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home to me. And then he spoke so beautifully about the peace God would give us if we did that. Let's do our best, George, and then quietly, and with faith, leave the result with God. It will be all right."
"If one could only do that, Peter!" said Mr. Thomas; "but it is sometimes very hard to do so."
"Well, perhaps it is," said Peter; "but for my part, now, I can't understand some Christians. They say they can trust the Lord for the future, and they don't doubt that he will take them to heaven when they die; but, somehow or other, they seem as though they could not trust him for the present. Now Paul says, 'Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.' If I could not trust the Lord for earthly things, I don't think I could trust him to save my soul. Do you ever read Ezra, George?"
"The book of Ezra in the Bible, do you mean?" asked Mr. Thomas. "I can't say I have read it very lately. Why do you ask?"
"It's a good thing," said Peter, "to read the Bible all through; at least I find it so. There are some bits in it I don't very well understand, but sometimes one finds even in such places precious golden nuggets, in the shape of a promise or a piece of rare wisdom. Ezra, you know, went back to Jerusalem with a band of returning captives from Babylon. When they had got a little on the road, they stopped to rest, but besides that to pray for God's blessing. As nearly as I can remember this is the verse: 'Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.' We should be ever so much less anxious, George, if we asked God to show us the right way."
"But come," he said, after a minute or two, "it's dinnertime, and they none of them like dinner to be kept waiting."
The visitor received a hearty welcome from Peter's wife and family; and it did him almost as much good to see their quiet happiness—although everything was very homely—as it did to talk with Peter.
They had more talk after dinner, and in the evening Peter "set" his friend a mile or so on his way. As they parted, Peter said, "Now, George, mind and don't get flat. It's an idle love of things which never did anybody good in this world; and the best way not to get flat is to trust in the Lord."
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j Hen saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side ; and be not faithless, but believing." Oh, sweet, condescending words! how far, how low would Jesus stoop to take up souls! And, O my soul, are not these the very dealings of Christ towards thee? He that called Thomas to come near, hark, how he calls to thee: "Come near, poor trembling, wavering, wandering soul. Come, view the Lord thy Saviour, and be not faithless, but believing; peace be unto thee; fear not, it is I." He that called on them who passed by to behold his sorrow in the day of his humiliation, doth now call on thee to behold his glory in the day of his exaltation. Look well upon him; dost thou not know him? Why, his hands were pierced, his head was pierced, his side was pierced, his heart was pierced with the stings of thy sins; and these marks he retains even after his resurrection, that by these marks thou mightest always know him. Is not the passage to his heart yet standing open? If thou knowest him not by the face, the voice, the hands; if thou knowest him not by the tears and bloody sweat, yet look nearer, thou mayest know him by the heart: that broken, healed heart is his; that soul-pitying, melting heart is his; doubtless it can be none but his; love and compassion are its certain signatures. And is not here fuel enough
for love to feed upon? Ambrose.
Reading may make you a pleasant companion, hut private prayer will make you a spiritual Christian and a useful companion.
If the Lord does not give you what is sweet, he will give you what is meet; he is consulting your welfare, when ke appears to forget your comfort.
He is safe in the greatest dangers whom God undertakes to protect; and he undertakes the protection of all who commit their cause to him: think of Noah, David, and Daniel.
When difficulties increase, a spiritual Christian seeks wisdom of God; and the God of wisdom, according to his promise, bestows it.
Controversy upon doctrinal points generally disturbs the mind, weakens faith, wastes love, and puffs up or depresses the spirits: be sure you are called to it before you engage in it.
To ascribe any merit to yourself from anything you do, is like saying to the sun, "Thou art indebted to me, because I receive light from thee."
Many sinners are like Pharaoh's butler, who was slow in recalling his past faults and deliverances to remembrance. "Son, remember," will be said to some when it is too late to profit by it.
The devil never destroys souls more effectually than when he hides himself under virtue's cloak.
As there must be natural light before the eye can see earthly objects, so there must be light from heaven before the soul can discern spiritual things.
All the wickedness you have done in your life was first done in your heart.
Curious-looking little person was Miss Ann Smallpage, our dressmaker. She was very small, with a pinched-up-looking little face. Strange-looking as she was though, all the people in our village respected her as a woman of taste in all matters of dress. I am sure no bride in Sowerby would have ventured to church on the great day of her life in any dress that had not received Miss Ann's sanction. Who cut, and turned, and pieced our old silks, and made them look as good as new, but Miss Ann? Who dressed us all in London fashions not a year old, but Miss Ann? My private opinion is, that but for Miss Ann Smallpage and her predecessors in the art of dressmaking amongst us, we should be dressing in a very strange way in our little out-of-the-way village.
She was respected amongst us; but we younger ones were often very unkind to poor Miss Ann. She was a very quaint little figure certainly, but then we need not have laughed at her to her face as we did, often and often. She was never angry with us, kind Miss Ann—not even when we sent her a valentine on Valentine's day—so like herself, with an unkind verse (which I wish and try to forget) written in round hand below. My friend Katie Stephens and I stood outside in the street, and peeped in at the corner of the muslin blind that covered her window, to see her open it. We were laughing so, that we scarcely dared to stay lest she should hear us. s
"It will make her finely angry!" Katie whispered. "Look, she's taking it off the table. She's opening it. Now for it."
But she did not look angry. She looked at the picture, and read the verse below, and then laid the valentine quietly on the table. She looked as if she sighed too, I thought.
"It wasn't such fun after all," said Katie, as we went down the street. "I should have liked to have seen her properly angry; shouldn't you?"
"I do not think she is ever angry," I said.
"Oh, you may be sure she is sometimes—everybody is— but she's a sly old thing, and does not show it. I cannot bear her, she is so ugly—like a witch, only not quite old enough; but I am sure if she had lived long ago she would have been burnt for a witch."
"I don't like her either," I said; but conscience pricked as I spoke.
"What shabby old clothes she wears! and she must have a great deal of money saved, for she works for everybody. Mary Collins and Jane Hunter have often taken her such large sums to pay their mistresses' bills for dresses she has made, and Jane Hunter thinks she is a miser."
"What a stingy old thing!" said I, indignantly; for I disliked stingy people very much.
"I hate stingy people! Do you know, Mrs. Moyle" (the butcher's wife) "told me that she seldom buys meat for her dinner? I should think she lives on bread and tea; and if so, no wonder she has such a pinched-up little face."
A few evenings after my walk with Katie, my mother sent me on a message to a poor neighbour who lodged in the attic room of a cottage near ours. As I went up the creaking stairs I heard a voice singing. Such a strange, thin sort of voice. When I came closer I heard that it was a hymn that was being sung. The verse I heard was this:
"When I can read my title clear
I opened the door softly, and there sat Miss Ann Smallpage by the old woman's bedside. She stopped singing when I went into the room, and I saw that there were tears- in her eyes; but she did not look sorrowful.
"You have done me a world of good, Miss Ann," said the old woman, as well as she could speak. She was sitting propped up in bed by pillows, and she struggled much for breath, for her complaint was that very trying one called