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CHILDREN AT PRAYER.
“Of course it is often impossible to tell what it was that in our childhood had the greatest weight in forming our character," said a pious gentleman; "but I think the little prayers which my sisters and I used to offer up at our mother's knee, have made me what I am. What a blessed sight is it to see a mother and her children at prayer! He who graciously said, " Ask, and it shall be given you,” and who, while on earth, took little children in his arms to bless them, will not forget his promise. He is now ready to take them in the arms of his love, and lead them from temptation and deliver them from evil, and make them by his Spirit children of God. Children, pray with your heart.
CHAPTER II.-THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL.
THIS next weekly subject proved a hard task to little Harriet. She was almost ready to give it up, when she heard one of the elder girls read aloud the parting command of the Saviour to his disciples (Mark. xvi, 15), and turning then to the close of St. Matthew's Gospel, she found two verses which she thought similar, and read them aloud in the class, when, on the following Monday, she was the first called upon to begin. “Go ye therefore and teach" (or, as Miss Stone said, "make disciples of") "all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Miss Stone encouraged her little scholar, and the rest of the young people rose in turn to read or repeat their verses.
As it is likely that this subject is not quite new to all who read this little book, and who have been taught in the Lord's Prayer to say, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven," there is no need to mention all that passed. The principal references given, besides the two before named, were three chapters in Isaiah: xi. xlix. and lx.; also Ps. lxvii. 3-5; Isaiah xxxv. 1, and lv. 10-13; Rev. xiv. 6, 7; Matt. xxiv. 14; Psalm lxxii. 17-19; Habakkuk ii. 14; Zeph. iii. 9; Zech. xiv. 9; Rev. xi. 15; John x. 16; Daniel vii. 27; Luke xiii. 18-21; Malachi i. 11. One of the elder girls said that she had heard that the isles of Japan were called by a name meaning "the rising of the sun," therefore this last verse might be considered as fulfilled when the truth should reach that empire, which, like the Chinese, has long been shut against Christians. Bibles, she believed, were now translated into these languages, though not much circulated at present. Another made some remarks about the early preaching of the apostles, and the manner in which Christianity was carried throughout the Roman empire, showing that God overrules all the affairs of men, and directs them as he pleases to his own glory.
This lesson was long remembered with interest, because a meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society was held the same week, and Miss Stone's school, with many others in the town, were present.
Several interesting speeches were made by different gentlemen, about the Society. The first speaker dwelt much on the cheapness and number of copies of the Scriptures which had lately been purchased, at tenpence each; while formerly, instead of half a day's wages, a working-man must have laid by the earnings of years to buy a single Testament, and then, perhaps, was forbidden to read it, or severely punished. Surely, he added, where much is given much will be required; and if we are careless and negligent in the midst of such privileges, others will rise against us in judgment; but "Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it," Luke xi. 28-32.
The next speaker was a missionary from West Africa, who described the poor negroes there that had been rescued from slavery, and brought from the still worse bondage of sin and Satan into the glorious liberty of the children of God. He gave some pleasing accounts of their churches and schools, and also of private families converted to God, but possessing few books except the Bible; yet that, as he said, was all-sufficient. As Dr. Watts has told us,
"Here are my choicest treasures hid,
"Here would I learn how Christ has died,
Not all the books on earth beside
Such heavenly wonders tell."
Then followed a missionary from the South Seas. He had much to say about the savage ways of the
heathens, and the manner in which their women and children are ill-used, or killed in infancy to save the trouble of bringing them up. Since the word of God has been preached to them, what a happy change has taken place! how anxiously they have watched and waited for a copy of a single Gospel! how pleased and grateful were the mothers, when the children, who had become Sunday scholars, received some of these books as prizes for good conduct! and how bitter was the grief of others, who had in their days of ignorance destroyed their own offspring, who might have lived to carry home the word of God to their dwellings, while they earnestly inquired, "Why did the Christians of England never tell us these things before ?" One missionary was mentioned who had been murdered in the course of his labours; yet even some of his murderers had been brought to repentance through the visit of two native teachers, carrying with them nothing but the word of life, "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds ;" and the blessing of the Lord made their efforts successful. Thus, wherever the good seed is sown, some fruit will be found; and as an instance of the effects of true religion, he mentioned the conversion of a young man who had formerly lived by thieving and dishonesty, but afterwards became honest and industrious, and truly desirous, like Zaccheus (Luke xix.), of making amends to those he had formerly robbed. Pigs are the chief possessions of these islanders; and when he had fattened and killed one of his own, he divided it in portions between those neighbours he had robbed, confessing his sin, and his desire of amendment, while
the fragments he carefully gave to the needy. Other striking anecdotes were given; but the meeting closed with some account of the home operations of the Society.
A town in Berkshire, said the chairman, was the first in which an Auxiliary Association was formed. He knew a poor woman there, who, from love to the Saviour, like the widow in the gospel, gave all that she had, a sixpence, to the Bible collector, who knew not the extent of her self-denial. Her conduct was observed, and proved to be truly Christian. The collector was the means of procuring employment for her, which afterwards enabled her to earn many sixpences, and there is no doubt that He who graciously accepted Mary's offering, looked with favour on this humble believer. May it be said of us all, as it was of her, "She hath done what she could." This remark led to others, about doing good, and especially being "eyes to the blind." Books were shown, printed in raised letters, which might be read with the finger, even by those deprived of sight, and instances were mentioned of their usefulness and of the readiness with which this art had been acquired. They were, indeed, rather large, being printed only on one side the page, and eight thick quarto volumes were needed to contain the whole New Testament; but they might be divided in many smaller volumes of a few chapters each, and being lent from one person to another, would be gladly welcomed by those who had no other way to pass the weary
hours of darkness.
Two of Miss Stone's pupils undertook to purchase one of these Gospels, and to learn the characters, that