa!" replied Isabella, “but some one mentioned the little book, Council of Four;" and it was proposed that each guest should write down in rotation a noun on a sheet of paper, which was folded over after every additional word, so that none could see his predecessor's choice. These nouns being then all read aloud, were copied by each one on their own paper; and the trial of skill and wit, was to weave them into a rational narrative, either in rhyme or prose, at pleasure."
“And how did the young circle succeed ?"
“There was a great variety of talent, as you may suppose, but they seemed to give general satisfaction when Dr. Greaves read them out in his best manner. Some included very poetical thoughts, or apt similes elegantly expressed ;-that was a charming hour!"
“A very sensible entertainment too, I am sure,” remarked the father. “I have known such little incidents light up latent genius, and excite to studies which have brightened a whole life time.”
“Soon after this," resumed Edward, “Dr. Greaves drew our attention to a box of very splendid shells, which, he said, he had only just received from New Zealand; and as the group thickened around him, till all were listening, he begged us to seat ourselves and they should be handed round singly for our examination, while he gave us the benefit of his researches upon their construction, and adaptation to the need and convenience of their original owners; and then followed a brilliant little lecture upon conchology, illustrated by the specimens before us. It was not long, but so interesting, I never imagined shells could-be so marvellous ! Dr. Greaves closed by a few striking remarks
upon the goodness and wisdom of the great Creator, which seemed to prepare us all for the full enjoyment of social worship; and as all the young voices joined in the sweet melody selected for their hymn of praise, I thought how beautifully religion seemed to refine, and ennoble scientific pursuits!"
“ That is very true, my dear son! If religion require us to relinquish the 'pleasures of sin;' to 'turn away our eyes from beholding vanity;' it certainly offers us, even in recreation, infinitely more dignified substitutes; pleasures too, which delightul as they may be in association with those we love, are capable of yielding intense delight in solitude. The formation of a stone, or the habits of an insect, viewed as evidence of the work and presence of our heavenly Father, bring us into continual communion with the best and highest society. Nor shall we ever feel our enjoyment from such sources incompatible with any circumstances; they will refresh us in affliction-enhance our conceptions of the character and redeeming love of our divine and compassionate sovereign, and magnify the attractions of that glorious state where we may contemplate His perfections for ever. It is a mistake to imagine that spiritual Christianity consists in incessant restraint—'Her ways are ways of pleasantness;'—the burden of her soug, is joy and thanksgiving : truly may the man of God say, • The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places-lo! I have a goodly heritage ;-in Thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.""
E. W. P.
A FABLE FOR THE QUARRELSOME. A pin and needle, being neighbours in a work basket, and both being idle, began to quarrel, as idle folks are apt to do.
“ I should like to know," began the pin, “what you are good for, and how you expect to get through the world without a head ?"
“What is the use of your head,” replied the needle, rather sharply, “ if you have no eye ?”
“ What is the use of an eye, said the pin, if there is always something in it ?"
“I am more active ; and can go through more work than you can."
“ Yes, but you will not live long," replied the pin. “Why not?" “Because you have always a stitch in your side,” remarked
“You are a poor crooked creature,” said the needle. “And you are so proud that you can't bend without breaking
While they were thus conversing, a little girl entered, and beginning to sew, soon broke off the needle at the eye. Then she tied the thread around the neck of the pin, and attempting to sew with it, she soon pulled its head off, and threw it away beside the broken needle.
“Well! here we are !" said the needle, after a brief pause.
“We have nothing to fight about now," said the pin : "it seems that misfortune has brought us to our senses."
“A pity we had not come to them sooner," said the needle. “How much we resemble human beings who quarrel about their blessings till they lose them, and never find out they are brothers till they lie down together in the dust as we do!"
THE THREE RELIGIONS. * THERE are but three sorts of religion in the world. From the beginning until now, all religions may be classified in one of three great categories or chapters.
First–The religion of Man, whose language is, “Look to me, and be saved."
Secondly, the religion of the Priest, whose language is, “Look to me, and be saved ;” and,
Thirdly, the religion of God our Saviour, whose words are “Look to Me, and be saved." Let me show that in neither of the first two is there any possibility of life. Each is a candidate for your acceptance, but only in the last is everlasting peace.
I. The religion of man, as I have named it, expresses itself in the language of the text, only the me we are summoned to look to, is man, not God a Saviour. Man, however, even if he were what he once was, cannot save himself. Once he was a glorious temple—inlaid with holiness—vocal with songs, and replete with happiness; but now all is changed—the altar-fire is quenched ; and in the place where the cherubim and the glory were, there are reptiles and serpent-passions holding their ceaseless carnival. The once holy heart has made itself deceitful above all things and desperately wicked ; so much so, that the exposure in the light of God' countenance of a naked human soul-just as it is, a fallen apostate soul-would be a spectacle that man could not bear!
From “ Salvation," a Sermon preached before the Queen, 22nd September,
1850, by Dr. Cumming.