« AnteriorContinuar »
“Maybe they do; but I'm not going to die yet, Miss B. Besides, when I come to die, I'll have plenty of time, maybe, to cry for pardon. It's not likely that I shall die suddenly. I am sound and healthy, and I don't see what need there is for such a terrible alarm."
“Remember, Bill, the same Saviour which said, 'Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out,' and Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,' said also, ‘Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life. He will also say, in the last great day of judgment, 'Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' I hold out to you His invitations and promises now; but if you spurn and reject them, you will hear the curse.”
“Well, I'll risk it; I ain't so easily frightened. There'll be plenty of time yet. At any rate, it's not long till Tuesday evening, and I'll be sure to come to your meeting.";
“Well, Bill,” said Miss B., fixing her eyes solemnly upon the man, “I have come to you with the last message of hope. Now I have done my duty. The guilt rests upon your own head. May God yet have mercy upon you! I leave you in His hands.” Thus the interview ended.
She then walked away, breathing out prayers for this hardened man, while he returned to the engine-room, to talk and laugh with his companions over the strange message which he had received. There was food for merriment in it to some of them, while others stood awe-stricken, as if a voice from the other world had come to warn them. Still, all looked upon it with some manner of doubt.
Next day Bill went home from his work at the mine, complaining of a bad headache. As usual, he was so surly and disagreeable that his wife scarcely dared to perform the usual offices of kindness for him ; but thinking it would prove to be only the result of a cold, she managed to apply some domestic remedies, and he retired to bed, to toss restlessly the whole night through. At dawn of morning he was much worse ; fever ran high, while occasional fits of delirium prognosticated intense illness. As he belonged to a benefit society, his wife assumed the responsibility of summoning the usual medical man, who enjoined the strictest quiet and rest, if they would arrest the disease. But the word had gone forth—the word from the throne, from the throne with the rainbow on high ; and by slow and sure degrees Bill passed into the most delirious stage of brain fever. It mattered not that ice was applied to his burning brain, or that his head was shaved, or that the doctor resorted to all his well-known and most approved remedies : nothing took any effect. Yet occasionally lucid intervals came; intervals in which his memory recalled, although disjointedly, the conversation of two or three days before. At such times he would groan, “ My last hope ! my last hope !" and then, losing consciousness, he would relapse into insensibility again, or go off into frantic ravings, cursing the memories of his mother and the gentle girl who had so fearlessly carried to him the message of salvation—a message which was half a warning, half a prophecy. She came to see him, too; prayed for him amid his ravings, mingling her tears with those of the terror-stricken wife. A few days of this terrible suffering went on, and then Bill's spirit filed to the presence of its Maker, there to answer for his rejection of the last message of mercy.
This occurrence produced a very deep and widespread feeling of awe in the neighbourhood. The circumstances were too well known to be laughed away, too terrible to be laughed at. They led others to think more seriously of the future, and to receive the warnings and invitations of the Gospel with greater solemnity, so that many among those rough illiterate miners received the word of reconciliation by the ministry of Miss B. Some of
have received a last message from God, although knowing it not. Death comes very suddenly sometimes, leaving no opportunity for even one last agonising “God be merciful to me a sinner.” None of us are ensured against death ; none of us can know from whence will come the blow which sends us out of this state into the next. But is it not the very extreme of madness to defer making sure of proffered mercy? As each one of us holds his and her life on most uncertain tenure; as each one has received some message of reconciliation from God —though perhaps not so strikingly direct as in Bill's caseis it not impious daring to wilfully, deliberately postpone seeking for salvation? The brittle thread of life may soon be snapped ; the merest accident may shorten the term of mortal probation; then, what hope is there beyond the grave? God's time for repentance, pardon, acceptance, is now: the world's, by-and-by. God says, “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation :" the world says, “ To-morrow will do; there's plenty of time.” So the deluded sinner goes on, delaying and procrastinating, until some sudden call or untimely accident comes, which sends him into a dreadful eternity in a moment.
Death is always untimely to the unprepared. To those who put off seeking for salvation, striving to quiet their uneasy conscience by the flippant thought, “Plenty of time yet,” death is never welcome, and never timely. Instead of being gathered into the Father's garner, like shocks of corn, fully ripe, the unwilling spirit is driven away in his wickedness to a dreary, despairing, remediless woe; there to lament, over and over again, through all the ages of eternity, “ The opportunity is past! The message of mercy and peace was rejected !" “ The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved.”
“ There are no acts of pardon passed
In the cold grave to which we haste ;
L. R. P.
OME whom fortunate we deem,
Rich in mercies as they seem-
“The Prisoner of our Lord Jesus Christ.” or the prisoner of Nero, as perhaps we should have
written. No, Paul knew better than that; the confinement would indeed have been dreary, and
the imprisonment almost unbearable, had he considered himself as held in the iron and cruel grasp of one of the most wicked men that ever lived. No, Paul knew well enough that the God who had brought Joseph out of the prison-house at His own time still lived ; that He whose angels had thrust aside the prison bars, and flung wide open the prison gates for Peter, was his God too. And sure he was that all the bars and bolts in Rome could not keep him if Jesus, his Lord and Master, wanted him at liberty. And so Paul's mind was at rest, and, though a prisoner, he was learning, day by day, more and more of the height and depth, the length and breadth of that love which passeth knowledge.
“ This troublesome cough keeps me a prisoner," some weary one says; and very troublesome the cough seems then, and each remedy tried and failing, a sad disappointment. But the prisoner of Jesus Christ ! ah, that is a different matter altogether. There to do His will; there to learn more of His love ; detained to bring forth fruit to His glory : laid aside, not as a useless, withered branch, but that God may show what His grace can do, what patience He can give, what cheerfulness under suffering, what joy in the midst of sorrow, kept there not one day too long. Not forgotten, but carefully, lovingly watched and tended ; trained, perchance, for future work and for eternal glory. Yes, the prisoner of Jesus Christ may well rejoice; He takes special care of His prisoners; visits them constantly : “ The Lord despiseth not His prisoners." They are "prisoners of hope;" and soon the Master will open the doors of the prison-house, and bid His prisoners go free, and for ever bask in the sunshine of His love.
“I love Thy yoke to wear, to feel Thy gracious bands;
Sweetly restrained by Thy care, and happy in Thy hands.
The Mountain Stream. RIVER, having its rise far away among the inland hills, at length finds its way into the sea.
It has travelled many miles and met with many
obstacles on its journey. When it first left its subterranean home, it dashed down the hill-side as though eager to reach its destination; but its velocity was soon checked, for it had to wind its way in and out between the rocks that lay at the foot of the hill : it was diverted from