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“ Home, sweet Home !" SHOULD think that the words of this home-song are: known to very many of my readers.
They are words that can be sung by high and
low, rich and poor, young and old, under all circumstances of life. For “there's no place like home," when we are well and happy ; "there's no place like home,” when we are ill; “ there's no place like home,” when we are in trouble and sorrow. But it is a song that always brings either actual tears to our eyes, or the feeling of tears in our hearts. Because there never yet was an earthly “home” that had not both bright and sad recollections belonging to it, and in which perfect happiness was to be found.
While writing these words, I can fancy I lrear some, readers say, “Perfect happiness! What nonsense this is ! The writer surely cannot know that there are thousands of people in this world who never dream of happiness; their whole life, from the cradle to the grave, being one long struggle against poverty, or suffering, or misery of some kind, and to whom it would seem almost a mockery to talk of happiness.”
My dear friend, I do know this, and I also know that there are times in the life of every one, no matter what his condition may be, when an intense longing for happiness comes over him, and when the words “home, sweet home,” would, as I have said, bring actual tears to his eyes, or the feeling of tears in his heart.
And it is because I wish to encourage this longing for “home,” that I would persuade you to listen while I tell you about something which is always looking out for that which it does not find, which all the riches of the world cannot satisfy, and which never feels “its home," either in the palace or the cottage.
You know what an exile is—a person sent away from his native land, separated from ail he loves, to pass the rest of his days among those who care little or nothing about him.
You will all, perhaps, have heard that people pine away and die under this kind of suffering, even if they have money, clothes, food, and liberty. They are “not at home," and 'so can never be happy. And so it is with that something called “the soul,” which is the spiritual part of every human being, and which has been called “an exile from heaven;" “an exile in this ruined world.”
You know that there once lived a great and wise king named Solomon, to whom God gave riches, honour, and wisdom, with health and long life in which to enjoy it all. If life on earth could be “ perfect happiness," his would have been. For everything he desired he could have, and did have, as you will see if you read his history in the book of Ecclesiastes. But at the end of a long life, this is what he says : “ All is vanity!” The word “vanity” meaning "empty,” “ unsatisfying," " hollow.” This remarkable man finished his remarkable life and writings with these words of advice to young people : “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, in which thou shalt say, I have no pieasure in them.” Experience taught him that people get tired of pleasure, and tired of sin; and that however bright and beautiful an earthly “home” may appear to be, there is always the fact of its being uncertain how long it may last. The young grow old ; the healthy get sick. Those whom we love the most often die the first. The rich may lose their riches; and if they do not, they cannot take them with them when they die. Of rich and poor alike ,it is said: “We brought nothing into this world, and we can carry nothing out of it.” And so the daily life of every one proves how true are St. Paul's words: “This is not your rest.” And these words bring to my mind that beautiful hymn
“Oh! where shall rest be found
Rest for the wcary soul ?
Or pierce to either pole.
The world can never give
The bliss for which we sigh,
Nor all of death to die.”
Yes, “'tis vain” to expect to find “rest” for the soul in the happiest “ home” on earth. But 'tis not in vain to expect to find it in one of those “many mansions” which the blessed Lord has prepared for every“ weary soul” that seeks its home in heaven. For all such it is said, “ There remaineth a rest for the people of God.” The happiness and the “rest” we so long for are to be had for the asking. “ Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” says the Saviour of men. And if you will only go to Him, and “ask,” you will feel as if you had taken the first step in that “right way” which leads to the “home” that your soul came from; and this will at once give you a sensation of peace that you have never known before. It will be like a sailor's first day at sea on his homeward voyage. He expects to meet storms and many dangers, and much suffering, perhaps; but his face is turned towards his father's house, and every day and every hour brings him nearer to it. So that all the trials and privations that seemed so dreadful as he was going away from home seem nothing to him now that he is coming back again. There can be no doubt that the poor prodigal knew more of this feeling of rest to the soul, when in his rags and misery and destitution he made up his mind to go back to his father, and ask his forgiveness and love, than ever he did when he was spending all his money and time in sin and riotous living. But remember, dear friend, that though everlasting happiness in a home of beauty, “ such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard of,” is offered to you and to me, without money and without price, it is only to be had on certain conditions.
Christ says, “Not every one that says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” The prize is fo:
those who struggle and strive for it, not for those who sit still and do nothing; still less for those who live as if, like the fool, they had said in their hearts, “ There is no God.” The many mansions are prepared for those only who love and serve God here ; who daily pray for the forgiveness of their sins, and for the help of the blessed Spirit to enable them to live a holy life; for “ without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” Listen, then, I entreat you, to the voice of your soul when it speaks to you of the “ home, sweet home" to which it longs to return. Listen, also, when it tells you this awful truth, that if you do not go to heaven when you die, there is no other "home" to go to. There is only one other place, "prepared for the devil and his angels." Would you wish to go there?
" Safely through." AFTER spending many pleasant days amidst the lovely
scenery of the Lake of Como, the extreme heat of the middle of June warned us that we should
linger there no longer; and, to reach the pure, fresh air of the Engadine, we were advised to go by the valley of the Valtelina, and to travel by night. For many hours all went prosperously; but towards the early morning a terrible storm of rain, with thunder and lightning, came on, and the swollen mountain torrents came rushing madly down the mountain-side.
After passing several of these with some difficulty, the diligence came to a sudden stop, and, looking out, we saw in front of us what looked like a river rather than a stream wildly making its way over, instead of as usual under, the road, having carried in its resistless course large pieces of rock, by which our way was strewn, and making a noise like thunder as it dashed and leaped into the bed of the stream far below at the other side of our road. Every one looked
in consternation, and all the guard could say to reassure us was, that the passage, though dangerous, was not impassable. He desired us to remain quietly in the carriage, from which the horses had been taken, promising, when the time came, to carry us safely across; and, with a few kind words of encouragement, he left us.
Presently some labourers, living in cottages not far off, came hurrying with spades and pickaxes to try and make the road passable, and, after what seemed to be a long delay in that dreary, early morning, the larger stones were removed, and the deeper furrows filled up, and it was supposed that somehow the poor horses could drag the huge diligence through to the other side ; but the river seemed to rush on only the more impetuously because some of its obstructions had been taken out of its way. Across the real bed of this torrent, deep below the road, was a narrow plank, slippery as it must be from the rain, and, footing missed, there would be what no one would lightly contemplate. But our faithful guard, true to his promise, now opened the carriage door, and told us we might get out, and, without giving us time for either remonstrance or thanks, he took my sister in his strong arms and carried her as quickly as safely over the foaming stream, not letting her down till he put her in a place of shelter to await the diligence. He then returned for me, and, as I looked down at the rushing torrent, and felt so safe and restful for myself and my sisters, the thought flashed into my mind, So will it be when we come to that dark river of Death ; Jesus will be there to carry us across; and though the waters may sound terrible as we approach them, and though we may shrink from the intense loneliness of knowing that our dearest earthly friend can only come with us to the brink, yet we need not fear. He will be near, ready to carry us in His arms, so tender and so strong, and weeping ones need not long to bear us company, for, after all, we shall not be alone; and, as the eye closes on earth's tearful sky, the golden gates of heaven will appear, and the welcoming song of angels will greet the