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"Well, Margaret, you would make an excellent missionary. Were you at our meeting the other evening?"
"Dear no, sir, I tried hard to go, too, but 1 could not get out; I had some work which 1 was obliged to finish. 1 was going to ask you about it. I suppose there were beautiful things said; and was there a good sum collected?"
"Yes, moderately so, but yet not so much as we need;" and well knowing the interest which the good woman took in the subject, the minister related to her many interesting particulars, and ended by speaking of the special appeal, and giving her some of the printed papers he had brought with him.
"Thank you, sir," said she, as she took them, "they will be very interesting, I am sure;" then added, "If I understand you rightly, sir, you are wanting a little more money for these missions besides what we give regularly every year?"
"Yes, that is what I am at present trying for, but have as yet met with only partial success: you, Margaret, will, I know, aid the cause by your prayers."
"Indeed, sir, I will, you may be sure of that; but I ought to try to do something else for it too. Perhaps I shall not be able just directly, but when trade gets brisker and coals a little"
"No, Margaret, no, do not distress yourself; God does not require of us more than he gives us power to perform."
"But, sir, it would be the greatest pleasure in the world to me; there's nothing I should delight in so much as to give my mite to such a good cause."
"1 am sure that you speak truly, Margaret; but 1 should like to know why it is that it would cause you such pleasure."
"Well, sir, I'm no scholar of course any way, and so I can't put what I feel just into proper words like ; but if I may be so bold as to say so, 1 think it's just the same sort of feeling, sir, that you must have when you get up into the pulpit to preach."
"How so, Margaret? I do not quite understand you."
Margaret hesitated a moment, then replied, "1 don't know whether it is right of me to say it, sir, but what I mean is, that it seems to me, that a minister must feel it such a pleasure and a privilege to be able to tell poor sinners of the way to heaven, and to show them that howover lost and miserable they may be, there is yet hope for them in a better world, if they will only believe on the Saviour who died for them, and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide them aright."
"I hope it is so, Margaret; in all humility, I can say with truth that such at least is my own feeling; and I understand now that it is that same feeling which makes you take so much pleasure and feel so great an interest in sending the glad tidings of great joy to the poor perishing heathen of other and distant lands."
"Well, sir, that is just how it is; and sometimes when I read of their misery and ignorance, and of the strange and dreadful things they do, in the hope I suppose of getting right at last, I feel as if I could give all I possessed to help towards sending out missionaries to teach them about the true God, and how he so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
"I quite believe you, Margaret; but some persons, you know, think that this very feeling of love to the heathen has in it something blamable; they think that those who care so much for the heathen abroad, are apt to care little or nothing for the ignorant and destitute at home. Do you think this is the case with you? Do you ever find that pitying and desiring to help those at a distance makes you think and care less for those around you?"
"Care less for them? Oh, sir! how could that be? Surely it makes one care for them a great deal more. If we long to send the good news afar off, surely we must wish too that every one had it at home."
"Such is my opinion, Margaret; but I thought I should like to know yours also. I must now wish you good morning. Shall I leave you two or three of these little papers? I think you will be interested in reading them."
"Yes, sir, I am sure I shall; and I must try to do something for you, if it is ever so little."
"But not just at present, Margaret. There is plenty of time, for the subscription will not be closed for some weeks."
"Well, sir, I will think about it," she replied; and the clergyman took his leave.
A few weeks after he sat alone in his study engaged in casting up the accounts of the Missionary Society established in his parish. As he looked over the names of those whom he had thought likely to contribute to the special appeal, his eye fell on that of Mrs. Ferriman, but a blank space still remained in the £. s. d. of the adjoining column. To what thoughts it might have given rise we do not know; whatever they were, they were interrupted by his servant announcing that a poor woman wished to speak with him. He desired her to be shown in, and, in a few moments, the widow Lane stood before him. "Well, Margaret," said he, inquiringly.
"Sir," she replied, "I hope I am not too late; I have come to bring you a little money for the missionaries," and she laid down on the table half a sovereign and ten shillings in small silver and pence. He looked at it with surprise, and said, ""Why, Margaret, how is this? you astonish me."
"Well, sir, I will tell you. After you were gone that day I could not help thinking a good deal about those poor heathen people you spoke of, and wishing I was a rich lady that I might do something for them. Then, after a while, I recollected the old saying, 'Where there's a will there's a way,' and I thought that I had much better try to do what I could than keep wishing to do what I could not."
"I wish every one were of the same mind, Margaret: but go on and tell me how you proceeded."
"It's not much to tell, sir. I began by taking your little books to an old gentleman who has a little money of his own and has come to lodge in the room below me; but he cannot read, poor man, and so I read them to him, and told him all you said, and he was so pleased that he gave me a shilling at once. This encouraged me very much, and I read and lent the books to anybody I could; and one gave mo a penny, and another twopence, or fourpence, and perhaps another sixpence, until, at last, with my own few pence, I had got ten shillings. Well, sir, I was just going to set off to bring it to you yesterday afternoon, when a good lady, whom I had lived with before I was married, came to see me and so hindered me; but it was a good thing, for after a bit, she saw your little books on the table and began talking to me about them, and when I told her what 1 had been able to do, she said, 'Well, Margaret, I have ten shillings in my purse, which I intend to devoto to some charitable purpose, and I do not think I can do better than add it to your little subscription; and without another word, sir, she took it out and gave it to me.'
"Truly," thought the clergyman, as he afterwards passed his pen through Mrs. Perriman's name, "it is better to have the will without the way, than the way without the will."
A Latin poet, either quoting a proverb already familiar, or making one, says, "Black care sits behind the horseman." He means that if a man be oppressed by some great heavy care, he may do what he will to get rid of it, and it will be in vain: he is just like a horseman, who uses both whip and spur to urge on his steed, that he may escape his enemy, yet all the while that enemy is close behind him, seated on the very horse on which he is endeavouring to escape, with his grasp fixed firmly on the man himself.
"That's quite true," we can readily imagine some one saying: "I had a great burden of care, I can scarcely tell how long—care about my business—care about my family—care about my losses—care about my cattle—care about the present, and care about the future. I've wished many a time to shake it off, and tried a good many plans to get rid of it; but I feel that I am just as anxious and careful as ever."
No wonder you should be wishful to get rid of your burden, for care is a fretting, weary thing. It is the bane of all enjoyment; it has spoiled many a temper: one man's care has often cast a dark shadow over a whole household. It has prompted people to all kinds of unworthy expedients; and it has rendered God's own word altogether profitless. "The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."
Nor do we wonder that men should fail in getting rid of care when we see the methods they take.
"I'll work all the harder," says one; "I'll clear off these embarrassments; I'll get rich, and then farewell to care." So he makes haste to be rich; but he finds that his very struggles involve corresponding cares; and when he attains his end, he learns how true that saying is of the apostle, " They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."
"I'll enjoy myself," says another, "and try what that will do." He does enjoy himself, so far as enjoyment is to be found in music, and dance, and song, in gay company, in conviviality, in excess; but he only forgets his trouble for a little, and when the excitement has subsided, he finds that "Black care sits behind him still."
"What, then, am I to do?" you perhaps say. "Am I to be borne down by my cares all my life, till at last they sink me into the grave?"
No, that need not be. We will tell you how to get rid of care.
But first, let us ask, "Do you believe in Jesus? Have you, as a poor lost sinner, sought and found through him the forgiveness of all your sins?" Do you reply, "Ah! I don't think I can say that." Then we have no solace to offer you for your care, till you can say it. Get rid of your burden of sins by believing in the great Bedeemer; and then we will talk to you about your burden of care.
Do you say, "But I do believe in Jesus?" Then as God's own child—for every one is a child of God who believes in Jesus—open with us your heavenly Father's word, and let us see what it says about your cares.
Bead what the psalmist says; "Cast thy burden on the Lord; he shall sustain thee," Ps. lv. 22. Bead what Peter says, "Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you," 1 Pet. v. 7. May not that one thought comfort you, that your Father thinks of you with pity and love?"
Bead what Jesus says in his sermon on the mount. He tells you, not only that God thinks of you, but that he takes even your temporal concerns into his hands, and arranges them for the best. "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought" (no anxious, fretting thought) "for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," Matt. vi. 25, 26, 34. Trust in God; and then work with all your might; exercise all needful thought in regard to your worldly concerns.