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REFLECTIONS FOR THE LAST NIGHT OF 1867.
REFLECTIONS FOR THE LAST NIGHT OF 1867.*
ANOTHER year has passed away, leaving | glorify Thy name! Make me wise in winbut the memory of its mingled joys and ning souls to Thee! Grant me a larger
I would gratefully acknow- measure of Thy Holy Spirit's influence, ledge God's goodness during the past to elevate and ennoble my life, and to year, and humbly trust Him for similar make it more Christlike! Let this new mercies during the year which is to year be a year spent for Thee, and then come.
it will be a truly happy one. If spared My path is marked out by a loving, to see its close, may it find me wiser unerring Father's hand; therefore I will and stronger in the heavenly life! Or not fear.
if Thou shouldst take me to dwell with If trials are appointed me, I know Thee above, be with me
as I pass that He will give me strength to bear through the waters, and then may Thy them. His promise standeth sure, “ As rod and Thy staff comfort me! thy day so shall thy strength be."
Thus will I enter the new year with If suffering be my lot, then let me the glad thought that Thou, my Father see in it the hand of Love !
and Friend, art with me, and, casting strength be made perfect in my weak- away every thought of self, go forward ness, for He hath said, “ My grace is to “ fight the good fight of faith,” sufficient for thee."
hoping at last to “ lay hold upon eternal Should happiness brighten my path, life.” then let me own the Hand that gives it; I would, at the beginning of the year, He it is who crowneth us with loving- consecrate myself anew to the service of kindness and tender mercy.
that Saviour who has bought me with His Thus, in whatever circumstances I blood. Let every talent and faculty I may be placed, let me discern God's possess be devoted to His glory. I need gracious care, and let me repose on the Divine guidance and Almighty protecfaithfulness of Him “in whom there is tion during this year; but above all I no variableness, neither shadow of turn- need Thee, precious Jesus! Without ing."
Thee all things would be dark. Thou “ As the care of an evil Christian, art the Light of my soul; shine more and when he is sick, is to desire to be whole, more into my heart, and let Thy bright only to live and enjoy the pleasures of beams dispel the clouds of doubt and the world : even so the desire of a good unbelief which obscure my view of Thee. Christian, when he is diseased, is to be Without Thee my heart would be filled whole, not so much to live, as to glorify with fear; but Thy voice speaks in tones God and to reform his life."
at once of tenderness and encouragelast object be my aim in the coming ment, “Be not afraid ; only believe."
I need Thy unfailing sympathy; I need I would lament the sinfulness and Thy unchanging love. Let me but short-comings of the past year, and re- be assured that Thou Thyself wilt be pair afresh to the fountain opened for sin with me, and I shall enter the new and for uncleanness. O blessed Jesus, year with joyful steps, knowing that all wash me in Thy most precious blood will be well, for “as the mountains are and make my heart clean. Help me this round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is year to live daily, hourly upon Thee; round about His people, from henceforth and may my utter weakness find refuge even for evermore." in Thy almighty strength! Help me to
* As copies of the Treasury for January will doubtless be in the hands of subscribers some little space of time before the knell of the old year will have been rung, the writer of these "Reflections” ventures to hope that they will not be considered either ill-timed or out of place.
PARABLES AND SIMILITUDES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
XXXIII. THE BENIGHTED TRAVELLER. ONE autumn evening a traveller, hungry and toilworn, found himself benighted on a plain. The cold wind, sweeping past him in the increasing darkness, pierced through his scanty garments, and made him shiver in the blast. For some time the sunlight brightened the western sky, even when the orb itself had sunk beneath the horizon; but after awhile the last faint streaks of glory died away, and left him, lost and desolate, to wander alone through the gloom. Yet, had he been travelling with companions, and in a position of comfort and safety, there was much around him that would have filled him with admiration. Above him rose the solemn arches of heaven, cloudless, and lighted with the innumerable lamps of the night. The moon, a tiny crescent, looked like some royal vessel sailing amid a purple ocean, and surrounded by a fleet of golden boats. At length the wanderer came to the bank of a river, and there down in the dark water he saw reflected all the magnificent jewellery of the sky, and felt a thrill almost of horror pass through his frame as he gazed upon what seemed to him to be a mockery of light and beauty. How cold it looked, and how desolate ! The stream flowed on, slightly brightened, but not warmed, by the midnight splendour ; and, as it rolled past him, it seemed to the shivering traveller like an emblem of the radiance that sometimes shines upon the dark current of death, which is ever sweeping through our world.
But he was not to be left altogether desolate. Above the stars, watching over
the footsteps of His creatures, sat One who directed the wanderer's course. After following for awhile the windings of the river, he saw before him, at a little distance, the light of a cottage window. How brightly it glowed, and how, like a friendly welcome, streamed the red rays of the firelight through the gloom! He knocked, and was admitted to the peasant's hearth; and when he was warmed with the blaze, and strengthened with the food the labouring people set before him, he acknowledged that the comfort of the household fire had done more for him than all the brilliance of the starry heavens.
Is this a parable ?
Yes: there are too many who receive the truth from heaven as a river receives the light of the stars,--unwarmed and uninfluenced by it. But we need to draw near it, as we draw near the household blaze, that we may be cheered by its brightness and fitted to pursue our journey through the world.
Thus also, when the great Master appeared, to deliver the world from its bondage, He took not on Him the nature of angels; for had He done this He would have been so far above us that though we might have been filled with awe at the sight of His splendour, we could not have appreciated the perfection of His love : but He became a Man of Sorrows, and an earthly wanderer, that through human sympathy, as by the heat of a fire that melts the metal and moulds it to another form, He might draw us to Himself, and fashion us at last to His Divine resemblance.
SCRIPTURE WORDS AND PHRASES.
No. I. ENGLISHMEN have reason to be un- who are wont reverently to trace the speakably thankful not only for the free workings of Divine Providence in the circulation of a cheap Bible, but also events of history cannot fail to note the for its possession in a form so admirable fact that at the time when the English
" authorised version." Those tongue had acquired the largest amount
thee to seek out a man who is a cunning player on an harp.” Here is meant a man skilled or accomplished in that species of music, cunning being derived from an Anglo-Saxon verb signifying to know. Hawes, a poet of the sixteenth century, speaks of “ Plato, the cunning and famous clerk,
That well expert was in philosophy." In the old translation of Pliny, by Holland, we read of a Macedonian artist that" he taught none his cunning under a talent of silver," that is, he instructed no one in his art for less than a talent. It would be easy to multiply examples ; but the following, with those given above, will suffice : Ascham, in his “Schoolmaster,': writing of Sir John Cheke, styles him " the cunningest master and one of the worthiest gentlemen that ever England bred." It will thus be seen that in olden times the idea of fraud or trickery was not attached to this word, as it is in our times.
of vigour and expression, having been polished and enriched by a succession of the greatest writers in prose and verse, the reigning sovereign (James I.) felt called upon to order the publication of a new version of the sacred text, revised by an assembly of the most eminent scholars in the English Church. The nation already enjoyed the use of two or three versions of the Bible, each possessing peculiar excellences and defects; and it was the aim of those divines who were entrusted with the task of revision to incorporate the excellences and exclude the defects of their predecessors, so as to produce a translation which might faithfully present to the English reader the meaning of the inspired volume. The work was executed most successfully, being issued in the year 1611; and the result is a version which, even in a mere literary point of view, is surprisingly elegant and vigorous in language. This may be clearly observed by comparing it with the Romish translation, commonly called the Douai Bible, which abounds with uncouth words and harsh turns of expression.
Owing, however, to that continual process of change which all things earthly undergo, and notably the languages of nations, there are a few words in our Bible that, in the lapse of two centuries, have passed out of use in common speech and writing. Some of these may fail to convey to the modern reader the full meaning of the sacred text, unless he bear in mind the sense in which they were understood by the translators. We therefore propose occasionally to devote a small space to illustrating and explaining a few of these unfamiliar or obsolete words and phrases, and thus aid the student to the full comprehension of those passages in which they occur.
Let us begin with a word which frequently occurs in the Scriptures in a sense very different from that in which it is employed in our day. In 1 Sam. xvi. 16 Saul's servants thus address their master, “Let our lord now command thy servants which are before
The prophet Isaiah, in denouncing the Divine judgments against the “ daughter of Zion” (chap. iii. 18), writes that “ the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments.” We now use the word bravery only to signify personal courage ;
but we find the word in many passages of our old writers employed to denote ostentation, gaudiness of apparel or furniture, etc. It is in this way that Lord Bacon uses the word in a passage of his “Essays." " For jousts, and tourneys, and barriers, the glories of them are chiefly in the chariots, or in the bravery of their liveries, or in the goodly furniture of their horses and armour." In the following extract from Gascoigne's poems the term is applied to the brilliant colours of plants and flowers : Alas! quoth she, behold each pleasant'green
Will now renew his summer's livery : The fragrant flowers, which have not long
been seen, Will flourish now, ere long, in bravery.” In a similar sense Milton uses the word in his “Samson Agonistes," where we find the ensuing passage relating to Delilah :
“ But who is this, what thing of sea or land,
Female of sex it seems,-
A passage in the 2nd book of Chronicles, chap. xxi., ver. 20, sounds strangely to most readers. We are there told of Jehoram that “he departed [died] without being desired." This is equi
valent to our modern expression, “he died unregretted.” The great and good Bishop Taylor, in one of his sermons, says of a godly woman that “ she shall be pleasant while she lives, and desired when she dies." In Chapman's version of Homer's Iliad, too, the noun desire is employed to signify regret.
We shall take an opportunity to recur to this subject in a future number, and hope to present our readers with many explanations of remarkable Bible words.
THE SWALLOW. THE swallow is the joyous harbinger of with dried leaves, feathers, and wool; the year, and of its best season. Winter and the whole being finished for houseis unknown to him, and he leads a life keeping, they departed to a neighbourof enjoyment among the loveliest forms
bouring wood, not returning for several of nature. That wonderful power or days. principle of instinct teaches him always The philosopher had also remarked when and whither to move ; he knows two sparrows on the neighbouring chimhis appointed seasons, a knowledge de- ney, who seemed to watch with much rived from a Divine source, the great, curiosity the progress of the swallows' omnipotent, and all-wise Deity!
new home. Their object very soon beThis beautiful bird has ever been a came apparent; for no sooner had the welcome visitor in all lands, and will be owners left than the sparrows took poswelcomed while the seasons last. Poets session of the nest, establishing themof all ages have hailed his advent in selves as if in their own property; both their own peculiar and beautiful versifi- never absenting themselves, for one alcation.
ways remained on the watch with its “ The welcome guest of settled spring,
sturdy bill protruding from the entrance, The swallow, too, has come at last ! and ready to exclude every stranger. Just at sunset, when thrushes sing, Honeymoon over, the rightful owners I saw her dash with rapid wing, And hailed her as she passed."
returned ; and what was their surprise
to find the new nest pre-occupied ! The Cuvier, the great naturalist, in his enraged male, flying indignantly against later years loved to recount the incident his dwelling to expel the intruders, met which first directed his attention to the the defying beak of the male sparrow, study of natural history. While young which soon repulsed the unlucky proand poor, he acted as tutor to the chil
prietor, and with a loss too of à bleeddren of a French count. Cuvier's room ing head and ruffled feathers. His looking toward the garden, early every bright eye fairly darted fire; and tremmorning he opened his window for the bling with rage and shame he sought fresh air before commencing the lessons his bride, perched on a green bough, of the day, and one morning noticed when, seeming for a few moments to two swallows building their nest in the consult together, they took flight togeouter angle of his small window. The ther and disappeared. male brought moist clay in his beak; Presently Mrs.Sparrow returned, when, the hen kneaded, as it were, this with as Cuvier imagined, her husband gave bits of straw and hay, and thus formed her an animated account of his adventheir future home. The framework com- ture. But the lucky pair did not waste pleted, they hastened to line the inside much time in chatting, and by turns
hastened to collect a store of provisions. Soon, however, cries resounded in the air, and crowds of swallows began to assemble on the neighbouring roof, the expelled householders readily distinguished among them, and seemingly making their wrongs known. Not less than two hundred thus assembled in full conclave, and while all engaged in chattering a cry of distress came from one of the window sills. A young swallow, doubtless tired of the long debate, had pursued some flies buzzing about the window, where Cuvier's pupils had placed a snare to catch the birds; and here the poor little captive found one of his slender legs entangled in the cruel horsehair.
At the cry of the prisoner some twenty of his brethren, flying toward him, tried to free him, but in vain ; their efforts only tightened his bonds. Suddenly, as if by one consent, the whole flock wheeled into the air, and one by one, gliding by, gave a sharp peck at the snare until it snapped in two, the freed prisoner joyfully joining his kind companions.
During this exciting scene the philosopher near by remained motionless and watchful, when suddenly, and quick as thought, a host of swallows flew against the nest, each with a bill full of mud, which he discharged against its entrance, and then gave place to another, who repeated the same operation. This, too, they managed to accomplish at two inches' distance from the nest, and out of the reach of the besieged. The attacking party continuing the attack, the nest became completely covered with the moistened earth, notwithstanding the desperate efforts of the now imprisoned sparrows to prevent such a calamity. At length, the opening being completely and hermetically closed, hundreds of little throats uttered the cries of vengeance and of victory !
The cunning swallows did not end their victory here, but, hastily bringing materials, soon built a second house or nest over the embargoed first one, and in two hours after its completion the
new abode was inhabited by the ejected
The happy pair, now unmolested, went to housekeeping; and, while the hen hatched her six eggs, the male supplied insects for food. Cuvier, at the end of a fortnight, saw the male was all day busy in bringing a large quantity of insects to his household, and examining the nest, he found six little yellow bills gaping wide for food. Thenceforward it became a constant source of pleasure to the tutor to watch the progress of this little bird family.
Soon their yellow became shining and black, their plumage smooth and elegant, and Mrs. Swallow accompanied them in short excursions. Autumn came, when crowds of swallows assembling on the roofs evidently held consultations, and Cuvier amused himself in trying to interpret the swallow language. The children of this nest placed with other young ones
the midst of the assembly, one morning the whole body simultaneously took flight, directing their course eastward.
The next spring two swallows, with ruffled feathers, and lean, returned and took possession of the same nest, when Cuvier immediately recognised them as the identical pair he had watched with such interest the preceding season! He knew them, and they knew him, and one morning he was awakened early by the cries of the female, who was beating the window with her wings. He ran to the nest. Alas! alas! it contained only a lifeless little body. From this moment she pined away, refusing food, never leaving the nest, and literally expired five days after the death of her beloved companion.
What a small incident often shapes our mortal course ! This little history left a strong impression upon the amiable and gifted mind of the young tutor, and, leading him to devote his leisure to natural history, after some time he became the famous Cuvier, filling the chair of comparative anatomy in Paris. His glorious career afterward is a matter of history. *