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heavenly garner. He was always in a waiting posture, like one who might at any moment hear the cry, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh." But whether the voice might sound at midnight or at cockcrow gave him no anxiety or alarm; on- the contrary, the thought that any day before nightfall, or any night before the morning dawned, he might stand in the immediate presence of his glorified Lord, imparted an indescribable serenity to his spirit, and brought a light into his venerable features which for the moment made them appear even youthful. He was anticipating a good and a glory beyond the present and the visible, compared with which the best that the world could offer was poor and insignificant indeed. To hear him speak of heaven, of the Saviour who had redeemed him, and of the glorious company who, having passed the river, were now enjoying the bliss and glory of the saved, was to listen to one who might have been permitted more than once to catch a glimpse, and far more than a glimpse of the felicities and splendours of the celestial city. Heaven itself was so real to him, and he talked of its inhabitants, of patriarchs and prophets, of apostles and martyrs, as if he had known them well, and numbered them among his most cherished friends.
He read very few books besides his Bible; but in this he meditated day and night, and in illustrating any subject under discussion, he invariably did so by a reference to the narratives and teachings of the best of books. He lived very much in the past, and took little interest in current events, unless he found them to be the echoes of what had been. The things occurring around him belonged to a generation to which he was attached by the feeblest of ties; and although, with a courtesy which sat so gracefully upon him, he would always listen attentively to what his "young friends "—some of them between forty and fifty years of age —had to tell of the topics of the day, he was glad to retreat into the quiet of the past. Sometimes, pointing to a fine old orchard, in which aged boughs would be bright with the blossoms of spring, or golden with the fruits of autumn, and then to a railway train that was rushing panting and screaming through the beautiful valley of which the leafy arbour commanded a magnificent view, he would say, <:The contrast between your life and mine is not unlike that between this quiet old orchard and that hissing, roaring thing yonder. I am afraid of that which is high, and fears are in the way, and the almond-tree flourishes. Your life is too full of noise and haste for me, and I would rather any day talk with an old patriarch or prophet than with the most brilliant of your modern politicians; I would rather read the psalms of David and the poetry of the Bible than the best you could put before me by modern authors. I learn more of the ways of God from this book, and of his government of our race than I could learn from all the treatises on the Divine government that ever were written."
And yet the life of this aged saint, who was now resting and standing in his lot in the end of the days, was not simply a contemplative and meditative one. The time had indeed come in which he might lawfully take rest; but according to his strength he put forth efforts for the salvation of others. His gardener and his two servants had reason to bless God for his kind and faithful ministrations. Their hearts, through his instrumentality, had opened to receive the truth as it is in Jesus, and thus there was a little church in his house, the members of which edified one another in love. Then he had a little outdoor work in which he delighted to engage. "Leaning on his staff for very age," and not unlike one of the old patriarchs whose lives were sermons ever new to him, he would go among the cottages of the poor to read and pray with the sick; or he might be seen in friendly converse with the wearied tramp by the wayside, or with a man breaking stones in the road, or very frequently with the children as they came tumbling out of school in noisy glee. Occasionally some of these would be taken by the hand into his garden, to receive a flower or a ripe pear or apple, and then their glee was noisy indeed.
The end came at last, calm and beautiful as the closing years of his life had been. There was a slight attack of paralysis, then another, and another, and the old man lay powerless and speechless, waiting the will of his heavenly Father. A married daughter and his three servants stood around his bed watching his departure. They whispered to him ever and again those words of consolation which they knew to have been as precious to him in the days of his healthful vigour as in the hour when heart and flesh were failing him. He could make no reply, but there was no need for words. They knew in whom he had believed, and he too knew it right well. In a few painless days after his last seizure his spirit entered upon the rest which remaineth for the people of God. To such a calm and honoured old age, to such a blessed entrance upon the joys of immortality, may God, through the merits of his dear Son, bring every reader of this narrative!
CJmstmas; its &nie Jfogs anir Hissings.
Bane Wilktns, a childless widow, sat sorrowfully over her fire last Christmas Eve. Her tears fell fast and thick as she contrasted her lonely cottage now with what it was but one short year before. A loving husband, a merry child, had made her humble home a very happy one ; and in her lonely musings she could almost fancy she heard again the voices and steps so long silent. She recalled her child's eager delight as she watched the making of the Christmas pudding, the arranging of the holly and ivy, with which together they had decorated the cottage —"Such a s'prise for father." She remembered, too, the walk to the village church, how she and her husband had knelt side by side at the table of the Lord, there to receive the pledges of his love. Little did either dream that it was the last time they were to kneel there together. Then the presents, the very thing each one wanted most, yet least
expected, and the Christmas tree, prepared by the rector's kind young ladies for the village children, the beauty of which haunted her darling even in her last hours, when it seemed to mingle strangely with her sweet murmurs of heaven and the Good Shepherd, " who gathered the lambs in his arms, and carried them in his bosom."
But that was all over. Before the new year had opened the father was laid low in fever. A few days only, and the wife and husband were parted; but thanks be to God they were not parted for ever; they had a sure and certain hope of a blessed meeting, when the Saviour they knew and loved on earth shall come again, and bring his people with him.
The grave had scarcely closed over the loved remains, when it was opened to receive all that could die of their only child, their beloved little Mary.
As the poor broken-hearted woman sat and thought, the sorrow was almost greater than she could endure; and she cried aloud in her agony, "Oh, I wish Christmas would never, never come ; it makes sorrow tenfold more sorrowful!"
At that moment Mrs. Mortimer entered the cottage. She had been with Jane through her deep trouble, and could sympathise with her, for death had entered her home too, and taken thence her two loved boys, the very light of her eyes and the joy of her heart. But God had himself comforted her in her sorrow, with the very comfort she was come, just as she was most needed, to minister to her afflicted sister. That comfort we shall give in her own words to Jane. Help from above did not let her sink into inactive depression, rather it sent her forth to help others in trouble, as she was herself. She had now no children at home for whom to make a happy Christmas, no joyful meeting with schoolboys on their return to their home; but there were others, children of her Father in heaven, whose lives she could brighten, whose sorrows she could alleviate; and it was in the course of this work of mercy that she now visited our poor friend just as she had uttered that sorrowful exclamation, "I wish there were no Christmas!"
"What is this?" she gently asked. "I knew you would be lonely to-day; and, as neither you nor I have our loved ones at home to make Christmas preparations for, I thought we might comfort one another in talking together of the Christmas joy and blessing still left us—joy and blessing which sorrow and trouble cannot rob us of."
"Oh, ma'am," said Jane, sadly, "sure you don't think there are any joys left in Christmas for me ? it is the saddest of all times now—I suppose because it was the happiest. I hardly know how I shall live through to-morrow. If there were only no Christmas at all in the year!"
"My poor friend, that sad thought came to me too the first Christmas I was alone—now four years ago. I did so dread the day; it brought back so vividly all the past, just as it is bringing it all back to you now. But our gracious, loving God, who had appointed the sorrow, sent comfort so abundantly, that I am not sure if, after all my fears, it was not the most blessed Christmas I ever spent."
"Can that really be? It is so dark and dreary to me."
"As it looked to me that day, dear Jane; my one wish was that I could sleep through the day."
"How did the comfort come?"
"Just this way. I woke early that Christmas morning; and before I had time to remember all I had lost, how lonely I was, there came such a sense of the amazing love of God in giving his Son, that, as at this time, he was born into the world, bom to live a life of sorrow, to die a death of pain and shame, and all for me! He became poor that I might be rich; and my heart rose up in love and thankfulness. As I lay there I could but praise him for his goodness, and feel that, take what he saw well, while I had himself I could not be desolate. My sorrow was there still, but it was changed, as a cloud is changed when the setting sun shines brightly on it.
"As I lay long thinking, I saw that hitherto my Christmas