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We depend too much upon ourselves, and too little upon Him, without whom we can do nothing. Let us ever strive to remember that our natural state is one of sin, and that it is only as we draw strength from above that we shall be enabled to live as becomes those who have named the name of Christ.
Let us also learn a lesson of humility. Not boasting ourselves that our mountain stands strong, and that we shall never b: moved. Not thinking that because, up to the present time, we have been kept from falling into sins common to some, we need not watch and pray against them. But let us think, that just as the old cherry-tree, which bore nothing but good fruit for many years, is now producing useless and disfiguring shoots, so may we, unless we are kept by the goodness of God, fall into sinful courses which will do much to mar and disfigure our Christian character; even though for years we have avoided them. Let us remember that it is by the grace of Cod that we are what we are, and on no account flatter ourselves that we are of ourselves better or stronger than others.
We should also learn to look charitably upon the failings of our fellow Christians. We may deplore them, we may, and we ought to, use our influence with those whose weaknesses we perceive, to help them to overcome those weaknesses. It is our duty to pray for them, and, by all the means in our power, to strive to build them up in the faith. But never should we despise a brother because among his good we perceive some things that are evil.
To say of another that he cannot be a Christian because he does this or that which is not right according to our views, is as foolish as it would be to say that the old cherrytree had never been properly grafted when it was young, because now, after bearing loads of good fruit for many years, it is throwing out some branches that properly belong to the wild tree.
It is possible, I do not say that such is the case, but it is possible, that had the tree been pruned a little more in its younger days, it would now have been free from the disfigurements of which I have written. And is it not that we may be preserved from falling away and forgetting our God, that the great Vine-dresser sometimes uses the pruningknife to us ?—the pruning-knife of disease or disappointment, of poverty or of affliction, I mean. These may come very sharply, and appear to us very unnecessary; but if we are indeed God's children, we may be sure that the discipline is for our good. We may have been bearing very little fruit, and it was needful that we should be pruned, in order that we might become more productive. “Every branch (in Me) that beareth fruit,” says our Saviour, "He” (that is God, who is here spoken of as the husbandman) "purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Or it may be that the discipline was prospective, and that He who can see the end from the beginning knew that, unless the pruning were resorted to, we should, in after days, produce diseased and unprofitable wood. Whatever, then, may befall us, we may know that it is for our benefit, and should be able to say, “ It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth Him good.”
One other thought, and I must close this paper. Although the old cherry-tree produces useless and disfiguring branches, and they in their turn bring forth bud and flower, the flower of the wild cherry, they never bear fruit. The flowers show themselves for a short time, but they invariably fade and fall before the fruit is formed; the tree does not bear two kinds of fruit.
May we not comfort ourselves with this thought ? that although from the corruptness of our nature we may be led into evil, that is, to keep up the analogy, we may bear the branch and even the flower of our wild nature, yet, being grafted into the true vine, the all-wise Dresser of the vineyard will not allow the fruit to ripen, but will, in some way or another, stay its growth, and destroy it ere it come to maturity, and work death in us. May we not be confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ ? G. H. S.
T ow brightly over Judah's hills
The camp of Israel.
Philistia's armies came;
Nor feared His holy name.
Their giant champion cry,
Your armies I defy."
To still Goliath's boast ?
Saul's once courageous host?
One day a ruddy shepherd boy
To Israel's camp drew near;
All faces pale with fear. “Now who is this," he cried, “who dares
Our vengeance thus to brave,
Is ever strong to save ?"
They brought the stripling to the king:
"Dost thou not fear to go ? Ah! boy, thou know'st not what it is
To meet so strong a foe.” “ Sire,” said the lad, “in Bethlehem's fields
I guard my father's sheep;
My watch alone I keep.
A lamb from out the fold;
I slew that lion bold.
That night my strength and stay,
The Philistine to-day ?”
“Go," answered Saul, “God helping thee.”
So quickly went the lad ;
Were all the arms he had,
With scornful looks and proud ;
For thee !” he cried aloud.
Was David's calm reply ;
And in His strength rely."
Has hit the giant's brow,
Is laid for ever low.
The lesson is for you;
Your helps may seem but few ;
In God's all-powerful name ;
A. L. B.
Dick Morgan's Excuse.
FIRST PART. 10, I be no scholard, sir, no scholard! I came into
this 'ere world afore book-learning was thought such a heap of. When I was a youngster 'twas
only the quality as learnt more than their A B C. Now-a-days, gentle and simple is schooled alike. Oh, this be a wonderful centry, this here nineteenth; though why folks calls it nineteen, when it's only eighteen hunderd and odd, it puzzles my old head to calc'late." And Dick Morgan, as he was called by his neighbours, shook his grizzled locks, and tried to put on a look which was intended to show how puzzled he was.
This was a much longer speech than he was in the habit of making, for he was not generally a man of many words. The minister, Mr. Grey, knew that Dick was anxious, by talking about the century and being no scholar, to keep off more important conversation ; but, as Mr. Grey also knew, there was no time to be lost, for the day was growing old and night was coming on. And Dick was growing—no, not growing old, for he was that already, but Dick was growing older and older every day, and that hour which only those who love and serve the Lord can bear to think of, was very near at hand. As Mr. Grey knew all this, he felt that not even pity for the old man must stop the serious questions he came to ask. So, looking very earnestly at his aged friend, he said,
“You are no scholar, it is true, Dick, but old as you are it is not too late to learn."
Here Dick shook his head, as much as to say, “Then you don't know how old I am!”
“No, not too late now, but you must begin at once; tomorrow it may be too late. Think of poor George Jackson, who went to bed last night expecting to do a good day's work to-day; and where is he now? Look across the yard, and you will see two men carrying a coffin. There ! where are they going to stop? At George's door, and that coffin is for him who thought to be very busily employed through the hours of the day just closing! If he had put off learning till to-day, he would have been too late; not, as you say, from age, but from want of further opportunity; too late even for my night-school, where all ages are welcomed and taught; he would have been too late, and why? Because the doors would have been shut !”
“ Yes," interrupted old Dick, “I knows they're always closed up after school hours; it's playtime now, your rey’rence."
“Ah, Dick, my friend, you misunderstand me. The night-school I speak of is not that one in Mitre Lane, where big and even aged men attend to learn to read and