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I then learned that Nanny had been the repository of her little brother's acquisitions of scriptural knowledge, as he gleaned it day by day from the hymns; but until the day that I had addressed them on such matters her ideas were very confused, but then she said it was as if her eyes were opened, and she saw these things as Johnny saw them, and, like him, resolved to try and learn the will of her Saviour on every occasion, and to obey it.
I heard this with deep thankfulness. I then asked the cause of Nanny's tears. She spoke not; but her sister answered, "She cries because she is hungry. She soon left off going out to sing on Sunday, which was our best day; but to finish all, before long neither she nor Johnny would go out any day; and here we are half starving."
The young converts now told me that after I had pointed out the danger of their employment they became very watchful, and soon observed so many evil things while fol lowing it, and heard such blasphemy, that they were convinced it could not be pleasing to God. They gave it up, and now suffered much on account of doing so, having nothing but when Johnny earned a few pence for going of messages for a shopkeeper near them, and Nanny for doing little jobs for his wife; but they knew that God would soon help them, for they trusted in him.
"Dear children," I said, "when last here we prayed that your heavenly Father would send you that help, and now I am come to say that he has done so." Through the kind exertion of some ladies, situations had been procured for them in an orphan asylum, whither they were to be immediately removed. Even Ellen looked happy; and I said to her, "My poor girl, you gladly accept God's temporal blessings; surely you won't refuse the eternal blessings he so freely offers."
When I last saw these children they were well and happy, growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
THE WOUNDS OF A FRIEND. "I Should take it as a great kindness if you would point out any faults you may see in me." So said a young man named George Sutcliffe to his friend Walter Williams, who, though but a little older than Sutcliffe, possessed a much larger amount of sound common sense and true decision of character.
"I am not sure," replied Williams, " that you would like me any better for it. Some people have a notion that it is a very excellent thing to be told what is wrong about them; but, when it comes to be done, I believe that very few can bear it."
"I am sorry you should think that of me, Walter. I am quite sincere in asking it; and I am certain I should receive as kindly as you would give them any suggestions you might offer."
"Well, since you wish it, I may just say," replied the senior friend, "that I thought you spoke the other night at Mr. Greenwood's a little too much, and somewhat unguardedly. If there be a point on which you are more likely than another to get wrong, I think it is that."
Sutcliffe coloured deeply, and was evidently ill at ease. Williams had gently hinted at the subject before, and there was a lurking consciousness in Sutcliffe's mind that his friend was right. However, he defended himself. He could not, he said, remember anything tbat he would wish to recall; and he scarcely thought, at all events, there was much to find fault with; and, when Williams quietly, though firmly, stood to his point, he became rather angry and recriminated, and by and by left his friend with the persuasion that he was very ill to please, and very censorious: in this persuasion, be it observed, he was altogether mistaken. There ensued, on the part of Sutcliffe, a coolness which lasted some time; and from that day he never repeated the request to be told of his faults.
It is undoubtedly a duty of Christian friendship where reproof is needed to administer it kindly: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend:" "Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Yet how frequently is such reproof ill received! It is in many cases resented just as angrily as though there were intended some deliberate insult or injury. Done in the kindest possible manner, done wisely, done when it was especially needed, and when it was one of the most valuable services which could be rendered, it has many a time separated for ever those who had been fast friends.
How is this?
The sting of many a reproof consists in its truth. We are angry enough when it is undeserved, but we are sometimes much more so when we feel it is just. Conscience had already condemned the thing which was reproved, and we had perhaps succeeded in silencing its voice, when, just as if there were a conspiracy between our friend and our own conscience, he comes and says the very same things which our conscience had told us before. "I would not have cared," said one, who was writhing under an accusation which was really false—." I would not have cared if it had been true." "You are very much mistaken," said the person, to whom the complaint was made: "you would have cared a great deal more."
Pride has very much to do with our unwillingness to receive reproof. We want people to think well of us; and when any one comes and tells us that there is something in us which ought not to be, we regard it as a proof that he does not think of us sufficiently well; and our pride is wounded.
Pride acts in another way. There arises in our mind the idea that the man who finds fault with us, or who suggests anything which needs amendment, is setting himself up in a position of superiority as our censor; and we are disposed to say, like die Israelite, when 'Moses interposed between him and his brother, "Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" "Why," it is sometimes said, "he has the same fault himself, or something equally bad: he surely is not the man to set himself up as a reprover." Nor is this feeling done away, even though the suggestion be made in the kindest possible manner, and with the free confession of kindred infirmity.
One great secret of our impatience often is, an unwillingness to give up the thing which is condemned. It would require too great an effort, or we love it too well.
So it often happens that friends continue friends for years, putting up with each other's deficiencies, deploring them to others, but never daring even to hint at them to the persons themselves. One great advantage of friendship is thus lost.
Surely this ought not to be. If it be a duty to give reproof, it is obviously a duty to receive it. We should learn to say like David: "Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil that shall not break my head."
Choose as your friend, if you can, one who is wiser, more experienced, more Christ-like than yourself. Of course such a friend must see in you some things which he does not approve. Be willing to have the full advantage of his superior wisdom and goodness.
Try not to resent his counsels, even though they be unpalatable. Believe that they are as kindly meant as those praises, the kindness and generosity of which you never doubted. Believe that they indicate even greater kindness, because requiring a far greater effort. But, far more than the mere avoidance of resentment, thank him.
Ponder what he says. He may not be right after all; for the wisest friend is still fallible. His standard may be a mistaken one; and he may expect from you what is impossible; or he may have unintentionally taken an extreme view of your fault. Beason with him in these cases, and show him his mistake. But, if he be right, do not be too proud to acknowledge it; and strive and pray for grace to act upon his advice. It was the custom of the converted natives in Southern Africa to retire to the bush for prayer, etc. One of them having, with some solicitude, observed, on the part of another, some indications that the habit of prayer had been suffered to decline, ventured kindly to remonstrate. "I am afraid," said he, "you have forgotten the path to the bush." The fact was, that the way which led to it was overgrown with grass, and there were some other tokens which led to the same conclusion. At first there was awakened a feeling of displeasure; but subsequent thought led to a free confession that the surmise was correct, and "the path to the bush" was taken once more.
How many serious failures of Christian consistency might have been avoided if this duty had been faithfully discharged! Yet it ought to be observed that reproof often fails because it is administered unwisely.
It should not be given in the presence of others. Tell your friend his fault, whatever it be, between yourself and him alone. It were a needless humiliation to rebuke him even before one other person, much more before many. To do so is almost sure to stir up all his pride, and to put him tenfold more on the defensive than he would otherwise have been.
Don't give it angrily. Of all duties this should be done if possible with perfect gentleness and self-command. That smiting of the righteous, of which the psalmist speaks, may be "a kindness," even though it be administered sternly; but is there not in that very passage at least a glance at the spirit of kindness in which the rebuke should be given?
Let there be nothing sarcastic about it. That is almost sure to repel. Your sarcasms may leave a rankling wound, which it will take years to heal. It is the weapon of an enemy, not the method of a friend.
Let there be no assumption of superiority about it, but let it be as much as possible the gentle entreaty of one who feels that he himself is prone to err.
Don't do it frequently. There must not be the thought, when your friend is expecting to meet you, "I wonder what he will have to find fault with now."
There should be a careful selection of opportunity. There are times when it is almost sure to be inappropriate: for instance, when your friend has just administered a reproof to "ou—that looks too much like retaliation: nor when he is smariing under the consequences of failure— it is then your office as far as you can to suggest comfort and encouragement, nor when a fault has just been committed.
It is far more likely to be of service when his conscience has had time to do its work. "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven; "but perhaps there are few things which need more discretion than the discovery of the most fitting time to administer reproof. Let us seek for this delicate and difficult -work wisdom from Heaven.
"Finally," says one of our most thoughtful writers, in the conclusion of a series of admonitions on this subject, "if there be those who are of a temperament so painfully and irritably susceptible, that they really can no way bring themselves to be willing to hear corrective truth from others, how strong is the obligation that they should look so much the more severely to themselves!"
WILLIAM BRADSHAW; OR, ETERNAL LITE REALIZED.
Hoping that the narrative maybe of use to some poor fallen child of man who has not yet listened to the promises of his God, I have drawn up a short account of the last days of one whose heart had, as far as man can judge, been changed by the grace of God, and who died rejoicing in redeeming love.
William Bradshaw, a poor, decrepid, old man, had, in