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first in his class, bending his whole energies to the tasks which awaited him.
The sunny afternoon passed, and the sun began to sink low in the heavens, but still the lad was absorbed in his studies. Probably he was unacquainted with the time of the returning tide, or if he was, he allowed the matter to slip from his memory. At any rate the first thing which drew off his attention from his beloved books was the dashing of the spray in his face. Then he rose and looked around. What could it mean? Was he hemmed in? Yes! Before him lay a vast seething, roaring, rushing mass of waters rolling restlessly here and there, guided towards every nook and corner of the coast by some mighty invisible force. The nook in which he was studying was surrounded on three sides, and part of the fourth, by high and precipitous cliffs, up which it would be as impossible to climb as up a high straight wall, while shutting him in and slowly rising around him, were the cold, cruel waters. He rushed to the little opening in front, but here he found that the waters had risen high, while all around they were pouring in with relentless fury.
Willie was only seventeen, and at seventeen the wish for life is strong. Shrieking for help, he ran hither and thither, looking if perchance some outlet or some boat could furnish a chance of escape. Unfortunately he could not swim, or it would have been short work to cast off his clothes, leap into the water and swim to the open shore. We may easily imagine how again and again he strove to climb up the precipitous sides of the rocks, striving to obtain a foothold, and failed. The spray of the water dashed up over him, and with swiftly beating heart and hands cut by the rocks, he must have fallen back to face death.
Still the waters were rising. Now the water was up past his knees,—now up to his breast, although he retreated to the highest standing-place he could find. But was Willie really afraid to die?
No! He had received good, careful Christian training. He had been taught to receive Christ as his Saviour, and in his boyish fashion had followed Him. In his breastpocket he carried a little pocket Bible—a sign that he read the Scriptures, and valued them—and this he took out now. Holding it up above,the waves, he doubtless read some passages of comfort and joy, and then taking out his blacklead pencil, he wrote a message to his friends on the fly-leaf of his Bible. It was this:
"I am in danger of being drowned. The tide is rising fast. But do not fear for me, dear friends. I am safe. I have loved God, and practised secret prayer for a long time past, and have trusted to Jesus Christ for salvation. Therefore I am safe now, and I do not fear to die. But I write this down to comfort you, and to assure you that I have no fear. In case I should be drowned, I desire to express my confidence that I shall go to be with Jesus."
Then, putting the pocket Bible, containing this solemn record of his trust and confidence, back into his pocket, Willie prepared to meet death. We cannot tell what he did or what he said just then, but we can suppose that his last words would be words of prayer to that God whom he had served and trusted.
Rising—dashing—roaring—hissing,—on the waters came, until they rolled over the poor imprisoned lad. Then came the struggle, all too unavailing, and the spirit of the young and secret disciple passed away. It seemed such a very dark Providence, but amid it all the one great comfort came—Willie was prepared to die.
By-and-by, when too late, the tide receded. It knew its times and its seasons; in obedience to the unseen and Divine agency which drew the waters towards the land, it went back. Then, after a little while Willie's dead body was picked up and carried home; and the parents felt that day as if all the light of their life were gone out .
But that message! How it comforted them! How it
soothed their sorrow and consoled their poor stricken hearts.
There was hope in his death. Their boy had gone to~De with Jesus—the Lord whom he had loved in secret for so long.
Some boys and girls may read this true story, and will perhaps shed sympathising tears over it . But will they also put a few questions home to themselves? Had they been in Willie's place, could they have met death with the same confidence? Were death to come to them now in any unexpected form, could they obey the summons without fear? Could they look into their hearts, and acknowledge truthfully that Jesus had reigned Lord and King there? Would it be shown that the Book of books was their secret friend, counsellor, and guide? Would they be able to say,"I am safe 7" If they could, then the sting of death would be taken away, and the grave itself be robbed of its victory; because the prospect of being immediately and "for ever with the Lord" would cause the advent of death to be harmless. "A quiet end and a safe voyage" this would be indeed, as was Willie's.
And why may not every boy and girl enjoy the same confidence that Willie had? Because of their own fault, their own unbelief, or carelessness, or indifference. There is no reason in Christ why each one who reads this story may not be immediately and fully saved. Seeking the Holy Spirit's help, repent of sin; turn to Christ with full purpose of heajt; believe His precious promises. He offers you eternal life, if you come to Him in faith. Then if you accept Christ's "great salvation," it will be a salvation from sin, from hell, from the fear of death. It was the possession of this "great salvation" which explains Willie's confidence in the prospect of death, and which enabled him to write that last message.
E. K. P.
Safafitr as Jtrjr Jfiri.
fooD-EYE, my boy; may God preserve you, and give
you strength to resist temptation. Look to Him
at all times, and He will keep you from falling."
These, or very similar words, were the last that
Arthur Fisher ever heard his father speak; and they rang
in his ears and occupied his thoughts for a long time after
they were uttered.
Arthur was the son of poor but Christian parents, who lived in the village of Weyborough, whence he was now journeying to take his position as junior clerk in a city merchant's office. He was a lad with many good qualities, but unfortunately with one great failing; he was easily led, and was so weak that he had not the courage to say No.
Now, however, with his father's admonition fresh in his mind, he determined to fight against this weakness, to resist temptation, and to prove himself a worthy son of his godly parents.
Arrived in town, Arthur found his way to the office, and before long was set to work. Fortunately, the work he had
to do was of the simplest kind, or in all probability it would
not have been done very correctly, so strange and nervous
did he feel; nevertheless, he plodded on as best he could
till six o'clock struck, and then he walked home—no, not
home, that was a thing of the past, but to his somewhat
dingy lodgings in the suburbs; the long streets through
which he had to pass seeming inexpressibly dreary and sad
to him after the hedgerows and fields to which he had been
accustomed in the neighbourhood of Weyborough.
So miserable did Arthur feel that he soon sought the
retirement of his chamber, and there thought of the change
that had come over his life and prospects. He thought,
too, of his father's parting words, and once more determined
that he would always obey the admonition of Solomon,
"My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not
the law of thy mother." Happy would it have been for him
if the good resolutions formed that night had never been
Three years have passed away, and many changes have been brought about. Arthur's father has been removed by death, and his mother is working hard to support herself and her little daughter. And Arthur, where is he? Alas! for the frailty of human nature. Alas! for the worthlessness of good resolves, when made in one's own strength. He, the only son of his mother, and she a widow, is, with a dozen or more of his boon companions, standing by a billiard-table in a public-house, there squandering his money and ruining his health.
Is he thinking of his mother's toil-worn face and tired hands, and of how much he can save from his earnings to render her assistance? Not he! he has almost forgotten his mother; and he has quite forgotten his God.
And his earnings, where do they go? Instead of helping his mother, or even supplying his own legitimate needs, they go to swell the profits of the publican who stands at