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talk which is private, and which people don't want me to hear; but you have spoken so loudly that I could not help hearing; and I don't think you wanted to make any secret of it."
They looked at him with some surprise; but they all said, as with one voice, "Yes, sir;" and Moffatt, at greater length, added: "There can't be much of a secret about a thing that has been brought up in a police court."
"Thank you," said Mr. Bowen. Well, then, let me say how sorry I am to hear what you have said about Mr. Thompson; and then, too, some of you have spoken of other men, who, professing like him to be religious, have done things just as bad, if not even worse."
"Yes," said Hopwood; "and there are a good many more that some of us could tell about."
"Well," replied Mr. Bowen, "even admitting that all you have said, and all the stories of the same kind that you could tell, are quite true, I should like to ask you a question. Did the men do those bad things because they were religious? I might put it another way; Is there anything in the Bible that either commands or encourages them to do such things?"
"May be not," replied Moffatt; "but this is what I say: that when people reckon to be religious, they set themselves up to be so much better than other folks; and they are no better after all."
"I don't think," replied Mr. Bowen, "that is exactly the way to put it. So far as I know, religious people—and I know a good many-they don't set themselves up to be better than others who are not religious. All they say is, that they believe it to be their duty to do everything that is right, and that, seeking God's help, they are trying to do it. Still, any good man would tell you very humbly that he often comes far short of what he aims at. But I should like to ask you another question. Are all the Christian people you know, and all you have heard about, such as you have described ?"
"Well, no,” replied Moffatt; "it would be a pity if they were."
"Would it not be within the truth to say," asked Mr. Bowen, "that for one you have known of that sort you have known at least twenty against whom you knew nothing that was wrong
Mr. B. waited for a minute or two, but nobody replied.
"I could say that," he resumed, "and a great deal more than that. I am pretty sure of this too: that if any of you needed, in your great trouble, the help of somebody whom you could thoroughly trust, ten to one you would go to a man who was known to be a Christian, rather than to one who said he was not."
Not one of Mr. Bowen's hearers could gainsay this; at all events not one of them did.
"But now," said Mr. Bowen, "there's another thing I should like to say; I don't think Mr. Thompson is the only man in Nottingham who could be convicted of giving short weight."
"You never said a truer word than that in all your life, sir," said Gregson. "Eh, if only the inspectors went to every shop in the town, I'll be bound for it they would find a lot more short weights and measures than anybody ever thinks about."
"I hope not," replied Mr. Bowen, "for the credit of Nottingham. I believe that the great majority of its tradesmen would scorn to do anything of the sort. Anyhow, I can fully trust the men with whom I deal. I am thinking of other people than tradesmen. You are all strangers to me, and so I hope you will not be offended if I say that I wonder if there is anybody here who always gives full weight and measure."
"That can't mean me," said Gregson; "for I never had either a pair of scales or a measure in my hand in all my life—that is, to sell anything with."
"Nor me," "Nor me," said two of the others.
"You mean something else, sir," said Moffatt; "what is it?"
"Here is one thing, then," said Mr. Bowen. "I was a working-man once; and I know something of what workingmen used to be, whatever they may be to-day. Now I have known at least a few working-men, who, whilst they could stand up stoutly enough for 'a fair day's wages,' were not quite as anxious about giving 'a fair day's work.' When the master or the foreman was out of sight they could idle away their time, or work with hardly half their strength; and I won't say I never deceived in that way myself. Now, to my mind, that is just the same as giving short weight over a counter."
Some expressive, though stolen glances, were exchanged as Mr. Bowen said this. He might have known a few things which one or two of the party had been doing that very week.
"Then, again," continued Mr. Bowen, "when a man has a wife and family, it seems to me that it is his duty to do all he can to make them comfortable-to feed and clothe them well; to give his children as good an education as he can, and in every way to show them a good example. Now I say if he neglects to do all this, and spends his spare time and his money in the public-house, and so sets them a bad example, instead of a good one, he is giving them short weight; and they are the very last people in all the world he should ever think of cheating."
Just at this moment the shrill whistle of the engine announced that the train was close to the railway station; and of necessity this stopped all further talk, or probably Mr. Bowen might have told them of some other ways in which they and other people too give short weight. Before they stepped out of the carriage Mr. B. kindly offered his hand to each of them; and so they parted.
I say," said Gregson, as the men walked together from the station, "who is that man ? I've seen him before, but can't say where."
"I don't know," said Moffatt; "but don't you think he was beginning to turn the tables on us a bit? There's no
knowing what he might have done if we had only stayed ten minutes longer."
And who of us is there on whom the tables might not thus be turned? It may be quite true that, like Harry Gregson, we never had a pair of scales or a measure in our hands with which to sell anything to anybody; and it may be just as true that we never knowingly cheated any man of a single penny, or of a penny's-worth. For all that, however, it may be quite true that, times without number, we have given "short weight." There are those to whom we owe obedience and respect; have we always rendered them? Have we never withheld kind and loving and helpful service where conscience told us it was due? And have there been none in regard to whom we cherished hard, unloving feelings and thoughts?
But there is one who has stronger claims on us than any of our fellow-men; how, then, have we dealt with Him? Speaking by one of His prophets of old, He said, as though He were supposing a sin so great as to be almost impossible: "Will a man rob God?" Yet in the same breath, addressing Israel, He says, "But ye have robbed Me." That is what we have all done. We have kept back from Him our obedience, our praise, our love. We have loved His gifts more than Himself. Not a day of our lives ever passed—that is, since we were able to understand His will-without sin. How deeply humbled then, and how penitent, we should be!
But here is God's great mercy. The Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty of all our sins by dying for us on the cross; and if, truly repentant, we believe in Him, we shall be freely and wholly forgiven. Nor is that all: He gives to all souls who seek Him the grace of His Holy Spirit to deliver them from the power of sin, and to make them to do all His will. And this mercy is offered to every one of us. There is none, however fallen and lost, for whom that loving assurance is not true : Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out."
HE history of the Eddystone Lighthouse is very interesting, and suggests useful lessons.
The Eddystone is the highest summit of a reef
of rocks, appearing in deep water, some fourteen miles from Plymouth Harbour; and it is so called from the peculiar manner in which the waters eddy round the rock. It was very difficult to erect a lighthouse there, but at last an attempt was made, at the end of the 17th century, by an eccentric genius of the name of Winstanley. When finished, after enormous toil, it looked more like a Chinese pagoda than anything else: it had so many curious ornamentations about it. Engineers shook their heads in doubt, but Winstanley had all confidence in the stability of his structure, declaring rather presumptuously that he hoped he would be within its walls when the fiercest gale that ever blew beat over it. And his wish was gratified; for then he was in his tower, on the night of the 26th November, 1703, when a storm arose that so increased in violence as to lift it from its holdings and plunge it into the deep! Next morning, as anxious eyes looked out from Plymouth Harbour, no lighthouse was to be seen. It was gone, and, though search was made, not a vestige of its boastful builder was to be found. He and his associates had gone down to a watery grave.
A second lighthouse was attempted by a remarkable man, a silk mercer, of the name of Rudyerd. "Instead of a polygon, he chose a circle for the outline," and to give the wind an easy go-by, he put up no fantastic projections. It was, however, largely composed of wood, of "squared oak timbers," well secured with bolts and surrounded by courses of Cornish granite. For many years the edifice stood, but at last it was consumed by fire. One of the three keepers, on entering the lamp-room, at two in the morning, to snuff the candles, found that the cupola was full of smoke, and through his opening the door the flames so burst forth as to make it impossible to quench them. Backward they had to