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them; you may depend on it the water was in some degree disturbed even to the whole width of the stream ; and so influences set in motion by any man may be lost sight of, as coming from him, but they still exist somewhere or other, and will and must continue to exist as long as time lasts."
"Well, sir," said Cooper; "I believe what you say is correct; but still it comes quite new to me."
"And so it does to me," said Bond; " but I shall try and remember it."
"I am glad to hear you say so. Now let me show you how you can live really useful lives, such as will make a great deal of difference to the world in a hundred years' time: We will say, for the sake of argument, that I am as poor in spiritual gifts as Mr. Gould's grandfather was in pocket years ago; cannot I follow his example? He did not squander the little money he was possessed of, but used it carefully in such a manner that, instead of diminishing, it gradually increased; and as it grew more, the more carefully, if possible, did he invest it, taking care that not a penny of it was wasted; till at last, after years of patient industry and unflagging exertions, he accumulated the money that enabled his son to trade still more largely, and to lay by a fortune for another generation: and now, you see, the grandson of the poor young Gould who came to this place more than a hundred years ago is one of the richest men in the neighbourhood. Well, now, cannot I improve the few talents with which I am blessed; cannot I increase their value? Cannot I, by careful culture and unwearying efforts, gain other talents also? You know that we have a rich bank from which we may draw spiritual supplies. I mean the Word of God; if we go constantly and prayerfully to that bank, we shall always come away richer than we went . Hear what the psalmist says about it: 'The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.'x So that, although I may be very simple, by allowing the entrance of God's Word into my heart, and praying for the grace of the Holy Spirit to bless those words to me, I may gain understanding such as will enable me to use aright the talents with which I am endowed; and in so using them I shall be benefiting my fellow men, and setting in motion circles of influence that may continue to widen and expand years after I have been laid in the grave, just as the circles round the stone thrown into the water continued to increase after the stone itself had sunk to the bottom. I could say a good deal more on the subject of our individual influence, but am afraid I shall tire you."
1 Psa. cxix. 130.
"Not at all, sir; please go on," said both men.
"Well, then, there is one way in which every one has the power of doing a great deal of good or of mischief during his life, according to what he is, and that is by the judicious or foolish use of the tongue, that little member of which the apostle James says, 'it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.' A proper and wise use of the tongue may be the means of doing the greatest good; indeed, it is the principal instrument in the cause of God, but it is also the chief engine of the devil, who often works his own ends by prompting the speech of men. I do not refer to the speech of profane and filthy men, for out of the abundance of their heart their mouth speaketh without any promptings from Satan; but I mean that even professing Christians may do much harm if they do not constantly use the prayer: 'Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: keep the door of my lips.' I have a book in my pocket from which I should like to read a few words; they are these : 'You drop, in the thoughtlessness of conversation, or for the sake of argument, or wit, some irreligious, sceptical expression; it lodges in the memory of a child or a servant, it takes root in a soil favourable to such seed, it gradually springs up, and brings forth fruit in the profanation of the Sabbath, the neglect of the means of grace, in the reading of improper books, in the choice of dangerous companions; who can tell where it will end? But there is a Being who knows where it began.' There," continued Mr. Shaw, " that little extract just answers to my idea of the power of the tongue; but then there is a brighter side to be thought of; if an idle word hastily spoken may bring forth such a harvest of evil, so may a good word, spoken prayerfully in the name of Jesus, bring forth a rich harvest of good that will bear fruit all through eternity, and so will make a difference, not only in a hundred years' time, but through countless ages. Now I must wish you good morning," said Mr. Shaw, shaking Cooper and Bond by the hand.
"Good morning, sir, good morning; we shall think of what you have said."
Dear reader, are you a power for good or for evil on earth? You are one or the other. If for good, go on in thy way, and the Lord go with thee. If for evil, if you have never served God, nor been reconciled unto Him through Jesus Christ, think of the mischief you are doing to your own soul and the souls of others. Think, too, that you may be reconciled, you may be made a good and happy man; God is ready to receive you, to pardon you, to love you, if you will only go to Him in His own appointed way, through Jesus Christ the Saviour. Do not delay, do not foolishly say, "It will be all the same in a hundred years' time, whether I do so or not." It will not be all the same, for your soul will, before then, be either lost or saved. Accept, then, the offer of salvation ere it be too late.
G. H. a.
[hen walking through the gardens of a zoological
society a short time ago, I could not help
noticing the abject and miserable appearance of
some of the larger beasts and birds. The eagle,
especially, struck me as falling far short of the description
given of him by those who have studied his nature and habits.
There, upon the branch of a dead tree, sat the king of birds. There was nothing royal in his appearance; on the contrary, he looked a very pauper. His feathers were draggled and dirty, his pinions drooping as if from very weakness; his eyes, which blinked uneasily and continuously, lacked life and lustre; and his whole air was woebegone and wretched.
Had I been deceived by the writers on natural history, who describe the eagle as the undisputed monarch of the feathered tribes, who write of his strength of wing, the beauty of his sombre plumage, the proud flash of his strong eye, so strong that he can gaze without flinching upon the sun itself, and who dilate upon the boldness of his nature?
Oh no! The difference was just this: they describe the bird as they have seen him in a state of freedom, and I was looking on a captive.
What a difference this captivity made! And yet there is not so much difference between a free and a caged eagle as there is between the free soul and the soul that is bound captive by Satan.
Let us compare the two. What is the human soul capable of?
It is capable of soaring upwards, even to heaven itself. It does this every time it breathes a prayer or sounds a note of praise to Him whom alone it owns as Master.
It can, by the powerful eye of faith, pierce the darkest earth-born cloud, and gaze upon things invisible to other sight. It can look upen the crucified and risen Saviour, and boldly exclaim: "I know that my Redeemer liveth."
Its strength is such that by the help of Him in whom it trusts no earthly power can overthrow it, Man's body may be conquered, bound, and crushed; but his free soul never.
The beauty of a soul arrayed in the robe of Christ's
righteousness, adorned with the graces of God, is such as to
put to blush the most gorgeous earthly display.
All these things are true of the soul that is freed from the bondage of Satan, by the grace and power of God; and yet there are those who prefer to be held captive by their own lusts, who are the willing slaves Qf the evil one, and who as little resemble the soul we have described as the caged eagle the free.
The captive soul possesses no beauty. Like a whited sepulchre, it may appear outwardly clean, but within it is full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
Its eye is dim, and can perceive nothing beyond the affairs of this life. It catches no glimpses of a happy and joyous hereafter. All, all is dark around it .
It never soars aloft in prayer and praise. Alas! no; it lives for this world alone.
There is this difference between the caged eagle and the captive soul. The bird cannot escape if he would; but, thanks be to God, there is a way of escape for the soul. Let it send one earnest prayer to God for its release, and let it strive for freedom; and, however heavily it may be bound, however many obstacles may be placed in its way, He who formed it, and who loves it with a father's love, will not refuse to hear the cry, but will come to its relief, and give it pardon, succour, and release. Listen to the words applied by our Saviour to Himself:
"He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
Say, shall He come in vain, as far as we are concerned? Shall we turn a deaf ear to the proclamation of liberty? Shall our prison doors be opened, our fetters broken, and we refuse the proffered freedom? Nay, rather let us fly for refuge to Him who alone can save us, and let us do so now; to-morrow may be too late. "We know not what a day nor an hour may bring forth."
G. H. s.