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towards 'God. -. Some nations, like the till a friend, who had got a New Testament, Hindoos and Chinese, are difficult to reach, read him the story of the life and death of because they have learned systems of Christ, and his hard heart was broken, and religion and philosophy; some, like the the lion changed into a lamb. I should Kaffirs and South Sea Islanders, seem tell you of an old Chinese schoolmaster, hopelessly sunk in ignorance and brutalvain of his knowledge, and satisfied with wickedness. But no people has yet been his religion, to whom a missionary's wife found whom the Bible could not conquer, found time to read the Bible for half an and prepare among them living stones hour every day, till he confessed himself for God's glorious temple.

conquered by the Book, and was baptised A missionary in Aneityum, one of the as a Christian. I should tell you of New Hebrides, says:- During the first a London rough, who, finding a city year of my residence in Aneityum, assisted missionary speaking to the people in a by the natives, I built a chimney. About public-house one day, was about to knock a mile from the mission station I found a him down, when prevented by his comnumber of whinstones, very suitable for my panions; and who was visited and taught purpose. I had among my tools a good to read by the same missionary, each lesson whinstone hammer. I set to work to dress being closed by reading the Bible and and square the stones for the chimney. prayer, till the rough became a changed The novelty of the operation drew a crowd man, and the bare garret a Christian home. of natives around me. They looked on in 1. These are only specimens of the great wonder, amazed, beyond measure, to see and glorious work that God's word is doing how the hammer broke into pieces, and to-day in all lands. If you will read Bible brought into new shapes, those hard stones Society and Mission Reports, you will which nobody had ever attempted to break gather many a wonderful proof that God before. The missionary goes on to tell is daily preparing down here the materials how he made use of the opportunity to for a temple to His everlasting praise. preach them a little sermon upon the power I have left no room to speak of fire as of God's word to break their hearts, when an emblem of the Bible because of its no human words had any effect on them; purifying power. I must leave you to find just as the iron hammer split the stones texts about that, and illustrations of it, for that a wooden mallet could not chip. yourselves. May God grant that you and Then he says, "The illustration took hold I may have a corner in His building,-a of their imagination; the sermon on the place prepared for us, and for which we stones and the hammer was never forgotten. are being daily prepared.

J. B. M. Now and again, to this day, I hear some of our elder natives pray in the church in words to this effect:-O Lord, Thy Word

CLEOPATRA’S NEEDLE. is like a hammer; take it, and with it break TN the far off land of Egypt, rising from our stony hearts, and shape them according 1 a grove of date and acacia trees, there to the rule of Thy holy law."?

stands a solitary stone, some seventy feet If I had time and space, I should like to in height, one of the most venerable give you a number of illustrations of the monuments of antiquity. Well-nigh 4000 power of God's word in many lands. I years have come and gone the exact date should tell you of a Brazilian desperado, of its erection being 2050 B.C.-since, at who, when only sixteen, had killed two great expense and labour, it was brought men in a street brawl; and who, finding no from the quarry of Syene in Upper peace for his conscience in all the masses Egypt, and erected on its pedestal." In and penances recommended by priests, the picturesque language of Egypt-with became so hardened and reckless, that he hieroglyphic symbol of bird, beast, and was a terror to the whole neighbourhood; | insect—it bears an inscription, stating that

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crected, until one ancient writer describes | Joseph's long captivity ended, and he was the original obelisks as the centre of long received into the monarch's favour, Pharaoh alleys of lesser obelisks and sphinxes. gave him, in marriage, Asenath, the daughter They were all sacred to the sun; worshipped of Poti-pherah, priest of On. sometimes absolutely as RA, the sun It was there, too, that, after a king had the great king, sometimes as ATUM, the | arisen that knew not Joseph, the great setting sun. Around the original temple leader of the people of Israel was born. there gradually sprang up colleges and | In the University of On-possibly in the

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precincts of this temple-Moses was Pyramidion. Its weight is 186 tons, and instructed in all the learning of Egypt; its cubic measurement 2,529 feet. It has and there, too, he made choice of the three parallel inscriptions—the centre one better part, refusing to be called the son of is by Thotmes III., and the two side Pharaoh's daughter, esteeming the reproach inscriptions are by Rameses II., the Pharaoh of Christ greater riches than , all the who oppressed the Israelites, and under treasures in Egypt. There, also, in later whom their Exodus took place. There is days, when Israel and Judah both were thus a difference in date between the side carried captive by Assyria, the prophet and the central inscriptions of nearly 200 Jeremiah wrote his Lamentations. But years. The substance of the stone is hard the glory has long since departed. Monarch red granite, and the hieroglyphic symbols and people are passed away; the seat of are well preserved. What the exact government has been changed; the city inscription on this obelisk is, has not yet has crumbled into dust; the temple, too, been deciphered. Here, however, is a has sunk from sight; and there remains sentence from the inscription on another but this solitary obelisk to mark by its Egyptian obelisk of Rameses II.: The shadow on the arid ground the daily course good god, the Pharaoh, guardian of justice, in the heavens of the sun, whose worship approved of the sun, son of the sun, men vainly sought to establish in the earth, Ammon Mai Rameses, says, Give me a life forgetful of Him, the Sun of righteousness, strong and pure; and the deity responds, at whose command, and in fulfilment of We give thee a pure life.' Strange, is it whose will, one generation after another not, that we should now be able to read has lived and died. The derout reader of this wish of Pharaoh? Stranger and Scripture will find in this the fulfilment of sadder the contrast between his wish and one of Jeremiah's prophecies (chap. xliii. 13). his actual life. Be it ours not to wish “He shall break also the images (literally merely a life strong and pure, but to ask the pillars or obelisks) of Bethshemesh | God's grace that our life may be made pure (the house of the Sun), that is in the land and holy. of Egypt.'

As we stand by that monument of the The great obelisk which has been lately olden time, and call to mind that the brought to England, and which will soon Pharaoh who proudly inscribed his name be erected in London, is one of the four upon it, and who presumptuously called which was set up by Thotmes III. Two | himself God, perished, with all his host, at of these were called Pharaoh's needles the command of God, overwhelmed with these are now, the one in Rome and the horse and rider by the returning waters of other in Paris, striking objects of interest the Red Sea, we learn the littleness of man, to strangers. The other two were removed and the greatness of Him who sits King to Alexandria when the seat of government for ever and ever. As we gaze on that was transferred thither, and erected in lonely pillar, sole relic of a forgotten front of a temple called the Cæsarium. superstition, yet still informing us of the They became famous as Cleopatra's needles. pious wish of the monarch to place it as a The one still remains where it was placed ; pillar in the temple of his god, may we not the other is now the property of the British think of the promise which our risen Lord nation. Its length is 68 feet 5 inches ; its has given : Him that overcometh will I breadth, at its widest part, 7 feet 5 inches make a pillar in the temple of my God, on two of its sides, and 7 feet 10 inches on and he shall go no more out: and I will the other sides. From its greatest width write upon him the name of my God, and near the base of the shaft it narrows as it the name of the city of my God, which is ascends to a breadth of 4 or 5 feet, and new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of then contracts into a tapering pyramid, heaven from my God; and I will write seven feet six inches in height, called the upon him my new name.'

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RALPH ERSKINE.

BRITISH HYMN-WRITERS.

RALPH ERSKINE. D ALPH Erskine was born at the village 1 of Monilaws, in Northumberland, on the 15th of March, 1685. It was in the late time of the reign of James Second, when the religious persecutions were fierce across the Northern border. But three years later, as you know, James Second was an exile in France; and the Protestant William of Orange was on the English throne. And then Mr Henry Erskine became the minister of Chirnside, and his little boy Ralph began his boyhood among the Scottish pastoral hills.

Chirnside is a little parish lying in the Merse of Berwickshire. The Billymire Burn bounds it on the North; the Whiteadder Water on the South; the Lammermoors are near neighbours; and its own one round green hill overlooks the storied country of Cheviot-Chace and Teviotdale. It is now, in many parts, a richly cultivated land; but in the days of the Erskines, cultivation was scant, and golden gorse and purple heather lent it all its colour and its glory.

The age of the Chirnside church was numbered by centuries. It had a small western door, which was as old as the Saxons. And within the rude, ancient walls, which could have told so many stories, Mr Henry Erskine preached, and the young Ebenezer and Ralph listened with their Orcadian mother, a person no less eminent for her piety, than she was illustrious by her descent.' Margaret Halcro was the maiden name of Henry Erskine's wife; her family was old and famous in the stormy Orkney Isles.

Never were two brothers more closely associated than Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine. Ebenezer was five years the elder; and, perhaps, in the history of the church, the more famous of the two. But Ralph, as the quaint hymn-writer, has the greater interest now. In the early years of his life, he was taught by his father at home; but his father died while Ralph was still a boy. Afterwards he studied in Edinburgh; and, when a young man, was

for some years tutor in the family of Colonel Erskine of Cardross. In 1711 he became minister of the Church of Dunfermline.

A ruined church, indeed, was the parish church of Dunfermline ;-a bit of the old monastery, which was once so notable and splendid. The first of it was built by Malcolm Canmore, before the year 1081, for thirteen of those Culdee monks who did so much for early Scotland. Slowly it increased in size and beauty; till, in the tiine of Edward First, its boundarics were so ample, ... that three potent sovereigns, with their retinues, might have been accommodated here without incommoding one another.' In 1303 Edward First spent some months in the Abbey; and, on his departure, he caused it to be burned to the ground, sparing only the church of the Abbey, and some few dwellings for the monks. The monastery was rebuilt through the later reigns; and again, in 1560, destroyed. It was in the beautiful nave saved from the old ruins, that Ralph Erskine began his earnest ministry in Dunfermline.

Long and happy and useful years he preached in the old Abbey. The people were drawn to him with a most tender love. They did not grudge coming far across the moors, many a long day's journey, to hear the beloved preacher. Then there were the great •Summer Sacraments,' those strange and beautiful days, when, from the early sunshine till the late gloamin fell, the people hung for strength and comfort and instruction on the lips of the holy teachers. Fair, old, sweet traditions of a life that is long past. It is of one of these times Ralph Erskine writes in his diary:

Sabbath, July 10th, 1737. The sacrament was in Dunfermline; and I preached half an hour before the action began, about half before eight in the morning, upon Matthew 3rd and 17th. The tables began to be served a little after nine, and continued till about twelve at night, there being betwixt four and five thousand communicants. I hear from several that the Lord owned the occasion.'

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