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Of course Cyprian found the peace and joy he wanted to have. God Himself had made him hunger and thirst after Himself, and now He blessed the boy with the knowledge of Christ as his own Saviour. The Holy Spirit made those things plain and clear to him which seemed only words before, and Cyprian felt that Heaven had begun in his heart. So these two dear boys, each in the way that pleased God, were blessed and taught during their Christmas holidays, and in the early summer their sister Christian learned the great love of God for her soul; thus within seven months three children at the Vicarage were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, and joined the ranks of those who live for God. They were very happy after they found Christ, for they brought all their troubles and difficulties to Him. When lessons were difficult and tiresome, they asked Him to help them, and when people were unkind they knew that there was always one Almighty friend who would stand by them. The boys went to school, and I'm sure boys want the Lord Jesus for their friend at school, where there are so many things to tempt them to do wrong. Cyprian and Herbert hoped that the Lord would let them preach the Gospel when they grew up, and their father and mother prayed that they might be prepared for all the work which the Lord had for them to do. Christian took for her motto, "Even Christ pleased not Himself." She liked her books better than anything else, but she tried to leave them with a bright face when mother wanted her to help her.
Can you guess why I have told you about Cyprian and Herbert and Christian? It is that you may now, and at once, ask the dear Lord to bless you as He has blessed these children. "It is only wanting and taking," Christian said, and she was quite right. Do you want to be saved? That want on your part shows quite plainly that the Lord Jesus is calling you to Him. He has finished our salvation on the cross, and our part is to receive His great and wonderful goodness for ourselves. The Holy Spirit will make these things plain to you, if you ask your heavenly Father for His teaching. Remember, dear boys and girls, "It is only wanting and taking!"
Good minister, a man of some note in his day, and who had been the pastor of a large church for a great many years, had gained the respect of everybody who knew him for his judgment and wisdom.
One day a friend of his was talking with him about the annoyances and vexations which occur to every man as ,he passes through life, and about the best way to deal with them; and in the course of their talk the minister said:—
"I have a side-pocket, into which I put a great manythings which nobody knows anything about."
A very useful pocket that. Have you got such a pocket? If not, by all means get one without delay. Let it be a good deep one, with a safe lid and a strong button; and keep it in constant use. You will be sure to need it .
Do you ask what for? I will tell you.
You are like nobody else if things don't occur to you every now and then which are not very pleasant.
Words are said to you which are unkind and rude, and at first you may be disposed to reply to them angrily. You would do far better if you put them into the side-pocket.
Somebody has slighted or disappointed you. Yeu expected from him help, which he has not given you: or respect, which you may be quite right in thinking he ought to have paid you. Let all you feel about such things as these go right down into the side-pocket.
And when you have put them there, let them remain. Don't bring them out to anybody. Don't talk about them. Don't bring them out even when you are by yourself.
Vexatious things cease to vex us when we do not talk about them; and still more when we try to forget them. Then, too, if we never talk about them or resent them, we shall stir up no strife.
There are some other things for which you may find your side-pocket very useful.
Your friend trusts you with a secret, expecting, of course, that you will keep it. Your receiving it is in itself a sort of implied promise to keep it, whether you actually say so or not . He will be grieved if you betray it; and perhaps by its betrayal you may do him and others loo much mischief. Put it into the side-pocket, and shut the lid over it, and button it up safely, and let it stop there till he gives you leave to bring it out.
Or, again, you may hear some tale of scandal, which you may be quite certain is true, and you are very much inclined to tell it to somebody else. It may be, as it were, on the very tip of your tongue, ready to come out to the first person you meet . But is it your duty to tell it? Will your telling it do any good? If not, put that too into the side-pocket. The man may have repented bitterly, or he may yet do so; and your telling it might prove a hindrance to his getting back to a better life. Then, too, if he professed religion, it might be an injury to religion itself.
There are some other things for which such a side-pocket would be useful; but these you will easily find out for yourself.
Yet there is one thing at least which ought not to go there—your love to Christ, if you do really love Him. Avow that openly whenever you are called upon to do so, and let nobody be in doubt as to whether or not you are His servant . Say boldly before the world, "I am not ashamed of Christ." "Let your light so shine before men that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Abit," said old Peter, to a group of boys standing round him as he wove his willow baskets, "habit, my boys, is a strange and curious thing. Habit, they say, is second nature; and so it is. When you have once formed a habit, you can continue to go on doing
the same thing over and over, often without thinking of it, like me here with my basket-making, or old auntie there with her knitting. We have got so used by habit to our work, that we could do it almost as well by night as by day, and we seldom need to think of it at all; whereas when I began to learn basket-making, I had to think and look at .^very twist and turn I gave the willows. Yes, boys, habit is a wonderful thing; and a very powerful thing, I can tell you. Yet it is an easy thing to form a habit. The forming of a habit seems to me to be much like the spinning of a rope. At first there is only but a mere thread, which a child could break, stretched from end to end of the ropewalk; but after a while, when thread after thread has been added, you find a mighty cable there strong enough to hold a great ship at anchor. Forming a habit is just like the freezing of a pond. You have seen the commencement of the frost in winter; the crust of ice upon the water at first was so thin that it broke when you merely touched it, but before long the ice was strong enough to bear up crowds of people on its surface. It is a grand thing, boys, to form good habits in youth, because by that means it becomes easy and natural in after-life to do what is right. But it is a very terrible thing to form bad habits in youth, for then it becomes an easy and natural thing to do evil; and one of the worst things about evil habits is, that it is almost impossible to leave them off. They often become so strong that nothing but the grace of God can break them; and when that is the case, it often happens that they never are broken, because they come between the soul and that grace. But even when the bonds of an evil habit have been broken, it is still a troublesome tiling, for there is still constant watchfulness needed to guard against it. Therefore, boys, be sure to form good and useful habits when you are young; they will make the path of life far easier for you, and will help to keep you out of many a temptation. It is very easy for a youth to form a habit of idleness or inattention, or a habit of carelessness with respect to the truth, or a habit of