« AnteriorContinuar »
Yet how insensible!
truly but a vapour ; but as preparatory to an endless existence, who can estimate its value? Mountains of pearls and precious stones, worlds of gold and silver, are not to be put in comparison with it. Here the momentous question is to be decided of eternal happiness or unending woe :
"Lol on a narrow neck of land,
Or shuts me up in helli" And is it so ? Is the present life the slender thread on which hang everlasting things ? Then “ to-day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts," Let the psalmist's prayer be yours: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.' Fly to the Cross of Jesus, and find refuge there; rest not till with this New Year you are made a new creature in Christ Jesus.” Let the past suffice that you have set your affections ou things on the earth,”, the pursuits of literature, of gain, or of pleasure ; the companionship of the vain, the worldly, and the Christless. Do not even rely upon your morality, your virtues, or your benevolence; renounce all as the ground of your acceptance with God, and trust alone in a Saviour's blood and righteousness. Then will you realize the often expressed wish of friendship, and you will have a happy New Year.
Finally, in reply to the question, " How long have I to live?" we say, For ever! Yes; for ever must we live in heaven or in hell! Eternity is to be our life-time in one or the other. All our attempts to conceive of eternity are utter failures ; it is confessedly beyond the compass of thought. Every mode of illustration, every attempt to convey an idea of interminable existence, prore the utter incapacity of reason to reach its unapproachable height, or sound its unfathomable depth.
Think, then, of unutterable woe protracted throngh such a period, with the efer present consciousness that it will never end! and away at once to the Cross ; with strong cries and tears seek pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace of Him who has said, Whosoever cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”
Christian friend! Believer in Jesus ! Lover of Christ ! Do you ask, “How long have I to live ?” the answer is, “ For ever with the Lord.”
“For ever with the Lord !'
Amen, so let it be!
'Tis immortality.” Bury St. Edmunds.
BY TIE REV.T. E. FULLER.
How came the wisdom of the world to be put into short pithy sayings as guides for its erring and wayward children ?
In the same way, surely, that broad and simple laws have ever been made to cover every variety of example.
As the patient searcher finds in heaven and earth a few living principles, expressing themselves in a thousand different shapes,
so even homely laws may give some unity to the perplexing confusion of human life.
Not that the lessons of human experience have been collected into a code of laws. Proverbs do not come to us in the elaborate confusion of human edicts, but in clear ringing sentences like the life they would guide, setting forth the snares of folly and the rewards of righteousness. They come “ East or west, home is best.” If you do down to us from the oldest of tongues ; for not like this quiet round of home life, even the highest wisdom set out and set in with its little cares and frettings to boot, order many proverbs, in stately classic better than the noisy stir outside, we had phrase, in simple homely Saxon, and not better part company at once. It is quite least, in short twanging Scotch.
necessary to our pleasant companionship More than anything else they agrert our that you should have a liking for the fellowship with the days and life that are familiar things it has to show, the “harvest no more. Sometimes when we read the only of a quiet eye.” civil and military laws of our forefathers, or Not to be unreasonable in the matter of the description of their antique dress, or conditions, or needlessly lengthy, you must see the grotesque figures preserved in our think it very pleasant to peep into the museums, we fancy we are in communion house after nightfall, when the fire is ruddy with another world; but when we read upon the hearth, and mother is quietly their proverbs, we feel the same life throbs mending stockings, and father is reading a beneath the strange garb, and know that book, or, if it be truer to life, lazily enwe are all of one blood.
joying the warmth of the fire after his day's It may be worth our while to ask what work. You must hear music in pattering place these proverbs may take in the real feet and merry laughter. All well and easy guidance of our lives. There is an old and work so far; but I have not done yet. You perhaps sound maxim in divinity, that“ It must not mind being kept awake with a is of little use to spend time in speakin crying baby ; you must bave a ready hand about special duties without instilling great and a patient heart for a sick wife and principles ;" and we indeed should be sorry child ; and once more, wben mother, and to find ourselves setting our readers to seek father, and children are together, you must the secret of holy living in a few wise believe that it is the poor pattern of a yet saws and modern instances.” It is certain, larger company, the dim mirror of a diviner however, that the principles of lise do not fellowship. find their way to the circumference of our These things premised, let me begin buing with that even and uniforın power where household life begins, and step up that could be desired ; 80 a few hints on quietly to the bridal pair that leave the altar their application will not harm up, and before the bridal tears are dry. Just a may do us much good; and this is the word or two, not to mock your morning only place in our training to which“ pro- joy-God forbid it!-but that you may verbial wisdom” aspires.
keep the mood of the morning through the Proverbs have something to say of every changing years.
“ Love is like a beautiful part of this busy life of ours, visiting with vase, which once fairly broken, it will always their smiles and frowns the high places of
show the crack." It will bear a scratch or a the earth and its lowliest habitations ; chip, but nothing more: once in pieces, uttering their stern words of truth where you may put it into sbape again for some men meet to "buy and sell, and get gain," sort of service, but its magic symmetry is or gentler sentences of love and admonition gone for ever.
“Fair plumage shows its amid the sports of the village green ; colour when the bird is at rest, but loses it offering plain counsels to " dwellers at in flight.” One old proverb which comes home," and a word even for wayfarers down from a quaint old writer, Fair under “ hoop and tilt."
words are worth much and cost little," We purpose to string together a few for though true in its place, may easily mislead the “ dwellers at home;" and though there you. They may not now, while the light be many to our hand, yet is the task not an is golden and the way is smooth; but as easy one. It is a gleaner's work, and there the days hasten, bringing little pressing is need of the gleaner's ready hand, and cares, better understand it at once lest you the gleaner's merry face. Moreover, if any. should be seeking a royal road unknown to thing be said about them, the sermon must wayfarers, kind words cost much. Pardon have the clear fresh ring of the text. a friendly word: it may seem superfluous
Let me begin by enlisting your sympathy when all is like a dream of fairy palaces, in one saying that has some relation to but you must soon begin life in the every other that may be quoted : “Be it " morning grey, and touch the cold never so homely, there's no place like granite." home ;
or the short Scotch saging, But now for a few plain words on te
vulgar matter of social economics, though the
wisdom I have to quote be as old as mortality. The first pressing household care is how to get an income, and then how to spend it to the best advantage, how to live 90 as to look every honest man in the face. Without paying a tax for heraldry, you may inscribe on your shield,“ Honesty is the best policy.” No crooked ways even to gain a sixpence, no white lies to get the best side of a bargain. Make up your mind for hard and honest work, and do not trast to the windfalls of fortune. “Nothing will come out of the cupboard but what is in it." “No mill, no meal.” Look up for God's blessing on your hardest toil, and have faith when you cannot always see its issues. “Get thy spindle and distaff ready, and God will send flax."
“ God helps those that help themselves.” Dear friends of the “ drawing-room and the piano,” don't be afraid of soiling your fingers in the kitchen. Have faith in free work, and soap and water. The skilful overseer has bimself been a workman. If needs be, the captain can furl the sails in a gale with the bravest of his men.
“ Handle your tools without mittens." "A cat in gloves catches no mice." "He who would catch fish must not mind getting wet.” that by the plough would thrive, himself must either hold or drive." want & servant who will serve you, serre yourself.”
Bat what of the oldest and hardest task in life—knowing how to spend, and spare, and save; giving heed to the little details that crowd the hours. “ Poor Richard” is gone, and who shall be our teacher? Ah, what deceptions we practise upon ourselves in the single matter of spending what we have, and, alas, sometimes what we have not! Who of us has not been guilty of the ingenious device of fixing on some article to cost so much, and saying we will, must hare it, and then altering our minds and reckoning we have in pocket the amount it would have cost to spend on other things ! We all know how the kitchen-maid praised Sydney Smith's "yellow soap” wheu it was represented as a costly article bought in the best market; but ah me! if we really knew how much "yellow soap” we did buy at a long price because we will have the "royal stamp on it! And then, ob, what We spend on bargains! Why it makes one shiver to think that a large class of the community are selling rotten wood and paint to the “bargain hunters.”
As to "auction sales," we have all a wound somewhere, and it is as well perhaps not to open it. We defended at the time the purchase of the great eight-day clock, because there was a niche in the stairs where it would just go; but we have long ago been ashamed of it, and heartily wish the money had been spent on something more useful. Oh, Mr. Auctioneer, if you with your keen glance at the motives of your buyers would givo them to us in the fraction of a unit, what would be your report? Let us guess. One-third are moved by the eager love to get one thing once in their life under its value; one-third because Mr. or Mrs. C. shall not have it; onethird, perhaps, because they are in want of what they bid for. Is that uncharitable ? Ask Dr. Franklin's old man with the silver hair, and let his ghost tell us whether the times have changed. One sharp ringing sentence coming from our Northern neiglibours will set us all straight : “Ken when to spend and when to spare, and ye need nae be busy, and ye'll never be bare." “Everything is dear that we do not want."
As to the matter of putting by against a rainy day, we may, without going contrary to the spirit of the sermon on the Mount, imitate the example of the Lord of Egypt, and when there is more grain in the garner, even if the plenty be not profuse, put by against the days of famine and darkness. It may be little we can spare, but “a pin a day is a groat a year; "" A penny saved is a penny gained.” If you have given up the idea of saving for yourself
, remember the children will want something to start them in the world. A friend of mine, who works hard and has little to spare at the end of the year when he has fed six mouths, manages somehow to insure his children's lives for terms of years. At twelve years old they will be worth £100 a-piece; and at twenty-one, £200! Just something, as he says, " for the girls if they get married ; " and useful, no doubt, if they remain old maids ; and at least a pest egg" for the boys. In these days, when we can put in our pence with our letters, it must be our own fault if we fail in thrift. And yet even wise words have their danger, and I should be sorry to find myself encouraging miserly habits in those who have been all their life-time scraping together the trifles, and never distributing the hoard. You, my friends, need another word of yet diviner wisdom. “Go, sell all that thou
hast, and give to the poor.” But you, dear friend, with the generous heart and ready hand, who, in your free way of living, often lack the prudent discipline of life, you and the careless many may heed our “good words of warning.”
Proverbs have some searching words on the delicate question which teacher" has suggestively associated with "mutual affection : “ Owe no man anything, and love one another." How was it Bishop Butler never included in his analysis of "Self-Deception" the common delusion that we can pay at the end of six months, or a year, for what we cannot afford now? Ah, that Chistmas time of the year! it's very sad that so many have to eat their feast with bitter herbs, and family meetings are so often saddened by the bur. den of family debts. So the busy world, from the poor victim of the strike to the great speculator on 'change, postpones its obligations, instead of looking them in the face to-day. An old word of wisdom says that “Our sins and our debts are more than we think.” But while we fail in a due knowledge of our position, and will not take stock of it, hoping, like Mr. Maccawber, that something will “turn up," our friends of the other side of the balance. sheet have a truer notion of our whereabouts ; for “ Creditors have better memories than debtore.” Moreover, the day approaches when their memories will help ours, seeing that “Creditors are a superstitious sect, and great observers of days and seasons. But some of our readers bend gloomily
good words,” and say, with a sigh, "Our case has gone beyond the reach of prevention; no matter how it came about, we have not wherewith to pay what we owe.” Come, cheer up, friend; "A pound of care will not pay an ounce of debt,” so gird yourself for the good work of paying your debts. Do not get in debt to one to pay another. “He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing,” says poor Richard. One short proverb will give you the seoret of getting clear:
“ Confess your debt and crave days." It is wonderful how lenient most creditors will be if the will and work of the debtor move, however slowly, in the right direction,
Not to weary you with the most prosaio branch of household life," social economics," let me sum up all, dear readers, by recommending that your whole scheme of expendituro is in accordance with your
means « Better ride on an ass that carries you than a horse that throws you." "They have need of a canny cook who have but an egg for dinner ;" but then if the egg be paid for, it will be sweet as the “ dinner of herbs where love reignis."
But, thank God, household wisdom points to other duties besides that of supplying the cupboard, and to other joys besides that of keeping the “crown of the cause
It would be odd, indeed, if there were no proverbs about “baby May," with the "tiny shoes" and the pattering footstep. Dear little fellow, who knows whether he is most of a teacher or a scholar. Well says the philosopher "across the water" to his little ones at home. “Come to me, O my children,
For I hear you at your play,
Have vanished quite away." But whither are these little pilgrims journeying, of whom the Saviour said, “ Of such are the kingdom of heaven”? Do their little faces already shine with the light of the golden gates, and catch, as from afar, the "outer murmur of the infi. nite"? Oh, they are too young for such things ! Yes, too young for the long, tedious catechism, and the chapter of genealogies, but not too young to track with egger interest the footsteps of the Lordtoo young for the husks, but how early will the kernel be pleasant to the taste!
Take your cliild, too "young to receive impressions," out there to the open aky; show to it the glittering shingle over which the wave spreads its spray, and the bold outline of the cliff hard by. These things are but the pattern of things in the heavens.” If your life and words hare made dull and harsh a theme full of Divine freshness, whose fault is that? Great is childward care and holý the work of training the little ones that crowd and bless our homes. Many who have gained their laurels at public work, have won the greenest in their homes ; and many a careworn pub. lic man turns from the busy, troubled world, to home life, as from some fevered dream to the quiet of a Sabbath sky.
Our homely wisdom gives us almost a domestio interior in a sentence. The foot at the cradle and the hand at the wheel is à sure sign that a woman means to do well," while a more pretentious and more modern proverb declares, "Those who rock the cradle rule the world." Ah, who can say, if the day ever comes when we can
clearly read the influences that have gone to mend the sicknesses and sorrows of this poor, weary world, and to basten on the day of its redemption, how many we shall find have sprung from a pure and gentle life at home; a strong, wise, yet tender government; a “pattern Lord of Thine." Good will it be for us to regard the law written on the life and growth all round about us, “ Timely blossom, timely fruit." No one expects the mellow fruit that hangs so invitingly in the rich autumn air, unless there has been the pledge in the sweet blossom of the spring, ushering in the very shape of the fruit that was to come with flowers and fragrance : and who of us is expecting the ripeness of a noble manhood from a neglected childhood, giving no sign or token of the days to come. The life outside will be fashioned by the life at home. “ Bairns epeak in the field what they hear in the hall.” Bairns are in the field what they are in the hall. That life 80 solemn in all its issues, from its rising to its close, is formed amidst the joys and sorrows of the little world inside the door.
What we all want is that our children should grow up amidst the clear shining of & calm and truthful life. The little ill tempers that make the life of a home fret and chafe are not the troubles that cleanse, but become as poison to those who ought every day to be drinking in the Divine ether. “When drums beat, laws are dumb," « Firm and gently goes far in a day."
But our homely wisdom aspires to the office of bringing consolation to the house in its days of darkness and sorrow. Ah, husband! I can see you walking home after your day's toil, with the brow a little clouded, and just a little strangeness in your gait-for your step is not quite so firm and free as it might be. You left home in the morning, and your little one was ill, and mother had an anxious face, and you wonder whether better news or deeper trouble will greet you. While sunshine rests on the city the cloud is in many a house; while the busy world buys, and sells, and gets gain, and the very air is filled with the noise of the sturt and strife," within the houses that look down upon its passing life are darkened rooms and weary watchers by the dying and the dead.
These home troubles must be calmly and bravely met; but while we gird on the armour manfully, let us see to it that the
troubles we encounter are real ones, and not those which our fears and fancies have made into a real presence.
halfway to meet trouble."
" Harm watch, harm catch.” If we would fairly banish those tribulations which our forebodings have made into realities, how would the list be shortened ? Your family almanack, made like Moore's and Zadkiel's, tracking the storms and foul weather that may be, compare it with the diary faithfully kept for the same twenty-eight days of what has been,-it ought to give a calmer trust and & less feverish forward glance. Poor little Walter, as he lay ill there in the cradle, why did you magnify his sickness and make yourself wretched by conjuring sad possi. bilities ? It was bad enough to see him as he was; the pain and weariness you could not take away, but the form your fears had fashioned was far worse than that. You would shudder to call to mind what it was that haunted your watch that night. Yet, let " that night” come back for a moment, what was it that made you hold your breath and stay your bitter thoughts ? Something that you saw through your tears as you glanced unconsciously at the candle shining dimly in the room. A little bow of wavering light and colour glistening
unsteadily on your tears as they fell. Yes, for a moment came the thought—" the very same bow wherewith our Father spans the heavens in times of storm." Ah, that very bow of promise that may span for us each stormy sky! So it is good to have trouble. Ab, friend with the sick child at home, have you found it so ? Ask the sailor there, as he stands line in hand waiting for his prey, are you doing any. thing? No, no; the tide is ebbing lazily
with a slopping, slothful sound, but see now how tightly he grasps his line when the tide sets in, with a fringe of foam beating shoreward before the half-angry wind; he will tell you it is “good fishing in troubled waters." Who can complain, on the whole, of the way in which our troubles are sent to us? How gently do the dispensations come! how kindly their warning, how tender their departure! If they enter with the look of an enemy, they go away with the whisper of a friend. There is an old and beautiful word for the sad and weary. “ God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb;" or with a yet fuller and Diviner wisdom, “He stayeth his rough wind in the day of his east wind,"