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The Little Gleaner.
THE MAGICIAN'S CHILD.
Y DEAR EDITOR,-Feeling assured that it is your constant desire to present to your young readers profitable information on any subject connected with the blessed Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I am induced to forward to you, for their interest, the particulars of the following event which came under my notice in the course of my professional
It may be well to remind your juvenile friends that ever since our first parents fell in the garden of Eden by transgression, there has been an unceasing desire in the heart of man to forsake the God of his countless mercies, and to set up false gods, or idols of wood, stone, &c. And the reason of this wickedness is given by the apostle in these words, "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man," &c., &c. (Rom. i.21)
It is manifest throughout the whole of the sacred page that of all the sins most hateful to God those of idolatry and of witchcraft are most heinous ; the Jews fell sad victims to the first, and Saul consulted or " divined by" a familiar spirit, which latter crime is doing despite unto the Eternal, Self-Existent, Almighty Spirit, which was to be punished with death (Lev. xx. 6-27; Deut. xviii. 9, 10). Judæa was placed between two nations, Egypt and Persia, who were bent on these sins, and believed in "this doctrine of devils," as the Scriptures term it. Even as early as the days of Pharaoh the magicians dealt in these enchantments, and mimicked the wonders God exhibited to the Egyptians; but they were at last brought to acknowledge to their Master, This is the finger of God” (Exod. viii. 19), and their wicked delusions were blasted. My young readers are perhaps aware that owing to our insular position this highly-favoured land is peculiarly subject to great and sudden changes in climate, and so fickle is this change, that oftentimes after we have enjoyed a warm or even a sultry day in June, it has been followed by a frosty night and chilly morning. Such was the case when I made my usual morning visit to our wards of a large metropolitan hospital in "the merry, merry month of May." The days had been so hot that fires were dispensed with, and the usual ornaments on the grates announced in silent language that summer was now set in. In this we were deceived; the night had been
frosty, and the air of the room as I entered felt cold and cheerless, which induced me to order a fire to be kindled, so that those poor sufferers, who were able to leave their warm beds, though not strong enough to go down into the garden, might at least enjoy the comfort of a warm hearth. Before this could be accomplished by the nurse, I had to visit the tenants of several beds and inquire after the health of each, how they had passed the night, feel their pulse, &c., until I arrived at the eighth bed; this was occupied by a lad who arrested the attention of every one. He was yet in his "teens," and bore that striking olive-coloured complexion, bright dark eyes and coal-black hair, with an intelligent face, so characteristic of the Eastern tribes. He spoke an unknown tongue, and we could not convey our questions to him but by pantomimic signs. Alas! how apt are we to slight, nay, even to despise, the poor negro, and think him incapable of those tender feelings of love or of friendship which endear man to his fellow. But
"Fleecy locks and black complexion
Cannot forfeit nature's claim;
Skins may differ, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same."
Happily for the poor youth, his ailments were of a trifling nature, so far as I could gather from his symptoms; but ere I had collected all the in
formation I wanted about his complaint s,he startled me by suddenly springing from his bed, and, rushing down the long room with all the wildness of a maniac and the swiftness of a deer, and coming round to the centre of the Ward opposite the fireplace, where he prostrated his whole body on the bare floor, and remained in that posture several minutes. Our astonishment at the suddenness of this, as we thought, frantic seizure was increased by the frensied look, hideous sounds, and uncontrollable behaviour of the poor creature. Indeed, we at first thought him either a lunatic, or afflicted with canine madness; but when the first excitement had subsided, and he had been forced back to his bed, we observed him jump up again and again and make obeisance towards the spot where he had lain prostrate. The crackling of the firewood, with the blaze and smoke of kindling coals, the fiery glance of his eyes towards this spot in his prostrations, convinced us that the youth was a Parsee or fire-worshipper. If our suspicions were correct, we knew that he would touch no cooked food until after sunset-such is "the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not' (Dan. vi. 12).
We could not prevail on him to eat anything during this day, and when the nurse brought him a bason of hot beef-tea and bread, he rushed away from it, buried his head and face in his hands, and seemed to be in an agony of fear and dread as the steam of the soup came near him. I need scarcely
add that no persuasion could induce him to look at, much less touch it.
Many of my young readers may not be acquainted with the sad delusion which blinds the minds of these ancient Elamites or Persians. The origin of the sect, Fire Worshippers, is contemporary with the period when the Jews were groaning under the hard bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt; but Zoroaster, their great reformer, more than 500 B.C., expounded their mythical religion, by declaring that there was one Independent Being, and under him two principles or angels, one the angel of light or good, and the other the angel of evil or darkness. The learned suppose he took this hint from the words of the prophet Isaiah who, under the inspiration of God the Holy Ghost, declares to Cyrus, 700 B.C., "I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (Isaiah xlv. 6, 7). The ten tribes were then carried into Media and Assyria (see 2 Kings xvii. 16). This man was the first to build fire temples, in which he pretended to have received fire from heaven, from whence it was propagated to all other (sacred) fires. Thus "they changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped the creature [of man's production] more than the Creator." For, doubtless, they had learnt from the Jews how God had answered His people and His prophets by fire, as in 1 Kings xviii. 38; Judges