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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.
S% Crimnplr at Crust,
How brightly over Judah's hills
The camp of Israel.
Philistia's armies came;
And daily Israel heard with dread
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.
Our vengeance thus to brave,
Is ever strong to save?"
They brought the stripling to the king:
"Dost thou not fear to go?
To meet so strong a foe."
I guard my father's sheep;
My watch alone I keep.
"One night a prowling lion seized
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.
"Thou com'st with sword, a»d shield, and spear,"
Was David's calm reply;
And in His strength rely."
Has hit the giant's brow,
Is laid for ever low.
Oh ye, who fear temptation's power,
The lesson is for you;
Your helps may seem but few;
In God's all-powerful name;
And He is now the same. A. L. B.
girk Morgan's (Bxtust.
jo, 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 ABC. Now-a-days, gentle and simple is schooled alike. Oh, this be a wonderful cent'ry, 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 rev'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 write and cypher. In the night-school I tell you of there are no play hours. All there is true, earnest learning, and that learning keeps on all the time; there's no"
"Ay, but the scholards must be a bit tired! I remembers as how I once heard a gentleman say, talking about learning, 'much of it would make us mad.'"
Mr. Grey could have smiled at poor Dick's unconscious allusion to an incident in the history of Paul,1 but resisting the smile as out of place, he simply said—
"The learning at this night-school would never drive anyone to madness; it heals it rather, even the worst sort of madness."
"Sure, then, it must be a right kind o' teaching, that there; and may be, if I weren't so old, I'd take to it, sir."
"Dick Morgan, I repeat, you are not too old for it, nor will you be so long as you have life in your body or understanding in your mind to receive the lessons. Remember, I have warned you that it is dangerous, very dangerous, to leave this learning till to-morrow, a to-morrow that may never come except to find you—yes, you, Dick Morgan— gone, gone for ever!"
Here old Dick looked uneasily around, and at Jast glanced out of the window, and the sight of the men going from the cottage, where they had left poor George in his coffin, did not improve his feelings. Mr. Grey kept silent for a moment, and then, wishing to give a brighter thought than that of death to his aged friend, said, with a bright, hopeful smile—
"But when the learning is over in this night-school, oh! then, Dick, comes such a glorious day of happiness and joy, as no one who has never been in that school will ever know! And only think of the great honour in store for the scholars. The Master Himself will come in and sit down with those who have learned of Him.8 Oh! how those scholars will shout the praises of that Master, and thank God for leading them to that night school, and allowing 1 Acts xxvi. 24. * John xiv. 23.
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