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arms and their mouths open. In a night—not so much like notched fact, they seemed a great deal more knives," said poor Bobbit; for the like little dogs than they did like boiler gaped cruelly, and drew in little boys. But Bobbit did not long breaths of the storm upon think of this ; they were very much him. The snow swept in, and the like all his lodgers.

wind; the sleet crusted over his “ Babies," he said to himself, bleeding fingers, and in his hair. It twisting himself together to keep was very dark. Often, when the warm. " Jest babies. Now I'd wind was the wrong way and that like to know what 'ud ha' become front door went down, he could see o'them two this night ef I didn't stars through the rusty gums of the happen to keep hotel. Wh-e-ew !" creature—the boiler seemed more

This night was growing quite like a creature than like an hotel, cold enough to emphasise. Bobbit after all, sometimes; but now it was a little surprised it grew so opened into blank blackness and cold. You see he was used to noise. sleeping in the “first-class rooms,” It was very, very cold. Bobbit over under the jacket and the hay. had been very cold before, but Right here, in the lips of the boiler, never so cold as this. He looked it was icy and wet. The wind over at the “best soot,” where his puffed in at the cracks where the little lodgers lay, and thought how hogshead-top did not fit. It seemed warm it must be in there. He kept as if the hotel were drawing in the edge of the storm from the little great breaths, like an animal, into boys, you see. It struck and broke its iron lungs. The sleet too shot upon his own poor little freezing in little broadsides of it, cutting and flesh._If he could change places cold. Bobbit's hands bled where with Harum and Scarum ! If he it struck them; but it was so dark could only change places for a little that he did not know it.

while ! “ The wind's the wrong way"

But Bobbit shook his head hard said Bobbit. “My front door 'll at himself. be blown down afore morning. “That's one way to keep a hotel! Heigh-o! Harum !”

Put folks into yer front entries, and Harum was asleep.

freeze 'em afore mornin'!" 66 Scarum !”

But it was bitter cold ! Bobbit Scarum was asleep.

felt bitten and gnawed all over. “ Warm as toast," said Bobbit, "I should ha' liked the jacket; feeling them. “Wonder ef they but I won't. No, I won't !” said could spare me the jacket?" Bobbit. He put his head down upon

But, after some thought, he con- his arm. The snow had drifted in cluded not to take the jacket. The high and soft; his arm and his head storm was screaming horribly, over- went down into it, like a cold head, this side, that side, all about, cushion. and the wind still the wrong way.

“ I'll have a white pillar-case, at If the front door should go down, any rate," said Bobbit, slowly, won. the jacket would not be any too dering why he didn't laugh at his much for his little lodgers.

own joke.

" And I won't-no, I “I won't ask fur 't,” said Bobbit, won't; they was company. And with a little grim smile. “I brung sech babies I Folks as keeps hotels 'em in here. I won't ax fur the must put up — with onconvenijacket."

ence. It's somethin' to hev a white So he did not ask for the jacket, -pillar-case of yer own. and by-and-by the door went down. The little hotel-keeper sank lower

" Seems to me I never knew such and lower into his white pillow

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case. The hotel door gaped steadily. cold-so sound asleep and so cold All the front entry filled with snow. that neither the policeman, nor the There was so much snow that butcher, nor Harum, nor Scarum the boiler choked, and gaped no could wake him, though they tried longer to the black night. In- their best for an hour. stead, it grew dully white and “He give them other young uns warm : so the little lodgers in the the warmth of the whole freezing best rooms thought, when they concern,” said the policeman, talkwaked each other up, once in the ing very fast. 6. That's what I call night, by trying to get their four g-r-i-t! feet into one of the jacket sleeves. Harum and Scarum called it a They called out to Bobbit; but he pity. They did not know what lay quite still in the front entry, else to call it. and made no

So they

"A norful pity,” said Harum, as thought how comfortable they were, they were marched off to the Little and went to sleep again.

Wanderers' Home. Now in the morning there was a “ Where's he gone to? whisgreat noise inside the boiler, and pered Scarum, looking frightened. outside too for that matter. For “Purrgetorry, mebbe," suggested Bobbit's hotel was drifted and Harum. drowned almost out of sight and “Will he keep hotel in Purrgebreath by the piling snow; and torry?” asked Scarum, after a very Bobbit's little lodgers, when they little very stupid thought. found it out, whined and whooped It's the praste as knows. I till a policeman and a butcher with doan't,” said Harum. two shovels came to dig them out. Now Scarum was thinking a very

Puppies,” said the policeman, curious thing. “If he keeps hotel letting sunlight in, “froze up here in Purrgetorry,” said Scarum to over night. A batch of pup- himself, " I hope they'll give him hal-loo!”

hot bread every day, jist.”. But For his shovel struck hard on he did not think about it long something, and it was not a puppy. enough to say it; and he wouldn't It was the little hotel-keeper, on have known how to say it if he had. his white pillow-case, asleep and Besides, that is the end of the story.





“Lord, are there few that be saved ?”—Luke xiii. 23. Few things are more annoying to a truly earnest mind than the inability on the part of companions and friends to understand its earDestness. With ignorance and sin it can bear up patiently. There is nothing hopeless in either of these. But with that crass and chronic want of power to enter into noble purposes, to comprehend great questions, to sympathise with lofty designs

with this lies at once its greatest difficulty and its greatest annoyance.

It is very obvious that this was the Saviour's portion during the whole of His earthly life. From His earliest boyhood to the end of His shortlived manhood—from the scene in the Temple to the tragedy on the cross if there is one thing more patent than another, it is

this : Men neither understood what He was, nor what He meant to be about. His character, His motives, His aims, His entire work that which Hé came to do, and the way in which He meant to do it, lay quite beyond them. And it is not an uncommon thing to find, that while He is resolving great plans, and bringing the whole force of His great Being to bear upon great interests, His most attached friends are busy settling some petty dispute; as when they vexed each other's littlé souls with who should be the first in the kingdom of heaven.

Though the question of the text comes from an unknown listenernot an attached friend—it nevertheless illustrates the sentiment already advanced. The Saviour is taking His last journey to Jerusalem. The city which killed God's prophets and stoned His messengers is in the immediate foreground. The agony and the death—the tomb and the triumph—are close at hand, and it is amid this gathering gloom and glory that a bystander propounds the ill-timed and ill-chosen question, “Lord, are there few that be saved ?” The question was not answered. The questioner read his rebuke in the memorable words, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able.”

“Lord, are there few that be saved ?" It is important at all times, it is supremely important now, to draw careful distinctions between a spirit of mere curiosity, and an eager and well-grounded desire to know. One of the first acts of the human mind and when that human mind retains its early healthfulness, one of the last—is to look earnestly into the nature and reasons of things. It is this which so often lights up the liquid eye of childhood with new wonder and delight. It is this which so often makes the dim eye of age to flash again as with returning light. It is this which ministers perennial gratification to the student, keeping him ever beneath a trembling consciousness of advancing knowledge. It is this which sustains the traveller as he passes on from sea to sea, and from shore to shore. It is this, in fine, which imparts the greatest charm to life. The mere desire to know is among the most rooted of our instincts, and the mere act of getting to know among the richest of our rewards.

As the human mind does not change either its nature or its attitude when brought to bear upon religious objects, the bare desire here for knowledge is as strong as elsewhere. The mind of God, the ways of God, the methods and government of God, the plans and the purposes of God, are all, within devout limits, and to a devout spirit, as truly legitimate subjects of investigation as the position and extent of our coalfields, or the tastes and tendencies of the times. It is the Church of Rome, or other Churches which have copied the Romish spirit while repudiating the Romish name, which seek to discountenance the free and fearless looking-into of religious questions. And I think it may be said without risk of contradiction, however grave the errors into which some people are led, through a manifest incompetency to deal with great questions, the evil is multiplied and intensi

fied a thousandfold, when these questions are fenced round by ecclesiastical restrictions, and free-thought is stified by the dogmas of a Church, of a sect, or of influential individuals. " We must be free or die who speak the tongue that Shakspeare spake, the faith and morals hold that Milton held.”

The point, however, is not so much whether there shall be free inquiry or not ; that is at any rate claimed and professedly conceded on all sides. The point is, what is the spirit in which this free inquiry shall be carried on? We hold out the great facts and doctrines of Christianity; the mystery of the Being and the providence of God; the nature and the destiny of the teeming human family—and we say it is already a conceded point that these are proper objects for investigation; but before the investigation begins we put a hand upon the shoulder of the candidate, and say, “ Show us your credentials—let us see that you have a right to investigate ; " in other words, " What is the spirit in which you mean to investigate.” If your spirit is a true one, an earnest and a devout one, you may begin your inquiry at once, and pursue it to any reasonable length ; but if your spirit is an idle one, a merely curious or captious one, you are morally unfit to ask the simplest religious question, or to face the most elementary religious problem.

Let us apply this test to the case before us. The Saviour bas been speaking of the small beginnings, and of the immense growth, of His kingdom, when a bystander puts the question, "Lord, are there few that be saved?” Is the man's soul trembling with anxiety lest, after all, a mere handful of the great family will reach the everlasting home? Is he so keenly alive to the magnitude of his question that an answer in favour of the many would send him home dancing with delight, or better still, fill him with a grand ambition to do his best to make the many more? Or is he concerned about his own salvation, and is the question paramount, “ Many or few, shall I be among the number?” Not at all! It is a purely idle question, put in a purely idle mood, by a purely idle man. It strikes him as something he would like to know, that is all! An interesting speculation, a curious problem. "I wonder if heaven will be crowded, or if it will be half empty. I'll just ask the Master; He's sure to know !" And because of the spirit out of which the question was born he got no answer.

Now I do not want to be uncharitable, but it would appear that the better half of what is called just now a spirit of inquiry on religious matters is only a spirit of semi-curiosity, and as mere curiosity is in its very nature fickle, it follows that more than one-half of what is called religious inquiry is worthless. Even should our proportion be objected to as being too large a proportion, and we cut it down to onefourth, it still remains a very serious matter that so many men—not by any means our worst or feeblest men—are pushing their way intellectually into religious questions, in such a spirit as totally to miss the mark ; are asking in such a tone and temper of mind as precludes the

moral possibility of an answer; are knocking at a door which will never open to them till they have learned the art of knocking in the spirit of Him who said, “ Knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

Brethren, I have called this a serious matter, and as such I wish to speak to you about it, and I wish to speak to you face to face. There are men in all our congregations who do not get settled religiously. Regular, attentive, apparently devout, they yet connect themselves with no Christian Church. Let it be granted frankly that we of the Christian Church are not blameless—that our theology has been hard and unkind—that we have fenced up the doorway with restrictions the Master would have torn down. Let all this be said, and much more, still I ask you, Are we the only guilty parties in the business? Is there no particle of blame attaching to you? Has pride, or cynicism, or a mere idle curiosity, nothing to do with keeping you from settlement on these great points? Is it only our repellent temper, and not your idle sneer? only our theology, and not your indifference? only our "Avaunt," and not your languid look into things which the angels desire to look into ? If we have said, “ Swear by us," have you been other than mere idle seekers of religious curiosities, uttering your weak, “ Lord, are there few that be saved ? " while the Lord is treading the path to Jerusalem and the cross ? The word of warning to you to-day is a very solemn one, “Strive, agonise, to enter in at the strait gate, for the time is coming when many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able."

We have spoken of the spirit of religious inquiry, and we may be arrested here by a very fair question, " When may a man know that his desire to know is a real and not an idle one ? I am looking, for example, into the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. How am I to know that it is not mere curiosity, but a sound religious instinct and spirit, which prompt the inquiry ? "

Suppose, after your investigation, you came to the conclusion that there are three persons in the Godhead—the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. You are convinced that Scripture teaches that, and reason does not disapprove it. And yet you remain exactly the same kind of man after your investigation that you were before. The Father is no more to you. The Son is no more to you. The Spirit is no more to you. You do not say with greater meaning, “Our Father who art in heaven," &c. You do not say with greater fervour, " My Lord and my

od," and you do not seek one whit the more diligently for the personal influences of a personal Spirit. Then I say your inquiry is vain. Your questions are idle. Your orthodoxy is a figment. The whole thing is worthless. It is only the spirit of the man who said, “ Lord, are there few that be saved ?" Suppose you come to the conclusion of the Theist. Jesus was only

The Holy Spirit an Impersonal Influence. The Father all in all. You have got rid, you say, of debasing superstitions. You have freed the fundamental idea of religion from all that ignorance and

a man.

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