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house at which goods were to be delivered, when the load was so much lightened that the boy was able to carry with ease what remained.
A good many years passed, the policeman still occupied much the same position in the force, and was again employed upon the same beat in the western district of the city, when one day a servant girl, standing at the front door of a large and beautiful house, told him that her master wished to see him. He entered, expecting to hear of some depredation that had been committed, or perhaps that the family were to be absent from town, and he was to be requested to keep an eye upon the house for fear of burglars. What was his surprise, then, when the gentleman proceeded to ask him whether he remembered helping a grocer's boy with his basket more than twenty years ago ! As was to be expected, such an unimportant, and, to the kindly policeman, not altogether an uncommon occurrence, had been long forgotten; but at last, by means of the gentleman's minute description, it was recalled to the memory of the policeman. “You may have forgotten it,” said the gentleman, “but I have not. I was that grocer boy, and your kindly act has remained fresh in my memory ever since. I have since that time prospered in business, and to-day I have sent for you to make you a small present in acknowledgment of that act of kindness.”
What the amount of the reward bestowed may have been does not concern my purpose in telling the story. It may have been large or small; the most valuable part of it was, without doubt, the assurance which the policeman received, that his kindly act had been so gratefully remembered.
Such an incident as this shows of how great value mutual helpfulness is. The policeman's act was one that cost him nothing. It needed little or no effort on the part of the strong man to lift the basket and help the boy in carrying it. Yet how great and lasting the fruits of such a simple act! The boy was helped in his difficulty, but that was not all. It is evident that the act of kindness exercised an influence
over all his subsequent life. It kindled a warm ray of gratitude in his heart, that continued to burn on for many a long year. It encouraged and cheered him, and no doubt made him more kindly in his treatment of others, and specially of the boys and youths in his employment. As for the policeman, he had even at the time a sufficient reward in the approval of his own conscience, and in the knowledge that he was doing right. He received a substantial reward, as we have seen, afterwards at the hands of the merchant, and all his declining years will be the happier for that one good deed.
And what of the public, to whom this incident has become known through the press and otherwise ? It has touched every generous and kindly heart, and will no doubt act in many a case in the way of suggesting kindly and helpful acts; while in other cases it will also stir up those who have received such acts to gladden the hearts of those from whom they have received them, by making some acknowledgment of the kindness done. For, though the doing of such acts is in itself a sufficient reward, it is a great encouragement to know that a kindly act has been appreciated, and has borne fruit in the life and character.
In connection with the young, the memory of a kind act seems to be particularly strong. Most of us who are grown to manhood remember kindly words and acts which we experienced; words and acts long forgotten by those who spoke and did them.
And, strange to say, when the kind and helpful act is done by the young for the old, memory seems to act in the same way. There is nothing that the aged notice so quickly, or appreciate so much, as a helpful act or a kindly word from the young. Many young people never think of this; perhaps no young people have any adequate idea of the value in this relation of what they say and do, or how much they can, by the very simplest means, accomplish in the way of helping and comforting the aged and the suffering. It is only now and then that the history and influence of a helpful act can be traced. Often the influence, though strong, is almost unconscious, and in many cases no acknowledgment even is made of indebtedness. But the fact remains; a kind word has been spoken, a helpful deed has been done. These have not been lost. The fruit is ripening of the seeds thus sown, and God, who has seen and heard all, never forgets, but at the last will repay, with heavenly usury, every kindly act that has been done to others in the name or the spirit of Christ Jesus.
wreck-chart of the British Islands, cannot have
the black dots, each of which indicates the spot on which a wreck has occurred during the year for which the chart was made, are so numerous that it seems almost impossible that so many vessels could have been wrecked at those parts during a twelvemonth.
Let it seem what it may, there is no disputing facts. The charts fully and faithfully represent what has actually taken place.
Some parts of our island are more dangerous than others. Here there are hidden rocks, there is a bank of sand ; and again, at another place, are treacherous quicksands, ready at any time to engulph in to certain destruction the unwary mariner. But putting aside the exceptionally dangerous parts of the coast, looking all around the island, there are the marks where wrecks have taken place. Take a chart, and look at it; there, all along each coast, north, south, east, and west, at more or less distance from each other, are the wreck dots.
But are there no lighthouses? No signals by which the mariner may be warned of rocks or sands, or dangerous
currents? Oh yes! At all points of especial danger there are warning lights; besides which, all who navigate the seas carry a chart with them, by which they should be guided. Every precaution is taken that it is possible to take, to prevent destruction to life and property by shipwreck, and yet year after year it continues.
How is this to be accounted for? we may well ask. In many ways. Sometimes a fog overwhelms the vessel, and it is impossible to see the lights; the keenest sight cannot penetrate the thick darkness by which the vessel is surrounded. In such a case it is well, if not to anchor, at least to proceed very slowly, constantly throwing out the lead and plumbing the depth of the water; constantly, too, sounding the whistle, to warn any other vessel of your whereabouts; otherwise you will be on the rocks or shore.
At other times a tempest rises, the wind bursts upon the vessel with so great fury that she becomes unmanageable. Every sail is closely furled, and yet the craft speeds on, driven before the wind. Nothing can now be done but to look well to the steering. Keep the helm right, and you will weather the storm; let that be neglected, and all hope is lost. If the rudder gear get out of order, the vessel is at the mercy of the winds and waves.
Then, again, the vessel may spring a leak, or she has been overladen, or the ballast shifts, or the craft may have been old and unseaworthy before the voyage was commenced. All these dangers surround those who make their living on the sea.
In how many ways does the voyage through life resemble that of the mariner ?
Both are sailing for some port. Never a vessel puts out to sea but the captain knows whither she is bound. And nearly all men sailing on life's sea wish at last to reach the happy port of Heaven; they may not say so, they may not think much about it, but when they do think—and the thought surely comes over every one at some time or other during his life-he hopes that all will be right in the end. So we may say that all men are hoping to reach that safe haven at last.
Both have difficulties to contend with, and dangers to avoid. In each case the shoals and quicksands, rocks, dangerous shores, and treacherous currents are pointed out in their charts, and it is the fault of either if he neglect to follow the direction that chart contains.
A mariner on life's ocean may be baffled and blinded by a fog of unbelief, and thus lose his way and get shipwrecked. His unbelieving heart will not let him see the warnings that are placed before him to prevent his ruin, and he runs aground, and his soul is lost. If he had only taken time to consider, if he had only thought on the wrecks which he had seen others make of themselves, and taken warning from them; if he had constantly plumbed the depth of his own heart, and found out into what shallow waters he was getting, he might have turned from his wickedness and lived. But no, on he goes, all sail spread, dashing on through a sea of sin and folly, till at last, without any warning, he strikes a rock and is lost.
May be another, starting with the full intention of making the heavenly port, meets with tempests, some temptation that it seems almost impossible to resist, or trouble that seems to drive him to despair. Let him take in every stitch of the canvass of self-confidence or self-righteousness, and let him see that he is steering according to the Master's instructions, and by-and-bye, when the tempest has passed over, he will find himself in calmer seas, and nearer his desired haven.
Many men, who hope to get to Heaven at last, spring a leak on the voyage ; some little sin begins the damage, and, often indulged in, a leak is made that lets in a sea of trouble and sorrow. Beware of little sins !
And let us not overload ourselves, in our voyage over life's sea, with the cares and anxieties of this world. Many a one has come to wreck through doing so. He has filled himself with business cares and anxieties, or with pleasure