Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

10

THE HISTORY OF AN OLD BOOK AND ITS AUTHOR.

therefore follow that you will be singular in acting : you may be so, or you may not: be prepared to be so if necessary, and commit the keeping of your life as of your soul to God.

reality or a formality, heart-deep or only from the lips, accepted or unheard by Him who calls that alone worship which is offered in spirit and in truth. Be alone with God twice at least every day in prayer, and then it will be no shock to you to find yourself often left alone with Him in the events of this life, alone with Him at all events in the hour of death and in the day of judgment.

Second. Again, if you are to die alone, and if you are to be judged alone, be not afraid also to think alone; and, if necessary, to act alone. What good will it bring to any of us to have had a whole multitude with us in doing wrong? What will that excuse be worth, on a death-bed on which we are lying alone, at a judgment-seat before which we are standing alone, “ Others said so, every one did so ?” That is not the question: Was it right to do so ? Did you feel it to be right to do so ? Was your conscience satisfied that it was right to do so, and had you taken proper pains to inform your conscience on the subject ? O, my brethren! we should not be such servile followers of one another, if we could only realize and remember the fact that we must stand alone at last before God. Far better to be singular now than to be condemned then. Far better to have been blamed a little now for being too precise, than, because you feared the word of a companion whose power to harm you was, after all, extremely limited, to have incurred the wrath of Him who is “ able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” They whom you now so much fear, that you are ready to give up to their dictation the very safety of your immortal soul, will themselves too be standing one day alone before God, not able to deliver themselves, much less to screen you. Be independent of them now. Perhaps they will thank you one day for having stood aloof from them when they did wrong. Be alone in your judgments upon things: it does not

THE HISTORY OF AN OLD

BOOK AND ITS AUTHOR. MORE than three centuries ago, a little treatise, entitled “ The Benefit of Christ's Death," appeared in Italy. Emanating from presses in Venice, in Stuttgart, in Lyons, it swiftly found its way into the hands of the readers of Europe. In Tuscan, in Italian, in French, in German, in Croatian versions, it was eagerly read and widely circulated. Forty thousand copies of it were within a few years uttering its voices and bearing to multitudes its warm illustrations of “the glorious riches of God's free grace, which every true believer receives by Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Rich in evangelical theology, fervid in expression, loving in application, it is not strange that it thus won its way to the hearts of God's hidden ones in Papal lands, as well as to the embrace of many others in realms in which the Reformation was giving the word of the true Gospel to the people.

The little book was too true to Christ and His cross to escape the ban of Rome. It was condemned by the Inquisition. Under their curses and threats it sank from sight, as a stream in Eastern lands sinks amid burning sands before the sun. “The Benefit of Christ's Death” disappeared. Its forty thousand copies were sought out in their homes, and destroyed. So utterly was it rooted out, that in 1840 Macaulay said of it, in the “Edinburgh Review," “ The Inquisitors proscribed it; and it is now as utterly lost as the second decade of Livy."

But Macaulay was mistaken. The stream that had disappeared before the fires of Inquisitorial hatred was not totally lost. It still existed, though

THE NEW AMERICAN PLOUGI.

American public. The lost stream will soon flow broader and deeper than eyer.

But who was the author of this book ? It bears the name of no writer. To proclaim the precious truth of salvation by Christ's death alone was too dangerous a deed in Italy, three centuries since, to make evangelical authors anxious to be known. They wrote for Christ, not for fame. Yet there can be scarce a doubt that the author of the “ Benefit of Christ's Death” was an Italian scholar and Professor, Antonio dalla Paglia ; or, as he ordinarily called himself, and is called, by others, Aonio Paleario.

(To be continued.)

unseen. Many a soul had drunk at it and been refreshed, and it had become within him a well of living water. And, besides this, after three centuries, beneath the arid sands the stream still survived ; and now it rises again to the upper air, sparkling in the sunlight, and offering refreshment to the thirsty soul.

Dr. M'Crie, the Scotch historian, had learned from the will of one Thomas Bassinden, printer in Edinburgh, who died in 1577, that an English version of this treatise must have existed previous to the death of Bassinden. This statement induced the Rev. John Ayre to search for a volume which he thought might still survive in the English language. In 1843 or 1844 he succeeded in discovering it, and in 1847 he reprinted it ; stating in the Introduction that no copy of the original Italian work was known to exist. This republication awakened a new interest in the subject, and led to the discovery by antiquaries of three copies in Italian, of one in French, one in German, and of a copy of the Croatian version, as well as of several English copies.

It was found that there was in existence also a manuscript English translation of the book, in the library of the University at Cambridge. This version was made from the Italian by Edward Courtenay, the twelfth Earl of Devonshire, in 1558, whilst lying a prisoner in the tower. Its interest is increased by the fact that King Edward the Sixth, of England, had evidently read, and in two places had written in it.

The English translation, which has been republished in London, was made from the French version, and printed at London in 1573. An Italian version has also been re-issued at Pisa, and at Florence ; thus giving it again to the land of its birth. In German, Dutch, Danish, and French, it has likewise renewed its race; and recently it has been given also to the

THE NEW AMERICAN PLOUGHI.

THE “Western Christian Advocate" gives a very interesting account of this invention, and of the uses to which its inventor is applying the proceeds of his skill.

The Rev. James Peeler, now of Louisville, Ga., was for sixteen years a laborious, zealous, and useful “ Travelling Preacher" in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America. His health having failed, he was obliged, at the expiration of that period, to locate, as it is called. He settled on a small farm. He was a poor man; his itinerant Preacher's life had not resulted in the accumulation of wealth. He had a family to provide for, and he cast about for some employment, some means of earning his bread, and he had recourse to the plough. He thought he could make an implement of that kind better adapted to its uses, more effective, and cheaper than any he could procure; and thereupon he constructed a plough himself. The good man had no more idea of taking out a patent for that plough than he had of reaping wheat or navigating the water with his plough. But his neighbours saw extraordinary merit in this simple but effective contrivance for agricultural

12

THE NEW AMERICAN PLOUGH.

purposes, and induced him to enter it for a patent. The patent was granted 21st June, 1859; and in every portion of the United States where the plough has been introduced, it has excited unusual interest, proved a great favourite with the people, and in most instances seems destined to supersede all the other varieties of ploughs. So extraordinary was the success of the plough in practice, that the patent acquired a marketvalue almost without a parallel in the history of patented implements in America. Mr. Peeler has actually sold out rights—state, county, and territorial rights-to his patent, to an amount exceeding five hundred thousand dollars!

Finding himself growing unexpectedly rich, this worthy man made it the subject of reflection and earnest inquiry: “I am becoming rich. I don't need all this money; no reasonable wants of my family require so much money. Why, then, was the money deposited with me? Why did I make a plough? Who arranged all the circumstances of the case ?”.

He concluded the whole matter was providential. Thenceforward, after decently providing for his family, he devoted his gains to the cause of Missions, the building of churches, &c. To these various interests Mr. Peeler has already given, in the aggregate, hundreds of thousands of dollars : and the work of doing good still goes on, and is to go on; for Mr. P. said to the writer who gives these facts: "I will not trust myself with a large amount of money. It belongs to God; and I shall administer it as I go along to promote the best interests of man.”

What he has given is only the beginning of what he intends to give, as the patent will probably become more and more productive as it becomes more and more extensively introduced. Much of the proceeds of sales of the patent consists in obligations for money, payable in sums from year to year. The amount of those payments

depends, in some cases, on the success of the patent. So that Mr. Peeler's benefactions will depend, as to their ultimate amount, on the success of his patent in the localities thus contracted for. Some of the larger and most productive States are still held by Mr. Peeler. We are not fully informed as to the various benefactions paid, and to be paid, from the proceeds of this patent. Some of these donations, which have come to our knowledge, are as follows :—To be paid out of profits in hands of agents and assignees, to be applied to educational purposes, under the direction of the Conferences, in Illinois, 4,000 dollars; in Missouri, 4,000 dollars; in Minnesota, Hamline University, 5,000 dollars; in Indiana, Asbury University, 5,000 dollars ; in Wisconsin, to Lawrence University and other institutions, 4,000 dollars ; in Iowa, Wesleyan University and others, 4,000 dollars; and in Ohio, Ohio Wesleyan University, 7,000 dollars, payable in annual instalments of 1,000 dollars per annum, beginning 1st October, 1861, out of any profits that may accrue : and if the success be adequate, the assignee designs aiding the Ladies' Home Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Cincinnati. Mr. Peeler's heart is large enough to multiply these donations; and this he will do as soon as his means shall adequately increase, so as to enable him to execute as well as to " devise liberal things."

A writer remarks, in relation to the simplicity of the Peeler plough :

“A straight piece of board for a beam, an upright wooden piece and handles,—fifteen cents' worth of lumber,-make the wood-work. Four simple iron bars bolted to the beam, and crossing in pairs below, so as to act respectively as braces and counterbraces, make the iron-work. The plough may carry two blades, one to turn the soil, and the other to subsoil at the same time, by the same hand,

[blocks in formation]

with the same team, and at one operation. If the subsoil-plough is not needed, it may be detached and laid aside for future use in one minute. Then, to the principal bar may be attached, in half a minute, any kind of blade or mould that ever has been made, -turning-blade, shovel, bulltongue, garden - plough, ditchingplough, &c.; thus converting the plough into a new variety every time a new blade is attached.”.

A GHOST STORY. TAE Court, as the villagers call it, is a good specimen of a substantial, cozy house, built somewhere in the after-part of the last century. The front looks out on a large, close-shaven lawn, encircled with a carriage-drive, beyond which are strips of grass of varying widths, flower-beds, and at the back a well-grown shrubbery shutting in all. If you walked across the lawn, bearing a little to the right, and passed through the shrubbery, you would find it bounded by a very low wall, dividing it from the churchyard. If you went up that short, narrow path opposite the front-door, you would find yourself in an extensive ruin of an old manorial residence, thickly covered with ivy. In front of the shrubbery, to the right of the house, and overhanging the grass-border beyond the carriage-drive, is a very fine evergreen oak, beneath the shade of which is placed a garden-seat.

I am thus particular in my description in order that you may better understand the strange thing I have to tell, and which happened no longer since than this last summer.

One beautiful moonlight night, after the family had gone to their several rooms, a lady—who, with her husband, was visiting at the house, and occupied one of the front bed-rooms-drew up the blind of the large bow-window, and looked out over the lawn at the en circling belt of trees, with their leaves

all bathed in the cool, clear brightness, and the heavy shadows beneath, broken up here and there with flecks and patches of moonlight.

As the visiter looked round towards the right, her eye was arrested by a figure seated beneath the large tree to which I referred. It seemed to be a woman, clad in white, or very lightcoloured garments.

The gentleman, coming to the window, also saw the robed form distinctly, and agreed with his wife that their hostess should be informed of the presence of this untimely intruder. She was accordingly fetched, and had the proof of her own eyes that the garden-seat was occupied by some one, but whether by any body there really seemed room to doubt. The thing was so serious that the master of the house, who had been laughing at the affair, must be called. He was very far from being a credulous or fanciful man; but there was no gainsaying the witness of his own eyes. There, beneath the great dark tree, sat the spectral form, white and motionless as marble. It was not thirty yards off ; so there could be no mistake.

Let every matter-of-fact sceptic weigh well the evidence in this case. This was no apparition seen by one frightened person and invisible to every one else; but the sheeted form sat clear and still before the eyes of four intelligent and educated people, one of them a lawyer.

But there was other and independent testimony. The groom occupied a front-room in a sort of wing at the left of the house. He had been watching the spectre for an hour, but was afraid to make it known.

Two of the maid-servants had a room on the floor above. As one of them drew up the blind, she exclaimed, " Why, there's mistress sitting in the garden, with a muslin dress on !” Her companion, knowing this to be impossible, was frightened, and urged her to look no more, but to get to bed.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

The little party in the room below were sorely perplexed. Wishing to find out whether the pale visitant was mortal, the master of the house threw up the sash, and shouted as people are wont to do to a trespasser. The apparition never moved, but sat still as the moonlit-tree above it. The host then resolved to get a nearer view of the weird object, by looking from the window of a room on the same floor, but much further to the right, and, therefore, nearly opposite the garden-seat. He went quietly, and looked : the seat was empty, and the pale ghost had vanished. A slender stream of moonlight poured through the dark tree just above the garden-seat, and passed out slantingly towards the lawn. A moment's reflection solved the mystery, and spoiled my ghost story. The observer noticed that, as he altered his position, the streak of light showed in

different form : and that as he moved away to the left, it became collected into a smaller space, and wore the spectral shape which had caused all this disturbance.

was placed on the front of a building at the Temple in London. But most of them probably never heard of the curious tradition, probably a true one, respecting the motto. When, a few years ago, the building was taken down and rebuilt, it is likely the Benchers were either ignorant of the tradition, or had forgotten it, else they would have restored the sun-dial, with its motto. Perhaps they may even yet be induced to do so.

The tradition is this:—That when the sun-dial was put up, the artist inquired whether he should (as was customary) paint a motto under it. The Benchers assented ; and appointed him to call at the library at a certain day and hour, at which time they would have agreed upon the motto. It appears, however, that they had totally forgotten this; and when the artist or his messenger called at the library at the time appointed, he found no one but a cross-looking old gentleman poring over some musty book. “Please, Sir, I am come after the motto for the sun-dial.” “What do you want P” was the pettish answer: "why do you disturb me ?” “Please, Sir, the gentlemen told me I was to call at this hour for a motto for the sun - dial.” “Begone about your business !” was the testy reply. The man, either by design or by mistake, chose to take this as the answer to his inquiry, and accordingly painted in large letters under the dial, “ BEGONE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.”

The Benchers, when they saw it, decided that it was very appropriate, and that they would let it stand; chance having done their work for them as well as they could have done it for themselves.

Anything that reminds us of the lapse of time, should remind us also of the right employment of time in doing whatever business is required to be done.

A similar lesson is solemnly conveyed in the Scripture motto to a sun

I am not going to hazard a universal negative as to ghostly apparitions; but suppose that the inquiry in this case had not been completed. Imagine the excitement which must have followed ; made more intense by every conversation about the matter; the report spreading, gathering much garnish as it went; the testimony of six trustworthy witnesses to confirm

stworthy witnesses to contirm the fact. How few such rehearsals are backed by such evidence !

I wonder how many ghosts, and house - hauntings, if perseveringly searched into, would also turn out to

out to be-all moonshine.

THE OLD SUN-DIAL. MANY persons now living in London must remember the vertical sun-dial, with a very remarkable motto, which

« AnteriorContinuar »