« AnteriorContinuar »
be used the most economically possible, and it may be wasted. That is no concern of yours. You are not accountable after you have given to such objects as your conscience approves.
2. Set apart statedly a certain part of your income for Christ.
I am not to say how much you must give. The Bible don't say. It says,
6 Give full measure, pressed down, running over,” “Give without grudging,”
;" “ God loveth a cheerful giver," " Let every one of you set apart, as God hath prospered him," “Freely ye have received, freely give,” 6. He that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully.” But after all it is left to your conscience to say how much each one is to give. But the point I wish to urge is, that every one have a drawer, or a box, devoted solely to charity money. Whenever you have money come in, whether it be from Bank stock, from shipping, or from trading, from the farm, or from the eggs you sell, ask at once, conscientiously, how much of that belongs to_Christ ? Whatever it be, at once put it in His box! There now! It is no longer yours-don't touch it any more than you would borrow bread from the Communion table-till the time comes to hand it over to His cause. You will find it easy to give, after you have once put in the box. This plan I have tried with great success. It cultivates the conscience, it cherishes self-denial, and it enables you to give without grudging. And unless you do this, or something like it, you will be surprised, on accurate calculation, to find how little you really give in the course of the year! I once knew a man who wanted and tried to be a good, conscientious Christian, and who came to his minister to remonstrate sharply that “ collections were made so frequently.” His minister heard him very quietly, and then said, “Mr. Smith, won't you now just put down on paper the sums you have contributed in the last year?”
“Certainly, sir. Please to put down as I call them over."
So he began. To Foreign Missions, one shilling ; to Home Missions, Bible Tract, &c., one shilling; and the whole amount was just six shillings ! The man was amazed, for he felt before as if he had given about all that came from his church. I must insist upon it that every man will greatly over-estimate his charities, as he does all his good deeds, unless he keep an accurate account of them. Laying aside
statedly, or whenever you bave money come in, and conscientiously too, will make it all plain and easy. The charity case comes round (you wonder how it can come so soon), and you don't have to contrive how to raise the money, nor how little it will do to give. The money is ready in the box. Hand it over freely, and trust that the box will be filled again. But be sure and put into the box till you feel it-feel that you must go without this or that, feel that it is really a sacrifice. such sacrifices” cost us self-denial “God is well pleased.” None others are sacrifices.
3. Give to Christ and look to Him for the reward.
My readers may blush for my old Puritan notions, and think me “ behind the age;" when I solemnly warn my generation that a vast amount now going under the name of charity is not charity. I fear it is a stench before the Lord. What kind of giving to Christ is it, when you pass your money into the fair, into the raffle, into the “charity ball,” into the “private theatrical,” and expect and demand that you get the worth of your money, in sight-seeing, in the raffle, in the dance, or in the amusement? You buy amusements, and you have them. You seek your reward in these ways, and you have it; but you must not expect Christ will reckon it as charity.
Freely ye have received, freely give, hoping for nothing again." It will be said we raise vastly more money in this way.
So we do. But does money so raised have the blessing of God coming down on the giver, and on the receiver, as if given to Christ? “ Charities” raised in these ways may be investments, and you may get the worth of your money; but it is a misnomer to call them charities. And yet, are not multitudes congratulating themselves on their hopes of a great reward hereafter, because they give money by the handful in this way?
if that only is charity which is given out of love and regard to the Saviour, how much charity have we going up with our prayers? It may be you give from patriotism-love for our country. I am glad of it; I rejoice in it :. but why must you have your pay down in amusement, and rafites, and theatres, and dances ? Why can't you trust Christ for at least a part of your reward ?
4. If you would have giving easy, give cheerfully.
I have an impression that a kiss which your little child runs to give you is far sweeter than one given you because you sternly command it. And does not our Saviour so esteem it? “God loveth a cheerful giver.” Does He love any other giver ? If you shrug your shoulders and scowl every time you are called upon for charity, you do not give cheerfully. Give grudgingly, and you lose it all. You have nothing but pain in giving, and you will have no reward hereafter. You would not grudge to wash and bind up the wounds of Paal and Silas, bleeding from scourging, would you ? Then why not meet every call that humanity makes, as Christ did promptly and cheerfully ? “I will come and heal him.” What I mean is, that you
should cultivate the habit of giving cheer. fully, and it will then be easier every time. Try being a collector one year, and see how you will find some all ready, handing to you cheerfully, wishing it were more, thanking you for calling, while others look and act as if you had come to rob them, and they must buy off with as small a sum as they possibly can. You feel that the hill of Zion which you are raking has become a fern pasture !
My dear brother and sister in Christ, I beg you not to sit for the picture of “ the covetous man, whom the Lord abhorreth.” The pen of inspiration hath written but few texts more fearful than that
THE CHRISTIAN'S PATH,
I WALK as one who knows that he is treading
stranger soil ;
Its subtle coil.
From a sharp chain:
Be bound again.
Ungenial air ;
The bright and fair.
For sin is near;
In haste and fear.
Its spell is gone;
To yonder throne.
In gloom away;
Thou Star of Day!
Earth groans and cries;
Thy bride still sighs !
Tales and Sketches.
THE SURE PROMISE. “ ALL this time I have been watching and waiting, and still there is no hope.”
Thus murmured a sad-looking woman, who sat in her widow's weeds, in a poorly furnished room, whose outlook was upon a narrow but noisy and busy street. Upon a table near her several dark-blue army coats were folded, the result of days of toi). In her lap was a letter, coarsely written and unevenly lined, as if the hand of the writer was tremulous through weakness or some other cause. Again and again her eyes wandered to the ill-written sheet, particularly one portion, which thus:-
“ I'm tired and sick of this life, anyhow; and if it wasn't for a faint hope of sometime seeing home again, I believe I should shoot myself. Your advice in your last letter was all very good; but I don't believe-I can't believe anything of that strange theory of yours, and to tell you the truth, I haven't a very high opinion of that religion you press upon me. I wish I could find something better than the ennui that oppresses me, for I am in the midst of bad influences, but my peculiar temperament is, as you know, untouched by any of these serious considerations. Give me good company, a pack of cards and plenty of money, and I am as happy as I wish to be; but when all these are gone, life is a blank. I have spent every farthing of my last month's wages. Tell Maria I will borrow some to send her.”
And this was from the child of many prayers—from the once innocent, guileless, open-hearted boy whom she had dedicated to God, and whom she had fondly hoped to see filling the sacred desk before her own head was laid beneath the sods of the valley.
Oh! how sadly she thought of the time when he was her only earthly comfort. She recalled the weary years during which she hovered by the sick bed of her husband, and saw him, as it were, die daily before her, of a painful and lingering disease. Then came the dark day when she was
written "widow,”' and she stood gazing down into the chasm of death that awaits all the living, with a sinking of heart that none but those who have lost a tender and indulgent husband can know. Then it was that her boy, her beautiful, goldenhaired little Herbert, took upon himself the office of consoler.
“When I'm a man, mamma,” he lisped, “ I'll get money for you, just as papa used to!” and his innocent prattle soothed the sore heart, while, even in her woe,
the high destinies of the child formed a part of her plans for the future.
How she watched the little feet, that they might not go astray! How she prayed to the Father for strength to act aright; to bring up her boy in His fear; and how she toiled from day to day to clothe, feed, and educate him !
It was not till he was fourteen that any symptoms of restlessness appeared. Then began his acquaintancewith one who sought to corrupt the youthful mind, and, alas, succeeded but too well, for he was led from one bad habit to another, till, long before the poor, pious mother knew it, the
foundations of his character were undermined.
Herbret appeared much as usual, save that the keen eyes of the mother saw an almost imperceptible change, and yet she did not suspect the worst. She did not know that the child in whom she trusted so wholly, deceived her daily, and gloried with others in the success of his cunning. She knew not that when she had herself retired he arose from his bed and escaped from his room to join the miserable com. panions he had learned to love.
The first cruel shock had nearly killed her; he came home one night intoxicated, maddened by the draught of vile liquor he had drank; and long after he had fallen into his drunken slumbers, the broken. hearted woman, with clasped hands and tearless eyes full of agony, walked to and fro, moaning like one who never to hope again; faith struck with an almost mortal blow-trust well-nigh gone. It did not last long, however, this mental paralysis. Again and again she besought God, with strong cries and tears, not to desert
her now, but in His great mercy to provide a way of escape for this erring, beau. tiful boy-her sole earthly hope and dependence.
Two, three years passed on, Herbert was growing iu stature but not in morality. His temperament was cautious and secre
hence he contrived to hide many of his faults. He had managed to acquire a show of depth, and in some respects his really fine mind was well stored. His graces of person, however, were more thoroughly cultivated than his heart or his intellect, and he always secured admiration.
Even with this knowledge of bis defects, the widow herself was often deceived with a faint hope of his thorough reformation ; but when one day he brought to her home the poor, thoughtless child he had mar. ried, taking her from the boards of a theatre, all the prayers, the pains, the gorrows with which she had yearned over him seemed utterly lost.
And so it was she came to say, “ All this time I have been watching and waiting, and still there is no hope."
Strange and dark indeed seems that proridence, sometimes, that denies us the simplest and most natural desires of our hearts; but could we only still hold on to faith and prayer, we should know in His own good time why
“ God moves in a mysterious way,
His purpose to fulfil." The widow had hardly spoken thus before there came a timid tap at the door. At the low-spoken " Come in,” a slight creature entered. She was very white and thin, and her face, still pretty, bore the traces of care and tears. In her arms, and half covered with her shawl, lay a wee babe, its little features so pinched, and small, and old-looking, that the child seemed a caricature of helpless age.
The widow watched her anxiously as she came forward with her burden.
“You have heard from him ? " said the fragile creature, sinking into a chair and panting.
“Yes; but, poor child! he has sent you no money," said the elder woman.
“And he a captain!" half sobbed the other. “Oh! what does he do with his
poor fellow! You know he has none of the comforts of a home."
“And you can plead for him-after all his cruel
“Oh, never mind, mother what is on your lips. We can't tell, away here, by this time-but-what he may be wounded-or-dying.”
“No;" and the widow's cheeks grew paler. “No; God help us to forgive each other. But he cannot-oh! he cannot die till God has heard my prayers.
Where you going, child ?" she asked abruptly.
"For work,” was the reply. "I have had an offer, and”-her lips quivered—“I hate to tell you that I must accept it or starve. I am going on the stage again if I can do no better."
The vidow turned away to conceal her feelings. If the truth must be told, she had never taken kindly to this poor girl, who, after all, had given an honest heart to her son ; and now to feel that the woman that once-worshipped boy had wed and neglected should return to a place which she looked upon as utterly degrading, filled her with emotions that she could with. diffiulty repress:
“ No, Nelly,” she said, a few moments after, “ you shall not go there, neither shall you starve. You are my son's wife, and you shall stay with me. God will help me as I help you."
“Oh! mother," sobbed the girl, tears streaming down her pale face, "I can't do that-unless, indeed, I could sew for you,'' she added, her eye catching sight of the pile of army coats.
“ You shall stay here, child, and help me as much as you can.'
“ But if I should be a burden ?
“ I have borne burdens heavier than ever you and that babe could be. And who knows but God may have mercy upon the child of an erring father?” she added, in a low voice. “Yes, my poor girl, we shall at least be companions for each other, and, like Ruth, you may one day say to me, • Your God shall be my God."'.
« Oh! mother," sobbed the woman, with broken voice and utter humility, “if I could only be a Christian; but I have never dared to speak to you about it," and for the first time she was enfolded in the widow's arms.
“Spends it in dissipation with his miser. able companions," said the widow, sternly, her eye falling upon the inelegant scrawl before her.
Oh, no ; don't be too bard upon him,
“I heard your voice all night, mother. . So commenced a letter dated in hospital
six months after the reception of the mis. sive spoken of in the commencement of our sketch.
“ You seemed to be crying for God to have mercy on your poor, lost boy. Since I received this terrible wound, which baffles the skill of the doctors, who do not expect to see me alive on the next day's rounds, I have thought continually of you. Men have died on my right and on my left, and when they were carried out I have groaned, “Mother, pray for me. I am sick and helpless ; a good clergyman, a ministering angel, writes this for me. He knows how I feel, and he is trying to point me to Jesus. Are you praying for me?"
"Twenty-one long years you say you have been pleading on my behalf. Oh! I dare not think God will accept me, so hardened ; one who has resisted such pleadings, such love twenty-one years. Oh! mcther, yet I dare hope a little; He has promised to be the widow's God-He has promised. Tell my poor wife I have been saving my money for her; it is not much, but it will keep her from suffering for a while. You say she is very ill-may God have mercy on her and on me'.
THE WRONG TURNING. WHEN I was a boy—but it is a long time ago, for many a crop of corn has been gathered into the garner, and many a fall of snow has covered the hills and valleys since then-aye, and many a friend and companion has been carried to the cold grave; but as I said, when I was a boy, my father sent me on an errand to a farm-house a few miles in the country. "You must go," said he, “straight along the turnpike-road till you come to the second milestone, and then, passing the big house with the rookery in the elm-tree, yon must take the first turn to the right, which will lead to Farmer Gilbert's house; but mind, whatever you do, be sure that you do not take the wrong turning."
Boy like, I was so pleased with the prospect of a pleasant walk into the country, that I did not attend so carefully as I ought to have done to the directions which my father gave me; so that, when I had passed the second milestone, and arrived at the big house with the rookery in the elm-tree, I could not at all remember whether I was to take the first turn to the right hand or to the left. After pansing for some time, I made up my mind to take the left. I did so, and thereby took the wrong turning.
Well, on I went, as I thought, for Farmer Gilbert's, till the lane got very narrow, and the road very dirty. part there was a gate across it, and getting over the gate, I did not perceive that the bottom binge was off it; no sooner had I mounted the gate than it swung on one side and flung me into the mire, and a fine dirty state I was in. A dog'came growling out of the cottage by the roadside ; to get rid of the dog I clambered over a hedge, and in my haste almost tore off the skirt of my jacket. With the intention of defending myself from the dog when I should return, I pulled out my pocketknife to cut a stick; but in doing this I cut my finger, and dropped my knife into the ditch, and could not find it again. After all my misfortunes, no Farmer Gilbert's could I find. Indeed, it would have been strange if I had, for every step I had taken since leaving the turnpike-road had led me further and further from his house. At last I asked a man who was working in a field to tell me the nearest way to Farmer Gilbert's, mentioning at the same time which way I had come. “I do not wonder,” said the man, “at your
“ DEAR MADAM --Your son died this morning, in the full triumphs of faith. In all my hospital experience I have not seen so happy a death-bed. How he thanked God for giving him a praying mother! For five days he has been full of an unutterHis countenance
was most heavenly. I wish I could tell you all he said, now, but time presses, and I must defer the mournful but pleasing task.”
The widow received this letter just as she had closed the eyes of Herbert's wife.
The little babe lay near in a sweet slumber, so the sorely stricken heart was 200 all alone.
“ Thank God!-oh! thank God!" she cried, with streaming eyes; “the husband and wife have met in heaven, for she, too, died a happy Christian."
I write of incidents which occurred in 1812. The widow's heart was gladdened by the little child, who grew in natural graces like his father; but who, before she died, became a minister of the word, and is still a devoted, faithful disciple, winning many stars for his crown of rejoicing.
It was hard to wait, but the promise w.is