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"After I had left, Ruth Hammond, who had lived with her as half friend, half servant, for several years, was attending her, when she suddenly said—
"' Ruth, I want to speak to you; come here, and stand by my bedside.'
"Ruth came, and Mrs. Dawes, taking one of her strong hands into her own, said—
"' I hear God's voice calling me, and I must go; but I should die so much more happily if you would promise not to forsake the children. They have a heavenly Father; will you, Ruth, be their mother, and try to keep a home for them?'
"Bending over the dying woman, Ruth said, slowly and distinctly—
"' By the help of God, I will! and they shall never know what it is to miss a mother's love, while I live.'
"' God bless and help you, Ruth! and now I think I could go to sleep. I feel like a happy, tired child.'
"From that sleep she woke into new life, and Ruth was left with a burden heavy enough for such young shoulders. She was only twenty-five, and, had nothing but her own health and strength to look to as means of support for her large little family. The farm was sold, and its proceeds paid the debt caused by illness and death; then, with her own savings, Ruth furnished a cottage at the other end of the village, where she has lived ever since."
"But," I said, "how could she, single-handed, find bread enough for such a tribe?"
"You may well ask; but if you were to put the same
question to Ruth, she would answer, 'God helped me,' and
it is the only answer. It could not have been done, I firmly
believe, in her own strength; but, whilst looking to God as
her helper, Ruth never forgot that she must use her own
very best efforts, and so she did, working all day, and much
of the night as well, washing, nursing, needlework, minding
children, field work, anything and everything by which an
honest penny could be earned."
"And did she keep a tidy home for the children?"
"That she certainly did. Go when you might, you would always find her clean and tidy, her home in order, and the children busy and happy."
"Did she manage to send them to school?"
"All of them ; though, of course, as they grew older, they had to help in many ways. The garden was a source of much pleasure, as well as profit, and nearly all the work in it was done by the children after the first year."
"She must have had some hard times?"
"Undoubtedly. Illness has been very trying. Twice she has had six of them down at a time, but she has been helped through it alL I put it to her, one day, 'Had she, or her children, ever wanted?'
"' Never!' Then, with a smile, 'Of course I don't mean that we have had everything we wished for, but our wants have always been supplied.'"
"What has become of the children?"
"They are children no longer. Mary, whom you saw yesterday, is the baby, and the only one left at home. iFour are comfortably married, and two are in distant countries."
"Have they all turned out well?"
"Every one, and they would tell you that they owe all their prosperity, temporal and spiritual, to the loving care ot their foster-mother, who has taught them to trust in their heavenly Father."
"And so, I suppose, Ruth feels herself repaid for all her labour?"
"That she certainly does, and her interest in her children and in the little ones, who call her 'Grannie,' is as keen as possible; but go in and see her, and you will find her keynote is one of grateful love for all the help she has had in her life-work."
I took Mr. Dean's advice, and the more I saw of Ruth Hammond, the more I came to believe in the all-powerful efficacy of simple trust in God. The hard work had told upon Ruth physically, for, though little more than forty, she was generally spoken of as elderly; but her spirit was so bright and happy, that, in talking to her, one quite forgot the tact that she had been through such deep experiences of sorrow and toil Nor was she fond of talking about herself, and always came back to her favourite expression, "God helped me."
And so, once more, the old promise has had its fulfilment, "Leave thy fatherless children; I will preserve them alive."1
A. R. NEWMAN.
^Cost! a Jpeart.
Ferhaps you know the sad story of Lord Byron— a brilliant, reckless, short, and meteor-like life. At his death some of his admirers had his heart cut out and put into a splendid casket, and many, who had loved him and admired his genius, thought that in that gold-enshrined heart lay some wonderful charm. The Greeks carried it into battle, even as the Israelites of old once carried the sacred ark—but alas for their superstition! Lord Byron's heart and its golden casket were lost in the swamps during the fray, and were never recovered. So the cry rang out, "Lost'. a heart, a noble heart!" But it was only a dead, cold, pulseless heart that was lost . What is that loss compared with that of a living immortal soul? A soul—that secret, mysterious something that all men possess, that beats like a prisoned bird in the confinement of space and matter, that can soar higher in thought and in imagination than an angel's pinion, a soul endowed with the solemn inheritance of an endless life—what is it to lose that soul? How shall we guard it? Where shall we hide it? Into whose safe keeping commit so precious a possession?
Thank God, there is a hiding-place, there is a shelter, there is a Guardian who never slumbers or sleeps, to whom, if we commit anything, we can look up and say, " I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him." 1
1 ler. xlix. II.
To whom can we so safely commit the keeping of our souls as to the faithful Creator of those souls ? 2
The question then for you is this:
"What about your soul—in whose keeping is it, in God's, or in your own?" If in God's, it is saved—if in your own, it is lost . One or the other it must be. There is no half-way stage between salvation and condemnation: no halting-place for undecided people.
Are you one who says, " I have no fear of death; although I am not one of your so-called Christians, I am not afraid to die. If my business were well settled, and my family provided for, I should not mind dying at any moment!"
Let me ask you a question. You tell me you have no fear about your soul, should it be called away, although you know you have not an intelligent faith in Christ. You have no fear of death; have you well-founded hope that death will be gain to you? Ah ! you pause and shake your head. You cannot speak with any certainty. A sure and steadfast hope is attainable. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, we, i.e. believers, have it . It is "an anchor of the soul," both sure and steadfast, and which enters within the veil; "whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus." Is your soul then anchored there by hope? Is it safe in Christ's keeping, or is it lost?
"What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and ltose his own soul?"
"§htttb ant as a Cicroir.
Have seen in the morning sky a thick cloud barring the gates of the sunrise. It seemed like a wall, and dark and strong as the solid hills. But lo, the sun arose and smote upon it, and the dark masses were toucked on the edge to silvery brightness, 1 e Tim. i. 12. * I Peter iv. 19.
and they broke asunder in woolly flakes, as the sun's rays fell on them, till they faded and vanished from sight in the deep blue sky.
The thick cloud was no more. I beheld only the sun in his summer might, and the glory of his morning splendour. And never, amid all the clouds that drift across the sky, can that cloud appear again. It has vanished for ever and for ever, and no eye can ever again behold it.
Though darkest clouds may obscure the sun, we shall see him again. Though the stars fade at the dawn, we shall see them again when the evening comes. And the comet, which shines for a few nights in our sky and then departs into faroff space, will return when many a year has come and gone, and men will say it is the same comet that was seen before.
But that cloud, never while the light shines on this world will it come again. Never will man or angel be able to say it is the same cloud that once was seen before. No; its substance is dissipated; its particles are scattered. They descend in the dews; they fall in the rains; they flow in the streams; they dash in the waves; they freeze in the icebergs. They are scattered to all the winds of heaven, and never more as that same cloud can they appear again. . Think how completely it has been blotted out, at once and for ever.
And thus it is that God blots out sin, as completely and as fully.
"I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins."' It is God who does this, and He alone. You cannot blot out the smallest cloud in all the sky; no more can you blot out the smallest sin in your life. But God can blot out all your sin, and He does it as freely as the sun disperses the cloud in the sky.
Ask Him to blot out your sin; He will do so. Confess your sins to Him, and He will pardon them for the sake of His Son Christ Jesus, who died for this end, to take away the sin of the world.
1 Isa. xliv. 22.