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not utter a word; and this is why, mamma, I feel so unfit to go amongst them. Oh! I cannot continue my district visiting; I must give it all up, as I told you at the begining."
“ You have undoubtedly, my child, much, very much, to learn, and to re-learn ere you can become an efficient labourer for Christ; much digging and pruning is there to be done in your own heart, and many a painful insight to obtain into the deceitfulness and sin which lie coiling and lurking there. Perhaps this very work which you so shrink from, may be one of God's modes of teaching you the evil of sin. Besides which, it appears to me, that in your present state of mind you are wholly overlooking the most prominent truth of the gospel, namely, that it was
sinners Jesus came to save. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, and just such sinners as those whom you are turning away from in despair and disgust. Ask yourself, Ellen, if your Lord and Saviour would thus have acted, would thus have thought, would thus have felt; and whilst you are examining yourself closely on these points, remember whose word it is which declares to us, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Did you ever read that Christ rejected any, disdained any, despaired of any, cast out any ? Mark the testimony borne to him by the evangelists, . This man receiveth sinners. Hear his word to the guilty penitent at his feet, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.' Listen to his touching lament over Jerusalem,• How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not.' I do not say to you, desist from visiting the poor, throw up your work amongst them; but I do say, tread warily in the vineyard of the Great Husbandman. Step not there, unless your feet be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and your spirit clad with the whole armour spoken of in the 6th chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians. Read, and meditate, and pray over that chapter when you are alone with God. Sit much and often at the feet of Jesus yourself, and then you will go out presently to call others to come and sit there, too. Remember that the work of bringing sinners to Christ is the greatest in which you can be engaged on earth. They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. Remember, too, my dear child, the gracious invitation and promise
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. Ask his Holy Spirit to strengthen and direct you in your work, and you shall not ask in vain."
There are many who feel the same discouragement in their work with Ellen Graham, and who are under the same temptation to relinquish it in despair. This conversation is reported in the hope that it may lead them to continue patiently and prayerfully in the service of that Master who waits to bless all who continue steadfast at the post of duty, let the trials be what they may.
A TRUE STORY OF CONVERSION. It was a wretched home; dirt and poverty were everywhere. In the grate were a few smouldering embers, and hovering over the unswept hearth sat a forlorn woman, bent double, her eye wild, and her cheek haggard, while her attitude had the crouching look so often seen in the wives of poor and depraved husbands. She seemed thinking moodily, and was evidently in fear-for a sound as of a door opening behind her made her start once or twice. “ How much longer can this last, I wonder ?” she presently muttered. “I'd rather die than live in this misery.” All at once the door was flung violently open, and a miserable, bloated-looking man entered the room : he was evidently intoxicated. “Get up, idler, and give me some supper," was his greeting.
“What is the use to ask me for supper? We have no food, no fire, and no money, and none we are likely to have while you spend everything you get in drink.”
High words followed, blows succeeded, and at length the cowardly fellow slunk away, and the bruised, halfstarved wife threw herself, heartbroken and stupefied, upon her uneasy bed. What wonder if life's burden did seem too heavy to poor Mary Monk? She was without God, and had no hope; her husband was a drunkard, her children were in the grave, her spirit crushed, and her home, unhallowed either by God's fear or man's love, was little more than a shelter from the winds of heaven.
Her husband went staggering on in his maundering state, and was presently engaged in his usual calling –
singing comic songs at a public house, till the nigbt was far advanced; for he rarely began till an hour when thoughtful men are preparing themselves by rest for the next day's duties. Some weeks after the commencement of my story he was observed by a man devoted to the salvation of perishing souls, strolling idly along, one sabbath evening, just before service time. Something in his abject look roused pity in the heart of the observer, and turning suddenly round upon him, he asked him to go to chapel with him. Perhaps it was the novelty of the request, perhaps the pleasant manner of the stranger, or, higher than any second cause, a gentle drawing of the good Spirit from above, that made him comply. At any rate he did comply; and in a few minutes they together entered the mission chapel, where Mr. S-- conducted evening worship. The room was not lighted ; and uttering a profane comparison between its darkness and that of the pit of perdition, William Monk followed Mr. S into the little vestry beyond.
* Wait a minute," said Mr. S , solemnly, his spirit awed by the language of his companion ; “I will soon get light, and I trust we may yet have it in more senses than one.”
“Now let us pray,” he added, as the last lamp was lit. The men knelt. One prayed. The other, according to his own subsequent statement, mocked. Before the service began, Mr. S had drawn much of his history, with his name, from “ Billy Monk," as he called himself. He said his mother had been a good woman and had loved her Bible. He had been sixteen years given to drinking. His occupation was that of a comic singer of immoral songs, at a nightly concert and dancing-room. He earned two guineas a-week, but had no good from his wages. His wife was almost starved, and, he was afraid, not too well used. He was not happy--no, he knew that; but what was the use of caring ? he could not alter things, they must just go on.
" Why not sign the pledge, Billy ?”
“I will;" and he did : he stayed to the prayer meeting; and in the conversation which followed he promised to
sign the temperance pledge;. not, however, with any apparent sense of its possible benefit, or even the least evidence of serious feeling. A vein of mockery seemed to pervade his whole character. He left the chapel, and the next day he kept his word and signed the pledge; but he did not come to the week evening service, as he promised. His friend sought him again. The sabbath returned. Hel was in his place; and this went on for two or three weeks, during which he never once broke his pledge, but gave no other hopeful sign—and so time passed on. Many hearts were praying earnestly for poor Billy, the ballad-singer : his attendance at the meetings was closely observed. Some times he was so attentive as to kindle hope, and then irregularity damped expectation. But he was never lost sight of, and they who “continued in prayer" believed in its power.
One sabbath evening Billy stayed to the meeting for prayer after the service. He had been out both morning and evening, and was a very attentive hearer. One of the simple but devout men who prayed gave God thanks in a most affecting way for having, in answer to prayer, purged from his memory the words of the wicked songs he used! to sing. Presently Billy was missed from the meeting ; nos one knew when he had left. He went home miserable, smitten to the heart. No sleep visited his eyes, as he tossed wearily upon his bed. He wandered about in mental anguish all Monday, avoiding every one he knew; but at night he tried to drown conscience by following his exciting vocation. He took his place as usual on the platform ; he tried to sing, but the prayer haunted him* the memory of wicked songs and their badi words." He sat down without uttering a sound. He was called upon: again. Again he rose ; but the effort was fruitless. Con science and fear choked his utterance. He was determined to be a man and conquer such nonsense, as he called it He stood boldly forward and began singing. It was no use; and after utterly failing in several successive attempts, he took up his hat, rushed off the platform, and out into the lonely and deserted streets. It was very late; yet it was long before the poor conscience-stricken sufferer sought his home. When there, he could find no rest' for body or mind. Mental distress banished sleep, and the morning found him worn out with misery. He soon sought. his friend Mr. 8 , and poured out his troubles.
“ Pray, William, pray. Look to Christ for help; believe in him for salvation," was Mr. S- 's counsel.
“I can't pray, I can't believe; oh! my sins, my sins ! That prayer! that prayer !"
“What prayer ?
“ About the wicked songs: my head is full of them, and their words are stings. I am lost, lost; I have ruined many, and myself too."
“I am glad you feel lost." “Oh, sir! why glad ?”
“Because for such there is good news. Do you know who Jesus came to save ?" . “ Yes, yes, I know-sinners; but not my sort, not me. I can see my sins, but no Saviour. I have been sixteen years a drunkard ; I have half killed my poor wife ; I have sold myself to evil men and my soul to the devil. Not for me! not for me! Christ will spurn me, such a poor outcast as I am."
“Not so, Billy; his ways are not our ways, and we never show how little we understand the gospel plan so clearly as when we reason like that. Jesus saves sinnersthe worst: he delights in saving freely; he came on purpose. He will in no wise cast out, will save to the uttermost, and will rejoice over even you. Just come to him as you are, and lean all your soul's weight, with all your sins, upon him.”
"I cannot trust, I cannot hope; it seems too much to think all my sins can be forgiven-blotted out. Not for me! The blasphemous words, the wicked life, the drunkard's memory. Oh no! not all these--not for me.”
Poor Billy Monk! Despair seemed to have taken hold upon him, and he saw no way. Used as Mr. S-- had been to lead inquirers to the cross, he felt unwilling to trust himself in this case, and sent for a Christian brother to help him in encouraging this poor sinner to simple faith. Hours of prayer and instruction followed, and at length William became more tranquil. Hope was dawning, and gradually 'came the precious assurance that salvation was a free gift, offered to sinners, not merely “although " they were guilty, but just “because” they were so. Finally he was able to say, “ He loved me and gave himself for me." His joy found expression in song: no longer the song of this world's revelry, but in one of the songs of Zion his tuneful voice gave utterance to his trust :