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produce, and to supply thy table with food in abundance." And I remembered some forebodings of calamity and social and commercial disaster, which during the past year had caused me needless anxiety.
" At this date one of thy children was restored to health from a dangerous illness."
And I remembered that frightful disease, which had attacked my boy, and for a long time had threatened to take him from us ; and the agony I had felt when the doctor said that all remedies were of no avail, and that his knowledge was powerless and my joy when an unexpected crisis brought a hopeful convalescence instead of the death which I was awaiting.
Another carried me back to painful times, years ago, when want of employment threatened to leave me penniless, when a situation was offered me which saved me from ruin.
Then came days of fatigue, weariness, and irritation, which were succeeded as by magic by weeks of courage, exertion, and satisfaction, when every burden seemed light to bear.
Here was the successful issue of a legal dispute; there the valuable advice of a friend in a difficulty from which I knew not how to get clear; or an opportune word heard or read, coming like a beam of light to facilitate my decisions.
Again, a kind reception where I had no right to expect anything but indifference; indulgent words where I looked for reproaches.
Further on, an imprudent act which might have resulted in the most disastrous consequences to myself and my family, might have brought misery to our home, and shame to my brow; and which, by an inexplicable and marvellous intervention, had passed away unperceived without any of these dreaded results.
Benefits at home and abroad, deliverances, consolations, protection, joys of every kind shed on my life,—there was not a day which had not registered more than one mercy, more than one precious gift, and not an evening which did not constitute me a debtor. The scroll was but partially unrolled, when, gasping under the weight of it pressing on my breast, I cried, “ Oh, Lord God!" for I had recognised the inexhaustible Giver, the invisible Creditor; - it is too much! overwhelm me not with a longer enumeration ; thy mercies are so numerous that I cannot bear
them; if thou comest to ask them from me as debts, how shall I discharge them? All that I have enjoyed, all that I have consumed hour by hour, all that I possess, money, family, health, body, soul-all has come from thee; to give them to thee would only be to render thee what is thine. I have nothing which really belongs to me, nothing which I can offer thee.”
As if to answer me, the scroll, turning round, let me see on the opposite side these words in characters of light: My son, give me thy heart.”
This then was what God required from me, this was what he asked, and what I ought to give him in exchange. Gratitude—that money of the poor
of which no one can say that it cannot be paid! Had I every evening had a prayer of thanksgiving in my mouth ? I who could have given the warmest thanks for the smallest present from a friend, had I offered anything to my Sovereign and continual Benefactor but ingratitude upon ingratitude, neglect upon neglect?
Love—this power of loving which he had put in my heart-1 had wasted it on vain attachments, on miserable objects, in searchings after happiness, in pursuit of vanities, in all sorts of trifles; and what had I reserved for his share ?
Obedience. I had not been attentive to his voice in my conscience, and I had continually and without remorse committed that which he had forbidden, and neglected that which he bad commanded.
What a disproportion between a life passed under the benediction of the Most High, and a hardened soul who thought not of it! Before this accusing scroll, shame, and sorrow, and terror oppressed me; the picture of these numberless benefits pierced my memory like burning darts : Oh, wretched man that I am !” I exclaimed, with tears ; "a heart full of ingratitude, of coldness, rebellion, weakness and frivolity, which dares not even risk a promise for the coming year, which cannot even hope to change!" and I hid my face in despair. But then I seemed to perceive a holy, gentle form, beaming with celestial light, standing at my side, and a voice whispered in my heart, “ My son, fear not, it is I; I, the friend of sinners, and the Son of God; I who can pay for the past and renew the future. I will teach thee how to bear the weight of thy Father's blessings as I have borne for thee the weight of thy sins. Take courage and despair not— If thy heart
condemn thee, God is greater than thy heart.' Conversion is my concern ; fear not, have faith in me. My holy word will tell
all you have to do, and it will add to all the blessings of which you have been reminded, that still greater one of knowing them, and of responding to them with gratitude, love, and obedience."
Then raising the scroll, the vision departed, and night passed away in a peaceful sleep.
I awoke calm and collected; the first object which met my sight was my Bible, covered with dust, which proved the negligence of past days; I made no resolves, but kneeling down, I prayed an earnest prayer which brought comfort to my soul. Something new had taken place within me; I felt myself peaceful amidst the distractions of the day ; this time a real new year had begun for me.
Dear reader ! “ how much owest thou my Lord ?" Thou canst never repay him. He only requires thee, in grateful acknowledgment of his past mercies, to accept a new gift at his hands. 66 What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” (Ps. cxvi. 13.)
THE MESSAGE UPON THE THORN. One day a lady called at a cottage in a retired village of Devonshire, seeking for Bible-subscribers.
She was a stranger there, and the dwelling looked poor, and unpromising enough for her object. A cheerful “ Come in, ma'am,” however, encouraged her to state the object of her visit; but she was not prepared for the earnestness which met her application.
" Want a Bible ! To be sure we do! one with big letters. 'Tis the very thing we have been talking about, and asking for, these years !”
"You are able to read, then?" asked the lady. Reading in those days, when Sunday schools were new inventions, was not so common as now, when each little one may learn, “ without money and without price,” to read for himself the wonderful works of God in the Scriptures of truth. “ Well, ma'am, he can't see to read now at all. His
gone with old age; but I can.” The person intended in her reply was an old man in bed, in a sheltered, but dark nook of the draughty dwell
ing. “I can read to him, but now I can't see so well as I did, and the print in our Bible is too small. We was just saying, ma'am, we could spare a penny or twopence a week out of our parish pay for a big Bible, if only somebody would come and get it reg'lar, like. Somehow, when we keeps it ourselves, it melts away in a bit of tea and sugar."
“I am glad you are willing to deny yourselves these for the sake of a Bible. You seem to love it."
Yes, ma'am. We couldn't do no less. 'Twas a message to us, direct, you see.”
* Of course the Bible is a message to us all.”
“ I know that, ma'am; but ours was a special message. I'll tell you how it was.
Here the old woman took out of a broken teapot, a small paper parcel; opened it, unfolded and unfolded again, cerement after cerement, till at last there appeared a small, soiled piece of aper, on which the visitor read these words “ Learn to read your Bible.”
“ That's it! that's the message, ma'am. You see I could do no less than I did.”
" Where did you meet with this message ?”
“ In Rew's-alley Lane, ma’am-one day when I was coming back from the Collumpton Road. There was no leaves on the trees, for 'twas winter time, and they make a bower, like, over the road. Well, I saw a piece of paper sticking upon a thorn in the hedge, it was high up, and hard to reach, but I managed to come by it; for I felt sure it was something meant for me, and I took it home to my old man, for I could not read the words on it myself no more than a baby; but be did, and told me that it said• Learn to read your Bible.'
Now was not that a message, ma'am ?” “ I dare say it was.
But how did
learn ?" - I teased he, over there in bed, till he taught me: first the letters, then the little words. He was a scholar, you see, ma'am. Ay! but it was weary work for us both.
Nancy,' he often said, you're too old to learn.' • Remember, 'tis a message, John,' I used to tell him; and then he'd try me again. It was years afore we got on much ; but I knew all the time it was a message, and so I would not give in. At last the words began to come easier, and to put together, like stringing daisy-chains when I was a girl. He used to get out of patience too, and call me à dunce, but he was glad enough after
wards; for now he's blind, and I can read to him. But, ma'am, we sadly want a bigger print than this.”
Here she showed the visitor a well-thumbed, small volume, wherein the early part of the Gospel of John was well nigh rubbed out by the friction of the aged people's fingers, let alone some blurred passages where a tear may have fallen when the old schoolmaster had been more than usually impatient, or the scholar more than commonly slow.
“ And now, ma'am, don't you see that I could not help learning to read this book, when God himself sent à message to tell me ?”
When the carefully re-folded paper was again reverentially and affectionately restored to its simple casket, the visitor could but confess that it had been, truly, a message of mercy hung upon a thorn.
And are there not many of God's children to whom such messages have been sent? The leaves of flourishing prosperity have fallen, to disclose the thorn on which such messages have hung. They have gathered it with trembling hand; they have asked to have it deciphered for them, because it was mystery to themselves. They have heard the word, and set themselves to learn, and to obey. The lesson has been hard, and tearful, and prolonged; but the peaceable fruit has come at last, and the obeyed mossage has endeared the very thorn on which it hung.
PRESENCE OF CHRIST.
Christ, the true, the only light,
Triumph o'er the shades of night:
Unaccompanied by thee;
Till thy mercy's beams I see:
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Scatter all my unbelief: