But last and most interesting and wonderful of all, my dear little Frank, is the story of Jesus Christ and his friends called the apostles. These little letters have never told such a beautiful and affecting story as they tell you of that pure and spotless Being who was sent by God to teach us our duty, and to show us the way to be happy forever. No being ever existed on this earth who showed so much love and tenderness, so much goodness and humility, so much wisdom and power as did Jesus Christ. There, in that best of books, stand these little messengers, as I call them, still speaking the very words of the blessed Saviour; ready to comfort the poor and sorrowful; to teach patience and hope to the sick; to instruct the ignorant; to reprove the wicked; and inviting little children to come to his arms and receive his blessing. Do you not want to know all that they can tell you of this great and good Being? I could write you, my dear Frank, a letter so long that I fear you would be tired of reading it, about these same wonderful little figures; but now I dare say that you will think more of them yourself, and that the little book with the corners rolled up which contains your ABC will be more respectable in your sight. Perhaps you will, after thinking some time, ask who invented these wonderful letters; and then, if you do really want to know, your father will tell you all that is known about it, or, at least, all that you can remember and understand. When you are old enough to read about the history of letters, you will find books which will make you laugh by telling you that there was a time when, if you wanted to write "a man," you would have been obliged to draw the picture of a man; and, as there was then no paper like ours, you would have been obliged to take a piece of wood or bark to make the drawing on; and so the same with every thing else. So you see, if you and I had lived at that time, and you had written to me about your dog, your pleasant ride and the other things that were in your letter, you would perhaps have been obliged to get a man to bring me the letter, it would have been so clumsy, instead of bringing it yourself, folded neatly in your nice little pocket book; and as for my letter, only think how much room it would have taken up. You will say, "Why, aunt, letters are not only better than sugar plums, they are better than dollars." Indeed they are, my dear Frank. The knowledge that they can give, the blessing they can bestow, is better and more valuable than all the silver and gold in the whole world; for they can teach us what is wisdom and happiness; they can teach us the will of God. I love to think, too, of what pleasant messages they can carry backwards and forwards between friends, and that in a few hours these curious, handy little things will appear before you, my dear little Frank, and tell you what I have just been thinking about, and that I always love you, and am ever Your affectionate AUNT. WHAT DAY IS IT? It is so still that, although it is midday, one can hear the sound of the soft spring shower as it falls on the young and tender leaves. The crowing of the cock pierces the ear with his shrill note, as in the silent watches of the night. The song of the wren is so undisturbed, it is so full, and is heard so distinctly that it only reminds one, with its sweet music, how unusual is the silence; it does indeed seem but the "echo of tranquillity." There are many people in the streets, but they have a different appearance from usual; they are all dressed in their holiday garments; they look happy, but they are very calm and serious. The gentle shower does not seem to disturb them; it only affords an opportunity for reciprocal kindness. I see a venerable-looking old lady who from infirmity is obliged to walk very slowly. She is supported by a bright, rosy-cheeked girl who holds up the umbrella, and keeps back her light and joyous step to the slow time of her aged companion. An elegant-looking woman is leading, with great care and tenderness, a little girl through the mud. The lady puts her umbrella so low that the rain is kept from the child, but it falls upon her own gay clothes. The little girl must be that lady's daughter. But see! they stop at the door of yonder miserable-looking house. The lady cannot live there, surely. She gives the child a little book. The little girl enters alone. I see her now in the house. She is the daughter of the poor, sick woman who lives there. There is a trembling old man tottering along: he looks a little like Tipsy David, as the boys call him; but he has on a clean and respectable suit of black, and a weed on his hat; he is quite sober, but it is David; and one of the very boys that have laughed at and abused him when intoxicated, now respectfully offers him an umbrella. A fashionable young man is gallanting a lady with the greatest care and most delicate respect; she must be his sister, or the lady he is engaged to marry, he is so careful to shelter her from every drop of rain. No, I see her enter her door; it is my good neighbor, Miss--; she is one of the excellent of the earth, but she is poor, old and forsaken by all but the few who seek for those whom others forget. She has no beauty, no celebrity; there is no eclat in noticing her; there are those who will even laugh at him for his attention to her. Stranger than all, there are two men, violent opponents in religion and politics, walking arm in arm with each other. The Calvinist extends to him whom he considers his erring brother a kindness as if to a dear friend; for the Universalist is sick, and the Calvinist tries to protect him from the shower while exposing himself; see, he takes off his own cloak and puts it on him. What does all this mean? Whence is this holy stillness? What day is it? It is the Lord's day! All these people are returning from the house of prayer. It is this thought that makes the laughing girl restrain her gayety, and teach her steps to keep time with her infirm old friend. The sinful old man abstains from his vicious habit out of reverence for this holy day; he has lost his son too; and sorrow and the weight of an evil conscience have driven him to the mercy seat; and they who despised his drunkenness respect his misery. The lady who led the little child so tenderly to its poor mother's door is a teacher in the Sunday school; the book she gave tells of the wisdom and goodness of God; she has awakened in her little pupil's soul that princi-pie which shall never die, and taught her to be a messenger of peace and joy to her poor, sick mother. It is the influence of this blessed day that makes the usually frivolous and thoughtless prefer a work of charity to the gratification of vanity. It is the Sabbath day, with its calm and elevated duties and holy repose, that subdues animosity, lays the restless spirit of vanity, checks habitual vice, and awakens all the charities and sweet courtesies of life. This is the true rest of the Sabbath; the rest from vanity, from contention, from sin. This is the true preaching, the practice of Christian duties, the performance of works of love, the exercise of the holiest affections of our nature. This is the true service of God; doing good to His human family. This is the true knowledge of Him, "that we love one another." Doubtless the instructions from the pulpit do, in many instances, enlighten the ignorant, quicken the languid and the cold-hearted, and alarm or persuade the sinful and the erring; and, on this account alone, the day is a great good, and should be welcomed. However, were any one doubtful of the blessing that attends it, I would not reason with him, but I would, if it were possible, lead him, when he knew not what day it was, where he could witness, as I have, such a scene as I have just described; and when he exclaimed, "What does it all mean? What day is it?" I would simply answer, "It is the Sabbath day." THE CHILD AT HER MOTHER'S GRAVE. [TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN.] In that little room of thine Sweet sleep has come to thee. Ah, mother! dearest mother mine! O, call me to that room of thine; O, shut it not from me. I would so gladly be with thee, And be thy child again. 'Tis cold and stormy here with me. Tis warm, and O, so still with thee. O, let me, let me in. Thou took'st me gladly once with thee, So gladly held'st my hand! O, see! thou hast forsaken me. Take me, this time, again with thee Into the heavenly land. EVENING PRAYER. Thou, from whom we never part; Thou, whose love is every where; Thou, who seest every heart, Listen to our evening prayer. Father, fill our souls with love; Love unfailing, full, and free; Love no injury can move; Love that ever rests on thee. Heavenly Father, through the night Keep us safe from every ill. Cheerful as the morning light, May we wake to do thy will. THE SABBATH IS HERE. [FROM KRUMACHER.] The Sabbath is here. It is sent us from Heaven. Rest, rest, toilsome life. Be silent all strife. Let us stop on our way, And give thanks, and pray To Him who all things has given. The Sabbath is here. To the fields let us go. How fresh and how fair, In the still morning air, The bright golden grain Waves over the plain! It is God who doth all this bestow. The Sabbath is here. On this blessed morn, No tired ox moans, No creaking wheel groans. At rest is the plough. No noise is heard now, Save the sound of the rustling corn. The Sabbath is here. Our seed we have sown, In hope and in faith. The Father He saith Amen! Be it so! Behold the corn grow! Rejoicing his goodness we'll own. The Sabbath is here. His love we will sing, Who sendeth the rain Upon the young grain. Full soon all around The sickle will sound, And home the bright sheaves we will bring The Sabbath is here. In hope and in love, We sow in the dust, While humbly we trust, Up yonder, shall grow The seed which we sow, And bloom a bright garland above. TO A BUTTERFLY. [FREE TRANSLATION FROM HERDER.] Airy, lovely, heavenly thing! Butterfly with quivering wing! Hovering, in thy transient hour, Over every bush and flower, Feasting upon flowers and dew, Thyself a brilliant blossom too. Who, with rosy fingers fine, Purpled o'er those wings of thine? Was it some sylph whose tender care Spangled thy robes so fine and fair, And wove them of the morning air? I feel thy little throbbing heart. Thou fear'st, e'en now, death's bitter smart Fly little spirit, fly away! Be free and joyful, thy short day! Image, thou dost seem to me, Of that which I may, one day, be, When I shall drop this robe of earth, And wake into a spirit's birth.
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