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“Modern biographers are often very much blamed for saying anything about the foibles of those whose lives they write," remarked, “ and it really is a very difficult thing for those who undertake to delineate character to know what to keep out of sight and what to admit. But we can see a reason for these things being recorded in scripture. We should certainly despair were the characters drawn there, spotless. We should argue that a different standard was required by which we should be judged; and feeling the impossibility of being faultless ourselves, we should also think that a lower standard of spiritual attainments was all that was required of us, and should consider ourselves and the characters we meet with in Scripture as in fact two distinct classes of beings having little in common, and whose excellencies we might in vain attempt to aspire to.”
“To be the best, is but the fewest faults to have,” quoted Mrs. Walters. “I often think, if the conviction of this is so painful to us, who see only the outward actions which are so restrained by a variety of causes, what must it be to our Saviour, to whom all hearts are open, and to whom thoughts appear in as substantial a form as actions do to ourselves ?”.
" Phrygia is the next district named. The people here were more superstitious than other Asiatics : they are said to have invented the use of augury, as well as of some other kinds of divination. They were a remarkably effeminate people, so much so that Aristotle forbade the use of their music which partook of the same character. In Phrygia is found the beautiful Angora goat, the hair of which is so fine and silky.”
“Galatia, or Gaul-Asia, so called from its being colonized by Gauls, was inhabited by a very corrupt race of people. St. Paul appears to have visited this region twice, as you will see by a reference to Acts xvii. 23 ; and as you well know, he addressed an epistle to its inhabitants. Thence he passed by Mysia; the derivation of which some think is from a word signifying guilty, but others consider it derived from the beech trees which abound here : just as Buckinghamshire is named from the same cause. They then came down to Troas.”
Madelaine. “Oh, mamma! is that Troy ?''
“I believe it is within a few miles of the site of old Troy. A very interesting recent traveller describes her disappointment when sailing along this coast, at finding the extent of that farfamed kingdom not to exceed that of many a nobleman's domain in England. And it occurred to me while reading the remark, that it is with countries as with characters, many obtain all their notoriety from circumstances which are far from being praiseworthy in themselves or beneficial to others."
“ And that is easily accounted for," I remarked. “Has it never struck you in reading biography, how differently you would have written certain parts; that the qualities which the biographer most admired, appeared to your view very dubious ; and that actions which were attributed to one set of motives, seemed capable of having their origin in causes directly opposite ? So much of both history and biography consist less in the expression of facts than of opinions, that we can easily see that the character of an individual, after his cotemporaries have passed away, really rests not so much in what he actually was, as on what he appeared to be, in the perhaps not very correct mirror of his delineator's mind.”
“And that constitutes,” observed Mrs. Walters, “the great charm of Scripture Biography—there everything is true and in its just proportion; there is no drawing for effect, but all is told so simply and naturally, that though all we know of the most prominent characters may be compressed into a nutshell, yet we feel an intimacy with them, and are able to imagine how they would have thought and acted under all kinds of circumstances. Troas has to the Christian derived a new celebrity, of a very different kind from that which it before enjoyed, as being the place where the vision appeared to Paul.”
Julia here remarked “ that she had heard a sermon once upon the words · Come over into Macedonia and help Us ;' in which the parallel had been drawn with the address to Paul at his conversion, "Why persecutest thou Me. And a variety of texts were referred to, showing how the Lord does indeed identify himself with his people, and how those who engage in the great work of winning souls to Him, he is graciously pleased to call fellow-laborers with him."
“Samothracia is an island with a good port, Philippi is a name celebrated in history.”
“Oh!” said Jane Grant, brightening up, “is that the place where the famous battle was fought ?"
“Yes, but that took place about ninety years before St. Paul's visit. The account of his stay here is very interesting, and the miraculous circumstances attending his release from prison have been very lately the subject of our attentive consideration.
“Will you allow me to mention one circumstance," I said, “connected with the attempt of the gaoler at self-destruction. I knew we should reach Philippi in our journeyings to-day, and meeting with the following passage in a book I was reading yesterday, I have brought it down with me, and will, if you please, read an extract. It is speaking of a collection of antiquities preserved in the museum at Bonn, on the Rhine. One of these tablets records the entombment of Marcus Cælius, a general who was killed here in a great battle fought by Varus, in the tenth year of the Christian era. Three entire legions of the army of Varus were destroyed, when the general killed himself in despair, and several of his officers did the same, as was the case with many of the Chinese in their late struggles against the British forces. What is remarkable in the history of this Roman family, and at the same time shews the prevalence of the practice of selfdestruction, is the fact, that the father of Varus slew himself after the battle of Philippi, and the grandfather did the same after the battle of Pharsalia.'"
“It always gives me,” said Mrs. Walters, “ a feeling of great pain when I hear the virtues of the ancient Romans extolled, for you can only praise them at the expense of those qualities which the Christian is commanded to cultivate. As to their bravery, it appears to me to resemble the courage of the modern duellists, whose cowardice is such that they cannot face a world whose favor they have lost.”
“But surely, mamma, you would make a difference between the heathen Romans who knew nothing of a future state, and men who profess to believe in the Bible?” said Madelaine.
“Certainly not, my dear, if they only profess what they do not possess; and this similarity of conduct only shows us how little better than heathenism a mere nominal profession of Christianity is, and that those who would rush into eternity because what they call the laws of honor require it, would worship the gods of ancient Rome if that were the religion of those whose favor they most highly valued, provided their early prepossessions had been directed in favor of it.
“Philippi is interesting in another point of view, as being the first place in Europe where the Gospel was preached.
“To-morrow we must travel rather more quickly, for Fanny leaves us on Saturday, and I should like her to be with us till we reach the hired house' at Rome, where St. Paul dwelt for two
WALES A CENTURY AGO. Very few could read at that period. Bibles and other books were scarce. When a woman gave birth to a child, the nurse would engage in prayer on her behalf to Almighty God, and to “sweet Mary.” Children were taught the Lord's prayer, the creed, the ten commandments, and what was called, “the dream of Mary”. The latter was held in more reputation than all the rest. When a person departed this life, the neighbours would visit the late dwelling of the deceased, on the evening previous to the interment, and all bowed on their knees as they entered the house. The parish clerk would read a portion of the Common Prayer, amidst great noise, frolic, and laughter. The parties present would have recourse to every idle sport until twelve o'clock at night, and very often till the crowing of the cock. They had a curious custom, which was observed on a funeral day, which they called diodles, a kind of charity. As soon as the death of a party occurred, the relatives of the deceased would send a cup to be painted of the same colour as the coffin, (they had the coffin of a married party painted black, and that of a single person white.) When the corpse had been placed on the bier, on the day of interment, the landlord would have to dole the charity, which consisted of a loaf of bread, some cheese, with a piece of silver stuck into it, and the colored cup filled to the brim with ale or milk. The articles were then handed over the corpse, to the poor person who had been nominated to be receiver of this bounty, who, on receipt thereof, would bless the donor ; and he would also engage in prayer on behalf of the deceased. All the relatives would visit the churchyard on the following Sunday, and would bow down on their knees on the grave, and repeat the Lord's prayer. In some localities, parties would engage a fiddler every Sabbath throughout the summer season,
to play in the open air, on the top of some hill, or a common, where dancing would be kept up for several hours. Many spent their Sabbaths at public-houses, where they got drunk, and the day generally ended in dreadful combats.
In coming from funerals, the relatives and friends of the deceased would go into public-houses, and very often a fiddler or a harper would be engaged, and what was called a merry night was held. Wizards and sorcerers were deemed wise men of great repute. Dreams were carefully remembered, and estimated as warnings from God. When a child happened to die, the parents thought that his soul would be converted into a candle to light them to the kingdom of heaven.
This horrible state of ignorance reigned till about a hundred years ago, when the champions of the cross commenced the work of reform in earnest. They visited every town, village, hamlet, and glen; they preached the gospel in season, and out of season, for which labor of love, they were retaliated upon by persecution and even imprisonment. However, their efforts soon told upon the state of the principality. The vices alluded to were supplanted, and the superstitious customs abated. The peasants flocked to hear the gospel preached; churches were formed; chapels built; Bibles were printed, and Sunday schools established in every locality.--Williams' “Welsh as a Nation."
OUT-OF-DOOR KNOWLEDGE. The way to be wise is a way well worth knowing ; and though people differ very widely in opinion on the subject, we are disposed to think there is much less of mystery about it, than is generally supposed. God has given to every man the means of acquiring knowledge; and has made that knowledge so essential to his happiness, as to furnish the strongest inducement to seek for it. It has been said that a child learns more before it is able to read or write, than it does afterwards, and this fact furnishes us with the sound but very simple argument, that reading, usually regarded as the great means of acquiring information, is not absolutely essential to make us wise. It is very true that it enlarges the sphere of our researches, conducting us to “fresh fields and pastures new ;" but many a man who has never