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of woe for us. Let your "way" this year be a way of service, a way of prayer. This of course is really included in the consecration we spoke of; but I would further urge upon you to have some definite aim in view, both in your work and in your prayers. Work for something, pray for something; work for someone, pray for someone. Set your heart on actually winning souls for Jesus this year. It is very well sometimes to " draw a bow at a venture," but it is better to have a definite mark, a definite object in view. It is better to pray for persons than for people generally; better to concentrate as well as consecrate your efforts. There is a wealth of power in the steady purpose, " One thing I do."1
"Ye have not passed this way heretofore." This year may bring about things we little expect . It may be that our Lord, this year, shall fulfil the promise so long treasured in the hearts of His people, " Behold, I come quickly." The Bridegroom's return is nearer to-day than ever before. He has tarried long, but He will come, and we know not how soon. Oh let the Bride be found waiting, with trimmed lamps, her Lord's return. "Let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."2 "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing." 3
And if our Lord delay His coming, yet there may be some of us for whom the "way" this year shall lead through the valley of the shadow of death. Even if it be so, dear Christian reader, it shall be yours to find, as did the Israelites, that the Lord will make a way for you, even through the Jordan itself. The guiding presence shall not fail you there; but it shall be yours, through grace, to cry, even in the dark valley, "I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me."*
But I would not close my little paper without one word to those to whom the foregoing remarks do not apply, even to such as are entering upon the New Year without Christ. Without Christ Oh the terrible, terrible blank these words suggest! Dear unsaved reader, pause one moment, I pray you, and think how perilous is your standing-point this New Year's Day, if you are neglecting the gospel of Christ, turning your back on the only way of salvation. God, in His rich mercy, has spared you until now, protected you, and borne with you; but if you wilfully presume on His long-suffering, what reason have you to expect that your stubborn rebellion will go unpunished?
1 Phil. iii. 13. * 1 Thess. v. 6. * Matt. xxiv. 46.
4 Psa. xxiii. 4.
And oh, how much you miss whilst you shut out Jesus from your life and your hearth! There is no joy like the joy He gives. There is nothing so sweet as His love, nothing so blessed as His service. Nothing, absolutely nothing, to compare with the joy of His forgiveness, and His peace.
To you, too, comes to-day the message, "Ye have not passed this way heretofore;" and to the unbeliever it is one of the most solemn import. Upon a fathomless and unknown sea you set sail again to-day, without a captain, without compass, or anchor! Upon life's battle you enter anew, without commander, without shield, sword, or buckler. You begin the New Year, not knowing what lies before you, not knowing how it may end for you; and yet you turn away from the only Friend who can sustain and help you in every emergency, whether it be pain, sorrow, poverty, temptation, sickness, or death. If you do not actually scorn Him, you perchance procrastinate, and thus insult His proffered grace, as if it were something to be put off as long as possible, and only accepted at last as a passport to glory, because conscience tells you there is no other. Oh that you would to-day listen to the voice of the gracious Spirit pleading with you, and calling upon you to turn from your evil way to Him who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." l "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."2 Yes, Christ died for us; for you and for me. Have you ever, in your whole life, thought seriously of that one fact for ten minutes? He 1 John xiv. 6. * Rom. v. 8.
died for you. His Spirit pleads with you; His love speaks to you. I pray you turn not away from His call, from His cross, from His precious blood. Whether your " way " be a way of open sin, a way of mere morality, of self-righteousness, or of procrastination, so long as it is a way of unbelief, it must end in ruin. Turn therefore, I pray you, from this evil way, and pray God that your "way" this New Year may be the way which leads to Calvary, the way of repentance and of eternal life. The broad way leads to hell. The narrow way is narrow indeed, but it is wide enough to admit every poor lost sinner who believes in Jesus. It is wide enough, poor sinner, to admit you. But if you scorn this loving Saviour, whose gracious invitation, " Come unto Me,'' we press upon you; if, we repeat, you scorn Him, then we warn you to remember, this New Year's Day, that there is but one alternative, one which you and I must some day prove true, "The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish."1
L. A. B.
OH,, weary in the morning,
When God's sun shines on all;
When, the day's labour o'er,
Oh, weary of the turmoil,
The striving and the care;
Which we of earth must bear:
And weary with vain fears,
Than with the weight of years.
1 P<a. i. 6.
Yet, like a ray of sunlight,
The Word shines through the gloom,
Comes spring in fresher bloom;
We find a resting meet;
Are found at Jesus' feet.
God never sends a sorrow
Without the healing balm;
But for the victor's palm.
Knew not His holy will,
His voice said, "Peace, be still."
We will go forth and conquer,
Depending on His grace:
Must "be an honoured place.
And after victory, rest—
Upon the Master's breast. H. S.
Happy new year to you, nurse," said Fanny Hargreaves, as she entered the cottage in which Mrs. Manser lived—Nurse Manser she was called by some of her neighbours; but more often she was known by the name of "Grumbling Nanny," and not altogether without cause, for she was one of those much-to-bepitied creatures who always find the dark side of everything, and are continually finding fault with their lot.
"Ah, Miss Fanny, it is easy enough to say 'a happy new year,' but I don't expect to have it for all that; however, if my wishes will do you any good, I wish you the same, and many more to follow."
"Why, what's the matter now, nurse?" said Miss Hargreaves, with a bright smile; "I don't see why you shouldn't have a happy year if you like, but"
"If I like, Miss Fanny, well that is good! You don't think I don't want to be happy, do you? I'm sure it's time I did have a turn, for my luck has been bad enough lately."
"So it has ever since I have known you, nurse, ever since you were with me through that bad fever; and I shall never forget how good you were to me then; yes, you have always complained of your luck since then, and I don't know how long before."
"It always has been bad, Miss Fanny; ever since I can remember. If anything went wrong when I was a girl, mother always used to lay it down to Nanny. Then, when I went to service, I always got the hardest places that ever anyone knew, and always had to bear the blame that belonged by rights to others. It was Nanny here, Nanny there, till I got sick of hearing my own name. Ah, I did have some hard mistresses, if anyone ever did—but there, what's the good of talking to you about my places; a young lady like you doesn't know what servants have to put up with."
"Well, but, nurse, you were not always a servant; didn't your luck change when you left service?"
"Not unless it changed for the worse, Miss Fanny. When I got a husband, and everybody said how lucky I was, though I never could see that I was more lucky than any other girl, he turned out a poor sickly creature; of course, he couldn't help that, but I had to slave and grind to keep the wolf from the door, and hardly dared to spend a penny, instead of being able to take it a little easy, as I thought I should—but there, it's no good looking back."
"No, it is no use to look back, nurse, but you may look forward; and if you only go the right way to work I think you may find there is a happy year in store for you, supposing you live through it."
"Live through it, miss, and why shouldn't I? I'm not so old yet but that I may live another year, I hope."