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the last of the series, dated May 3d, 1819, one extract only will be taken. “ Poor H-! He is gone,
see, to his account. I heard, with much gratification, that he had been long engaged in serious preparation for this awful change. How poor and pitiful now seem all the angry and malignant feelings, of which he was the author and the object! My dear Frank, what is there in this world to satisfy the cravings of an immortal nature? I declare to you that the business and the pleasure of it seem to me as of no more consequence than the game of push-pin, that occupies the little negroes at the corners of the street. Do not misunderstand me, my dear friend. My life (I am ashamed to confess it), does not correspond with my belief. I have made a vile return for the goodness which has been manifested towards me, but I shall cling to the cross of my
Redemer. I, with God's aid, firmly resolve to lead a life less unworthy of one who calls himself the humble follower of Jesus Christ."
6. Since I I have become more infirm and indolent than ever. My spirits often desert me, and, indeed, it is no wonder, for a more forlorn, desolate creature can hardly be found. I have outlived all my relations and friends, except a few who are far away.”
Now, in view of these distinct and emphatic expressions of Christian faith, may we not indulge the thought, that the scene so strikingly described by Dr. Parrish, may have been the result of a wandering of the mind, which threw the heart back for a moment into its old position of despair ? May we not believe that this proverbially eccentric and morbid mind was plunged, by disease and death, into temporary and irresponsible insanity ? Such is the explanation, at least, which charity suggests. And we may add that Mr. Randolph, eccentric as he was, had a horror of acting or of doing any thing that would seem melo-dramatic or sensational. On any explanation of the scene, there still remains the expression of his hope of having obtained pardon in the Lord Jesus Christ.
At the London International Exhibition, in 1862, a machine for the execution of microscopic writing was exhibited by a Mr. Peters, which has enabled the Lord's Prayer to be written in the 356,000th of a square inch-a space like a minute dot. The English Bible contains 3.566,480 letters: the Lord's Prayer, ending with “deliver us from evil,” 223 letters; so that the Bible is 15,992 times longer than the prayer, and if we employ round numbers we may say it could be written in 16,000 times the space occupied by the prayer, or in less than the twenty-second part of a square inch. In other words, the whole Bible might be written twentytwo times in one square inch. This wonderful minute writing is clearly legible when placed under a good mieroscope. In using the machine, the operator writes with a pencil attached to one end of a long lever; whatever marks he makes on a piece of paper are infinitesimally reduced in corresponding motions, by which a glass plate is moved over a minute diamond point. By means of a geometric chuch, beautiful designs may be engraved on a similar scale of minuteness.
THE CHILD'S EVENING PRAYER.
6 Now I lay me down to sleep,
BY THE EDITOR.
ELLIE AND THE LITTLE PRAYER. We have known of one instance, in which a little child objected to saying one of the lines of this little prayer. When she came to the line,
“If I should die before I wake,” little Ellie stopped abruptly, and would go no farther.
“I do not want to die, mother,” she said, with great earnestness.
Her mother sought to explain to her, that the prayer did not say that she must die before she woke, but that she only prayed that the Lord might take her soul, if she did die. It was all in vain. She persisted that she did not wish to die, and did not like to say that line. Ever afterwards, she always protested, whenever she came to that part of the little prayer.
Her mother finally allowed her to omit the unpleasant line. Was not this wise? The child, in the full flow and joy of youthful life, did not wish to think of death. Ellie had all that child-piety which clings in love to the Saviour. Was not her desire to love her Saviour as truly a pious vein in her life, as love to think of death could have been? Time, and the experiences of life, would in due time teach her all that is necessary in the way of contemplating death. Thus, she misapprehended the meaning of the words, but the sense she put into them was to her their true
To force her young heart into the adoption of words which brought to her soul only gloomy and unpleasant thoughts, would have been like clothing a young and growing plant with yellow leaves.
Besides, do we not mistake, when we take premature thoughts of death in a child as an evidence of piety? Death is no means of grace, and thoughts of it may easily put the spirit into a morbid state. Childhood has its own world. It is full of hope and freshness of life. It belongs to it to chase the butterfly, and admire the beautiful flowers, and the singing birds, rather than meditate among quadrupeds, or moralize on the “sear and yellow leaf.”
To hope for something better to come, to hear of God's goodness, of the
Saviour's love, and of the happiness of heaven, and then trustingly to pray—these are things that fit the mind and heart of a cheerful, hopeful, trusting child; but death is to it only an awful mystery, the contemplation of which may chill it, but will hardly make its heart more tender, or fill it with truly pious thoughts and feelings.
We do not mean to say, of course, that our classic little prayer is at fault in this respect. On the contrary, it is a truly cheerful and trusting prayer; and Ellie's difficulty was entirely with a misapprehension of its true meaning. If her understanding of it were the true one, and it actually contained such a formal threat of death and warning in view of it, we do not believe it would ever have taken such a hold upon the hearts of either parents or children.
We have an illustration of this in “Dickens' Cradle Song of the Poor.” As poetry, the song is beautiful and touching; but as a song, to be hymned over the cradle of an infant going to sleep, the lyric is as horrid as horrid can be. Little did he, who has sought to put such gloomy, despairing sentiments into the mouth of even a poor and destitute Christian mother, know either of the mystery of faith, or of the mystery of the maternal heart. Nor do the recurring words, “God is good,” redeem it in the least; for the light of hope, which these words might momentarily inspire, is speedily turned into thicker darkness by the shadow of unbelief which is brought over them by the words, “but life is dreary." Here is
DICKENS' CRADLE SONG OF THE POOR.
Stretch thy tiny hands in vain;
Nothing, child, to ease thy pain.
Proud and thankful, too, was I;
Sleep, my darling—thou art weary;
God is good, but life is dreary.
And thy strength sink day by day-
Waste thy little life away.
Hope and joy are gone from me;
Sleep, my darling-thou art weary;
I am wasted, dear, with hunger,
And my brain is sore oppressed;
Wan and feeble, to my breast.
Death will come to thee and me;
Sleep, my darling-thou art weary;
God is good, but life is dreary.
We have never heard of any poor mother, who sang this “Cradle Song of the Poor” over her sleeping babe; and we never expect to hear of any such silly thing being done in a Christian land. Let
one contrast with these morbid and gloomy verses, the “Cradle Hymn" of Watts, that truly Christian classic, and he will see the difference between faith and unbelief at the cradle of sleeping infancy. We need not quote it, as it is familiar to all. Compare only the beginning of the two. What calm faith in the opening of the true cradle hymn:
“Hush, my babe, lie still and slumber;
Holy angels guard thy bed." What unbelief in the beginning of the other:
“Hush, I cannot bear to see thee
Stretch thy tiny hands in vain!”
" How much better thou’rt attended
Than the Son of God can be!"
Sure we are, that though young men and maidens
read with pleasure Dickens' Novels, no mothers, rich or poor, will ever sing over their infant sleepers Dickens' Cradle Song of the Poor."
As it is a mistake to put the gloomy and morbid vein into cradle hymns, :80, on the same principle, is it an error to teach little children either gloomy hymns or prayers. Glad are we that little Ellie was mistaken in her judg. ment, and that our little "Now I lay me," is as cheerful, hopeful, and trusting, as the heart of a little Christian child itself.
On this little prayer we find the following in the German Reformed Messenger,” which, though partly hidden by the initial signature, “W.M. N.," will be recognised by the initiated as coming from the genial Professor of Languages in Franklin and Marshall College. The touching sentiment, and the quaint style, betray its author:
THE CHILD'S PRAYER. “Now I lay me down to sleep.” This little poem belongs to the golden age
of our human life. “Heaven lies about us in our infancy.” It is all made up of monosyllables, one word excepted, easy to be lisped, and we had mastered it in our memories, we all know, long before we had the letters of the alphabet, from the fond dictation of our mother, and our repeating it after her every night, without a miss, as we kneeled devotionally at her knee. When this happy repeating of it first began we cannot now go back so far in our memories as to ascertain, but it ever remains associated with the Lord's Prayer, of which it was the forerunner; and after we had committed both of them, before this lesser one of human origin we always repeated first the divine one. The great composer of it is unknown, but he has his reward. We never find it printed or published on a card, in red or golden letters, ornamented in handsome style, as are often the
Lord's Prayer, and the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, to attract the eyes of the young, and impress them on their memories. It stands in need of no such tricks or allurements. It is for ever written on the tablets of our hearts, and it cannot be effaced.
But though never published by itself, nor with a commentary, it is not without its legends and incidents, showing the deep hold it has taken on the religious feelings of our nature; the most touching one of which, we think, is that of the suffering little boy, who, when the night of death was creeping over him, and his eyes could no longer distinguish objects, supposed it was the natural night coming on, and, to compose himself to sleep, he commenced saying his little
prayer; but ere he had reached the close of the last line, “I pray the Lord my soul ,” his tongue refused to utter, and he fell asleep in Jesus. “Blessed sleep, from which none ever wakes to weep.”
No wonder that the artist, too, has sometimes seized upon it, making the little repeater of it the subject of his pencil. Before us now we have a picture of this description, which was painted by Holfeld, and engraved by the distinguished artist, A. B. Walter. The little worshipper, however, is not represented at its mother's knee. The clothes having been turned down, and the pillow yet uncrushed, the child in dishabille is kneeling on its soft mattress, with its hands folded and its eyes upraised in faith, in the act of repeating this little prayer. It is all alone, but the room is lighted up. It is not repeating it after another, but by itself in sincere devotion, for its own conscience' sake. It could not have slept otherwise. Presently, when it has laid its little head upon its pillow, its mother will come in and tuck the clothes snugly around it, and after bidding it good night with a parting kiss, she will turn off the light and leave the room, and then how soundly and sweetly will it sleep all the hours, knowing that God's holy care is ever around it!
The little child is represented not as a cherub, nor even as an angel without wings. Such an idealistic being might have looked more beautiful, but how much farther would it have been removed from our human sympathies! It is a bona fide little child, of healthful form and expressive countenance; such, indeed, as might be met with in marble halls, but just as often in lowly cottages. It is the sincere act of devotion in which is engaged, and the hallowed associations of the prayer itself in the memories of all, that throws around the picture its charm, and makes it truly poetical. While giving pleasure to the most cultivated and refined sensibilities, it cannot fail coming home also to the hearts of the common people. It would grace any parlor, it is true; but its properest place, we fancy, is in the nursery over the children's bed—the last thing to be seen by them at night, and the first thing to meet their eyes in the morning. In a quiet way such things of art and beauty have an educational force, improving the taste and social and religious feelings; and happier always will be the family, we think, which will fall early under their refining and hallowing influences.
A praying man is a treasure and blessing in any country. One Joseph preserved the whole of Egypt in the time of scarcity. One Moses stood in the gap when God would have destroyed the people of Israel.