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This Magazine is intended to form a channel through which may be conveyed the sentiments and views of all those who desire to meliorate the condition of the people.
It has been said that if every man should write a simple statement of the knowledge he may have acquired in his own station of life, it would form a volume, at once amusing and instructive. This is precisely the opinion we entertain, and, to a certain extent, desire to verify. The knowledge derived from experience is peculiarly valuable, and if all who have gone before us had left a record of the problems they had solved, many an investigation, which now perplexes the learned and the wise, might have been saved. But there are certain great lessons of morality and truth of such infinite importance to mankind, that, to withold them, were to inflict an irreparablean eternal injury. How sublime, for example, and of what unspeakable obligation is that precept, laid down by the author of our holy Religion, “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And yet, if we go into any of the different walks of life, how rarely do we find it exercising habitual influence. Selfishness is the curse that blights the fairest flowers of human bliss, that bars the heart of man against his fellow, and, unless removed by the hand of Almighty Love, will close the door of Heaven against us all.
Let it be then our aim to diffuse a kindly and a Christian spirit. Let us endeavour to meet upon the broad platform of immutable truth.
Travellers upon the same rugged road, it ill becomes us to nourish the seeds of discord and strife, for while it can only tend to embitter the cup of our neighbour, it will destroy, in a far higher degree, the happiness of our own.
Then “Rise, let us no more contend, nor blame
PARADISE LOST, B. 10, V. 958. CHRISTMAS DAY.
Much of the difficulty that is felt in the study of the Scriptures, arises from not understanding the customs of the country in which they were written. Any narrative of events that took place in England would be equally obscure to the inhabitants of Palestine, and it is only by an acquaintance with the modes of expression and the manners of life that are peculiar to certain portions of the globe, that the history of those regions can be clearly comprehended. In this light, a knowledge of the Old Testament is essential to the right interpretation of the New, and those who, in any measure, disregard the former, under the idea that they belong almost entirely to the Jews, are in danger of involving their faith in much uncertainty, and of erring widely in their practice, from the path in which they should tread. And that such must be the case will be more especially evident when we consider that the Old Testament and the New are linked together in the character of type and antitype :-the one being an exact resemblance, or shadow of the other. Some of the most vital doctrines of the Gospel are unintelligible till we refer to the Old Testament as the key; for the Church under one dispensation is but a counterpart of the Church under the other. But in matters of less moment, it is also of great importance to have a just conception of the habits and occupations of the inhabitants of that Country where first the Sun of Righteousness arose upon a benighted world. We have just been to Bethleham to view, by faith, our infant Lord. The place of his nativity is situated on a hill, and the surrounding scenery remains almost precisely as it was when so unspeakably honoured by his glorious presence. And on the top of the hill stands that noble Church, which was erected fifteen hundred years ago, by the English mother of the first Christian Emperor of Rome ! Alas, has division entered there? How sad the thought, that three rival Christian communities—the Greek, the Armenian, and the Latin-should exist upon the very spot where first appeared, in human form, that long expected Messiah who was foretold as the Prince of Peace, who broke down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, and who certainly designed to unite, in one holy, undivided bond of Christian brotherhood, all those who “call on his name." Yes, on this very spot, so great is the jealousy of the professing members of the same spiritual household, that, altho prayers are perpetually offered up, yet one party regularly succeeds the other, in the same building, with its different forms of worship.
But when we read of the birth-place of our Lord as being a stable, how erroneous will be our ideas if we are unacquainted with the meaning of the word in Asiatic language. So profound was the veneration of the first Christians for the place, that it has been carefully preserved from generation to generation. There can be no reasonable doubt that the precise spot where the Redeemer was born, may be visited at the present day. It is a cavern or natural grotto, such as stables, in Palestine, almost invariably are; and they are used, by the shepherds, to protect their flocks from the heavy rains, or scorching heat of that land. How thrilling the emotions that must arise in every Christian's breast on entering that sacred retreat! Would not the devout mind feel itself addressed in those words, that once fell upon the ear of Moses "put off thy shoes from off thy feet for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground”? But not only has division cast her shadows on this hallowed soil, but superstition reigns there too. Multitudes are, at the present moment, returning from a pilgrimage of hundreds of miles to that cavern, under the belief that such journeys will benefit their souls! But, however misguided in their devotions, does not their zeal put to shame the cold feelings of numbers amongst us, who are kept from the “House of Prayer," when at their very doors, by any of the trivial circumstances of the domestic arrangement, or any slight inclemency of the season ? A religion that depends, in any degree, upon the excitement of the feelings, is, to to say the least, bordering upon a dangerous enthusiasm ; but a religion without feeling is only infidelity in disguise.
POLAR EXPEDITION. Much anxiety is experienced at this present time respecting the fate of those of our intrepid Countrymen, who left the shores of their native land many months ago, to make discoveries in the neighbourhood of the North Pole. The difficulties and dangers that, under the most favourable circumstances, must be endured in that distant and unexplored region, may well fill the minds of their friends with alarm at the long period that has now elapsed since any tidings were received of their safety. Nature in those regions wears an aspect of awful majesty and grandeur, unrelieved by the softer and gentler beauties which distinguish her in the South. In the islands of those frozen seas, no meadows ever smile in emerald verdure, no waving corn fields ever gladden the heart of man—the song of birds never ushers in the morning, nor does the hum of insects lull the “parting day.”
All is dreary solitude! The death-like silence that pervades the scene, inspires a feeling of involuntary awe, as if the hardy explorer had intruded into a region where he ought not to be. Frost, it is well known, is a powerful antiseptic: animal substances, may be kept in it without decay, for an indefinite period. Thus Captain Parry's crew, when fast locked up in the ice, enjoyed a Christmas dinner of roast beef, in perfect condition, which had been put on board nine months before. That huge, and now unknown animal the Mammoth, a specimen of which was dislodged some little time since, by the falling of a cliff, had been preserved from putrefaction for many hundred years. But deeply affecting instances of this property of cold have been witnessed by the discovery of the bodies of men, who, having died in these icy regions, had lain for years unburied without decay.
About seventy years ago the uncouth form of an apparently deserted ship was met with, strangely encumbered with ice and
On boarding her, a solitary man was found in her cabin, his fingers holding a pen, while before him lay the record which that pen
had traced twelve years before! No appearance of decay was manifest, save a little greenish mould had accumulated on his forehead.
A strange awe crept over the minds of those who thus first broke in upon his loneliness. For twelve years had that ill-fated bark navigated, through sun and storm, the Polar Sea.
Does not the recital of such a fact lead us to contemplate with wonder, that mysterious union of soul and body, which
death disolves ? Twelve years before had the soul of that lone wanderer passed into its eternal state, while his body remained almost as perfect as if the blood were still circulating in his veins ! Can any one forbear to say,
« Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his ?”
ORDINARY TALENTS BETTER THAN
Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb,
It is at once allowed, that there are difficulties in the way of intellectual acquirement; but after all they are not the towering mountains, described by affrighted ignorance. The gradual and certain foot of perseverance, makes the upward journey with ease, and contrary to natural facts, objects, which in the distance seem gigantic, wear down to easy trifles on the approach. Resolution, will overcome all the difficulties of the way; and those who faint, or fall short of the Temple of Knowledge, are poltroons.
Literature should not be an aristocracy, but a commonwealth ; and it is equally interesting and possible, for thousands of us to enter this brilliant republic; since only that ordinary talent, which is rated at so little value, and which is God's good gift to the greatest number, is, if rightly directed and spurred on by that mighty moral engine perseverance, quite sufficient for the purpose.
Direct me if you please to any one specific science, and I will demonstrate the fact, by naming hosts of men who understand it. Adding link after link to this magic chain, they have surrounded the empire of knowledge, and then gone down in all the spirit of enthusiasm and philosophy, from things in the general, to things in the particular; from the comprehension of worlds, to the analysis of atoms.
And let me tell you, the most of these persons were remarkable for the virtue of industry, than the gift of intellect. At every step their power both to will and to do, so increased, that no effort however Herculean, no labour however prolonged, no undertaking however onerous, could daunt, much less defy their enterprize. As the arm grows from a puny and flabby memhar
to a nervous and iron limb by long exercise, so the mind's