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The farmer Stöbe was carefully tended on his first sick bed, by his wife, the manager, and the tutor. They took turns with each other, Even then there were some troublesome nights with the hasty, fiery man. His trust in God, and his word, was strong enough for healthy days; in sickness the thread was many a time worn very thin, and the good mistress had much to suffer on the occasion. When the second affliction came, the thread quite broke. He could not conceive that he should be able to pass through such a time of suffering again. The mistress now felt that with her present assistants she could not longer nurse him. She her. self was not one of the strongest; she therefore proposed that they should have Berend Stein as attendant in the nights during the new time of suffering. Stöbe was satisfied with the plan.
Berend was sent for, and came the next evening. The first night was a troublesome one; Berend was rewarded with many hard and rough words. He endured them very quietly and cheerfully. If we accept them in love, for Christ's sake, he will repay them again at the last day. He remained as friendly as if nothing had occurred. Among other complaints came the question, how he, the farmer, could come to such suffering, how he had deserved it from the Lord ?
As Berend, after such an outbreak, was dropping lotion again on the bands of his leg, the farmer saw that a tear fell at the same time, from the eye of the silent mason on the foot.
Berend,” he began, “ what are you weeping for? Have I been too hard with you ?” No,”
,” answered Berend. “ Well, what then?”
“ If I must tell you, it grieves me that you can submit so little to the discipline and chastisement of God. They drove the nails through both the feet of the Lord Christ, but he did not murmur, and
have broken but one leg." He said not a word further, nor the sick man either. He did not scold again the whole night. Time passed pretty quietly between them both. Towards morning Stöbe asked the
mason, you come again this evening ?” “ Yes,
you wish for me," was Berend's answer. Thereupon he went home.
On the following evening he had been again attending for a time to his office of nurse, the mistress having gone to rest. Stöbe could not sleep, and began in a friendly manner, saying,
“ Berend, I have heard that you willingly relate things to sick people ; will you not do so to me also ?”
“Sir,' replied Berend, “my narratives are nothing but home-baked bread for poor people; you have read much better and finer than I
you.” Thereupon said Stöbe, “Önly do it, old man; homebaked bread is a precious gift of God, and more wholesome than cakes and tarts; just relate something to me.”
Berend began :-" There was once a poor pious minister, or, if I have been told right, he must be living still. He had a large parish ; it consisted of several villages. One autumn, however, the roads were so bad, that he could not get along them at all on foot, and yet he was very desirous of fulfilling his mission, that the souls of his charge might not suffer through the bad road. He, therefore, borrowed an old nag from a neighbour, and rode from village to village. Perhaps, he did not very well understand riding, but that is not to be expected of a minister. As he was returning, the horse stumbled on the steep ascent of a hill, and fell. The parson bent forward, but could not gain firm footing, stumbled himself, and sprained his ankle. He wished to go further, but fell once more; the bone broke, and he remained clinging to a young fir tree. He then felt that the points of the shinbone pierced through the stocking. A man, who was just driving to the mill, lifted him into his cart and took him home. The parson's shin-bone was broken, but not his faith. The first word with which he saluted his friends at home, was, Jesus Christ has visited me.' The worse visitation, however, had not yet come. The foot was bent inward, and the bone splintered. Some days passed in unutterable pain, and yet with much patience. The people of his parish kept watch during the night by his bed of suffering. Each was anxious to be the first in the service. At length the pains surpassed all human endurance, and almost deprived him of reason. He had a more skilful surgeon sent for, who found that the entire bone and sinews up to his knee were in such a state, that nothing now remained, but that the leg must be taken off. The minister thought lie should die under the operation. He rapidly dictated his will, and prepared by communion with his Lord in silent prayer to leave his earthly pilgrimage. When the taking off of the leg came, he bore the pain with great peace and patience. He only once complained that the saw was not sharp enough. When all was over, his soul was so filled with pious resignation, that he exclaimed, 'A leg may be parted with, we do not love the Lord with the legs.' The time of visitation was to him a time of the richest grace. He had never been in closer intercourse with his Saviour than on the bed of affliction. 'If I could come still nearer to thee, dear Lord,' he once exclaimed, I would not only willingly give up a leg, but both legs, and hands, and head besides.' And he afterwards judged of that time, that then the Lord himself must have taken up his abode with him, since he was able not only to be patient in the affliction, but also truly happy.
" With great inward peace the healing went on excellently. A wooden leg had to supply the place of the living one, and two crutches to lend their aid besides. It was a great joy to the parson, when he could with his crutches visit, or as he said reconquer, one part of his house after another. With his friends he even was cheerful over his loss. For instance he said, “Now I need only one stocking and one shoe, and I need make no more formal visits. But I also know that I can stand on only one living foundation, and my prayer is that God would give me a new measure of the Spirit for the lost foot of flesh.' When he first went on his crutches into the garden, the people continued to stand by the railing, and looked through the laths. Whoever had nothing to go there for, took a walk thither on purpose, as the news of it ran through the village. There was great rejoicing among all. But their joy was full, when, on the Lord's day, he stood on his crutches in the house of God. Then he could speak of the resurrection. He had himself almost risen from the dead. He afterwards declared that his heart beat as if he had been preaching a second trial sermon. When the congregation were leaving the church, an old peasant exclaimed, “It is no matter that the parson has a wooden leg, if only the congregation have not a wooden faith.' He now soon crutched from house to house, admonished his flock, and prayed with them. He was received everywhere as an apostle of the Lord. But he needed not to preach that all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field, the people saw it and felt it at once when he came. From hearty love the congregation collected more than 261., without much stir, and so helped him to bear the heavy expenses. He laboured a long time among them, on his wooden leg, with much blessing."
“ That is enough to-day, Berend,” said the sick man, “you shall tell me more to-morrow.” Thereupon he was silent.
But Berend saw, in his eye and features, how his heart beat. The farmer quietly folded his hands before him on the coverlet, and so remained till he fell asleep. That night, the inward disease, impatience and murmuring against God's holy dealings, was subdued.
Berend now continued to be his attendant ; related, read, and more than once kneeled down by the bed in the
lent night, and prayed with his master. The large Bible had passed from the new house to the sick chamber. It seemed to the farmer that Berend was a rich, rich man, though he only possessed his house, with the bit of garden ; and the cat, with three pair of pigeons, made up all his live stock. Deep respect for the poor man had entered into his soul, and an intimate communion of heart arose between them. It often happens when we speak of faith and the inner life, it is as if we had bitten a sour plum, or as if the teeth would not separate. But when these two men were alone together, they opened their hearts and lips very well; and if formerly the master had always been ashamed to speak of the inward silent sanctuary, in the last weeks of his illness, it was generally he who began with it. Berend was his nurse for two months.
(More of Berend's history will be given next month.)
TRUTH IS STRANGE. “ It has been said, “ Truth is stranger than fiction,' and it is well said ; for the most improbable fiction that the mind of man can devise, is often more cordially entertained, and more innplicitly believed, than some of those simple, elemental truths, which men profess that they have never doubted.”
“What has put that notion into your head, John ?”
"I have been thinking of the imperfect belief of professed Christians in the cardinal points of 'their faith. How many Christians, so called, of your acquaintance, do you suppose, have settled in their mind the fact that God is?"
“How many ? Do you suppose that any real Christian doubts that truth?”
“ It is not a case of supposition at all, George; I am compelled by my respect for the laws of evidence, whether I will or not, to conclude that many who are called by the name of Christ, and who are not thought to dishonour that name, are more confident believers in some of the strangest delusions of the day, than in that great first truth, God is. Can any man safely conclude that he really entertains a truth-a truth in the highest degree practical, by which he is uninfluenced ?”
“ You surely do not mean to affirm that any Christian is uninfluenced by the truth that God exists ?”
" I do not wish to venture upon any startling affirmation, even though the truth might warrant it; I would rather invite the Christians of my acquaintance to a thorough and exact investigation of this question. What influence has the fact, God is, upon me? As compared with the influence exerted by other facts, is it quick and powerful ? or is it slow and feeble? Is it equable, constant, and genial ? or is it unequal, interrupted, and painful? It is of little use to attempt bringing charges home to the conscience of any man who allows himself in this subtle kind of infidelity; the man who is resolved not to allow this, or any other form of unbelief, will seek to convince himself of the exact truth in the matter.”
" I know there is a sad amount of unbelief in the nominal church, but I have never supposed that there was any great deficiency in this particular point."
" It is the more hurtful that it is not commonly suspected ; and as it begins with the very existence of God, so it runs through the whole system of truth; becoming more and more obvious as we advance. How many of your so-called Christian acquaintance give a practically logical evidence that
God is the rewarder of all those who diligently seek him?' I do not mean to deny that they have vague impressions that God is a generous rewarder ; I know that extravagant anticipations are often built upon a manner of life, which to the eyesof a holy God must be far from satisfactory ; but who is there that, in consonance with our heavenly Father's own teachings, lays himself out for the largest rewards he promises ? that resolves with president Edwards, ' Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be, nor suffer it, if I can possibly avoid it ? »
“I must confess I am constrained to believe that the number of those who carry their confidence in the rewarding generosity of God to that length, is very small. Still it cannot, I think, be denied, that Christians do believe, and act upon the belief, that “God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him.'»
“ I have no wish to deny the truth in the case, which I suppose may be stated thus : every Christian, in the purpose of his heart, seeks to conform the tone and temper of his mind to the mind and will of God, and mourns when he finds