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trouble, in which a beloved relative—perhaps the most beloved relative on earth—was at the point of death, and life with that loss in it opened before me as a dark dreary blank. There were times when calamity was overhanging my business, and my prospects were very doubtful. On one occasion it was I myself that was suddenly laid aside from work by illness, and I surely thought then that my sick bed would prove my death-bed; and I looked with terror upon the future of those for whom no provision had been made. But how has my faithlessness been again and again rebuked! At eventide there has been light, though the morning looked so threatening. The mountain has been removed, the crooked has been made straight, and the rough places have been made plain. I will meditate upon all these deliverances, that I may trust and not be afraid. The future I do not know; but it is in the hands of Him in whom I have believed, and who is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him until that day. In this strength I will go: the strength of the Lord my God.

I will go in the faith which has been so precious to me in the past. Conscious of my own weakness and sinfulness, I will yet trust and not be afraid. God is both able and willing to sustain me. Let me, then- now commit myself afresh to His promised aid, and looking to Him alone for the strength I need, resolve to serve Him more faithfully in the coming year than in the past. Past mercies shall make me thankful; past sins shall make me humble; past temptations shall make me walk circumspectly; past omissions of duty shall warn me to be prompt and faithful; past deliverances shall make me hopeful. But let me begin the year realising afresh the power of my Saviour's death to atone for sin; the strength of the Holy Spirit to renew and sanctify the soul, to sustain it by His Word and energy under all afflictions and temptations, to strengthen it for the efficient discharge of every duty, and to lead it ever onward from grace to grace, and from glory to glory. If in this spirit I commence the new year, and in this spirit meet whatever of duty, of trial, or temptation it may contain for me, it will not only be a happy new year, but, as it ought to be, being the latest, the best year of my life.

It is I."

'Kelt struiglrtway Je-sns spake unto them, saying, Btf of good cheer;
be not afraid."—-Matt. xiv. 27.

The lone and toiling voyagers
Whose bark was on the sea,
When night hung dark above the wave

Of stormy Galilee,
In terror gazed on what they then'

But dimly could descry,
Until they heard those cheering words:
"Fear not, for it is I."

The dearest, truest Friend on earth.

In that dark hour of gloom,
Seemed some pale phantom come to tell

A dire and dreadful doom;
And then from each affrighted lip

There burst the trembling cry,
That naught could still but those sweet words:

"Fear not, for it is [."

'Tis often thus with voyagers

Across life's stormy main,
Who strive to stem its rushing tide,

Yet seem to strive in vain:
The waves are white with spectral fears,

And darkly frowns the sky,
Till some sweet voice speaks softly out:

': Fear not, for it is I."

Oh, even thus, my sister dear,

When life seems dark to thee;
When clouds enwrap a starless sky,

And storms are on the sea—
In fearless faith and joyful hope

To Christ lift up thine eye,
And heed the gentle voice that says,

"Fear not, for it is I."

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fis burden had always been a heavy one; but this cold winter's night John Dykes felt it heavier than usual, and his faith was at its weakest. An agricultural labourer, as man and boy, he never remembered the time when his work was not hard, when his wages were equal to his wants, and when food and clothes could be obtained without difficulty. He was one of the most " willing" men in the village, and was worked accordingly. He was now forty years of age, and had a wife and five children. This bitter evening they were all together in front of a scrap of fire, and they were very still. The wind howled dismally outside their little cottage, and even threatened to extinguish the poor wood and turf fire which was flickering on the hearth. It was the only light in the room. There was no pot simmering over the fire, as in less unprosperous times; there was no more sign of supper than there had been of dinner. They were all cold, through the bitter- ness of the night and the exhaustion of hunger. They were waiting to see the fire out, and then they were going to retire, not to bed, but to two rooms in which there was scarcely a rag of bed-room furniture.

There had been a "distress" in poor John's house that day for rent, and almost every piece of furniture he possessed had been sold. How the honest fellow had dreaded this, and how deeply he felt the humiliation, no one can tell. Poor as his wages were, he had always managed, by the help of a hard-working, careful wife, to pay his way; and, hard though his work was, life had not been without its joys. In that poor cottage many a song of praise had been lifted up to Him who feeds the ravens; many an earnest prayer had been offered for the grace that is more than sufficient for the heaviest trials, and which can lighten the darkness of the gloomiest day. Very poor scholars, and ignorant of a thousand things which others knew, John and his wife had been made wise unto salvation, and rejoiced in the hope of the glory of God more than in any earthly good that could have fallen to them. Their children were being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and thus there were many gleams of joy in this humble home.

How came it to pass, then, that a family so industrious and pious had been suddenly plunged into this distress? The story is one which has only too often been heard in country villages. There had been sickness in the house. What with bad drainage and scanty food, the children had fallen into a low fever. With the exception of one, for whom a little grave had to be dug in the adjacent churchyard, all had been mercifully preserved, although on this wintry night they looked as if death had not really relinquished his claim upon them. Of course this sickness could not come into John's poor cottage without bringing with it considerable expense. The rent money, which his good wife so scrupulously kept untouched, and which had been scraped together with so much diligence during harvest time, and to which even the children had contributed by their gleaning—the rent money, we say—had to be dipped into, and there was no extra work which John or his wife could do to make it good again. His independence and integrity would have prompted him to take any additional tasks by which even a trifle could be earned. But there was nothing extra to be earned, and the monotony of toil went on from fiye in the morning until seven at night week by week.

The rent money also had been further exhausted by a kindness which John had shown to his wife's brother. He was in not worse circumstances than John; but it happened, a short time before this wintry night, that he wanted to go to London to meet his son, who was returning from Australia, and had not sufficient funds.

"You know, William," said Mary Dykes to her brother, when he asked for a loan for a day or two, "it is the rent money, and we are sadly behind already."

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