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In the Wesleyan missionary notice for November, there is an extract from a missionary periodical pub. lished in India, which sets forth in a clear and striking manner some of the "social changes" now in progress among tbat vast population. In many of these the friends of Christian missions will trace the certain, though it may be indirect, results of missionary labour, and find encouragement to perseverance in their great work. Old things are evidently passing away, and a new state of things is being brought about. The present is clearly a period of change, consequent upon progress-progress froin a low to a higher state of moral and intellectual life. The progress that is being made in the introduction of improved means of communication is, perhaps, not greater than what is going on educationally and religiously. That great absurdity, caste, is giving way; re-marriages of widows are taking place; and female education is being promoted. The ameliorating influence of Cbris tian teaching on the social customs of India, is strikingly apparent; and devoutly is it to be wished, not only that this influence may operate more extensively and powerfully, but that the higher aims of the missiouaries of the Cross may be accomplished in the conversion to Christ of the teeming myriads of that country's population. Thank God, this work is going on. Oh, that it may progress a thousand times more rapidly!
Africá sends us good news. At Graham's Town, King William's Town, Annshaw, Fort Beaufort, and Heald Town, the Wesleyan congregations have all experienced a remarkable revival. A missionary thus describes what followed a serion which he preached to the Fingoes, at Heald Town, on the descent of the Holy Spirit:-“ After a season of silent prayer, seekers were invited to come forward, when I suppose not less than 300 fell upon their knees, and began to cry aloud for mercy, among whom were several Europeans. At first all seemed confusion. Even the local preachers and leaders appeared copfounded. Presently much
of the noise subsided, and little more than sighs and groans were heard. After a short time, one after another got into liberty. As the “Spirit of bondage unto fear' gave place to the 'Spirit of adoption,' the sight was indescribable. They generally rose to their feet, clapped their hands, and with eyes sparkling, and countenances beaming with joy unspeakable,' they broke forth into a burst of praise; one shouting, Satan is overcome! Satan is overcome!' Another, an old grey-headed man, exclaiming, My Father hath delivered me! My Father hath delivered me!' Most of my time was occupied in putting down the names of those who had found peace. We were five hours hard at work, and at the close 140 persons professed to have obtained a sense of the pardoning love of God." Two days afterwards another meeting of a similar character was held in the same place, wbeu 160 professed to find peace and joy through believing, making in the two days 300 who had professedly obtained salvation. At the time the missionary wrote, the glorious work was still progressing.
The President of Conference is reported to have given as follows the purport of other accounts received from the same district:-In one place 300 conversions; in another, 500; in another, 800. In one circuit more than 2,000, in all, of native population, and more than 600 of English; and in the midst of all this a missionary rejoicing over the conversion of all his cbildren. There is, it is stated, the delightful spectacle of the various agents of the society, and, indeed, the whole Church, aroused to renewed aggression on the kingdom of darkness, and labouring with almost universal success.
On Sunday, September 30th, there swept over the Bahamas a hurricane, which for duration, force, and destructiveness, is described as being without a parallel in the history of the West Indian Islands. The Wesleyan Trinity Chapel, Nassau, stated to be the finest ecclesiastical structure in the West Indies, has been utterly destroyed. Other mission property has also suffered very
severely in the general disaster; five churches or chapels, and three school. houses, being partially or wholly destroyed in Nassau alone. From Turk's Island, the Baptist missionaries write, describing scenes which are truly appalling. The inhabitants have, as may be paturally sup. posed, been plunged into the greatest distress and suffering.
The Baptists have re-commenced missionary operations at Morant Bay, in Jamaica. “The first service," writes the Rev. W. Teall, who officiated, " was held in a classhouse, which was saved from being burnt by a marine, who was about to fire it, but seeing a New Testament on the table, did not carry out his intention. The people had not been able to meet since martial law prevailed, and no song of praise had been heard there for months. The place was well filled, and many could not get in. It would have done vou good to hear how lustily they sang for the first time, in such a place, after the late sad events. Many faces were wet with tears of joy." At this no one will be surprised. We trust there will never be a recurrence of the “sad events” to which reference is made by Mr. Teall.
From carefully prepared statistics, it appears that the Christians in church fellowship in Madagascar number altogether 4,374 persons; and that these represent a total Christian population of more than 16,000, showing how great has been the increase since the day of freedom dawned upon the island. The village congregations are said to have been much unsettled of late by the circulation of reports that the Queen in tended to forbid the holding of meetings for prayer ; but, happily, this is a mistake. The Queen does not appear to have any such intention.
From the same districts in Eastern Polynesia, are reported both trials and joys, disappointments and successes. Thus, it is stated that, in the Friendly Islands, the great changes introduced by the new code of laws, and the state of unrestrained freedom now enjoyed by the people, have been in some cases abused, and there have been some attempts to re
suscitate certain heathen practices. On the other hand, in the Vavan group (also in the Friendly Archipelago), we hear that a blessed revival has been going on. In the year, about twenty new Wesleyan chapels have been erected in the district, and all, it is said, free of expense to the society.
Similar is the experience of the missionaries in Western Polynesia. In the same letter, from a Wesleyan minister at Bau, in Fiji, which tells of the last year's returns showing a large increase of both “members" and attendants on public worship," we read of a chief, a professing Christian too, inciting his heathen neighbours to an attack upon a town, which resulted in some of the Cbristian inhabitants being killed, and the greater portion of the circuit in which it occurred was thrown into a state of tumult, alarm, and confusion. It appears that, in many parts of Fiji, murder, cannibalism, and polygamy are very prevalent. The Rev. F. Langham states that a chief sent a party of young men to a Christian town, with strict orders to "surround the catechist's house and kill him, with some of his pigs, then bring them all to the chief's town, and cook them together, so that he might taste a teacher's body." How revolting! Well may Mr. Langham exclaim, " Alas! Fiji is not yet saved !" Still, the efforts of Christian missionaries have not been without good results in Fiji; and the time shall come, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it, when, not only in Fiji, but everywhere, sin and crime shall disappear, and the purifying, ennobling, and joyinspiring religion of Immanuel shall prevail and triumph. Oh, that this time might come soon! Dec. 8th, 1866.
THE CELESTIAL SCENERY
OF THE MONTHS.
1.- JANUARY ASTRONOMY is not only the most dignified, but the most ancient of the sciences. In its study the mind is employed in the contemplation of the same objects which engaged the attention of the antediluvian patriarchs. This globe has undergone vast changes since it became the habitation of man. Nations have risen and passed away, and mighty conquerors have existed, concerning whom we know little more than the letters which spell their names. Yet although these great terrestrial revolutions have occurred, the scenery of the heavens is the same as on the day when our first parents gazed on the glories of the firmament from the garden of Eden. When we remember the frequent references made by the sacred writers to the heavenly bodies, it seems an additional reason to direct our attention to the objects with which they were so familiar. If we desire variety, we have only to engage in this most fascinating study; for the celestial vault resembles some mighty panorama, ever presenting fresh exhibitions of the Creator's skill to invite our study and admiration. The present store of astronomical knowledge is the result of the researches of many centuries, and in po previous age did there exist such manifold opportunities of pursuing this most delightful study as the present. The object of the following series of papers is to unfold to the ordinary reader some of the most remarkable of the celestial phenomena worthy of notice, so that, by the contemplation of the marvels of the firmament the mind may be led from the study of Nature to the love and reverence of Nature's God.
Let us commence our investigations on the first clear evening, and gaze at the glories of the starry concave. We cannot fail to observe the different aspect of the heavens presented on a winter's night to that of summer. Those constellations which now form part of the celestial panorama, a few months hence will disappear, and those which are now veiled by the rays of the orb of day will take their place. Directing our attention to the firmament, our first thought is one of sublime admiration at the multitude of resplendent orbs which appear in every direction. The sentiments of the pious Hervey are peculiarly appropriate to the
present occasion :-"What a grand and majestic dome is the sky! Where are the pillars that support the stately concave? What art, most exactly true, balanced the pressure? What props, of insuperable strength, sustain the weight? How is that immeasurable arch up. held, unshaken and unimpaired, while so inany generations of busy mortals have sunk and disappeared ? If those stars are of such an amazing bulk, how are they also fastened in their lofty situation ? . . . Are they hung in golden or adamantine chains ? Rest they their enormous load on rocks of marble or columns of brass ? No ... the Almighty Architect stretches out the north, and its whole starry train, 'over the empty place.' He hangs the earth,' and all the ethereal globes, upon nothing.' Yet are their foundations laid so sure, that they can never be moved at any time," except by the Hand that made them.
We commence our remarks by directing attention to the splendid constellation of Orion, now visible in the south-east early in the evening. This group once known, will serve as a guide to other constellations. The outline of Orion consists of four stars, as shown in our diagram.
the constellations are marked with the letters of the Greek alphabet, beginning with the brightest star; and when the alphabet is exhausted, namerals are employed. When it is reinembered that there are in the whole firmament about 100 constellations, the necessity for this method of classifying and arranging the stars visible to the naked eye (about 1,500 in the northern hemi. sphere) becomes a matter of importance. There are about 17 stars of the first magnitude, 76 of the second, 223 of the third, and the number increases as the scale of maynitude diminishes. There are several remarkable double stars in Orion, but these require a strong magnifying power to show the faint companion star. Rigel, when power. fully magnified, presents a beautiful appearance, and the contrast of colours between the large star and its minute attendant is a sight which must be seen to be appreciated. The large star is white, and the small one red. Sir W. Herschel, in the course of his astronomical career, detected as many as 500 double stars visible in our latitude, which are scattered over the whole heavens; and it is related of the celebrated astronomer Struve, at the Dorpat observatory in Russia, that he arranged a list of 3,000 double stars, in the compilation of which he examined singly as many as 120,000 stars. Further mention will be made of double stars in the course of these papers.
Another wonderful object, which seems almost beyond the powers of the human mind fully to grasp, is the magnificent nebula in what is called the “sword of Orion.” If the reader has access to a celestial globe, he will readily see why the terms “belt” and “sword” are employed. Orion is there represented as a mighty hunter, with uplifted club. The three stars in the centre of the square, in an oblique direction, are called the “belt," and through the uppermost of these, called Mintika, the equinoctial circle passes. The "sword” is immediately under the belt; it also consists of three stars, and to the naked eye the middle star appears as a hazy, cloudy
object. Huyghens, a Dutch astronomer, in 1656, with a very unwieldy telescope, examined the nebulous star in the “sword," but was unable to penetrate sufficiently far into the depths of space to discover the real nature of this wondrous object. Sir W. Herschel, more than a century later, employed the full power of his gigantic forty-feet reflector, but even the extraordinary penetrating power of his monster instrument failed to resolve this nebulous mass of light into separate stars. This honour has been reserved for the Earl of Rosse, who with his immense six-feet mirror, with a reflecting surface of 4,071 square inches, has succeeded in resolving certain portions of the great nebula into minute, star-like points. With what exquisite art must the figure of this mirror be formed to accomplish this most difficult problem, for the slightest flaw in the workmanship would turn a well-defined group of stars into a blot! But still more wonderful must be the real nature of this far-distant assemblage of brilliant points, when a very high authority places it at the enormous distance of 320 billions of miles from the earth on which we move! We once saw it stated that light, which travels at the rate of 192,000 miles in a second, occupies the incredible interval of 60,000 years to render this nebula visible!! Truly may we say of the Almighty Architect, “He alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea : he maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south: he doeth great things past finding out,” for “his name is Wonderful."
Let us quit this gorgeous constellation, and look immediately above it, and we shail meet with other objects equally wonderful. The star marked Betelguese is inmediately on the edge of that remarkable zone, the Milky Way. Sir W. Herschel, wben exploring this region with his twenty-feet telescope, had fields of view containing from 60 to 110 stars visible at once, in places where not a star can be seen by the naked eye. So thickly studded with stars are some portions of the Milky Way, that on
one occasion this powerful telescope remaining stationary, the revolution of the earth on its axis caused the incredible number of 50,000 stars to pass through the field of view in an hour! An examination of this region in a telescope of great space- penetrating power will confirm the remark of Sir J. Herschel, who describes it as consisting "entirely of stars, scattered by millions, like glittering dust, on the black ground of the general heavens.” Kpowing this, how appropriate is the reference of the Almighty to the number of the beavenly bodies, as an illustration of the prodigious increase of Abraham's posterity (Gen. xv. 5). The late Rev. Dr. Dick tells us that he has never been inspired with higher ideas of grandeur and sublimity, nor felt deeper emotions of humility and reverence, than when occasionally contemplating various parts of the Milky Way. The sight is one that baffles all attempts at description, and is calculated to inspire sensations of wonder and reverence at the immensity of the Creator's kingdom.
To the right of Orion we see the ruddy star Aldebaran, in the constellation Taurus : this star will be occulted or eclipsed by the moon on the evening of the 16th. Near Aldebaran is the cluster called the Pleiades, an object which every reader of these lines ought to see in an ordinary telescope. Seven stars may be seen by the naked eye, 40 or more with a telescope, and, accord. ing to Rheita, as many as 200. The configuration of these stars in a common telescope is exquisitely beautiful, as it gives a very fair idea of the manner in which space is magnified in the telescope. One star near the centre of this cluster, of the third magnitude, named Alcyone, is the “ central sun,” according to Maedler, who maintains that the entire stellar heavens, together with the solar system, revolve round this star as their common centre of motion.
To the left of Orion, at a lower elevation, the dazzling brilliancy of Sirius catches the eye. This is the brightest star in the heavens, after the planets Venus and Jupiter.
The blaze of large stars in powerful telescopes was almost overpowering to Sir W. Herschel, who says that when Sirius entered the field of his telescope, its brightness resembled the rising sun, so that he was forced to take his eye from the beautiful sight. Sirius cannot be less distant than 20 billions of miles, which would take a cannon-ball, flying at the velocity of 19 miles a minute, 2,000,000 years to cross this mighty interval. A most striking proof of the immense distance of the fixed stars is shown in the following fact. If we employ the highest powers of a large telescope to magnify a star of the first magnitude, the disk of the star diminishes, instead of increasing in size. If the same telescopic power is employed on the moon or any of the planets, the size of those bodies is sensibly increased. This fact proves beyond a doubt the immensity of the abyss which separates our earth and the members of the solar system from the region of the nearest of the fixed stars.
Whoever examines the heavens closely, will notice the change of place which the moon undergoes on three or four successive nights. Her monthly revolution is performed in about 27 days, during which she passes near each of the planets. She is immediately above Venus on the morning of the 3rd; near Jupiter on the 7th at midnight, Uranus on the evening of the 18th, Mars on the 19th at noon, Saturn on the 28th, and again approaches Venus on the evening of the 31st. The moon when on the meridian, or due south, rises to a much higher elevation during the winter months than in summer. The moon is new on the 5th, at midnight, and full on the 20th. The star Aldebaran suffers an occultation or eclipse by the moon on the 16th at 8.17 p.m.-a phenomenon worthy of notice. It is well known to all that the sun rises lower in the sky in winter than in summer, but it is not generally known that we are nearer to the sun in winter than when the days are longest. The planet Mars rises on the 10th when the sun sets, and is a conspicuous object in the south-east for the next few