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Thus he showed that, under every form of grace can bring relief.
sorrow, his power and
We should come to Christ under whatever burden and sorrow our sin may occasion. We should come to him just as we are, without waiting for worthiness. Christ is honoured by his bestowments of mercy.
MARCH 29TH.-THE PALSIED MAN HEALED.
For Repetition.-Mark 11. 10-12. Reading Lesson.-Mark 1. 1-14. First. THE ASSEMBLY.
A large number of persons, attracted by the fame of Jesus, gathered together at the house where he was. They had come from all parts; and among them were some more disposed to cavil and find fault than to receive the Saviour's word and to profit by witnessing the miracles he wrought.
Peter's house was crowded, so that there was no room to receive
Observe two things:
1. Christ's great popularity. He had taught with simplicity and kindness, and people were glad to hear him. Not that they rightly appreciated what he had to say. It seems as if some had come to hear with no good intent. Nevertheless they did come. It is well that people will listen to the truth, whatever be the motive influencing them.
2. Christ's unwearied assiduity in doing good. He had been out through neighbouring towns and villages teaching. He found opportunity, and would teach still. He was never weary of his great work. And though he knew the evil thoughts and purposes which not a few of his hearers cherished, he taught still. The learned as well as the ignorant, Pharisees and doctors as well as publicans and sinners, were instructed.
It is probable that many miracles were performed on occasion as on former occasions, Luke v. 17. A touch, a word, a look, had sent away disease, and brought joy and hope to many a bosom; but one only of these miracles is recorded.
Secondly. THE PALSIED MAN.
The subject of this one miracle was in a condition of utter helplessness. Perhaps he had been long in that condition. Four of his neighbours brought him on a litter; but when they reached the house they found a difficulty not easy to overcome. The crowd was so great, that their attempts to get to the Saviour were vain.
This might indicate, on the part of the crowd, indifference and unconcern for the sufferer, for whom they would not make way; or it might betoken their eagerness in listening to the Saviour's words.
There was a way to the roof by stairs outside the house, and thither the four men turned their steps; and having reached the spot directly over where Jesus was, they made an opening, which from the construction of the roof or covering of the house, they might easily do, and through this opening with great care they let down their suffering friend.
There was much benevolence in what they did, and faith also. It does not appear from the narrative that they uttered a word on behalf of the man. He himself did not speak. The sight of his helplessness, it was thought, would be enough to move the Saviour's compassion.
And it was enough. Christ saw their faith, the faith, the desire, the hope of the man himself. He saw more. The man's sins filled him with anxiety. Christ therefore pronounced the forgiveness of these before anything was said to him as to his physical helplessness.
And then, to show the reality of the pardon spoken, as well as the right of Christ to bestow it, he said to him, Arise, and take up thy bed, &c.
Thirdly. THE OBJECTORS TO WHAT CHRIST SAID TO THE PALSIED
Among the people present were some who professed to be shocked at the Saviour's intimation that he could forgive sins. They were lying in wait for some opportunity to accuse him, and to destroy his credit and acceptance with the people. Even the manifest proof of his wonderful power did not influence them in his favour. They were, perhaps, ashamed that, though they said nothing, the thought of their heart was perceived; yet it is not intimated that their evil emotions gave way to better.
Their object was frustrated. The Saviour showed that he had the power he claimed. The man went home glorifying God, Luke v. 25. The people were filled with astonishment, and they also glorified God. Christ has power to reach the spiritual as well as the physical maladies which affect us. The people were filled with gratitude as well as wonder.
PRACTICAL.-The connexion of suffering with sin. If this man's vice had not occasioned his disease, the thought of it made his disease the more painful. Christ forgives sin, as well as removes suffering. Forgiveness was the first blessing the Saviour bestowed on this man. It was the blessing which, with all his feeling as to physical disease, he most desired. Readily help the helpless. The example of this suffering man's four friends is worthy of imitation. Be thankful for the display of divine mercy in Christ. The people were amazed, and glorified God, ver. 12.
WORK! work! 'tis the Master requires thee,
For labour-for labour, He hires thee,
Go! be thou His labourer, go!
Nor faint, nor grow weary, nor doubt, nor despair,
Work! work! 'tis no season for slumber,
His harvests increase without number,
Where seed of the kingdom ne'er grows.
And those who are out of the way:
In tending the lambs lest they waywardly roam,
Work! work! by the sorrow and anguish
Work! work! for thy graces 'twill brighten,
Thy secret afflictions 'twill lighten,
And check the out-growings of sin.
In working for Jesus thy soul shall find rest,
Work! work! It is thine to inherit,
Work on in the might of the Spirit,
With zeal, and devotion, and love.
Thy strength may be weakness, but God is still nigh,
Work! work! for the day-light is waning,
Night's darkness will shortly be reigning,
Dark grows the horizon, beyond lies the tomb,
Work! work! for the day-star is rising,
And shedding its beautiful light.
Already its beams are surprising,
And chasing earth's wearisome night;
A CRAVEN TEACHER.
RACHEL NOBLE'S EXPERIENCE. By Bruce Edwards.
and Wright. pp. 275.
THIS Temperance tale received a prize of £105. offered by the Directors of the Scottish Temperance League. The adjudicators selected this out of more than eighty MSS. which it became their duty to examine, as the one which best deserved the offered reward.
It is well adapted to serve the cause on the behalf of which it was written. As a tale it is well constructed, and the interest is carried through to the close. A little mystery hangs about one of the principal characters from almost the commencement of the narrative, and is not removed until the story has nearly come to its end. This helps much to keep the attention of the reader alive throughout.
Rachel Noble is a young lady of limited means, who, tired of living upon her friends, answers the following advertisement--" Wanted as companion to a lady, and to assist in housekeeping, a lady not under twenty years of age, of sensible firm temperament. To a competent person a liberal salary will be given." She finds that her work is to superintend the household of Mr. Morgan, a wine and spirit merchant, who has five shops in a sea-port town, but whose private residence is an elegant villa in the suburbs. She has also to watch Mrs. Morgan, whose intemperate habits have unfitted her to act as head of the family, and to prevent her as far as possible from indulging her drinking habits. Miss Noble soon finds the situation an undesirable one, but having entered upon it she determines to go through with it. For the sake of example she becomes a total abstainer, and endeavours to induce the other members of the family to be so likewise, but does not meet with much success. The book is mainly occupied with illustrations of the misery brought upon Mr. Morgan's family by the use of intoxicating liquors.
We regret that the author should have thought it right to introduce Sunday school teachers into his tale in a manner which is calculated to give a very unfavourable, and we believe a most unjust, representation of them. The following extracts will explain our meaning. The first relates to Mr. Morgan's eldest daughter, an elegant girl, who afterwards marries an omnibus conductor.
"On the Saturday previous to my first Sunday at Honeycomb House, Miss Morgan told me that she had to get up a little earlier than usual on Sunday mornings. I asked the reason.
"To be in time for my class in the Sunday school," she said. I must have unconsciously looked a little surprised, for she said, "I knew that would make you open your eyes. Don't hide your opinion of me. You think I'm a good-fornothing."
"I think nothing of the kind; but I confess that I did not think that your energies would take that direction."
"Well," she said, "they do, and more than that, I'm a very successful teacher." She said this somewhat satirically, and her colour rose. The superintendent comes round and says, Miss Morgan, your class keeps up remarkably well; I see you have the knack of interesting them, and you must visit well The fact is, mine is a class of children from five to seven years old, and the little creatures have no choice; their mothers, good women, turn them out whether they will or no, and I drill them upon Who made you?' What were
you made of?' &c. By-the-bye, when I asked them that last question lately, they all shouted the usual 'of dust.' I took hold of one of the little fat warm hands and said, 'Do you mean to tell me that this is dust? Now in your own words tell me what this is made of?' 'O' bluid and banes,' cried a little urchin."
"Well, if you continue that style you may turn out a good teacher," I said. "I don't like it. I wish to wash my hands of it, but papa wishes me to go, and Dr. McAndrew thinks me very highly qualified indeed. You see he is a discerning man. David has a class too."
Her brother David is subsequently introduced more distinctly as a Sunday school teacher. He is in partnership with his father, and conducts the lowest but most profitable of their five spirit shops. He has undertaken to escort his sister and Rachel Noble to a concert, and they go to the shop on a Saturday evening to place themselves under his care. A painfully graphic sketch is given of the scenes they witness in the street in which Messrs. Morgan & Son conduct this portion of their business. The narrative then proceeds―
"After putting us into very comfortable places, Mr. David left us, to return before the close of the entertainment to take us home. However, he did not come in time, and Miss Morgan said we would go back to the shop, which was quite near, and get him. The hour was now pretty late, but Mr. David's business was going on more briskly than ever. He was behind the counter himself, in the act of handing a dram across to an ill-fed, ill-clad looking tradesman, whose clothes hung upon him as if they had been made for a bigger man, whose complexion was a dingy grey, with bleary, wandering-looking eyes, and a drop at the end of his thin, red rose. From the noise, the boxes seemed to be all full; but, of course, we escaped up stairs instantly.
"There, the table was drawn up to a nice, clear fire, and on it was lying an open Bible and a Commentary, Miss Morgan glanced at them and said
"Davie has been studying the lesson for his class to-morrow.'
"David came up, and apologised for being so late, but said, he had been much engaged, and he had not noticed how time went. As the shop got very full, he went down to assist, and said he had ordered a cab to take us home in a little. So we sat waiting, and the noise below waxed fast and furious. There were dancing and singing, which were soon changed into shouting and fighting; then there were cries of They've locked the door,' 'Break up the door, Turn them out,' 'Send for the police;' then there were louder shouting and swearing, and a mingling of groans from a man who had been (we heard after) knocked down and kicked and mauled; then the door was forced open, and the police got in, and I heard David's voice trying to control the hurricane, more popularly the shindy.'
"Several of the rioters were taken into custody, and in the newspapers I saw it stated afterwards, that they had each been sentenced to a fine of five pounds, or sixty days' imprisonment.
"Unwounded from the dreadful close, and not even breathless, Fitz Morgan came up stairs, and said he was sorry to have kept us waiting so long, but there had been a row among some drunken blackguards, and he had had to turn them out of the shop. So he shut his Bible, and his commentary, and put them in his pocket, and we departed.
"I regarded Mr David as a kind of miracle. How a man could sit and study the Bible, with a view to teach others the more excellent way, in the interval of serving out strong drink to the class of customers I had seen, was a puzzle beyond me."-pp. 135, 136.
If the author or the adjudicators had known much of Sunday schools, or their teachers, these gross caricatures would not have seen the light, and we trust they will be expunged in any fresh edition. The scene of the narrative is laid in Scotland, but we believe them to be as unjust to our Scottish brethren, as they are to English teachers, and we feel it our duty to enter an earnest protest against them.