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bestowed by the hand of charity—he wandered into the north of England, trusting to find some employment suited to his diminished strength. Providence guided his footsteps, for within a fortnight he obtained work in the lamp-office of a coal-mine, under an old man, who, to his capacity and business qualifications for the office of a foreman, added the ornament of a sterling Christian character. Not content with merely giving the stricken, afflicted wanderer employment, the tender-hearted old foreman took Alexander into his own house, and sheltered him under his own roof. His wife was a praying woman, and was in no way chary of administering rebuke, while she ministered to the wants of the repentant prodigal.
At the first, Alexander was given to understand plainly that his home and employment depended upon his conduct; that unless he left off drink, evil company, and restless habits, he would be turned out in the world again. But the poor fellow was almost tamed by the breaking down of his physical strength. He no longer possessed the giant muscles of old, neither could he perform the feats of activity upon which he used to pride himself. Consequently, the tender, motherly, thoughtful care of the old lady was like a God-sent blessing, and had not a little to do with alluring the prodigal into better ways. His daily work was somewhat distasteful to him, it is true, but it served to keep the grim wolf of starvation from the door, and afforded him the only possible outlook towards sobriety and respectability. So he strove to do his best, and to make his best of the shattered remnant of his life. But God still was watching him; blessings were waiting for him, of which he did not dream.
As, one Sabbath evening, Alexander strolled aimlessly through the mining village, he was attracted by the sound of singing, proceeding from a building which was evidently a place of worship. Drawn by curiosity, he stepped in and took a seat near the entrance, intending to listen to the worship unobserved, and to slip out again when the service should approach its close. As he sat in his quiet comer, his thoughts travelled back to the time when last, as an innocent child, he had gone with his friends to the sanctuary of God. Pondering thus, softened feelings took possession of his soul; gradually he came back to the present, heard the voice of the preacher, listened to the tender invitations given to "come to the Saviour,"—to "give up sin,"—to "find rest in Him." These invitations seemed specially intended for himself—they just met his case, and he listened with astonished eagerness. At the close of the sermon, the preacher requested any who were feeling sorrow on account of sin to remain behind for private conversation and prayer; and, in spite of his former resolution to leave the building before the service had concluded, Alexander now felt impelled to remain. The arrows of conviction had pierced his soul, and he longed to hear how he could be saved. He felt himself a sinner, and now he knew that he wanted a Saviour. "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost," was the passage that was specially blessed to him that night; it spoke peace to him, and assured him that though lost, in almost every sense of the word, Christ Jesus could find and save him! After some time spent in earnest prayer and supplication, the blessing came; and Alexander Lloyd stepped out of the sanctuary into the frosty air of that January night "the Lord's free man." Surely there was rejoicing in the courts of heaven, among the angels, as they surveyed the scene!
This was the beginning of a new life indeed to the young Christian. As time rolled on, he gradually regained his health, and felt equal to more arduous duties. Through the influence of his good old friend, he exchanged his post of lamp-cleaner for that of engineer—a much more respectable and better-paid position—and here he was able to save a little money. Very bright was that New Year to Alexander, for in every way he tried to serve his Redeemer's cause by active labour, counting no toil too severe, that he might manifest his gratitude. He soon took charge of a class in the Sunday-school, and rapidly secured the affection and attention of his boys.
Having in the meantime grown acquainted with a young woman, who although poor in this world's goods, was rich in faith, the acquaintance ripened into love, and in due time they were married. A reconciliation was effected with his friends, and his sisters rejoiced with him over the happy change.
E. R. P.
(But Jfaijju's IprmnTSe,
Exodus iii. 12.
"/^ERTAINLY I will be with you 1"
V That promise is ours to-day,
Given to each of God's children,
To guide and to cheer on their way;
So we go on our journey rejoicing,
And give thanks with full hearts while we pray.
"Certainly I will be with you!"
"Certainly I will be with you!"
With us by day and by night,
With ns in joy or in sorrow,
In the midst of the battle of life;
Ever speaking sweet words to the weiry,
Ever turning their darkness to light
Oh! we praise Thee, most merciful Father t
Jot long since I met with the following remarkable narrative :—" At Gilberton, a town about three miles from Shenandoah, in the heart of the Mahanoy coal-field, Pennsylvania, a house was swallowed up on Michaelmas day. The house stood over the outcrop of a vein; and when the coal was taken away, there was nothing left for its support but a crust of not many feet of earth A heavy rain loosened the earth, and on that day the inmates of the house happened to notice their little garden patch sinking into the depths below. They had just time to snatch their nearest movables and run for their lives, before the house began to rock, and then fell over, and disappeared roof foremost in the abyss, followed by an avalanche of rock and earth, which quickly buried it. Had the accident happened at night, some, if not all, of the family must certainly have perished. The strangest part of the story is that the inmates were wellinformed as to the position of their house; knew that it was liable to sink at any moment, and yet continued to live in it apparently regardless of consequences."
We wonder, as we read, of the infatuation of people who would persist in living in a house which was only supported by a few feet of earth, which might at any moment crumble away and let it fall, in utter ruin, into the yawning abyss beneath; and yet this conduct, which seems so strangely unreasonable, is not without a parallel. How many are there whose hopes for time and eternity are resting on a foundation even more insecure than that to which the inmates of the ill-fated house in Gilberton so incautiously trusted! How many are there who, instead of building upon the firm and well-set rock, have no better foundation than the shifting and treacherous sand!
One of the most striking parables of our Lord, that with which He brings to a conclusion His Sermon on the Mount, sets before us, in vivid contrast, the wise builder who looked
well to the foundation, and the foolish and incautious builder who had no regard to what his house rested on. "Whosoever," saith Christ, "heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."1 Here, then, we have two men representing two large classes, the wise and foolish builders: those who build on a good foundation, and those who build on a bad: those who spend their labour in erecting a house upon the sand, and those who build upon, the firm-set and irremovable rock. The buildings themselves may look very much alike, and, for a season, appear equally strong and reliable, but there is a day of trial, wherein the difference between them shall be made manifest. The test in each case is the same. The rains descend, the floods come, the winds blow, but the results are different; in the one case the house stands—for it is builded on a rock; and in the other case it falls, and great is the fall thereof.
A man builds a house with direct reference to protection against wind and weather, the descending rain, the sweeping flood; and he is a foolish builder who only erects a fineweather house, which stands when there is no great need of shelter, but which in that day when he shall look for a covert from the tempest, shall fall with a great fall.
This idea Christ applies to man's religious life, and
reminds His auditors of the folly of attempting to satisfy
themselves with any form of religion which, being founda
tionless, shall fail of protecting them in that day when
defence will be most urgently needed. Having the certain
prospect of this day of decisive trial, it is important, it is
1 Matt. vii. 24-27.