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"It is money," was the reply, to which the child responded with a heavy sigh, before saying, "And father has plenty !— more, mother says, than he knows what to do with."
Mrs. Edmonds, although she gave her visitor little hope —for in business matters he was inexorable—said she would do what she could; and accordingly took an opportunity, in the course of the evening, to express the hope that he would not be too hard upon Cousin Richard, but give him time to get the money together and keep his good name. "Consider his large family, John, and the distress into which we shall plunge them."
"We!" cried her husband; "we! you have nothing to do with it, and you must not interfere in business matters. I want the money, and must have it."
Whether by accident or design—it was never known clearly which—Alice happened to be in the room when this conversation took place. On her little stool she had been sitting at her mother's knee, with her embossed Bible before her. While her father and mother were speaking, she gently and he angrily, her face had grown pale as death and she drew her breath rapidly.
"What is it, Alice, my child ?" said her father, in a tone of alarm, as he watched the change which passed over her face. With all his money-getting propensities, the one delicate feeling within him which had remained strong was his love for his wife and child. "What is it?" he repeated, as the child's fingers still gently moved over the raised letters. Then a tremulous voice, as tearful as it was musical, asked the question, and the sightless orbs of Alice seemed for the moment to be gifted with the power of vision as they were turned towards her father's chair: "What is a man profited if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Rising from her place at her mother's knee, the blind child crept towards her father, and, twining her little arms around her father's neck, repeated the question.
We have said that it was never clearly known whether this scene was accidental, or whether it had shaped itself out of the many ponderings of Alice's heart . One thing is certain; that He who out of the mouth of babes and sucklings ordaineth strength, blessed this question of his child to John Edmonds as no appeal had ever been blessed before. It sounded in his ears like a voice from heaven, and conscience gave him no rest until he had, not indeed answered it, because it is unanswerable, but until, with all his wealth, he found himself the poorest of the poor at the foot of the cross. Cousin Richard was never troubled about his debt; Alice had never to wonder again why her father did not accompany her and her mother to church; and John Edmonds, as he cherished his child even as the apple of his eye, had to bless God out of the depths of a grateful heart that one who was born blind had taught him to see.
Crusting i\e WLaxb.
Bn the Place du Carrousel in Paris, a large number of troops were assembled one bright summer's day. The Emperor Napoleon I. was reviewing them, when on giving a certain command he thoughtlessly dropped the bridle upon his horse's neck. Instantly the high-spirited creature dashed off at a gallop, and his Imperial rider was in great danger of being thrown from the saddle. But a common soldier, running from the ranks, sprung before the horse at the peril of his life, and seizing the bridle handed it to the Emperor, who acknowledged the service by saying, "Much obliged, captain." The man at once realised the promotion thus conferred, and saluting, asked, "Of what regiment, Sire?" Napoleon was delighted by the soldier's readiness to trust his word, and answered, "Of my Guards."
Then he rode away to another part of the parade ground. But the soldier—how did he act?
Does he go back to his place in the line? No. The Emperor had called him "captain," and this was proof enough for him that that was now his rank. He required no further evidence than the word of Napoleon. That word completely established his position, though as yet he had no officer's uniform, no officer's sword, and no regular written commission. Therefore, drawing himself up, with an increase of self-respect, he walked towards a group of officers, who in a tone of surprise, demanded why he did not immediately return to the ranks. "I am a captain," was his reply, and, pointing in the direction of Napoleon, "He told me so." Their bearing towards him at once altered, and he was admitted amongst them as an equal.
Now, my dear friend, if you are earnestly seeking peace for your soul, here is an example for you to imitate. The French soldier believed his promotion, merely upon the word of his general and emperor, whom he trusted, honoured, and served, and for whom he was prepared to risk his life.
And you must believe that you are fully saved by Jesus Christ, simply upon the word of God, for He is one who cannot lie, and when heaven and earth pass away His word shall not pass away. You must completely cast yourself upon what He has said to you. "Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," for "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." "I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions; and as a cloud thy sins; return unto me, for I have redeemed thee." "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." Now you believe these to be God's words, and you know that all He has spoken is steadfast and sure. Why then do you doubt your salvation in Christ Jesus? Is not the promise of God enough for you? I think I hear you answer, "I do believe what He has told me, but—" Well, do not hesitate to bring out your objection or difficulty, "but what?" "But I do not feel my soul saved, I do not feel my heart right." And, my friend, you never will feel your soul saved or your heart right until after you have trusted the simple word and grace of God, until you have thrown yourself simply and entirely on the promises made to you through Jesus Christ .
The captain's uniform was granted to this man, but only because he trusted the word of Napoleon. The Christian's feeling and spiritual dress will be given to you only when you have trusted the word of your Redeemer.
You are required to exercise faith, but faith what in? Not in your own heart's religiousness, but in Christ's death and righteousness; not in your pious emotions, but in the love and long-suffering of Jesus. You are to rely not on your own good desires or repentances, but upon the eternal promises of God. Do not hang back then any longer, when God is offering you the gift of eternal life. At once, as He speaks, accept your salvation in Jesus Christ. Do not object, "I do not feel His forgiveness working in my soul. I do not experience an assurance that I am His." No, my dear friend, these are the results of faith, these are its fruits, which will come in due time, if you have the root, which is trust in Christ's word and in His work.
Let "the word only" be enough assurance for you, as it was for that French soldier, and as it was for another soldier, a Roman centurion. One day this man came to our Lord, and begged Him to heal his servant, whom he had left at home dangerously ill. Jesus said to the centurion, "I will come and heal him," but he answered, "Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." He wanted no outward sign. The word, "the word only," and he was satisfied that his servant was restored.
Now try and trust in the same way. Many persons say to themselves, "If I could be struck down, and experience some extraordinary physical or mental or spiritual sensations, then I would believe." Or, "If I could have some beautiful visions or dreams, or some remarkable providential sign, or some rapturous emotions, then I could believe." Oh! my friend, consider what are our frames or feelings, which are so fluctuating and so fleeting, to be preferred to the unchangeable word of God? Are His promises so doubtful or so uncertain, that you require that they should be confirmed to yon by some dream or freak of your mind, by some fanciful notion of your brain? You thus dishonour God, and destroy your peace of soul. The bare word of Jesus must be the basis of your confidence, the rock on which your spirit rests. Can you consent to trust Him thus, and simply to lean on what He says? If you will submit your heart, and just take God at His word, then will come the graces of the Spirit, then will you find faith working love and "working by love;" then gradually will grow within your heart the "quietness and assurance for ever," which is the result of the teaching and testimony of the Holy Ghost. But, my friend, you must not distress yourself because you have not won these inner witnesses. We are not saved by our feelings. We are not saved by trusting our warm emotions, but by resting on the word of Christ. "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." We are not saved by looking at ourselves, but, like the wounded Israelites who were healed when they turned their gaze upon the brazen serpent, so we have eternal life when by faith we look upon Jesus lifted upon the cross crucified for our sins.
Believe that you are a child of God, through the merits of the precious blood of Christ, and then, and not before, the best robe will be brought out and put upon you, then will the Spirit clothe you with garments of righteousness. Oh! remember, faith in Christ's salvation precedes the feeling of the Spirit's sanctification.
It was sad to see Ned Willis yesterday such a contrast to the fine, strong young man I had left him only six months ago; and now he was dying—and he knew it, and knew that he was not saved.