« AnteriorContinuar »
The careful hearer is the praying hearer. I insist on prayer: we are all too apt to forget this our real refuge, our true and only safety. We are apt to exalt man's ways of outward religion, and to forget God's plan of the saving of the soul, namely, the prayer of faith through Jesus. A soul without prayer is as a bird without wings. Ah! how many really good actions, and thoughts, and words, so highly esteemed among men, are in the eyes of God reckoned as a bo. mination, simply because they are not made holy by his appointed means of prayer. We cannot doubt the earnest zeal of preachers in our days, but is it not perhaps a question whether they insist sufficiently on faithful prayer. Do we not often suppose the existence of this practice, when in reality it does not exist at all ? and this want of prayer will at once account for the slow progress of the preached word : people come and hear, but do they pray? They are the way-side and stony ground hearers; and if the hearer needs prayer, so does the preacher. Oh! how deep is his need! and when he bows his head in the pulpit, and silently begs God's blessing on his work, never is prayer more needed. How many souls may be around him listening perhaps for the last time to the gospel call, souls to whom the last and closing offer of salvation is now to be made!
But we ought not to forget one very important point, 6 the need we all have for a time for thought and meditation on the preached word.” Alas! how little time have we in public worship! The sermon ends, it may be the heart is touched, the conscience pleads guilty: then comes prayer, a minute it may be, and then the congregation rises-our neighbours disturb us, we rise too, and in a moment friend meets friend, and in the friendly chat how much of the impression of the sermon is utterly lost. It is bad enough for the careful hearer, but to the careless, thoughtless person, all hope of impression is cut off.
There remains one last thought which should quicken preacher and hearer alike to every exertion. Time is fast passing away. The night cometh, when no man can work. It is not for very long that we are permitted to hear the word. In early life we are often too heedless to care very earnestly for our soul's welfare, we are apt to grow tired of the one thing needful, we are apt to wish for excitement and amusement even in religion. In middle age, the cares of business and the strife of life, and the struggle for daily bread, and the anxieties of family, all these press sorely on the soul. No few are really hindered against their will from the frequent attendance on the preached word; and by-and-by, how soon, alas ! comes the time when work must end, and the infirmities of closing life shall deprive us of our privilege of meeting in the house of God as friends. Ah! surely if those who now are careless, could only look forward to the time when they would wish to join in public worship, they would not now so lightly regard this means of grace.
The more we think of these things, the more earnest shall we all be to make our own calling and election sure, and at the same time to seek by prayer and example to lead the wanderer and the careless to that fountain of God's holy truth which he has opened for the souls of all ! Well may we call aloud to all, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good : blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” May this be our blessing, through Jesus Christ,
DISCOMFORT. WHEN George Dunkly was married, he thought he had attained the summit of human felicity; and his mother and sisters said, “If George is not happy, it will be his own fault.”
George. Dunkly was the village carpenter. He had a good business; a pleasant house of his own; sober habits; youth, health, and strength in his favour. Moreover, being fond of reading, he had a respectable library already, and meant to have a larger before he had done. “Ah!" said he to himself, rubbing his hands gleefully, “what pleasant winter evenings we shall have-Margaret and Iwhen we have both done work, and have nothing else to do but she to listen and I to read aloud.” And George really laughed, he was so brimful with the pleasures of anticipation.
Margaret was young too, and healthy and strong. She was pretty, moreover, and faithful and affectionate. She really loved George for himself, and she had worldly wisdom enough to like him none the less for his pleasant house and his good business.
So George and Margaret were married; and the honeymoon passed away blissfully. George was happier than ever.
But time wore on, and George began to wonder : according to his notions, he had ample cause for wondering. | For one thing, he wondered that he had not found out before he was married, that his house, instead of being, as in his simplicity he had always considered it to be, respectable for its external neatness and internal cleanliness, was, in fact, a very pigsty (or something near it) for dirt and dust. That it was so, he had Margaret's word for it; and he had, besides, the evidence of more senses than one, in the entire purification of every floor, and wall, and ceiling, and of every "stick and straw” that his house contained. He had before known his pretty young wife to be a famous cleaner, and he had pleased himself with the thought of her superior abilities in this way; but now he found that he had not known half the reality
At first, George was pleased to find that Margaret's good qualities were not dimmed by marriage; and, week after week, he bore with exemplary fortitude the infliction of mops, pails, brooms and brushes, the strong odour of soap and soap-suds daily renewed, and the inconvenience of curtainless windows and damp floors. By-and-by, however, he began to wonder how it was his wife never got tired of scrubbing and scouring, and how soon, or how long it would be before his house would be to-rights. | Vain were the expectations he formed. The house was never to-rights. Every day had its appointed duties; and of these, the first and foremost was to scrub and clean. If the dinner was ill cooked, or not cooked at all, or kept back half an hour, what of that? Was there not the washhouse to whitewash ? and could anybody do two things at once? If the house was “turned out at window," and the once comfortable sitting room had no chair for George to sit upon when he came in from work, what of that? Had not Margaret been hard at work all day too? Hadn't she been bees-waxing and turpentining all the chairs and tables, and making them shine like looking glasses ? Hadn't she been window cleaning ? Hadn't she been clearing out the corner cupboards and the closets? And hadn't she got two hours' work yet to get through before her task would be done? How could George be so selfish and unfeeling as to talk about discomfort? But there! it was just like all the men : they think women have nothing I to do, when the truth is, their work is never done. | “Don't go into that room, don't,” said Margaret, one day,
in a pettish tone, as her husband was opening the door of the pretty little parlour which, before his marriage, he had papered with his own hands, and nicely furnished, and in connexion with which he had suffered his imagination to picture many a pleasant domestic scene; but from which, after marriage, he had found himself almost divorced“ Don't go into that room, Dunkly," repeated Margaret, yet more pettishly, as she found that George was still bent upon entering.
“ Why not, my dear ?":
“Why not! Only look at your boots; see what a lot of dirt you are carrying in.”
“No such thing, Margaret; I scraped them well, and rubbed them on the mat. Besides, where is the dirt to come from such dry weather as this?”
“They are dirty, George; and I only swept the parlour yesterday. And then, that nasty pipe!”
“ Why, Margaret,” replied Dunkly, good-naturedly, “ you didn't use to object to my smoking now and then ; you didn't say "nasty pipe' before we were married."
“ Well, I do now, then. I declare it makes everything stink of tobacco. The parlour isn't fit to go into after you have been smoking there."
George was good-natured and forbearing; but it was hard work for him to swallow the rising anger; nevertheless, he did it. “Well, Margaret,” said he, “ I won't go into the parlour then, if you will just make the kitchen comfortable, and come and sit down with me. I am sure you must have finished cleaning for to-day at least. Come, I'll put my pipe down and read to you. I have not had a quiet hour with you for many a long day.”
Ah, Margaret, Margaret, what evil spirit was it that prompted you to say, “ There, hold your tongue! Just like you men! Think women have nothing to do but to wait upon you. Don't you see I have two hours' work to do yet before I (with strong and bitter emphasis on that
I), before I can sit down ?” | George Dunkly darted from the house. It was eleven o'clock when he returned. He had been sitting in the public-house, drinking; for there was comfort there-of a sort. This was scarcely four months after marriage.
Ten years passed away, and still the great object of Margaret's life was to “bustle about” and to clean. Her
house was, indeed, a picture of good housewifery-when it was to-rights, which was one day in seven; and her children (she had three) were orderly, and clean, and wellbehaved, and—timid. Good reason they had to be timid. Dunkly himself was not greatly changed externally; but his dreams of domestic happiness had passed away like dreams. He never, after that one slip, again degraded himself by excess; for his principles were sound. But his home-alas!
Well, ten years passed away; and Margaret, careworn and weakened by her constant exertions, fell ill. She was very ill. Her recovery was despaired of. With returning, or rather with awakened, affection George nursed her, and watched by her bed. At length the crisis was over; danger had passed ; and very slowly Margaret recovered strength.
One evening-it was a fine summer evening-she ventured, leaning on her husband's arm, to quit her weary couch, and totter to the window. It was partly open, and, shielded by the curtain, she sat, still supported by her husband, watching the setting sun. Presently, childish voices were heard below, and Margaret listened. They were the voices of her two elder children.
“George," said little Margaret to her brother, “ father says that mother is getting well again.”
“ Is she really ?" said the boy, in a tone that seemed to tremble.
“Ah, that she is ; so father says: and, I say, George, you take care; you know it wasn't I made those scratches on the wash-house wall."
“No, Margaret, no,” replied little George, with agitation and fear in every tone; “but don't tell mother! Oh, Margaret dear, pray don't tell mother!'
It was a hard and painful lesson, but a most blessed one. There is not now a happier home than George Dunkly's; for Margaret, his wife, has learned that the excess of some kinds of excellence is a vice; and has had the magnanimity to sacrifice her house-idolatry at the shrine of family love.