PERHAPS the readers would like to share with me in the benefits I received, in company with a good friend, from a conversation with a little dry hemlock tree. 

You may be surprised to hear that a tree could talk, especially such a little tree (for it was only three feet high) and more especially, when you consider that it was a little dry tree. 

You will naturally inquire, What did you talk about? How did the little tree converse? What did it say? And what were the lessons of instruction taught? Well, I shall endeavor to tell you as briefly as possible.  We walked out one beautiful June morning into the edge of a grove of timber. We seated ourselves upon a large oak that had fallen down. Not far from us stood the little dry tree in question. We went to it, pulled it up by the roots, and having reseated ourselves, we began thus: Little tree, what was the cause of thy premature death?  The tree answered by its profound silence. We went to the spot and found a flat stone near the surface, which told the secret:  Because it had no depth of earth; when the long drought came, it withered and died for want of moisture. Ah! We thought, little tree, how similar thy fate to those who make hollow professions of religion, but have no heart in the cause of truth, so that when temptation arises because of the word, they wither and die.

Again, we inquire, Little tree, have you not a large number of branches for so small a tree? And again the same answer! And then we thought how sadly true it is, that the God given powers of many are suffered to shrivel and decay for want of nourishment, and all because their possessors are so superficial in their knowledge and attainments in divine things.

Again, we said to the little skeleton, We think that if some of these dry branches should be removed, you would be more companionable. But the tree said not a word. So we took out a handkerchief and attempted to wipe off the limbs, but the little fellows were so stubborn that we could make no impression.

Then we thought within ourselves, it is no easy matter to get rid of bad habits when they have once become settled. We then took out a jackknife and whittled them all off even with the trunk of the tree, and we found that the tree was much easier handled and more agreeable to the touch. So we thought, How pleasant is the companionship of those who are free from those habits that render so many obnoxious to persons of refinement and 

good taste.

But, while we found that the society of our mute yet eloquent little companion was rendered more agreeable by the removal of the branches, yet we found we were by no means clear of them; and this last lesson from our little companion of the wood was the most important of all. We found that although we had cut off all the branches, there still remained the knots. So we took the knife and began to take off one layer after another, till we got down to a little central pith, called the heart; and there, to our astonishment, we found that the knots all started from the heart! Ah! Thought we, surely this is a lesson to us ! We may leave off bad habits by reformation, but the grace of God must change the heart; the blood of Christ must be applied to cleanse the heart from the evil propensities that culminate eventually in sinful habits. 

So we returned to our home, feeling grateful to our Heavenly Father, who has made the humblest of his creatures capable of imparting such useful lessons of instruction. 

A. McL.


HUGE and strong are the blocks of stone in the old castle of Banias, in Syria, defying the shocks of earthquakes for centuries, but now the masonry is loosening. Can you imagine how? Little seeds fell into the crevices between these rocks; there they sprouted, and now their stout, hard growth is forcing the stones apart. 

Even so will little sins rupture a strong character.