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Whether that night's experience taught a lesson of faith to any of the other fishermen we cannot say, but we know that Red Mike's trust was strengthened, and that ever afterwards he could repeat with the greatest confidence the words of the Psalmist, “Trust in the Lord, and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed."
How well it would be if we could all feel the same confidence in our Heavenly Father as was felt by the poor Irish fisherman. It would lighten all our burdens, and help us on till we reached that shore “where faith will be changed for sight.” Here we must have trials, and we may have privations; but we may be sure of this, that if we are real followers of Christ, and children of God, all things, yes, trials and privations included, will work together for our good.
so this happy Christmas season has come round again. It seems but a short time since we, like others, were busy planning and plotting
all sorts of pleasant surprises for that happy morning last year ; and yet let us think with tender sympathy of the many homes where tears must mingle to-day with the smile that would try to conceal them, and of others where there can be no smiles at all, but where want has taken the place of abundance, and vacant chairs look dreary, and where the last Christmas gifts from dear ones now gone are tenderly looked at and treasured as being the very last.
last. For us who have been spared such trials, shall we not ask for very grateful hearts and very tuneful lips, that our song of praise may be deep and true and hearty ? "Open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.” 1
What a busy, often fatiguing and perplexing, and yet always happy time it is, when we try to make, it may be, a little money do a great deal, and busy brains and fingers are called into requisition to make it go farther. There are also such delightful little mysteries going on among the dear children ; the younger ones so pleased to be taken into counsel, and to add their small coins to the larger savings of the elder ones; these elder ones, again, so important, so delighted for this time to go shopping by themselves, and all so carefully keeping the secrets which parents and aunts would not wish to discover.
Sweeter still is the desire to make Christmas a bright and joyful day to the poor; and here mothers and children and servants can all help and work together, so that the widow and the fatherless, and the sick and the sorrowful, may be cheered by finding that they are not forgotten.
But, after all, surely it is the great gift of gifts, God's “unspeakable Gift” to us, that makes the true joy of Christmas; all the rest are like little sparks shining with
ins] Psalm li. 15.
the reflection of this, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given." Let us for a few moments try to enter a little into this wonderful mystery of “God manifest in the flesh,” and as we gaze and ponder we can only exclaim, “O the depths of the riches of His grace.' For what is this Gift? “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”3 “He spared not His own Son." That Son in whom His soul delighted, and was well pleased. “He who, being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person,' made flesh and dwelt among us.
He who was in the form of God, ... took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” 8
Four thousand years before, God had promised to our first parents, in the Garden of Eden, “ The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head,” 9 and later, by his prophet Isaiah, He said, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” 10 when the fulness of time was come, we hear that sweetest of all the sweet messages borne to us by angel lips, “ Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."11 Let us go even now in spirit with the shepherds, and, as we reverently bend over that infant form, Whose birthplace was the manger in Bethlehem, let us once more listen to the herald as he pronounces His titles, “ His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” 12 Shall we not say with Thomas, "My Lord, and my God”?
But to whom was this wondrous Gift offered ? Not to loving, obedient children ; not to faithful servants, not to loyal subjects. Listen to our Father's own lament, “I 1 Isa. ix. 6. 5 Isa. xlii. 1; Matt. iii. 17.
9 Gen. iii. 15. 2 Rom. xi. 33; Eph. i. 7. 6 Heb. i. 3.
10 Isa. vii. 14. 3 John iii. 16. 7 John i. 14.
11 Luke ii. 10, II. 4 Rom. viii. 32. 8 Phil. ii. 6, 7.
12 Isa. ix. 6.
have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.”l 5 What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ? "2 The Lord looked down from heaven to see if there were any seeking after Him. But what met His holy eyes? All were gone astray, all were become filthy, “not one that doeth good.” No, indeed, it was not even to erring but repentant children that He, God's great Gift, was sent, but to those whose heart was enmity against God,” to the “ungodly,” to “sinners." Blessed Lord Jesus, “When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb," and, for Good Friday is but the following up of Christmas, “When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.'
Such is our Heavenly Father's great Christmas Gift, and in this one Gift is included all others that a Father's love can bestow, for “In Christ all things are ours.” 5
In Him we have forgiveness of sins, the adoption of children, the abiding indwelling of the Holy Spirit; we become heirs of an unfading inheritance; we have deliverance from our great enemy, and grace for every time of need. If we are poor or weak, it can only be because, not trusting His Word, we do not go for supplies to the inexhaustible storehouse of the “ unsearchable riches of Christ,” and refuse to use His strength, which is ever made perfect in weakness.
Now comes the question, what are you giving Him in return for such love ? True, we have nothing worth offering, but you know with what pleasure the kind father accepts the tiny toy spared from her little store by the sweet baby child who has not else to give. How it is treasured by him, and often, in after years, he looks lovingly on the first gift of the dear child now far away. Love makes even worthless things precious; and our Father in 1 Isa. i. 2.
3 Psa. xiy. 2, 3.
4. Te Deum. I Cor. iii. 22, 23. Eph. i. 5, 7; Col. i. 12, 13; John vii. 38, 39.
2 Isa. v. 4.
heaven Himself craves one thing. He says, “My son, give Me thine heart."1 Oh, but you have given that before, when first the blessed truth was brought home by the Spirit to your heart, that Jesus loved you, and gave Himself for you.? Yes, but think; is it not a sadly divided heartheart too often distracted by cares, and weighed down by burdens, and shared with others ? Is that all that you can give? Ask Him once again to take you to-day and for ever,
and to make you a “living sacrifice," wholly His; to teach and enable you day by day, rather hour by hour, to do the thing that pleaseth Him. Do this in His promised strength, and in the spirit of that sweet singer who is now in the presence of the King
“ Take myself, and I will be
Ever, ONLY ALL for Thee."
As for me, though y be poor and needy, yet the
Lord careth for me.
'HEN the proud ones pass me by
With a cold averted eye,
Though from morn till dewy eve,
2 Gal. ii. 20.