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“I wonder no one offers us some tracts;" remarked Edith, b6 we look so like Sabbath-breakers !”
“We had planned to arrive long before the sacred day of rest," was the reply, “and as God permitted the hindrance of storms, we must only regard this as another adventure.”
It is scarcely worth while to follow the group through all the details of their journey : suffice it to say, that it consisted of a similar proportion of prosperous and unprosperous events; some discomforts mingled with many pleasures; a few untoward circumstances enhancing the value of unexpectedly favorable contingencies.
Marianne's exclamation, “ 'Tis only an adventure!” became the by-word of the expedition; often recalling the bright side of the picture, or dispelling the transient feeling of disappointment at the failure of any favorite scheme. Indeed, as at the end of their allotted period of recreation, they returned in safety, and with thankful hearts to their settled abodes, the by-word of the journey recurred to some of the happy party in a different light; and as years rolled on, it became the by-word for their Christian pilgrimage in their subsequent history. And why should it not be appropriate to those who have chosen for their Guide, one who will “ lead them on safely by a right way to a city of habitation;" to meet all the vicissitudes of the present life, as but transient adventures, calculated to enlarge our experience, and rivet our faith in the wisdom and resources of the God of the whole earth ?
What if our lodging be contracted, and its accommodation lowly or inconvenient? Once the Prince of princes had not where to lay his head! What if food be scanty ? the voyage will soon be over, and “in our Father's house," “ they shall hunger no more!" What if the storms of life strip away our gay clothing ? they cannot deprive us of that wedding garment, which adorned the beggar Lazarus more acceptably, than all the purple and fine linen with which his rich benefactor was arrayed! What if our motives and actions be impugned by our contemporaries! If we have a conscience void of offence toward God-happy are we. Upon the hill Difficulty the air is bracing, and the prospect beyond invigorating; but“ in the valley of Humiliation the sweetest flowers grow.” In the gloom of adversity the bright light of the Word of God shines most conspicuously, and bending successively over the tombs of sister, brother, parent, husband or child, rich clusters of sweet promises group themselves together, and stand out with a brilliance that was never observed, till the adventure,” showed their precious adaptation to the need of the believer.
Nor must we omit those trying instances in which the Christian is called to sing the Lord's song in a strange land-among a people of unclean lips. In a godless circle, like Moses, he must refuse the pleasures of sin. Like Daniel, he must respectfully decline compliance with unrighteous decrees. The Apostle Paul, makes mention of "saints,” even“ in Cæsar's household;" and if at our Master's bidding, we are required to adventure our lives in the enemy's camp, “ the very vestibule of hell," as an old divine hath it; “behold even there, shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand uphold me.”
But beware, my young friends, of venturing on unholy ground of your own free will. “Lead us not into temptation,” precedes in our Lord's formulary the petition, “ Deliver us from evil.” Where God summons, the Christian minister or missionary, the prison visitor, or the tract distributor, goes armed with a divine panoply. Not so the votary of amusement or curiosity! For them, such an adventure perils the soul, and may fatally ruin it.
And in the last adventure of all; the solemn transit from time into eternity-whether it be like Jacob attended by a loving crowd of relatives; or comfortless as that of John the Baptist, under the iron hand of the grim executioner ; or lonely as that of the patriarch Moses: beyond à certain stage, all must be equally solitary!
As the failing senses shut us out from companionship with this world ; oh, how unspeakably delightful to find the Saviour awaiting us, according to his promise—“I will come and receive you to myself.” To the eye of faith, the valley of the shadow of death is illumined by a soft radiance, far exceeding the splendour of the sun; for is it not the gate of heaven, and “ the Lord God and the Lamb are the light thereof."
E. W. P.
A WALK AT THE WEST-END. To many there is an irresistible charm about the Court-end of the metropolis : to ourselves it presents very few attractions. There is there so much of mere show and parade, so much hollowness, and such an entire want of repose, that we are always glad to escape from it, and find a refuge in our own quiet home. Splendour may be all very well for a time; but heart-warmth is the only atmosphere in which we feel ourselves safe.
We sometimes pass Hyde Park in “ the height of the season;" and are always bewildered and cast down by the sight of so many fashionables taking the dust in their whirl round the Drive. We have no taste for liveries or hammer-cloths, and having been ourselves behind the scenes of the Herald's College, have very little reverence for armorial bearings. Even the dusty grass and the pleasant twinkle of the Serpentine between the trees can scarcely win our affections, for we have seen the real country in all its unsophisticated loveliness; and the poor caricature set before us seems so indifferently “got up” that we have no other wish but to steal away from it, and plunge into the still nooks and corners of Old England, far from the noise and frivolity of the West-end.
Yet some pleasant thoughts break in upon us now and then as we saunter homewards. We feel that we are on British soil—there is so much true liberty about us. Stretched carelessly upon the grass here and there, we see many of the lower grades of the community, each as much at home and at ease as if in his own dirty little home-if home he havemor on some wide common in the country, tending his donkey or his birdnets. Young men and old men, women and children, shouting, sleeping, playing or sitting still-all are left to themselves in the precincts of royalty itself, and beneath the very eyes of the proudest aristocracy of the proudest country under heaven. Look what a group lies beneath the shadow of those elms, drowsy from the heat and glare, or wearied from excessive work or the still harder labor of doing nothing! The butcherboy with his tray and meat-cloth, is just rousing himself from a long nap, and preparing to hasten homewards accounting for his lost time as best he may. Children are running to and fro, and up and down that bare hillock-never seeming to tire; or flying their little kites of home-manufacture on the parched grass. One poor fellow-a child of four or five-has dragged his hopelessly along the ground for some fifty yards in perfect good humour, but his merry features pass all at once into an expression of desperate grief as he calls out to his little sister, with reference to his stubborn kite—“Her won't, sissy, her won't!" No more she will. If it were of lead instead of paper, it could not shew less disposition to rise; but the grievance is soon forgotten
" And the tear that is wiped with a little address
Will be follow'd, perhaps, by a smile.” These little touches of nature, where all is of “the mode," modish, are exceedingly refreshing. They are suggestive, too, of “ a good time coming." In most matters we argue full stature from growth. If things mend steadily, we think the time will come, sooner or later, when they will want no farther mending. But alarmists, and political economists, and many good Christian men, too, will not allow this when looking at the condition of the masses. They cannot doubt that the lower classes are yearly more cared-for, and that the links which bind them to the higher grades are strengthened day by day. Still less can they fail to see that they are not what they were some centuries ago--but with all this, they doubt whether the country is not retrograding. In mental and social standing, these members of the community have advanced greatly, but what, they ask, is their moral value? With greater ability for wickedness are they not, almost necessarily, more wicked ? Bad men, bad citizens—men of loose creed and looser practice, have conspired to lead them away from rule, from virtue, and from God. They have talked of the “rights of man," as Paine talked, and made them murmurers and complainers, despising dominion, and speaking evil of dignities.
There is too much truth in this. The Political Eye is the most powerful of microscopes: it magnifies an infinitesimal grievance into an intolerable burthen, filling the entire field of vision with the image, and shutting out from view the weightier matters of the law-judgment, mercy, and truth. A man does this too under the plea--not unfrequently in the conscientious conviction—that he is the poor man's friend;" as if discontent were the only soil in which a right estimate of our position, our duties or our destiny could spring up.
Yet we need be in no doubt as to who is really “The Poor Man's Friend." If ever our world saw one who was justly entitled to this distinction, it was the despised but majestic Nazarene, who though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. The poor were Christ's care whilst he was with them here, and his legacy to the church when he left them to go home to his Father and theirs. And he is now the poor man's friend who is most like Christ in his life, his teachings, and the exquisite tenderness of his susceptibilities. He who moved noiselessly but in the fullest exercise of true philanthropy amongst a crooked and perverse generation, shedding a serene and vivifying and purifying light around him, but never lifting up his voice in political contention, is our Example. His warm, large, holy, loving heart was anxious to knit together all climes, all creeds, all classes; and instead of searching out occasions of difference, sought only to bring into one fold and under one shepherd the vast family of God.
The poor are so much nearer nature than the rich, that we are always glad to meet with them. Yet we are by no means unfriendly to the higher classes. As their carriages roll by in all the glory of gay pannels, lace, and plush, we never cherish, as some do, an angry or an envious thought. We believe, indeed, in many cases they are to be pitied—so constrained, so artificial, so empty is much of their apparent gaiety, that we doubt whether they are half as happy as their poorer neighbours. We cannot think they ever knew half the pleasure of that little group now before us, chasing one another round the bald knoll on our right hand as we enter the Green Park from Piccadilly.
A pleasant sight is that cluster of goodly trees, their broad shadows chequering the turf where those drowsy sheep have come for shelter from the heat. A flock of sheep in London is one of the most touching anomalies in existence. At the westend they appear still more out of place, yet here are hundreds thousands of them dotting the green sward or crowding round