Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

fear in which he lived and died. He was brought home at last, like a wrecked ship into harbour, who might have come in with a good freight, a happy welcome, and an "abundant entrance."

The next day, Monday, we heard of other cases which were ordinary in their character, and therefore need not be detailed; but in the evening there was one which it will be instructive to mention.

It was that of a clergyman of private means, who came to this parish as a curate; but he had given up "taking duty," because, he said, "it was all humbug reading prayers, and all that." He drove a tandem, and smoked all day instead; nevertheless, he was the object of much and earnest prayer. He also happened to be at church the day I preached about the clock; and declared likewise that I said there was a clock in hell. The sermon had evidently made a great impression upon him. He came to church again the next day, and heard something else that he was unable to forget. After the service, as soon as I was free, he asked me to walk with him, to which I assented, though I was feeling very tired. We rambled on the beach, and talked about many things. I tried in vain to bring up the subject of my discourse. When I spoke about it, he was silent; and when I was silent, he went off into other matters. He talked about Jerusalem and the sands of the desert, and the partridges, which, he said, were of the same colour as the sand. Was it from looking at sand always that they became that colour? Do people become alike who look much at one another? Is that why husbands and wives so often resemble each other? and so on. These questions made an impression on me, so that they always come up to my memory in connection with that evening's walk. Certainly, the apostle says that, “Beholding the glory of the Lord,

"HOW CAN I BE SAVED?"

259

we are changed into the same image from glory to glory;" therefore there may be something in my companion's idea. But, however interesting the subject might be to consider, I was far too tired for anything else but real soul-to-soul work, and therefore proposed that we should return home. We did so; and when my friend left me at the vicarage door, he said abruptly, "Will you let me write to you u?”

"Certainly," I replied.

"I will write to-night; but do not trouble to answer in person; send me a written reply."

I said I would. In a few minutes after I received a short note, the purport of which was, "How can I be saved?" It is a very simple question, yet one not so easily answered to a person who already knew the scriptural answer. However, I had a letter by me which Mr. Aitken had written to some one under similar circumstances; so, taking that for a model, I wrote according to promise, adapting and altering sentences to meet the present case. I sent the note, with a message that I would call in the morning. I did so, but found my friend was not at home. The landlady said, "Mr. F— went out last night soon after he received a letter, and has not been home since." She became alarmed when she heard that we had not seen him. We too were taken by surprise, and did not know which way to go in search of him, or what to do. Presently we met the clerk of the church, who inquired if we had seen anything of Mr. F. —; he had called the night before for the keys of the church, and had not returned them; so he (the clerk) could not get into the church to ring the bell or admit the congregation.

This threw some light on the matter; so we went immediately to the church, and with the vicar's keys entered by the vestry door. Looking about in all directions, we found our friend on his knees in the nave, where he had been all

night. I went up to him, and, as he did not speak, I asked if I might pray with him.

He said, "Yes.”

"What shall I pray for?"

"I don't know."

"Shall I ask the Lord to come down from heaven again and die on the cross for you?"

"No."

"Do you believe that He has done that?"

"Yes, I do."

"You do believe that He has died for you-for you?" I inquired, laying the emphasis on you—" for you, as if you were the only person for whom He died?"

"Yes; I believe He died for me."

"Do you

thank Him for it?"

"No, I do not; I do not feel anything."

"That may be; but do you not think you ought to thank Him for what He did for you u?”

He did not reply.

"How can you feel anything till you have it? or how can He give you any feelings till you thank Him for what He has already done for you? Make some acknowledgment."

"Thank you," he replied; and without another word he rose from his knees and went away.

The bell was rung, the people assembled, and we had the service; but he did not remain.

Again he disappeared for the whole day, until the evening, when he came into the vestry, and said, "Will you let me read prayers this evening?" To this the vicar gladly assented; so he put on the surplice for the first time after several months, and went into church with us.

The fact of his reading prayers again, and more especially the manner in which he did it, attracted attention.

"LAYING ASIDE EVERY WEIGHT."

261

The earnest tone and meaning he threw into the words of the prayers, and more particularly into the psalm, penetrated much deeper. One lady knelt down and began to pray for herself in the pew; others were riveted as by the power of the Spirit. All through the sermon, I felt that the Lord was working among the people, and at the close they were loth to go. Many more remained in the aftermeeting than we could speak to; manifest was the the Spirit, and much good was done.

power of

There was great joy in the little village that night, and for several days following the Lord wrought among the people. Many lasting mementos remain of this week's ministry, and of the weeks which followed.

Our reticent friend was changed indeed, and immediately gave up the tandem and the pipes. I do not think he has ever smoked since; he has had something better to do.

Smoking is an idle custom, and too often enslaves its votaries; and even if it does not become a dominant habit, it certainly teaches no lesson of self-denial. A Christian man needs not to seek relief in any such way. It is said to be very soothing when a man is in any trouble or anxiety; if so, in this respect it may be said to be next door to the beer-barrel, or to the use of spirits. If one man may soothe his feelings with this narcotic, another may stimulate them, when he is low and cheerless, with alcohol. The Apostle James says, "Is any merry, let him sing psalms." He does. not say, Is any afflicted or low, let him smoke and drink! No; "let him pray," and depend upon God. Many a lesson which might be learned from God on our knees, is let slip altogether because we think there is no harm in relieving ourselves by self-indulgence. The flesh is a monster which is never appeased, much less subdued, by gratification.

Our friend put away the smoking, and sold his pipes of various kinds, which must have cost a considerable sum, for he realized eighty pounds by them. With this amount, and some addition, he was able to put stained glass windows into the already beautiful church in which he received his blessing. This suitable thank-offering was a lasting memorial of his gratitude, besides being an example to others, not only to give their hearts to God, but also to give up their besetments, whatever they might be, and in doing so be free for God's service.

This young man soon after was removed to a more arduous sphere, and carried great blessing thither; as he did also when he went from thence to a yet more influential and important place. Though now laid aside by ill health, he sends tracts and writes letters to many, and so continues to be, in the hand of the Lord, the means of winning souls; and in addition to this, sets an example of a holy and godly life.

Another little incident I must notice here. While I was still working in this place, I received a letter from home, telling me that they were all well, and very happy in the country, but that they wanted me back again, and thought I had been away quite long enough. Besides this, it was time to be getting summer things, for which they would want at least ten pounds. I had no money to send; and though I might have asked many kind friends, I felt a difficulty about it. I do not think it was pride. I had put myself and all my affairs into God's hands; and though I was not ashamed to tell our circumstances to any one who asked me, I made it a rule not to mention my troubles or wants to any but the Lord. I read the cheerful parts of my letter at breakfast, and kept the other till I went upstairs. There, I spread the letter on the bed at which I knelt, and read to the Lord the part that troubled me. I was praying

« AnteriorContinua »