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'GOOD-BYE, DEAR OLD YEAR.' I r* OOD-BYE, dear old year,' said little *-* Nellie, as, in a mood half pensive, half playful, she kissed her hand, and looked out into the night stillness of the 31st December. 'I must have a last peep at your dark blue sky,' she continued, 'before I lie down. You are to die in the night, old year; and when the stars twinkle out again, you will have passed away.'
Perhaps it was from an inclination to gaze at a beautiful bright star that looked in upon her, as she lay in her little bed; perhaps it was from the excitement of the holidays, which she was throroughly enjoying, but somehow Nellie did not feel so drowsy as usual, or so ready to fall asleep.
'I wonder,' she said, fixing her eye on the star, as if it could tell her, 'where the old years go to, and what makes the year new. Oh! I think I know. The first day of the year is something like the world's birthday. Papa told mo on nvj last birthday that I was beginning a new year of my life. Now, on the 1st of January everybody begins a new year, and so they call it ,'New Year's Day." Then, somehow, the new year brings so many nice new things with it. The fine new school-room in the lane is to be opened to-morrow; we are going to see the children get their buns and cakes, and hear them sing their New Year's Hymn. But before that I shall have my New Year's gifts, when I go down to prayers. I am quite sure that beautiful New Testament in mamma's room is for me: and I saw papa looking at coral necklaces the other day in a shop window; I should not wonder though I got one of them. Then there is to be a large party at grandpapa's; I am to have on my lovely blue dress with the swan's down; my old merino is to be given as a New Year's gift to that poor orphan child whom we went to see—it will be a grand new Sunday dress for her. Oh! yes, there are a great many nice things at the New Year. It is a very happy time; and yet (it is strange) my text to-day was, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." I wonder if the end of the year is ever better than the beginning
of it—surely not. The end of a story is nice when there is a grand finishing up in the last two or three pages; all the people got into their right places, and troublesome boys don't tease their sisters any more. Perhaps every year is something like a long story. If we were to try to do rightly, and behave better as we went along, the end, after all, might be better than the beginning. Mamma told me, when I put off my old merino and made it up into a parcel for little Mary, that it was easy to put off an old dress, but not so easy to put off what she called old habits; she said they were something like a dress, we wore them so easily, only they fitted very tight. What were some of them she told me of? Well, there was refusing to get up in the morning when I was called; sulking or pouting when I had to do something I did not like; giving a cross answer, when a gentle one might have stopped a quarrel (but really I don't think she knows how provoking Tom is), and many other things. She told me that the very worst habit of all was, the putting off doing what we knew to bo right; and what we quite intended to do, only thought we could could do it at any time; very likely it would never be done at all. Oh! this moment I remember there are these little books I intended to cover, and have all ready for the children tomorrow, and they are not done yet: I am very sorry; I must be up in time for that. I remember, too, mamma said, it is easier to put off bad habits, when we are children, than when we are grown up; just as it is easier to do things in the day time, when the sun is shining, and the light is clear, than when it is grey and dusky in the evening. We may be quite sure that is true—Jesus said, "I must work while it is day, the night cometh when no man can work." Mamma says the worst putting off of all, would be putting off loving and seeking Him when we were young, especially when He has given so many beautiful promises to the children, all to themselves. Getting Him to be on our side would help us with all the bad habits we have to strive against, and that would make it easier for us to
IBYCUS, a famous lyric poet of Greece, was assailed by robbers while journeying to Corinth. As he fell beneath their murderous strokes, he looked round to see if there were any witnesses; but no human being was near. He saw only a flight of cranes soaring high over head, and he called on them to become the avengers of his blood.
A vain commkion this might have been thought by any one, and such it no doubt seemed to the murderers.
Yet it was not so. For these bad men, a little time after, sitting in the open theatre at Corinth, beheld this flight of
cranes hovering above them, and one of them scoffingly said to another, 'Lo, there, the avengers of Ibycus.'
The words were overheard by some near them, and excited suspicion, for already the poet's disappearance had awakened anxiety and alarm. Being questioned, the murderers of Ibycus betrayed themselves, and were forthwith led to their doom.
Thus the words, The cranes of Ibycus, passed into a proverb to express the wondrous way by which God in His providence often brings the most secret crimes to the open light of day.
THE CRANES OF IBYCUS; OR, THE ALL-SEEING EYE.
'How very strange,' said Harry, after listening to this story, 'No one would ever have thought that a flock of cranes could tell of a murder.'
'It is a very striking story, and forcibly reminds us of Solomon's words of warning against evil-speaking. Read Eccles. x. 20.'
'" Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bed-chamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.'"
'" The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Even when no human eye witnesses the evil deed, and no human ear hears the evil word spoken, the All-seeing eye above and conscience within find winged messengers to tell the matter. When Achan saw among the spoils of Jericho a goodly Babylonish ' garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, and coveted them, and took them, and hid them in the earth, he thought no one would ever know what he had done. But God's eye was upon him, and he was obliged to confess his sin before all the people, and to suffer the punishment of his iniquity. How was Achan's sin found out, Harry?'
'The Israelites were beaten in the battle at Ai, and God told Joshua that it was because some one had sinned, and that they must discover who it was by casting lots; and then Achan was taken and stoned to death.'
'The defeat at Ai and the lot were God's messengers to discover Achan's sin. And when Gehazi ran after Naaman, and said that Elisha had sent him to ask a talent of silver, and two changes of garments, how was his covetousness and falsehood found out?'
'God told Elisha all about it, and Naaman's leprosy came upon Gehazi to punish him.'
'Yes; the Holy Spirit, the heavenly dove, showed Elisha Gehazi's wicked conduct, and he said to him, "Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned away from his chariot to meet thee? The leprosy
therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever." And when Ananias and Sapphira sold the land and kept back part of the price, how was their sin discovered?'
'Peter knew what they had done, and they both fell down dead when he accused them of their sin.'
'God saw their hypocrisy and wickedness, and punished them before all the church, for a warning to all of how vain it is to imagine that any sin can be hidden from God.
'God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.'
A faithful dog was the means of discovering the murderer of his master, a Frenchman named Aubric de Montdidier. The dog vainly defended his master when his mortal foe Macaire attacked and killed him. Then he lay day and night on the forest grave in which Macaire, hoping to hide his crime, had buried his victim. But there is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. The faithful dog never left the grave, excepting when he went to the house of his master's chief friend in Paris, for his daily meal. At length suspicion was aroused; the dog was followed to the forest grave, the ground was searched, the murder discovered, and the corpse again buried. Afterwards, the dog's furious attacks upon Macaire led to his being accused of the murder, and the matter was put to the proof by the ordeal of combat in the Isle de Nore Dame. The dog had a tub into which he might retire, the man a club and a shield. The combat was so lengthy that Macaire, no doubt tormented by his own conscience, was so worn out that he fainted away, and on coming to himself confessed the murder.
'If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.'
'He smiles in heaven, He frowns in hell,
I must within His presence dwell,
Yes—I may flee, He'shows me where;
To Jesus Christ He bids me fly;
There's only mercy in His eye.'
'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'
T"<HE early hymn-writers of Scotland are -*- very few indeed. In the long, sad, romantic history of this mountain land, the sweet, still voice of hymns is scarcely to be heard. The devotion of the people found its voice in other ways. We are left small legacy of sacred song from the days of the first Stuarts. But in the reign of James Sixth there was published a volume of 'Hymns or Sacred Songs' by Alexander Hume.
Alexander Hume was one of an old Berwickshire family—afterwards ennobled, and bearing, for one or two generations, the title of Earl of Marchmont. He was a courtier, in the early part of his life, in the grave court of James Sixth; but in his latter years he had retired from the palace, and become minister of the little parish of Logic.
It must have been a gentle change from the pedantries of James Sixth's court, and the haughty strifes of the nobles, and the hard debates of the clergy, to retire to this peaceful parish among the green Ochill hills. The graceful links of the Forth wind here and there among its pastures, and the lovely rivers Allen and Devon water its lonely places. There is no lovelier spot to be desired or found, than many a nook of this little parish which the poet-courtier now tended. And the poem, of all the volume which is still best known, seems but a transcript of the beauty round him.
Thanks Fob A Summer Day. 'Operfect Light, which shed away
The darkness from the light.
Another o'er the night.
The shadow of the earth, anon,
Removes, and so draws by; Then in the east, when it is gone,
Appears a clearer sky.
Which soon perceive the little larks,
The lapwing and the snipe, And tune their song, like Nature's clerks,
O'er meadow, muir, and stripe.
The golden globe, incontinent,
Sets up his shining head,
Displays his beams abroad.
For joy the birds, with boulden throats
Against his visage sheon,
In woods and gardens green.
The passenger, from perils sure,
Goes gladly forth the way; Brief, every living creature
Takes comfort of the day.
The time so tranquil is and clear,
That nowhere shall ye find, Save ona high and barren hill,
The air of passing wind.
All trees and simples, great and small,
The balmy leaf do bear;
They no more move or stir.
The rivers fresh, the cooling streams
O'er rocks can swiftly rin
And makes a pleasant din.
So silent is the brooding air,
That every cry and call
Again repeat them all.
The clogged, busy, humming bees,
That never think to drown,
Collect their liquor brown.
The mavis and the philomen,
The sterling whistles loud;
Full quietly they crowd.
The gloamin' comes, th« day is spent,
The sun goes out of sight, And painted is the Occident
With purple sanguine bright.
What pleasure, then, to walk and sea .
Endlang, a river clear;
Within the deep appear.