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a state of mind which enabled him to enjoy to the utmost the glorious rainbow and pleasant sunshine.
So, when we have nothing to employ our thoughts but our own vexations and anxieties, they naturally appear larger and more numerous than they would if our minds were occupied on other subjects.
“And how are we to keep ourselves thus employed ?" does some one ask. Nay, this is a question I cannot
Every one must bear his own burden, and every one must know his own affairs best; but this I do know, that there is work for all, if they are only willing to do it; no one need be idle. Look around you; look out of yourselves, and you will find something to do; and if it is only very humble work, so long as it keeps you from dwelling upon your own anxieties, you will feel the better for having it to do.
The most wretched of beings are those who have nothing to do but think of their own trials. I once knew a person who, through an accident, was confined to her room, and who, not being a woman of intelligence enough to satisfy her mind by reading, and being too indolent to occupy herself with needlework, was constantly harping upon one string, and that string was her own troubles; and upon these she would dwell until she fancied herself a martyr, and every one about her a persecutor. If she had occupied her time in working for others—and there were plenty about her who would have been glad of a little help which she might easily have given-she would have been far happier herself, and have helped to make others happy too; the little showers would not have been magnified into destructive rains, and the bow of promise might have been seen even through the clouds.
In contradistinction to this case, I know of a person who for twenty years or more was so confirmed an invalid as to keep her bed; yet those who knew her best declared that they had never known her to murmur; she had the love of God in her heart, and she occupied all her time, not in complaining about her lot, but in doing what she could to
help those around her; it was not much her poor partially paralysed hands could do, but she was constantly at work, and seemed ever in a cheerful mood; she could look through the dark clouds and see the rainbow tints beyond.
After all, that is the true secret of happiness. If we had always to remain here, and for ever to struggle on through the rough ways of mortal life, we might be excused if we sometimes gave way to fretfulness and complaining; but if we are seeking “a city yet to come,” if we can look forward with confidence to the “rest that remaineth for the people of God," we have no right to murmur; the shower will soon be past, the glories of heaven revealed, and we shall be satisfied when we can ever remain in the presence of our Father.
G. H. S.
Chats with the Sged.
HE other day I watched for some time a little boat
which was making its way across a stormy sea. The sailor who was its only occupant rowed
vigorously, but for a long time his small vessel seemed to make but little way; it was tossed up and down in the stormy waves, sometimes mounting high on the green, curling breakers, then almost lost to sight in the trough of the waves. I watched it anxiously, and felt quite thankful when at last it reached a part where the sea was calmer, and finally entered the little harbour near which I was standing, where various vessels were lying. It seemed such a strange contrast—the striving of those anxious moments in the wild sea, to the tranquillity and safety of the haven. The sailor evidently rejoiced in it, and rested quietly, letting his little boat rock gently to and fro, while he reposed after his exertions.
There was something in that scene which made me feel as if a parable had been worked out under my eyes; and my thoughts flew to some of my old friends, in their various homes, whose stormy voyage was over, who were quietly waiting in the peaceful haven of old age till they should be called to the shore. It is a very sacred time, that restingtime of old age, and should be sacred both to the old themselves and to the young, who have the happy privilege of being with or helping the aged. For, like as the sailor was tossed about in the stormy sea, so, doubtless, all those who reach old age have at some time or other of life experienced the rude buffetings of the winds and waves of trouble and adversity. In those days their minds and energies were given up to battling for life, and they had little leisure to look on to the day of rest. But now that peaceful old age has crept on, and you, old friend, have no longer strength to work, but must sit still and let other and more active limbs work for you, while you are sitting over your knitting, or calmly enjoying the warmth of your little fire, there is many and many an hour of unemployed time which you can fitly use both in looking back and in looking forward. May I help you? It is always a joy to me to have a chat with my old friends, and I want to help you in the best way, by guiding your thoughts to the things "concerning your peace.”
First of all, dear aged friends, will you try and look back carefully with me? See what there is to be sorry for in your past lives, so that now, while there is yet time, you may lay your sins on Jesus, that Lamb slain for you; and have each sin washed away in His precious blood. Believe me, it is better far to search them out now, one by one, than to rest content with the vague thought that “God is merciful.” He is merciful, and praised be His holy name for it! but He is also a just God, and He will judge us for each unrepented sin. Search all out, then; go back in your own mind to early days, and to the manifold temptations of middle life, ask for the help of God's Holy Spirit, and, as each sin rises before you, pray God to forgive it.
Try to take a portion of your life daily, and think it over with prayer; first, the earlier years of childhood; call to mind any
sins you committed then, untruths you may have told, cowardly actions, dishonest words or deeds; take on one day the first fourteen or fifteen years of your life; another day go on to your youth ; take the period after leaving school, of service, of courtship, and marriage, and, for the sake of your own soul, do not gloss over or make light of the sins revealed to you. Oh, with what a heartfelt cry will you echo the Psalmist's words, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me,” as the dark sins of that thoughtless time rise up. The temptations of those days are dead to you now, but they were none the less real then ; and those long-forgotten sins, in which, perhaps, others were involved, are written in God's book. Perhaps some who shared in sinful pleasures with you are gone already to their account. Oh, what an agonizing thought it is to have caused the fall of another soul! If you feel guilty of this, I know what bitter remorse will stir you, and that right willingly would you bury that guilty sorrowful past; but first tell it out to your listening Lord, tell Him those sins, and implore Him to wash them away in His precious blood. Don't let it be a mere dwelling on the old days, but let it be a vigorous search after the sins; remember, too, that it is an all-seeing and strict Judge with Whom you have to do, who has seen not only every action of your life, but also the secret motive that prompted every action, all the many evils that have been in your heart, though they may never have come to the surface for others to see and judge you.
It is a blessed task thus to bring the heavy burden of past sin and lay it on the Lord, bravely to call forth into the daylight of searching and prayer each of those longhidden sins that poison your true peace and hinder you in your heavenward path. Will you not, therefore, resolve to let an earnest heart-searching be the fruit of our communing? “Search me, O God, and know my heart. ... See if there be any wicked way in me.”
HEN I am hardest at work,” said a busy shopman
once," then my prayers are uttered as when at rest. When I bind up a pound of sugar, my
inward prayer is, 'Lord, bind me up in the bundle of life.' As I arrange the candles in the shop, I silently pray, 'Lord, let my light shine before men.' When I weigh an article, my heart prays, “My God, when I am weighed in the balances, let me not be found wanting !' and so on.
There was once a God-fearing woman, who, in answer to the question, “How do you manage to pray to God?” said, “My work doesn't debar me; for as I sweep the house, I am reminded of the filthiness of my heart, and pray to have it cleansed. When I lay the table for meals, I think of the marriage-feast, and pray, 'Lord, prepare a place for me, and cover me with the new robe.' While lighting my fire, I pray, “Lord, light and fan the fire of love in my soul.' As the clock strikes, I am reminded that I have one hour the less to live in the world, and am one hour nearer eternity. I remember that it is of God's mercy that the clock of my life still goes, and I thank Him. Thus I am reminded of my last end, and I thank God I have a good hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and pray, 'Lord, be with me in the dark vale."
Such praying souls as these live with God, walk with God, talk with God, and God talks to them, whilst constant streams of blessing in answer to the prayer of faith are poured out upon them daily from the overflowing fountain of Divine fulness.
There may be cases in which it seems a long while before their prayers are answered. But patience must have its perfect work, and faith must be brought into exercise. Often when just ready to give all up, at the very last moment, the Lord comes and answers their prayers, though perhaps in a very different manner from what they expected. When, however, the answer does come, unbelief is put to shame,