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The pastor comforted them with the consolation of God's word and gave them the Lord's supper, praying for strength from above for both them and him: for he wan himself deeply moved, and troubled in his inmost soul at the want he saw around him. When at last he was about to leave the cottage, the once so contented miner exclaimed, "0 God, only do not take my reason away from me."
These words went to the pastor's heart. Help must be procured for them, and that very soon, or that help would come too late. But how? From whence should the help come? To whom should the pastor turn with his entreaty for assistance?
About a mile from Grumbach, in the same parish, but with a separate school-house, situated in a deep ravine, lies the village of Schmalzgrube. The pastor, who had been a schoolmaster himself, frequently went to conduct the schools. On the 7th of February he was talking to the children about prayer. At last he asked them this question, "But does prayer then really help us at all?" A boy answered with a solemn, almost prophetic voice, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
This text of course had long been familiar to the pastor, but never before had it made such an impression upon him. He was deeply struck by it; and, after the school was over and he returned up the hill to Grumbach, the answer of the boy still rang in his ears. Then his eye fell upon the wretched cottage of the miner, and the picture of the pious suffering family came vividly before his soul. He thereupon fervently prayed to God that an answer might be vouchsafed him, as to whom he should turn to with an appeal for aid. That prayer was not made in vain. When he came home he sat down, and in simple, earnest, unadorned words he wrote a short description of the want and suffering which for so long had weighed on his heart. He headed his appeal, "Kind friends, read this and help us," and sent it to the editor of the Leipzig Journal.
In the Leipzig Journal for 13th February his appeal was
first printed. On the following day three thalers* came
from Leipzig, and one from Annaberg, and ten days after
in ninety-two letters enough to pay all the debts of the
* A German thaler, or dollar, nearly three shillings English money. poor family, and leave about sixpence over. The boldest wishes of the pious family were now fulfilled. When the pastor said that after such a day rich in blessings he expected more, the poor miner remarked that he had but one other wish, and that was to have a water-pipe to his cottage; "but," added he, "that would cost at least eight dollars."
But the stream of blessing flowed more and more abundantly. The appeal for aid had been copied into many papers; and in many places benevolent persons went about collecting contributions. From all parts of Saxony, from villages and towns, from palaces and cottages, even from children's money-boxes, the gifts of love poured in; warm clothing and linen, food and money. One countess sent fifty dollars for an inch of lace made by the old grandmother, and for one or two blind man's lucifers; a nobleman sent forty dollars, asking that the pious family should offer up prayer to God for him, that he might learn himself to pray and trust in God. A new and peculiar pleasure was given to the invalided blind man in a canary bird, which, together with its cage, was sent him from Chemnitz, "that he might hear at least something of God's beautiful nature, though he could see nothing of it." The bird began to sing directly he was given up to his new master.
When the pastor had paid all the debts of his poor friends, and had besides eight hundred dollars over, he sent on the 18th February, a letter of thanks to the Leipzig and Chemnitz papers: "Kind friends, you have read: you have helped. God has blessed my poor weak words a thousand fold. The Muller family has, by the love and charity of half Germany, become in three days the happiest family, if money can make happy. Cease now your offerings. Do not overwhelm me and my poor friends with your love. If you wish to do more, remember my many other poor parishioners."
But this was of no use. By the most urgent entreaties the money was literally forced upon him. "Only take it and give it to those for whom you asked it, but not to other poor people: we have plenty of such too, but not like those you described in your appeal for help."
Up to the 19 th February, in about seven hundred letters, over fifteen hundred dollars had been received. In Dresden, about fifteen hundred dollars, and in Leipzig, eighteen hundred had been collected; and scarcely a fortnight had passed when the remittances in money amounted to over five thousand dollars. On the 28th February, Pastor Seltmann sent, under the heading, "Friends, read and rejoice," to the Leipzig Journal a full list of the subscriptions, and announced the collection to be closed. But still new gifts came. One said, "You have the key to the poor miner's cottage which you have locked, but I stand outside this cottage with a hundred and seventy-eight children. We all wish to help; only just open this once:" and so on. And when at last he sent another final list to the Leipzig journal, 20th April, even then the gifts would not quite cease. One commercial house in Magdeburg entreated his permission to reprint his appeal in the Magdeburg newspaper, and promised him from it a rich harvest. But this he declined, though he shed tears of joy over it. More than seven thousand dollars had flowed in. This was far beyond all their prayers or most sanguine expectations. Gifts were also sent to the other poor of the parish, and to the Ladies' Society; and the little boy who gave the good answer also received some books and a few dollars in presents. The pastor had scarcely time to receive all the things sent to him, to acknowledge them and keep the accounts in order.
But the family for whom all this was done did not alter in the least their former mode of life: they continued to pray and to work. The old grandmother went on busily shuffling her bobbins; and her dearest wish now was to be able to shuffle them so long as Easter, that she might, as she said, present some kind friends who had been as ministering angels to her in her old age with grateful tokens from her own hands. The housewife was delighted that she had been able to pay all her debts, and the blind invalid was greatly pleased with a new Sunday coat that had been sent him and fitted as if it had been made for him. He bought two blocks of wood, and he and his son worked away famously, making lucifer matches. When l'astor Seltmann asked him why he did not take a holiday for once, he replied, "What should I do? I cannot read, I cannot be lazy, and I cannot make anything else."
Another cow was purchased, and they could now drink their coffee with milk in it again; and the next Sunday they had some beef and rice for dinner which they had not seen on their table for a very long time. But the old man would not take any money. "It is of no use to me," he said to the pastor: "only get me wood so that I can work with profit; for all the rest I leave my God and you to provide. Only one thing I ask: leave me enough that I may be ahle to give liberally to the church, which is the dearest place on earth to me, to the parish poor-box, and to the box of the Ladies' Society which so nobly tried to help me, as well as to the school in Schmalzgrube, in which, through the heaven-sent answer of a child, the thought arose in you to pray for me to God, and to appeal for me to men."
For the school at Schmalzgrube he purchased a bell, "so that the villagers might remember to pray when it rang in the evening." It bore the inscription, "' The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,' presented by the blind miner, 0. A. Miiller, of Grumbach." A clock followed soon after, purchased from the salary the pastor received for acting as schoolmaster for three months, and from the free-will offerings of the parishioners.
The money collected was placed in the funds: the miner's two healthy children were to receive an income of fifty dollars a year each for life, and the Ladies' Society of the parish was to enjoy the interest of two hundred and fifty thalers to be laid out on the poor of the village annually. A large family Bible, bought for the purpose by some school children, was to descend as an heir-loom in the family.
When the pastor put his final list of the subscriptions in the Leipzig Journal (20th April), the aged grandmother had ceased to shuffle her bobbins, and was visibly awaiting her release; the excitement had been too much for her. She died on the 9th June, aged one hundred years, eleven months, and four days. But her daughter, the wife of the blind man, underwent surgical treatment in her cottage with the best success, though her improvement progressed but slowly.
In this way God helped a poor but pious family; and this has happened in our own day, before our own eyes. And more, the words written in Haggai ii. 8, have been shown to be true, "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts;" and in Psa. 1. 15, "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." And you, dear Christians, who read this true history, will you despair in your distress? Or do you doubt the power of a prayer offered up in faith? Only wait patiently on the Lord, and do not prescribe to him how and by what means he shall aid you. It is still true to-day: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," James v. 16.
The foregoing account of an example of German charity will bear comparison with that shown in England in the late unhappy case of the Hartley colliers. The Christian heart is God's workmanship, and is therefore the same everywhere.
THE COTTAGE DOOR.
"Earth has no honest calling,
Life no claim.
A holy flame."
"What a high privilege! what a brilliant honour!" I exclaimed, as one beautiful evening we lingered until the deepening blue of the heavens above us had gradually become spangled with innumerable stars, all sparkling with dazzling lustre.
"To shine as the stars for ever and ever?" said my mother: "I was just thinking so."
"Yes, but it is for those 'who turn many to righteousness:' there will be no starry crown for me, mother," I replied.
"But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is," she whispered, in that soft, loving tone, that many a time soothed away a passing ruffle of discontent: "will not that be honour enough, my Euth?"
"Oh! too much for rebels like me; but there will be exquisite delight for those who shall behold amidst 'the multitude that no man can number,' some whom they led to the Saviour's feet: their joy will be more like the joy of Jesus himself, than that of others who sing his praises for only their own salvation."
"It is very probable that many who never knew the extent of their influence, nor witnessed fruits of their usefulness here, will find hereafter, to their own surprise,