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So very little makes sunshine in a dark life, that there are none amongst us who cannot give that little if we will. Some hang back out of shyness. They do not like to speak to that timid, nervous stranger, who is evidently afraid to cross the crowded street alone; they hesitate about comforting that little child, who is crying piteously over a hand grazed by a fall. They shrink from calling on a bedridden old dame unless they can take her something more than a few flowers, forgetting that a little cheerful company is to such an one perhaps even a greater boon than money or dainties. We can all give kindly words, if we will conquer our shyness and try; and nothing makes such bright sunshine as kindly words. Some amongst us lose our opportunities because we are suspicious of evil; we pass by that old man who has slipped down in the road, because we think he may be tipsy; we hurry on, refusing to listen to that girl who has lost her way, lest she should be going to ask us for money. It would be well for each one of us if we sometimes asked ourselves before we dropped asleep, "What sunshine have I made to-day for others? or have I kept all the sun for myself?" The habit would soon grow of looking around into the dim corners and shady places as you went about your daily occupations, and trying to illumine them with even a brief ray of the beautiful sunshine of sympathy and kindness, and that ray would be reflected back into your own heart, making it glad with the purest joy we can know on earth, the joy of making others happier. ELLEN HOPKINS.
Bring the towel, soft and white,
Sweetly sounds the evening chime.
Get the little ducks to swim-
Half-an-hour-she is asleep,
You are wandering, Baby dear!
Sought and Found.
ARY, won't you go to church with me this morning?" said John Dixon, one bright summer Sunday.
"No, John; you know I can't. There are the children to see to, and the dinner to cook."
"But, Mary, the children are all away at school, except baby, and we could take her with us, for she always sleeps in a morning; and as to the dinner, it will be all right if you put it in the oven before we start.”
"That's all you know about cooking. I believe men are all alike, and think women have nothing to do but go about and enjoy themselves. I can tell you, you'd soon find a
difference if I did."
"Now, John, it's no use saying 'but'; I am not going, and there's an end of it."
And, with an impatient toss of her head, Mary took up a duster and began vigorous work on a table already in a high state of polish.
John turned away with a sigh, knowing well that to argue with Mary, in her present state of mind, would be worse than useless.
Up to a few months before my story begins, John and
Mary Dixon had been of the same way of thinking in regard to religious matters; that is to say, they were alike in being utterly indifferent to higher things than the ordinary daily duties of life. Tidy, honest, respectable, fond of each other, and kind to their children, they certainly considered themselves not a little above their neighbours; and as to a life to come, they were too busy in the present to have time to trouble about the future. True, the children were sent to Sundayschool and church, but chiefly for the sake of the peace and quiet their absence afforded; and though Mary and John went sometimes to church on a Sunday evening, it was with no thought of Him they were supposed to be worshipping, but simply because it was a proper and respectable thing to do—that is, when none of many hindrances could be used as an excuse for staying at home.
But, one Sunday in early spring, John had been startled and impressed by a sermon on our need of a Saviour, and as he listened to the preacher, the Holy Spirit opened his eyes to see that his outwardly good life had not been without sin in the sight of God; and such sin as by no effort of his could be done away with.
On the way home, John remarked: "Mary, did you understand how the minister said we were to be saved?"
Very much surprised, Mary answered: "Not I: I never trouble myself to listen; I'm only too glad to sit quiet a bit.” But, if we are sinners, as he said, don't you think it's time we found out how to be saved ?" :
"Well, you are foolish: if he said sinners, of course he didn't mean such as you and me.”
"I'm not so sure about that he read a text from the Bible that says there is none righteous, no, not one;1 and I don't feel as though I could ever be happy till I find what he said was the real remedy for sin."
"Well, John, of course you must do as you like: but mind, I am not going to be bothered with such nonsense. quite content as I am, and I don't believe in a lot of talk."
1 Ps. liii. 3.
But John's anxiety was too great to be set aside even by Mary, on whose judgment he generally relied, and he eagerly sought every opportunity of further instruction. Nor was it long before he was able in simple faith to accept and rejoice in the finished work of a sin-bearing Saviour. Full of joy himself, he was most anxious that Mary should share the same blessed experiences, but from the first she set her face resolutely against what she termed sheer nonsense, and in a quiet way did all she could to throw cold water on John's enthusiasm. Especially did she resent his anxiety to be present at all the services in God's house. Very seldom, indeed, would she accompany him, and nothing was more likely to upset her usually even temper than any argument or persuasion on the subject. Indeed, after the conversation with which I started, Mary positively refused to go anywhere on Sunday but for a walk, and if John ventured a remonstrance, he was met with some such sneer as, "Oh, you're good enough for us both."
Apart from the question of religion, Mary continued. pleasant enough, but she became increasingly bitter at any mention of this most important subject, and seemed determined, by indifference and sneers, to worry John into giving up his new ideas.
But she little knew the power of a living faith, and his very difficulties served to throw John more entirely upon his Saviour's love, and to make him specially careful that no inconsistency on his part should bring discredit to his Lord. His prayers, too, for Mary became increasingly earnest, as he saw her opposition become more decided.
And so matters went on for many months, John growing in all excellence and goodness, and Mary apparently hardening more and more.
But at length came a change. Mary, for the first time in her life, became so seriously ill as to be brought consciously face to face with death, and then indeed she realised that, for all her boasted goodness, she was quite unfit to meet her God; but the memory of her past behaviour to John sealed
her lips, especially as his devoted attention seemed to be heaping coals of fire upon her head. Meanwhile John, being quite unconscious of her state of mind, was greatly distressed at her danger, and yet feared to say a word to irritate her, as the doctor had most emphatically said that absolute quiet was her only chance of recovery. Following him out of the bedroom one day, John ventured to say: "Do you think, sir, I might speak to my wife about her soul ?"
Certainly not: that is, not if it will alarm or annoy
"But, she is in danger ?"
"Most decidedly she is; but you know I have told you all through that she must be kept quiet."
John went back to his post with a heavy heart, and as he sat watching his beloved Mary, he sought relief by once more casting his burden of care for her upon the Lordespecially did he pray for wisdom to act rightly in his present perplexity.
The same evening Mary suddenly said, during a short respite from pain, "I wish you'd read to me a bit."
"What shall I read?"
"Oh, anything. I'm tired of tossing about, and perhaps it may put me to sleep."
In fear and trembling John replied, "May I read a few verses from the Bible?"
"Oh yes, that'll do," was the unexpected answer.
And as John read the fifty-first Psalm, in which David confesses and seeks forgiveness for his sins, tears stole down Mary's pale cheeks; but she made no remark, and a fresh attack of pain, forbade any conversation. But the next evening she again aked to be read to, adding, "I want to hear about the man who came to Jesus by night; 1 and the next time read about the thief on the cross."
It may be imagined with what a thankful heart her requests were complied with; and knowing her to be natu1 John iii.