« AnteriorContinuar »
as we saw.
house was one of the many that opened to Paul and made him welcome. Children were there, now growing to manhood, who were taught to run to the door at his approach, and to draw him joyfully in. Servants were there, who would bring water for his feet and food for his hunger, not by constraint, but willingly, for was he not their champion and friend? And there was Onesiphorus himself, hastening from his business to receive the great preacher, “ministering to him with his own hands, and serving him with all the interest and influence he had. Happy memories of those evening welcomes rose in Paul's mind as he wrote. Oh, how thankful had he often felt to turn away from the school of Tyrannus, with its hot discussions and its not unfrequent perils, and to seek the rest and retirement of the house of Onesiphorus !
It must have been to him what Bethany was to our Lord-& harbour of refuge from the stormy scenes of Jerusalem. It was more than that: “ he oft refreshed me. Courage came back, and wearied energies were revived, and clearer plans were conceived, and nobler ambitions were kindled, as those two, Paul and Onesiphorus, took counsel together, and waited in prayer and faith upon
God. Years passed, and they had not met. Business of some kind brings Onesiphorus at last to Rome. Paul is at Rome too, a prisoner,
Paul is in close confinement, and it is not easy to get access to him. The Roman Christians are rather shy of him ; safer on the whole, they think, to keep away, and not to know where he is; for, if they visit him, they too may come under the notice of the authorities, and share his fate. Christianity is under the emperor's ban, and the disciples hide themselves in corners of the city, and profess no connection with a culprit such as Paul. “ No man stood by me, but all men forsook me: let it not be laid to their charge."
This good Ephesian, however, is made of sterner stuff. He applies to the brethren, and to his astonishment they seem to know nothing about the apostle. He goes to the Government offices and inquires there ; there information is scornfully refused. He makes his way, nothing daunted, to the prisons, and asks of the jailers, gets referred from one to another, till he is almost tired out, but perseveres; at last here is a man who can tell him. But does he know the risk to his own liberty, perhaps to his own life? He knows; he is prepared to face it, only let him see Paul. “He sought me out very diligently, and found me,”—found the solitary old man with the chains on his hands, and the damp dark prison-walls round him, and the hard black bread to eat, and the thin worn clothing that could not keep out the .cold, and scarce a comrade left. What a meeting must that have been! Sunshine pouring into the mouth of a cave is a poor emblem of what the sight of that brave and cheerful countenance must have been to Paul. His dear old friend ! The ministries of Ephesus renewed at Rome ! “Onesiphorus "-well named-one who brings advantage, comfort, counsel, one who comes to light up a new fire of love and hope on the cold hearthstone of that weary prisoner's life.
It was not then in vain that Jesus had left the word on record for His disciples, “ I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Christian sympathy will find a way through every difficulty, and a key for every prison door. It goes after the sorrowful and the solitary.
Be it ours "to seek out our brethren in distress, and not to rest till we too have “found some Paul to whose wants we may minister, and whose drooping spirit we may refresh. The utmost diligence, the keenest ingenuity, the bravest resolution, how can they be better spent than in the service of our Lord, and on behalf of the least of His suffering brethren?
Paul has no silver or gold to give ; he is so poor that he cannot buy & cloak to keep off the cold; but he has something to be prized far more—a good man's prayers. Those prayers he offers both for Onesiphorus himself and for his family. “ The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus.” “The Lord grant it unto him.”
Was Onesiphorus living at the time? Some contend that he was not, because the salutation goes to his household, and not to him; and they conclude that he must have died in the interval. The conclusion is scarcely justified. "The house of Stephanas," at Corinth, is mentioned, when we know that Stephanas himself was still alive; and if Onesiphorus was absent on his journey, he would naturally not be included in the salutation. The point is of interest, because Roman Catholic expositors have urged the present passage as establishing the practice of prayers for the dead. But even were their interpretation correct, a brotherly blessing such as this would be far from offering a parallel or a precedent for the unscriptural system of priestly intercession for souls in purgatory, which the Romish Church upholds.
The greater interest is in the nature of the prayer itself. Paul sees that day” approaching to his friend and to himself-the great day of account, when good and evil stand before the bar of God. He does not think of it in the light and almost flippant spirit which some of our modern believers affect, as if judgment had nothing to do with them. He trusts that he is safe in Christ, and that his friend is also safe. Yet to pass the dread ordeal, and come forth, uncondemned, forgiven, saved for ever - what a wonder of grace will be there ! What should one pray for so earnestly as for that ? « May Onesiphorus, stretching forth his hands in that day for mercy, find mercy, even as diligently seeking he found me! The Lord grant that he whom I so joyfully embraced in my poor prison may be clasped in the everlasting arms, and received into the heavenly home!”.
Nor is it Onesiphorus alone for whom Paul would pray. Let his household too be saved. Those sweet children, to whom he had so often spoken of the love of Jesus; those faithful servants, who had their master's example to guide them; the kinsfolk who came to visit him ; may they all be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord their God! See the blessing of belonging to a godly home. A child is not saved
because he has a Christian father, nor a servant because he has a Christian master; but how the influence of such a man, and his prayers, and the prayers of others on his behalf, flow out upon his family! How much love and sympathy, how much wise counsel and kindly warning, how many friends of the best stamp are mine, because the Father of all mercies cast my lot in a home where He was honoured, and whither good men were wont to come! Take heed, ye children of the godly; ye for whom many a prayer, fervent as Paul's own prayers, has been offered for your parents' sake; to households like that of Onesiphorus much has been given, and of them much will be required.
What choicer blessing can we have than the prayers of Christian people ? That bedridden saint cannot give you payment for your visits, but when you are gone she will breathe blessings on you and on yours into ears that are never closed to her. Those native Christians far across the sea are poor, and may have to throw themselves still upon the English churches for support in time of need, but the obligation is not all on one side while these brethren pray for our prosperity. The loved ones in heaven, whom we tenderly carried down to the river's brink, cannot repay us with words of encouragement, or guide us with their long and ripe experience. But have they ceased to pray? Surely they are now our good angels, beholding the face of God, and adding their intercessions to those of the great Advocate. They may be suffered to see something of our mortal sufferings and struggles. They cannot be forbidden to think of us. And if they think of us, and still more if they seo us, the incense of their adoration before the throne is mingled with urgent entreaties on our behalf, which will surely prevail. Think of us, ye departed saints, now that it is well with you, and make mention of us in the ears of your King!
Onesiphorus has been abundantly recompensed in time and in eternity for all that he had done and dared for Paul. Need we fear to be overlooked? We have the servants’ prayers. We have the Master's promise. “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones à cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
THE INDIAN'S REVENGE. In the far west of North America, at the foot of which ran a sparkling on the extreme verge of a flourish- little stream; on the southern slope ing settlement, there might be seen was an orchard filled with pear and some years ago a small but neat cherry trees, the latter richly laden cottage, belonging to an industrious with their purple fruit. The farm, young settler, who had left England, which had already been brought his native land, to seek a home and into a pretty fair state of cultivaa fortune amongst his American tion, bore rich crops of fodder, and brethren. It was a lovely scene. of grain, which was at this time in The hut stood on a gentle declivity, the ear. Towards the north and
east, the dwelling was sheltered by "Indian dog! you'll get nothing an extensive forest of pines, and here ; off with you !" beyond it were noble hunting The Indian turned away, then grounds, where, when the harvest looked more into young was finished, the settlers often as- Sullivan's face, and said in a sembled in large companies to fa int, melodious voice, “I am follow the chase, and secure a very hungry; I have tasted nosupply of game to be dried for the thing for a long time. Give me winter's store. At this time, the but a crust of bread to strengthen feeling between the whites and the me for the rest of my journey." redskins was not so friendly as at "Be off where you came from, present; and as they were also you heathen hound !” answered much more numerous than now, the settler. “I have nothing for they
consequently more you." dreaded. However, they seldom The bosom of the Indian heaved came into the neighbourhood of with emotion, – pride and want this cottage.
Once or twice, in- seemed struggling for the mastery; deed, a few had been noticed on but the latter was victorious, and the margin of the forest; but they he said in a feeble, 'languishing harmed nothing, the tribe to which voice, “Give me only a cup of cold they belonged being friendly to the water, for I am much exhausted.” white man.
But even this petition had as little It was a mild and lovely Jane effect as before. Sullivan, with a evening. The sun had set, but the contemptuous look, told him to go western horizon was still glowing to the stream and drink. This with that pure ruddy tint which was all that could be obtained betokens a dry winter. The moon, from one who called himself a too, was shedding its silvery light Christian, while he hardened his around, and revealing every feature heart against the sufferings of his of the beautiful landscape,
as well red-skinned brother. With a proud as the tall muscular form of William but mournful gait, the Indian Sullivan, who was sitting at his turned away, and walked slowly door busy whetting his scythe for down to the little stream, his totterthe hay-reaping of the morrow. ing steps showing plainly how He was a good-looking young man, urgent his necessities were; and with an open, sunburnt
coun- certainly the distress must be great tenance; a good - hearted fellow indeed which could induce a proud withal, although terribly prejudiced Indien to ask a second time what against the Americans, and especi- has been once refused. ally against the Indians. He de Fortunately, his petitions had spised and abhorred the latter as a been overheard by the settler's race of heathens, totally forgetting wife, Mary Sullivan, who was that he owed his superior enlighten- rocking her infant to sleep; she ment solely to the goodness of God. followed the poor Indian with her The man was so intent on his work eyes, and saw his dark form sink that he did not observe the approach down exhausted a little distance of a gigantic Indian, in the native from the house. Her husband, costume, until the words reached having finished his work, had his ear, “Will you give an un- meanwhile walked along to the fortunate huntsman something to stables with downcast eyes, for he eat, and a couch for the night?" did not feel altogether comfortable spoken in a supplicating tone. in his mind; so she slipped out,
The settler raised his head, and and was soon by the Indian's side, replied in a very unfriendly manner, with a pitcher of milk in one hand,
and an abundant supply of bread his suffering brother. Mary listened and roast venison in the other. in silence, then taking him by the
“Will my red brother take a hand, with a smiling face, related drink of milk ? ” said Mary, as she what she had done without his bent over the prostrate Indian ; knowledge to the exhausted Indian. and on his raising his head to the Stepping to the cupboard, she pitcher, she untied the bundle and brought forth the heron's plume, invited him to eat.
and, relating her conversation with When he had finished, he said, the Indian, assured him he had while gratitude beamed from his therefore nothing to fear. eyes, “Karkutschi protects the "No," said Sullivan, “these white dove from the claws of the Indians never forgive an injury.” eagle ; for her sake, the unfledged “ But neither do they forget a young ones shall rest secure in kindness," added Mary; "I will sew their nest, and her red brother this feather in your hunting.cap, will not seek revenge.' Then and then you can confidently trust drawing forth a bundle of feathers to the protection of God; for I from his bosom, he pulled out remember my father used to say, the longest and gave it to her, Never neglect any lawful means of saying, “When the mate of the safety. His motto was, "Trust like white dove courses over the hunt- a child, but fight like a man. Oh, ing-grounds of the Indian, let him dear William, ” she added after a wear this upon his head.”
now that father is dead then turned away, glided into the and gone, I think a great deal forest, and disappeared.
more of what he used to say than The
was past, the I did when he was with me. I am harvest was over, the maize and afraid neither of us are in the right wheat laid up in the barn. Pre- road, William; and if we receive parations were making for a hunt- what we deserve, we must be left ing expedition, and Sullivan was to ourselves, forgotten by God; for going with the rest to the hunting- oh, we have forgotten Him!” grounds beyond the forest. He The tears stood in Mary's eyes was brave, enterprising, and well as she said this. She was the only practised in the rifle and wood- daughter of a pious English sailor, man's axe. Hitherto William had and in her early childhood had viewed the approach of this season given hopes of becoming all that with particular delight, undisturbed Christian parents could desire. by any apprehension of an attack But her piety was more of the from the Indians. But on this head than of the heart; and in occasion he did not feel quite so after years she became thoughtless, comfortable: the image of the her piety evaporated, and she found Indian whom he had treated so no longer any relish in those things rudely constantly floated before his which once had given her so much imagination. When the day for delight. To all appearance she setting out was at hand, he ex- seemed quite happy ; but yet in all pressed his anxieties to his wife, her pleasures there was a sting, confessing that his conscience had namely, the secret reflection that never ceased reproaching him for she had sinned by forsaking the his conduct. Since that time, all living God. These impressions that his mother taught him in his gradually deepened; the Spirit of youth regarding his duty to his grace strove within her, and the neighbour awoke in his mind, and truth sho had heard in her younger convinced him that he had sinned years awoke afresh in her heart. by his cruelty both against God and A long conversation ensued on this