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CARAVAN IN THE DESERT. Though the caravans of the desert are not what they were in by-gone days, yet they are still full of interest, retaining, as they do, so much of their original character, and having so many points of attraction to excite feeling and curiosity.
The desert waste of burning sand, heated by fiery sunbeams, is, of itself, a striking object. The sudden changes from a thirsty land to streams of water, from a barren soil to the green and fertile oasis, verdant with grass, and lofty and shady trees, almoud, date, citron and orange ; where the wilderness and the solitary place put on an air of gladness, and the desert literally blossoms as the rose, these fail not to delight us: we realize the scene; we gather the grateful fruit, slake our thirst at the rude fountain, and shelter our. selves from the burning beams of the sun.
Then, again, the much-enduring camel, the “ship of the desert," without whose aid the wilderness would be impassable, calls forth our sympathy; and the Arabian steed, whose feet are swiftness, and whose form is beauty, secures our admiration. My beautiful! my beautiful! that standest meekly by, With proudly-arch'd and glossy neck, and dark and fiery eye'; Fret not to roam the desert now, with all thy winged speed, I may not mount on thee again—thou'rt sold, my Arab steed! Who said that I had given thee up? Who said that thou wast sold ? 'Tis false —'tis false, my Arab steed! I fling them back their gold ! Thus, thus I leap upon thy back, and scour the distant plains ! Away! who overtakes us now, shall claim thee for his pains."
As we think on the caravan of the desert, we call to mind what we have read in the word of God of events connected with an ancient one, that travelled between three and four thousand years ago, when the company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels, bearing spicery and balm, and myrrh, going to carry it down into Egypt, “and when Joseph was sold by his brethren to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver,” Gen. xxxvii. 25–28.
Caravans of Mohammedan pilgrims visit the cities of Medina and Mecca. In Mecca, where Mohammed was born, is the splendid temple in which is the kaaba, called by the Moslems the “house of God;" and in Medina is the tomb of the false prophet in a spacious mosque. The kaaba and the tomb are the objects of the visits of the millions of believers in the Koran, who flock to these places.
Some of the caravans pass by Petra, the remains of the metropolis of Edom, a place remarkable for its ruins and unuumbered tombs. Of Petra speaks the poet,
“ Still on for Petra, till the desert wide
Shrinks to a valley, and on either side
The Syrian caravan performs a journey of thirty days across the desert from Damascus to Medina. . The Egyptian caravan which starts from Cairo, as it passes along the shores of the Red Sea, suffers much from the attacks of the Bedouins, and from thirst, there being in its route but few watering-places. The Persian caravan comes from Bagdad, and the African caravan from Morocco. All these go through a variety of trials from heat, thirst, mirage, storms, the simoom or desert wind, and other causes; but of all desert scenes that is the most striking, when a caravan, weary, toil-worn, dispirited, and almost maddened with heat and burning thirst, comes suddenly upon a running brook or flowing river. There they are all excited, and all in confusion. Hindoos, Malays, and negroes among them. Persians have lost their shawls ; Arabs have broken their pipes; Turks are tumbling about without their turbans; and horses, camels, and men, dromedaries, merchants, and pilgrims, are pushing one among another, some leaning over the running stream, and others rolling into the water. What thirst, what eagerness, what desperation and delight are manifested by the impatient throng as they press onward, and freely qualf the delightful stream! One might think that, ever after, the drops of dew and rain, and the murmuring of the running brook, would move their hearts to thankfulness and praise.
How terrible is intense heat! How agonizing is burning thirst! They only who have seen the hotly.chased deer make for the running stream, can fully understand the words of David, " As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God,” Psa. xlii. 1. And they only who have endured the simoom and tempest, and the extreme heat and thirst of the desert, can realize the beauty and force of the language of the prophet Isaiah, “ Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and'a covert from the tempest ; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land," Isa. xxxii. 1, 2.
“ QUENCH NOT THE SPIRIT.” “QUENCH not the Spirit !" Beware, lest grieving the Spirit, he cease to move upon your heart, and you become hardened. And oh, think what it is to be hardened! It is to have all the moral and religious sensibilities of the soui deadened. It
is to become reckless and unconcerned. It is to be habitually in such a frame of mind that there are no compunctions for the past, no apprehensions for the future ; deaf to all the calls of mercy, stupid under all the means of grace. It is to be habitually in such a frame of mind, that all promises and threatenings are alike disregarded, and all motives and appeals equally unavailing. As the dead man feels not the burning of the coal lodged in his bosom, nor the flinty rock the softening influences of the showers of heaven, even so it is with him whose heart is hardened. He may be in the sanctuary, but the most pungent discourses make no impression. He may witness sacramental scenes, but they inspire no solemnity ; even funeral rites and the burial of the dead affect him not. Spread before him the glories of heaven, and he is not allured ; point him to the torments of the damned, and he is not alarmed. Lead him to Calvary, and talk to him about the love of Jesus and his dying agonies, and he is as insensible as steel. Friends may entreat, but he heeds not ; ministers may warn, but he repents not.
Others may feel, but he feels not; others may weep, but he weeps not. He is hard as rock; or say,
Some alarming shock of fate
where passed the shaft no trace is found;
The parted wave, no furrow from the keel.” The rock may be riven, but it is rock still. It may be broken into a thousand fragments, but there is no softening yet ; and so it is with the sinner, when, the drawings of Heaven having been resisted, and the Spirit quenched, the sinner is left to himself and becomes incorrigible and hardened, past feeling and past hope. Let me be poor, be a bondman, let me be a beggar, but let me not, given up of the Spirit, be a hardened sinner! O my God, cast me not away from thy presence, take not thine holy Spirit from me. Fellow sinner, take care what you do just now. You are in solemn circumstances, and great interests are at stake! Many may be under the influence of Divine drawings now, and some, perhaps, who are not fully aware of it. Oh ! remember
“God's Spirit will not always strive
With hardened, self-destroying men ;
BEREND STEIN, THE LABOURERS' PASTOR,
(Continued from p. 45, No. 14.)
V. HOW BEREND CAME TO OFFICE AND HONOUR.
At length, the night watching was no longer necessary. Stöbe got about again o his crutches, and inore carefully this time than the first. One Sunday, towards evening,-it was at the end of February,-he had Berend sent up to him. They were alone in the large room on the south side of the house, and sat down by the window. Berend was as friendly as ever ; but some care seemed to lie upon his heart. The farmer remarked it, and asked, “Why are you so silent ? ”
Master," said the mason, “ I have some serious thoughts. At noon to-day it thawed in the sunshine : the snow had become soft upon the roofs, and the drops of water fell down bright as gold. Just look up now: all warmth and all life are gone.
The last drops that were put in motion are frozen on the eaves, and now stand there stiff and stark icicles ; they look like life and water, and yet are deader and colder than the snow.
Master, you have been in the heat of affliction : the kindness of the Lord has visited you in it. Your heart had become warm; the old ice of self-righteousness melted. In all the days of my life I have seldom had so much joy as in these two months. You are now pretty well: the Lord has helped mightily. Now, I was thinking thus, and be not angry that I thought so :-if, now with health, all the healthful warmth should cease again, and if nothing should remain from all the precious thaw of your soul but some icicles of outward dead good works! I was so sad at the thought.”
Stöbe could not restrain his tears. “ Good old creature,” he began, “ you know well that the Lord Christ does not cease to draw us and to work upon our souls, even when a leg is cured again. I have full confidence that He who has begun the good work in me will also finish it; besides, the Lord has left me a memorandum, The doctor has plainly told me that my right leg will always remain too short, and that I shall not lay aside my crutches during my whole life. But I give you to-day the right, nay I lay it upon you as your sacred duty, that you come to me, and question, and admonish me whenever it shall seem to you as though the living water of faith in me would become ice." Thereupon he offered Berend his hand, and Berend grasped it, and accepted the duty.