« AnteriorContinuar »
While the scale with the soul in so mightily fell,
Dear reader, if e'er self deception prevails, n
Contributions of Q. Q.
WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS A WAY.
A Gentleman once had a present from abroad of several flasks of fine Florence oil. He placed them in a cellar to which no one had access beside himself. One day, to his great surprise, he observed that two of the flasks were empty. Shortly afterwards he found another flask empty, and was still more perplexed to account for it. He could not for a moment think that any person on the premises had contrived secret means to get at the cellar; and lest such a surmise should unjustly be awakened in his mind, he resolved secretly to watch in the cellar. After remaining concealed more than an hour, he saw several rats issue from a hole in the corner, and proceed to the next flask. One rat stood upon his hind legs, and with his fore feet held the flask steady; a second sprang on the shoulders of the first, so that he could reach the top of the flask; with his teeth he drew out the cork, by means of the bit of cotton twisted round it; then dipping in his long tail, he presented it to a third rat to lick. They then changed places, as regularly as a set of soldiers relieving guard, and continued to do so till the flask was empty, each rat having had a fair proportion of the spoil.
I have often heard the gentleman to whom this happened mention this singular fact. He always related it if any one in a hopeless, indolent tone, said of anything that ought to be done, "I can't do it. It is of no use to try." He would say, "If you had but as much heart for your duty as the rats had for the oil, you would neither want time nor ability to do it."
How is it that Jem Price always looks decent and respectable, has a good coat for Sundays, and a mite to put in the savings' bank every Saturday, while his next-door neighbour, who takes tee same wages, and has not so large a family, goes like a beggar and a vagabond, and finds it impossible to make both ends meet? Just because Price has set his mind upon being decent and thrifty, and " where there is a will there is a way." No doubt he bestirs himself when his neighbour lies idle, and denies himtelf while his neighbour lives in self-indulgence; but then success and satisfaction attend his endeavours, and he finds that, under the blessing of God, nothing is impossible to labour and patience.
How is it that Mary Jones keeps her children so clean and decent, when everybody knows that she must have many a hard pinch to get a bit of bread, now work is scarce, and her husband has had a very severe illness, and she herself also is but sickly? If you give her an old thing for the children, you see it month after month tidily patched, and always clean. It is astonishing how she manages. Those little dirty ragged beings at the next door have three times the money spent on them, and yet one should be afraid to come within three yards of them for fear of being poisoned with their dirt, while Mary Jones's children are as clean as the children of a lord. What can make the difference? Just this—Mary Jones cannot live in dirt; she says, The victuals, if ever so little, do the children twice the good if they have but a clean skin; and though, poor woman, she has not wherewithal to change them, she sends them to bed betimes, and washes their clothes, and presses them smooth with a rolling-pin, for want of a fire to heat irons, and gets them tidily mended to go to school the next day. Whatever hardships she endures, she must and will be clean, and will see her children clean about her; and "where there is a will there is a way." Her neighbour, with better means, has not a will, and that is the reason she never finds out a way.
How is it that John Bichards, with his numerous young family, contrives also to keep his aged mother in comfort, and will not suffer her to be a burden on the parish, while Thomas Smith cannot spare a shilling to help his mother, but lets her live in the unicn workhouse, and does not even allow her a trifle for tea and sugar? Why, we must come to the old answer, "Where there is a will there is a way." John feels grateful to his mother for her kindness to him in childhood, and he says it would break his heart to see her want for comforts in her old age, or have to look to the parish for them. "No," says he, and his wife heartily joins in the sentiment, "if it please God to grant us health to work for her, she shall never want; it is but working an hour earlier and later, and sparing a few things, which we, who are strong and healthy, can do very well without, and the dear old woman is made comfortable for her last days, and many a blessing comes upon us and ours through her prayers and holy sayings." W hen the heart is thoroughly set upon duty, God gives ability and opportunity for the performance. One thing in which John had been used to indulge himself was a pipe of tobacco and a glass of gin-andwater most evenings. He never took more than one, but he had been long used to it, and it seemed as if he could not do without it. When John's wife was confined with twins, he was musing how they should be able to get along and do as they had clone for his mother. They could not save in rent, or firing, or bread, or shoe-leather. "But," thought John, "I might spare my pipe and gin-andwater, which costs me best part of two shillings a week; it is but trying." He said nothing of his resolution; but, from that day, he left it off, and has found not only that he could do without, but that he has ever since been richer and healthier and happier every way. Self-denial not only puts in a man's power the means of doing good, and accomplishing what seemed almost impossible, but it is its own reward in real satisfaction of mind and independence.
Can any one tell how Sam Driver got his learning? He was a poor lad, who had to work hard for his daily bread, and nothing to spare for going to school; but somehow or other he has got more learning than the schoolmaster himself, and a room full of books about stars and air-pumps, and in foreign languages, and he understands them all. Why, Sam had set his heart on learning; there is the secret of it, and he denied himself to save a penny or twopence a week to buy books, and he spent every moment of his leisure in poring over them; and, if he met a friend who could instruct him, he never failed to propose some questions, or lay before him some difficulty; and, if he was baffled once, twice, or thrice, in any pursuit, he tried again and again till he got over the difficulty. It was a favourite saying of his, "Whatever man has done, man may do." The farther he advanced the more easy seemed his progress. For many years he has been enabled to instruct others by his writings and experiments; and, while he gratefully acknowledges the goodness of God in giving both ability and success, he stands as a fair example, that " Where there is a will there is a way."
How is it that Ned Turner and his wife are seen every Sunday morning taking their whole family to the house of God, and spending every part of the day in holy leisure, as much as if they had servants to do their work; while Waters and his wife tell us they are obliged to drudge hard all day long, and can't see the inside of a church from one year's end to another? The thiEg is this: Turner and his wife know the value of the sabbath, and their hearts are set upon enjoying and improving it. Many contrivances are employed through the week to enable them on the sabbath to lay aside all manner of work; but their success and enjoyment prove that " Where there is a will there is a way."
May it not be added, " Why is it that some persons are found to excuse themselves in sin and neglect of religion, by saying they cannot change their own hearts; they cannot possess themselves with grace; they cannot even pray to God acceptably, unless he give them his Holy Spirit?" All this is true; but what does it prove? not that they are excusable in their neglect, or that they will escape the punishment due on account of it, but that they have no real desire after those unspeakable blessings which they profess themselves unable to obtain. If they really felt themselves lost and undone without access to the pardoning mercy and gracious favour of God, through Jesus Christ, they would give themselves no rest until they attained it. They would use every appointed means of grace, as though all depended on their own diligence, and they would cry mightily for that aid, without which their endeavours must prove ineffectual. Salvation is not to be attained by a few faint, lazy wishes, but by an agonizing effort to enter in at the strait gate; by earnest, importunate, persevering cries at the footstool of mercy, 'Lord, save, or I perish! I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.'"
LITTLE BY LITTLE.
Think how almost all that is good comes to us. Did you ever see a farmer planting and sowing? Down in the moist earth goes the seed, grain by grain, little by little. God sees the farmer at his work, and he kindly sends the gentle rain, drop by drop; and not one of these little drops ever forgets its errand—the pleasant errand upon which the good God sent it to the earth. "I have found you out," says the raindrop to the tiny grain of wheat, "though you are dead and in your grave. God has sent me to raise you up." There is nothing impossible with Him; so when the raindrop has done its errand, a spark of life shoots out from the very heart of the tiny grain which is dead and buried, and little by little it makes its way out of the tomb, and stands, a single blade, in the warm sunlight. That is nobly done; and if the great God pleased, he could make that little blade strong and fruitful in a single moment. Does he do this? No. Little by little does the stalk wax strong, and its leaves grow slowly, leaf by leaf.
Is it not so with everything that is good? Should we like another way better? Impatience would.
It is only a few days ago that I heard a little girl say, "I am tired, tired, tired! Here is a whole stocking to knit, stitch by stitch I It will never be done."
"But was not this one knit stitch by stitch?" I asked, taking a long one from her basket and holding it up.
"Well, this is done."
The little girl was counting, instead of knitting her stitches. No wonder that she was tired.
Did you ever see a mason building a house of bricks? "Poor man!" Impatience would say, "What a hopeless undertaking!—to start from the earth and go so far towards the sky, brick by brick!" Oh no, not hopeless at all. People can get nearer the sky than that, and upon the same principle, too, step by step.
The world has wandered far away from God. He meant that we should be happy; but mankind have chosen the paths of disobedience and misery, and so lost their way— the way to holiness and peace. Christ came to be our way, so that we might not be for ever lost. But even in this way we have to go step by step. This necessity of doing things little by little, step by step, drop by drop, need be no