Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

they make larger professions of religious principle than commercial men who are not religious do of rectitude and honour in matters of business; and I should like to know further, whether religious men come short of what they profess in greater numbers than business men do of their professions of honesty and uprightness? If not, and if you give up your faith in religion and religious men, because some are inconsistent, you must give up your faith in all commercial probity and in all business men, because some are knaves."

No one seemed to have any reply to make to this, and for a few momenta there was a dead silence.

"I have another thing to ask," resumed Mr. Senior. "Were all the professors of religion you ever knew such as you have described? Have none of you, gentlemen, met.with Christians of a veTy different order? I have. I could give you the names of men, belonging to different churches, who are fighting a hard battle for life, some behind the counter, some as merchants, and who I believe would sooner sacrifice everything they have than do what they believe to be wrong. It has happened to me, too, to spend many years in India, and I met there with military men—and you ail know that there are special temptations in the army—who have won by their Christian consistency the respect, not only of people who met them only now and then, but of their brother officers and of their soldiers, who saw them every day. I knew Havelock."

"The gentleman is quite right," said Mr. Potter, who had hitherto sat perfectly silent. "I have known some who were better even than they professed to be."

The young man who said this had good reason for saying it. His father and mother, who were both dead; had set him an example which he had scarcely followed as he should have done; and besides, they had in their circle of friends many whom he held in all but equal respect.

"A short time since," said Mr. Senior, "I had occasion to consult an eminent physician. I saw at once that he understood my case thoroughly, and by-and-by it came out that he had suffered from the same complaint with myself, and that he was liable to its frequent recurrence. He gave me minute directions both as to what I should do and what I should avoid; and I began to follow them at once, and found decided benefit from doing so. About a week after I had consulted him I met him at dinner in the house of a friend, and there I saw him doing the very thing he had forbidden me to do. "Would it have been wise in me, seeing his practice was so entirely at variance with his prescriptions, to resolve that I would follow them no longer? So, though all who profess to regulate their lives according to the rules of God's word were found to be habitual transgressors of it, that would scarcely disprove the Bible, or render it wise for any man to set it aside."

'' Well, sir," said Mr. Brice, "these things are, after all, very much matters of opinion and taste. For my part, I could never see what better people were for being so very religious. They cut themselves off from a great deal, and I don't find that they get anything to compensate."

"I suppose, sir," replied Mr. Senior, "that you believe the Bible to be true?"

"Oh, of course; I don't mean to dispute that."

"Then, if the Bible be true, the Christian is, and must be a great deal better than anybody else. For one thing, every sinner is exposed to everlasting condemnation and death; but, believing in Jesus, the Christian is forgiven. The heart itself is so changed by God's Holy Spirit, that there is produced in it an earnest desire to be and to do whatever is right; and that makes a wonderful difference in a man's life. I have seen Christian people in trouble, and I am sure of this, that none else are so calm and cheerful in the midst of trial as they are. I have seen Christians die, and I have seen men die who are not Christians; and whilst I have gone many a time from the death-bed of the Christian saying, ' Let me die the death of the righteous,' I never went from the death-bed of a man who was not a Christian with any desire to die like him. Now I am as certain as that I live that there awaits the Christian beyond the grave, instead of misery and despair, a blessedness which is inconceivable and everlasting."

Just then the long, shrill railway whistle announced that their journey was almost ended. So deeply had they all been interested in the conversation, of which we have endeavoured to give a brief epitome, that they were surprised to find that the time had passed so rapidly. At parting the young gentlemen shook hands cordially with Mr. Senior, and some of them expressed a hope that they might meet again.

[graphic]

MY BROTHER HUGH.

I Have lived, ever since I was a little child, at High Ashworth. I'm getting an old woman now, and I forget many things that happened last month or even last week; but sixty years ago is as clear to me as the faces of the people that paes up and down the street. Ay, but when I was a girl we had no close street before our house; High Ash worth was but a village then, with one church, four or five shops, and a public-house where they took in the county paper, to let us know what was going on in the world. Our house, this very same that 1 live in now, stood in a leafy

[ocr errors]

lane, with fields over the hedge. On one side was a great beech tree, under which I used to play with my little brothers, Johnny and Ben, pelting each other with the rough beech-nuts, and then hiding behind the great trunk. The tree was cut down long siDce, and the fields turned, as I said, into a busy street; and where I used to gather cowslips for mother's wine, there stands a railway station, to which the trains came panting up like overtired horses, and where whistles scream at the dead of the night, so that at first I was like to start out of my bed with fright.

Why do I stop here then, an old woman among these new things? Ay, child, you must wait a bit,and then you'll learn that it tafcesa deal of digging to loosen an old tree. If all outside is changed, inside I've kept the plaee as it was when mother came home a bride, and every stain on the wall and every :bit of eupboaid or shelf reminds me of the old days. And besides, I'm not one of those who say there's nought but bad in these changes. They .don't come natural to rae now, but when I was young I liked to see things growing and moving. I've had my day, and I like others to have their's. Sure enough most of the old faces are gene, and the young haven't the notions and.the ways I was bred to; but there's many of them keep a warm corner in their hearts for the old woman yet, and there's a deal of love and goodness in the world to bless God for. You'd like to hear some of the things that come into my mind when I look round the room; well, if you can bide a bit, and bear with my rambling way of telling a story, you shall hear one, child. What sbrings it to my mind is that little Bibleon the table there, 'tis toin above a bit, and see there is a stain of blood en its edge; but you'll guess why I prize it when you have heatd its history.

I've spoken of Ben and Johnny, but I had one other brother, Hugh, ten or twelve years older than me, and I loved him the best of any. He was very strong, but always gentle to me, and used to carry me about on his broad shoulder and keep the olhers from teasing me, for I was often ailing as a child. Hugh was good to mother too, but rough with his brothers and not over obedient to father. He had a high spirit, and sometimes father didn't take the wisest way with him; and I've been told, for I scarce remember, that there were too often angry words and hasty blows, and Hugh would run away and hide for a day at a time. He never cared much for his books, bat father was set on it that his eldest boy should be a scholar, and Hugh was kept at school till he was fourteen. But his whole heart was set on going to sea; many and many an evening he would sit busy over a book or map, and father thought he was getting his lesson when he was reading tales of sailor boys and men who went out in ships to find new countries, and eaw wonderful things. Father was terribly angry when he found this out; he burned Hugh's books, and made him spend all his spare time in hard work about the house and garden. But it was all no use, mother said that on Sundays he would get the big Bible, and when she looked to see what he was reading it was always about Jonah, or St. Paul's shipwreck, or whatever he could find of ships and the sea. When he was fourteen father said he was to be bound apprentice to a printer in the next town, and Hugh couldn't bear the thought. There was many an angry talk, and poor mother would steal into Hugh's room at night and try to comfort him, and beg him not to be so set on his own way; but she couldn't turn him. She didn't know then that there is One who can bend the strongest will, and help when we are helpless, and so she had nowhere to look for comfort. Well, the morning came when father was to take Hugh to be bound; mother had never slept that night, and she went as soon as the dawn came to Hugh's room. No one had lain in his little bed, the room was empty, and on the table lay a bit of paper—I have it in the Bible yet: on it were these words:

"Dear, dear mother, I can't help it, I must go to sea, don't be sorry, ask father to forgive me, I'll come back rich some day and take care of you all."

At firtt mother tried to believe he was only hiding himself to frighten them; it was late enough of evenings before she'd bolt the door or put the candle out, she had mending to do she said, but we all knew why she watched Eo late and rase so early. About a fortnight after Hugh had gone the postman brought us a letter. Mother saw him coming and met him before he was near, for she knew what he was bringing. Htre is the letter, you can read it though it's yellow enough; yes sure that is the mark of a tear, child, you can tell whose belike. Bead it aloud, though I've heard it oft.

"My Own Dear Mother,—I have got to Liverpool and found a ship, we sail to-morrow: I ehan't write again nor

« AnteriorContinuar »