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But content art thou to dwell
THE OAK TREE.
Rev. HENRY WARD BEECHER. An oak tree for two hundred years grows solitary. It is bitterly handled by frosts; it is wrestled with by ambitious winds, determined to give it a downfall. It holds fast, and grows alone, " What avails all this
sturdiness ?" it saith to itself. Why am I to stand here useless ? My roots are anchored in rifts of rocks; no herds can lie down under my shadow ; I am far above singing birds, that seldom come to rest among my leaves ; I am set as a mark for storms, that bend and tear me; my fruit is serviceable for no appetite; it had been better for me to have been a mushroom, gathered in the morning for some poor man's table, than to be a hundred-year oak, good for nothing.”.
While it yet spoke, the axe was hewing at its base. It died in sadness, saying as it fell, “Weary ages for nothing have I lived."
The axe completed its work. By-and-by the trunk and root form the knees of a stately ship, bearing the country's flag around the world. Other parts form keel and ribs of merchantmen, and, having defied the mountain storms, they now equally resist the thunder of the waves and the murky threat of scowling hurricanes. Other parts are laid into floors, or wrought into wainscoting, or carved for frames of noble pictures, or fashioned into chairs that embosom the weakness of old age. Thus the tree, in dying, came not to its end, but to its beginning of life. It voyaged the world. It grew to parts of temples and dwellings. It held upon its surface the soft tread of children and the tottering steps of patriarchs. It rocked in the cradle. It swayed the limbs of age by the chimney-corner, and heard, secure within, the roar of those old, unwearied tempests that once surged about its mountain life. Thus, after its growth, its long uselessness, its cruel prostration, it became universally helpful, and did by its death what it could never have done by its life. For, so long as it was a tree, and belonged to itself, it was solitary and useless; but when it gave up its own life, and became related to others, then its true life began.
How solemn is that sentence of Christ, “ And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto
Not while He lived; not by His direct force, but only when pierced, broken, slain, buried, should His
influence issue forth, and death should become the throne of His power.
So will it be with us if we are Christ's. Paradoxes upon this truth lie all through the New Testament, and one may walk on them, like stepping-stones, from side to side. Sorrow is joy. Death is life. Down is up. Weakness is strength. Loss is gain. Defeat is victory. The world's mightiest men, the
very monarchs of its joy, were they who died deaths daily.
THE USE OF FLOWERS.
MRS. MARY Howitt.
God might have bade this earth bring forth
Enough for great and small,
Without a flower at all.
For every want of ours-
And yet have made no flowers.
The ore within the mountain mine
Requireth none to grow,
To make the river flow.
The nightly dews might fall,
Might yet have drunk them all.
Then wherefore, wherefore were they made,
All dyed with rainbow light,
Upspringing day and night;
Springing in valleys green and low,
And on the mountains high,
Where no man passeth by!
Our outward life requires them not,
Then efore had they birth ?-
To beautify the earth;
Whene'er his faith is dim;
Will care much more for Him !
BY THE EDITOR.
“To fill the earth with gladness,
My child, were flowerets given :
And strew the road to heaven."
THE Spring-time is come again, and with it the budding, bursting, blooming flowers: the yellow crocus and the modest blue-bell, the early primrose and the scented violet—all that makes the new year beautiful; that spangles the green earth with stars, even as the heavens, and that tell us, that as surely as the flowers that die in winter revive again in spring, so is there a spring to life's long winter, death-and a hope that “ earth’s human flowers" may bloom in perpetual youth hereafter. How beautifully has Professor Wilson, in one of those charming essays with which he was wont to delight the readers of " Blackwood's Magazine,” discoursed about Spring flowers! Thus he writes : “ And now it is once more Spring Flowers,
indeed, there are, that come and go with winter: each season has its own; but, though all the varied year be lovely, sweetest to beings who live to die and die to live is the thought and the feeling of the prime. To budding, fading, faded flowers there belongs, in every heart, a world of emotions : yet are they all allied by one common spirit-sadness we call it, or joy, or peace, or trouble; but it springs from one and the same source —a source welling far within the soul, and, by some innate power, embittering or sweetening for itself its own water, Beautiful flowers! how they overflow the earth with joy and happiness, or deaden it with a blank as barren as the grave !" With us, however, Spring flowers have no such gloomy associations; they remind us only of youth, joy, childhood, beauty, and perpetual spring; of death, perhaps, but only of death as a state of transition—a sleep from which to wake where even the flowers fade not-a resurrection to life eternal. Why, then, should one gloomy thought be associated with flowers ? Do they not show that the All-wise has provided a variety of objects, not absolutely necessary to life, but administering to our pleasure, and prove
that the Great Giver of that life has a further design than that of merely giving us existence ? Nor can this be considered the only lesson they impart; for they remind us also of the superintending providence of the Almighty.
Flowers are, unquestionably, the most poetical of nature's gifts. They are redolent of moral instruction ; they not only cast a ray of beauty on every spot where they appear, but they tell us, in their endless variety, how infinite is the goodness and power of the Great Creator.
" There's not a single flower that blows
Looking at them as objects merely of beauty, what can be more beautiful! Look at that rosebud just. expanding to the morning air- was ever blush of