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that he had not so much as one to bind up his wounds, and to comfort him, and give him a bit of bread to refresh him, but was compelled to lie at the glutton's gate begging, and was glad that the dogs came and licked his wounds? Was it not a sore temptation to the cripple-man that lay so long at the pool of Bethesda, and when the angel came down to stir the water, he had not one to let him down? And was not this a sore temptation to David when all his kinsfolk had forsaken him, and his familiar friends had left him, and when they that sat at his table had lifted up their heels against him, was not that a sore temptation, think ye? Yet I assure you these outward afflictions may stand very well with the love of God; for ye dare not say but the Lord loved Lazarus, notwithstanding of all his sores and outward miseries, because after his death his soul was carried into Abraham's bosom, that is, into the kingdom of heaven. Ye dare not say but the Lord loved that crippleman, notwithstanding he lay so long at the pool and had none to let him down into it; because He sent His own Son to heal him. Ye dare not say but the Lord loved David, notwithstanding all his troubles, crosses, and afflictions that he sustained before he came to the kingdom; because the Lord delivered him out of them all, and confounded all his enemies with shame, and put him in peaceable possession of his kingdom." And, though there are surer evidences of Divine good-will than restored prosperity, yet the argument is sound. Afflictions may indeed stand very well with God's love. Let us, sorrowful people, only see to it that our sorrow is leading us to God. After that, we may, like John Bunyan's pilgrim, go on our way, singing.
In the shadow of a ruined abbey in the south of Scotland there is a philosopher's grave. Sir David Brewster was a great scholar, a famous man of science, and at the same time a devout Christian. His studies were much engaged upon the nature of light; and it is a delightful thing to think that he who knew so much about optics, had also found that the light and life of the soul come from the Sun of Righteousness. On the tomb, in Melrose Abbey, are these words, "The Lord is my Light." One can hardly wonder that, even in this dark world, he who thus walked in the light and loved it was a happy man. "During my life," he said, towards its close, "I have been very happy; and I am now going to be unspeakably happy with my Saviour." Could we but learn that simple truth of how to be at peace, would it not be better than to know all that human learning can show?
"How much better is it to be ignorant of everything that learned men know, and to have a fuller knowledge of Christ crucified, than to be wise as Solomon, and miss the gain of sound and sensible piety." Such is the wise view of a good man who lived in Germany two centuries since, and nothing has taken place to show his opinion wrong. Honest piety is infinitely better than unspiritual cleverness. Plain folk who are " no scholars," but who love the Lord Jesus, and to whom the Bible and prayer are delightful, may be of good comfort. But we should try to have both sound education and sound godliness. Learning and piety are sisters; and they love to be together.
To-day, as I write—it is the beginning of April—my little girl and I were caught in a shower. It was worth while to bear the wetting, that one might watch afterwards the outburst of the sun, revealing in the warm light a million diamond points, wherever hung a drop of moisture. As we were watching the glorious return of sunshine, the words of Robert Bolton, one of our English ministers in the seventeenth century, came into my mind: "Such tears as burst out of a heart oppressed with grief for sin are like an April shower, which though it wet a little, yet it begets a great deal of sweetness in the herbs, flowers, and fruits of the earth." The sentence is in an eloquent old book, 'On Walking with God,' which sometimes is found on the bookstalls, and in the cottages of our godly people in the country. It is full of wisdom and devotion. If you can buy or borrow it, read and live it out.
"There is another world!" So said, with his last breath, a dying man. He was a famous scholar, but his learning had served rather to unsettle than to strengthen the faith of Christian men. He had written a Life of Christ, in which he would have explained all the miracles as if there were no world but this. When the solemn lights appeared which we can only see as we die, all was changed. That other world —the mighty world of spirits—which all along a spiritual sense ought to have seen, but did not, came into view.
Alas for us! that, like Paulus, we hardly know there is another world till we are dying. How much better to know it, as we well may, while we live.
Some time after the Reformation, a preacher was speaking
about Pilate's question, "What is Truth?" and told the
people who were listening to him that at length, after long
searching, he had found it out; and then holding up a
New Testament, said it was there, in his hand; "but," said
he, "the book is forbidden to be read by the people," and
he put it into his pocket. Nor is it so long since Englishmen
dare not be found with the book of truth. It cost William
Tyndale his life to give the Word of God to his country.
But we have it now; and so long as the people have it in
their hearts, we shall be both wise and free.
When Olevianus, one of the Reformers, was on his deathbed, iEsted stood beside him. "Dear brother," said he, "are you assured of the salvation which is in Christ, as you have so long preached it to others?" The dying man laid his hand on his heart, and replied with deep feeling, "Certissimus: I have the fullest assurance," and soon after
departed to be with Christ.
I am afraid the good custom of asking a blessing before food is growing rare in some places. It cannot be wise or well, when we are imitating the Lord Jesus less than, perhaps, we once did.
Here are some old forms for saying grace, about the time of Queen Elizabeth :—
"All that is and shall be set upon the board,
"He that is King of Glory, and Lord over all,
And a quaint and beautiful one by a poet:—
Grace for a Child.
"Here a little child I stand,
Such simple forms would often serve good purpose in the days of Queen Victoria.
John Brown, of Haddington, whose Bible is still in many a cottage in his native land, has left us a pungent and weighty word. He felt and said it, when near life's end: "I now see, more and more, that nothing less than real, real Christianity is fit to die with, and make an appearance before God."
When we are to die, may that real Christianity be ours; and as we know not when we are to die, may it be ours now. Only those who "love Christ" can be sure of finding "death gain." w.
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Truly Christian home is the nearest spot on all the earth to heaven. It is a fact of beautiful significance that when Jesus was about to ascend to heaven He led His disciples out as far as to Bethany. There was the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus; a home where the heart of every inmate knew and loved and trusted Him. Such a home is very near to heaven. It is but a short way from it to our Father's house. I have seen a chart of terrestrial elevations, and have noted the lofty Himalayas rising far into the sky of Asia. If we had such a chart of spiritual elevations, homes like that at Bethany would be the loftiest mountain peaks of all, rising the farthest and the nearest unto God. You should try to build your home in such a celestial elevation. It is not very hard for a truly good man to live in the light and love of God in solitude. But how hard becomes the upward struggle, when the members of a man's own household drag down the wings of his aspirations, and clog his feet!—when noble thoughts meet with no sympathy, and noble purposes are secretly thwarted or openly opposed! Such a home, though a just man like Lot dwelt in it, lies far down in the