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Observer, June 1, '71.
1. Some say that God has now no kingdom on earth. Others say that the kingdom of God commenced not far from the time of the return of Christ to heaven. Will some intelligent reader of the E. O. say how, if the kingdom has not yet come, it could have been "at hand" in the days of John the Baptist and during the sojourn of the Saviour on earth? Also, how, if it really came about the time intimated above, it could be said to be "at hand" when those events were transpiring which are foretold in Luke xxi., where we read, "So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand?" A BROTHER. Peter iv. 6-"For this cause was the gospel Who are the dead referred to? When and
2. What are we to understand by 1 preached also to them that are dead? how was the gospel preached to them?
"I suppose we all have some standard-something to aim at, and hope to attain to before we die," replied Frank, rather lightly. "I have set up a great many already, and have fallen short of every one, or else I have found they were not worth striving after. Just now I have made up my mind that nothing short of Nelson himself shall be my standard. If I could hope to reach his level I should be satisfied."
My little charge, Florence, with a high standard, of life, and he seems her simple and child-like remarks, to act up to it." causes me much more deep and earnest thought: for she asks me questions on spiritual subjects which I cannot answer as I know I ought; and she utters great truths, great in their simplicity, which she has learnt from her parents, and which strike me very forcibly, for sometimes they are almost new to me. Her father looks to me to guide and instruct her, and I feel that in spiritual things she is much better able to teach me. In these things she is as far beyond me as Frank is in the knowledge of the world and all its concerns, and Ernest in all that relates to science and intellectual culture. How ignorant I am! And how can I hope to fulfil the duties that seem to devolve upon me? I will ask help of God.
"You are ambitious enough at all events, my young sailor," said Ernest. "I wish you the oppor tunity to earn laurels equal to those of England's hero."
I thought within myself that I wished my brave cousin a better fame than that of Nelson; and I felt that he ought to seek a higher standard. But I did not say so; and Frank turned to Ernest and said
"And what is your standard? Whose character and career do you intend to emulate? The world is all before you, where to choose; and you have abilities enough and fortune enough to enable you to decide on your own future course. What shall it be?"
Ernest looked grave and thoughtful for a moment, and then replied
Observer, June 1, '71.
"That is more than I can tell you, Frank. An idle man I can never be. Some object-some aim in life, I feel that I must make to myself. You know that by my father's will I am not to be of age until I am twenty-five, which will not be for nearly two years to come. In the mean time I am a ward in Chancery, with a liberal allowance; and I intend to spend the rest of my minority in improving my mind, and fitting myself to take upon me the duties of a country gentleman. I think, with the consent of my venerable guardian, the Chancellor, I shall go to one of the Universities. I should like to see how life is carried on in those far-famed schools of learning, where all must be striving. for the highest attainments of knowledge, and where I imagine mediocrity must be disgrace. I hope to find that in enlightened England men live for things that are worth living for that they know their high destiny as a nation and value it; and that whatever may be their callings or positions in life, that to rise is their object, and Excelsior' is their motto. In the wretched country which has so long been my home, I have seen little or nothing of this noble emulation. Indolence and degeneracy, not to say vice, mark the population in general; and this is not to be confined to the natives. Even Europeans, seem to be affected by the climate and example of those around them, and to forget the habits and principles of their more enlightened and high-minded countrymen at home. My father was an exception to this rule. He never lost his high feelings of honour, or his activity of mind and thirst for knowledge. And Mr. Damer appears to be another exception; but I do not know enough of him to judge of his character very accurately."
I could not help acknowledging to myself that our poor dear father's life, however honourable and estimable it had been, had failed to give him
peace until a far higher object had been pointed out to him; and I felt sure that the motives which guided all Mr. Damer's actions were much more exalted then any which had ever been taught to us, either by precept or example, since our beloved mother died, and left us young and ignorant children. I longed to say all that was in my heart. I longed to speak a word that might lead Ernest to reflect on these things. But I had not the courage.
Just then, Florence, who had been playing with some children at the other side of the deck, came near and Frank caught her hand, and drew her toward the bench where we were sitting.
"Florence," he said laughing, "tell me what is your standard of life."
"What is a standard?" inquired the child?"
"Go and fetch "Johnson's Dictionary," said Frank, "and we will look.'
Away ran Florence, and soon returned with the weighty volume, which she often consulted when reading in my cabin.
"There it is;" she exclaimed. "Standard-that which is of undoubted authority-that which is the best of all other things of the same kind."
Well," continued Frank, "and what do you consider to be of such undoubtable authority that it cannot be questioned. And what is the best of all other things, and therefore always to be imitated, or made your example? That would be your standard, Florence."
The child looked a little puzzled for a few moments, and then, with a flushed face and down-cast eyes, she answered very softly.
"Mamma told me that the Bible must always be my authority, because it is God's Word; and that the conduct of the Lord Jesus Christ must always be my example, because it was the only perfect one. Did not
she mean that they were to be my standard?"
My brother looked earnestly at the little girl and said "Your mother gave you a high standard, Florence." Then he rose up and walked away, and leaned over the side of the vessel as if to watch the spray dashing up from the paddle wheels. I hope he was musing on Florence's simple, yet very deep reply. Frank only said"I dare say you are right; but I never thought of that sort of standard."
I was ashamed to own that such
Observer, June 1, '71
had been my own case also. But by the help of God it shall be so no longer. I begin to see what ought to be the objects and the motives of life-what, in short, should be the standard which every immortal being should set up for himself. May I have grace to understand this more fully, and to act upon it. Surely in Christian Protestant England, I shall see this principle set forth and exemplified in the lives of those who profess to know the truth." The Standard of Life," by Mrs. Webb.
"All my commentaries Scriptures,' says the late Mr. Barnes, "have been written before nine o'clock in the morning. At the very beginning, more than thirty years ago, I adopted a resolution to stop writing on these Notes when the clock struck nine." This eminently distinguished man traces his publications on the Scriptures to the fact of rising at four in the morning.
TIME is the stuff of which life is made. Many become wise and good, not because they have much leisure, but because they make a good use of spare moments. In regard to time, as well as other things, they remember the Saviour's words, "Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost." I read some time ago of a young man, who perused a history of England while waiting for his meals in a boarding house."I Southey calculated, that a quarter of an hour each day would enable any man to gain the command of all the languages of Europe in a very short time. Who cannot spare that quarter of an hour? Doddridge, in reference to his Paraphrase on the New Testament, said, that its being written at all was owing to the difference between rising at five and at seven o'clock in the morning. With Doddridge and other great men, I believe that sunrise, for many reasons, far surpasses sunset. The former casts the latter into the
"Early to bed, and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Every student knows that the mind is more vigorous in the morning than at any subsequent part of the day, and consequently works more efficient.
refer to these morning hours, to the stillness and quietness of my room in this house of God, when I have been permitted to prevent the dawning of the morning, in the study of the Bible, while the inhabitants of this great city were slumbering round about me, and before the cares of the day, and its direct responsi bilities, came on me; to the hours which I have thus spent in a close contemplation of Divine truth, endeavouring to understand its import, to remove the difficulties which might pertain to it, and to ascertain its practical bearing on the Christian life-I refer, I say, to these scenes as among the happiest portions of my life." Depend upon it, a wise employment of time had much to do with the elevation of our self-made men. If you are to be numbered among them, you must seize spare moments, and turn fragments of
Observer, June 1, '71.
time to golden account; you must | Then they begin to think of books fix on a noble end, and labour, and and study. Alas, they often do no toil, and struggle till it be attained. more than think of them. These Alas, how many squander this persons form a large class. I refer precious gift, and, when too late, to persons who know, feel, and utter the piercing cry, "Call time regret their want of culture, and back again." When the gifted would, if they could easily, rise into Elizabeth was dying, she cried out, a higher life. Resolve earnestly to "An inch of time, millions of money make the most and the best of all for an inch of time." Poor queen! your powers and capacities. Seek she was lying on a splendid bed, she not gold only, but contend for had been accustomed to a new dress freedom, humanity, religion. Seize every day, she had ten thousand and improve the shortest intervals dresses in her wardrobe, and at her of possible action, and none will feet a kingdom; but all was of no dare to limit your success. value. She had lived for seventy years, but that which should have occupied a lifetime was crowded into a few moments, and when it was too late, the wealth of her kingdom would have been given for an inch of time. A life of seventy years is made up of thirty-seven million minutes, these drop away at the rate of sixty in an hour, and go on steadily-day and night, summer and winter-without let or hinderance. The simple truth is, that most persons waste at least onefourth of their existence. Six hours in every twenty-four you waste; you sleep seven, you work ten, you employ one in meals and locomotion. Eighteen hours you can give a good account of, but what becomes of the remaining six? And have you ever reflected that six hours lost every day is one-fourth of our existence squandered? Three score years and ten is the allotted time of our life. One-fourth of that time is seventeen years and a half. Could one determine the time when first a person should apply himself to study, boyhood and girlhood would be selected. Unhappily, in this England of ours, thousands and tens of thousands are from the defectiveness of our social arrangements, denied this advantage. Not until they have reached the period of youth, or even maturity, do they become sensible of their want, and of the personal and social disadvantages that want involves.
Some years ago a young man employed at the Blantyre Print Works, in Scotland, despite all his privations, determined to obtain a good education. He employed his leisure hours in the cultivation of his mind. He rose step by step, until he became a minister of the Gospel. He is now Dr. Livingstone, the celebrated African traveller. To check their arrogance who demand our deference in consideration of their noble ancestry; to vindicate the dignity of humble industry; and to stir emulation in the breasts of the lowly labourer, we shall unroll the pages of story. Unfallen Adam cultivated the Garden of Paradise ; Abel was a keeper of sheep; Noah wrought during many years in building the ark; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, personally watched their flocks; Joseph, Prime Minister of Egypt, was a slave; Moses, the prophet of Horeb, was a foundling; Gideon was threshing when summoned to deliver Israel from the Midianites; Elisha's plough was in mid-furrow, when Elijah called him to the prophetic office. Jesus himself was born in a stable, cradled in a manger, and passed the greater portion of His life in yon carpenter's shed at Nazareth; Peter and Andrew were fishing on the sea; James and John were mending their nets on the shore, when called by the King of Glory; and Paul, who hath redeemed our nature from the reproach
Observer, June 1, '71
of selfishness, could hold up his trade he was a tent-maker. hands and say, "These hands have ministered to my necessities," for by
Am I a smoker of Tobacco? How long is it since I commenced the practice? Was I then a boy, a young man, or advanced to a more sage period of life? What were the reasons which led me to adopt the habit of smoking? Was I advised to it by a father, a brother, a friend, or a foe? Was it the force of example which bowed me to the use of the pipe and the reign of smoke? Was the example good or injurious? Was I admonished by a medical gentleman to take it? Was it to cure some disease or to prevent some encroaching malady? Has it accomplished the cure, or arrested the disease? If you are mended of that stomach complaint or head-ache, then why not cease, like other patients, to take your medicine? It would look rather ridiculous and be rather expensive if a sick man were to continue his pills and doctor's bottles after he is restored to health. Suppose Tobacco to be administered as a medicine; why should it be continued many years while the smoker is in good health? It may be that that which was designed to cure has been for a long period a feeder of disease. But the perpetual disease requires a continuance of a medicine which will never cure you, simply because your taste is conformed to it. Do you smoke for company's sake? Do you smoke because you like it? Will company justify a bad practice, or is a thing right because we like it? This would be poor logic if applied to many of the forbidden practices of life. If this logic were carried out it would land the world in ruin.
Is it lawful to smoke? Is it expedient? An act may be lawful, but far from expedient. Do you do everything that is merely lawful?
Have you no regard to the law of expediency?
Is smoking a luxury? Is it a piece of innocent indulgence? If so all necessary articles for personal and domestic comfort should be obtained before a pipe is placed in the mouth and Tobacco in the dwelling; and all debts and claims for the neces sary and useful should be promptly paid, especially by Christians, before such indulgences are practised and, even then, the question would arise, is this the best way that I can spend the Lord's money?
Are you sure that your example is not injurious? Have you ever thought of that? How does it look in the eyes of your children? What does your boy think about it? Is it a recommendation of your Christianity? Will your smoking lead people to conclude that you are a follower of the holy Jesus? Would you like to see an Evangelist walking through the streets with a pipe in his mouth? What do Sundayschool scholars think about their teachers smoking? And what do young members in the Church think about the more elderly members and deacons smoking? How many take shelter in an example that may operate two ways-or perhaps only one way, the wrong way? And we see it thus daily operating. The children smoke; the scholars smoke; the young members smoke. The defects and faults of even good men are copied and referred to with an air of reason and triumph, while the safe and more excellent way is neglected. There is a generation of smokers rising around us.
There are but few smokers who do not acknowledge the habit to be evil. Are we not commanded to