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Every member of the congregation has it in his power to mar or to exalt the worship. If his appearance is grotesque, he provokes merri. ment; if grand, he excites envy. If his manner is frivolous, he diffuses levity; if proud, he provokes resentment; if sanctimonious, he inspires suspicion or contempt. If his character is doubtful or bad, if he has been seen emerging from the haunts of folly or sin, if he has a quarrel with one, if he has defrauded another, and acted basely to a third, his very presence in the house of prayer will bring all these scenes and transactions before the minds of others, and rouse in their hearts corresponding sentiments and passions. He thus hinders them in the pursuit of good; strikes the cup of fellowship out of their hand; and that which should have been as the threshold of heaven, within hearing of the golden harps, becomes a benighted and dissonant earthly haunt. At sight of this chaos of distracted suggestions and feelings, the infinitely holy and loving Saviour may be supposed again to repeat the words, “My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Even in private devotion the fleshly and the earthly are our great trouble and danger. In our holiest sacrifices there is often more smoke than flame, and when we would realize only the heavenly and the Divine we cry out in bitterness, “My soul cleaveth to the dust.” But this danger is greater when we are with others than when we are alone. The presence of our fellows is so near, so obvious, and so impressive, that of God so remote and obscure, that we are more apt to find access to them than to Him. Their approbation is so precious and their influence so great that it is hard to say how far we have been striving to please them rather than God who “alone trieth the hearts." The best affections, though of priceless worth in our earthly relations, and though they meet us when we are on our knees, may become an “ earthborn cloud to hide Him from His servants' eyes.” It is not an easy thing to attain, but yet it is an indispensable one that we should urge the prayer for it;
“Let not my heart within me burn
Except in all I Thee discern." Let us beware of hypocrisy. We regard not now conscious and elaborate hypocrisy. That must be very rare, because very difficult to maintain, but imperfectly successful while it lasts, and sooner or later breaks down utterly. But there is an unconscious and latent hypocrisy which nothing but close self-inspection discovers, and which only earnest fidelity condemns. The proclamation is to us as to those of old, “ The Lord thy God is a jealous God.” All true hearts cry aloud, “ Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear." Let every word and act be sincere and true; avoid all pretences as hideous abominations ; affirm nothing of the truth of which you are not convinced ; pretend to no virtue which you do not practice; and allow no sentiment a place on your lips which has not a warm place in your hearts. Remember, and try to realize it, that the Eyes which regard us are as "a flame of fire," and that we are transparent
before them. Be before all men what you know you are before God. But if after the most faithful examination you mistrust the issue of your work, then turn to the omniscient Love, and pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts : and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Let all watch and strive to promote the edification of others. Let none cast a stumbling-block in his brother's way. Let nothing in our garb or manner or spirit disturb or injure his devotions. Let us allow nothing in our lives so that our presence will suggest recollections of folly and sin, which may divert the thoughts and chill the affections of our fellows, when they ought to have no thought but that of the Divine presence, and no feeling but that of the Divine love. It is sad and cruel to trip up a brother in the world's miry ways, but it is sadder and more cruel to cast him down when he comes to meet his God and to get new strength in his journey to heaven. Rather in the house of prayer let everything be said and done for our neighbours' “ good to edification.” Let our life and character and all the suggestions which these shall supply be at once memorials of the Divine mercy and aids to devotion. Thus shall men confess that God is in us of a truth. We shall promote and enjoy that one accord which gives the soul to hear on earth the harmonies of heaven.
The new-born soul amidst the mists and weariness of earth feels that it is far from home. It longs for a sight of the Father's face ; for unclouded day. But the clouds sometimes lift, and glimpses of the final vision are enjoyed. This is frequently in social worship. How the heart bounds then! How light the soul's burden, and how small the grief then! How pleasant the songs of Zion then-more musical and refreshing than the sound of trickling waters in the burning desert ! How ecstatic the prospect of glory when the glad heart rests in the love of God! We have had it, let us seek it again ; and often and often be the prayer fulfilled,
“And in Thy temple let us see
A glimpse of heaven, a glimpse of Thee !"
THE DANCING SCHOOL.
By Mrs. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE. “OH, mamma,” said a bright little you are! I don't know anything girl of fourteen, bursting impatiently about a dancing-school.” into the room where her mother was “Well, I didn't till this morning," sitting, “won't you let me go to the said the young creature, tossing back dancing-school, along with Ellen and her school-bonnet, and shaking down Jane ? "
a beautiful head of curls, “but Ellen “What dancing-school, my dear?” Gilmore told me this morning, there said her mother; “how out of breath is a Madame la Blanche just come from Paris,and sheteaches such lovely | music? worse to exercise in dancing steps ! and almost all the girls in the than on horseback, or in any other school are going. You will let me way? There is, I think, a great deal go, won't you, mother!” said she, of prejudice upon this subject among coaxingly, and throwing her arms religious people, to which I am not around her mother's neck.
sure it is my duty to conform.” Mrs. Seldon looked perplexed. She “Well, sister, I too have thought stroked back the beautiful hair, and on this subject,” said Mrs. Clarke; gazed into the bright eyes of the “for you know I have daughters child, and at last replied, in the good growing up; and though I have old form so convenient to mothers, come to the conclusion that the and so unsatisfactory to children, stricter religionists are right, it is "I'll see about it."
not because I think there is any more "Oh, mother! now do say Yes." harm in one kind of motion than an
"Well, my dear, perhaps I shall; other, or any mysterious sinfulness but I must have time to think about in the particular motions of dancing. it, and talk with your papa; mean As far as I can see, it is in itself a while, I want you to go an errand for very innocent and graceful amuseme up the street."
ment.” “I've almost a mind to let her go," “Well, then, why would you not said her mother, as she watched the send your daughter”. light graceful step of her daughter “Well, my dear sister, I consider from the window; and Mrs. Seldon the first object to be attained in the looked at her sister, who was sitting education of my child is, that she by, in a hesitating way, as if to meet shall become truly religious; and I some encouragement, but her sister suppose, sister, that all who make made no reply.
the profession that we do must make "Isabella has so little self-posses this their first object." sion in society: she is so diffident," “Certainly," replied Mrs. Seldon, continued Mrs. Seldon in an apolo | “ of course.” getic tone, “I have often thought I * Well, then, if I find that any parshould like to have her acquire more ticular amusement, however graceful ease and freedom of manner, and and attractive, is likely to lead my knowledge of the world."
child into places and scenes unfavour“She is but fourteen yet," said able for the growth of a steady ChrisMrs. Clarke, “and it seems to me tian character, I am to relinquish for that at that age, diffidence and retir her that amusement, and choose for ing manners are more agreeable than her others that will not have that that practised hackneyed assurance tendency. You agree with me in one often sees in young girls who this, I suppose ?” carly gain what is called a knowledge “Certainly,” replied Mrs. Seldon. of the world.”
“Well, then, with regard to danc“But seriously, sister,” said Mrs. | ing, you cannot make the world over, Seldon, “ do you think that there is but must take it as you find it; if any harm in Isabella's taking a quar- your daughter learns to dance, she ter or two at a dancing-school? I have must dance as others do, at the same thought about it often. It seems to times and places, with the same sort me that there is a very unreasonable of dress and accompaniments that prejudice against this particular others do. That is to say, she must amusement among the stricter classes attend dancing parties and balls, just of religious people. Why is one kind | as they are, and not as they might be of motion so much worse than any made." other? Why is it worse to move “Well, then " to music than to move without “Why, with regard to such parties, balls, and assemblies, if I were not a see why learning to dance must neChristian mother, I should object to cessarily involve her in them. The them seriously on account of their | most that I should propose would be influence on health. Just think how , a simple evening dance occasionally many unfavourable influences they at her own home, or at a friend's, and unite-the hot crowded rooms—the even you cannot object to this.” suffocating air--the tight dress which “I have heard many talk as you do, fashion prescribes for such occasions sister, at the outset; but once set -the exercise so long protracted, in motion the excitable nerves of a and at hours when health would young person, and it is not so easy rather require that the child should to restrain them. The child that has be asleep—the quantity of indigesti danced with a certain set of companble food and stimulating drink, which, ions at this evening party will wish under the influence of excitement, is to join them to-morrow evening at a so freely partaken—and worst of all, larger one, and next week at a ball, the sudden passing from all this to and the week after at a fancy ball, the chills of the night air. Now tell and so on. And believe me, that you me, my dear sister, do you think it will find any of these places a harder right, even in a physical point of one to say 'No' than if you say 'No' view, to expose the health of your at the very outset.” child to such influences as these? You have watched over her, a delicate, sickly child, till she has come “Mamma," said Isabella to her to her present age-you know she mother, one morning after she had is of a nervous and highly excitable been some weeks at Madame la temperament-would it be safe Blanche's, “we are going to have a would it be wise ?':
ball next week.” “But girls do all these things, and “We, child! who ?” yet keep their health,” said Mrs. “Oh! Madame la Blanche, I mean. Seldon.
She always closes her lessons by a “But is not the ill-health of women set of cotillon parties, so as to teach in these days proverbial? Where is us gradually to dance in company. there one girl in ten whose constitu She invites gentlemen and ladies, tion is not almost entirely shattered and we have a full band of music, in two or three years after her mar and Ellen Gilmore says it will be like riage?”
a real ball.” "But, after all,” said Mrs. Seldon, Mrs. Seldon was uneasy and puz“it is not the dancing that does the zled by this information. She had mischief.”
said that she disapproved of balls, “No, but if your child goes to and that her child should not attend a dancing-school, she inevitably is them; yet she was met by one on the drawn into places and scenes on very threshold, and her daughter, which all the evils I have spoken of with flushed cheek and brightening are attendant."
eye, was fluttering with excitement “Well, but,” replied Mrs. Seldon, and desire. Should she forbid her “I disapprove of public balls. I to go ? Should she shut at once never mean to allow Isabella to go from the eager eyes the brilliant anywhere where I could not with scenes which she had suffered to be propriety go with her, and of course half displayed? And if she did, what I should not think of going to such reason should she give? How make places. I disapprove, too, of large her appreciate the difference becrowded parties, and late hours, and tween the cotillon party and the tight dressing, particularly for such dancing-school? And could she make a delicate constitution; but I don't | the child in her present eager and
excited state feel the force of any | been drawn around him to listen with kind of reasoning on the subject ? tenderness and interest to his in
Mrs. Seldon appealed to her hus structions; and in many a heart the band :-“I don't know what to do dawn of an eternal life began to glow. about letting Bella go to these cotil But Isabella was still unmoved. The lon parties.”
world had been made too attractive, "Why, let her go. I don't see and heavenly things too unreal, and much difference between them and she could not sacrifice the one to the school-it's all dance, dance, the other. Her mother multiplied dance, with the child, at any rate, serious counsels and expostulations, and has been these four weeks." and often regretted among her ChrisSo Mrs. Seldon acquiesced.
tian friends that Isabella appeared so
entirely given up to the world. In “Dear child, how tight this dress times of peculiar seriousness, she is!” said the mother, on the eventful attended prayer-meetings, and wept evening, as she presided over her and prayed for the conversion of her daughter's toilette.
child; but still the interposition on It was a new dress, just sent in which she had grounded her hopes from the mantua-maker's for the oc of that child's salvation came not.
“ Your cousin, Emily Clarke, has “Oh, mother! it is not in the least | lately joined the Church,” said her tight, quite comfortable; it was hard mother to her on one occasion, after to hook, I know-new dresses always some little serious conversation; are; at all events, you know, mother, “surely, my daughter, it is time for it can't be altered now; look how you to be thinking on these things.” beautifully it sits;" and the bright “Cousin Emily could become a girl turned suddenly round to her Christian much easier than I can," mother, with her sparkling eyes, replied Isabella. “She has nothing to flushed cheeks, and waving curls, give up compared to what I have.” and drew herself up so as to show her “I do not understand you, my pretty form to the best advantage. child,” said her mother.
“There, go; you are a wild thing," “Why, you know, she has never said her mother; “stay, though, let been allowed to mingle in any sort of me fix that flower in your hair, and gaiety. She has not thought of it, those curls. Now, Isabella, promise I believe has never desired it; all me you will not stay after ten.” her amusements and pursuits are
“I won't if I can possibly help it,” such as she could go on with just as said the child, laughing, and kissing well after making a profession of reher mother; “ you know I shall come ligion as before. Now, you know, home with Mrs. Gilmore, and she mamma, it is not so with me. I cantold me she should come home early.” not become a Christian without sacri
Thus had a Christian mother in ficing the very things I enjoy most." troduced her daughter to a set of | Mrs. Seldon sighed and was silent. associations and amusements which
* * * * she herself held to be inconsistent A few weeks after this, and the with serious attention to religion, and closed blinds, the muffled knocker, which formed a strong and effectual the stillness, and the look of anxiety barrier against any influence of re through the whole house, told of the ligious truth on the mind.
presence of sickness and sorrow. At many successive times Isabella's The young, light-hearted girl was pastor had endeavoured to draw this stricken by disease, and the chamengaging young creature within a ber which had so often rung with her Circle of religious influences. Those | gay laugh, was now hushed with alof her own age in his flock had often most the stillness of death. Suddenly