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POETIC SELECTIONS.-THE CHILDRENS' CORNER.
WHAT PLEASES GOD.
The truest heart is God's own heart,
Oh! could I sing as I desire,
My grateful voice should never tire
The King of Kings, He rules on earth;
His church on earth He dearly loves,
Then let the crowd around thee seize
THE noblest things in nature point
The glorious and the beautiful
The forest upward shoots its wealth
While climbing up the sturdy oak
The eagle upward mounts and leaves
To find in higher, wider space,
The lark soars heavenward to the sun,
And as he rises to the clouds
To meet the dews, the daisy lifts
Among the waving grasses where
My Father! may my wavering faith
And each day find my rising soul
The Childrens' Corner.
THE CAPTAIN'S LAW.
"My lads," said a captain, when about to take command of a ship, reading his orders to the crew on the quarter-deck, "there is one law I am determined to make, and I shall insist on its being kept. It is a favour, indeed, I will ask of you, and which, as a British officer, I expect will be granted by a crew of British seamen. What say you, my lads? are you willing to grant your new captain one favour?"
Ay, ay," cried all hands, "let's know it sir."
"Well, my lads, it is this; that you must allow me to swear the first oath in this ship. No man on board must swear an oath before I do. I am determined to swear the first oath on board. What say you, my lads; will you grant me this favour?" The men stared, and stood for a moment quite at a loss what to say. "They were," one said, "taken all aback." "They were brought up," said another, "all standing." The appeal seemed so reasonable, and the manner of the captain so kind and prepossessing, that a general burst from the ship's company answered, Ay, ay, sir,' with their usual three cheers. Swearing was thus wholly abolished in the ship.
CAN YOU STAND FIRE?
As I was walking along the Strand one night, I came upon a fine, tall soldier. I entered into conversation with him, and said, "There is one thing I cannot understand about the British soldier." "What is that, sir?" Well," I said, "he is bold and daring: you could not insult him more than by calling him a coward. There are men among you who would rush up to the cannon's mouth, even if you knew it would be certain death; and yet there are among you men who dare not kneel down in the barrack-room at night and repeat the prayer their mother taught them when they were children." He paused, and said, "That is true, sir." "What is the meaning of it, soldier?" He said, “You remind me of what took place in my own roll a few weeks ago. A young fellow came into our room, and the first night, before going to bed, he knelt down to pray, and instantly there was a noise and disturbance in the room. Caps and belts were thrown over at the man, but he did not move. The second night there was a general cry, Willie, try it again.' Down he went on his knees again. Caps and belts were thrown again, and the men whistled. The third night he went again on his knees, and again on the fourth night, with the same result, and on the fifth night. And then," he said, "the greatest blackguard in the room cried out, He is genuine-he stands fire;' and from that night every one in the room respected him, and began to follow his example."
In a large establishment in Birmingham, very similar to what many of you are in in this town, some seventy years ago, there was a youth who came from his mother's loving home in one of our beautiful villages. He had been taught to "stand fire," not to be ashamed of God or of prayer. The first night he retired to rest in a room with several other youths; he knelt down to pray, and, as in the case of the soldier, he was instantly beset by the young fellows in the room, abusing him and ridiculing him, and everything was done to induce him to abstain from prayer; but he "stood fire"-he was not ashamed of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Among them was a strong-built youth, who stood on his right, and who said, "My mother taught me to do that. I have been ashamed of doing it; but I will do it." That youth became the great, the noble John Angell James. Oh, young men, if that youth had not stood fire, the world might never have known or been blessed by the labours of John Angell James.
The soldier told me what I want to leave with you. He said,
Sir, as a rule, the fresh fellows who kneel down to pray do not do it a second night." Ah, young men, may that never be said of you! That explains the meaning of those words, "He stands fire." Do not be ashamed to acknowledge your Lord and Master.
Some time ago, in one of our great ships of war, there was a solitary sailor who was not ashamed to own himself a follower of Christ. For a long time he was alone; no other sailor joined him. His place of prayer was amid the noise and din of the sailors. One evening he perceived a shadow by the side of the gun. Another Jack Tar was creeping along, and said, “May I come?" Oh, the joy of the young sailor to have a comrade with him! They met for many nights behind the gun, reading and praying. They became the butt of the men in two or three of the messes; but still they continued, bearing and forbearing. It came to the ears of the commander, who was a Roman Catholic, and I mention this to his honour. The moment he heard that two of the sailors were meeting for reading and prayer behind one of the guns, he sent for them, and instantly ordered a portion of the lower deck to be curtained off, and gave orders that no one should molest them. For some nights they were the only two occupants; but by and by the curtain was opened, and a blue-jacket said, "May I come in?" He was welcomed. Another came, and another; and the last I heard from that ship was this, that every night thirtytwo men were meeting for prayer, thirty of them believed to be converted characters; and there, by standing fire, by standing firm, true to what was his duty, God has blessed that solitary sailor, and made him a spiritual father to at least thirty of the men on board the ship..
THIS word is often used, but there are many who do not understand its import. The term refers to a collection of buildings on one of the seven hills of Rome, which covers a space of 1,200 feet in length, and 1,000 feet in breadth. It is built on the spot once occupied by the garden of the cruel Nero. It owes its origin to the Bishop of Rome, who, in the early part of the sixth century, erected a humble residence on its site. About the year 1160, Pope Eugenius rebuilt it on a magnificent scale. Innocent II., a few years afterwards, gave it up as a lodging to Peter II., King of Arragon. In 1305, Clement V., at the instigation of the King of France, removed the Papal See from Rome to Avignon, when the Vatican remained in a condition of obscurity and neglect for more than seventy years.
THE FRIENDS OF CHRIST.
But soon after the return of the Pontifical Court to Rome, an event which had been so earnestly prayed for by poor Petrarch, and which finally took place in 1376, the Vatican was put in a state of repair, again enlarged, and it was thenceforward considered as the regular palace and residence of the Popes, who, one after the other, added fresh buildings to it, and gradually encircled it with antiquities, statues, pictures, and books, until it became the richest depository in the world.
The library of the Vatican was commenced 1,400 years ago. It contains 40,000 manuscripts, among which are some by Pliny, St. Thomas, St. Charles Boromeo, and many Hebrew, Syrian, Arabian and Armenian Bibles.
The whole of the immense buildings composing the Vatican are filled with statues found beneath the ruins of ancient Rome; with paintings by the masters, and with curious medals and antiquities of almost every description.
When it is known that there have been exhumed more than 70,000 statues from the ruined temples and palaces of Rome, the reader can form some idea of the richness of the Vatican.
THE FRIENDS OF CHRIST.
MATTHEW the Publican sounds smoothly enough to us now. Publican has honourable associations since Matthew became an apostle, and Zaccheus a believer, and since Christ made publicans His friends, and used one of them in a parable to illustrate humility. But even Christ could not forbear showing the other side. "Do not even the publicans so?" is a question that shows the deep stigma that rested on them; and in other places they are classed with women of abandoned life. One of these became a member of Christ's chosen band. In his house He ate, and with other publicans and sinners, his friends. Which leads us to remark that Christ had a most strange set of friends-a company that would have ruined Him in the good society of this age, or of any other. His bosom friends, Peter, James, and John, were fishermen-not fishermen who had retired on fortunes, but with the smell of the fishing smack still hanging to their clothes. Matthew and Zaccheus were publicans, and there was a throng of these outcasts ever about Jesus. Lepers were not only disgusting physically, but under the ban of religion, as smitten by God. Christ seems to have taken delight in defying this sentiment. He not only healed them, but He touched their defiled bodies, contrary to law. Mary Magdalen, one who had been demoniac, belonged
THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA.
to Christ's company. His reputed father was a poor man; his mother was of the lineage of David, but that lineage had long since sunk to the lowest level as regarded earthly dignity. Jesus even attached Himself to heretics, such as the Samaritans, rebuking their errors of opinion mildly, and winning them to a better life by treating them with a respect that amazed them. Outcast women wept tears of grateful love upon His feet. Behold the motley crowd who were the friends of Jesus! Add to this His love and respect for children-till then contemned-and you have completed the picture. No wonder that Deacon Simon, the Pharisee, hesitated to show Him the hospitality due to an equal! No wonder that Senator Nicodemus sought His presence by night! No wonder the orthodox theological professors looked on Him as an enemy of the true faith! If a man will associate with such people, he must expect to be cut by all that is refined, and hightoned, and straight-laced! What signify miracles, and wonderful doctrines, and a holy life, in a man whose steps are dogged by a disreputable throng of fishermen, and publicans, and Samaritans, and beggars, and those who had been demoniacs, and lepers, and harlots? There is hardly a person amongst us that would not think twice before taking such a man to his table. What then?
1. Jesus is brother to every man; the poorest, the youngest, the lowest, the vilest, the most abandoned, the most contemned, has a right to claim the fellowship of the infinitely loving, tenderhearted, condescending, patient, long-suffering, divine Master. 2. How little are we like Him!
THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA.
MR. CHARLES WARREN STODDARD has made a visit to the worldfamous tower at Pisa. Here is a bit of his experience while making the ascent :
"The leaning tower of Pisa has a strange effect upon you. You being well enough, you see that the stairs are very steep in some places, and that the inner wall crowds down upon you in an unpleasant way. The effect is a little like being in the cabin of a ship at sea; you realize a kind of undulating motion without having the visible cause of it before your eyes. We stopped to rest; a small window was at hand; we looked down into the interior of the tower. It was like a deep, round shaft that had been sunk slantwise; there was just enough slant to it to be unpleasant. We trudged on and on, and looked again. The tower was beginning to move again; we both saw it and felt it.