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That's just what I came to tell you, sir, for I thought you would like to know. You see, sir, I was walking easy through Franklin Square last Wednesday, and I saw a gentleman looking very hard at me. And then he came straight up, and he changed color, and asked me my name; and I told him it. And he said, "Then I'm your uncle." And, sir, he looked very white, and seemed as if he could scarcely get out the words; but he told me he was a farmer, and that he was a bachelor without a family, and that my father was his only brother, and that he knew me by my likeness to him; and he asked me about my mother and all, and went to see her. And he took me and bought me all these clothes; and he washed me, and did my hair with his own hands, and still he looked me in the face, and said, "You're the image of your father, my boy; that's the way I knew you." And, sir, he is to take us home to live with him; and he says my mother will be quite well again when she is rightly taken care of; and he says he'll send me to school, and bring me up respectable. You would wonder, sir, how tender-hearted he is to be a big, stout man; I thought nothing of my mother crying when they talked about my father; but it was queer to see my uncle crying, as if he had been nothing for all the world but a woman itself."
Thus did the little fellow run on, nor did I care to interrupt him. To tell the truth I was afraid that, if I spoke, I might betray such weakness as was, in George's estimation, "like nothing but a woman itself." A moment he paused, and seeming not to understand my silence, he added, "And, sir, I thought I might come and tell you, and bid you good-by; for perhaps, if you had seen me not coming back, you might have thought I had taken to some bad ways against your advice. So I thought I had better come and tell you."
Of course I congratulated my little protégé on this happy turn in his destiny; I made him promise not to neglect going to a Sunday school; and with some further words of advice I parted with him,
I call concentration a habit rather than a power, because it does not properly belong to the elemental powers of man's mental nature. We may, by practice or habit, learn to concentrate all the powers of the mind upon any subject; or we may become so careless in the manner of our investigations as to suffer a complete dissipation of our mental strength; and then, perhaps, console ourselves with the idea that from those to whom little is given little will be required. It is said that no one knows what he can do till he tries;" this simply means that we have no just conception of our powers till they are all brought to a focus upon one object. The genial rays of the sun, profusely and diffusely poured out upon nature, induce the beauty of cheerfulness and the glory of blooming flowers; but refract those rays through the sun-glass, and concenter their heat upon one point, and you have the intensity of fire produced from the genial ray; and now the beauty of the rose is consumed by the same element that before had painted it with beauteous hues.
By concentration steam is doing its mighty wonders in the world. As it rises in vapor from the bosom of its boiling mother, suffer it to diffuse itself, and soon it is as gentle as the humid zephyr; but drive it into its little chest, and with perfect fury it will vibrate the mightiest piston revolving the most complicated and magnificent machinery. We are filled with admiration and amazement, when we be
hold the almost omnipotent power of steam; and justly, too, since its works proclaim it the mightiest agent of earth.
Thought is mightier than steam; but it, too, to be effective, must be forced into the steam-chest of abstraction, and made to play upon the lever at the right point. Suffered to dissipate it will roam creation o'er, and never mature one solid idea. But bring all the thoughts together, all the powers of the intellect to bear upon one point, let the ideas follow each other in regular and logical relation, and theories that will stand the test of all experiment will be the fruit of such intense labor.
Thought, to evolve any great idea, must be intensified; must have the power of abstraction, Archimedian energy. The most common minds frequently have thoughts as powerful as those which have been behind the lever that moved the world; but while these dissipate in fog, those were gathered to a focus, and made to tell effectively upon some great object.
Big ideas, which we may call the aggregation of accumulated thoughts, are like heavy loads, they weary the bearer. And here lies the secret of so many failures; the mind shrinks from severe labor. Mind does not grow by accident, and those who will not pay the price cannot enjoy the pearl. Deep, toilsome, abstract study, lies at the foundation of every great achievement. He who will wade the deep and dark waters, shall find light in the hidden caverns by and by, and gaze with enraptured delight upon the princely treasures discovered far below the surface stream of nature. Truth will repay its sincere devotees, but its altars must burn with indesinent oblations.
How many thousands slumber, and wish they were great, who are too indolent to make the first step in the royal road. He is great who is capable of mighty thought, who knows how to think on any subject; such a one is capable of mighty deeds when such are to be done. There is strength in union, but nowhere else as in united thoughts. We look upon some eminent character, and think how easy it is to be great; but we are strangers to his toils and cares. We cannot retrace his steps to behold them moistened with the bloody sweat of his travail. We stand and admire his princely attainments, forgetting that they are the harvest of toils we have spurned, the gathering of seed we would
We have let our thoughts fly at will, too lazy to hive them; he has worked in sunshine and cold to hive his thoughts, that they may make their honey, and swarm in due season.
The complaint is often made of poor memory. I would ask, who takes care of your memory? who is responsible for its tenacity or vacuity, but yourself? Is hungry nature ever in doubt as to what will satisfy it? Did the miser ever forget his treasure-chest? Did the lover ever forget her spouse? No, nor will any one forget what he loves. That which has been the object of your intense care and thought will not easily be forgotten. Where the thoughts are concentrated, there the memory sticks. You may fall to sleep reading this paper, but you would not slumber reading the conditions of a legacy in which you were the principal heir. A good memory simply implies a ready control of the thoughts; and he who has learned to master his thoughts, and direct them whither he will, has a good memory. Learn to concentrate your thoughts upon any subject at will, and you have gained a power that will raise you to any eminence in the world of knowledge that you may desire. Force your thoughts into a bombshell, band them with iron, and then, when the time comes for execution, touch them off with a spark of electricity, and glorious will be your triumph; but if you ignite every thought as fast as the mind germiñates it, thinking to startle the beholder with the report, eternal and disgraceful will be your failure.
The best time for study is that season of the year when outward nature forbids the rambling thoughts to roam abroad. Winter, with its storms and snows, is uninviting. The mind must turn within, and explore its own land and ocean scenery. Here are mountains to be scaled and deep gorges to be fathomed; rocks to break and analyze, flowers to name and classify, and pearls to polish for the admiration of
When thought works on thought, then will ideas in sublimest proportions arise, and complete the superstructure of a magnificent and finished work.
PROMISES HUMAN AND Divine. - If men break their promises, remember that God never breaks his. He promises, "As thy days thy strength shall be."
THE BIOGRAPHY OF THE BIBLE.
LOT-THE DEAD SEA.
O miracles are performed at the pres
olden time, exerting his omnipotent power to reward virtue or to punish vice. Hence men are apt to read the record of the Almighty's doings, as found in the earlier portions of the Bible, with much the same feelings as they read the pages of fiction or romance. Or, if they venture not to question the truth of the sacred narrative, they are apt to feel as if something more were necessary: they would like some tangible, visible proof, that these things were done.
The subject now before us presents precisely that kind of evidence; evidence of a memorable event that may be seen and felt at the present hour. We turn our attention to the southeastern part of the Holy Land. There is the Dead Sea; called by the sacred writers, the Salt Sea, and the Sea of the Plain; and by Josephus and others, the Asphaltic Lake. It is a body of water in length forty miles, and in width from eight to ten. Into this
lake flow the waters of the River Jordan and of several smaller streams.
Several remarkable peculiarities render the Dead Sea one of the most interesting portions of our globe. The specific gravity of its water is greater than that of any other lake or sea. It is intensely bitter, salt, and buoyant. Madden says that he could lie upon its surface like a log of wood; and Heyman gives the following statement from his own personal experi
When I had swam to some distance, I endeavored to sink to the bottom, but could not, for the water kept me continually up, and would certainly have thrown me upon my face had I not put forth all the strength I was master of to keep myself in a perpendicular posture; so that I walked in the sea as if I had trod on firm ground, without having occasion to make any of the motions necessary in treading fresh water; and when I was swimming, I was obliged to keep my legs, the greatest part of the time, out of the water. My fellow-traveler was greatly surprised to find that he could swim here, although he had never learned. But this proceeded from the gravity of the water, from the extraordinary quantity of salt found in it.
Captain Mangles says:
The water is as bitter and as buoyant as the people have reported. Those of our party who could not swim, floated on its surface like
corks. On dipping the head in, the eyes smarted dreadfully.
According to a calculation made by Dr. Shaw, although we know not from what
of water from the Jordan and tributary streams flow daily into the Dead Sea. As is well known, it has no visible outlet. Of necessity, therefore, this immense amount of water must pass off by evaporation, or by some subterraneous channel. Probably by both. Broad, transparent columns of vapor are seen hanging over it, whence are precipitated on the shore large quantities of salt, which is collected by the Arabs for the use of their flocks and families. This vapor will scarcely suffice to carry off the water; and hence the supposition of an undiscovered, subterraneous outlet. In the vicinity of the lake are found trees bearing fruit, known as the apples of Sodom. The trees are from ten to fifteen feet high; the fruit, when ripe, is yellow, resembling an orange, beautiful to the eye, but when pressed in the hand it explodes, leaving nothing but the rind and a few fibers. The author of a work, entitled "Three Weeks in Palestine," thus describes the appearance of the lake and of the neighboring country:
Marshaling our forces, we set out for the Dead Sea, crossing the most dreary, parched, and desert plain imaginable, having the appearance of laud left bare by the receding waters of the lake, which seems to have shrunk considerably. At the first dawning, the tints of the rising sun, purple and gold, with the deep shadows concealing the nakedness of the land, encircling the lake, which lay sleeping and mogave beauty to the landscape. The mountains tionless beneath them, reflecting their images, supplied a noble outline which fancy might fill up at its pleasure with a thousand Edens; but as the sun ascended, the illusion was quickly dissipated; the full glare of day displayed the wildness in its true coloring of awful desolation, a desolation that was felt and that depressed the spirits. The mountains assumed one dusty brown hue, unrelieved by even a passing shadow, for not a cloud was visible in the heavens; the sea was of a dull, heavy, leaden tint, unlike the fresh transparent purple which the living waters of a mountain lake usually display. The ground over which we rode, riven into chasms
and ravines, showed not a blade of verdure; the few stunted shrubs that had struggled into life, were masses of thorns, with scarcely a leaf upon them, and wore the brown garb of the desert. The whole scene was a fearful exhibition of the blasting of the breath of the Almighty's displeasure.
In the year 1849 an expedition was fitted out by the United States govern
ment, for the purpose of exploring this wonderful sea. They spent twenty-two days upon its surface; and Lieut. Lynch, the commander of that expedition, thus states the conclusion to which they arrived, with reference to the account given by Moses:
That this entire chasm was a plain sunk and overwhelmed by the wrath of God, seems to be sustained by the extraordinary character of our soundings. The bottom of this sea consists of two submerged plains, an elevated and a depressed one; the first averaging thirteen, and the last about thirteen hundred feet below the surface. But it is for the learned to comment on the facts we have laboriously collected. Upon ourselves the result is a decided one. We entered upon this sea with conflicting opinions. One of the party was skeptical, and another, I think, a professed unbeliever of the Mosaic account. After twenty-two days' close investigation, if I am not mistaken, we are unanimous in the conviction of the truth of the Septuagint account of the destruction of the cities of the plain. I record, (continues the lieutenant,) I record with diffidence the conclusions we have reached, simply as a protest against the shallow deductions of would-be unbelievers.
Such is the Dead Sea, as it has been gazed upon by generation after generation, with mysterious awe. Its sluggish waters roll on, attesting the truth of the Mosaic record, and carrying back the mind to its terrible origin, while the language of Jesus Christ directs our thoughts to an infinitely more terrible visitation; as it was when it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all, even thus shall it be when the Son of man is revealed!
Turn we, then, our attention to the Bible history of this wonderful sea. As we have heretofore stated, Lot was the nephew of Abraham. In early life his father died, and he became an inmate of the family of his uncle. By Abraham he was made acquainted with the true God; and when the father of the faithful, in obedience to the command of Jehovah, went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, Lot went with him. They were together in their journeyings in Haran, in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, and in the land of Canaan. For a while they pitched their tents, and dwelt together in harmony in the neighborhood of Luz, called afterward Bethel. Here their flocks and herds greatly increased. They both became rich. Their herdsmen quarreled, and at the suggestion of Abraham they separated. Lot chose a region of country, called Pentapolis, a Greek
word, meaning five cities, from the fact that within the district were the five principal towns, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Belah, or, as it was afterward called, Zoar. From the account given by Moses, this region of country was exceedingly beautiful and fertile. It was well watered, says he, everywhere, even as the garden of the Lord: like the land of Egypt, as thou camest unto Zoar; that is, as Paradise, where God placed our first parents, beautiful; and as the land of Egypt was rendered fertile by the overflowings of the Nile, so the whole plain, even to its southern boundary, Zoar, was watered by the Jordan.
Lot took up his abode in the neighborhood of what was probably the largest of these cities, Sodom. He had chosen his residence for its beauty and fertility. In his eagerness, he had overlooked one great fact the moral character of the inhabitants. The men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly. This also was the character of the other cities of the plain. Better had it been for Lot to have remained in the company, or, at any rate, in the neighborhood of his God-fearing uncle. Like Lot, how many in our own day, select a home for its external advantages merely! Is it a pleasant place? May they get gain there? It is enough. Startling are the accounts that come back to us, even now, from many who have migrated to the far West of our own broad domain. Some, indeed, do not retain their integrity even till they reach the shores of the Pacific; and when there, the blighting influence of the reckless adventurers-dissolute, knavish, and profane-falls like a mildew upon hearts once bathed in a Saviour's love. For a while, however, Lot maintained his upright walk. Even during his residence among them, which extended to nearly twenty years, he is styled by the Apostle Peter, the just Lot, and is spoken of as that righteous man who was vexed with their filthy conversation and with their unlawful deeds. His situation was consequently, even in this lovely land, far from pleasant. He was taught, not only the insufficiency of worldly wealth, but its utter uncertainty. At an unexpected moment he was suddenly plundered of all his possessions, and himself taken prisoner by a band of robbers; and but for the courage and promptness of his uncle, as we saw in a former
It is wonderful that after this severe affliction Lot should again return to Sodom; that he should still choose to dwell in the midst of the Heaven-daring wickedness of the cities of the plain. We know not that he had any other reason for his conduct than that which induced him at first to select it for his residence. It was an exceedingly pleasant land, and remarkably adapted for the purposes of gain. He had become attached to the climate and the soil. His daughters had married there, the circle of his acquaintance was enlarged, and though he was grieved from day to day by the conduct of the ungodly, yet his heart seems to have yearned over the loveliness of the landscape and the beauty of the valley of the Jordan. Possibly he hoped to be a benefit and a blessing to the citizens of the plain. It could not be otherwise than that his example would be like a light shining in a dark place. There was reason to hope, too, that by that light the citizens of the plain would be attracted from their wicked ways. But it was not so. They pursued their own course, filling up the measure of their iniquities; and at the time to which we have now arrived there were not in Sodom (with the exception of Lot and his family) ten righteous persons. Two of the angelic messengers who had first announced to Abraham the intention of the Almighty, now visit the city in which Lot dwelt. He received them courteously, and entertained them kindly. A pleasing picture of ancient simplicity of manners and of hospitable kindness to strangers is here prosented. Lot seeing them, rose up to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face to the ground, and he said, Turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and early on the morrow you shall go your way.
essay, he had ended a miserable life in polluted by such loathsome abominations. poverty and bondage. To the mild remonstrances of Lot they not only refuse to listen, but taunting him with the fact that he was but an alien and a foreigner in the land, they threaten his life. This fellow, say they, came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge; that is, he came among us, a stranger, took up his residence in our fertile and beautiful valley, where by our sufferance he has been permitted to stay, and now he will needs assume to himself the character of a judge. He presumes to tell us what we ought to do, and to give us unasked advice. Now, said they, will we deal worse with thee than with them, and they pressed sore upon him, and came near to break the door of his house. But for the interposition of Lot's visitors his life had paid the penalty of his rashness in remonstrating against their wickedness. now disclose their real character. They put forth their hands and pulled Lot into the house, and shut to the door, and they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great. Whether this was done by depriving them literally of sight, or by causing a dense darkness through which they could not see, is not certain. At any rate, they were baffled in their designs, and the supernatural power of Lot's visitors was revealed. Shut in together, a little company, Lot himself, his wife, and two daughters, the strangers make known the purpose of their visit. It is an errand of mercy to Lot, and, for his sake, of mercy to his family. The Lord hath sent us, say they, to destroy this place. The cry of the inhabitants is waxen great before the face of the Lord. And now, gather together thy relations, thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. This was a terrible announcement. That goodly land, well watered, like the garden of the Lord; that country which twenty years ago had attracted Lot by its loveliness, and where his children had grown up around him, and where he had become rich, is to be utterly destroyed. All his possessions, his flocks, and herds, and dwelling place, are to perish in the general overthrow. And soon and suddenly shall the destruction come. With the rising of to-morrow's sun shall dawn the day of doom for the cities of the plain.
He supposed them wayfaring travelers, and knew not that they were God's messengers assuming for the time the human form. So also were the men of Sodom ignorant of the quality of Lot's guests; and their conduct toward them evinces, in hideous colors, the deep depravity of the human heart. While gazing upon the scene here presented by the inspired pencil, we marvel not that the terrible judgments of the Almighty are about to fall upon a land