THIS singular light, frequently seen in marshy places, differs so much from common lights that it has received the name of Foolish Fire. It is also called "Will-o'-the-wisp," and "Jack-with-a-lantern."  It is a pale, bluish-colored flame, and generally appears a little after sunset. Sometimes it shines steadily all night, at other times disappears, and returns after short intervals. It floats in the air about two or three feet from the ground, and travels away from any one who attempts to approach it. Sometimes two or three appear together, dancing merrily up and down.

The ignis fatuus is of frequent occurrence in Northern Europe, but is seldom seen in this country. In one place in Massachusetts it has appeared several times. 

Once it was seen about ten o'clock in the evening, and was as large and brilliant as the light of a lantern. It passed up the road two or three rods distant from the persons who saw it, and did not vanish until it had floated some forty or fifty rods. 

Just below the place where this light started, was a low piece of ground. The weeds on this ground had been pulled, and piled in heaps; and it was supposed that the gas rising from these decayed weeds produced the light. Indeed, it has been clearly ascertained that the gas arising from decaying matter sometimes takes fire on coming in contact with the air, and thus produces this strange light.

In former times, however, this light was an object of superstition, and was, believed to be caused by some evil spirit, attempting to lead the benighted traveler to his destruction. Thus, Parnell, in his "Fairy Tale," "Then Will, who bears the wispy fire, to trail the swains among the mire."  There are instances on record, of travelers, who, mistaking this flame for a lamp, have followed it until they were decoyed into some swampy spot, where they perished.

The man in the picture is attempting to go to one of these lights. It is in the night. See, he is now wading in the water. Soon the deceptive light will disappear, and he will be left in the marsh, perhaps to die.

This is a striking illustration of the experience of many who seek so earnestly for the pleasures of this world. Infatuated by the weird flame, they press eagerly on toward the glittering prize, which is ever just beyond their reach; and finally, when seemingly within their grasp, the false light will vanish entirely. Whoever is thus enticed from the path of right, will find at last that he is, like the traveler, led away but to perish. 

E. B. M.


How often we are reminded that time is fast passing away, and yet how little we realize it. As we see the sun setting in the west, we are reminded that another day has passed; as we see the earth robbing herself in her snowy mantle, we are reminded that another year has flown; and so each closing day, month, and year, reminds us in some way that time is fast passing. Still, how many find their hearts answering to the pleadings of the Holy Spirit, "Time enough yet. Some future time I will listen to your voice."

As we look upon the grass, the trees, and all the beauties of nature that so recently greeted our sight, and see them fading, we realize for a moment that time is fast passing away. As we see men, women, and children, going down into the grave, again we realize that on the wings of the wind the precious moments are passing, silently, but swiftly. Soon, ah, soon, the harvest will be past, and let me ask, Shall we be saved? If we wisely improve each passing moment, giving ourselves entirely to God, we shall be saved.

Young man, young woman, pause amid the pleasures of this world, and examine the path in which you are walking. Does it lead your thoughts and desires higher? Do you feel a deep satisfaction, a calm trust, a holy peace pervading your being? If not, your path is a dangerous one; the pleasures that you are seeking for so eagerly are but false lights that will lead you, like an "ignis fatuus," into the mire of sin and woe, and there leave you to perish with no hope of rescue.

There is a light whose rays are brighter than the noonday sun, that will lead you to a blessed land of rest and peace. That light is Jesus, the "light of the world." Seek for that light, seek with all your heart; remember that today is the day of salvation. 

Don't linger doubting; don't wait until tomorrow. God does not say tomorrow, he says 

"Today, if ye will hear my voice, harden not your hearts."  Turn now, before the accepted time be forever past. God says that his Spirit shall not always strive with man. May God help you to seek your soul's salvation while it is yet today.