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“ What is that?” said the Arabs, eagerly. “ There is not a single palm-tree in the whole country.”
" Are you sure ? ” they all cried out. Positive,” said the old nurse, " for I looked for nothing else all the time I was there, and never saw one !" The Arabs immediately became quite happy and cheerful, and went away, pitying the poor English, who had no palm-trees.
No! we have no palm-trees in England; they grow in the hot sunny countries, where the Arabs live. In Africa, and in the deserts, and in India, they grow; and I do not wonder that the Arabs love them so much: they are beautiful trees, -so lofty, and so straight, and so graceful, with their waving leaves branching from the top. You see in the picture how they grow. There are no branches near the ground; they are all on the top of the tree. And here, too, grows the fruit, amongst the branches. Do you know what the fruit of the palm is ? It is the date. You have tasted dried dates, I daresay, and found them very good; but fresh dates are much better. The Arabs almost live on them, and make cheeses out of them, something like damson cheese, and cook them up in a hundred other different ways. And what do they do with the kernels? They soak some in water, and, when they are quite soft, give them to the cows and camels to eat. Others they cut into beads. A great many poor Arabs live by picking up the date-kernels which they find
lying about the streets. And what do they do with the leaves ? They roof houses with them; they make partitions between rooms with them; they form them into bowls, and baskets, and dishes. They make fans of them, to keep off troublesome insects; and brooms to sweep the house, and even boats to sail on the rivers ! And what do they do with the branches ? Fences are made of them, and cots, and screens, and beautiful bird-cages, and matting, and ropes, and even carpets. Why, I think an Arab could almost live altogether on a palm-tree, and nothing else. He could build the framework of his house with a few stems, fill up the walls with branches, and furnish it entirely with the leaves; and then have a few trees growing about the house, and eat their dates; and have his boat on the river too. What a useful tree is the palm-tree! Do you wonder at the Arabs being very fond of it?
And now that I have told you something about the palm-tree, you must tell me something about it. It grows, I said, in hot countries. It grows very much in the countries which the Bible speaks about. So we read often of the palm-tree in Scripture. And what do we read about it? What was the name of the city which was called “the City of Palm-trees?” Where did the Israelites, on their march to Canaan, find seventytwo palm-trees all growing together? What great prophetess (and she was once at the
head of an army, too), used to live under a palm-tree? Who once rode into Jerusalem on an ass, over branches of palm-trees strewed on the way? Where does David say that “the righteous shall flourish like a palmtree?” And, lastly, where were those people standing, and who were they, who were “clothed in white robes, and had palms in their hands?” Now find out in the Bible the answers to these questions, and you will know pretty near all about the palm-tree.
TO THE LITTLE READERS OF THE
CHILDREN'S FRIEND." MY DEAR CHILDREN,—In my letter this year I want to say something to you about yourselves. Each month as it comes round brings to you your little Magazine, which is, I doubt not, a very welcome visitor, with its bright pink cover. It tells you many things to make you good and wise; and I hope you think seriously about what you read, and, what is more than thinking, pray earnestly to God for the gift of His Holy Spirit, that you may have an understanding heart. Each little Magazine is a talent entrusted to you by God; and when you stand before the throne at that last great day, when Christ will come to be our Judge, it will be seen whether you have improved these talents by using them aright, or whether you have neglected or abused them. What is written about Christ and his salvation is not to be forgotten as soon as read; it is to be treasured up in your hearts, that, by the grace of God, it may make you holier and better. You are young now, and your happy joyous feelings make the earth look bright. But, dear children, have you ever wept for sin ? Oh, sin is the canker which spreads a blight over the bloom of the fairest flower! We have sinned against God, and God has cursed sin. It is a dreadful thing to sin against a just and holy God. But is there no help for us? Cannot we be delivered from his wrath? Is there not a Saviour, who has borne the curse for us? Oh, yes !
that holy God is a God of love, of goodness, and of grace; and surely tears of gratitude will fill our eyes when we read that sweet story of love divine, “God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That Son is Jesus, who was made flesh, that He might offer himself upon the cross as an atonement for the sins of men. It was at the birth of Jesus that angels sang their heavenly music over that field, at Bethlehem, where the shepherds kept their flocks. Do you love this gracious Saviour ? Do you love His word? Do you seek His face in prayer? Is it the joy of your heart to do what He commands ? Do not hastily dismiss these questions; think them over very often, and never rest satisfied until you can say
from your heart, “I do love Jesus" My dear children, time is fast passing away, and eternity is coming on. We must soon appear before God; and what shall we do then, if the Lord Jesus Christ is not our friend? Give your hearts to Him now. Seek from Him the gift of repentance, that you may be sorry
for your sins, and forsake them. Ask him to give you faith, which is also a gift of God, and without which you cannot please Him. Ask Him for His Holy Spirit, which He will freely give; and that Spirit will teach you all things, and make the commandments of God the very delight and joy of your hearts. This is happiness indeed. Only Jesus can roll away the curse which rests upon the guilty soul. Where sin is unrepented, and unforgiven, there is the curse of God.
In Christ, our Saviour, is pardon for the guilty – He is our only hope, our only refuge. Flee to Him, and He will shelter your souls, and cover you with the spotless robe of His own perfect righteousness; and though you are little children, frail and helpless, He, who does not forget what He felt when He was a child on earth, and who is touched with the feeling of childhood's infirmities,—He will bless you abundantly when you try to please Him with all your heart; and His precious blood will wash every stain of sin away. The song of the seraphim is not so sweet in His ear, as the lisping accents of prayer and praise which are breathed from an infant's heart. I com