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THE Bible everywhere conveys the idea that this life is not our home, but is 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.

When a large steamboat 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 whether 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 at some narrow passage in the stream, not be 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.

Efforts of the engineer.


human lives. He cautiously builds a fire under her boiler; he watches with eager interest the rising of the steam-gage, and scrutinizes every part of the machinery as it gradually comes under the control of the tremendous power which he is gradually 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 land, how deep and eager an interest does he 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 the boat 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 shore may be simply gazing on her majestic progress, as she moves over the water, 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 engine, now reverses her motion, and again sends the boat forward in her He discovers, perhaps, some great improvement of which she is susceptible, and when he returns to the wharf and has extinguished the fire, he orders from the machineshop 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 re

Final results.

Her power.

duced; the beams play 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, we will imagine, towards the rapids, to see how she will sustain a greater trial. As he increases the steam, to give the engine power to overcome the new force with which she has to contend, he watches, with eager interest, the boiler, inspects the gage and the safety-valves, and from the movements of the boat 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, who pour in, in one long procession of happy groups, over the bridge of planks ;-father and son-mother and children-young husband and wife— all with implicit confidence trusting themselves and their dearest interest to her power. See her as she sails awayhow 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 not hold it still; there is no apparent violence, but every movement is made 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

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herself the very symbol of life and power, she seems something ethereal-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 their berths, with destruction by

Life a time of trial.

water without, and by fire within, always at hand-and 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 either fullness of enjoyment, or horrors of suffering of which you now but little conceive. You are now on trial. 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 reotify 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 the 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 ser

vice in another world.

In order, however, that the end and design of probation may be more perfectly understood, let us consider more particularly the difference between the condition of the boat I have described, when she was on trial, and when she was afterward 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,-pene

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