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It is very likely that your eyes are failing, and you cannot see to read His Holy Word as you desire to do; but I hope that some kind friend, or your minister, may come to read to you. Let me, however, advise you to take daily some short text, and make that your thought for the day. Sometimes you will find the echo of your own heart's desire in the sweet prayers of the Psalmist, and hour by hour your heart will raise the petition to God. Such texts as the following you will find very helpful. When thinking over your past life, say, “Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities ;" “ Create in me a clean heart, O God;" “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin;" "O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth; now, when I am old and grey-headed, O God, forsake me not.”
Or when your heart fails you, as, thinking over your sins, you feel your wretchedness in God's sight, let the thought that God is your Father, Who loves you with an everlasting love, be present to your mind as you say, "Be merciful unto me, O God! be merciful unto me! for my soul trusteth in Thee:" Then, are you poor as well as aged ? think what sweet comfort lieth for such in those words: “Though I am poor and needy, the Lord careth for me." O friend! in all your poverty, in all your trials, if you could once feel Who this great Friend is Who cares for you, I think that the darkest day would seem bright from the joy of that knowledge. Once we can say with truth, “I am not alone, for the Father is with me;" loneliness and suffering, poverty and sorrow, have lost their keenest edge. Will you try to make God your ever-present Friend and strength ?
I can hardly speak to the aged without a word about sleepless nights-a trial which comes to nearly all old people. Perhaps God wishes to speak solemnly to you in those night-watches, for there is no time in which He seems so near as when all is still, others in the house all sleeping quietly, but the old pilgrim watching !-ay! and seeing the stars bright at midnight; and then, with just occasional short snatches of sleep, seeming to be awake most of the long, dark, silent hours, till the paling of the stars and the tender light over the eastem sky speak of coming morn; and then, perhaps, you get a sound sleep. But these long hours are very lonely, very weary sometimes. I think good Bishop Ken must have known that trial when he wrote
“If in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply.” If you do lie awake, just say those words, and if you open your heart to receive the message of love and comfort, I think God will fill it with happy holy thoughts, that will make the hours pass swiftly away, and by the very blessedness and rest of what those thoughts suggest, give you the repose you need. David says, “I thought upon Thy name, O Lord, in the night-watches."
For Valour. F A NY years ago Queen Victoria saw fit to institute a
new decoration, to be bestowed upon those of her soldiers or sailors who should distinguish them
selves by any remarkable act of bravery or daring in the presence of the enemy. Since that time nearly three hundred of these decorations have been awarded to soldiers and sailors of all ranks, from the colonel and commander to the common sailor or private soldier; and it is considered among the highest honours that can be gained in the army or navy to be able to wear upon the breast the plain-looking
Victoria Cross. ! So highly prized and eagerly sought after is this decoration,
that men have courted danger and been willing to run more than ordinary risks in hopes of being able to win it. And yet, after all, what is the value of it? It is merely a plain, small, gun-metal cross, of no great value in itself. True, there is a small money pension attached to the winning of the Victoria Cross, but it is not that which is coveted or sought after; it is the honour of wearing a decoration given by a beloved sovereign in recognition of meritorious conduct. What volumes are contained in those two words, “ For Valour," inscribed on the cross !
For length of service and good conduct, or merely for presence in a campaign, a medal may be earned; but not so the Victoria Cross. The man who would wear this must make up his mind to win it by some signal act of valour or deed of daring; and even then he may not succeed. The opportunity may never present itself, however eagerly watched for or frequently sought; and a brave man may try for years to obtain the coveted prize without even eventually succeeding.
It is not thus with the prize that is offered to every soldier of Jesus Christ, the crown of life, promised to all those who fight manfully and valiantly the good fight of faith. This is a prize that may be obtained by every soldier in the great Christian army; not by here and there one who has been exceptionally situated or remarkably valiant, but by every one who has “ done what he could " in the service of his Saviour.
Let us look for a few moments at the inducements there are held out to the Christian to fight bravely and constantly against the enemies of the Lord.
There is the promised prize ; this is no mere decoration of little value, to be worn for a few short years at most, and then to be laid aside.
It is a “crown of life,” of “ righteousness," of "glory;" it is “an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” It is to be admitted into the society of the spirits of just men made perfect, of the holy angels of God, of Christ our Saviour, of our Father in heaven.
For every soldier in the British army who gains the Victoria Cross there are thousands who never possess it; not that there is any lack of bravery on their part, nor want
of ambition to secure it, but simply becanse the opportunity never occurred to them to win it. No Christian soldier need despair of being able to win the crown of life, because it is freely offered to all; so we would now say that no soldier of the cross can excuse himself by saying that he has never had the opportunity of fighting against evil. If we are truly Christians we have a life-time of battles to fight, each one of which would be too hard for us if we were not aided by God's Holy Spirit, who helps our infirmities. We must fight against evil in every form, against temptations from the evil one, and temptations that spring from our own corrupt natures, against our own sins, and against the siņs of others.
We must not be contented with acting always on the defensive, always being prepared to make a stand against the attacks of the enemy. It is right to be thus prepared; but our duty to the “ great Captain of our salvation" does not end here. We must be ready to attack sin wherever we find it; to stamp it out, as much as lies in our power; to raise our protest against, and to use all our influence to overcome it. Doing this, we shall be acting as though we understand the meaning of the prayer that is so often on our lips, " Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Neglecting to do it we neglect our duty, and plainly show that hitherto the prayer has come from us merely as an utterance from the lips, without heart and without meaning.
There is a great difference between the warfare carried on by man against man, or nation against nation, and that in which the Christian soldier is engaged. The wars of the world are the outcomings of lust and covetousness. Men desire more than they have, and fight and war that they may obtain what they desire ; and so out of covetousness and envy come strife and all the horrors of war. How different the Christian warfare ! “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against
spiritual wickedness in high places.” And the fightings of the Christian, unlike those of the worldling, are productive of good, and are the means of hastening that time when all the world shall be at peace, when men “shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks;" when“ nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
So also there is a difference between the soldiers employed, The man who wins and wears the Victoria Cross is probably a physically strong man; he must be a physically bold one, or it would not be awarded him ; while some of the strongest and best of Christian warriors have been but feeble and timid men. Of themselves quite incapable of doing any great work, but filled with the Holy Spirit, they have been able to work marvels in pulling down the strongholds of Satan, and in hastening on the coming of Christ's kingdom.
Let us then take courage ; putting on the whole armour of God, always remembering to seek His help, who alone is able to keep us from falling; and then when the time comes for us to lay down the sword, we shall be enabled joyfully to exclaim, “ Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them that love His appearing."
G. H. S.
“With boly boldness."
Py bright experiences taught,
God's love and mercy but received.
That none did ever yet commit
To Him the guidance of their way,
But found their strength was as their day.