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|erhaps there is no promise which, in the course of ages, has been more graciously and signally fulfilled than the one which stands at the head of this narrative. Believing in it, Christian people in every position of society have worked in faith, have hoped against hope, and have closed their eyes in death with the calm assurance that though they were not permitted to see the reward of their labours, He was faithful who had promised, and would cause the seed which had long remained dormant, but not dead, to spring up in living freshness and beauty. It is a promise which has animated mothers to pray yet more earnestly, fathers to be more patient and persevering, and teachers to sow beside all waters, firmly believing that the Lord would give the increase one day either to the morning or the evening's sowing.
William Raymond, as a youth of sixteen, came under three sets of religious influences, either of which one might have expected to result in a sobriety and earnestness of character, to which, however, he remained a complete stranger until he was five and twenty years of age. "He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow." She was, comparatively speaking, in affluent circumstances, and her son was educated to take a position in the army, in which his father had been a highly distinguished officer. His mother, however, counted a religious education of far greater value than the best military training, and it was her ceaseless and prayerful aim to instil into his mind those seeds of heavenly truth which, as they expanded, would strengthen him to rise into the fulness of the stature of the perfect man in Christ. She was his constant companion when at home for the holidays, sympathised with his youthful sports, and aimed in every way to make his life bright and joyous, and to make up to him the loss he had sustained in the death of one of the best of fathers. Often in conversation, often in reading, but more frequently still in prayer, she led him to think of what his father had been, so brave, pious, and gentle, though in the field the most courageous of officers.
On William's mind, however, though a most affectionate boy, the teaching seemed to have little influence. He looked forward to the army as affording him scope for unlimited enjoyment; and though he reverenced the memory of his father, who died when he was a little more than six years old, he thought that the life he led, in praying with his men, in preaching to.them, and spending so many hours morning and evening in private devotion, did not come up to the true idea of what he considered to be the soldier's life. And so, though he always listened to his mother with fond respect, he thought his own thoughts, and planned his own plans when he had once donned his uniform.
At the college where, in course of time, he entered as a student, the teaching he received chimed in with that of his home life. He had a most honest and accomplished, but, at the same time, godly tutor; a man who would have work done, but who knew the way direct to a boy's heart, and the most inspiriting motives by which to induce him to use the spring time of life well, and to lay up a good foundation for the time to come. One chief argument with Raymond, whose frank, but somewhat indolent disposition forcibly reminded him of too many young officers who had gone wrong, was, "Remember your father, my boy; we were young men together, and I think I got more good from him than from any human being."
It was almost in the same terms that the venerable chaplain would address him. The good man has long gone to his rest, but a few venerable officers, who were boys when he was old and grey-headed, may remain, who, when they have forgotten many things, will still remember his faithful teachings and his fatherly gentleness. But neither the combined- influence of a pious mother, and of equally pious instructors, told upon the character of William Raymond. Always obliging, always courteous, always willing to help any one out of a scrape, and sometimes willing to bear the punishment which ought justly to have fallen upon others, he grew up with luxurious tastes and habits, incurred expenses which frightened even young men who knew they had a richer bank behind them than himself, and in two years he was hopelessly in debt.
The grief this occasioned to his mother no one can tell! Her only child was disgracing his father's name, and ruining himself body and soul. She wrote to him the kindest letters, and she prayed the most fervent prayers on his behalf; but as she contemplated his future she was filled with the gravest alarms. With motherly self-sacrifice she reduced her establishment, and parted with property sufficient to pay his debts. By dint of the exertions of many who knew and respected her, William obtained his ensignship, and in a month or two afterwards was ordered with his regiment to India.
It was a memorable night when mother and son parted, perhaps never to meet again. Her heart was almost too full to speak, and only by the eloquence of tears, and by the arm which entwined his neck, could she express what she felt. Her son was deeply affected, and widi passionate words protested that he had had enough of a wild life, and that henceforth he would try to be worthy of his father and mother.
"Walk worthy of your heavenly Father, dear William," were the last words she spoke to him as he hurried away.
For two or three months after arriving in India he seemed to many, especially to an old general officer who watched his course narrowly, to be a changed young man. He did his duty faithfully, avoided the temptations into which so many were led, and there were rumours of his promotion. He wrote loving and encouraging letters to his mother, and gave unspeakable pleasure to her heart. Alas! it was not the bread which had been cast upon the waters springing up, but the seed which had been sown in stony places, which, having no depth of earth, was soon destined to wither away. For more than two years after having given promise of being a credit to his regiment, and of rising higher and higher in his profession, he plunged into a course of reckless dissipation, and instead of rumours of his promotion being afloat, it was everywhere reported that he might be "broken " any day. We gladly draw a veil over these years of sin and folly.
One evening, at mess, the old general was present who had watched the commencement of the young ensign's course with so deep an interest. William Raymond had been drinking heavily, and was lost to the respect due to himself and others. He talked wildly and coarsely, and the silence which ensued upon his strange conduct made his profane words utterly abhorrent to many present. The old general at length rose from his chair, and in stern tones said, "You are a disgrace to your regiment, sir; and not only so, you are a disgrace to your mother and to your father."
Young officers were aghast at so unusual an occurrence as this at a mess-table; but the general, now with true emotion, went on, "I knew your father, sir; fought with him in two or three battles, and prayed with him when he was dying. I am sorry to think he ever had such a son."
William Raymond was sober in a moment. For an instant it seemed as if he would have even dared to have flung the decanter before him at the general's head; then, with something between a sob and a convulsive cry, he fell back into a swoon in his chair. For several days he was delirious; but when he came to himself all the teaching of his youthful days was revived within his mind; he remembered the instructions of home and college; the father whose name in every circle was mentioned with honour and respect; the mother whose property he had squandered, and whose heart he had nearly broken; the God against whom he had been grievously sinning with a high hand