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late, Mala's irreverence broke forth again, -"Do see that bonnet! If it is not the identical one that Ham's wife wore into the ark, what museum of dead and buried fashions was it fished out of?"
My amused eyes lingered involuntarily among the quaint details of the ancient structure,-an awe-inspiring poke, with a kind of full blown cabbage-rose on one side, and a mammoth bow on top. Notwithstanding the wearer's face was invisible, the angular outlines of her tall form, and several spasmodic jerks of the bonnet-which gave me an odd impression that that piece of head-gear, by reason of extreme old age, had itself taken to shaking with paralysis -enabled me to recognize Aunt Vin.
Mala went on. "I wonder if she says her prayers a she talks! In that case, she must put up some curious pe titions to the Throne of Grace!"
I very nearly laughed at the bare supposition.
BONA (severely). Have you any consciousness whatever that you are saying the Creed?
I (very humbly). “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” Never were those words so sweet to me! Coming in the midst of my repeated failures to keep my thoughts from wandering, they seemed to have been made for the express need of the moment; as do so many utterances of the Liturgy to humbled, burdened souls everywhere; which, nevertheless, have given freely of their help and witness to thousands before; and, instead of losing anything, have constantly grown richer thereby. And a comfortable ar ticle of belief is "the forgiveness of sins!" Without it, how the soul would tremble in view of the "resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting!"
MR. TAYLOR. "The Lord be with you."
I gave the necessary response with hearty emphasis. "If Mr. Taylor's mind is as prone to wander as mine," I said to myself, "how cheering it must be to him to hear the whole congregation distinctly and devoutly ejaculate, And with
thy spirit!" The people who would be blessed with the most solemn, earnest, and effective ministrations from desk and pulpit, must not fail to give their clergyman the sup port of their fervent, effectual prayers in his behalf;"That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain."
During the prayers Mala's fertile mind suggested another distraction. "I wonder," said she, "if Major Burcham is here, and if he answers Aunt Vin's very flattering description."
I darted a quick glance toward the corner where Mrs. Burcham sat, and beheld the "porpoise-looking man" in question,-Aunt Vin meant pompous, doubtless, but some of her misses are capital hits, and I thought "porpoise" the better word. Fancy a round, corpulent, oleaginous figure; with its head held very high and its hair brushed straight up; looking as if it had just jumped out of a sunny sea of self-complacency, all dripping, and would imme diately plunge back again,—and there you have Major Bur
MR. TAYLOR. "O God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners."
I echoed the petition with a fervency of beseeching which might not have been too dearly bought, even with that moment of inattention. We are so prone to forget, in our guarded, upright moments, what miserable sinners
When the Psalm in metre was announced, so strange and unexpected a sound came from the perched-up gallery, that I was plunged into the darkest depths of bewilderment; and it was not till near the close of the second verse that I was able to identify it (inevitably smiling, as I did so) as proceeding from an accordeon. "Well, why not?" I asked myself, the next moment, "since many a rusty-sinewed fiddle, and growling bass-viol, has led off in the song of praise; and the melodeon-favorite instrument of feeble churches -is only an accordeon on a large scale."
This novel and incapable accompaniment was played with a delicacy of touch and truth of feeling, that astonished me; and went far to justify its use. With it rose a clear, fresh voice; singing as a bird sings; without artistic culture, but with an airy sweetness, that had its own peculiar charm. It was not powerful,—an excessively harsh alto and a direfully shrill tenor did their best to cover it up; but the pure quality of its tones could not be hidden, any more than the small, sweet strains of a bird can be drowned by all the cackle and clamor of a barnyard. I looked up for the singer. Mrs. Prescott saw the look and interpreted it.
"That's Ruth Winnot," whispered she, with a degree of pride; "hasn't she got a nice voice?"
ETWEEN the close of the Ante-Communion service and the singing of the Hymn, I had
a brief opportunity to give myself a moral shaking up, and to set myself deliberately to listen to the sermon. Of course, I did not expect an intellectual treat,-I knew that Mr. Taylor made no pretensions to oratory or erudition; but I have found, after some years of patient listening to all sorts of sermons, that I never yet gave my whole, prayerful attention to any, even the poorest and plainest, without getting from it something that I should have regretted to lose. It might be some subtle touch of human kinship, awakening new sympathies in my heart; or a bit of homely wisdom, quick with an endless progeny of application; or an isolated clause of a sentence, stirring within me a train of heavenward thought that made me feel, for some blissful moments, as if I had talked face to face with God; or perhaps, a hitherto unheeded text of Scripture falling on my ear with sudden opulence and profundity of spiritual meaning. So I have come to think that God never fails to bless the seed of the Gospel-however unskilfully sown-with a rich germination of spiritual help, to all who listen to His ministers reverently and teachably, as to "deputies of Christ for the reducing of man to the obedience of God."
Mr. Taylor's sermon was pointed and vivified by a
warm earnestness of manner, and a directness of purpose, that made it very effective, in its way. It was no fine speculation of the brain, but a drop of life-blood from the heart. It was enriched with wisdom gathered from the mistakes, conflicts and defeats of his own life, and carefully hived for the benefit of his fellows; of whose longings after holiness and struggles toward right, as well as of their discouraging failures and lapses into evil, he knew something through fellowship, not less than observation; in virtue of which knowledge he was irresistibly moved to help and to teach them. His sentences were commonplace enough in themselves, but they seemed to have imbibed a rich warmth and fragrance from having been so thoroughly steeped in the enthusiasm and the tenderness of his heart. I had a curious intuition, as I listened, why God had called him into His service just as he was, with his culture and his want of culture, his zeal and his unpracticalness, his strength and his weakness. A man with less infirmity to contend with in himself, would not have comprehended so clearly the necessities of others; and one of less sanguine and hopeful temperament would never have labored for their reformation with such entire confidence in his ultimate success. it was necessary for our Lord to take upon Him human flesh, with the pains, weaknesses, and temptations belonging thereto, for the work of atonement; it is not strange that those whom He calls to the work of teaching in His name, should be men of like passions and infirmities with ourselves.
Not that I would, for a moment, be supposed to undervalue, or discourage the employment of, whatever good gifts of mind or manner God vouchsafes to man, in His special service. If, in the Christian life, the wisdom of the serpent be fitly conjoined with the harmlessness of the dove; why, in Christian teaching, need one hesitate to employ the finest art of rhetoric, the loveliest grace of fancy, the subtlest har monies of elocution, in aid of the depth, the simplicity, and