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THE GRINDSTONE OAK. This fine old tree, on which the lines were written, that appeared at page 430 of our last volume, is now no more. On the evening of the fifth of November, some wanton and mischievously disposed persons set it on fire, and this ancient pride of the forest was, in the space of a few hours, reduced to ashes. The scene is described by those who witnessed it, as being somewhat grand; the deep solitude of the place, the flames wreathing around the dry, but far-spreading branches, the lurid glare which bathed the surrounding scenery in its strange red light, and the myriad sparks which fell in showers through the darkness, combined to make the sight an imposing one. A gentlemen of Farnham, who is one of the oldest inhabitants, took the girth of this tree, nearly sixty years ago, when he was spending the day with some youthful friends beneath its shade, it measured thirty-six feet, and was then wearing its last golden crown of autumn foliage, for it has never since been known to bear any leaves.
GOD KNOWS BEST. WHEN the abbess of a convent expressed her astonishment to King James II. after his defeat at La Hogue, that her prayers, and those of the nuns on his behalf, had not been more favorably answered, his majesty replied, “ You seem to think that what you asked was better than what it pleased God to do; whereas I think what he orders is best, and that indeed nothing is well done but what is done by Him."-Business of Life.
BAD PRECEDENTS. WHEN Carracioli, the celebrated Italian orator, preached before the Pope against the luxury and self-indulgence at the Palace, he exclaimed, “Fie on St. Peter! Fie on St. Paul! who, having it in their power to live as voluptuously as the Pope and the cardinals, chose rather to mortify their lives with fasts, with watchings, and labors!"
[The following highly interesting letter appeared in the Times Newspaper of 29th November last. As an unbiassed testimony to the success of Missionary operations in the East, it possesses great interest, and will, we trust, gain credence with those who charge the Missionaries themselves with exaggerating from interested motives the real facts of the case.-ED.)
INDIAN MISSIONS AND CONVERTS.
To the Editor of the Times. Sir,-Having for many years held a commission in the Indian army, rising to the rank of senior captain of my regiment, and having long served as an interpreter in three of the native languages of the East, my testimony to the following points will not, I think, be uninteresting either to yourself or your readers, whose object surely is the truth.
1. For a period of years, stretching from 1831 to 1843, my attention was more or less directed, systematically, on the spot, to the subject of missions, and to the operations of all missionary agents, both from England and America, without reference to any bigoted peculiarities of denominational differences.
In this way, during 10 or 12 years' impartial examination of the subject, I had ample opportunity of testing the merits of the question of missions to the heathen. I narrowly observed their modes of proceeding, saw the results attending their exertions, and, from my knowledge of the native languages, and personal intercourse with converts, enjoyed advantages of investigation such as could not be surpassed.
Writing, then, at this moment, not from the memory of what I may have heard from partisans on the one side or partisans on the other, —from no hearsay evidence-but from ocular demonstration of what I have seen and heard, and examined for myself,—with operations as fresh upon my mind as though of yesterday, connected with Church missions, Scotch missions, Baptist missions, London missions, and American missions, I have no hesitation in declaring that a surprising and a real work is going on.
2. From 1830 to 1834 especially, the number of intelligent and educated young men that abandoned heathenism. and embraced Christianity in Calcutta was very remarkable. With these I have often conversed, spent whole days in their company, and should have been among the first to expose it if I had seen grounds to doubt the reality of conversion in any with whom I was thrown into contact.
3. I have been personally present when some of these came fora ward publicly, and, for the first time, made an open confession of the Christian faith. On more than one occasion I have acted as sponsor to the converts at their baptism, according to the formula of the church of England ; an office I would not have ventured to undertake without personally satisfying myself, in the case of adults, of the reality of the profession, so far as man may judge.
4. I have been present when scenes have taken place, in which your convert and his agonized heathen relatives have combined to produce not in public, but in the privacy of domestic scenes, such a tragical impression that nothing but the conviction that a man must leave father and mother, and brothers and sisters, when they interfere with his admission into the kingdom of heaven, has prevented me from interposing the weight of my influence to prevent the convert from proceeding with his determination to confess Christ before men. And as I write, sir, the very memory of these real things, these facts that I have witnessed, brings new conviction to my mind that nothing but a real work of God upon the soul could have enabled those human beings, with sensibilities of a far keener order than most Europeans in our latitudes, to tear themselves away from all that was dear to nature-for what? To become so far as this world is concerned-outcasts from their homes, their parents, in some cases their wives, their children, and—not least—their nation.
5. I will only just add, that at Kishnaghur, in Bengal, a place I have frequently visited, there are at this moment several thousand persons who have abandoned heathen superstitions, with no possible motive for doing so in such masses (in a great measure secluded from European, except missionary, influence) beyond conviction.
I do not by any means claim for these converts a higher tone of Christianity than elsewhere ; on the contrary, just rescued from the abominations and deceit of the basest superstitions, great allowances must be made for them, more especially when it is remembered that in most cases they are still surrounded by the evil influences of their heathen countrymen from without, and have to contend with inveterate habits acquired from their infancy, that have grown with their growth, and which present a formidable foe within, which, no wonder, does now and then break forth, and seem to belie their conversion.
I am, Sir, yours very faithfully,
ARTHUR C. RAINEY, late Captain Bengal Army. Crieff, Perthshire, Nov. 26.
THE OPENING YEAR. (From “ The Educational Pocket Book, 1850.”) THE year is born! the year is born!
What changes, on its viewless wing, To millions of the human race,
Its days, and weeks, and months, will bring! How many clouds will lower around!
What bitter tears will oft be shed ! Losses, how sudden, will be felt
Ere it be numbered with the dead! The year is born! the year is born!
A welcome it shall have from me; And, while the bells ring cheerfully,
Buoyant with hope my heart shall be! In looking back, through numerous years,
I see what God hath done for all; And, during months that just have fled,
Mercies have not been few, or small.
My country dearer still to me,
Thy happiness I long to see.
And present fears be scattered too,
And thou shalt mark what God will do! The year is born! the year is born!
O let us spend this year aright! Before it close, we may be gone,
The youngest eye be sealed in night. Commence it, then, in faith and trust,
Reposing in our Father's care ; In every change, and every woe,
He'll listen to our filial prayer.
The year is born! the year is born!
Peal, joyous bells, peal merrily!
Nor should the human family,
Who never hath forsaken thee,
And give thee sure prosperity!
ON THE BAPTISM OF A FIRST GRANDCHILD.
25TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
winter.”—John X. 22.
The Church's year is fleeting past-