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old tree for all that. I cannot help calling to mind what it has been, and how often it has made my window look cheerful with its fresh green leaves, and its fine scarlet flowers.”
'This reply completely silenced me, for I thought in my heart that my neighbour was right and I was wrong. It is a good sign to remember past advantages.
I called on a friend who was giving a mouthful of oats in a sieve to an old horse, grazing in his paddock. “You may corn your horse," said I, “as much as you will, but it is not at all likely that he will ever be able to work again.”
True," replied he, “but I have no wish to forget the work he has done for me. Many a weary day has he been my companion, carrying me safely on his back, or drawing me in my gig; and while old Dinger lives, I hope never to grudge him a mouthful of grass or corn.”
“Right,” thought I, "and the feeling is a creditable one, but it is not always, nor often, that a poor brute falls into such good hands. I shall think the better of you for your humanity.”
I called on a relation who was waited on by a very old servant, who made sad blunders ; indeed, the old man was almost blind, and very feeble. “ Old Peter's day is over," said I; " sad blunders he makes, and sad blunders he will make, for his day is gone by.”
“I know it,” replied my relation; “but if his day is gone by, mine is not, and while I live Peter shall have a home under the roof of the master he has so faithfully served. He has been a good servant to me, and to my father before me, and right little do I expect from him now in the
of service. Peter, I say, has served me, and it is now my turn to serve Peter.”
I honoured my kind-hearted relation for his remembrance of old services, and for his attention to an old servant. So that, to speak the truth, I got good from my neighbour, my friend, and my relation.
Christian reader! are there none round about us whose infirmities we ought to bear with, whom we are neglecting, and treating with less kindness than we ourselves, if in their situation, should expect? Are there none whose past services we are forgetting or undervaluing, who have a just claim on our respect and thankfulness? Let us take this matter to heart, and give an honest reply.
And how stand we in regard to the dealings of our heavenly Father with us? Do we in the midst of his visitations
upon us ?
remember his favours ? When he takes away, do we remember what he has given? And when he hides his face, do we call to mind how often the light of his countenance has shined
“Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? ” Job ii. 10. Let us look back on the past ; recal to mind the multitudes of our mercies and say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,” Psa. ciii. 1, 2.
JAMES THE SOLDIER. The freeness and richness of God's grace furnish us, even on earth, with many a strain of gratitude and praise, and occasion the pouring out of the soul in prayer and supplication for an extension of the blessings of the gospel of peace; and our hands are strengthened and our hearts cheered by seeing many proofs of that blessed truth, that God is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto him by Jesus, the living way.
But when we are privileged in heaven to join the whole company of the redeemed, and to know, as probably we shall know, the history and experience of others—why, how, and when the Lord met them—fresh interest will be given to the song of triumph, on beholding the multitude out of every nation and tongue, and of every possible variety of character. We shall view him who feared the Lord from his youth, and dedicated to him the morning of his days, associated with him who sought the Lord only in the close of life, saved by grace at the eleventh hour. The man who, preserved from gross sins, was moral, amiable, and in one sense devout, and yet obtained salvation only through the Saviour's blood and righteousness, will be joined with him who, like the prodigal, having run to excess of riot, needed in our estimation a larger measure of the Saviour's grace. He also who, however learned in the wisdom of the world, found that till he had learned Christ, he had learned nothing to purpose, will stand about the throne with him who was destitute of all learning save that which the Holy Spirit supplied in the revelation and knowledge of Jesus. When we thus trace the variety of the operations of the Spirit, and hear and behold all the redeemed ascribing their salvation to the blood of the Saviour, we shall feel fresh strength in giving utterance to that song, ever new because
ever felt: “ Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever." Amongst those who are now joining in this song,
doubtless the subject of the present narrative is one.
James was the only son of a poor widow; poor, indeed, in this world's goods, but rich in faith, and an heir of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him. The means of instruction which lay in her power were afforded him, and if example could convert the soul, James would not have run into those lengths of sin he afterwards did. But the gospel seems designed to stain the pride of all human glory, and to show how it can work when the Lord's time is come.
At school James proved stubborn and refractory; indeed, so incorrigibly bad that he would soon have been expelled had not the pain his teachers felt at thus aggravating the grief of his poor and respected mother, led them to bear with him some time longer. At length, however, the sentence of expulsion was pronounced, productive of sorrow, indeed, to the widow, but probably of pleasure to James, who was thus freed from the restraints laid upon him. After a time he enlisted in the
regiment of foot, and was sent with his corps to North America.
Prayer, however, was made without ceasing unto God for him by his afflicted mother, who, though not permitted to embrace him again upon earth, has doubtless met with him in heaven, and is now joined with him in praising her Father and his Father, her God and his God.
A short time previous to the departure of a detachment of the regiment to join their comrades in North America, then the seat of war between this country and the United States, a collector of a Bible association in the neighbourhood called at the house where James's mother lived, and was requested by the widow to procure for her a pocket Bible. This naturally excited surprise and inquiry, as she was known to possess a copy of the Scriptures, and the type of the one she required was too small for her even with the aid of glasses. She replied, she did not wish for it for herself, but for her son ; she was sensible she should not again see him, and therefore wished, with her dying blessing, to send him the word of life, by the perusal of which, under God's blessing, she trusted she might yet meet with him in that world where separation is not known. Her request was, of course, complied with, and the Bible was entrusted to the care of a sergeant who was going out with the detachment.
The sergeant engaged to deliver it, and knowing the value of the blessed volume himself, was determined, if possible, to acquit himself of his charge.
On his arrival at head quarters he soon found out James, who was notorious throughout the regiment for insubordination, and as a leader in every kind of wickedness. He had often been punished, and was considered irreclaimable. When parade was over, the sergeant took him aside, and requested that he might take a walk with him. To this James assented, wondering at what could be the motive which induced the sergeant to seek him out, and little thinking of the mighty events which hung upon their afternoon's excursion.
James," said the sergeant, addressing him, “ I have something for you; it is a present, the last one you will ever receive from your dear mother.” 66 What !” said James, “ is she dead then?”
56 As to that,” replied the sergeant, “ I cannot speak positively, but when I left the shores of England she was considered to be fast drawing towards her end.”
"Well, then," said James, "give it me; I hope it is money."
“ It is not money,” said the other, “but it is something better than money, for it is able to put you in possession of that which is preferable to thousands of gold and silver, even salvation; it is the book that declares the love of Jesus in dying for sinners : it is the Bible. Here it is,” he continued, putting it into the hands of James, "and your mother makes this one request, that you will every day read one verse of it."
Well,” replied James, “ that is no great matter; one verse is not much. Here goes then,” he added, opening the book, and fixing his eyes on its pages. He started, and exclaimed, “Well, that is very odd; very odd indeed !"
“ What is very odd ?” said his companion, who began to feel much interested.
“Why,” said James, “I have accidentally fixed my eyes upon and read the only text I ever could learn by heart while I was at school. Here it is : • Come unto me, that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'
6 It is indeed singular," rejoined the sergeant,“ that you should have opened upon the only text you could ever learn, and that you should have learned so gracious and encouraging a passage.”
“But who,” said James, “is speaking? who is Me? who is this that holds out such a promise ?"
This was a glorious and unexpected opportunity. The sergeant now opened his mouth, and having more perfect knowledge of that way, he spoke to him of Jesus, told him of his love and compassion, of the lost state of sinners, and the blessings of salvation. The Lord God, who opened the mouth of the sergeant to speak, opened also the heart of James to hear and understand.
From that time he gradually became an altered character. His old companions in sin were forsaken, his former evil habits were renounced; from being a dissolute profligate, a disgrace to his regiment, he became a sober, righteous, godly man, a pattern of sobriety and discipline 'to his fellow soldiers. He was a wonder to many, and most of all to himself. He gave evidence that he was a new creature in Christ Jesus; that old things had passed away, and all things had become new. It may
be conceived how great was the pleasure he thought he should have in returning to England, and showing to those who had laboured for his good what great things the Lord had done for him. We can imagine his self-dedication to the service of his God, the desire he felt of being a burning and a shining light, magnifying the grace that had wrought so effectually in his soul, and had snatched him as a brand from the burning. And doubtless he would have been this had the Lord seen fit to prolong his stay here below; but his work was finished, and he was called to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light.
The battle of New Orleans was the last fought between the British and American forces, and at the close of the day, when the engagement was over, the sergeant, traversing the field in quest of James, found the object of his search stretched lifeless under a tree, his head reclined on his Bible, which lay open at the 11th of Matthew. His mind doubtless had been engaged, whilst life was ebbing, in contemplating the gracious invitation which had originally attracted his attention, and his weary and heavy-laden soul had found the promised rest in the bosom of his Saviour and his God.
The identical Bible has often been in the hands of the friend who, in the presence of the writer of these pages, related the foregoing tale, and the view of its blood-stained pages (for many of its leaves are literally soaked through with poor James's blood) inspires a feeling of the deepest interest