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conception of its solid contents. Yet they who have seen a mountain, and read of Teneriffe, can suppose it a cubical mile of rock, since the truth is sufficiently near for the present purpose. And the earth contains 263,858,149,120 such masses; a bulk passing all conception. If, lastly, we take a ton as a tangible standard for its weight, that has been computed at 552,058,033,372,264,229,910, assuming its specific gravity at 5,000 ounces for the cubic foot; a sum, which from the unavoidable smallness of the standard, is quite incomprehensible.
This is an immense mass of matter to produce and collect and mould into shape; but it is so small that it almost vanishes when brought near to what the solar system alone must contain. Compared to the sun only, our moon, a globe of 2,180 miles in diameter, is as a cricket ball in the mass of an Egyptian pyramid : a neglected, if not an invisible object in such a place. I use familiar references, not numerically true comparisons; for the effect is equal, and it is the effect which is desired. The reader will find in any school-book the bulks and measurements and weights of all the globes in our system, if from these he will himself compute the total quantity of matter, the impression will be greater than if he had found it stated here.
This indeed so far passes conception, that it is better to take the sun alone, since there is a mode of making its magnitude comparatively in. telligible. Its diameter exceeds considerably that of the orbit of the moon; and this is a more appreciable idea than can be conveyed by figures, because we can substitute a vision at least, capable of influencing the mind, through what is seen, if incapable of accurate estimation. We can form some idea of the vault of the sky as measured by the moon, and can further imagine this to be a hemisphere of the sun, by conceiving ourselves placed in its centre. If we then imagine the entire sphere of solid matter, of stone or iron, we shall have made at least some approximation towards appreciating this enormous mass of matter, as in this way also we can more easily extend our conceptions to the whole of the solar system and to other systems.
An impression of the space of our own system may be conveyed in the same manner, as a basis for that utterly unassignable and incomprehensible one which the visible universe occupies. The distance of the moon from ourselves is the smallest appreciable measure which can be used as the standard of comparison; and that distance is 240,000 miles : it is 600 times the distance between London and Edinburgh. Yet this is almost forgotten when we reflect that our distance from the sun is 95,000,000 of miles : and it is scarcely a sensible quantity in the 1,800,000,000 which intervene between the Sun and Neptune. And even this is but half the diameter of the circle which bounds this planetary area : while he who desires to know what that area is, may compute it in two minutes ; as he ought, that he may feel what it is.
To be continued).
A THRILLING INCIDENT. ILLUSTRATING LOST OPPORTUNITIES OF DOING GOOD. In one of those local inundations that occasionally sweep along the valleys of our land, an incautious man lost his footing, and was suddenly hurried down the impetuous flood. He struggled in vain to regain the land and soon found himself in the midst of the torrent. At length he came in contact with the branches of a tree which had fallen, through the force of the stream, from an upright to a horizontal position, and was lying on the surface of the water still held by its roots. Relatives and friends of the drowning man had gathered on the shore, but could devise no means of rescue. They could only encourage him to keep his hold in hopes that the troubled waters would soon abate and allow him to escape.
The shades of evening increased the horrors of the scene, and at length the object of their solicitude was hid from their view. Still, however, they continued their exhortations; and their doleful appeals were responded to: but the wet and cold which the unfortunate man had so long suffered, eventually enfeebled his strength and made his voice to falter, and at the dead of night its plaintive accents were no longer heard.
Those who waited and watched were distressed and bewildered. They hoped he might still be clinging to the agitated branches, but be unable to make his hoarse voice heard ; they feared that he had lost his hold, or that ho and the tree were carried down the destructive flood. With the most painful anxiety they waited the return of day, the first glimmering of which realised their gloomiest apprehensions. The tree had been torn from its mooring, and the unfortunate man who had relied upon it for deliverance had found a watery grave. His relatives and friends were broken hearted, and indulged in wailing and lamentation; for he who was thus hurried into eternity had secured the affection and esteem of all who knew him.
A man standing near, reputed to be an idiot, who witnessed their excessive grief, exclaimed, “I could have saved him! I could have saved him !" The strange idea startled the weepers, and almost with one voice they said, “Saved him! How could you have saved him ?” He replied, “I would have tied a thread to a leaf and cast it on the stream; it would have floated to the drowning man; and when he had laid hold of the thread, I would have fastened a cord to the other end; and when that was seized, I would have tied a rope; and on his laying firm hold of that, we could have drawn him to the land.” The thought was sensible, and had it been given earlier might have proved invaluable; but all who heard it said, in tones of sorrow and despair, “It is too late! alas, it is too late!”
All those who have been carried down the irresistible stream of time into the boundless ocean of eternity without availing themselves of the means of salvation formerly at their command, are now saying in effect, “It is too late! We might have been-saved. We had gracious opportunities, but we madly allowed them to pass by unseized, unimproved, and they will never, never return. "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.'” How inconceivably painful the thought that some soul lost for ever might have been at this moment in heaven, had we used, at the right time and in the right way, the talents and opportunities God had given us. They knew that we professed to care for their deathless interests; they gave us for a season credit for sincerity; they expected our appeals, our prayers, our efforts, on their behalf, but were doomed to disappointment. They began to doubt the reality, the divinity of our religion; they learnt from our apathy and inconsistency to despise and reject it, and they died without its consolations and hopes. We might have saved them. We should have used the thread, the cord, the
rope. We should have drawn them from the impetuous currents of sin and folly, to the safe and verdant banks of purity and truth. With them it is, alas! too late. May God forgive us!
How relieving the reflection that with others our poor instrumentality may yet, by the Divine blessing, be signally successful. Ministers of the cross, by dwelling more on the vital soul-saving truths of God's sacred book, instead of wasting time, talents and facilities on topics of minor moment, and exhibiting in a spotless life and conversation the living principles, doctrines, and duties they teach, may bring many more perishing sinners to the open arms of Jesus.
Religious parents, by systematic and prayerful teaching and training of the young immortals whom God has given to be nursed for him, may be far more useful than hitherto they have been ; and in witnessing the growing intelligence and moral improvement of their beloved offspring, and the preparation they are thus making for the claims that Christ and his Church will make on their adult years, will reap a rich reward in their own souls. Parental duties cannot be begun too early. Impressions that will last through life, and exist for ever, are often made on the heart of the mere infant; and unless truth and purity early exclude error and sin, subsequent efforts will be less likely to succeed
“Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined." Parents who, in the fear of God, do their duty to the best of their ability, will not have the painful impression, when their progeny assume the right to think and act for themselves, that it is too late; but in all probability will have the unspeakable pleasure of seeing their children walking in the truth.
I will only further apply this impressive incident to the Sabbath School Teacher, whose labours are often inefficient through want of personal piety. He may have all the literary knowledge his position demands, and the class may signally evince his intellectual superiority; but not enjoying true religion himself he fails to impress his young charge with its importance and blessedness. The most splendid opportunities he allows to pass unheeded until he is removed from his scholars, or they from him, and it may be for ever too late for him to bring these lambs to the embraces of their Divine Shepherd. Unconverted teachers, give your hearts to God, and then blessedly aided by the Holy Spirit, and it may be assisted by devout parents, you will succeed in bringing even young children to Christ, that he may take them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and bless them. Manchester.
REMARKS ON THE EFFICIENCY OF MODERN PULPIT MINISTRATIONS, AS ILLUSTRATED BY THOSE OF EARLY
METHODISM. The character and influence of the pulpit is a subject of vast importance, and has claimed the solicitude of the most considerate minds in Christendom. All classes of society except the infidel, which is out of its pale—made so by barriers of its own forming—hold the vocation of the pulpit in general respect. It is true, the modern usage of considering the calling of a preacher as a profession, has tended very much to lower the estimate of pulpit character in the sight of many, connecting with it also secularising and mercenary means of subsistence. And great numbers of preachers, in most ages and countries, have confirmed this impression, by their acknowledged attempts to obtain the priest's office “ for a morsel of bread.” Ecclesiastical history furnishes a melancholy list of such instances; and all denominations, besides the Romanists, have in their pulpits lamps without lights, and clouds without water.
Every Christian values highly, because he shares, the blessed effects of the preached word : for in that word he hears his Saviour's voice, and feels his quickening, comforting power. The benefit is manifest and unfailing. But when Christians mainly consider the blessedness of a gospel ministry, as to their own experience, the church, or neighbourhood with which they are connected, they have not those sublime and deep views of its value which a more enlarged view of the subject would bestow.
Sweet are the supplies of grace to the solitary, care-worn soul; and the refreshings from the presence of the Lord come down upon the little bands of Christian fellowship with life-inspiring influence. But it is from the pulpits of our land, as from mountain heights, that the streams of life issue forth, abundantly supplied from the fount above ; branching out in unnumbered fertilising rills, spreading life and beauty through the whole range of society. “For as the rain cometh down, and the suow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth,
and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isa. lv. 10, 11. It is to the public ministration of the Saviour's gospel that the church looks up to be fed and instructed, by workmen of his calling and qualifying, who “rightly divide the word of truth.” It is by the voice of the preacher that the world of sinners is to be arousedlike the valley of dry bones—exceeding dry and dead, around and over which is to be sounded the life-inspiring proclamation, “Hear ye the word of the Lord.” This is to be continuous, and can alone produce a shaking,” and cause the union of “bone to his bone,” and the standing up
a great army” of immortal souls, saved from destruc. tion by the second death, through the one death upon
the In estimating the value of pulpit influence we do not forget, as we ought not, the noble civil, literary, scientific, agricultural, and charitable institutions of the age, which, besides the present joy they inspire, awaken the liveliest hopes for the future. These varied associations elevate humanity to companionship with the divine, and point to the yet unfulfilled prophetic consummation-when every man shall delight to be a blessing to man. But though thus cherishing admiration for collateral means of benefiting man, we turn to the pulpit with a larger hearted gratitude, with deeper reverence, and with a wider, brighter, and more outstretching hope. Here shines the Sun of Righteousness; the others are but planets, shining with borrowed light. The social aspects of society—its dearest interests in all that concerns its well being-hang upon the living ministry of the gospel, as an unfailing oracle. The interests of time and eternity tremble in the balances of the sanctuary. Mercy alone can “resolve the doubt :"-mercy flowing from the cross; the voice of Christ sounding through the pulpit—"I am the way, the truth, and the life!” The success of a gospel ministry will not only unite the warring hearts of men in the bonds of holiness and happiness, but will swell the joys of heaven, and heighten its neverending song of praise.
Now, an agency that can accomplish such glorious results, not only in turning the adverse tide of human conduct, but in moving immortal powers, cannot but impress awe upon its enemies, and enlist the best aid of its friends.
But, after looking at “the glorious gospel of the blessed God," and its wonderful adaptation to save poor dying man, how often do we hear the servants of the Lord sighing, and exclaiming, between “the porch and the altar,” “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?” This is the gloomy side of the subject. We are fain to cherish the conviction of what it can do, rather than declare the fact of what it does accomplish. We are obliged to confine