« AnteriorContinuar »
Bible-class; and their parents were intimate friends. Hearing that Elwood was about to go to business, Mr. Croft had spoken to him in a similar strain to that in which he had spoken to George, and Elwood's father had asked him to show his son what attention and kindness were in his power. As was natural, the two associated together a good deal at first, but by and by Elwood was gradually drawn aside. He lacked Rutherford's firm decision, and he was, besides, keenly sensitive to ridicule. He was flattered by the notice taken of him by his fellow clerks; there was a certain smartness about them which attracted him; and he was dazzled, too, by the pictures they drew of the pleasures to which they were addicted. Step by step he was led astray. First, Rutherford noticed with regret that one of the young men, of whose character he could not entertain a high opinion, was gradually gaining an ascendancy over him; then the minister's Bible-class was first attended irregularly, and then altogether forsaken; and in the same way his own class in the Sunday-school was given up. His friend ventured to remonstrate ; and at first his remonstrances were received kindly, although, at the same time, Elwood maintained that there was neither wrong nor danger in what he was doing, and that it was altogether needless to be so straitlaced and puritanical. Ere long, however, he listened impatiently, and at last he gave his anxious counsellor to understand that he would not be interfered with. The petulant irritation with which he spoke told his friend too plainly that his conscience was ill at ease. Seeing that it was altogether useless, Rutherford ceased to remonstrate; and, sad to say, Elwood drifted completely away from all religious associations, and became as wild and reckless as any of his new companions.
Time rolled on, till Elwood was just turned two-andtwenty. He and Rutherford were still in the same office, although, whilst the latter had gained the full confidence of his employers, and had risen to a position of trust, the question had been more than once debated by the partners, whether Elwood should be retained or dismissed. At length, returning home early one bitter winter's morning from a boisterous merry-making, he caught a severe cold, which settled on his chest. His constitution had been undermined, or most probably, after a short time, he would have thrown it off easily. Symptoms of consumption supervened ; and after many alternations of hope and discouragement, it became evident that there was no prospect of recovery. He was visited at first by his former companions, but through God's great mercy he had been led to see the vanity and sinfulness of his life, and to desire forgiveness. As will be readily believed, he received their visits with little pleasure, and they found just as little pleasure in going to see him; but scarcely an evening passed in which Rutherford did not visit him, and he was always gladly welcomed. His clear expositions of the truth, and his encouraging assurances of Christ's mercy, were of great service to the dying young man; and at last, after many struggles, he was enabled to cast himself wholly on the Redeemer's power and love, and he died in peace.
Ah, George !” he said, one evening towards the end, “if I bad only taken your advice, I should very likely not have been as I am. But all the while I turned away from you so unkindly, I felt in my heart that you were right. I am sure, however, you have long since forgiven me, and I hope God has too. But it is wonderful that he should pardon such a sinner.”
“ Thank God," said his friend, “it is not less true than it is wonderful. The Lord's own words are, you know, • Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.'' “Will you tell them," he said, mentioning the names of
” some with whom he had been associated in the days of his wandering from God, “that I should like to see them once more before I die ?”
Several of the persons thus sent for went to take their last farewell. With deep seriousness and solemnity he spoke to them of his own course of life and theirs ; told them how deeply he regretted the manner in which he had lived; and entreated them to seek the Saviour, in whom he had found forgiveness. They could not but be powerfully affected by his appeals, and as they followed him to the grave, they looked very sad and thoughtful. Whether the impression was a permanent one remains to be seen.
A CONTRAST. M— is a man of more than seventy years. He has been industrious and active, and has a competence of worldly wealth. He has always lived where he could attend the house of God upon the Lord's day, and he has been frequently seen there, apparently a respectful worshipper.
Let us enter his house. We find that he is now an invalid. His days of activity are over.
Others now care for his property, and are looking to the time when it will pass from his possession to theirs. We find him seated in his arm-chair, with a pensive expression of countenance and a wearied look.
• Mr. M-, you must find it very lonesome sitting by yourself so much of the day."
“Yes, indeed ; I often am very lonely, and hardly know how to pass the hours."
“How do you occupy yourself ?"
Why, sometimes a neighbour comes in to talk to me; sometimes
children tell me how their business goes on, or about the crops; and sometimes they read to me. “Do you like to hear the Bible read?”
Well, yes, I do, now and then.” “ As you sit here alone, I suppose you have many thoughts passing through your mind ?”
Yes, a good many." “Many sweet passages of Holy Scripture doubtless come to your recollection.”
“No, no; I don't remember any."
“ Are there no chapters or texts that suggest themselves to your thoughts?"
No, no; I have none. I haven't in my memory a single text of the Bible.”
" Why, how does that happen? Did you not, when a child, learn Bible lessons at home or at school?”.
• No; I learned none.'
“Was not the Bible taught at school in your younger days ?”
No, I wasn't taught to read the Bible then.” Could anything be more melancholy than the sight of this aged man, so near the eternal world, sitting day after day in moody silence, without a word of Scripture in his memory; not a single verse of the Bible occurring to him to comfort him in his loneliness, or point him to “the Lamb of God,” our only refuge from sorrow and sin.
We pass on a few doors, and enter the humble dwelling of an aged woman, Mrs. D— She was the child of pious parents. Early she chose their Saviour, and for very many years has adorned the gospel in her life.
We find her with a copy of the Psalms, in very large
type, spread out upon the table before her, and she is repeating aloud a verse of the twenty-third psalm ; yet we see that her eyes are not fixed upon the printed page, but closed : “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
When she becomes aware of our entrance, she welcomes us, and says, I was just enjoying a few dainties from my Father's table." “ Then you still find God's word precious ?"
· His words are sweet to my taste; yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.””
“ You are much afflicted, and your long confinement by infirmities must be trying."
· Yes, sometimes I am tempted a little to murmur; but then I recall to mind the goodness and love of God who has led me thus far on my pilgrimage, and I see that his way has been a good way for me, and I trust and rejoice in him still.” “ Are you not frequently lonely?”
Why, no. The word of God is a continual feast. Even in the night, over and over again, when I wake up, my mind is full of passages of Scripture.”
“What passages come to you most frequently?"
“I suppose those that I learned when I was youngest ; and how thankful I am that God put it into the hearts of my parents to teach me so many chapters and verses of the Bible when I was little. Many portions seem so connected together that one after another comes to my mind, I can hardly tell how. Last night I woke, and it was very dark, but the text came to me : ‘The darkness hideth not from
but the night shineth as the day : the darkness and the light are both alike to thee;' and when I saw here and there a star, I remembered, 'He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names; he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.' Soon a noise was heard, and I thought how easily we might be harmed; but there were the words, “The Lord is thy keeper : he that keepeth thee will not slumber. I will both lay me down in peace and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. As I sat down to my morning meal, I could say with the psalmist, • Thou preparest a table before me.' These dear texts from God's word are a great comfort to me.”
“You find the promises of God sweet."
are, and how rich. When I'm tempted and tried, they often come to me as if they were new and just spoken to me. The other day, sister and I had news that we were to be losers of a considerable portion of our little income, and for a moment I was at a stand, fearing that we might suffer want; but instantly I remembered God's promise : His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks : bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.' With this promise my soul was sweetly comforted: bless God for his holy word.”
Do we need to point the moral of this striking contrast? How important that our memories be stored with texts from God's word. The
of childhood are like the seven years of plenty in Egypt. Every parent, every teacher should become a Joseph, to fill the garners of memory with the precious corn of Bible truth for the future necessity and famine which would otherwise starve the soul. How varied, how delightful are the promises of God's word! Those whom they address need no other riches, no other recreation, no other solace for weary hours.
“ LIVING NEAR TO GOD." " That is a very mysterious expression to me, Aunt Ruth· living near to God'-I do not understand it.”
“ You know what it is to live near earthly friends."
“Yes, that is simple enough; I see their face, hear their voice, clasp their hand, sit or walk by their side, give and receive communications of mutual interest and sympathy."
“ Well, that is a good definition of nearness to God, your Father and Saviour. Look at his face, as it shines in his word and works ; hear his voice in the Scriptures and in his providence; lay your hand in his for daily guidance ; seek his sympathy and help in every pleasure or pain, joy or sorrow; and strive to please him in all you do. Thus will you walk by his side, sit with him in heavenly places, and feel your nearness to him as real and actual.”
The quick tears came to the eyes of Alice as her aunt thus answered her inquiry.
Alice was young in the Christian life, and previous to her conversion had been trained to feel that what is called experimental religion