Page images
PDF
EPUB

that would cure for ever all the wounds of humanity ! They deplore the loss of a masterpiece of art, as if they were shut out from the grace of God; and seize with ardour on a scientific discovery, as if it were a foretaste of the resurrection. Beautiful indeed are the productions of art, and admirable the discoveries of science; but unless the wounds of the soul are first healed, they only increase our thirst, instead of quenching it. Oh the ceaseless hurry and agitation of mankind !

“ Thus on the wide sea-shore men vainly seek
The pearl that in some nook enjoys repose,

Within its valves safe lodged." Yes, we need not seek far and wide for that pearl, to obtain which it is worth while for a man to sell all that he hath. The Son of God has committed it to the care of his disciples. Wherever Christians or the Bible are to be found, there we may find this pearl of great price. But again I exclaim, Oh the ceaseless hurry and agitation of mankind! If an observer took his stand within sight of the high road, and watched the multitude as they hurry along and miss the very object they are in quest of, could he forbear exclaiming

"O men, ye hasten on too fast; in truth,
Ye seek the gate, but with unknowing speed

Leave it behind you ?” Lord Jesus, how justly hast thou said that the souls who, Martha-like,* are anxious only about the things of this life, make themselves “ careful and troubled about many things,” but that Mary has chosen the better part. Since I have longed for heavenly food, all my other anxieties and longings have been so moderated, that I enjoy perpetual peace; but whilst I strove to attain only earthly goods and the wisdom of this world, my soul was full of restlessness and disquiet. Thou yieldest thyself, not to the violent who would seize thee sword in hand, but to those who seek thee with childlike hearts. The millions of sunbeams which warm and vivify mankind, descend upon the earth with imperceptible gentleness; and thus wilt thou be sought with intense ardour, but not with noisy haste. Blessed Lord Jesus ! thou didst condescend to Mary as she sat at thy feet; and thus wilt thou condescend to all * It should be remembered, however, that

“ Jesus loved Martha" as well as “Mary and Lazarus."

a

who, like her, long after thee, and desire to sit at thy feet. I used to think that because everything went on so quietly in thy school, it was the silence of death; that life ceased when thy love entered the soul : but, behold! I found that when I loved thee, I then began to live, my life only then began. As long as I had not reached the centre, I wandered restlessly through the circle of all created beings; but in finding the Creator, I reached the centre, and my restless wanderings are ended.

These Martha-like services are indeed ordained for us in the present state; and thou, Lord Jesus, by humbly working as the carpenter's son, (Matt. xiii. 55,) hast puť honour upon all the manual employments and occupations of life. Thy example has so rebuked my pride, that no kind of labour, which thy Providence allots me, can be felt degrading. But when the light stands in the centre, is not the whole circle clear and bright? No sooner has the heart of man found the centre, than all the objects that lie on the circumference are clearly seen. Then a Martha performs her work in the spirit of a Mary. Holy Jesus, , when thou wast labouring in Joseph's workshop, it was as truly an act of religion as attendance at the temple. It was thy meat to do the will of thy heavenly Father; this was the hidden manna that refreshed thee in the workshop. And the same manna must refresh me in the workshop or the counting-house, in the fields or in the streets.

When thou, O Lord, hast once entered the heart, how beautifully and gracefully do the natural powers which thou hast bestowed upon us unfold themselves! Under the influences of the spiritual Sun, even our worldly employments thrive admirably. Oh, if they knew this whose only aim is success in worldly things, how would they lay to heart what thy word declares, that “godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. If all our men of science and taste were thoroughly warmed and enlightened by the rays of the Sun of righteousness, how would the arts and sciences of earthly life flourish under such influence and bring forth fruits of far brighter colour and richer fragrance than those we at present behold! Yes: “One thing is needful.”

[ocr errors]

“ THERE'S A GOOD TIME COMING,”

A VILLAGE CONVERSATION.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

" THERE's a good time coming," whistled Dick Muston, the butcher's boy, as he passed with his basket down the village street.

· How sick I am of that boy's foolish song!” grumbled Joe Clark, leaning idly over his garden hedge to his next-door neighbour, Will Johnson, who was digging potatoes on the opposite side.

“ If I could fancy poor Dick put a right meaning on his words they wouldn't tire me,” answered Will; “ for there is a good time coming,' Joe, whatever you may think.”

"I wish it would come then,” replied the latter ; and if we look into his cottage we may understand Joe's feelings, for indeed times with him seem far from good at present.

Take care how you enter, or you will crush two or three chickens which are picking up the crumbs dropped by as many dirty children, on the unswept floor. A slatternly woman, with a ragged dress and untidy hair, not very unlike a bird's nest, is making tea in a cracked teapot. Poor thing! she is accustomed to ill-treatment, and bears the marks of many a blow struck by her husband in a fit of drunken rage. She did once try to keep her home tidy and respectable; but now most of her furniture, and even her wedding ring are at the pawnbroker's.

Though Clark and Johnson work at the same employ-. ment, and earn the same wages; yet Mrs. Johnson is a neatly dressed, respectable young woman, boiling her bright kettle over a cheerful fire, with a well-swept hearth, and a tidy table, around which the little ones are quietly waiting for “ father to come in,” that all may sit down together and enjoy their tea.

“ What makes the difference between you and me, Will ?” said Clark. 6. We have the same work and the same pay ; yet you always seem bright and cheerful indoors or out, whilst everything goes wrong with me."

I will just tell you where all the difference lies : I believe in the good time coming,' and you do not."

Why, what odds can it make what I believe ?” said Joe, with a stare.

· Well, I fancy if you really saw an end to all these troubles, and a prospect of keeping out of them in future, you would cheer up a good deal ; but because you don't, you try to forget them in drink, and come home to make

a

66

a

[ocr errors]

bad worse, by ill-treating and disheartening your poor wife.”

Joe turned red, and replied rather angrily: “If I did see any sign of my affairs getting better, you might say something; but it is no use to aggravate a man. Jack Carter gave us a lecture the other night, at · The Fox and Goose,' to show how things might be improved if the squires and parsons would give up their property, and all share alike. But catch them at that, I say."

“ The old story,” said Will, with a smile : “ they would be very wrong if they did. Wby, Joe, if you and I had saved up a little for our children, should we like it taken and divided in equal shares, between them and those lazy vagabonds camping in the lane ? Jack Carter talks of what he knows nothing about; but when the time comes of which I was speaking all men will be pretty equal; there will be no doctor's bills; and there will be plenty of work in which all will take pleasure, and never get tired.”

Nay! that's rather too much, to talk of pleasure in work. Work is well enough as the road to wages; but liking it is more than I can quite make out.”

Well, you will make it out some day, I hope, for all the blessings of these coming days are open for you as much as for me; and looking forward to them makes me face many a difficulty, and be content under many a sorrow which would break me down if I could not see the light shining behind the cloud. Just like that," continued Will, pointing to a dark cloud edged with the brilliant and glorious hues of a summer sunset.

“ Come, be a little plainer, man,” answered Joe, now getting quite alive. "You are driving at something I don't see through.”

“ I will be plain since you wish it, mate; but if you went a little oftener to the house of God instead of to · The Fox and Goose, you would have found out my meaning long ago. You know well enough that sin is the real cause of trouble. If everybody did right, everything would go right. Now listen: the Lord Jesus Christ, who came once to save sinners, has promised, when he comes again, he will • make all things new:'* better even than they were before Adam fell, because the devil won't have any chance to upset them again. And he says, all those who come to him for a new heart now, shall have a new

* Rev. xxi. 5.

[ocr errors]

6

home then; where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.' There will be plenty of singing, for we are told, The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.'t None will ever tire of those songs. And then, Joe, as to liking our work, we all do like to work for those we really love; and he tells us, “His servants shall serve him.'i I do wish you would begin that work at once ; the Lord will teach you, and help you, if you only ask him. I wish I had begun years sooner than I did. However, thank God, I listened to my wife, who learned to serve him in the Sunday school; and now we can cheer up each other when dark days come upon us, and so might you and Sally if you would only try. But I have preached quite a sermon, Joe, which I never meant to do. Thank you for listening to me so patiently, and may God lead you to seek better teaching than mine, in his own word, and in his own house.”

Here both the men were called in to tea, and I heard no more of their talk. Whether Joe will profit by Will Johnson's good advice I do not know; but if he does not, perhaps some one else may; and for this end I have written down what I heard.

“ A LINK BROKEN." "I one day preached,” says the Rev. C. B. Leupolt, " on the general corruption of mankind, and the impossibility of being saved by our own works. A person present expressed his surprise at my assertions, and thought it strange that I should enforce the necessity of our keeping the whole law, if we desired to be saved by our own merits. It was unjust, he urged, to consider a man cursed who continueth not in all the words of the law to do them; and cried out, “How can this be true, that whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all ? How can this be? If I keep six of the commandments, and break four, have I not kept the majority? And is not God, in justice, bound to give me heaven, because I have kept two more than I have broken ?' “In explaining these truths, we can easily make ourselves

* Rev. xxi. 4. + Isa. xxxv. 10. I Rev. xxii. 3.

« PreviousContinue »