« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
enjoy his newly-discovered treasure alone. Having first sought wisdom and strength from God, he began to instruct his household in the truth. It was no easy task; for he was encountered by scornful opposition and reproach, even from those of his own house, as well as from relatives and friends. He had more than once led on his troops to battle amid the whistling of balls and the roar of cannon; but he found that it required a calmer, steadier courage than that which inspired him then, to carry out his convictions of duty, and to “speak boldly, as he ought to speak," for Christ. By degrees the opposition subsided; and first his wife, who it will be remembered had expressed such astonishment at the “ Methodism” of Lady felt that she was “ without Christ," and therefore without salvation. Ere long she rejoiced in the gift of "like precious faith” with her beloved husband. The change which had taken place in their father excited the attention of the young people, and awakened amongst them the spirit of anxious inquiry; and they, too, sought and found mercy. The work still spread; and shortly the whole family, parents, children, and servants, were brought to the knowledge of the truth; and we have every reason to believe are still maintaining a consistent profession, and are still endeavouring to “adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things.” The influence of such a household on the village of which they are the head, and on the surrounding neighbourhood, can be readily imagined. Would that throughout the land men of rank, and wealth, and influence were found, like the colonel, first receiving God's mercy with the thankfulness and simplicity of little children, and then saying, like him, in the presence and hearing of the world, “ Choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for
house we will serve the Lord,” Josh. xxiv. 15. When Andrew had found the long-expected consolation of Israel, it is recorded that “he first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias. And he bronght him to Jesus," John i. 41, 42. The Gadarene demoniac would fain have followed his deliverer, but Jesus said to him, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee,” Mark v. 19. And whilst every Christian is to do his utmost, anywhere and everywhere, to lead souls to Christ, he is first of all to seek the salvation of his own kindred. They have the first claim; and however difficult it may be to fulfil the duty, it is not to be neglected. Lady might have said, “I will be a disciple secretly, and keep my change to myself. My brother will be angry if I tell him of it; I
shall only offend his prejudices, and it will be of no use.” stead of that, she told him what she had experienced, and besought him to seek the same Saviour. Look at the result. Her brother, startled at first, receives the truth. Converted, he in turn speaks to his household, and they too are saved. And who shall estimate the results of that one act of sisterly and christian affection ! Speak; write; present the appropriate tract or book; but do something that those you love rescued from everlasting death. And pray for His blessing, without whom all effort is vain ; and who can tell, but that as the result of your endeavours, and in answer to your prayers, they too may be partakers with you of “the great salvation !”
Beloved reader, is Christ “ALL” to you ; “not a helper, but a Saviour ?” Be assured it is alike needless and vain to hope to do anything which can entitle you to salvation ; but Christ offers it to you as “the GIFT OF God.” Believe, then, at once in Him; and, committing yourself entirely into his hands, you will find that he is ready to give you, s without money and without price," a salvation adequate to all your need, and a salvation which will endure for ever,
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
HOW THE SERMON WAS HEARD.
It is a fine warm morning in the early part of June; the sun is shining brightly on a very calm and lovely scene; the old grey tower and picturesque porch of the village church are bathed in glorious light; the balmy air of spring partakes of unusual quietness; few sounds, save the songs of birds, being audible at this noon-tide hour. It is the Lord's day. The cessation from ordinary occupations is the cause of the peaceful silence which prevails; and the brightness seems to the eye
of faith, in character with the blessing resting upon this hallowed day, and making it to many a weary heart “ the best of all the seven." Tread softly; speak gently; we are in the neighbourhood of a solemn place, we are very near to a solemn service. Within that holy building sinners are holding communion with God; they are seeking and obtaining pardon ; they will take home with them peace and strength. Many, whose hearts have been well nigh failing them amid the burdens and difficulties of the week, will come forth braced and invigorated for their duties, encountering them in that “joy of the Lord” which is “strength,"—in that grace which giveth us the victory. Many a sorrow is being hushed; many a tear wiped ; many an unbelieving doubt quenched; many a heavy burden lightened.
And now prayer must be over, for the wind bears hither the sound of the rustic harmony, " sung with the pride of village art;" and now again the ceasing of these sounds, and the renewed prevalence of uninterrupted quiet, announces that prayer is over and the sermon is begun; and now the preacher has ceased, the congregation have departed; the church doors have been closed. But is all over ? His word is not wont to return unto Him void; and not one of those who so lately entered the house of God will leave it as he entered it. The message must have had some effect; it must
have been “a savour of life unto life" or 66 of death unto death.” Each must return to his home, taking with him the blessedness of having again hearkened to the still small voice, speaking peace and promising forgiveness, or the guilt of having again refused the offer of mercy, and slighted the voice of warning.
But already one or two stragglers are appearing in the porch; they are of the light-hearted, inconsiderate kind, hastening to make the earliest escape from what has been to them an illendured restraint. The bulk of the congregation soon follow; and last appear the aged and infirm, and the humble poor, whose infirmities or whose modesty induced them to give place to the rest. The loud laugh and hurried step of some, the merry conversation and look of glad excitement with which others are greeting friends and acquaintances, the flippant jest, the audible remark or the subdued joy, the downcast eyes, the look of glad thankfulness, indeed, bear witness that the one kind of seed has been sown in very various hearts. Let us join that well-dressed, tidy looking family, who seem to be talking very earnestly about something, and listen to their conversation.
- Ah, Robert ! all the while Mr. Herbert was talking so much about people hardening their hearts, I couldn't help thinking of the Smith's, and how they have been going on from bad to worse, lately. I'm sure I tried very hard this morning to persuade Martha to come to church with me; her mother said she could go if she chose, and she wanted to persuade me she was going with you, Mrs. Watson. However, when I insisted that, if she were really going to church, she had better come with me, and said something to her about her unsuitable dress, she flew into a passion, and said she should go out with her father and mother, who, I heard our William say, were going out pleasure-taking somewhere, and we all know that their pleasure-taking means no good, but drinking, swearing, gambling, and bad company. Now if that isn't hardening her heart against hearing God's voice, to-day, as Mr. Herbert said, I don't know what is !"
“ Poor Martha !” said Robert Wright, the last speaker's husband, “ I am very sorry for her; she has never been brought up to fear God, and has had so many disadvantages; but, Mrs. Watson, you managed to get her to go last Sunday, though my good woman couldn't this.
“ Yes,” said Mrs. Watson ; "and I'm truly sorry to find she didn't come to-day. I quite expected to see her ; she had promised to call for me, and I made myself later than I like to be, by waiting for her. I think I ought to have gone to fetch her ; only she seemed so glad she went last Sunday, and so to intend going to-day, that I thought I need not go that extra distance, not feeling very well."
“Well,” said Mrs. Wright, “ you wouldn't have got her to go, and it's a sad pity she missed that sermon: the cap
would have fitted her, as they say. Why, did'nt Mr. Herbert say that vanity, and bad company, and sabbath-breaking hardened the heart more than most things; and isn't that just meant for such as she ?”
“I am very sorry,” rejoined Mrs. Watson, “she missed the sermon ; I do think it would have done her good to hear how the Good Shepherd is even to-day calling to us; how, if we will but hear his voice, and accept what that voice is offering, we may even to-day have pardon, comfort, peace. Poor thing ! her life is not a happy one; and such words as we have been hearing to-day might have taught her how it may be made so. But, oh! Mrs. Wright, what a comfort for you and for me, who did hear them, to go to our homes, and remember that though our hearts are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, the voice is still offering pardon.”
“ Desperately wicked !” said Mrs. Wright, when Mrs. Watson had turned, as she soon after did, into the lane that led to her house; “why should she say our hearts are so desperately wicked ? Good as she seems to be, I suppose she knows best about herself, and, perhaps, after all she isn't so much better than her neighbours, or, may be, she led a very bad life once, before we knew her ; but she needn't have applied such a term to me, who do no one any harm, pay my way, and have always kept to my church. No; if I don't come up to some that think themselves saints, there's no reason to call me desperately wicked.”
Alas! could there be a greater proof that this woman's heart was deceitful above all things ? Many a word in that sermon might have brought conviction, if she had not hardened her heart by thinking of the faults of her neighbour. If the minister had spoken of vanity, bad company, and sabbathbreaking, as hardening the heart, he had also said that pride, formality, and hastiness of spirit produced the same ill effect; and if Mrs. Wright had honestly looked into the glass he had held up, to behold what manner of woman she really was, the blessed offers of pardon with which he had concluded would not have fallen so tamely on her ears.
Mrs. Watson has now got home; and her afflicted sister, who is sitting in her easy chair by the open window, whence she has been watching for her return, is eagerly asking her for an account of the sermon. They can no longer go to the