« AnteriorContinuar »
in which seed would be likely to grow well ?'
EMILY. No, mamma, soft ground is the best; for if the ground is not soft, the seed will not sink into it, as you say, and then it will have no covering to protect it till it takes root.'
Mrs. M. Perhaps, Emily, you do not clearly understand what is meant by the seed.'
EMILY. "I do, indeed, mamma. Our Saviour tells us what it is ;-it is the word of God.'
MRS. M. • What is meant by the ground or soil ?'
GEORGE. • The human heart, mamma.'
MRS. M. What is that, Emily, which can alone soften the hard heart of man, and fit it to receive the word of God?'
EMILY. « Oh, I see you mean grace, mamma.'
MRS. M. Yes, my child : it is grace alone which can soften our hard hearts, and fit them to receive the word of God, so that “ It shall take root downwards, and bear
fruit upwards." Without that, it will indeed be like the seed by the way side, which the birds of the air picked up; the devil will take it out of our hearts, unless sown there by the Holy Spirit of God. Can you tell me, Emily, why the Holy Spirit is frequently expressed by the word grace?'
EMILY. Mamma, I don't think I can explain that well ;—but I know grace means a favour bestowed, without being deserved.'
GEORGE. Then I think that shews plainly why the Holy Spirit is so called, because no one can deserve such a gift ; and yet God is pleased to give it;--but mother, I think these wayside hearers are like people who go to church to hear a preacher, because others go; they hear the word of God explained perhaps with clearness and force, but the devil, seeing they are not inclined in their hearts to attend to what they hear and profit by it, comes and
puts. some foolish or wicked thoughts into their minds and so drives out all they have heard, and they remain just as they were before.'
MRS. M. “I think your comparison a very just one; and I hope and pray, my dear son, that
you may not be among such hearers.' GEORGE. (blushing ) Mamma, I must tell the truth, I spoke from experience. The Sunday before I came home, we heard there was to be a famous preacher at the next parish church, and that every one was going to hear him : four of the boys and myself asked leave to go; our master gave us permission, but said, Take care, boys, that you are not going for fashion's sake, rather than with a desire to receive instruction !' I made no answer, for I knew too well that was just my
Some of the boys were in the head class, so we went without a tutor. We heard a very beautiful sermon upon Holiness of Life in Christian professors; we returned home, loitered about for awhile, (master, teachers, and all had gone to second service,) and what do you think we did ? '
MRS. M. I cannot guess, I fear from your preface it was something you ought not to have done.'
George. “We played at ball. I refused at first, but they laughed at me and I played. Now mother, was it not the “ wicked one who came to “catch away that which was sown in our hearts ?
MRS. M. • This was indeed the work of " the wicked one :” but you could have resisted him, George; one silent, fervent petition to him who can “ quench the fiery darts of the evil one, would have enabled you to avoid his temptation; in yielding to it, you were not only guilty yourself, but you set a sinful example to your young companions; you ran the risk of “causing a brother to offend."
I am grieved, my poor child, to hear how easily you yield to the suggestions of the adversary. It is a proof that the word had not entered your heart; it had only been heard by the outward ear, like as the seed lay on the surface of the ground, and was picked up by the birds.'
Emily, perceiving her brother's eyes filled with tears, resumed her questions ; · Mamma, what do you say about the stony ground ? '
MRS. M. « Our Saviour himself has clearly explained it; we may compare it to a person who hears a beautiful sermon; hears detailed with eloquence and zeal, all that God has done for sinful man, all the wonders of redeeming love; he is pleased with what he hears, and “goes on his way rejoicing : but the ground was not ploughed, the rocks are not broken, his heart is not thoroughly convinced of its own sinfulness: therefore, though he hears with joy of Christ's having borne the punishment of man's offences; having "died that we might live," yet his rejoicing is only general; he does not feel the remedy applied to his own soul : so, like the seed that was scorched by the sun because it had no root, the momentary impression that was made upon his mind, gives way as soon as any opposition is made to what he had at first been so much pleased with; the ridicule of a few foolish companions will make him ashamed of what he ought to glory in, and he would be utterly unable to support the "scorching sun” of persecution; his religion only lasts as long