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PLEASANT PAGES FOR SABBATH HOURS.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "PLEASANT PAGES."
Papa. Come, Ion, bring your stool and sit by my side. Come, Willie, Lucy, and Ada, sit round the fire again, and hear some more good news. We began to learn good things six months ago; we will learn better things to-day.
Ion. Then, that is very good news.
P. I dreamt last night about our new lessons. Listen to my dream. I dreamt I was in a strange old room; long it was, with long rows of books placed against the walls. A fine old man, with bright eyes and learned looks, was with me, talking about the books. "Sir," he said, "I am an old philosopher. This is my house in the city of Rome, and all these books are mine.
"Look, sir, at my books! they are very precious books. This was written by the great philosopher of Greece, called Aristotle. Here is a work on Philosophy, written by his teacher, Plato. Here is a book of Biography, written by the learned Plutarch. This wonderful book of History was written by the great Greek Thucydides; and here, sir, on this lower shelf, are the splendid books of Poetry by Homer, Horace, and Virgil.
"Oh, this is a rare and wonderful collection! I have, here in this corner, a row of books which are worth thirty thousand"
But, just pardon me for interrupting you," I said. "I have a book in my pocket which is worth more than that row, or all the books in your long room put together."
"I have been looking for a copy of it on your shelves, and do not see it."
"But, you cannot mean that it is worth more than all my books." "Yes. In the first place, it is older than any of them. It has history from the very beginning of the world. It has philosophy much more wonderful than yours. It has beautiful biography, finer than Plutarch's; and as for poetry, it has poetry about greater heroes than Homer ever saw or heard of."
"Pray, sir, who wrote it?"
"Some one who lived before any of these men, for He made them all."
"Then, sir, He must be a god! Did Apollo write it?" "No, a greater god than Apollo !"
"Not the great father Jupiter ?"
"Oh no, some one far, far greater. He could not have stooped so low as to make such a god as Jupiter; he made the beings who made Jupiter. He who made my book is 'the God-the great, eternal, invisible I AM.'"
"How strange! I have never heard of that God, nor of his book. What is it called?"
"It is called The Book.'"
"How wonderful a book it must be! Please let me see it. You must sell it to me." And he stretched forth his hands eagerly.
"Thank you-I cannot spare it. I am going to teach it to my children."
"What!" said he, trembling, "you are not going to give it to children-a book from a god is too good for children; they must be very happy children! Pray, which century do you live in ?"
"In the nineteenth century-we are exactly in the middle of it." "Ah, you are too far off for me. Would that I could only get into the nineteenth century, and be a child, and listen! But, sir, I must look at that book. I'll buy it—you shall have all my library for it."
"No, I cannot spare it. I want it myself-for my children; besides, you cannot exchange."
"But, sir, I must, and will see it, for I am a philosopher." And with that he tried to take it from me; but I ran, and just as I thought he would have caught me, and I should have lost it for ever, I awoke and found it under my pillow: and here it is, dear children, here is the book for you, with the history of things which " prophets and kings desired to see, and have not seen; and to hear, and have not heard."
W. Papa, what a curious dream! Please let us see "the book." P. This is it.
W. Why, it is our old Bible. We have seen that. We know all the pictures by heart. May I undo the clasps?
P. No, not now. Wait, and think a little-we are going to look at something more than pictures. We shall try to see the thoughts in it with our minds.
But our minds may not be able to see them well-for "the book" says, "Now we see through a glass, darkly." What must we do? W. Get a clergyman to read it for us. L. No, Willie. That is what the Roman priests make mistakes.
Catholics do,-and their
P. Man cannot guide us, Willie. We all "see through a glass darkly.” Only the Spirit of God that wrote this book can make us see to read it. He says, "When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into the truth." Do you see now what we must do before we open this book?
L. We must ask God to guide us.
P. Yes, dear Lucy, and we will ask him now. I want our heavenly Father to teach you very much from our new lessons. Then, before we touch those clasps, or open that book, come near to me. Now let us pray together that the Spirit of truth may guide us into truth—
"O thou great eternal God who wrote this book,- -we are little children, and want to learn. Our little minds cannot see Thy great thoughts,— we see through a glass darkly.
"Our Father which art in heaven, open Thou our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.'-Make us to see Thy love, and the love of Thy Son Jesus; and to hear all the good news Thou hast sent to make us glad. Oh, send down Thy Holy Spirit,and teach us every week, so that we may learn more of Thee, and become more like Thee.
"We ask Thee these great mercies for the sake of our Saviour, Jesus Christ; and to Him, and to Thyself, and to the Holy Spirit, we would humbly give our everlasting praise. Amen."
LESSON 1. ADAM.*
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden."-Gen. ii. 7-10.
You remember, dear children, our geology lessons in "Pleasant Pages"-how from "the Book" we learned of the different "days,” when the Almighty formed the rocks, mountains, and minerals-the vegetables-and the animals.
You heard how at first, darkness was upon the face of the deep; and how there came the wonderful words, "Let there be light."
L. And we thought of the rosy stream of light-how beautiful it must have been! That was made on the first day.
W. And we stopped, papa, at the history of the sixth day, when the Ichthyosaurus, and other great reptiles had passed away, and God had made the mammals-the giant Megatherium.
Ion. And after that, the cattle and sheep, and the other beasts of the earth.
P. True. And now let us imagine the end of the sixth day, when the great event I have just read of happened.
The world was ready;-and oh! there must have been gladness in heaven. For, think, dear children, what boundless love the Almighty has! During all these six days, that love which is boundless had been working with His power, which is boundless, and had created this world, a heavenly place.
NOTE.-TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS. The object of this lesson is to show1st, That man, placed amidst the works of the Creator, naturally forms an idea of God;-2nd, That man in a holy state, would also naturally feel His goodness thus taught to him ;-3rd, To lead the child to observe why men in their present state do not naturally see or feel God's goodness from the teachings of His works. The many obvious applications arising from the lesson are not introduced, but left to be supplied by the teacher, as it will be the aim of the Author throughout, to render the lessons as suggestive as possible