« PreviousContinue »
at this rudely illustrated block book, and to remember what a mighty work has been wrought by the printers' art. There are manuscript portions of the Bible here, richly illuminated with saints in gold and colours in all impossible attitudes; what a blessed thing it is to know that the illuminating art is now confined to a ladylike pastime, or an antiquary's hobby-and that the illumination which lights up the darkened intellect with truth and goodness, has burst upon the world through cheaply printed Bibles.
Dead! there is nothing dead in the books; when I pass into the Reading-room and look round on the book-covered walls, it seems to me that I stand in the presence of a living host, in the Pantheon of Genius-that wit, wisdom, worth, are treasured here, not dead but living-so far as they are true and good-with a life that fears no death. That Reading-room is the most spacious and beautiful in Europe; a circular chamber, with a dome 106 feet high, and with a span exceeding that of St. Peter's at Rome; there are twenty windows and a circular light at the top 120 feet in circumference; there are two gilded galleries, one above the other, sweeping round the room, which, in its first effect upon the visitor and in all its details, is graceful and elegant; blue, white and gold are the prevailing colours; looking up into the immense concave, there is a sense of sublimity that is never produced by meretricious ornaments-grandeur and simplicity are always impressive.
There is under the first gallery, within reach of the readers, a very large collection of reference volumes. There are coloured and varnished plans freely scattered over the room, which the uninitiated reader will find most useful, as they indicate the locality of each section of books. For example, turning to the left as you enter, you find yourself in company with the topographers, writers of town and country history, historians of parishes and civil recorders of London and elsewhere; national historians, registrars, calendars and the rest follow: scores of volumes of the "Gentleman's Magazine," of the old "Penny," of the monthlies and the quarterlies, and so on; then encylopædias of all kinds, and books of miscellaneous information; then dictionaries and lexicons in all the tongues of Babel, with Bishop Wilkin's quaint old book on the "Universal Language!" After this, guide books and directories, and lists of all the dignitaries of Church and State; and lastly, butting up against the attendant's passage, where the perambulators laden with books in demand, are wheeling every day, and all day long-in heraldry, in modest modern type, stating its principles, and in bold antique emblazonry illustrating family history, and suspending, as it were, from the bough of every genealogical growth, such
gay and lively ornaments as might fancifully decorate a Christmas
Turn to the right when you enter, and you are among maps and gazetteers, then farther on, among the lives of great men, then a very army of essayists and poets, and novelists; then you are among the gardeners and the geologists, and the chemists and the doctors; among books of surgery and cookery, and domestic medicine and household recipes. Then among the lawyers; statutes and records, and state trials, and commentaries and cases, and precedents. And then among the divines-the two Butlers very close together one shewing how rational is religion; the other how superstitious and how vain religion may be made, when priestcraft only lets the light of heaven be seen through stained glass windows! Lastly, Bibles-Bibles speaking in the ancient tongues; Bibles speaking plain English-Bibles that are but the representatives of an immense storehouse of Bibles, to which the biblical student may have access, if he will.
Need I say, that the arrangements are very convenient, and exceedingly comfortable. I think it is unnecessary to expatiate on these matters. Everything is as it should be-except, and surely this a fault on the right side-that reading cards are too easily obtainable, and that advantage is sometimes taken of this by novel readers, who ought to belong to a circulating library, and young students, "coaching" themselves from "cribs" not easily obtainable
Honour to the British Museum! it is one of the noblest institutions of the country, and nowhere can better information be obtained, nor more instructive lessons elicited, than on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, at the Great Exhibition in Bloomsbury.
"THERE WAS A GREAT CALM." THE Ocean sleepeth. Now no violent surge Threatens disaster to the mariner;
No loud and dissonant voice of wrathful waves
Intent upon beloved ones riding o'er
Of tranquil joy were flitting to and fro
Within the depths unseen; and, murmuring soft,
Like infant slumbers by a mother watched.
tender grass of the valleys also became, from its effects, greener and sweeter; the little hyssop upon the garden wall became hung with liquid jewels; the rose of Sharon emitted a richer fragrance to the breeze, and exhibited a deeper purple to the eye. Thus shall it be when God's Spirit comes down upon a church. The old shall feel its effects; in their case the formalism of half a century shall fall in one vast flake from the spirit; a new world shall dawn upon their sight, and they shall ask themselves for the first time, "What must I do to be saved?" The middle aged shall feel it; they shall realise then, that the tilling of their farm, the selling of their merchandise, is not life's great end, that they may run a risk by too much worldly effort of bartering the everlasting for the perishable; and they shall brace themselves up with a vigour, which neither earth nor hell shall stop, to press towards the work for the prize of their high calling. But chiefly the young, those in whose eyes the fires of youth are flashing, and upon whose cheeks the glow of youth is mantling; they shall come, and in the morning freshness of their existence, in life's spring time, they shall consecrate their powers to the service of their Redeemer, and open their hearts to the breath of the Sanctifier; they shall spring up as flowers among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. Instead of the flippant tone, and the volatile disposition, there shall be a listening ear when the things of God are preached, a yielding spirit when the claims of Christ are urged, a throbbing heart when the hopes of God's elect are pourtrayed, a liberal spirit when the claims of the heathen are advocated; there shall be an earnestness of countenance, and an expression of eye, which shall show clearly that the heart's great question is, "What must I do to be saved?" They shall spring up in love, in zeal, in hope, and in all manner of fruitfulness; and, at the same time, there shall be the downward shoot in humility and in faith, a grasping of the tree of life with a closer hold, and a fixing of the roots the firmer in the Rock of ages. One shall say, "I am the Lord's;" his, because made by him, preserved by him, redeemed by him, renewed by him.
One shall say, I am the Lord's, and there shall be a blessed contagion in the work. Another shall subscribe himself by the name of Jacob, and here and there they shall ask, "What! is the heavenly dew coming on all around, and shall my fleece alone be dry?" One and another, starting to the ground, shall say, What! are my friends become Christ's free men, and am I to remain for ever the devil's drudge ?" Thus there shall be a blessed work on the right hand and on the left, and they shall flock unto the church like doves into their windows. Now, if this blessed picture is to be realised, it must be in answer to prayers of believing people. Now, though I have no confidence in prayer without effort; I have a little less confidence in effort without prayer. If the work be accomplished, it must be accomplished by the Lord. Conversion, like all other of God's works, is a mighty work. Ignatius, I think it was, remarked long ago, a Christian is not a work of persuasion, but of majesty; and if the blessed Spirit is to come down which is to quicken these dry bones, to clothe this instrumentality with power, and make our words so many seeds of everlasting life, we may try to bring our children, our scholars, to the sound of the word; but oh! when they are under that sound, and before they come to the sound, and when they retire from the sound, let us pray that their hearts may be like wax, ready to receive the heavenly impression; like ships upon the ocean ready to sail north, south, east, or west, in the direction in which the heavenly breeze shall blow like strings of the Eolian
harp, through which the gales of the spirit sweeping, shall wake the responsive echo, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." Let us have the pains, but let us have the earnest prayer of which the resolution speaks. Elliot says, "Prayer and faith in the Lord Jesus will accomplish everything." What we want is to impress the hearts of our scholars with the living truths which we teach them. I remember, during my residence in Sheffield, one of our colporteurs came to me, and said he had met with a person, in the course of his day's canvass, who had shown him a copy of the Word of God, which had saved his life. "I was once in a storm," he said, "and the vessel was wrecked, and all on board were in imminent danger of finding a watery grave. One secured this article of property, and another secured that; I fixed around my neck my Bible, and I determined that, lose what I might, I would at least retain, as long as life lasted, God's Word. I thought that, at length, I must go down to the bottom, for the storm was so furious, and my strength was so small; but as I was on the point of sinking, I felt my Bible bump at the back of my neck, and I thought I shall never perish as long as I have a book upon my back with these words in it, 'When thou passest through the waters, I will be through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.'" The text acted the man was buoyed up till help came, and he was thus rescued. is the living word, not upon our children's backs, but in their hearts. Then will they be able to walk upon the top of the waves; in flames the Lord shall preserve them, and they shall lose nothing in the flames but their bonds; if they are exposed to sorrows, thick as flakes of the winter's snow-storm, or sparks from the blacksmith's forge, he will enable them to go resolutely forward, saying, "Come, brethren, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm, and let the devil and Rome do their worst; we are nothing compared with our foes, but our foes are nothing compared with Jesus Christ."
with thee, and like a stimulus ;
What we want
The Rev. JAMES H. WILSON, of Aberdeen, seconded the resolution. He said: Mr. Chairman and my dear friends, I suppose most of you have heard the anecdote about the good Mr. Hervey, who on one occasion was praised for the works he had written by a very kind but somewhat injudicious friend. Mr. Hervey stopped him in the midst of his praise, and said, putting his hand upon his heart, "O, my brother, if you knew how much tinder there is in this box of mine, you would not strike the sparks of praise so freely." I assure you, friends, that my tinder box is not empty; and while I thank you for your kindness in recognising a stranger, I would pray for humility of spirit on this exciting occasion. I hope we shall this day receive the unction of the Holy Ghost; so that after the joy and exuberance of feeling now produced, there will remain an earnest determination to live more for God in the time to come than we have ever yet done. I thank my good brother, the mover of this resolution, for the logical manner in which he has analysed it, and I trust we shall all carry away with us the practical truths which he has illustrated. We hear a great deal at the present moment about war, and the little town of Milan is probably at this hour the theatre of one of the bloodiest wars which has ever desolated Europe. I was just looking into a catechism which is issued by authority in that town, and ordered to be used in the instruction of youths in the Government schools of the country. Just hear one or two sentences from this catechism, and tell me what you think about it. The question is asked, "How must subjects behave towards their sovereign?" And the reply is, "Subjects must behave towards their sovereign like faithful slaves towards their master." Again: "Why must subjects behave like slaves?"" "Because their sovereign is their master, and has power over their property as well as their life."-"Are subjects bound to obey bad sovereigns also!" "Yes;" subjects are bound to obey not only good, but also bad sovereigns." When there is such a catechism as that in the Government schools of Italy, how can we wonder
that their only appeal is to the sword whenever they quarrel? Let me take you as a contrast to this to an instance which I have become acquainted with in London, which shows how an influence of a totally different character is being exerted. I was attending the other day a school meeting at Kentish Town in connection with Mr. Fleming's chapel, at which a most interesting report was presented. It appeared that one set of boys had divided the district amongst themselves, and had canvassed the inhabitants for subscriptions to periodical literature. Another set of boys distributed the works so ordered, as they came out once a month; and I will now read you a list of the works so circulated in the course of last year, leaving you to form your own judgment respecting the intelligence which this fact represents, and that which must be the natural consequence of such a course of training as is pursued in the Government schools of Milan. I find that in the course of last year those boys at Kentish Town have delivered the following periodicals, for which they had previously obtained subscribers :-193 Leisure Hour, 158 Sunday at Home, 24 Sunday Teacher's Treasury, 47 Sunday School Union Magazine, 61 Christian Miscellany, 26 Ragged School Magazine, 10 British Messenger, 35 Christian Witness, 16 Christian Treasury, 153 Mother's Friend, 242 Bible Class Magazine, 789 British Workman, 1,224 Child's Companion, 46 Children's Paper, 99 Christian's Penny Magazine, 24 Tract Magazine, 291 Teacher's Offering, 19 Day Star, 27 Friendly Visitor, 13 Sabbath School Messenger, 691 Band of Hope, 563 Dew Drop, 92 Juvenile Missionary Magazine, 565 Child's Own Magazine, 76 Gospel Trumpet, and 100 miscellaneous publications, making a total of 5,587 during the past year, and during the last three years and a half no fewer than 17,428 copies of periodicals of the most healthy and useful character.
Now let me take you a little further north. Our beloved Sovereign has got two schools on the Royal estate at Balmoral. When two teachers were required for one of those schools, I was applied to by a person who was high in the confidence of the Queen to know whether I could certify that those teachers were pious, and would be prepared to teach the Bible among the youths of Balmoral. I think, my friends, with such instances as I have given; first, of the growing intelligence of the young, and then the anxiety of our illustrious Queen to provide for the religious instruction of those around her, contrasting so nobly as it does with the example of the despot of Austria, we may indeed bless God for the circumstances in which we are placed, But my resolution, after referring to the increase of general education, and the extended circulation of periodical literature, intimates that these facts "require on the part of all those who undertake the intellectual and moral and religious instruc tion of others, diligent preparation for the faithful discharge of so important a duty. And this is a most important question, demanding the earnest attention of those who desire to be successful labourers in the work of the Lord. I would urge upon you to seek wherever you are, and under all circumstances, to obtain materials for illustrating the lessons you have to communicate. And remember that the simpler the truth is, the better for children. Do not puzzle them with questions of a complex and difficult character; go kindly and tenderly to your work and, above all, have faith in prayer if you would get at the hearts of your children. We are too much in the habit of looking at prayer merely as an act of personal devotion in private, or of public homage in the house of God. Now, as I understand it, prayer is as much a means in the hands of God for the conversion of the world as the preaching of the everlasting gospel is, and even more so. You know perfectly well that though Ezekiel preached over the dry bones in the valley, and bone came to bone, and there was motion, and to some extent beauty, yet until he prayed to the four winds of heaven, "Come, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live," there was no vitality amongst them; and it was only when the Spirit took possession