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Without Ballast - Selected

Not many years ago the "Escambia," a British iron steamer, loaded with wheat, weighed anchor and started down the bay of San Francisco. The pilot left her about five miles outside the Golden Gate. Looking back from his pilot-boat a short time after, he saw the vessel stop, drift into the trough of the sea, careen to port, both bulwarks going under water, then suddenly capsize and sink. What was the cause of this sad catastrophe?—A want of ballast.

She came into port from China, a few weeks previous, with a thousand emigrants on board. But she had in her hold immense tanks for what is called water ballast. The captain, wishing to carry all the wheat he could between decks, neglected to fill those tanks. He thought the cargo would steady the ship. But it made it top-heavy, and the first rough sea capsized it.

Here, then, was a vessel, tight and strong, with powerful engines, with a cargo worth one hundred thousand dollars, floundering as soon as she left the harbor, taken down with her crew of forty-five men, because the captain failed to have her properly ballasted. The moment she began to lurch, all the wheat tumbled over to the lower side, and down into the sea she went.

How this wreck of the "Escambia" repeats the trite lesson that so many have tried to teach, and that they who need it most are so slow to learn! Young men starting out in life want to carry as little ballast as possible. They are enterprising, ambitious. They are anxious to go fast, and take as much cargo as they can. Old-fashioned principles are regarded as dead weight. It does not pay to heed them, and they thrown overboard. Good home habits are abandoned in order to be popular with the gay and worldly. The Bible is not read, the Sabbath is not kept holy, prayer is neglected, and lo! some day, when all the sails are spread, a sudden temptation comes that wrecks the character and life.

We cannot urge too strongly upon the young, in these days of intense activity, the vital importance of ballast. A conscience seems to be an encumbrance—an obstacle to prosperity. But it is a safe thing to have on board. It steadies the soul. It keeps it from careening when the winds drive it into the trough of the sea. If the "Escambia" had taken less wheat and more ballast, it might be afloat today. And this is true of many a man now in prison or in the gutter. The haste to be rich, the impatience of restraint, alas! how their wrecks lie just outside the world's golden gates.—Selected.

Reflex Influence

  The artist Hoffmann, it is said, became
  In features like the features that he strove
  To paint,—those of his Lord. Unconsciously
  His thoughts developed in his face that which
  He sought upon the canvas to portray;
  And with the walls about him covered o'er
  With pictures he had made, he toiled and thought
  And gave the world his ideal of the Christ,
  Becoming more and more like him.

                              And thus
  May we by thinking o'er and o'er again
  Christ's thoughts, and dwelling on his love, become
  In heart as he, all undefiled and pure,—
  Perfect within. The beauty sweet and joy
  Of holiness, communion with our God,
  The prayer of faith, the song of praise, and all
  The peace and uplift grand that Jesus knew
  May be our own, our very own, to give
  Unto a world made sick and sad by sin.