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“the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon. Even “in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his "stead.” This reads like the record of a murder; and judging from what is said in a subsequent verse, that the Lord was angry with Baasha, because he killed NADAB, this would appear to have been the case; but, as is usual in these books, there is a contradictory statement. For instance, it is set forth that Baasha incurred the anger of Jehovah, and was therefore to be blotted out. “The word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, “Forasmuch as I exalted thee cut of the dust, and made thee prince over my people " Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people " Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins; Behold, I will take away “the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house; and will make thy “house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Him that dieth of Baasha “in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the “ fowls of the air eat. So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in “Tirzah ; and Elah his son reigned in his stead.”+ Now, if it be true that God had exalted Baasha to be king of Israel, it must be conceded that the getting rid of Nadab was but part of the plan. The anger expressed is not, primarily, because of the murder, but because of leading Israel to sin in the matter of idolatry. But, however this may be, it is certain; lie was doomed, and his house with him. His son Elah succeeded to the throne, and reigned two

appears

to have been utterly incompetent for performing the duties, and capable only of the pleasures of a monarch. “And lis servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of 'Arza “steward of his house in Tirzah. And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him, “ in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his “stead.” So that it was while Elahı was engaged in gratifying a passion for liquor, that he was cut off without a show of mercy, but he who did the murder was not long in waiting for the punishment. It was true that Elah was unfit to govern, but Zimri was no better; he could kill a king, but that is quite another thing from becoming a king. All the genius he exhibited was of the old fashion among monarchs. “ And it came to pass, when he began to reign,

as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha ; he “ left him not one

neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends. “Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word “of the Lord, which be spake against Baasha by Jehu the Prophet.” Thus, as the Calvinist Divines say, « the wicked Zimri was used by the Lord, "in order to accomplish His purposes ; still, although the Lord had purposed c. the destruction of Baasha and his house, the sin of Zimri was equally

as great as if he had murdered innocent men." They are ready to prove this, and, doubtless, for any man who is satisfied with words, mere words, without thinking of the principles they involve, their Jesuitical mode of converting black into white is perfectly satisfactory. ZIMRI was not popular, and the people did not ratify his action, but proceeded to make Omri king.

(To be continued.)

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* I. Kings xy. 23-28.

+ Ibid. xvi. 2-4 and 6.

# Ibid. 9, 10.

$ Ibid. 11, 12

LONDON: PUBLISHED BY M. PATTIE, 31, PATERNOSTER Row, AND GEORGE

GLAISHER, 470, New Oxford Street.
Printed by W. Ostell, Hart-street, Bloomsbury,

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OUT OF THE CLOUD;
OR, AN ENGLISH RECTOR IN SEARCH OF A CREED.

A TALE; BY P. W. P.

CHAPTER X.

THE DORCAS SOCIETY. DURING the remainder of the evening spent by Lester in the drawing-room at Rose Hall he obtained a considerable amount of information from the Jadies - more especially from Miss Margery—respecting the condition of his poorer parishioners, and about the nature of the various societies then in existence, whose professed aim was to reduce the measure of human suffering. The claims of the Dorcas Society were particularly pressed upon his attention, as deserving of the highest credit for its aims and its active spirit of benevolence. He was solicited to employ his influence, in order to induce his sister Ella to join that charitable body of Christians immediately after her arrival ; and having promised to do this, he proved equal to his word, for, before she had been a full month at the rectory, an evening arrived upon which, according to the previous arrangements, she was to be introduced, at one of their regular meetings, to the ladies of the society.

Ella had come to Crosswood, not merely to act as her brother's housekeeper, but to perform those duties also which belong to the wives of the clergy. Fond of reading and meditation, she thought little of parties or pleasuring; indeed, beyond the precincts of the garden, she cared not to move from the house; but having resolved upon breaking through her retired habits, so as to attend to all the regular duties, and to satisfy all the claims upon her attention, she had already learnt a great deal of the poorer inhabitants and their ways. And it was pleasant to notice how speedily she made her way into their good graces. Not that she had given much away, for she was rather chary of giving, but there was something in her natural, homely, unaffected manner of addressing them which completely won their hearts, and converted her into a general favourite. This, probably, may be accounted for by the fact, that whenever she

Voi, VI, NEW SERIES, VOL. II.

went out visiting the poor she took her heart, her human sympathies, and her natural cheerfulness with her. There was no formality about the style in which she addressed them; and when she wished to give advice, somehow it was managed in such a way as to prevent the recipient from perceiving the full measure of his or her indebtedness. Instead of commanding, instead of saying, You must do this or that! she simply suggested a course, or asked, Do you not think it would be better to do so and so ? This was especially grateful to their feelings, for when her advice was acted upon, the people always felt themselves perfectly free; they had been led to perceive the propriety of the thing, instead of being driven to it, and hence the greater readiness with which they did it. But in such cases there was no credit assigned to her ; but that was no stumbling-block, for all she cared about was, that the right thing should be done; whether herself or some other had the praise, never cost her a moment’s thought. And as to her not giving much away, it was soon generally known that Miss Ella was very liberal in severe cases, a fact which made even those content who had not received a gift from her bounty. It was her doctrine, that the poor do not stand in 80 much need of gratuities as they need being properly and judiciously instructed regarding how to use wisely that which they have earned. And, without having read Carlyle, she was not favourable to the action of large societies; but more inclined to rely upon the labours of independent persons. Yet coming to Crosswood as she had done, it became necessary for her, at once, to join those societies, at least, which were supported by her brother's congregation. The Dorcas was one of them, and she was now about to be initiated.

The nature of Dorcas Societies, although established in nearly every English town, is not generally known, and yet they deserve to be better understood. It appears that in the times of the Apostles, there was dwelling at Joppa a woman, named in the Syriac, "Tabitha, which, in the Greek, is rendered Dorcas, signifying doe or roe-perhaps “ Gazelle” is nearer to the original meaning This woman was full of good works, and appears to have been zealous in making coats and various garments, for widows and others, who were poor. Evidently her days were passed in labours of love, and when she died there was great mourning for her death. The poor

had lost an unostentatious friend, a quiet steady worker, who told no tales of all the good she did, but went earnestly on as if life was too short for talking about such small matters. It is one of the problems of the nineteenth century, whether, if she had been alive to-day, she would have founded a society in order to get her work done and spoken of— whether she could have gone on in silence, performing her part, unknown to all save God and the poor. We incline to the belief that the latter would have been her course, and consequently that she must have become a marked woman; one of those who are known as odd bodies, but who are always busy with some practical good work.

The Crosswood Dorcas Society was somewhat sectarian. English towns it is the custom to admit all those ladies who can find a friend to introduce them, and who are known by the members to be respectable persons. Thus, it frequently happens, that a lady who attends one of the Methodist Chapels, sits busily engaged in repairing an old petticoat, beside another who attends the Church, and who may, for the time, be employed in repairing some old dress. The theory is, that all the members shall devote the evening to needlework for the benefit of the poor; that they shall be so

In many

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many Dorcasses,' whose only aim in collecting together is to do good. But unhappily, the theory is seldom perfected in fact. Ladies assemble together who are rather more disposed to retail the scandal of the neighbourhood than to darn worn-out stockings; they repair one rent in a garment and make ten in a reputation; they patch up the old clothes so as to render them respectable, and take ten characters to pieces so as to render them worthless. Thus, all their charity being exhausted upon the clothing, they have none left as a medium through which to look at the actions of their neighbours and equals. If they attend the meetings, being full of love when entering, they are pretty sure to return home full of some other spirit.

The Crosswood Dorcas Society laboured under the double disadvantage of being sectarian and given to scandal. The members belonged to the National Church, and thus, as Mrs. Straddles, the secretary, said, “it was possible for ladies to attend without incurring the danger of being led away by deceitful tongues to join the ranks of vulgar dissent.” She was present this evening, and quite prepared to introduce Ella to the ladies of the society, a task which she performed with no slight degree of self-content, based probably upon her conviction that “nobody else conld manage it so nicely."

Ella had scarcely got her needle fairly in motion, repairing an old cap, before the buzz of conversation, which had been hushed by her entrance, became loud again, and Mrs. Mellrake suggested that "it was a pity nothing was being done in Crosswood to promote the African movement."

“ For my part,” she continued, “I think it is impossible to do too much of the Lord's work. He has done so much for me that I know I ought to be doing something for the Africans. They must lead a wretched life, bowing to idols of wood and stone, and eating the Missionaries."

“Eating the Missionaries !” cried a dozen voices, " surely they are not so utterly depraved as to eat a person who has gone out among them to lead them to Jesus."

It was Ellen Wilkins, the wine-merchant's daughter, who added the latter charitable doubt to the general exclamation of surprise, but Mrs. Mellrake was positive upon the point, and so there was nothing left but to inquire what could be done to improve the moral condition of such un-Christian savages.

After the subject had been duly debated, the prevailing opinion seemed to be that the only means of cure lay in “ sending out more men to teach the gospel;" or, more literally, sending out more human provender for the natives.

“In that,” said Mrs. Oricson, we have the only efficient means of achieving our glorious object."

Ella had listened to the observations made by her companions, but sat silent at her work until Margery Poinder pressed her to say what she thought npon the subject. This, however, was what Ella desired to avoid ; for, although when conversing with her brother or Doctor Moule, her words flowed freely, she was always alarmed at speaking before a crowd. Her evident hesitation caused Margery to believe she desired to conceal her opinions ; which notion made her press Ella all the more earnestly to speak, and she succeeded in achieving her aim.

I believe," said Ella, “ that the gospel is not a sort of medicine for every social and moral disease, but a means of good which never fails when proper preliminary steps have been taken. It seems to me that the natives of Africa cannot understand the gospel any more than a child can understand the solar

they utter."

system. They may be taught, like parrots, to repeat some gospel sentences, but so far as I have yet heard, they cannot comprehend the meaning of what

“But, Miss Lester," interposed Mrs. Mellrake, "if they are taught the gospel, God will enable them to understand it. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings He brings forth praise, and therefore we ought to believe that He will give the Africans light.”

"Perhaps so," rejoined Ella," and it may be that I do not properly understand the matter, but I know that while yet a child, I had no real conception of the gospel-meaning, and as God does not work miracles to enable us, in our childhood, to understand it, I see no cause to believe He will do so with the African. He is surely as good unto us as unto them; and if so, then, perhaps instead of doing so much merely in missionary efforts, we should advance our cause more by adopting those means through which the Aborigines may be intellectually fitted for comprehending the gospel, just as is. done with ourselves.”

Had one of the African savages suddenly made his appearance in their party, he would not have caused more astonishment than was created by this speech of Ella's. The ladies were convinced that a grave doubt had been cast upon the practical and working value of the gospel, and yet Ella had not intended to do anything of the kind. She knew that it would be utterly impossible to make a full-grown Norfolk ploughman comprehend the philosophy of Hamilton by merely preaching it to him, and felt that, as all sciences require for their comprehension some preliminary training, so also the mind of the African must be trained into habits of abstract thought before he can become capable of understanding the Christian system. But the ladies of the Crosswood Dorcas Society only knew that system as the majority of persons know Astronomy, as a set of words, as a form of worship; for, like many others, they had never reflected their way into its heart and deeper meanings.

Mrs. Maitland, the churchwarden's wife, a fat, inquisitive, pock-marked, Christian woman, was the first to break the silence of astonishment, by observing

Then, my dear Miss Lester, as you don't approve of missions, it must be a sad trouble when you sit and listen to your dear brother preaching a missionary sermon; for of course he believes in them- does he not ?"

Or, perhaps, Miss Lester, you make a point of not attending church on such occasions ?” said the lady secretary.

Ella looked surprised, and could hardly realise that her words had been so falsely construed. Without, however, deigning to explain her meaning more minutely, she made matters worse by answering, “It is too much to say that I don't believe in missionary enterprises, because, in truth, I am friendly to them ; but I have long believed that through doing so much abroad we fail in performing properly our home work. If all our willing hands were well employed here in England--if we all taught the ignorant, reasoned with the dissolute, and dealt mercifully, as well as sternly, with the erring-our seamen and merchants would become practical missionaries, for their honesty and kindness would beget a better feeling in the breasts of foreign races, and through that, the religious teaching of all Englishmen would be believed. Let us labour earnestly to move the ignorant masses at home, and abroad our influence for good will be greatly increased.”

"That is just what I feel,” put in Miss Lowther, a lady of public spirit,

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