« AnteriorContinuar »
search of pleasure, or to lie exposed to every evil influence that sin and Satan can bring to bear upon them. Those, on the other hand, employ the surest method to avoid the tempting baits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, who take constantly the wholesome food of God's word. This word it is which fortifies the mind against danger. This teaches the delightful truth, that though a life of virtue and self-denial may not necessarily be rewarded by temporal gratification or success, yet every one who, by the Holy Spirit's influence, resists temptation, from the love of Christ, and from the desire to please him, will assuredly hear him say in the great day, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things .... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
FAITH AND ITS FRUITS.
He built an altar to his God;
With faith and prayer the ground lie trod.
(Heaven's gifts), he set his heart on none;
Withheld his son, his only son.
Friendless, the friend of God became;
Long childless, nations bear his name.
The father of the faithful he:
Taith's heirs are his posterity.
Glad may I all for thee forsake ;
Let me thy sanctuary make.
Whate'er I do, or think, or am,
CHAPTER III. THERE are many solemn passages in the Bible which emphatically declare the especial displeasure of God against those who persecute his children-those, I mean, who are peculiarly his children by faith in his dear Son. Thus we are told that He “ ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors ;"* and the Lord Jesus Christ said to his disciples, " It is impossible but that offences will come ; but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he
* Psa. vii. 13.
cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." * Thus, also, destruction fell upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians because they had hated and enslaved God's chosen people the Israelites; and Moses expressly declared that God would put curses upon all who persecuted his people.f
These are not vain words; and no one who has read history, or has lived long in the world, with eyes open, but must have heard of or seen instances in which, even in this world, God has manifestly punished those who have dealt hardly with the friends and disciples of Jesus.
I do not wonder, therefore, when I look back upon the past, that, from the time of Bertha Connor being thrust out of our family because of her conscientious regard for religion, things began to go on badly with us. My father had been a prosperous man in business-a lucky man, our neighbours said; but now disappointments and misfortune began to crowd in upon him. For instance, he lost a large sum of money which he had put out at interest; he had, season after season, ill-luck (to use his own expression) with his cattle; his crops failed ; in effect, his worldly prosperity seemed to be departing.
We had trouble in our domestic life too. Never very united or happy as a family, which, considering our godless principles and lives, was not to be expected, we became more and more disunited and unhappy. My father's losses soured his natural good temper, and made him moody and suspicious, as well as more arbitrary than ever. My mother became more worried with her domestic cares, and by faithless, dishonest servants, so that she often thought of Bertha and her faithful services with a sigh of regret, and perhaps of remorse. My sisters—but I will be silent respecting them, except by saying that two of them contracted unsuitable and unhappy marriages, which gave great offence to our parents, and brought trouble and expense upon them. My elder brother became dissatisfied with home, and went to sea. In short, without revealing anything further respecting the causes of disunion, I may say that after Bertha's enforced departure from our house, our family became more and more estranged in affection, and divided in interest from each other.
At length another deep sorrow befel us; but we little thought at the time, that this deep sorrow would be the
* Luke xvii. 1, 2. f Deut. xxx. 7.
means, in the hand of a gracious, long-suffering, compassionate and forgiving God, of bringing to our house a true knowledge of those glad tidings of great joy which the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims to all who labour and are heavy laden. .
It was while our father was smarting in mind under a succession of reverses which bore down his spirits, and while our mother was in deep trouble about one of my married sisters, and at the same time was compelled to reduce the number of her servants to one rough, ignorant country girl, and herself to work harder than she had ever before worked it was at this time that our father was taken ill. He had come home from market complaining of headache and sickness which defied all domestic remedies ; and in the course of a day or two, when medical advice was called in, his illness was pronounced to be typhus fever.
Day after day the fever gained ground, and the doctor, while bidding us keep up our spirits, gave but faint hopes of his recovery. Then my sister Ann sickened; and the next day, I found that I had the fever too, and was compelled to keep my bed. Two days afterwards another of us fell ill; and in about a fortnight from the day of my father's seizure, only my mother and her servant had escaped. All in the house besides were prostrated and suffering, in different stages of the dreadful disease.
Sickness, and the near prospect of death, are solemn seasons under any circumstances, or in any state of heart as regards spiritual things and eternity. Even to those who have a well-grounded assurance that their sins are forgiven, and, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, have a good hope of immortality and eternal life beyond the grave, it is a serious contemplation—that of death ; though death, to them, is despoiled of his terrors, and they are privileged to sing, or to say, with languid, feeble tongues
“If sin be pardon'd, I'm secure ;
Death has no sting beside :
But Christ, my ransom, died.” But when there is no such hope as this, and the sick and dying look forward into a blank and gloomy futurity, with the prospect of entering it alone and unaided — their highest hope being that death may prove an eternal sleep - then death is not only solemn but terrific.
Is it to be wondered at, then, that, in the time of sorrow of which I am telling, our house was a scene of dismal misery and despair? What thoughts passed througb the minds of the rest is not for me to say, but I know that I was in much distress of soul. I remembered, then, my cousin Bertha, and wished-oh, how greatly !--that I had listened to her, instead of laughing at her, when she formerly spoke to me about religion and the dear Saviour whom she loved. The truth is, I had heard enough from her lips, and remembered enough of what I heard, to make me very wretched; but not enough to give me any clear notion of how I might escape from the wrath which I felt in my soul was to come. But I will not dwell upon this.
My mother was in great trouble. Although mercifully preserved from the fever, she felt her strength giving way with constant nursing and attendance on her sick husband and children: and, to add to her distress, her servant, alarmed lest she should take the fever, absconded, and went to her own home, leaving her mistress with no other help than could be got from a poor neighbour, the wife of one of our workmen, who timidly assisted in household duties, but refused to have anything to do with the feverstricken, and would not come near our rooms.
It was in the darkest, dreariest time of that distress, that, one evening, the door of the kitchen was gently opened from without, and my mother, who was resting for a few minutes from her arduous and anxious labour, looked up.
« Aunt! dear aunt !"
It was Bertha Connor who spoke-Bertha who had noiselessly entered while my mother was wondering who the strange visitor could be. For the years which had rolled away since they parted had wrought so much change in our cousin that she was not recognised at the first glance.
“ Bertha! No, surely not Bertha Connor?” said my mother, incredulously, as she rose and advanced a step or two.
“ Yes, aunt, it is Bertha; do not tell me to go, aunt.”
" You are come to a house full of trouble, Bertha," said my mother in great agitation.
" I know it, dear aunt; I heard of your trouble only the day before yesterday, or I would have been here sooner.