Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/123

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99
THE DANGER OF LITTLE SINS.

evil things, is compared to a strongly scented oil, with which a bottle-gourd has once been filled. Many and many a time must that gourd be washed ere it will lose the scent, and be fit to hold water for drinking.[1]

Still more striking is the illustration of a stately bread-fruit tree, fair to look upon, with large glossy leaves and abundant fruit,—a tree which in the natural course of healthy life will, when full grown, send up from its roots strong shoots, which yield their first crop in the second or third year, so that ere long the patriarchal tree is the centre of a leafy fruit-bearing grove. But there is an insignificant-looking parasitic fungus—merely a black spot like the smut that comes on wheat—which is fatal to this fair tree. Once it can establish itself, it spreads like a canker. The rich green leaves turn yellow, and the disease is soon carried from tree to tree, till the whole grove is sickly and blighted. It brings no fruit to perfection, and ere long the trees are dead. Only one antidote is known. It is said that there grows in the depths of the forest a glorious lily,[2] and that if some of its bulbs are brought and planted among the roots of the sickly trees, they will recover. And so, when the deadly rust of sin has cankered the heart of man, one only remedy can avail,—the life-giving influence of Him who is called the true Lily.

Again, another teacher illustrates the necessity of rooting out all bad habits, no matter how trifling they may seem, by the example of the wild taro, which sends rootlets creeping in every direction, so that though the main root may be dug up, suckers innumerable remain, which need only time to bring them to sturdy life.

Another parable is furnished by the sugar-cane, which grows tall and beautiful to the eye, but unless due care is taken to clear away the decayed leaves from around its roots, worms gather there, and pierce the cane, and rapidly multiplying within, fatten and

  1. The Rev. W. Wyatt Gill has recorded a multitude of most interesting examples of such parables from nature. Moreover, happily for all lovers of such lore, he has, during his mission career in the Hervey Isles, found time to preserve many delightful "Myths and Songs from the South Pacific." It is much to be wished that the same could be done for other groups.
  2. Crinum asiaticum.