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HELP TO PRACTICE; OR, BIBLE APPLICATIONS.
PORTION.—Mark ix. 14-29. This Scripture contains an instance of the dreadful power of the devil over sinful men. There are two circumstances which seem to make this account very terrible. One is, that the unclean spirit got possession of the unhappy person while he was quite a child : and the other is, our Lord's statement that there are some kind of evil spirits so much more powerful than others, that grace and faith procured in a special manner are required in order to cast them out. In the present day, the power of evil spirits in influencing children is often seen more plainly even than in grown-up persons; because sometimes the outward conduct of a spoiled and neglected child is less restrained outwardly than that of wicked men. The violent passions into which somechildren throw themselves, seem scarcely less awful than the state of this boy, when the evil spirit tore him, and he foamed and gnashed with his teeth. The sullen and dogged temper of some children is a mark of possession by the evil spirit, scarcely less plain than the dumbness of this boy: and their obstinacy in not hearing the kindness, persuasions, and advice of friends, shows that the spirit that possesses them may well be called a deaf spirit. The parents of such children find out too late their error in indulging them when quite young, and too often fail in every attempt to reform them. The same difficulty is found with them when they are brought to the Minister, either privately or at the School, There is scarcely a parish where the Clergyman is not distressed by the case of some such child, who resists all his endeavours. Worldly people say only that such children have bad tempers. This is the truth, but it is not all the truth. The Scripture gives us reason to think that such tempers may come from the same cause as the fits of this boy, which plainly showed to the people in those days, that he was under the power of the evil spirit. The remedy is now the same as it was then. Such a child must be brought to Christ in faithful and earnest prayer; and those who thus pray must see in the excess of the case a reason for preparing themselves in a more especial manner, and for humbling themselves before God on account of their own sins, if they would obtain a favourable hearing from Christ on behalf of the child.
LESSON.—"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Rev. A. D.
PITHY REMARKS ON FITS. Though no doctor, I have by me some excellent prescriptions, and as I shall charge you nothing for them, you cannot grumble at the price. We are most of us subject to fits; I am visited with them myself, and I dare say that you are also: now then for my prescriptions.
For a fit of passion, walk out in the open air : you may speak your mind to the winds, without hurting any one, or proclaiming yourself to be a simpleton.
For a fit of idleness, count the ticking of a clock. Do this for one hour, and you will be glad to pull off your coat the next, and work like a negro.
For a fit of extravagance, and folly, go to the workhouse, or speak with the ragged and wretched inmates of a gaol, and you will be convinced,
Who makes his bed of brier and thorn,
Must be content to lie forlorn. For a fit of ambition, go into the churchyard and read the gravestones. They will tell you the end of ambition. The grave will soon be your bed-chamber, the earth your pillow, corruption your father, and the worm your mother and your sister.
For a fit of repining, look about for the halt and the blind, and visit the bedridden, and afflicted, and deranged, and they will make you ashamed of complaining of your lighter afflictions.
For a fit of despondency, look on the good things which God has given you in this world, and at those which he has promised to his followers in the next. He who goes into his garden to look for cobwebs and spiders, no doubt will find them ; while he who looks for a flower, may return into his house with one blooming in his bosom.
For all fits of doubt, perplexity, and fear, whether they respect the body or the mind; whether they are a
load to the shoulders, the head, or the heart, the following is a radical cure which may be relied on, for I had it from the Great Physician, “ Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee.”- Old Humphrey.
ON DESTROYING BIRDS. MR. EDITOR, When I was a boy, it was customary for parish officers to buy up the sparrows and other small birds, to prevent the destruction which they caused to the corn: and many an idle boy would be glad when school was over, that he might go climbing for the sparrows' nests, and get a few pence for his pains, to the great encouragement of idleness, and to the exercise of a cruel disposition. Few things are more to be guarded against in children than cruelty to animals: it encourages a cowardly roughness to the lower creatures which God has placed in our power, and brutalizes the mind; and may, in a great degree, account for that savage indifference to the feelings of others, which is so often found in those whose minds are not trained to right thinking, by careful, religious, and moral instruction. It seems to be the general opinion now, among those who have considered the subject, that those little birds do a great deal of good, and that it is far better for our fields and gardens that they should not be destroyed. It is not meant that they do no harm to the crops ; for they certainly do eat both corn and fruit. But then, if they do more good than harm, if they destroy vast numbers of grubs and insects, which would otherwise have caused great destruction to the crops, then the destroying of them may be a great injury instead of a benefit; and it is a cheering reflection, that the exercise of right dispositions shall be proved to be a benefit even in a worldly way. And, in truth, I believe it is always so. The exercise of kind feelings to our fellow creatures, and to all the creatures that God has made, can never be an injury to man; and it is a great comfort to think that those dispositions which God requires us to cultivate, do add greatly to our happiness whilst we are living together in this state of trial below.
USE OF SMALL BIRDS. The destruction of sparrows and small birds generally is very injurious to those who have gardens and orchards. A proof of this has been sent to me by a correspondent. He informs me, that attached to his garden is a fruit plantation of three acres, containing gooseberries, currants, raspberries, cherries, apples, pears, plums, &c., and that he never allows birds to be destroyed or their nests taken. The consequence is, that he is never annoyed with caterpillars. He adds, that at about two miles distance from his residence there is a “small-bird club," the members of which are bound to produce a certain number of small birds every week. Each year the caterpillars devastate the plantations, and last year an apple-orchard of more than ten acres was so infested that the owner employed women to pick off every blossom in order to save the trees. It is hoped that a knowledge of this fact will induce persons to discontinue the wanton destruction of small birds, intended as they have been for the benefit of man.--Jesse's Scenes of Country Life.
THE CHRISTIAN'S REFUGE. “A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from
the tempest."-- Is. xxxii. 2. IF you
desire to understand the full force of this image, picture to yourself one of those scenes which eastern travellers paint, when they describe the passage of a caravan across some dreary and uninhabited desert, where, throughout the long day's journey, there is no house, no rock, no tree, to offer a moment's shade or a moment's shelter. In the midst of such a scene the wind suddenly rises, and the lightning glares around, and in the distance are beheld gigantic columns of sand, raised and kept together in such vast masses by the whirlwind as to exclude even the rays of the sun from passing through them, and as these fearful phenomena approach, everything is overwhelmed before them; the poor bewildered travellers behold in them at once their destruction and their grave. In vain do they attempt to fly; their gigantic enemies are coming upon the wings of the wind, and nothing mortal can outstrip them; in vain do they attempt to face them; for who can wage equal war against the elements ? All hope is at an end, all efforts vain; the wind slackens not, the tempest does not cease, and before the shortest prayer is finished, that multitude that was but now replete with life and animation, is hushed in silence; every mouth is stopped, every heart has ceased to beat; the simoom of the desert has passed over them, and the place they occupied is scarcely to be distinguished from the surrounding plain. Now imagine in such a scene, and at such a season (and this is no flight of imagination, but a simple though appalling fact), the feelings with which these alarmed and flying travellers would greet a "hiding-place" and "a covert.
Imagine that while they were looking with an apprehension which we can scarcely conceive, at those advancing pillars of sand, in which they were so shortly to be entombed, they should on a sudden behold a rock of adamant spring up before them, a barrier which neither sand nor wind, nor tempest, could overleap. What would be their feelings of joy, their thoughts of gratitude, their language of praise ! Oh! who can imagine the heartfelt cry of thanksgiving to God which would arise from that vast multitude at so complete, so merciful, so unhoped-for a deliverance. Then, such are the feelings with which we would encourage you to “behold the Man," the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom we speak. Our sins had raised a tempest of the wrath of God, against which the whole created host of heaven would in vain have attempted to erect a barrier. Therefore, said the Lord, “I have laid help upon one that is mighty." “ I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation.” By taking upon Himself our nature He placed Himself between us and his Father's wrath; He stood alone as that wall of adamant, between us and the coming tempest. All that would have driven us from the presence of God for ever, or have overwhelmed our souls with remediless destruction, fell upon Him, and upon Him alone; and by his life of suffering and humiliation and obedience, and by his death of agony, and by his resurrection