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THE ORPHAN'S PRAYER.
Now offer'd up to Thee,
All insults heap'd on me.
Like Jesus, kind and meek,
And they His life did seek.
To crave a scanty meal,
They know not what I feel.
With parents hand in hand,
Nor one with whom to stand.
Of those who near him come,
Not what it is to be
A child of misery.
To guide their erring feet,
Unto Thy mercy seat.
To Thee be reconciled,
They'll love an orphan child.
On the island of Madeira there are many curiosities, most of them having some connection with the convents, or churches. One of these is the Chamber of Skulls, in the town of Funchall, which is the chief curiosity of the Franciscan Covent there. The cathedral is said to be built of cedar wood, with which the island abounded at the time of its first occupancy by the emissaries of the church. Some curious fortresses, and several interesting streams, which flow through the streets of the town, are also pointed out to strangers. The Franciscan Convent, however, merits particular notice, on account of the strange exhibition of the mortal remains of humanity, which one of its rooms presents. This chamber is large and lofty, and well fitted for the ghastly spectacle which it presents. All round, from the ceiling to the ground, except in a space directly opposite the door, are rows of human skulls, with their horrible eye-sockets mocking
humanity with death-like glances, and their bony jass eternally grinning, as if tickled into laughter by the pallor of the spectator. The skulls are all singularly perfect, and almost uniform in colour, an unusual fact in relics of this kind, which generally range from an ivory white to a churchyard brown, according to the position in which they may have been placed since death-in the wet mould of the common grave, or the tight leaden coffin of the rich man's vault. The skulls are arranged in a curious manner, so as to alternate with an assemblage of stark thigh-bones, doomed to walk no more, which cross each other obliquely, and form a sort of parody on the well-established "skull i and cross bones.” In the vacant space opposite the door.! is a large picture of very mysterious aspect, which conveys no very definite idea; and which the old monk who ! attends you knows no more about than one of those fleshless and jabbering skulls. Judging from the name of the place, the chief figure in the picture may be supposed to be St. Francis ; and making a further guess as to the occupation of the saint, he seems to be-or the pious painter would doubtless wish us to think so-in the act of weighing a sinner against a saint. Certain it is, that a huge figure, not burdened with many of the details of perspective, stands very high up-upon nothing and holds out one hand with a balance, in either scale of which sits a human being-one of the said human beings being much heavier than the other. Which of the two thus poised in the balance of everlasting happiness or woe is the sioner." and which the saint, is still more difficult to judge. As weigh goods to ascertain their value, perhaps the beariest of the two is the saint, and yet one would think that a sin ner would sink the lowest, as that is already his destination.
Nevertheless, here is a chamber of skulls, and a frightfal exhibition it makes. All the skulls,-so says the officiating monk-are those of pious men, the bones of none but the holy finding a home there. A lamp, not of the cleanese, swings from the ceiling, and throws a pale light on the cranial individualities. Here is the brain case-deficient in the bump of cautiousness-of a holy father, who !
attempted to cross a mountain torrent when the waters were high, in order to reach a village, where a rich planter was about to breathe his last, and who failed in the attempt and was drowned. Here is another, who fasted all through Lent, and then died of lock-jaw; and one merits particular attention, from having covered the satanic brain of a wealthy planter, who turned a deaf ear to religion all his life; and having no friends to whom to bequeath his wealth, gave the whole to the convent an hour before death, and, so they would have us believe, saved him. self from perdition. If you listen to the showman, you may hear hundreds of such histories; “sermons on skulls” being in this case as plentiful as the skulls themselves.
A convent of this kind, which educates a vast number of youth of both sexes, deserves perbaps to be treated with some degree of respect; but in this case we can hardly be so serious as we could wish: for it is pretty well known that this chamber of skulls has been got up as a show; and that instead of depending on the life contingencies of holy fathers, they have obtained the skulls of heretics and strangers, without any regard to the claims of persous to such distinguishment after death. As a collection of relics, therefore, this chamber has but few merits, the skulls being esssentially a collection made at random ; but as a wonderful assemblage of such strange objects, and a most wonderful spectacle to the uninitiated, it certainly merits the attention we have bestowed on it.
SKETCH OF A DEVOTED SUNDAY
No. I. Nothing pleases Sunday-school conductors more thau to read in our own magazine, of the holy lives and happy deaths of the children committed to their care, those lambs of Christ's flock, who have been taken away early from the evil to come. Lovely flowers are these, blooming in the garden of our humanity, but
Nipt by the winds unkindly blast,
The momentary glories waste,
The short lived beauties die away. Die, did we say, rather are they transplanted to unfold their beauties and shed their fragrance more fully in the paradise of God. Whilst these records of "early piety" | are pleasant to the conductor, it must be equally pleasing to the scholar to read some account of the life and death of a conductor, a man whose happiest place on earth was the Sunday-school, and whose chief object of interest there, was the Sunday-school scholar. Such a man, we believe, was James Ashton, conductor of Grosvenor Street Tabernacle Sunday-school, Manchester.
Mr. Ashton's parents were of the Church of England, and his early religious training, was in connection with the same church.
The influence then operating upon his mind does not appear to have been of a very pious nature ; as we find him at the age of eighteen years, joining others of his age in “having some fun,” at the expense of the Methodists, who were preaching in the village. They went one evening for the purpose of changing the hats, or otherwise causing confusion amongst those present, but the word of truth came home to his heart, and the spirit of fun was superseded by the spirit of conviction ; this distress of mind continued far about three months, when he was enabled to rejoice in the possession of pardoning love, whilst publicly wrestling with God, in a prayer meeting held at a neighbour's house
From what we learn of his early life, previous to conversion, he was more thoughtless than vicious—he was fond of practical jokes, and would join any enterprize that promised to yield a fair amount of jocular excitement He was not left however to the natural frivolity of his own mind. He has been heard to say that he was very early subject to the strivings of God's Holy Spirit. An instance of God's preserving grace towards him, when about twelve years age, no doubt, made a lasting and salutary impression on his mind. With several boys be was playing on the ice of a pond, on Christmas day.