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condition of the country, if, with but few and distant exceptions, the homes of the working classes should be embellished and enriched by those graces and virtues which have a brighter lustre and a higher value than rubies and diamonds. No sights in nature that our eyes are permitted to look on are more interesting than those which unfold, in one view, its manifold riches and varied beauties. What a world of beauty is there in a fine old wood, illuminated some summer eve by the golden glory of the setting sun! How grand and stately the monarchs of the forest, with their ample domes of living green ! But underneath these mighty canopies there repose whole worlds of humbler beauty. The mosses that form so soft a carpet for our feet, the ferns that perch so gracefully in the nooks and clefts of the rocks, the lichens that embroider the stems of the rugged pines, the insects that gleam in the sunshine, the wild-flowers that regale sight and smell together, how beautiful are they all, and how endless and inexhaustible are their beautics! Not less inexhaustible would seem the moral and religious wealth of a country, if every humble home were enriched with temperance, cheerfulness, bright domestic affections, and lively piety; and if these were so grouped and arranged in different families as to produce the beautiful variety we find in the familiar scenes of nature's
wealth. Delightful, too, as those fruits are which may be reaped from godliness in the life that now is, they are trifling compared with the blessings it reserves for the life to come. The enjoyment of a peaceful mind and a happy home, what are they to the favour and blessing of God, and the possession of a heart renewed in His image, and ever drinking from the river of His pleasures ?
WHOM TO FOLLOW.
“ It is in Christianity, real practical Christianity, constantly and undeviatingly acted upon, and made as much our guide through life, as the compass is the mariner's in his course through the ocean, that the remedy for the present evils in our social system is to be found.”-Small Books on Great Subjects.
WHEN a body of men are setting out on a great and difficult enterprise, it is of the utmost importance to know who are their friends. We wish in this chapter to aid in discovering the true value of one who comes to working people, not only with unbounded offers of friendship, but appealing to the sanction of the highest conceivable authority. Is RELIGION really a friend to working men? Will it make any great difference to their enterprise whether they accept its offer or decline it? Will they move on in their upward course as steadily under the guidance of enlightened reason and good sense alone, as under the guidance of earnest, scriptural Christianity? Is its alliance to be warmly welcomed, or scornfully rejected, or indifferently set aside ?
Suppose we should poll the working classes themselves on this question, what would be the result ? Each of the three proposals, we believe, would have its body of supporters, but in very different proportions. A few would very heartily vote for the hearty alliance; they would go in with all their souls for spiritual Christianity, as out of sight the best and truest friend the working man could have or desire. A few others would scoff at the very idea of their deriving benefit from religion in any shape whatever, denouncing it in all its forms as a system of hypocrisy and priestcraft, designed to keep down the many for the paltry interests of the few. But the greatest number, we believe, would show a practical indifference to the question, and give it the go-by. They would not absolutely deny the truth of Christianity; but the fact is, it does not possess their confidence; they have never seen cause to welcome it as their best friend.
Those who are familiar with workshops, tell us that very seldom is the spirit prevalent there friendly to earnest religion. Hugh Miller remarks, in his Schools and Schoolmasters, how different he found the tone of workmen on this subject when he came to work as a mason in the south from what he had found in the Northern and Western Highlands. In my
native district and the neighbouring coun
ties,” he says, “religion still spoke with authority, and a man who stood up in its behalf in any society, unless very foolish or very inconsistent, always succeeded in silencing opposition, and making good its claims. Here, however, the irreligious asserted their power as the majority, and carried matters with a high hand; and religion itself, existing as but dissent, not as an establishment, had to content itself with bare toleration. Remonstrance, or even advice, was not permitted. “Johnnie, boy,' I have heard one of the rougher mechanics say, half in jest, half in earnest, to my companion, 'if you set yourself to convert me, I'll break your face;' and I have known another of them remark, with a patronizing air, that kirks were nae very bad things, after a';' that he
aye liked to be in a kirk, for the sake o' decency, once a twelvemonth;' and that, “as he hadna been kirkit for the last ten months, he was just only waiting for a rainy Sabbath to lay in his stock o' divinity for the year.'” During the forty years that have elapsed since the time to which these reminiscences refer, there has no doubt been a change in the prevailing spirit of the working classes towards earnest religion; but much of the old spirit yet remains; and in general we fear it must be confessed that distrust and indifference, if not active opposition, dictates the reception which is given to its claims.