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they would be if he was shut up in his study. Why then may he not walk out at evening?

And why may he not step into the little boat which floats in the cove, and unloosen its chain, and push himself off from the shore, that while the gentle, dying swell of the sea is rocking him, he may lose himself more completely in the absorbing feeling of God's presence, and muse more uninterruptedly upon his Creator's power?-Shall he go ?

No; stop, Christian, stop. Before you spend your halfhour in a boat upon the water, or even in your evening walk, consider what will be the influence of the example you are going to set to others. Shall you appear, while you are doing this, to be remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy? Is it best, on the whole, that riding, walking, and sailing should be among the occupations of holy time? Will God be honoured, and his Sabbath kept, if all spend the Sabbath evening as you are about to spend it?

These questions must be answered on a principle which will apply to multitudes of other cases. Take a course which, were it universally imitated, would promote the greatest good, otherwise you may be doing that which, though safe for yourself, will be of incalculable injury through the influence of your example upon others.



"Strangers and pilgrims on the earth."


THE Bible everywhere conveys the idea that this life is not our home, but a state of probation, that is, of trial and discipline, which is intended to prepare us for another. In order that all, even the youngest of my readers, may understand what is meant by this, I shall illustrate it by some familiar examples, drawn from the actual business of life.

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When a large steam-boat is built with the intention of having her employed upon the waters of a great river, she must be proved before put to service. Before trial, it is somewhat doubtful whether she will succeed. In the first place, it is not absolutely certain that her machinery will work at all. There may be some flaw in the iron, or an imperfection in some part of the workmanship, which will prevent the motion of her wheels. Or if this is not the case, the power of the machinery may not be sufficient to propel her through the water with such force as to overcome the current, or she may, when brought to encounter the rapids, be found at some narrow passage in the stream not able to force her way against their resistance.

The engineer therefore resolves to try her in all these respects, that her security and her power may be properly proved, before she is intrusted with her valuable cargo of human lives. He cautiously builds a fire under her boiler ;—he watches with eager interest the rising of the steam-gauge, and scrutinizes every part of the machinery as it gradually comes under the control of the tremendous power which he is cautiously applying. With what interest does he observe the first stroke of the ponderous piston !-and when at length the fastenings of the boat are let go, and the motion is communicated to the wheels, and the mighty mass slowly moves away from the wharf, how deep and eager an interest does the engineer feel in all her movements, and in every indication he can discover of her future success.

The engine, however, works imperfectly, as every one must on its first trial, and the object in this experiment is not to gratify idle curiosity by seeing that she will move, but to discover and remedy every little imperfection, and to remove every obstacle which prevents more entire success. For this purpose you will see our engineer examining most minutely and most attentively every part of her complicated machinery. The crowd on the wharf may be simply gazing on her majestic progress, as she moves off from the shore, but the engineer is within, looking with faithful examination into all the minutiae of the motion. He scrutinizes the action of every lever, and the friction of every joint. Here he oils a bearing-there he tightens a nut. One part of the machinery has too much play, and he confines it,—another too much friction, and he loosens it. Now he stops the en


gine, now reverses her motion, and again sends the boat forward in her course. He discovers, perhaps, some great improvement of which she is susceptible, and when he returns to the wharf, and has extinguished her fire, he orders from the machine-shop the necessary alteration.

The next day he puts his boat to the trial again, and she glides over the water more smoothly and swiftly than before. The jar which he had noticed, is gone, and the friction reduced; the beam plays more smoothly, and the alteration which he has made produces a more equable motion in the shaft, or gives greater effect to the stroke of the paddles upon the water.

When at length her motion is such as to satisfy him, upon the smooth surface of the river, he turns her course upwards towards the rapids, to see how she will sustain a greater trial. As he increases her steam to give her power to overcome the new force with which she has to contend, he watches with eager interest her boiler, inspects the gauge and the safety-valves, and from her movements under the increased pressure of her steam, he receives suggestions for further improvements, or for precautions which will insure greater safety. These he executes, and thus he perhaps goes on for many days or even weeks, trying and examining for the purpose of improvement every working of that mighty power to which he knows hundreds of lives are soon to be intrusted. This now is probation,-trial for the sake of improvement. And what are its results? Why, after this course has been thoroughly and faithfully pursued, this floating palace receives upon her broad deck and in her carpeted and curtained cabins, her four or five hundred passengers. They pour in one long procession of happy groups over the bridge of planks;-father and sonmother and children-young husband and wife,-all with implicit confidence trusting themselves and their dearest interests to her power. See her, as she sails away, how beautiful and yet how powerful are all her motions!" That beam glides up and down gently and smoothly in its grooves, and yet, gentle as it seems, hundreds of horses could scarcely hold it still. There is no apparent violence, but every movement is with almost irresistible power. How graceful is her form, and yet how mighty is the momentum with which she presses on her way. Loaded with life, and her

self the very symbol of life and power, she seems something æthereal-unreal, which ere we look again will have vanished away. And though she has within her bosom a furnace glowing with furious fires, and a reservoir of death, -the elements of most dreadful ruin and conflagration,—of destruction the most complete, and agony the most unutterable, and though her strength is equal to the united energy of two thousand men, she restrains it all. She was constructed by genius, and has been tried and improved by fidelity and skill;—and one man governs and controls her, stops her and sets her in motion, turns her this way and that as easily and certainly as the child guides the gentle lamb. She walks over the hundred and sixty miles of her route without rest and without fatigue, and the passengers, who have slept in safety in her berths, with destruction by water without and by fire within, defended only by a plank from the one, and by a sheet of copper from the other, land at the appointed time in safety.

My reader, you have within you susceptibilities and powers, of which you have little present conception,-energies which are hereafter to operate in producing fulness of enjoyment or horrors of suffering, of which you now but little conceive. You are now on trial. God wishes you to prepare yourself for safe and happy action. He wishes you to look within, to examine the complicated movements of your heart, to detect what is wrong,-to modify what needs change, and rectify every irregular motion. You go out to try your moral powers upon the stream of active life, and then return to retirement to improve what is right, and remedy what is wrong. Renewed opportunities of moral practice are given you, that you may go on from strength to strength, until every part of that complicated moral machinery of which the human heart consists, will work as it ought to work, and is prepared to accomplish the mighty purposes for which your powers are designed. You are on trial on probation, now. You will enter upon active

service in another world.

In order, however, that the reader may understand fully the views to be presented in this chapter, I wish to point out particularly the difference between the condition of the boat I have described when she was on trial and when she was afterwards in actual service. While she was on trial she

sailed this way and that, merely for the purpose of ascertaining her powers and her deficiencies, in order that the former might be increased and the latter remedied. The engineer steered her to the rapids, we supposed, but it was not because he particularly wished to pass the rapids, but only to try the power of the boat upon them. Perhaps with the same design, he might run along a curved or indented shore, penetrating deep into creeks, or sweeping swiftly round projecting headlands; and this, not because he wishes to examine that shore, but only to see how his boat will obey her helm. Thus he goes on placing her again and again in situations of difficulty, for the purpose simply of proving her powers, and enabling him to perfect the operation of her machinery. Afterwards, when she comes into actual service, when she has received her load, and is transporting it to its place of destination, the object is entirely changed,-service, not improvement, is now the aim. Her time of trial is ended.

The Bible everywhere considers this world as one of trial and discipline, introductory to another world of actual service, which is yet to come. A child, as he comes forward into life, is surrounded with difficulties which might easily have been avoided, if the Ruler over all had wished to avoid them. But he did not. That child is on trial,-moral trial; and just exactly as the helmsman of the steam-boat steered her to the rapids, for the purpose of bringing her into difficulty, so does God arrange, in such a manner, the circumstances of childhood and youth, as to bring the individual into various difficulties, which will try his moral strength, and, if the child does his duty, be the means of improving them. He may learn contentment and submission by the thousand disappointments which occur, and patience and fortitude by his various sufferings, and perseverance by encountering the various obstacles which oppose his progress. These difficulties, and sufferings, and obstacles might all have easily been avoided. God might have so formed the human mind, and so arranged the circumstances of life, that every thing should have gone smoothly with us. But he wishes for these things as trials,-trials for the sake of our improvement, and he has filled life with them, from the cradle to the grave.

To obtain a vivid idea of this, let us look at this little

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