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bared head and feet and trousers that reached only half way down
“You are a very singular boy,” said he, “but if you will not take money you must tell me what I can do for you; as I cannot accept your presents without doing something for it in return. Is there anything that I can do for you ?"
“O yes!” said the boy trembling with delight; "you can do for me what I would like better than anything else.
“What is that?” asked the schoolmaster, smiling.
“Teach me to read," cried the boy, falling upon his knees. "O dear, kind sir, teach me to read !"
The schoolmaster complied. The boy came to him at all leisure hours, and learned so rapidly that the teacher recommended him to a nobleman residing in the neighborhood. The gentleman who was as noble in mind as in birth, patronized the poor boy, and sent him to school at Ratisbon. The poor boy profited by his opportunities; and when he rose, as soon he did, to wealth and honors, he adopted two field-fares as his arms.
“What do you mean?” cried the bishop's friend.
“I mean,” replied the bishop with a smile, “that the poor boy was myself.”
RING.—A beautiful story has been told of a little boy who was placed at the door of the hall in Philadelphia, to give notice to the old bellman in the steeple when the Declaration of Independence should have been signed. The old man waited at his post, saying, “they will never do it,” when he heard a shout below. He gazed on the pavement, and there stood the little boy clapping his tiny hands and shouting "ring, ring!” Grasping the iron tongue of the bell, backwards and forwards he hurled it an hundred times, proclaiming “liberty to the land and to the inhabitants thereof."
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE AND NOVEL-READING.-By common consent, says Abbott, all novels were banished from the circle, as Napoleon inveterately abominated every thing of that kind. If he happened to find a novel in the hands of any of the attendants at the palace, he unhesitatingly tossed it into the fire, and soundly lectured the reader upon her waste of time. If Josephine had been a novel-reader, she never could have acquired that mental energy which enabled her to fill with dignity and with honor every position she was called to occupy.
IMPROVE THE MIND. -No man who improves his leisure hours in useful reading and study, can fail in becoming distinguished in his profession; while he who spends his time in idleness or self-indulgence, is sure to occupy an inferior position in life.
Vol. V.-AUGUST, 1854.–No. VIII.
ALEXANDER, THE COPPERSMITH.
BY THE EDITOR.
“ Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works : of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our works.”—2 Tim. iv., 14, 15.
SCRIPTURE characters are very interesting, and ought to be studied by us for our profit. They are types.
Sometimes only a very few words are spoken of them; and yet it is wonderful how much of their character a few words reveal.
The above, with perhaps an allusion in the first epistle, is all that is said of Alexander, the coppersmith; and yet it affords us sufficient data from which to draw out his entire character-at least its most prominent features.
The first thing that presents itself is his name—Alexander. His name is Greek, though no doubt of Jewish origin. His parents, residing in the city of Ephesus where the Greek language was spoken, would naturally give him a Greek name.
When we remember that names were anciently given with certain meaning, and with the earnest desire that they might prove prophetic—that the character of the adult might be a fulfilment of the sense of the child's name—we must observe that the name was well chosen.
The name Alexander means one that assists men; one that earnestly helps others; a man that aids in turning away evil. This speaks well of his parents; it shows their pious hopes, and wishes in reference to their son.
But, alas! how often are parents disappointed. Instead of being a helper of his fellow men, he was the contrary. An apostle has to warn men against him, and testifies “he did me much evil.” O, if parents could always know what their children would become, they would not weep for their infants that are beneath their little mounds, but they would weep that there are not more of them so well preserved against the evil to come!
His place of residence was Ephesus, a celebrated city of Ionia, in Asia Minor. Here Paul, in his travels, had established
a Christian church; and here Timothy was stationed as pastor while Paul was confined at Rome, from which he writes this epistle to Timothy, warning him to beware of the evil-doing of Alexander.
Paul had labored in Ephesus before, and knew Alexander well. He feels it his duty to inform Timothy of his character, not for Alexander's injury, but for Timothy's benefit and safety. did me much evil before I knew him right when I labored there; now do you beware of him.”
In this he did a great kindness to the young pastor. Did he not know him, he might insinuate himself into the confidence of the generous and unsuspecting Timothy, only afterwards the more effectually to betray him. But knowing his character from the old pastor who had learned to know him by sad experience, he would guard against his approaches, and be careful not to put himself into his power.
This we say was a great kindness; for we all know how dearly we sometimes pay for falling innocently and unsuspectingly into the hands of troublesome persons, when even our confidence and kindness are afterwards rewarded by black betrayal and bitter injury. The roses which we offered them as tokens of love are taken, and in return we are thrust with the thorns !
It seems that Alexander had been a professing Christian, and had, no doubt, belonged to the congregation at Ephesus in Paul's time. There is an Alexander mentioned in the first epistle which, it is bened, is the same one. There he is spoken of as having been a believer, but as having put away faith and a good conscience; as having made shipwreck of the faith; and as having, in consequence, fallen under the discipline of the church.
Having been thus dealt with by his faithful pastor, he would naturally stand up against him, and, as Paul tells us,
“greatly withstand the words” of truth, as proclaimed by Paul, and in spite, do him “much evil.” He could not, it seems, endure the faithful reprovings of Paul.
He seems to have been one of those kind of men who love to be prominent; and he is alluded to by Paul in a way which implies that he was well known—putting himself forward in the affairs of the church.
He even went so far as to suppose that he knew more of the faith than Paul himself, and withstood his teachings, striking out new paths in doctrine. Instead of receiving the preaching of Paul, as he humbly should have done, he turns round to instruct Paul how to preach! and when Paul would not teach as his ears itched, he fell upon him and did him much evil.
That he was a heretic Paul tells us plainly. He withstood the words of the preachers. In the preceding epistle, he is associated with Hymeneus, who, with Philetus, were celebrated heretics* who, concerning the truth, have erred, saying that the resurrec
---tion is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” their words of error did eat around them as doth a canker!
It is well said that “birds of a feather flock together.” No wonder, then, that Alexander is found in company with his
like, gathering up a party force against the truth, and against Paul, because he preached it.
He was not only a heretic, but he was also a bad man. He was not only in error as to doctrine, but he was corrupt in his heart. He had “put away” a “good conscience.” Having done this, he was of course prepared for any thing else. Having a bad conscience, and leading a bad life, it is of course natural that he should set to work to invent an easier doctrine.
Paul was not the preacher for men of bad consciences! He would not make them beds of down, and cry to the men of vicious lives, “Peace! peace !" He would stir up their drowsy consciences. His words were quick and powerful. Thus, such men as Alexander would set up for themselves-would withstand the truth and hate it-would begin to call in the aid of kindred spirits, such as Hymeneus and Philetus, and begin to cry, like the Gadarenes did against the Saviour, “Depart out of our coasts."
That he was a wicked man is plain also, from the fact that he did “much evil” to Paul. It is certain that this evil was pure malice; for he had no other reason for doing it except because Paul preached the truth, which his "evil conscience" could not endure.
Besides, it was black ingratitude. Paul had established the church at Ephesus. He, no doubt, had first brought Alexander into the church; had bestowed much care upon him; had instructed him and, perhaps, his family; perhaps baptized him: had bestowed upon him and his family all those thousand offices of love which only a faithful pastor can bestow; perhaps resolved his doubts when in perplexity, prayed at his bed-side in sickness, comforted him in trouble, and warned him when he erred and wandered! One would suppose that such favor and faithfulness would have been returned in acts of kindness which Paul would now remember in the dungeon of Cæsar as the sunniest spots of his life. But instead of this he only remembers that “he did him much evil," and in fancy and in fear sees him whetting his arrows for Timothy! No one but a wicked man is capable of this. None but a Judas can cover such an adder's tongue beneath a betraying kiss! Well does he say to Timothy, beware of him.
Paul specifies his trade—"coppersmith.". This may seem a small circumstance, and yet it is not without its signification. It was in itself no discredit to the man to have a trade-on the contrary it is to his honor. Every man ought to have his calling, and to follow it diligently. An honest, industrious mechanic, is a respectable and useful citizen.
What shows the spirit of Alexander is, that he did not stay in his calling; or, if he did, that he attempted to add another one to it, for which, in the nature of things, he could not be adequate.
Laboring at his trade, he could not of course command that time which would enable him to acquire such an extensive knowledge of the Christian system as would enable him to become the teacher of Paul. Besides, he was comparatively young in the faith; he had been comparatively but a short time acquainted with Christianity; before Paul came to Ephesus he knew nothing about it all.
It looks, to say the least, highly immodest, if not absolutely impudent, that he should so soon assume to withstand the veteran apostle, who was not only learned, inspired, but had also been a long time in the ministry. Paul would no doubt have been willing to grant that Alexander knew better than he how to work copper; but when it comes to the mysteries of the kingdom of God, he cannot yield to the coppersmith.
If he had been a truly humble and good man, he would not have exercised himself in things too high for him, and so evidently beyond his calling, and would have gone, after the labors of the week, upon the sweet day of sacred rest, and sat with devout and humble heart, to receive words of heavenly wisdom and consolation from the lips of God's anointed, thankful that God has raised up pastors who, during the week, when he is busy at labor in an honorable and useful calling, devote the oil of their minds and hearts to the divine work of providing spiritual food for the instruction and consolation of the saints.
-How delightful for him to enjoy the inestimable privilege of sitting in the midst of the quietude of God's holy temple, to receive without labor, to learn without study, to enjoy a heavenly feast of divine truth without the pain of preparation.
But this is far from satisfying the carnal ambition of Alexander, the coppersmith. He must needs instruct, correct, and direct “Paul, the aged,” in the principles and practices of Christianity; and when Paul will not be so corrected he must “ do him much evil.”
Paul says this coppersmith “did him much evil.” For this he was well qualified. He had the two great requisites—a wicked heart and no conscience.
How he did him evil we are not told, except in a general wayhe withstood him and his teachings. It is not, however, difficult to divine how he went to work. His position gave him advantage. He had been a member of the church, and that a prominent one. As such he had influence. Thus he could easily begin and lead a party against Paul. We are told that his comrades, Hymeneus and Philetus, did do this (overthrow the faith of some,) and their error eat round itself like a canker. With this party the coppersmith associated himself.