« AnteriorContinuar »
before my friend. He is a Christian man; and if yon succeed in securing a place in his employment, you will be surrounded with influences which will all tell for your good.'
"The two travellers parted for the night. Next morning saw them borne in different directions by their respective trains. The situation referred to by Mr. M— was obtained by the young orphan, who was enabled by God's grace to discharge his duties to his employer with such fidelity that he was at length taken into the partnership of a flourishing and lucrative business.
"The young man referred to in my narrative," said Mr. Stewart, "was none other than myself. And if you and I," he continued, addressing Mr. Tweedie, "have had cause to mark God's hand in those unexpected meetings in our early days from which so much has accrued to each of us, have we not occasion to trace and admire the same in our having been thrown into one another's society at this time, and in our being privileged to stir up one another's minds by way of remembrance in reference to those early steps on which so much of the future happiness of young men depends."
When the furlough of the two merchants was expired, they were sorry to part. To the watering-place where, by God's blessing, their health was re-established, they often looked back as the spot where a sweet Christian friendship was cemented; and each loved, when again amid the toils of business, as he thought of pleasant hours spent in Derbyshire, to recall the lines of Pollok—
"Not unremembered Is the hour when friends met.''
There is little or nothing uncommon in this true and simple narrative of facts. Doubtless most readers into whose hands it conies, might relate similar instances from their own experiences. Matthew Henry quaintly, but truly, says, " He who will look for providences shall have providences to look for." If we will but look into our lives we shall assuredly find that God has led us hitherto. Thus shall we learn two most important lessons: 1. Gratitude for the past; 2. Cheerful trust for the future.
OLD SIMMONS; OR, INTEGRITY.
"And I say, Thompson, send me old Simmons, because I know he'll give his fair day's work, and do it as well when I'm away as when I'm there."
The speaker was a man of portly presence, as if conscious of being well off in the world. He had just been giving Thompson the builder orders about some alterations in his stables, and these were his last words as he turned to get into his pony chaise, which was standing at the entrance of Thompson's yard.
I knew old Simmons well. He was an old man -when I was a boy, but even then his manners and his character made an impression upon me, and I always felt a sort of reverence for him though he was only a journeyman carpenter; and I believe this was the feeling of all who knew him. Squire Thorpe might have had younger men, and men who would, perhaps, have done their work quicker while their master was by, or while he was about; but he knew he could depend on old Simmons. He knew that he would work as steadily and faithfully if nobody was by as he would if he were working for a wager. He knew that every scrap of time as well as timber would be turned to good account. He knew there would be no sneaking off to the beer shop for " elevens " or "fours." He knew that when the clock struck the hour he should find him ready for work, and that come in when he would, he would always find him working steadily on. Moreover, be knew that old Simmons never scamped his work. What he did he did well, for he used to say to himself, " Well, master may never see it, but God sees it, and I'm bound to work as well for him to see, as for my earthly master." He did not think, as some do, that God cares nothing about how we do our work, but he thought he was bound to do everything to please him; and he would have been unhappy if he had left anything badly done, because he would have felt it wrong in the sight of God as well as of man. He did not want keeping up to the mark by constant looking after, as some do who will shirk everything they can, and do as little as possible; but his aim was to be faithful always and in all things. "They are no workers to my mind," he used to say, "who can only work when the master's about." He was a good man—a man who loved and served God; a man whose hopes of salvation rested on Christ, and Christ
alone; a humble-minded man, who never thought of himself more highly than he ought to think; an upright, honest man, faithful in all things; a man who walked in his integrity.*
Now 1 do not mean to say that old Simmons was faultless. He would of all men have been horrified if you had told him that. I have heard him pray with, the deepest expression of self-abhorrence, and evidently feeling what he said, confessing himself a sinner in the eight of God. He knew that "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and 1ho truth is not in us."f It always looks suspicious when people boast much about their integrity, and a man who does so is the last man to be trusted without trial. But although in the sight of a holy God none of us can be perfect, yet we may attain many excellences of character which will glorify him, and be of benefit to our fellow men. And one of these excellent qualities is integrity.
Many a man and woman too, who would scorn to wrong their master or mistress of a single penny, yet rob them every day by their carelessness, and neglect, and waste. If we would have this noble quality of integrity, we must be honest as to everything, and in everything, and always. And first of all, a man (or woman either) of integrity will be honest as to the use of their time. My old friend used to say, "This time is not mine, it is my master's, and therefore I am bound to use it for him." And is not this a right principle? Why, if your master gave you a pound to lay out for things he wanted, you would not think it right to spend a sixpence here, and a shilling there for yourself, and put the odd coppers in your pocket. And yet many an otherwise honest servant or workman will use a minute or two here, and five minutes there, and ten minutes in another place for his or her own advantage; or will be a minute or two late in coming to woTk, or a minute or two earlier in going away, without thinking that all this is the master's loss. "Time is money," says the proverb, and the waste of a few minutes occasionally would soon mount up to many shillings. If one man enters into covenant with another to give him so much time for so much money, he is as much bound to give him every minute of that time, as he would be bound to give him every penny of money that he owed him. Minutes * Pea. xxvi. 11. t 1 John i. 8.
are easily wasted, but minutes make hours, and days, and years. A man who wastes five minutes a day robs his master of nearly three days' work in the year. Yet if he were to take three days for himself all at once, he would not expect his master to pay him. And I fancy in some workshops and shops of other kinds too there is often a good deal more than this wasted in idle gossip or worse.
Again, integrity requires that we should do our work honestly. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might," is the injunction of Scripture. And it certainly is not doing it with our might when we either leave it undone or do it imperfectly and carelessly. I have known some servants who seem to take a pride in their work, and have a pleasure in doing it as well as they can; who will do more than is required of them rather than less. And I have known others who didn't seem to care how their work was done as long as they could get through with, it, and get it over, so that they might have plenty of time to themselves; and who if they had the chance, or thought nothing would be said about it, would leave thiDgs undone, hoping thus to get off doing them altogether. Now this is not honest, and no servant, whatever his or her employment, can claim this noble quality of integrity who does so. This is as much robbery as the robbery of time or of money. Yon promise to give your master so much work for his wages, and you would think it very hard and very unjust if he gave you less than he had promised. So is it hard and unjust to him if you do not give him his work. Oh what an increase of happiness for masters and servants too would there be if while masters rendered to their servants that which was "just and equal," servants would remember the other words of the apostle, " With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men."* Scamped work, badly done work, is dishonesty.
And this includes little things as well as great things. There is a saying that "trifles make the sum of human things," and every one will admit that if a man is faithful in little things, he is a man you may depend on about greater things. So our Lord says, " He that is faithful in the least is faithful also in much, and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." God takes care of little things. How beautiful is the way-side flower! What wonderful skill is there in the commonest insect? And he * Eph vi. 7.
numbers even the hairs of our heads. Our Lord, when he was upon earth, after he had fed five thousand men besides women and children by a miracle, so that out of five loaves and two fishes he made enough for all, ordered his disciples to gather up the fragments, that nothing might be lost. Ah! how much might be saved in many a household, in many a business, if we were thus faithful and honest and careful about little things. Fragments of time; fragments of food; fragments of workable material; howmuch would these come to if they were gathered up carefully instead of being thrown to waste. And integrity will do this. When old Simmons died his master said of him, and everybody who knew him knew it was literally true, "I don't believe," he said, " he ever wasted me the value of a shaving." It will be a grand thing for us if that can be said of us all.
There is another thing too where I think integrity is needed, and where I have often found it to fail: that is, that we are bound to show it in our dealings with all alike. Some people "stick it on" when they have a rich man to deal with, because they think he can afford it. But it has nothing to do with it whether he is worth a hundred thousand pounds or only a hundred pence. Eight is right in one case as well as in another. A fair price is a fair price for the rich as well as for the poor, and a man of integrity will not try to charge any man more for his labour or his goods because he is rich. Everything "stuck on " in that way is robbery, and nothing less than robbery. The fact is, integrity has for its basis the golden rule to do to others as we would be done by, and to deal with them as we would like to be dealt with ourselves; and if this is the case then we shall deal with them also in such a way as not to be ashamed of anything in our doings or dealings being known. A Christian tradesman, a Christian workman, a Christian servant, should in little things as well as great, towards rich and poor, as to his use of time, as to his work, be like that noble knight of old of whom it was said that he was "without fear and without reproach." And we can only be so by a habit of strict integrity. It is a sad thing for a man to be afraid of being "found out;" to have some transactions which he would rather keep in the dark; or for a servant or workman to be afraid lest his or her employer should look too closely into their work. My old friend Simmons was never troubled