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best opportunity which you can have for the practice of piety, pass away unimproved, never to return? Will you not seize “the acceptable time, the hour of salvation,” the golden prime of life, before you have been entangled by the meshes of temptation ; before your hearts have become hardened, and, as it were petrified, in the stream of vice; before the enemy has succeeded in binding you fast in the strong cords of sinful habit ?-And what have you gained as the reward of your temerity? Are not the cisterns which you have hewn out to yourselves broken cisterns, which can hold no water? Does the tempter say, "you must first taste the pleasures of youth?” Great God! what are the pleasures of youth, but the happy smiles of thy love, and the calm, rational dignity of serving thee ?-But you must first enjoy the pleasures of the world! And what are the pleasures of the world? What! But the apples of Sodom, fair to the eye, but full of ashes and soot. What! but the deceitful Mirage of the desert, which appears to the thirsty traveller as the refreshing waters of a lake, but on nearer approach, is discovered to be burning and barren sands! Oh! remember, that while the path of sin is attended by danger and disappointment, “ Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are paths of peace ;” that God addresses and invites you with the utmost tenderness, saying, “I love those that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me.”
Give flavour to our feast,
To feed the gross corporeal frame,
And starve the nobler mind,
And leaves no zest behind !
Like relatives of old,
Or else his truth unfold.
Provision for our souls !
And prejudice controuls !
While o'er this waste we roam ;
Shall meet in Canaan's home!
LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF NATURE.
It is only by comparing the present with the past that we can obtain a lively perception of some of our every-day blessings, and this is especially the case with intellectual possessions. When the poor man reads the word of God he would more highly prize that instruction which has been the key to unlock his treasures, did he remember that it was denied to his fathers : and we are apt too little to contrast the intellectual position of the age with that of preceding times, and thereby fail to set a due value on the light, whose
extend even to the remotest corners of our land, dispersing those errors and misery which ever exist in the regions of mental darkness. Numerous are the avenues to knowledge now open, and even those who tread not the direct paths to learning, owe much to the scientific advancement of the time, and unconsciously occupy a position to which their own
it is not easy
efforts would never have raised them; the grosser mists of error and superstition lie at their feet, so that even the least learned may in this sense be said to dwell in an atmosphere of light. In reading the accounts of the treatment of witches in our own country, in an age not far removed from the present,
form an adequate idea of the mental darkness which clouded the understandings of men. From the page of history we learn that great numbers of poor deluded victims were cruelly tortured, and put to death, on the supposition that they had entered into a confederacy with the spirits of darkness, and had thence derived the supernatural power of invisibly working mischief upon persons and property.
Weturn from the contemplation of these sad scenes with feelings of pleasure, conceiving that we need not dread a repetition of them in our own day. We rejoice in this conviction, however, without perhaps considering that we are spared these evils, less from any improvement in the disposition of man, than from the exertions of those to whom the torch of truth has been entrusted, and who have assiduously cherished and increased its light.
These thoughts were recently awakened on meeting in our meadow walks with many of those dark green circles commonly known as “Fairy Rings." The Natural Philosopher finds some difficulty in explaining their origin, although it is sufficiently clear that they are occasioned by a certain species of mushroom called Agaric, which may be found in these circles in Autumn, which is the season of fructification ; to ascribe, therefore, the vivid greenness to the light footing of Fairies, (which greenness is really attributable to the nourishment that the grass de
rives from these plants,) is a mere superstitious fancy. It appears that the thallus or stalk of the plant spreads from all sides from a centre, and the organs of fructification in such and similar productions, (which we commonly call mushrooms and toadstools), are thrown up in the circumference of a circle, and thus continually progress from the outer edge and decay within.
A somewhat similar phenomenon on a small scale may be witnessed on walls and trunks of trees, in many lichens which spread in a circular manner, and as they become old die in the centre.
The Fairy Rings thus enlarge their bounds until some accident breaks the ring, or altogether destroys it in the spot where it has been ground. Many semicircles and disjointed circles may be found, and these, if we prefer the dreams of imagination to the more sober accounts of science, we may suppose to have been occasioned through the mischief or merriment of some fairy, who refused to keep her place in the dance, and thus broke the circumference of the magic circle. Fairies were among the least harmful of the fanciful creations of our forefathers, and we must confess to an entire sympathy with a celebrated author, who thus mentions them : “ This fascinating article of the popular creed, has in it so much of interest to the imagination that we almost envy the credulity of those, who in the gentle moonlight of a summer night in England, amid the tangled glades of a deep forest, or on the turfy swell of her romantic commons, could fancy they saw the fairies tracing their sportive ring ; but it is in vain to regret illusion, which however engaging, must of necessity yield their place before the increase of knowledge, like shadows at the advance of morn." It was at first imagined that the discontinuance of the fairy progeny was owing to the friars, before whose extended perambulations they were supposed to flee ; and their expulsion as an article of popular faith, might doubtless be partly traced to that cause, and yet more to the reformation, as a poet of the 17th century intimates in these verses —
-“ Witness those rings and roundelays
Of theirs which yet remain,
On many a grassy plain ;
And later James came in,
As when the time hath bin.”
We cannot conclude without one serious suggestion to the reader's thoughts, which the reflection on the progress of light offers to our own mind. There is one immence, all-important advantage, at present permitted us, which is, after all, the greatest blessing of our age, and forms the principal difference between this and former times, it is the free circulation of the Scriptures. This, we all know, was at one, and no very distant, period denied our land, and we cannot conceal our fears, that strenuous efforts are now making to deprive us of this most precious of our blessings, and the dearest prized of our enjoyments. If, however, we estimate truly the value of the possession, we shall not only earnestly desire to retain it, but also to bequeath it to succeeding generations. No doubt all are called herein to work, for all may do something in resisting the assaults of the enemy, and promoting the diffusion of light, -by teaching the ignorant,-by aiding the spread of the pure and reformed faith,"