Page images
PDF
EPUB

word which declares that "drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

But there is One mightier than the unbelieving sinner; and that One—the merciful and long-suffering God—had purposes of good towards this poor infidel.

What is the strength of the human will when the flesh gives way? When every nerve is pain, and the life that is within ebbs slowly away, and the frame weakens daily? It was easy for the strong young man to boast himself while in vigorous health; but, when a sapping disease consumed his life, and poverty and want came in like an armed man, then, indeed, he was forced to confess that there is in heaven One stronger than he. That leader of the infidel band began to tremble. Conscience suggested the doubt,

If it should be true that after death comes the judgment, what then for me?" He looked on the worn face of his wife, and at his hungry children, and began to bethink himself, that he, the husband, the father, had caused all this desolation.

The scene was a striking one which opened on the friendly visitor too, no longer denied an entrance there. The wife, clean, and even neat in appearance, not ceasing from her work of shoe-binding one minute, as knowing that, in each lost stitch, she was wasting a crumb of her children's bread; the children, some mere infants; others having a look of premature intelligence, as if inheriting their father's uncommon intellect; the eldest little girl, womanlike in her notable way of moving about, and doing small errands of housewifery; the younger ones quietly cowering in out-of-the-way corners, as if tutored to unnatural stillness for that unhappy father's sake. Such were those surrounding him. The voice that spoke from the bed was hollow, yet well accented. "I'm sorry, ma'am, to trouble you, but we are in great need and cannot help ourselves: I never thought to come to this;" and he turned away to conceal his emotion.

Further talk elicited that not bodily wants alone were distressing him, but that the soul was in an agony of darkness and desolation. The past filled his memory with dreadful distinctness. The wicked mockery, the evil word, the insane doubt, the actual sins of his strong, young life, were recalled with terrible power. It was a long and painful conflict before he found peace. He [said, "I have rejected the Saviour, and now there is none to save me. I have ridiculed the Bible, and now its- words rise up against me. My companions—friends they used to call themselves (he spoke with bitterness), have left me now that I am in want. Two of them came once to tell me to hold out to the last; and, when I told them I had nothing to hold on to, they called me a coward; and they have never been near me since. I have believed in nothing, in nobody but myself—myself; and now I am dying. Going—where? not to nothing: I can't think that any longer." Thus he poured out his strong agony; and the wife wept silently; and the elder children too, in the infection of sorrow.

He asked to see the Christian minister whom he had driven with insult from the meeting; begged his forgiveness, and entreated him to speak to those whom he had himself misled; saying, "Many of those young men would not have gone so far if it had not been for me. They will not come near my sick bed. Oh, sir! go, tell them I was all wrong, and that the Bible is the truth. How shall 1 undo what I have been doing? It is too late for me I am afraid, perhaps not for them."

When reminded that to the penitent believer "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanaeth from all sin," he seemed to take comfort for himself, but exclaimed, "But those poor young men; oh! what can I do for them?"

There was no ready answer to this appeal. He had borne witness to the evil; and when to do good was present with him, how to perform it he found not. Forgiven for His sake whom once he despised, there was good ground for believing him, after much conflict and suffering, to have entered into his rest, and that he truly found peace with his offended God and Father, through the sacrifice once offered for him; but he never forgot (so it seemed) the evil influence of his previous life: he "went softly" through the small remnant of his days.

That he was made partaker of the sanctifying work of the Spirit of grace no one could doubt who witnessed the change in his demeanour and conduct. He never spoke now hard, angry words to his wife. The once selfish father was full of concern for his children's welfare. He was thankful for the smallest kindness. No longer a rebel in heart, he neither disputed the moral government of God over the affairs of men, nor the delegated powers which he his committed to those who are in authority over them. Sill, the fearful sin of misleading others was ever with him, and cast a shadow across the dark valley. "When I was able to go about," he used to say, "I used rny powers to lead others in the wrong way; and now, when I see things differently, I can't leave this bed and tell them so. None of those who used to like my company come near me now; sometimes it seems as if all the weight rests on my head."

Again and again the habit of doubt and unbelief returned, with its subtle arguments. Eeasonings beyond what is revealed were interwoven with the real growth of truth in his heart; but though the enemy often came in like a flood, the Spirit of God lifted up a standard against him, and his end was peace in Jesus.

"I'LL MAKE YOU THOUGH." When I hear parents call loudly or act harshly to their children, in their endeavours to enforce obedience, it makes me remember the conduct of a young person, the first time that she Baw a harmonium. The instrument seemed to her very much like a piano, from which she had been used to produce music by touching the keys: she touched the keys of the harmonium, expecting the same result; but not hearing any sound, she touched the instrument more violently, .of course without the wished-for effect, at the same time exclaiming, " Oh, you won't speak, won't you? I'll make you though."

"Stop," said the owner of the harmonium; "vou cannot make it speak, unless you use the right means: this instrument requires wind to be put into it before it will speak; and, until it is so supplied, all the force you use will produce no other effect than ruining the instrument; while, with a sufficiency of air, skill without force will give the required sounds.

And I would say to the parents who use harsh words or ways with their children, "Stop! that child's heart needs to be filled with love and right principle, before it will yield the ready obedience which you expect from it. Have you endeavoured to cultivate in its young heart the love it would naturally feel towards you? Have you taught it that by disobedience to you it grieves your love, and more than all, that it sins against God, whom it should love supremely? If not, all your loud words or angry actions will only be like striking the harmonium without wind: you will ruin the child and not effect your purpose; for though you drive a child to separate acts of obedience, you will not have made an obedient child.

"'Tis love that makes our willing feet
In swift obedience move."

It is with the voice of love that Jesus calls us. Parents, listen to that voice, and learn of him who was meek and lowly in heart; and your tone and conduct will become mild and loving, and more powerful to lead your children to obedience, than ever harsh words or actions can be to drive them.

FAITHFUL TEACHING. The following is a striking example of the blessing attendant on the faithful teaching of God's word, even under the most discouraging circumstances.

The eldest daughter of a gentleman's family, in Ireland, was converted to God when about eighteen years of age, and the constraining love of Christ, which filled her heart, urged her to active exertions for the souls of others. She was particularly interested in a Scriptural school in her neighbourhood, in connection with the " Ladies' Hibernian Female School Society;" and amongst her pupils one, in particular, was the object of more special effort, because she was the most unpromising.

She was the daughter of a man in the employment of the family, and repaid all the watchful endeavours of her teacher with stubbornness and indocility. But the young Christian was not discouraged; she even walked two miles every day to take this girl to the school, as she would not go alone. In this way she persevered, year after year; till, at last, the father's conduct led to the removal of the indocile pupil and her parents to Liverpool. There they were lost light of, and the Christian teacher never saw any fruit, in this instance, to her labours.

Years passed. The faithful young disciple had married and gone to another home; and, in course of time, had been called to her everlasting rest.

One day, a lady engaged in district visiting in Liverpool, was entreated by an old woman to go and see a sick girl lodging in the same house. This girl had been very abandoned in her past life, was now slowly dying of decline, and had obstinately refused to allow any one to speak to her of religion; but the old woman was very anxious the lady should try: perhaps the girl would listen to her.

She went, approached the bedside, and tried to win the sufferer's attention, but in vain. She came again and again, read and talked, and endeavoured, in every way, to reach the heart; but all her efforts were met by • sullen silence. She was ready to give up the attempt in despair, when the pious fellow lodger persuaded her to try again. She went once more; and this time, instead of taking out her Bible or hymn-book, she sat down by the bed, and, in a clear, distinct voice, began to repeat some verses from the tenth chapter of St. John's Gospel: "I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." The girl started, turned round, looked in the face of her visitor, and exclaimed: "The lady taught mo that at the school."

It was as if the dormant feelings were suddenly awakened: she sat up in her bed, and repeated nearly the whole chapter through. Then, in answer to her friend's ques- i tions, she told of the good lady who had taught her in her youth; how the things she had told her remained, in spite of herself, in her mind. She had tried to forget them when at Liverpool—had plunged into bad company to shake off recollections which troubled her; but she could never entirely banish them. In all her wild and wretched life, she had never been able to resolve to part with her Bible (her teacher's gift), which she made her mother bring out of her box. The lady, on further questioning, found that the seeds of gospel truth were indeed in her mind; and now the time was come when they began to soften her heart. The result was that, in the course of subsequent visits, the dying girl gave full and satisfactory evidence of being truly converted; and her death one to give her Christian friends good hope.

MAN AND HIS SAVIOUE. A Very old German author discourses thus tenderly of Christ :—

"My soul is like a hungry and thirsty child, and I need his love and consolations for my refreshment; I am a wandering and lost sheep, and I need him as a good and faithful Shepherd; my soul is like a frightened dove

« PreviousContinue »