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THE WOODCUTTER'S WARNING.
A GERMAN LEGEND,
DURING a walk that I once had with the clergyman of Landsdorff and his wife, they told me of a sudden death which had lately taken place in the village.
"It is very awful,” I said ; "what a thread life hangs upon !"
“ That was really the case with one of my family in times past,” said the clergyman's good wife. “Her life did hang on a thread.”
Tell me how it was,” I said.
“It was that story,” said the lady, “which caused the inscription you see to be placed over the door-way.” The inscription was as follows:
“If once we learn'd why God sends grief and woe,
How great His boundless love we then should know." I read the lines, and then asked the minister's wife if she would kindly tell me the story.
“ About a hundred years ago," she began, “my mother's great aunt, the Countess von Meritz, was living with her two daughters in a castle in Germany. They were once invited to a wedding, which was to take place by torchlight, according to the old German custom. They did not, accordingly, set out until it was beginning to get dusk. They had to pass on their way through a part of the Black Forest.
“Now it happened that a wreath of pearls had been given to Gertrude, the eldest daughter of the Countess, and she wore them on the evening of the wedding. But it chanced as they entered the forest that a branch of black thorn caught in her hair, and before it could be disentangled the thread broke, and the small seed pearls were scattered far and wide. The servants and ladies busied themselves alike in picking up the scattered pearls, when suddenly a woodcutter came running from the forest, and went up quite out of breath to the Countess.
Pray go no farther, ladies !' he exclaimed: when I was cleaving wood just now, I heard two robbers planning how they might waylay your party, rob you, and kill your servants if they made any resistance. The forest is full of these men, and I had the greatest difficulty in getting to you in time. If you had not been later than you expected, you would most certainly have fallen into the hands of these robbers.'
“THE EVERLASTING ARMS."
“Of course, no more was said about going to the wedding, and the horses' heads were turned homeward. On arriving safely at her castle, the good mother thanked God who had preserved her and those with her. Nor did she forget to reward the woodcutter who had warned her in time of her danger. And there were two lessons which she tried to draw for her children from the history of that evening. First, that our life always hangs on as weak a thread as that which held Gertrude's pearls, and that, therefore, God only keeps us alive; and, secondly, that all our troubles and disappointments are as much sent for our good as the delay in getting to the wedding, which saved the family from the robbers.
“ From that time,” continued the clergyman's wife, “ the lines you read over our door became the motto of the good countess and her family. And when I married, and my husband had the parsonage repaired, he had inscribed over the entrance :
“If once we learn'd why God sent grief and woe,
“ THE EVERLASTING ARMS.” One of the sweetest passages in the Bible is this one: “ Underneath are the Everlasting Arms." It is not often preached from -perhaps because it is felt to be so much richer and more touching than anything we ministers can say about it. But what a vivid idea it gives of the Divine support! The first idea of infancy is resting in arms which maternal love never allows to become weary. Sick-room experiences confirm the impression when we have seen a feeble mother or sister lifted up from the bed of pain by the stronger ones of the household. In the case of our heavenly Father the arms are felt but not seen. The invisible, secret support comes to the soul in its hours of weakness and trouble, for God knoweth our feebleness—He remembers that we are but dust.
We often sink very, very low under the weight of sorrows. Sudden disappointments can carry us from the heights down to the very depths. Props that we leaned upon are stricken away. What God means by it very often is just to bring us down to
everlasting arms !" We did not feel our need of them before. We were “ making flesh our arm,” and relying on human comforts or resources.
There is something about deep sorrow that tends to wake up the child-feeling in all of us. A man of giant intellect becomes like a child when a great grief smites him, or when a grave opens
THE PARTHENON AT ATHENS.
hold him up.
beneath his bedchamber or bis fireside. I bave seen a stout sailor, who laughed at the tempest, come home when he was sick and let his old mother nurse him as if he were a baby. He was willing to lean on the arms that never failed bim. So a Christian, in time of trouble, is brought to this child feeling. He wants to lean somewhere, to talk to somebody, to have somebody to love him and
One great purpose in all affliction is to bring us down to the everlasting arms. What new strength and peace it gives us to feel them underneath us! We know that, far as we may have sunk, we cannot go any farther. Those mighty arms can not only hold us—they can lift us up—they can carry us along. Faith, in its essence, is simply resting on the everlasting arms. The sublime act of Jesus our Redeemer was to descend to the lowest depths of human depravity and guilt, and to bring up His redeemed ones from that horrible pit in His loving arms.
Faith is just clinging to those arms, and nothing more.-T. L. Cuyler.
THE PARTHENON AT ATHENS. The word Parthenon, in the Greek, signifies the virgin ; and the temple so named was dedicated to Minerva, the purest, noblest creation of ancient mythology.
A colossal statue of Minerva, forty-six feet high, adorned the top. It was wrought of ivory and gold. The goddess wore a golden helmet; a spear was in her hand, and a shield reclined at her feet.
It was the work of Phidias. The Parthenon was built by Pericles, B. C. 552; and all down the following ages was respected by invading armies, Pagan and Christian. It was not until the year 1657, more than two thousand years after it was built, and during a war between the Venetians and the Turks, that its central portion, and many of its stately columns, were destroyed by an explosion of gunpowder, which had been stored within the walls by the Turks.
The building was of the Doric order of Architecture, 228 by 101 feet, and 66 feet high. Two rows of graceful columns surrounded it on every side, whose sculpture and embellishments indicated the brightest age of Grecian architecture. But to see with the mind's eye more clearly what the Parthenon was and is, one should
go up the Acropolis and pass within those ruins which seem to shut out the busy world below. This hill rises some 300 feet above the city—a rugged, vine-clad precipice, inaccessible on all sides but one, overlooking several lower hills in the city, the
A THOUGHT FOR INFIDELS.
nearest of which is Mars Hill, on whose summit the Apostle Paul preached his celebrated sermon.
But once within the ruins, and looking upon the Parthenon, it is impossible to look elsewhere. One seems born away insensibly to the times of the ancient Greeks; the present world, with its activities and usages, is for awhile forgotten; and as one surveys the spotless marble, still beautiful in its foliage and flowers, and looks over the wilderness of mutilated art on every side, where the mild acantus grows and the patient ivy clings, and sees the Doric shafts, colossal as befitting the shrine of a goddess, yet tender and graceful as the stems of flowers, upholding without effort the massive entablature, and beholds the olive groves of the Academy, far away shimmering in the sunlight, and the distant Ægean isles floating in the dark blue of the sea,—one doubts which sentiment should predominate,-melancholy at the ruin, or admiration at the loveliness of the scene.
No figures of arithmetic, no cubic feet or yards, will convey to the mind what was or is the Parthenon. It is a thing of beauty, to be realized only by the soul. It is a consecration of human Art unto Religion ; and although the religion was without the light of revelation, it nevertheless indicated the groping of the soul after the True, the Beautiful, and the Good, and showed how generous the gifts, and how patient the toil of man, when he would approach nearer the Supernatural and the Divine.
A THOUGHT FOR INFIDELS. No candid observer will deny that whatever good there may be in our civilization is the product of Christianity. Still less can be deny that the grand motives which are working for the elevation and purification of our society are strictly Christian. The immense energies of the Christian church, stimulated by a love that shrinks from no obstacle, are all bent toward this great aim of universal purification. These millions of sermons and exhortations, which are a constant power for good; these countless prayers and songs of praise, on which the heavy-laden lift their hearts above the temptations and sorrows of he world, are all the product of faith in Jesus Christ. That which gives us protection by day and night —the dwellings we live in, the clothes we wear, the institutions of social order, all these are the direct offspring of Christianity. All that distinguishes us from the pagan world—all that makes us what we are, and all that stimulates us in the task of making ourselves better than we are—is Christian. A belief in Jesus
PRACTICAL RELIGION.-BUILDING FOR IMMORTALITY.
Christ is the very fountain-head of everything that is desirable and praiseworthy in our civilization, and this civilization is the flower of time. Humanity has reached its noblest thrift, its grandest altitudes of excellence, its high-water mark, through the influence of this faith."
PRACTICAL RELIGION. We want a religion that softens the step, tunes the voice to melody, fills the eye with sunshine and checks the impatient exclamation and harsh rebuke. A religion that is polite, deferential to superiors, courteous to inferiors, and considerate to friends ; a religion that goes into the family, keeps the husband from being cross when dinner is late, and the wife from fretting when the husband tracks the newly-washed floor with his muddy boots, and makes him mindful of the scraper and the door mat; keeps the mother patient when the baby is cross, and amuses the children as well as instructs them ; cares for the servants besides paying them promptly; projects the honeymoon into the harvest moon, and makes the home like Eastern fig-tree, bearing in its beauty at once the beauty of the tender blossom and the glory of the ripened fruit. We want a religion that shall interpose between the ruts and the gullies and rocks of the highways of life, and the sensitive souls that are travelling over them. In short, a religion that will stimulate people to pay their just debts between man and man, and less preaching about one thing and then practising another. This is the kind of religion that honest, well-meaning people want, and not so much of the hypocrite.
BUILDING FOR IMMORTALITY. The old cathedral-builders finished every detail of their stupendous fabrics with the most conscientious fidelity. Every one of the five thousand statues on the Cathedral of Milan was wrought as if the eye of the Omniscient was on the sculptor.
Not a single finial or mullion was a botch-work.
“ The band that rounded Peter's dome
The conscious stone to beauty grow." If Michael Angelo thus built for immortality, how earnestly should
every believer rear up what is to be “ a habitation of God