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THE NIGHT COMETH.
When in moments of contemplation, the mind climbs some eminence of thought, and looks abroad upon the busy restless world, how saddening is the reflection, that in a few short years all will be changed; that the great stream of human life, which now surges and eddies about us, will have passed away into the vast ocean of eternity, and that we ourselves shall be resting in the silent grave! A shroud will cover the form that now is clad in kingly robes; tho chill earth will encircle the head that now wears a monarch's crown. The piercing intellects that now soar above their fellows, will be stricken down by death; the light of genius that now illumines the world will fade away. The active thinker and skilful worker, will alike bow to the king of terrors; the teacher and the taught must lie together in the dust. We all admit the truth, that death comes to all, but how few of us realize the awful thought—death will come to me! It seems well-nigh impossible that our body, that now thrills with life, should lie cold in death; that our eyes, that drink in the world's beauty so eagerly, should be closed for ever; that our tongue, that now expresses so readily the deep workings of the mind, should be for ever silent; that our nature, so sentient, so capable of enjoyment, so susceptible of influence, should disappear and die; that sooner or later, we must take our last meal, speak a last word to the loved ones about us, and look for the last time upon the world and all the precious tilings it contains. It is hard to realize these humiliating thoughts, yet one day they will be thoughts no longer, but real, veritable, unmistakable facts. The night cometh. And in that night the hand of labour moves not; no student burns the midnight lamp; no watcher looks for the first grey streak of morning to break over the eastern hills. The night cometh, the night in which no man can work. What then is our obvious duty? Is it not to work while it is day, to labour in the Lord's harvest-field, while the sun is high in heaven, ere the evening shadows fall, and the darkness gathers round us?
Sabbath school teacher! yours is a glorious privilege. You are permitted to labour for the King of kings. Be faithful to your trust. Let the Master's ej-e ever see you at your post; never desert it while there is a mind to instruct, a heart to impress, a soul to be won for Christ. The night cometh, and it cometh to all. You may die, and what account will you give of your stewardship, if you have been unfaithful? Your scholars may die. The bright eye and the ruddy cheek may be dimmed and paled by death. And what if a young heart should close life with the bitter lament,—" my teacher never led me to Jesus 1" What must be the feelings of that teacher, who hastily summoned to the bed-side of a dying scholar, knows that for aught he has done to arrest it, that soul may be passing away into an eternity of woe! Were sorrow possible in heaven, it would wring that teacher's heart, who, though saved himself, should see some of the class he taught on earth going away into everlasting punishment, and know that he never warned them, as he might have done, of the wrath to come. But will such a teacher ever reach heaven? Will there be any unfaithful teachers there? Can he who works half-heartedly, and wrestles not in prayer, and labours not with earnestness for the salvation of his class, expect to receive that crown of life which is promised to him who is faithful unto death? Brethren, if we would wear the victor's crown, we must fight the victor's battle; if we would bring in the sheaves with rejoicing, we must sow the precious seed. Let us then work for God. With absorbing earnestness, and burning love, and resistless energy, let us put forth our whole power in the service of the Redeemer, working while it is day, for the night cometh in which no man can work.
On! for we now must wage
The warfare, life begun;
Or see life's day decline,
With life's great work undone.
Christ waits to bind a crown,
Life's last great battle won,
Round every conqueror's' brow;
On! then, to victory, on!
PRIVILEGES OF THE CHRISTIAN. Cast yourself wholly upon God's covenanted grace. Think without wavering that you are God's child, a citizen of Heaven, the temple of the Holy Ghost. If hereby you bo assured as you ought to be, then shall your conscience be quieted; then shall you lament more and more that you want many things which God loveth; then shall you labour to be holy both in soul aud body; then shall you go about, that God's glory may shine in you in all your words and works; then shall you condemn this life, and desire to be at home with your good and sweet Father; then shall you labour to mortify all things that spot either soul or body.—John Bradford.
THE MIDNIGHT CRY.
"Behold, the Bridegroom cometh."
Vibqins, ye felt that warning cry,
Fall through the silence of your sleep, As erst the Advent harmony,
Stole on the night air, soft and deep, Till hearts forgot their idle slumbers, And tuned to those celestial numbers
Hastened, high festival to keep,
Along the starlit way.
Ye too, arise from dreams of earth,
Unholy care, and fevered mirth,
Could ye not watch one hour? arise and pray,
And gird your loins with sober cheer, And feed within your lamps the fading light,
Till through the mists of sin and fear, The golden radiance stream upon the night,
And guide you to His feet whose coming draweth near.
"Qo ye out to meet Him"
Though the shadows thicken round,
And He seemed to tarry long, Nor yet the hills resound
With the silver peal of song;
On! on! with eager bound,
Past the dim shapes of dread, Heed not the painful ground,
Heed not the mossy bed.
Oh ! speed your holy guest,
Lift your lamps ever higher, Soon on the water's darkling breast,
Shall dance the torches' fire.
And sweet through every grove of rest,
The matin choir shall ring,
Mount up on dew-bright wing.
And the waiting hills shall shout,
And bow each hoary head,
At the music of his tread.
Ye too, with bridal song, and endless bloom to greet him, Go forth, oh! virgin souls, go forth to meet Him!
ON THE HISTOKIC CHARACTER OP THE
IN A LETTEE TO A TEACHER OF A BIBLE CLASS.
You tell me, my dear W., that you have been troubled in your class by enquiries that arise from the book on the Pentateuch, whioh is now occasioning a little stir, having been talked of in their hearing. The book does not contain much to trouble those who have thought a little on the subject on whioh it treats—it need not trouble you: it is however, as you say, very desirable that if you refer to the subject at all, you should say what may prove a correct reply to the questions arising, and may guard your class against the scepticism and unbelief which the book is adapted to awaken and foster. I readily, therefore, comply with your request, and offer, if not a reply to the book, such observations as may afford you help in the endeavours you deem yourself called upon to make towards checking its mischievous tendency.
The objections which the book urges against the historic character, in other words against the truth, of the records contained in the five books usually attributed to Moses, range over a very narrow and exclusive field. Many of the circumstances in the Pentateuch are, it is said, improbable, some of them impossible. This seems to be the chief allegation which the book in question makes and repeats. Of course, the objection would be sufficient if it were true. Would it not, however, be wiser and more satisfactory to enquiring minds to get a little beyond the supposed probability or possibility of these circumstances? The books which state these circumstances are here. They have been in existence from a time far beyond that to which any other history can be traced. The people of whose origin and early annals they give the account are with us; still presenting the same peculiarities in all that is possible in their dispersed condition, which distinguished them from the first: and among their most cherished traditions, they maintain the most vivid remembrance of the peculiarities which are not now possible to them, and they still nurse a very strong affection for these peculiarities. How can this people be all that thus distinguishes them, if the Mosaic record is to be given up as untrue? Take, for example, their religious observances. The expense those observances involve; the self-denial they impose; their consistency, and their universal and long-continued prevalence, make it impossible to assign them to the freaks of an early superstition, or the influence of a gorgeous
fiction. These observances were what they are now more than eighteen centuries ago. They were not new then. Ages before had been familiar with them.
The historic character of the Books of Moses seems to be involved in these observances and traditions. Those books give at least a probable account of the origin to which, severally, these observances are to be attributed. The account is consistent. It has about it, to say the least, a great deal of verisimilitude; and the facts or fictions which it records, are of a land which could not be invented after the race it speaks of had become a separate people.
Considerations of this kind may not be regarded as sufficient to invalidate objections to the historic character of books full of fiction and fable; they are, however, worthy of some attention, in relation to a book which has so long and so widely been taken as a veritable history. You, at all events, may urge them. If the Mosaic record be not historic, how can we explain and account for the belief, and the practices which unquestionably have prevailed among the Jews for ages, the suppression of which has baffled all the efforts both of ridicule and persecution?
If you attempt to meet the objections urged, you must take care that you do not concede too much. For example—It is said that six hundred thousand strong men, or men in the vigour of life, as the expression translated able to go forth to war, Num. i. 45. may mean, with the much larger multitude implied in that number of fighting men, together with their flocks and herds, could not, within the brief period indicated in Exodus xiii. have been collected at any one place- within the district of Egypt where they lived, so as to set forth on their march not even leaving one of their number behind. To this, some have replied, that the Hebrew mode of writing numbers was specially liable to error in the numerous transcriptions of the text, ere it can have come to us. It has been said, "We need not suppose so large a number to have left Egypt." I heard it somewhat adventurously added the other day, "Reduce the six hundred thousand to six thousand: my faith in the historic character of the writings of Moses is not thereby shaken."
I should tremble for the effect of your thus replying to the objection. There is force certainly, very much force, in the suggestion of a special liability to error in transcribing Hebrew numbers. A few examples will make this plain. J Gimel, the third letter of the alphabet, represents 3. J Nun, a letter very much resembling Gimel in form, represents 50. *J Daleth, represents 4. ^ Resch, greatly like it, represents 200. pj He, stands for 5. nCheth, almost the same, for 8.