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C.-k- THE BEST THINGSi'BY TREV. RICHARD NEWTON, D.D.AUTHOR OF BIBLE BLESSINGS,' 'THE SAFE COMPASS,''THE KING'S HIGHWAY,' ETC.EDINBURGH:WILLIAM P. NIMMO.
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CONTENTS.L THE BEST FOUNTAIN, .IL THE BEST WORKERS, .IL THE BEST WORK, .IV. THE BEST WARFARE, .V. THE BEST LOAN, .VI THE BEST LESSON, .VIL THE BEST FLOWER,VIIL THE BEST ROBE, .IL THE BEST ELPEBR,... 22840. 617993113132. 147
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THE BEST THINGS.re slantainnfr un nn.'There shall be a fountain opened-for sin and for uncleanness.'ZECHARIAH xLm 1.T is a beautiful thing to see a fountain playing!The clearness of the crystal water is beautifulThe different forms in which the water throwsitself out are beautiful. The mist and spraywhich it makes are beautiful The way in which thefalling drops glitter and sparkle in the sunbeams is beau-tifuL The clear, liquid sounds, made by the streamsthrown into the air, when they fall into the water beneath,are pleasant to the ear as sweetest music. Everybodyloves to look at a fountain; and when, on a midsummer'sday, we see one playing in some green, shady grotto, howpleasant it is to sit down on a soft, mossy bank, and listento the music of the falling water, and feel the cool, refresh-ing influence which the fountain imparts to all the airabout it.The most remarkable fountains in the world are thosewhich the Emperor of France has in the gardens of hispalace at Versailles, near Paris. These fountains are verylarge. When in full play, they throw up several hundred
8THE BEST THINGS.jets, or streams of water, at once. They are thrown intoa great variety of forms. It cost several thousands ofpounds to make these fountains; and every time they playthey cost 10,000 francs, or about four hundred pounds.They only play, however, on particular occasions. Andwhen they are in full play, they are said to form one ofthe most beautiful sights that can be imagined.But the fountain spoken of in our text is the bestfoun-tain. There is no other fountain in the world that can becompared to this. Now I suppose some of you are readyto ask, What is meant by this fountain ? It means theblood which Jesus shed when He hung upon the cross. Itis in consequence of what Jesus then suffered-the bloodHe shed, and the death He died-that God pardons thesins of men, and saves their souls. That blood is herecompared to a fountain. When the cruel nails were driventhrough His tender hands, and the sharp spear of theRoman soldier was thrust into His blessed side, and forth-with came there out water and blood,' then this 'fountainwas opened for sin and for uncleanness.' This is thefountain which we are now to consider. There is nonelike it in all the world. It is the best fountain. Thereare three reasons why it is so.In the first place, this is the best fountain, because it isEASY TO GET AT.If you wanted to see the fountains at Versailles, youwould have to go to France. You must cross the Channeland take a long journey by railway to Paris. When youarrive at Paris, you must ride fourteen miles to the townof Versailles. And when you get there, you find that thefountains only play on Sunday. You must break theSabbath if you want to see them. And only a small partof them are allowed to play on ordinary Sabbaths. Thewhole of the great fountains are only made to play onsome special holiday or grand occasion. So that when you
THE BEST FOUNTAIN. 9arrived at Versailles, after your long journey, you wouldhave to wait for weeks or months, perhaps, before youwould have an opportunity of seeing them.And it is very much the case with all the earthly foun-tains that you may wish to go to. They are all, more orless, hard to get at. You must take some trouble to reachthem. You must pack your trunk and leave your homeand make a journey, in order to get to them.But it is very different with this best fountain we areconsidering. This is very easy to get at. You have notto cross the ocean, or take a long journey by railway, orby stage, in order to reach it. It is not necessary to leavehome at all to find it. It is a wonderful fountain, becauseit is not confined to any particular place or country. Youmay find it everywhere. It is in this pulpit where I preach.It is in this chancel from which I am now speaking to you.It is in the aisle along which you walked to enter yourpew. It is in the pew where you are sitting. It is inthe street, through which you walk to your home. Whenyour father or mother takes the Bible in the morning orevening, and you all gather round to have family worship,this fountain is near you, in the parlour or sitting-roomwhere you meet for that pleasant service. And when yougo to your own room, and kneel down in that quiet corner,by that chair, or beside the bed, and lift up your heart inearnest prayer to God, and say, '0 Lord, pardon my sins,I pray thee, for Jesus' sake,' then the fountain is close byyou as you kneel. You cannot see it with your bodily eye.You cannot feel it with your hand. You cannot hear thesplash and sound of its going. Still it is there; it iseverywhere. It is in the splendid dwellings of the rich,and in the humble abodes of the poor. The king may findit in his palace, or on his throne; and the beggar mayfind it in his garret or his cellar. The prisoner may findit in his locked and bolted cell, and the farmer may find
10THE BEST THINGS.it on the hill-top or in the quiet vale; in the broad, openfield, or in the shady grove. The sailor may find it ashe lies quietly in his hammock or berth; or as, amid thedarkness of the night, and the howling of the tempest, helifts his heart in prayer to God from the mast-head. Dr.Kane found this fountain, all unfrozen, amidst the icebergsof the North; and Dr. Livingstone found it all undried,and flowing freely, as he travelled over the burning plainsof Central Africa. There is no other fountain like it inthis respect. It is the best fountain, because it is easy toget at.In the second place, it is the best fountain, because itNEVER CHANGES.Other fountains change very much. Sometimes theyare in full play, and look very beautiful. At other timesthey are very feeble; then, again, they do nAt play at all.And if you go out into the country, and look at the springsor fountains which God has made to flow out of valleysand hills, you will find that they often change very much.Sometimes the spring will be very full, and flow out withgreat power, at other times it will dry up, and fail entirely.Sometimes the water in. it will be clear and wholesome;at other times it will be muddy, and disagreeable, and unfitto drink. Sometimes the water in a particular fountainwill have the power to cure a certain kind of disease;and then again it will lose that power altogether.*We read in the New Testament of the pool of Bethesda,at Jerusalem, which at certain seasons of the year, after aparticular movement of the waters, had the power ofhealing the person who first stepped into it. But as soonas one person had stepped in, a change came over thewater, and it lost its power to heal anybody else till an-other of those wonderful movements was made in it.How different it is with the best fountain This neverchanges. It is flowing all the time,-by night as well as
THE BEST FOUNTAIN. 11by day; in summer and in winter it is still flowing. Ithas been flowing for hundreds of years; and in all thattime it has never once stopped. This fountain has alwaysbeen full, and the stream which flows from it has alwaysbeen the same. The apostles, Peter and John and Paul,came to this fountain to wash away their sins; and it didwash them all away. This was 1800 years ago. Andwhat the fountain did for them it will do for you. Howmany millions have washed in this fountain since the daysof the apostles But time has not spoiled the fountain.Use has not injured it. It is just the same now that itwas on the first day it was opened. It is the best fountain,because it never changes.The third reason why it is the best fountain is, becauseof its WONDERFL POWERS.We hear about fountains or springs in different places,the water from which is said to have the power of curingpeople who are sick with different diseases, and of makingthem well There are the Bedford Springs in the State ofPennsylvania. These are very useful to persons troubledwith bilious and liver complaints.Then there are the Saratoga Springs in New York, andthe Red and White Sulphur Springs in Virginia, all inAmerica.: People who are suffering from dyspepsia, andsimilar diseases, go to Saratoga. Tlhe Red Sulphur Springsare useful to those afflicted with bronchitis and some kindsof heart disease; and the White Sulphur Springs to thosewho have rheumatism and gout, and some kinds of nervouscomplaints.But these are nothing in comparison with this bestfountain. If you could get the good qualities of all thesprings and fountains in the world together, and put themall in one, still it would not begin to compare with thisfountain.The best fountain is designed for the souls of men, not
12THE BEST THINGS.for their bodies; but, oh, the powers which it exerts onthose who wash in it are very wonderful I Let us see,now, what these wonderful powers tre.This fountain has a WONDERFUIL CLEANSING POWER.Suppose there was a great king, who lived in a largeand splendid palace. And suppose this king should re-solve to make a great feast, and invite his people toattend it. He fixes the time for the feast, and makes hispreparations. But he makes a law that no persons shallenter the palace, or appear at the feast unless they aredressed in pure white, without a spot or stain of any kind.The people set out to the palace, all arrayed in beautifulwhite robes. They move on in a long procession. But,see now the pathway to the palace leads through a forest.In that forest lies hidden an enemy of the king, with acompany of soldiers. As the procession is moving quietlyon through the forest, these soldiers spring out upon thepeople. They tear their white robes into rags, drag themthrough the ditches, and trample them in the mire. Thepeople finally escape from the soldiers, and arrive at thegate of the palace. But what a sorry sight they present !Not one of them is fit to enter into the king's presence.What can they do ? Their clothes are all spoiled, andthey have no others to put on.Now, suppose the king should hear of what has takenplace. And suppose that out of love and pity to those*poor distressed people, he should cause a fountain to beopened near the gate of his palace. Suppose that thisfountain had such wonderful power that when any of thesepeople plunged into it, just as they were, it would mendevery hole and rent in their clothes, so that nobody couldtell they had ever been torn; it would take away everyspot and stain from them, and make them stronger, andwhiter, and more beautiful than they were when new.Suppose the king should direct them all to wash in this
THE BEST FOUNTAIN. 13fountain, and that all who did wash therein were made fitto enter the palace and join in the feast. We might wellsay of such a fountain, that its cleansing power waswonderful.Now, what we have been supposing of this fountain isreally true of the best fountain. The king referred to re-presents God. The palace is heaven. The white robesnecessary to enter mean the righteousness of Christ. Theprocession of people marching to the palace are the in-habitants of this world. The enemy of the king, with hissoldiers in the wood, represents Satan with his evil spirits.The condition of the people when they arrive at the palacegate, with their garments all torn and soiled, representsthe state of our souls by nature. We are all sinners; andit is because we are sinners that the Bible speaks of oursouls as having nothing to cover them but garments of'filthy rags.' We never can go into heaven with theseon. At the same time we cannot of ourselves put offthese 'filthy rags.' We cannot mend them, or clean them.Then what are we to do Oh, listen to the text! 'Thereshall be a fountain opened-for sin and uncleanness.'Jesus shed His blood to open this fountain. And nowHe says to us all: Wash and be clean.' These are Hiswords: 'Come now, and let us reason together; though yoursins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: thoughthey be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' Thosewho wash in this fountain are cleansed from all their sins.Their souls are clothed in white raiment; they are readyto enter God's palace in heaven.This best fountain has a WONDERFUL HEALING POWER.The Bible represents sin as a disease. When it wouldshow us the condition of a sinner's soul, it compares it toa man, whose head is sick, whose heart is faint, and whosebody is covered all over, from head to foot, with 'woundsand bruises and putrefying sores' If our bodies were in
0 14THE BEST THINGS.such a condition as this, we should want, above all things,to get something that would heal them. Whatever couldreally heal our suffering bodies and make them'well again,we should prize beyond anything else in the world.Suppose a fountain should be discovered which had thewonderful power of certainly healing all kinds of diseases.Suppose it could cure all kinds of wounds and sores; couldmake the lame walk, and the blind see, and the deaf hear:suppose it could cure all sorts of fever and agues, con-sumption and rheumatism and gout; aches and pains;head-diseases and heart-diseases, croup and measles, andscarlet fever and small-pox, and every form of sicknessthat people are troubled with. What a wonderful fountainthat would be I How people would go from all the endsof the earth to wash in that fountain !But there never was such a fountain for bodily diseases,and there never will be. Yet if there was such an one, itwould only be doing for the bodies of men just what thisbest fountain is doing for their souls. The blood of Jesusforms such a fountain. Its healing power is wonderfulIt cures every disease from which the souls of men suffer;or by which they are made sick. It makes dead soulslive. It makes blind souls see. It makes deaf souls hear.It makes lame souls walk. It makes weak souls strong.It makes wicked souls good.And then, it heals the sorrows, as well as the diseasesof the soul. This is God's fountain, and He is called inthe Bible The Father of mercies, and God of ail comfort.'What a sweet and beautiful title for God this is I In one ofthe precious promises in the Bible, God says to His people,-' As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfortyou.' In old times people used to believe that therewas a river called Lethe, which it was 'thought had thepower of making those who washed in it, or drank ofit, forget their sorrows. But that was all a fable. It
p~ff's " T.-THE BEST FO UNTAIN. 5was not true. But this fountain is better than the waterof Lethe.It does not make people forget their sorrows; but ithelps them to bear those sorrows, and takes away the painof them.Some years since, a Christian gentleman, who was passinga Sabbath in a retired New England village, made theacquaintance of a poor orphan boy. Kind friends hadprovided him with a comfortable home, with comfortablefood and clothing; but all their kindness could not takeaway the sorrow which lay like lead on the poor boy'sheart. He always looked sad. There was no lightness inhis step. He seldom wore a smile, or joined in the sportsof his schoolfellows. All his family were in the silentgrave, and he was sad and sorrowful. The gentleman ofwhom I speak had heard of the boy's sad history, and hefelt as if he would like to have a little conversation withhim, and try to lead him to the best fountain for comfortunder his sorrow. When the services of the church wereover, and the congregation were going home, he saw theboy walking slowly by himself towards that part of thegraveyard where his parents lay buried. He walked quietlytowards him, and when he came up to him, he laid hishand upon his shoulder, and said, in a kind way-'Youhave no father, John ''No, sir,' he replied.'Nor mother V'' No, sir, nor brother, nor sister,'-and the tears beganto flow down his cheeks.' Did you ever think, John,' inquired the gentleman,'how kind a father God is to the orphan, and what afriend Jesus is to the friendless 1' John knew somethingof these matters. His dear mother had often whisperedthem in his ear when he was a little child; but he knewnot what to say to this question. John,' said the stranger,
16 THE BEST THINGS.do you know any one who has more need than you haveof God for a father, and Christ for a friend I''No, sir,' he replied, I do need such a Friend.'' And have you never yet,' I continued, says the gentle-man, asked God to make up for the loss of father andmother by giving you Himself '' I have prayed to God every day,' he answered; 'mymother taught me to pray, but I fear I have never prayedaright.'His voice trembled with emotion; he looked earnestlyinto the gentleman's face, as if to say, What must I do II invited him to my room. He willingly accepted theinvitation. In a few brief words I told him of God's pro-mises to every returning and penitent sinner. He listenedto every word with deep attention: he was evidentlyanxious to be saved.''Do you think, sir,' he asked doubtfully, 'that I canbecome a Christian now t'' No doubt of it,' I replied, 'for God says, " Now is theaccepted time, now is the day of salvation."' I turned tothe fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, and read those preciouswords-' Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to thewaters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, andeat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money andwithout price. Let the wicked, forsake his way, andthe unrighteous man his-thoughts: and let him returnunto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and toour God, for he will abundantly pardon.'His eye kindled with hope, and with great earnestnesshe asked-' Do you think, sir, that God means that for me?'' He means it for you, John,' I replied, 'if you are" thirsty." The invitation is addressed to every one whowants to be happy.'At his request I offered to pray that God would show
TEE BEST FOUNTAIN.17him the path of life, would help him to drink of the bestfountain and be happy. When I had concluded, we bothremained on our knees, waiting for a blessing.' You must pray for yourself, John,' I said.He burst into a flood of tears, and said-' I can't pray,sir, I'm too great a sinner.'' Then you are just the one whose prayer God willlove to hear. Do you not remember the prayer of thepublican X'He paused a moment, and then, with his voice chokingwith sobs, he cried-' God, be merciful to me, a sinner.'Thus this good gentleman took John by the hand, andled him, in all the sorrows of his orphan state, to the bestfountain. John drank of its waters, and felt how won-derful was their healing power. They healed his sorrow.They comforted his heart. From that hour his life waschanged. He became peaceful and happy. Before hedrank of this fountain, his mind was like a landscape on adark and cloudy day. Afterwards it was like the samelandscape with the bright sunshine beaming all over it.It has a wonderful PRESERVING POWE.Some time ago a ship came into this port. The ownerkindly invited me to go down to the wharf and see her.She was a new vessel, being only about three years old.She had been to the East Indies, and it was necessary tomake some repairs in her before she went to sea again.But when they came to examine some of the planks, theyfound the worms had got into them and had done a greatdeal of damage. They had eaten their way through thehard oak wood, making great holes through and through itin every direction, so that some of the planks, which hadbeen put into the vessel, solid and good, only a short timebefore, looked then almost like a piece of honeycomb. Ifthese worm-eaten pieces of timber had not been found outand removed, that noble ship might have sprung a leak:B
THE BEST THINGS.or in some storm the planks might have given way, andthe vessel, with all on board of her, might have beenlost.Now suppose there was a fountain or stream discovered,the waters of which had he power of preserving the tim-bers dipped in it from the ravages of these destructiveworms. How valuable that fountain or stream would be !Ship-carpenters would be anxious to put all their timbersand planks in it, before they used them in the vessels theywere building. But there is no water which can exertsuch a preserving power over the timbers used in ship-building.And now, perhaps you are ready to ask, what has thisto do with the best fountain ? It has a good deal to dowith it. Our hearts may well be compared to the timbersused in building ships. And they are exposed to a dangervery similar to that which attends those timbers. Theyare liable to become worm-eaten. What! you ask, arethere worms that eat into the hearts of people while theyare alive I Yes, there are. I do not mean, of course,real worms; but I mean there are things which do ourhearts the same kind of harm that those worms do to thetimbers of a ship. I refer to the sins, and evil tempers,which belong to us by nature. There is a great swarm ofthese that will breed and grow in our hearts if we are notvery careful to guard against them. There is pride, forinstance: that is a great ugly worm. It makes the heartswollen, hollow, and unsound. Then there is selfishness:this is another ugly worm, which eats into the very coreof the heart. Then there is anger, and envy, and hatred,and malice, and covetousness, and drunkenness, and a greatnumber of others, that will eat all through the heart, unlesssomething is done to preserve it against their ravages.But what can we do! Washing in this fountain is theonly thing that can preserve our hearts from being eaten
THE BEST FOUNTAIN. 19up by these worms. It has a wonderful preserving power.I might make a slight alteration in a verse from one ofDr. Watts' beautiful hymns, and it will suit this part ofour subject very well:-"Twill save us from a thousand snares,To use this fountain young:Grace will preserve our following years,And make our virtues strong'If we wash in this fountain we shall be effectually protectedagainst this danger. These worms all die in the hearts ofthose who make a right use of this fountain. And nothingelse can kill them. But the heart of every person whoneglects to use this fountain, will be eaten through andthrough by these worms. It will be just like a worm-eaten piece of timber from an old vessel.It has a wonderful BEAUTIFYING POWER.If anybody should discover a fountain which had theremarkable power, by simply washing in it, of making oldpeople look young, and ugly people look beautiful, what arush there would be to that fountain If that fountainreally had the power of making nice glossy hair grow onthe heads of bald people-of taking out all the wrinklesfrom those who are waxing old-and of actually removingspots and freckles from the faces of people, and of makingtheir complexions white, their cheeks rosy and beautiful-why, the owner of that fountain might soon become one ofthe richest men in the world !But there never was, and there never will be, such afountain for the bodies of men. Yet there is such a foun-tain for their souls. The best fountain, which Jesusopened, has just this power. It makes the souls of thosewho wash in it beautiful The Bible tells us they are sobeautiful that God loves to look at them. It takes awayall the stains and ugliness which sin left on them, and
BEST THINGS.IITHEmakes them so pure and holy that Jesus can present thembefore His Father in heaven, 'without spot, or wrinkle, orany such thing.'We have all read the interesting account of the trans-figuration of our Saviodr, in Matthew xvii 1-8. With Hisraiment white as the snow, and His countenance shiningas the sun, how very beautiful He must have looked!Yet that was only intended as a pattern of what Hispeople are to be. When He shall appear in His glory,they shall be all 'like Him.' What a glorious sight itwill be to see the thousands and millions of Christ's peopleall looking so bright and beautiful And there will notbe one amongst them who will not have been made so, bywashing in this fountain.And then, it has a wonderful SAVING POWER.It is a great thing to save. To save a pin, or a penny,is worth while. To save an animal, a, dog, a sheep, ahorse, is important. To save a child, a man, or a womanfrom drowning or from burning, is something noble. Butthat is only saving the body. And what is the body worthcompared to the soul ? To 'save a soul from death,' oh !that is the greatest, the best, the noblest thing that evercan be done. Jesus has taught us that one soul is worthmore than the whole world. But all the men on earth,and all the angels in heaven, never could save a singlesoul. It is the work of Jesus to do this. Nobody butHe can do it. He is the only Being to whom a sinnercan look up and say,-'Jesus I Saviour of my soul rBut who can tell all that is meant by-saving the soul ?It is easy to say it means to save it from sin, and fromeverlasting misery. But this is not the definition of savingthe soul. This is only like looking at the title-page of abook, without reading all its chapters. Salvation is a greatEII!
THE BEST FOUNTAI N.21volume. It will take us all eternity to read it through.It will only be when we get to heaven, and have beenthere for thousands of years, that we shall begin to knowwhat it means to save the soul. But this is just whatthis fountain does. It has a wonderful saving power. Allwho wash in this fountain shall be saved. They becomethe sheep of Christ, and Jesus says of His sheep-' I giveunto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neithershall any pluck them out of my hand.'Wonderful indeed are the powers of this fountain. Ithas a wonderful CLEANSING power: a wonderful HEALINGpower: a wonderful PRESERVING power: a wonderfulBEAUTIFYING power: a wonderful SAVING power.And thus we have seen three reasons why this is thebest fountain. It is so, in the first place, because it iseasy to get at; secondly, because it never changes; and,thirdly, because of its wonderful powers.My dear young friends I entreat you all to come tothis fountain. If you want to destroy that swarm of sinsthat are found nestling in all our hearts by nature, andare ready to eat all through them, like the worms in theship's timber, bring your hearts to Jesus, and ask Him to'wash them in the fountain of His blood. That will cleanseand heal them; that will preserve, and beautify, and savethem. That will make our hearts pure and good. Jesuscharges nothing. The fountain is free.I will close my sermon by quoting that beautiful hymnof Cowper's which we often sing:-' There is a fountain fill'd with blood,Drawn from Immanuel's veins:And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,Lose all their guilty stainsThe dying thief rejoiced to seeThat fountain in his day;And there may I, though vile as he,Wash all my sins away.
THE BEST THINGS.'Dear dying Lamb! Thy precious bloodShall never lose its powerTill all the ransom'd Church of GodBe saved, to sin no more./ Eer since by faith I saw the streamThy flowing wounds supply,Redeeming love has been my theme,And shall be till I die.'Then, in a nobler, sweeter song,I'11 sing Thy power to save:When this poor lisping, stammering tongue,Lies silent in the grave.'
ILit; Nest n brkhr.'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.'JOHN V. 17.F you had a rich uncle abroad, whom you hadnever seen, but who was all the time sendingkind letters and nice presents to you, hownaturally you would desire to know how helooked You would often be picturing him to yourself,and be trying to think just what sort of a person he was.And if one day you should receive a package from him,and find, on opening it, that it contained a likeness of youruncle, how glad you would be What pleasure you wouldtake in looking at it How often you would take it upand gaze upon it Perhaps you would be very much sur-prised when you first saw it. You would find it very dif-ferent, it may be, from what you expected. You wouldbe ready- to say, Well, I declare, can this be my uncleJohn ? He doesn't look at all like what I supposed hewas. Why, I always thought he was a short, stout, round-faced, rosy-looking man, with his hair and whiskers a littlegrey, and his face fill of smiles and sunshine. But, in-stead of this, I find he is tall and thin, without anywhiskers at all, with black hair, and a calm, sober, quiet-looking countenance. But, never mind, he is a right gooduncle anyhow, and I love him very much.'My dear children, you have a relative and friend whomyou have never seen. He is the nearest, the kindest friend23
THE BEST THINGS.that can be. He is sending you presents and doing yougood all the time. This friend, this relative, is God.There is not a day, or hour, or moment, in which you arenot receiving blessings from Him. But 'no one hathseen God at any time.' God is a Spirit; He has no body,or form, and-therefore we cannot see Him. We are for-bidden to form any picture or image of Him. This is trueof God the Father, but it indifferent with God the Son.He comes nearer to us. He has a body. He took ournature upon Him. We can think of Him as our ElderBrother. He is a real man. He is the noblest and mostperfect pattern of a man.But though God will not allow us to make any imageor picture of Him in bodily form, because He has no form;yet He has given us, in the Bible, pictures, or likenessesof His-mind or Spirit. There is a very beautiful onewhich He gave to Moses, and sent to us through him.You can read about it in Exodus xxxiii. 18-23, and xxxiv.4-8. This likeness is just as fresh and beautiful and life-like now as it was when first taken, between three andfour thousand years ago. Moses wanted to see God. Godtold him he could not see Him and live. And then Godput him in the cleft of a rock, and in some wonderful way,not explained to us, He made His glory pass beforehim, and told him what kind of a Being He was. Hesaid He was the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keepingmercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgressionand sin.' This is very beautifulBut there are other pictures of God's character given tous in the Bible. What a sweet little miniature likeness ofHim St. John gives us in three words, when he says (1John iv. 8), God is love.' And here, in our text, Jesusgives us a likeness, or picture, of His Father and Himself,both together. He says, 'My Father worketh hitherto,
_ __ ______THE BEST WORKERS. 25and I work.' Here God the Father and God the Son areset before us in the character of Workers. This is a dif-ferent view of them from what we generally take. Weare accustomed to think of God as a Great King, seatedon a glorious throne. And this is correct; He is such aKing. He does sit on such a glorious throne; and yetHe is a working King. God the Father and God the Sonare both workers. Their work is to preserve and governall the worlds they have made, and all the people who livein them. These heavenly workers are-the Best Workers.There are several reasons why they are so.In the first place, They are the Best Workers, becausethey work so EXTENSIVELY.To do anything extensively is to do it on a large scale,or to a great extent. For example, if you had a flower-garden which covered twenty acres of ground, that wouldbe an extensive garden. If you were a carpenter, or aprinter, and giving work to four or five hundred men, thenyou would be carrying on that business extensively. If Icould preach in all the churches of this city at the sametime, then I should be preaching extensively. But I canonly preach in one place at a time. And so it is with acarpenter, or a mason, or any other human worker.But it is very different with these Heavenly Workers, ofwhom we are speaking. They can work in all places at thesame time. They are working in heaven, directing the angelswhat to do, and making them happy. They are workinghere, in this world. They are working in this church.Each one of us is kept alive only by their power. Andwhile working here, they are, at the same time, working inall our homes. In all the cities and towns and villagesof the world; in all the country places, in every house, inevery room, they are working; on the tops of the highestmountains, out on the broadest plains and prairies, in themiddle of the thickest forests, at the bottom of the deepest,
26TEE BEST THINGS.darkest caves of earth, they are working. They are pro-.viding food and protection for beasts, and birds, and insects,and creeping things. When Jesus was on earth He referredto the fowls of the air, and said, Your Heavenly Fatherfeedeth them.'These Heavenly Workers are busy on the sea as well ason the land. It was their hand which dug out the greatbasin of the ocean. It was in the hollow of their hand'that all the waters poured into that basin were measured.And it is the same hand which controls every movementof those waters. Thousands of ships pass over the sea,every year, in safety. It is these Heavenly Workers whokeep them safely. If it were not for their care andprotection, no vessel that goes to sea would ever come homeagain.Then there are myriads of fish in the sea. From the'great leviathans,' the huge whales, made 'to take theirpastime therein,' and which move about like floatingislands, down to the little coral insects, and others, toosmall for the eye to see, all these engage the attention andemploy the care of these Heavenly Workers. There is nocorner of the ocean, however far down in its briny waters,and no particle of seaweed, floating on its heaving surface,however small it be, in which and about which they arenot all the time engaged.And then, look out upon the sky at night; see all thosetwinkling stars and shining planets How bright, howbeautiful they are And how numerous too! They arenumerous when we look at them with the naked eye, butwhen we look through the telescope thousands and millionsmore are seen. They are more than anybody can count.And we have every reason to suppose that' they are all fullof people. In every one of. those countless worlds theseHeavenly Workers are present. They are protecting, keep-ing, providing for, and blessing, all the vast multitudes of
THE BEST WORKERS.27people who live in those worlds. They are the BestWorkers, because they work so extensively.Secondly, They are the Best Workers, because they workSO QUIETLY.It is very pleasant to have things done quietly, but it isvery hard for some people to do anything in this way.Many children get into a noisy habit of doing things. Theyseem as if they never could do anything quietly. Theybluster about, all the time, like a March wind; and makeas much noise as a young thunderbolt. From-the momentthey get up in the morning, till they go to bed at night,they keep' up a continual clatter. On returning fromschool, you can tell in an instant when they enter thehouse,-there is such a slamming of doors, and calling ofservants, and upsetting of chairs and tables, and such anunnecessary shouting and crying, that it is really a miseryto be under the same roof with them. They are likealarum-clocks, going off all the time; they are like the sillyhen, which, as soon as she has laid an egg goes cacklingabout, loud enough to be heard all over the barn-yard, andreally makes more noise over a single egg than was madeat first when the whole tribe of hens was created.But God works very differently. Stillness and quietnessattend Him in what He does. For example: it is earlymorning; the sun is about to rise-it is a great thing forthe sun to rise-think how large a body it is! Its sizeis so great, that if it were empty it is large enough to holdmore than a million of worlds like ours! When the sunrises, it is to give light to thousands and millions of people.And yet how softly, how quietly it rises Did you everhear the sun rise ? No. Nobody ever heard it. Thereis nothing to hear; no shout, no noise, no sound of anykind attends it. He goes forth to his work of lighting upthe abodes of men, but he goes with the silence and still-ness of the grave. We make more noise in lighting a
28THE BEST THIN G.match, or a rushlight, than God does when He makes thesun to rise and give light to all the world.Look at another of God's great works. The sun hasset. The evening shades are gathering round; the dew isfalling. In crystal drops it is forming on the grass, theflowers, the grain, and on the leaves of the giant trees.Their growth and beauty all depend upon the dew. If itsgentle moisture were withheld, they would wither and die.But no noise attends the falling of the dew. If you gointo the garden or the fields and listen ever so intently, youwill not hear the slightest sound made by the dew as itfalls. The most dead silence, the most unbroken quietnessattends it.Look again. There is a large field; the farmer hassowed his wheat in it; the grain has been harrowed intothe soil. The rains have moistened it-the sun haswarmed it. It is just beginning to grow. There arethousands and millions of grains of wheat in that field.Now, they are all at once bursting the husky shells thatcover them, and thrusting out the little germs which areto spring up and grow, and bear the full ears of ripenedgrain. But did anyone ever hear the grain growing? No.It is a great and important thing. The life of all whodwell upon the globe depends upon it; but the large fieldof grain makes no noise when its grows. It grows insilence. This is the way in which these Heavenly Workerscarry on most of their works. They are the Best Workersbecause they work so quietly.In the third place, They are the Best Workers, becausethey work so POWERFULLY.The Bible tells us that 'all things are possible withGod.' In another place it says : 'Whatsoever the Lordpleaseth, that doeth He, in heaven, in earth, in the sea,and in all deep places.' Oh, these Heavenly Workers arevery powerful Look for a moment at some of the ser-
THE BEST WORKERS.29vants they employ. Who can resist them ? There is thewind, for instance. This is one of God's servants. Some-times it is soft and gentle as the breath of an infant; thenagain,'it rises in its power, and rushes onward with all thefury of the tempest, or the hurricane; and now what canstand against it ? Houses are thrown down, the largesttrees are torn up by the roots, or their strongest trunkbroken off as if they were pipe-stems.The sea is another of God's servants. Sometimes it isas quiet as a sleeping child, and its wide surface is asbright and smooth as a looking-glass. Such is the sea ina time of calm; but oh, how different it is in the time ofa storm Then its waves rise and swell and roar with avoice like thunder. They chase each other like angrygiants. They seem like mountains alive, and fighting oneanother; and how terrible their power is! The largestand strongest vessels that men can make, the huge shipsof war, which look like floating castles, are tossed aboutlike corks, or broken to pieces by their force, with as muchease as you or I could smash a glass vessel to atoms witha walking-cane.The earthquake is another of God's servants, and it is avery strong one. It gives us a very alarming idea of thepower of these Heavenly Workers. When it shakes theground, everything trembles and falls before it. When itopens its mouth, houses, temples, villages, and cities areswallowed up by it. The united wisdom and power of allthe people in the world could no more stop its progressthan a mouse could roll back a falling mountain !And there are a great many other servants of theseHeavenly Workers, which show how great their power is:but I need only refer to the angels. These, we know, areall God's servants; they love to be employed for Him.Whatever He tells them to do, they fly in an instant todo it. They have no greater pleasure than to do His will;
THE BEST THINGS.and He has given them wonderful power. David says,they excel in strength.' We have one illustration of theirstrength, mentioned in the Bible, which is very interesting;we are told (Isaiah xxxvii. 36) that Sennacherib, the kingof Assyria, gathered together a great army, and went andbesieged the city of Jerusalem. Hezekiah, the Jewishking, knew that it would be impossible for him to conquerthis great army and drive it away, but he knew that theLord his God was a powerful worker, and could do what-ever He pleased. So he prayed to God to look in mercyon him and his people, and deliver them from the hand oftheir enemies. God sent the prophet Isaiah to the kingto tell him that He had heard his prayer, and that He haddetermined to save them from the Assyrians; but He didnot tell them how He was going to do it. He might haveraised a dreadful tempest, and destroyed them by lightning.He might have made the earthquake open wide its devour-ing jaws beneath the camp of the Assyrians, and swallowedthem up in a moment; or He might -have sent the pes-tilence to destroy them; but He did not choose to do it inthis way. He sent an angel-a single one-to do it. Butwhat is a single angel against a whole army of near twohundred thousand men I He is enough to destroy themall, in an instant, if God tells him to do so. This angelcame by night; the whole army was asleep in their tents;all was still and quiet among that sleeping host. Theangel drew near-he blew no trumpet-he uttered noshout-he made no sound; but,'The angel of death spread his wings on the blast,And breathed in the face.of the foe as he passed;And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,,And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever stood still.'It seems as if he did it with a single breath, just aseasily as you or I would blow out the tiniest taper with apuff. This was done by one of the servants of these
THE BEST WORKERS. 31HeavenlyWorkers. They have 'ten thousand times ten thou-sands, and thousands of thousands' of such servants. Theyare the Best Workers, because they work so powerfully.In the fourth place, These Heavenly Workers are theBest Workers, because they work so CAREFULLY.When God had finished the work of creating the world,he looked on all that He had made, and said it was 'verygood.' When Jesus was on earth, the people who sawhim working so many miracles of mercy, healing the sick,giving sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf, makingthe lame walk, casting out devils, and raising the dead,cried out in astonishment, He hath done all things well !'And what was true of the miracles and cures which Hewrought when on earth, is true of everything else that Hedoes. Whatever God does is done as if He had nothingelse to do, but just that single thing. Everything whichHe does is done in the very best way in which it is possibleto do it; and so it has been from the very beginning. Ittakes us a long time to find out what is the best way ofdoing things. We have to try over and over again beforewe can tell this. Look at those splendid steamships whichgo across the ocean; how strongly they are built; howbeautifully they are shaped; how much they carry, andhow swiftly they sail Everything about them is arrangedin the best possible way. But then, it has taken people along time to find out how to build such ships. Compareone of these modern ocean steamers with the largest andbest vessels that were built at the time when our Saviourwas on earth; how awkward, and clumsy, and inconvenient.they were! How little they would carry How slowiythey would sail! Why, to have attempted to go acrossthe ocean in one of them would have been like trying tocross the river on a plank, or in a washing-tub. It has takenmen several thousand years to find out how to make oneof our modern teamers
THE BEbT THINGS.And in the same way we may compare our steam-millswith the contrivance they used to have in old times, forevery woman to grind her own meal by rubbing two stonestogether; or. the ancient way of threshing grain by turningthe oxen upon it to tread it out with their feet,--comparethis, I say, with a modern threshing-machine.Why, a man would do as much work with one of thesemachines in half a day as a yoke\of oxen would do in aweek. But how many hundred years had to be spent intrying one thing after another, before these modern waysof building ships, and grinding and threshing grain werefound out !The works of man were not half as good in old times asthey are now. But it is very different with the works ofGod. The sunshine which the people in old times used tohave, was just as good as what we have now. And so itwas with the air, and the rain, and the dew. So it waswith the seasons-; our springs and summers, and autumnsand winters, have not grown any better than they used tobe. The first grass that grew on the earth was as greenas any that has grown since. The first flowers thatbloomed were as beautiful and as fragrant as any that havesince been seen. And so it was with the trees, and thefruits, and everything that God made.God is just as careful about the least things He hasmade as He is about the greatest. If we could comparean infant and an angel together, we should find that every-thing about the infant, even to its little finger, or its toe,was made and finished with as much care as the angel'shead or limbs. And so we might compare a pebble and aplanet, a grain of sand and a great globe, a humming-birdand an eagle, a mouse and a mammoth, and we should findthat these Heavenly Workers had been just as careful inthe least as in the greatest. The tiny moss-flower thatsprings out of the cleft of the rock, the down upon the
THE BEST WOREKERS. 33butterfly's wing, and the insect so small that it cannot beseen without a microscope, are all made with as much careas the wonderful hand of man, or the beautiful face ofwoman. Everything that God has made, whether on thetop of the highest mountain, in the midst of the widestdesert, or at the bottom of the lowest depth of the ocean,is just as perfect in its kind as the walls of heaven, or thewing of an angel, or the crown of a Christian. What alesson this should teach us These Heavenly Workers arethe Best Workers, because they work so carefully.There is only one other-reason I would mention whythey are the Best Workers, and that is, because they workso WISELY.It would fill a large volume if I should attempt to sayall that might be said under this last head. The earthis full of God's wisdom; everything about us shows it.Look at our bodies; what wonderful wisdom was shown inmaking them just what they are Suppose our hands hadbeen put where the feet are, and the feet where the handsare, of what use would either of them have been to us ?Suppose our arms had been made without the joint at theelbow, we never should have been able to lift a drink ofwatery or a morsel of food to our mouths, but should havebeen compelled to stoop down our heads when we wantedto eat or drink. And suppose the eyes put at the back ofthe head, and the nose on one side. of it, how awkward andinconvenient it would have been Then, every time wewanted to eat anything, we should have to carry it roundto the back of the head for the eyes to see if it was clean,and then to the nose to find out if it was sweet, before wecould venture to put it in our mouths. We should soonget tired of this. But now, the eyes and the nose areplaced right over the mouth, like sentinels, to examineeverything that enters there, and see that it is clean andwholesome. This shows the wisdom of God.. c
TH' BEST THINGS.And then; when we look out of ourselves we-see thatwisdom just as clearly. We see it in the colour of the skyand the fields. Suppose the sky had been made whiteinstead of blue, and the fields scarlet instead of green, howtrying it would have been to the eye It would then bevery painful to look around when the sun was shining.But the beautiful blue of the sky is pleasing to the eye;and the rich green of the fields is really refreshing for it torest upon. This shows us how wisely God works.We see this wisdom in the way in which the sun risesand sets. It is done very gradually. God might haveordered it so that the sun should rise or set in a moment,in the twinkling of an eye. Then in the morning the lightwould have burst upon us so suddenly, that we should havebeen blinded with its glare; and at evening we should havebeen plunged into total darkness in an instant, as when youblow out the candle in a room. This would be very incon-venient. Now we know when evening is coming on, andcan prepare for it. If we are away from -home when thesun is setting, we can hurry on and get there before night,because the twilight lingers around us long after the sunhas gone down. But to be wrapt ininstant darkness whenour work was not quite done, or our journey not quitefinished, would be always inconvenient, and often danger-ous. But how wisely God has guarded 'against all theseinconveniences and dangers !We see this wisdom further illustrated in the way inwhich He provides for the preservation and protection ofdifferent animals. When winter comes, and snow'coversthe ground, most of our birds would perish from cold andwant of food if they remained here. But at the close ofthe summer God teaches them to assemble together in largeflocks and fly away to other places where the climate iswarm, and there is plenty for them to eat. In these jour-neys they travel hundreds of miles, yet they never lose
:.- THE BEST WORKERS. 35their way; they always know the right time for going andfor returning. How wonderful this is !Look at the ostrich. This is so stupid a bird, that whenclosely pressed it will hide its head under its wing, andthen, because it cannot see its pursuers, foolishly thinkthat they cannot see it. Yet even this silly bird is verywise in some things. It makes its nest in the sand, bysimply scooping-a hole large enough to contain a dozen ortwenty ,eggs. These, when laid, are covered over withsand, andd left-for the sun to hatch them. But when theyoung :ones re hatched, there will be no food fit for them, to eat, -till they can look round and help themselves. Toprovide for this, the old bird always leaves some six oreight eggs outside the nest, and when the young ostrichescome out they break these, and live on them till they canset up for themselves.In those parts of Africa where it is hot enough to hatchthe eggs without the help of the parent bird, she leaves-them without any attention. In other parts, where the.Lights are-qo cold to carry on the work of hatching, theostrich, alwaysetns to her.nest and sits on it through.the nghtf An-inother parts, which are colder still, she. -o:soier nest all the time, just like other'birds. This is_very remaikable.What wonderful wisdom or cunning God has given tothe fox, to assist him in making his escape when in danger.When dogs are pursuing the fox, he always tries to choosehis path through marshy grounds, and across pools andrivulets, where the water will destroy the scent and makeit difficult for the dogs to follow him. When he finds him-self in sudden danger, without any prospect of escape, hewill often pretend to be dead, and carry on the deception-so well that it is never discovered till he has accomplishedhis object. sr -A -clergyman in Scotland had-a poultry-yard, in a part
36THE BEST THINGS.of the country where, in consequence of the numerous foxesin the neighbourhood, it was very difficult to keep anypoultry; but he took especial pains to protect his featheredfriends from sly Reynard's attacks. For years he neverlost a single chicken by the foxes. But one morning therewas company at the parsonage. The maid was sent to thehen-house for some eggs. The moment she opened thedoor a sad scene presented itself: every perch and nest-holdwas covered with blood; dead hens lay in heaps on thefloor, and in the middle lay a large fox, stretched out atfull length, and apparently as dead as any of the hens. Theservant, of course, thought that the fox was really dead,and that he had killed himself with eating chickens. Fullof wrath for the mischief he had wrought, she took him bythe tail and swung him, with all her might, out upon a dirt-heap in the garden. The fox lighted safely on the heap,and then springing at once to his feet, made off for theneighbouring woods.How wonderful the wisdom and skill which the beaversdisplay in all their operations In the choice of situationswhich they make-in cutting down the timber required-in floating it down the stream-in the way in which theybuild their dams-in the manner of erecting their houses,and storing them with their winter's supply-they alwaysproceed so wisely, that the most skilful mechanic or expe-rienced engineer could suggest no improvement, consideringthe limited powers they have to employ. And the youngbeavers, who have never seen these things done before, andhave never received a single lesson, know how to act justas well as the oldest.The heron is a bird that lives by fishing. 'Its long legsand bill show how admirably it is adapted to carry on thisbusiness. But the fish on which it chiefly preys are verytimid. The least shadow moving across the water frightensthem. Ordinarily, therefore, the heron never goes a fish-4
THE BEST WORKERS.37ing when the sun shines; but when the sky is cloudy, andits body casts no shadow on the water, then it goes, andseldom without success. It is very singular that, whenthere has been a flood, the fish are caught in pools andholes in the fields, where they cannot get away, howeverfrightened, then the heron will go forth without regard tosunshine or shadows. It seems to know that the poor fishhave no power to escape then, shadow or no shadow. Buthow does the heron know anything about the difference inthe position of the fish when in the stream, or in the pool ?All these things are very strange. They show the wonder-ful wisdom of God in the works of His hands.There are many wonderful instances of the wisdom ofthese Heavenly Workers to be seen in the habits andhistories of some of the insect tribes. I will only refer toone. In the early part of summer there is a large fly foundon the shores of some of the lakes and shallow streams ofAmerica, which is commonly called the June fly.These flies have a very curious natural history, whichshows the wisdom of God in a very remarkable manner.- They deposit their eggs in the shallow parts of the lake.The eggs sink to the bottom, and lie buried in the soft mud.There they remain till the nextspring. Then, when thewarm sun shines upon the water, the eggs are hatched.Out of each egg comes a little worm. This lives in thewater till it grows to be about one inch long. Then itrises to the surface of the water. The change it has toundergo before it can become a fly, cannot take place in thewater. It must reach the dry land to go through thischange. But how is it to get ashore ? Why, God hasfurnished it with something on its body very much like thescrew which a propeller steamer has to move it along. Itis a sort of machine which is set in motion by the waterwhich the worm swallows. By the help of this it goesskimming along, till it throws itself up on the shore, out
38TEE BEST THINGS.of the reach of the water. There it lies, as if asleep ordead. The sunbeams dry' it. The skin or sack whichcovers the insect shrivels up. It cracks. It opens; andthere is the fly ready to spread its wings and go buzzingabout, to spend the short period of its life as God designedit to do. I never saw them go through this process my-self; but a gentleman, who lives on the shores of LakeElie, told me he had often wandered about the borders ofthe Lake, and watched these wonderful operations. Howinteresting it must be to see them But, my dearchildren, we shall find similar wonders everywhere, if weonly accustom ourselves to look for them; for all God'sworks are done in wisdom.These Heavenly Workers are the Best Workers, becausethey work so extensively; so quietly; so powerfully; socarefully; and so wisely.We may learn two things from this subject. In thefirst place, it teaches us that work is an honourable thing.Some people feel ashamed of letting it be known that theyhave to work for their living. This is very foolish. Thereis reason enough why we should be ashamed of being idle;but there is no reason in the world for anybody to beashamed of work. The fact is, my dear children, we shouldnever be ashamed of anything but sin. Work, honestwork, no matter what it is, is an honourable thing. Godworks all the time. Oh, always remember, that it was theLord Jesus Christ Himself, our glorious Saviour, the Kingof kings, and Lord of lords,' who said, ly Father workethhitherto, and I work.' This shows us that it is an honour-able thing to work.We may also learn from this subject how we should tryto do our work. We should try to do it, as far as we can,in the same way in which God does His work. We havespoken of five things that mark God's way of working.We are not able to imitate all these. It would be folly
THE BEST WORKERS.39.for us to try to work as extensively, or as powerfully, or aswisely, as God does. These three things about His way ofworking, we cannot imitate. But still there are two thingsin which we may try to work as He works. We shouldtry to work quietly and carefully. It is very pleasantwhen young people get into the habit of doing thingsquietly. And it is a habit we should all try to form. Itmay help us to do this if we recollect how quietly Godworks. Think of the sun rising, or the dew falling, orthe grain growing, and try as far as possible to do whatyou have to do in the same quiet, noiseless way.And then do carefully as well as quietly whatever youhave to do. It is an old saying, but a true one, that' Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.' God doeseverything in this way; and so should we. The peoplewho become distinguished in the world are generally thosewho start with the determination to do everything theyhave to do, in the very best way they can. Such personsare sure to succeed. A lawyer was once arguing a case incourt. He was a very eminent lawyer, but when younghe was very poor. The lawyer on the opposite side was anobleman's son. He was very proud. He reproached theother lawyer with having once been very poor. Why,sir,' said he, 'I remember when you used to black myfather's boots !' Well, what of that,' answered the other,'didn't I black them well-' That was the secret of hissuccess. Careful workers are sure to succeed. Then, what-ever we do, let us do it in the best way we can. Let usbe quiet workers, and careful workers, and then, by God'sblessing, we shall be sure to be useful workers.
IITT.LteNest tnrkh.'Go work, to-day, in my vineyard.'MATTHEW XXL. 8.HEN we read these words, we may regard themas God's message to each one of us. It is amessage about work. The world in whichwe live is like a great workshop. Everybodyshould be busy, for there is work enough for us all to do.We were made to work. Look at our arms, how strongthey are Look at our fingers, how nimble they are Lookat our feet, how quickly they carry us about! Look at oureyes, how nicely they are placed to keep a bright look-outover everything we try to do And then, look at the mindwhich God has put in us, that we may think about ourwork, and try to do it in the very best way. All thesethings show that we were made to work. Jesus told us,when on earth, that He is working all the time. And thecreatures He has made all work in some way or other. Iremember reading a fable, once, of a little boy who ranaway from school, one day, to play truant. But he hadnobody to play with him, and finding that there was notmuch fun in playing by himself, he tried to get a playmate.There were no children near, however, but he thought evena dumb animal would be better than nothing. So helooked around, and saw a little squirrel sitting on thebranch of a tree; and he called to him, and said-' Littlebunnie, won't you come and play with me?' But the40
THE BEST WORK.squirrel said, 'No, I can't; I've got to crack nuts for mylittle young ones, and lay up a stock for our use in winter.'Then he saw a cow quietly feeding in a meadow, and hesaid-' Oh, cow, won't you come and play with me ?' Andthe cow mooed out aloud-' No, no, my little man; I mustbe busy eating grass, or else when Betty comes to-nightwith her empty pail, I shall have no milk to give her.'Then he saw a bird flying away with a piece of horse-hairin its mouth, and he said-' Little bird, won't you comeand play with me ?' But the bird said-' No; we arevery busy trying to get our nest finished; I can't stop toplay.' Then he heard a bee go buzzing past him, and hecried after it-' Halloo, little bee, I want some one to playwith; can't you come and help me 1' And the bee said-' No, indeed, that I can't. My hive is not yet half full ofhoney. I must hurry home with what I've got, and thengo and gather more.' At last he saw old dog Tray' gotrotting by, and he said-' You are a nice fellow, old Tray;come, and let's have some play together.' But Tray waggedhis tail, and said, as he trotted on, without stopping aminute-' Oh, I should like very well to stop and have aromp with you, but, you see, my master is away fromhome, and he has left me to guard the house, and I musthurry on to my post.' And then the little boy said tohimself: Well, if everything is so busy, it's a shame forme to be idle.' And then he hurried back to school, andwent to work to learn his lessons as hard as he could.But if you look at the text again, you will find that itnot only speaks about work, but it tells us where this workis to be done. Go work in my vineyard.' God'svineyard is His Church. This Church means the wholecompany of God's faithful people all over the earth.Baptism is the door of outward entrance into this Church.Every baptized person may be regarded as, in some sense,a member of this Church. And the work we have to do'
42 THE BEST THINGS.in this vineyard is, to correct everything that is wrong inour own hearts and lives, and try to get others to do thesame. When we read and study God's Word, that we mayknow His will and do it; or when we are helping othersto do the same, then we are doing vineyard work. In thepreparations made for this anniversary, and in the offeringswe are now about to lay on God's altar, we are doing vine-yard work. This is the best work we can engage in. Itis so for five reasons:Vineyard work is the best work-in the first place,because of its EASE.Now, if you want to know whether any particularthing is hard or easy, you must look at two things aboutit ;'these are, the motive and the power you have for doingit. You must look at the motive. The motive fordoing a thing means the reason, or feeling, that leads usto do it. If you were a slave, and had some onestanding over you all the time, with a whip in his hand,ready to lash you at the very moment you didn't do justwhat he wanted you to do, then everything you did wouldbe hard, because your only motive for doing it would befear-the fear of the whip. But if you are a loving,obedient child, and you have a dear mother who is veryill, nothing that you can be asked to do for her will seemhard. And the reason is, that you love your mother somuch. Love is the motive, or feeling, that leads you todo for her whatever is required of you-and everything iseasy that we do for love.We read in the Bible that before Jacob married Rachel,his wife, he agreed to work for her father for seven years,if he would give his consent to their marriage. It wasreal hard work that he had to do, but it seemed very lightand easy to Jacob. Seven years are a long time. Butthey seemed very short to Jacob, only 'like a few days.'It was the motive which made it so. He was working for
THE BEST WORK.love, and love makes everything easy. And if we areworking in God's vineyard, as He would have us work,we shall be working for love. St. Paul was an earnestvineyard worker, and when speaking of the motive whichled him to work, he said-' the love of Christ constrainethus.' If we are real Christians we shall love Jesus morethan any one else in the world; and our love for Him willbe the motive that. will lead us to work in His vineyard,and this motivewill make the work easy.But then, we must look at the power or strength wehave, to do anything, before we'can tell whether it will behard'-or easy. You may love your parents very much, butif they give you a bar of iron as thick as your wrist, andask you to break it across your knee, you can't do it.Why not I Because you have no power to do it. Any-thing is easy if you have a good motive, and sufficient powerto do it. Suppose I should tie your hands together with asingle piece of thread; you could break it in a minute.You have power to do that. It would be very easy. Butsuppose I should tie your hands together with a piece ofcord as thick as your little finger. You might wriggle andtwist' about all the day, and never get them loose. Itwould not be easy to do that-and why I Because youhave no power or strength to do it.If you should load a large waggon with wood or coal, andattach a team of dogs to it, could they pull it No.Why not I Because they have no power. But put a teamof four or six stout horses to it: could they pull it t Yes,with ease-because they have power to do it. And now,.suppose you should take the horses from the waggon, andfasten them to a long train of heavily loaded railway trucks;could they move it I Not an inch. They have no power.But attach a large locomotive to it. Kindle the fire. Getup the steam. Start it. Hark! there's a snort-and agrut-and a puff-puff-puff-and away it goes-just
44 THE BEST THINGS.| as easily as you or I can snap our fingers. It is easy forthe locomotive to draw the heavy train, because it haspower or strength enough to do it. And this is whatmakes vineyard work easy. There is a good motive andplenty of power to do it. Jesus has promised to help us.He has said-' I will help thee.' He will put His graceand spirit in our hearts, and this will make everythingeasy. Jesus said-' My yoke is easy, and my burdenlight.' When St. Paul was on earth, he said-'I can do,- all things through Christ strengthening me.' This is theright-way to do vineyard work. We must pray for Jesusto help us. There is a right way and a wrong way to dovineyard work, just as there is for everything-else. Theright way is easy: the wrong way is hard. Why, if youeven try to plane a piece of board, or stroke the back of akitten the wrong way, you will find it hard and disagree-able. But do it the right way; and it will be smooth andpleasant. And it is the same with vineyard work we dofor God. Do it in the right way, and then you will havea good motive and plenty of power. This will make iteasy. And because of its ease, we may say that vineyardwork is the Best Work.It is so, in the second place, because of its VARIETY.In a vineyard there are a great many kinds of work tobe done. The soil must be dug up, and raked, andsmoothed. The vines must be planted, and transplanted.The. straggling branches must be trained in the right direc-tion, and tied to the posts which support them. The deadand useless branches must be cut off, and taken away.The weeds must be pulled up, and the stones gathered out.When the soil gets hard, it must be loosened. When it isdry, it must be watered. And all these different employ-ments afford a great variety of work, which must be doneif the vineyard is to be made fruitful.And just so it is in God's vineyard. There is a great
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THE BEST WORK. 45variety of work to be done here. There is work for angels,and work for men. All kinds of people may find some-thing to do. The ministers of the gospel are doing vine-yard work when they stand in their places and preach theunsearchable riches of Christ. The missionaries of thecross are doing vineyard work, when they go to heathenlands, and tell the benighted people there the wondrousstory of the Saviour's love. Sunday-school teachers aredoing vineyard work when they sit down with their classesto try to explain to them the wonderful things that are'ritten in God's blessed Word. Sunday-school childrenand others are doing vineyard work, when by labour andself-denial they earn or save money, and make an offeringto God, as we are doing to-day, in order to feed the hungry,and clothe the naked, and relieve :the distressed, and to sendthe gospel to those 'who are sitting in darkness and theshadow of death.' Tract-distributors are doing vineyardwork, when they-scatter the seed of God's truth along thehighways, or among the lanes and alleys of a crowded city.Visitors to the sick and poor are doing vineyard work,when, out of love to Jesus, they visit the fatherless andwidows in their distress,' ministering to their wants, andseaking words of kindness and comfort to them. Eachone of our own hearts is like a bed in this vineyard: andwhen we try to have our hearts cleansed from sin, throughthe blood of Jesus; when we are watching and striving.against bad tempers, and cross, ugly dispositions; when wepray for grace to overcome these, and try to be kind andgentle to all about us, and to show obedience and reverenceto our parents-then we are doing vineyard work. Surelythere is plenty of work here. There is work of everyvariety. The kings, and governors, and rulers of the earth,may all find vineyard work to do. And all the people whoare under them may likewise find employment here.Parents and' children, young and old, rich and poor, learned
THE BEST THINGS.and unlearned, may all find something to do in God'svineyard. If we only have the will, we shall soon find theway for doing something.' Uncle John,' said a little girl, about four or five yearsold, to her uncle,-a tall man, full six feet high, when he.rose up to go away-' Uncle John, do let me help you onwith your coat.' You are not big enough to do that yet,my dear child,' said her uncle. 'Well, then,' said littleMary, 'do let me fetch your hat and cane.' Mary wasresolved to do something for her uncle; and if she couldn'tdo one thing, she was quite ready to do another, And ifwe all had the same desire to work in God's vineyard thatlittle Mary had to 'help her uncle, we should all find some-thing to do. There is no other work in the world thatcan give employment to everybody; but the work of God'svineyard can. People sometimes think, that because theyonly have a little time, or a little money, or a little strength,it is not worth while for them to try to do any vineyardwork. But this is a mistake. There is great power inlittle things, and there is no place where the power of littlethings can be employed so well as in God's vineyard.What a little thing a threepenny piece is Now, let metell you about two threepenny pieces. One was not em-ployed in vineyard work, and it did a great deal of harm.The other was so employed, and it did a great deal of good.There.was once a threepenny piece lying upon the floor;an idle boy picked it up, and though he knew it was nothis, he put it in his pocket, and thought it was nice funto spend it for his own gratification. Not long after this,-he stole-a shilling; and so went on till he became a con-firmed thief. At last in one of his robberies, he committedmurder, and was condemned to death. In his confession,he said that he looked back to his first theft of the three-penny piece as the beginning of his downward course, andthe cause of all his misery and crime.
i'- f tTHE BEST WORK. 47There was another threepenny piece: this was notstolen; it was given to a little boy, who resolved to em-ploy it in vineyard work. He bought some tracts with it,and had them put into a box of things that were to be sentto a missionary in India. The son of a great chief in theinterior of India, was stopping at the house of the mission-ary. The wife of the missionary taught the youth to read,*and gave him one of the little boy's tracts. The readingof that tract made the young chief a Christian. When hewent back to hlis mountain home, he took that tract, and- mnany others, with him. He scattered them among thepeople of his native place. They were-read by multitudes,and in one year from that time fifteen hundred peoplein that neighbourhood had given up the worship of idols,and were inquiring about the religion of Jesus. And if alittle boy with a single threepenny piece could do so muchgood, surely nobody can be too young, or too poor, to workin God's vineyard. It is the Best Work, because of its. va-rety.It is so, in the third place, because of its vsl.Sometimes people engage in works that cost a great dealQof money, and occupy a great length of time, and yet when' -ihed they are of no sort of use to anybody. You havefiha rd about the Pyramids of Egypt. These are great[ .works. They were built by some of the kings of Egypt,hundreds of years ago. It must have taken a-long timeto build them. I suppose that millions of pounds andhundreds of valuable lives were spent in building them.The largest of them covers an enormous space of ground.It is built of solid stone. The top of it is more thantwice as high as the steeple of this church. And yet,- after all the time, and money, and labour spent in build-. ing them, the Pyramids never were of the least use to anyone,B u it is very different with work ,done in God's vine-~[
48. THE BEST THINGS.yard. This is always of great use. Look at that faithfulvineyard worker, John Williams, the Martyr Missionary ofErromanga How great was the usefulness of his labours !He began to work among the beautiful islands of the Pacificocean. Darkness then covered these islands, and grossdarkness the people.' They were full of cruelty and blood-shed. But before his death, for two thousand miles aroundfrom where he first began his labours, nearly all the islandshad received the gospel. In one of his missionary voyageshe left two native teachers on a certain island. The in-habitants of that island were all degraded heathen, andsavages of the fiercest kind. Their only employment waswar. Their highest delight was the cannibal feasts, inwhich they eagerly devoured the roasted bodies of theirslaughtered captives. In eighteen months Mr. Williamsreturned to that island; and oh, what a change had takenplace The idols had been broken to pieces. The templesin which they were worshipped had been thrown down !The people had beaten their swords into ploughshares, andtheir spears into pruning-hooks. They learned war nomore. They held no more cannibal feasts. But insteadof these things, schools had been formed. A church hadbeen built, and the people were learning to cultivate theground, to practise industry, and live in peace.At a missionary meeting held by Mr. Williams at oneof those islands, a chief got up to make a speech. Hearwhat he said :--' Praise to God well becomes us. We were dwellingformerly in a dark house, among centipedes, and lizards,and spiders, and rats; nor did we know what loathsomethings were around us. But the lamp of light-theWord of God-has been.brought, and now we behold withdismay and disgust those abominable things. But stopsome are killing each other this very day, while we arerejoicing; some are destroying their children, while we
THE BEST WORK.49are saving ours; some are burning themselves in the fire,while we are bathing in the cool waters of the gospel !'There we see how useful this vineyard work is. Butanother chief is making a speech in one of their missionarymeetings. Hear what he says:-' Formerly there were two captivities among us; onewas a captivity to bur gods, the other to the servants ofour king. What the former of these was we all know. Iknow the very cave in which one person now at this meet-ing hid himself several times, when he was sought afterto be offered up as a sacrifice to the gods. The other cap-tivity was to the servants of our chiefs. These wouldenter our houses and take whatever they wanted. Themaster of the house would sit, like a poor captive, withoutdaring to speak, while they would seize his rolls of cloth,kill the fattest of his pigs, pluck the best of his bread-fruit, and take the very posts of his house for firewoodwith which to cook them. But now, through the gospelof Jesus, all these customs are done away. We do notnow hide our pigs under our beds, nor use our rolls ofcloth for pillows, to secure them. Our pigs may now runwhere'they please, and our property may hang in ourhouses, and no one touches it.'Here, again, we see the use of work done in God'svineyard.But see what good this work did for one man; andthere are thousands for whom it has done the same. Therewas an old chief in the island of Raiatea, whose name.wasMe. He had been a great warrior. He had fought manybattles, and had often feasted on the flesh of his enemies.In the last battle he fought, before the arrival of Mr.Williams, he received a wound which left him totallyblind. When the gospel was preached on his nativeisland, the old blind chief was one of the first who feltits power and became a Christian. Then he was veryD
- -, -: --:I50 TH BEST THI~GS.earnest to hear and learn all he-could-about the Bible.He was always in his place at church, and.at the Sunday-school, that he might hear the Scriptures read and ex-plained. And, by persevering diligence, in this way hemanaged to store his mind with many of the precious pro-mises of God's Word. He lived a consistent, happy, Chris-tian life for several years. On returning from one of hisvoyages, Mr. Williams missed old Me from church, andhearing that he was ill, he went to see him. On enteringthe blind man's hut, the missionary said, Me, I am sorryto find you so ill.'The sick man exclaimed, 'Is that you 1 Do I reallyhear your voice again before I die Now I shall diehappy !'. .Mr. Williams told him that he had not long to live,and asked him how he felt at the thought of dying.Mark his reply:-'I have been in great trouble this morning, but I amhappy now. I thought I saw an immense mountain\withsteep sides. I tried to climb it, but when I had got upsome distance I lost my hold, and fell to the bottom.Wearied with toil, and sad with disappointment, I went toa distance and sat down to weep; but while I was weep-ing I saw a drop of blood fall on that mountain, and in amoment it vanished away.'Here he paused. Mr. Williams asked him what hemeant by-this. That mountain,' said he, was lmy sins.Thedrop which fell upon it was one drop of the preciousblood of Christ, by which the mountain of my guilt hasbeen melted away.'How clear How simple- How true! How beautiful!The missionary often visited the old, chief, 'and alwaysfound him cheerful and happy; longing to depart and bewith Christ.During one of these visits, Mr. Williams was sitting by
^irL: ;THE BEST WORK. 51i I' bed-side, the sick man had been repeating many.sweet passages of Scripture. At 'last he exclaimed witheniergy :- '- death; where is thy sting ?' Then his voice' falteredhis eyes became fixed, his hands dropped, and hisspirit departed to be with that Saviour, one drop of whose* blood had melted away the mountain of his guilt.Thus died poor old Me, the blind warrior of Raiatea.It was vineyard work which carried the gospel to him.Was 'not that work useful I.- it'ieef ypu may say, 'Ah, yes, all this isthe work-:i rd;ined mnissionary far off among the heathen; but-' --i: ihat is the .use of vineyard work here, at home, amongourselves.?' Now, this is just the point I want to cometo. I am preaching to you, my dear children, and I want-to.speak of vineyard work that you may do. Well, then,the exercise of gentleness and forbearance between brothersand sisters iS vineyard work, and there is great use in- this.. There was once a man, whom I shall call Peter-Peevish.That was not his real name, but the story is a true one.V eter was one of the most cross, ill-natured men that-ever: !was misery to be near-him. He was all the time- grumbling and snarling, and finding fault with everythingabout him. Nothing seemed to please him. He was un-' happy himself, and he made every one about him unhappya- too. There-was no peace nor comfort in his home.Nothing was heard there but angry words and bitterp peeches. His wife and children all seemed to partake ofhis peevishness; and such a thing as a pleasant look, or a. kind, gentle word, was unknown among them.One day Peter was going home more peevish, if possible,thafi usual, owing to some disappointment that he had met'with. But on his way he happened to m(et a bright,-+ ishiny little girl, whose mild blue eyes and loving face
THE BEST THINGS.formed such a picture of out-speaking kindness as he hadseldom seen. An incident occurred in connexion with thislittle girl, which led to a complete change in Peter's mind,and gave rise to an entirely new set of feelings in his un-happy breast. The little girl and- her brother, somewhatolder than herself, were playing with a small carriage,which belonged to the boy. In suddenly turning near astone step, the child accidentally struck the carriage againstthe corner of the step, and broke it into atoms. In asudden burst of anger the boy came up and struck hissister a severe blow in the face with his clenched hand,and stamped his feet on the ground in a great rage. Butinstead of hitting him back again, or calling him hardnames, after a cry of pain which she could not help, thenoble girl laid her head gently on her brother's arm, andlooking sorrowfully into his flushed face, said softly,'Oh, brother Tom, I didn't think you would do that.' Ina moment, as if stung by a sharp arrow, the boy shrunkback, and hung down his head in shame at what he haddone. Then he threw his arms round the little girl's neck,and burst into tears, as he said-' Forgive me, my dearsister, and I '1 never do so again.'Peter looked on in amazement while this took place.He knew not what to make of it. It was something quitenew to him. He felt thoroughly ashamed of his ownpeevish, wicked temper. He saw how wrong it was togive way to such a temper. He prayed for help to over-come it, and by the grace of God he became an entirelydifferent man. Now it was vineyard work which thatlittle girl performed, when she exercised gentleness andforbearance towards her offending brother, and you see howuseful that work was.To show kindness to the distressed and afflicted is vine-yard work, and there is great use in this.A poor woman was sitting on the steps of a dark prison,
-: X THE BEST WORK. 53weeping bitterly over the sentence which had just beenpronounced upon her ruined son.'What aileth thee, my friend?' said a gentleman,stopping before her, and taking her hand kindly in his.' My heart is broken, sir !' she replied.'Can I do anything for you .' he asked.'No, sir, nothing,' was her sad response.'Well, God can help you, my friend, and I will go home'and ask Him to do it.'Iti was a very little thing that he did; it neitherclothed nor fed the poor woman; but those few kind. words, gently spoken, fell like healing balm on the woundedspirit of that sorrowing woman. She arose strengthened,and went to her lonely home. And when she knelt inprayer to pour out her grief to Him who careth for us,'she felt that a brother had been there before her. Herprayers were answered-her spirit was calmed.That gentleman was doing vineyard work when he spokethose.words of kindness to that distressed and afflictedwoman, and it was a useful work.* Self-denial for the good of others is vineyard work, andthere is great use in this.Little Johnny had a long Sunday-school lesson to learn,but he tried hard, and said it without a single mistake.So his father gave him a threepenny piece. A veryhappy boy was he when he ran down the street, to thetoy-shop, to buy a nice top which he had longed to havefor a good while.He had not gone far when he saw a boy with a largebasket of oranges on his arm, standing at the door of a7- " small house. Johnny stopped to look; he did not meanto buy any, for he thought a red top was better than anyorange that ever grew. A little cripple sat in the door ofthe house, looking longingly on the golden fruit. 'Odear !. I wish I had a penny to buy one,' he said, 'they
54 TH9 BEST THINGS.-look so nice. But the poor cripple had no money, andthe orange-seller walked on. Johnny walked slowly afterhim.. I '11 buy that lame child an orange,' he said to him-self; 'no, I won't though; for if I do I can't get thattop. 0 dear I wish I had four pence instead of three,then I would get him one; he can't play as I can.' Thushe went on thinking to himself; but soon he started offon a run after the boy with the oranges. Stop, stop !':cried Johnny, I want to buy three oranges;' and he heldout his piece of money. The boy gave him the fruit and'went on. Johnny hurried back to where the lame boysat, with his head resting on his hands. He put theoranges in the cripple's lap, .saying, Here they are, don'tcry;' and ran home before the poor boy had time to thankhim.- 'Where is your top, Johnny i' asked his mother, whenhe got home. Then he told her how he had spent hismoney. 'God bless you, my dear boy,' said his mother,laying her hand on his curly head; and may He- teachyou, more and more, the blessed lesson of denying yourself,so that you may help them that need.' Johnny was farhappier, in having pleased the poor helpless cripple, thanif he had bought the prettiest top that ever was made.In doing so, he was denying himself for the good of others.This is real vineyard work, and there is great use in it.It is the best work, because of its use.t'is the best work, in the fourth place, because of itsHONOUR.Two things connected with any work make it honour-able-if it is done for a great master; and if there aregreat helpers to assist in doing it.Now, the work of which we are speaking is done for agreat master. God is the Master of the Vineyard inwhich this work is done. He is a great Master. It isthe highest honour to work for him.
HEE BEST. WORK.&5- You all know that England is governed by Queen Vic-toria. She is the highest person in the country. If sheengages a shoemaker to furnish shoes for herself andfamily, very soon that man will have a new and elegantsign painted. And if his name is John Smith, then youwillsee the royal arms put up over his shop door, and wordslike these:--'By appointment-John Smith, Shoemaker4q Her Majesty and the Royal Family.' And the Queen'smilliner :.will- do the same; and so .will her dressmaker,andser.glo6einaker; and so will the person who fur-~- S her 'with knives and forks, or crockery-ware, or.books and writing-paper, or groceries, or other goods. Ifyou ever go through the streets of London, you will see indifferent places, some stores of every kind, the owners ofwhich will have on their signs-' Makers to Her Majesty.'And the reason is, that it is thought the greatest honour tomake or furnish anything for the Queen. But what is anyearthly king or queen compared with the Lord our God ?Every kind of vineyard work that we do is work done forHim. Every faithful minister preaches for God. Everyrue Sunday school teacher is a teacher for God. Andwhether we are labouring in this way, or are visitingthe sibk, or.relieving the poor, or making offerings to sendthe.gospel to the heathen, we are working for God. Heis a Great Master, and it is the highest honour we canhave to do any work for Him.But then, great helpers, too, tend to make a workhonourable. Peter the Great, the Emperor of Russia,-wanted to introduce shipbuilding and other useful artsinto his kingdom. So he disguised himself, and went tolive a while in other countries to learn them himself. Heactually hiredhimself out as a shipbuilder. He was un--known at first. But when the workmen found out whohe was, they thought it was a great honour to have 'anemperor working with them. And so it was. But when
56 THE BEST T.HIN6GS.we are doing God's work, the holy angels are our helpers.The Bible tells us that these happy beings are all minis-tering spirits'-this means servants or helpers-' sent forthtb minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.' Wecannot see them when they come or go; but they areabout us continually. I have no doubt there are angelspresent in this church this afternoon. Yes, and if thesouls of the departed are permitted to come back to earth,I am sure the spirit of our dear friend and fellow-teacher,who was with us at our last anniversary, is also present onthis occasion. Surely, my dear children, it is an honourto have such helpers as the angels. God is our Master.In doing vineyard work we are working for Him. This isan honour. The angels are our helpers. They are work-ing with us. This is an honour. Vineyard work is thebest work because of its honour.It is so, lastly, because of its PorFIT.People sometimes have to work hard, and get very poorpay. There is no profit in such work. But it is not sowith the work done in God's vineyard. The Bible tellsus that 'in keeping His commandments there is greatreward.'There is profit in the work itself. God's people loveHis work, and find great pleasure in it.A missionary once went out to India. He left a com-fortable home and wealthy friends. He had to work hardand endure many trials. Some of his friends at homethought that perhaps he was sorry for having gone, andwould be glad to come back. So they wrote to knowhow he felt about it. Here is an extract from a letterwhich he wrote in reply:-'Our work is hard. It taxes both body and mind.What our reward will be hereafter we know not. But onething we do know. If we receive no other reward than.what is given us here every day, there is no other work on
?-THE BEST WORK. 57earth that pays so well. In all the pursuits of this world,even in my childhood hours, I never have found so muchreal pleasure as in preaching Christ, the way, the truth,and the life, to these perishing heathen. It is a workthat perfectly satisfies the cravings of my soul; and as Ipursue it I can cheerfully sing-.." Go then, earthly fame and treasure,Come disaster, scorn, and pain' In Christ's service pain is pleasure,- E-- With His fayour loss is gain."'There is profit following the work in this life.No one ever loses anything by working for God. 'Hethat hath pity on the poor lendeth to the Lord, and thatwhich he hath given will he pay him again.' This is God'spromise. It never was broken yet. It never will be broken.A gentleman once bought a beautiful new piano, andhad it sent home to his house. Some of his friends metin his parlour in the evening to try it. Various tunes wereplayed upon it.' Every one admired it for the beauty ofits appearance and the richness of its tone.'Yes, said the gentleman, 'but-the best part of it is,that it only.cost me two pounds.'This drew forth looks of astonishment and exclamationsof wonder.' Let me tell you the story connected with this piano,'said he.' A few years ago I went to Chicago. I had been there-but a few days when, in one of my morning walks, I en-countered a girl some twelve years old. She was an intel-ligent, bright-eyed child, but her face wore such a sorrow-ful expression that I almost stopped to speak with' her asshe passed. The morning air was raw and chilly. The-ground was wet from. a slight fall of snow; and I noticed,as the wind blew her thin garments about her form, that
THIMS.- THE BEST'she shivered. with the cold. As she went by she halfturned, and I had gone but a little way when I heard quickfootsteps behind me,-and stopping, the girl lifted- herhand as if to place it on my arm; but, drawing back, shesaid:-'"Please, sir, if you could give me a little money tobuy bread ?""Are you hungry ?" I asked.'" Yes, sir-real hungry;" and her lip quivered.' "Doesn't your father work and bring home bread 2"' "Father is sick," she said, "and mother sprained herarm; and my brother, who used to help us, was drownednot long ago."'Something in my heart and in her face told me thather story was true. I took her to a baker's shop, badeher hold out her tattered. apron, and filled it with loaves.Then putting a sovereign into the baker's hand, I arranged-with him that the poor family was to have bread everymorning till the money was used up. Then I slippedanother sovereign into the girl's hand, and turned hastilyaway from her tear-filled eyes.'Well, then, two pounds were gone, and I was by nomeans rich enough to spare it; but- I felt as if no doubtthe Lord would make it up; and at any rate it was. cheapenough for the rare pleasure of giving help and comfort toGod's poor. I went back to my hotel just in time forbreakfast. I was no sooner seated than I felt a hand laidon my elbow, and, looking up, there sat an old friend Ihad not met for fourteen years. When I last saw him, hewas a young man just starting into life, with little meansand few friends.' "I have not grown rich," he said, after the first sur-prise was over, "but I am able to pay my debts. Do youremember one day, fourteen years ago, you lent me twopounds in my extremity, and told me never to pay it unless1:ii
- ~ -: THE BESTWORK. S9 4THE BEST WORK. 59I was able I have often tried to find your address, but-could not. Here is the money, and I am sorry that Icannot double it, for your kindness to me when in trouble."'I was very much affected, for I had totally forgottenhis obligation; but I could not refuse the just return.Truly, I thought, giving to the Lord does not impoverish,even in worldly means; and I said to myself, " I will seewhat this money will bring me. So I made a little invest-ment with it in new land, and went on my way. Threeweeks-ago- had au offer of one hundred pounds for my:ws t:of l land & I accepted it; and as we.had long beeniwnting a piano, I have bought this with the fruit of my: two pounds, given to the poor." '' Did you ever see the poor girl again, papa i' asked thegentleman's little daughter.'No, my dear: but I have heard of her through aGerman missionary. She is a good scholar, and teaches aschool herself now, in Chicago. She has become a hand--some and refined young woman, and is educating her onlybrother, younger than herself I learned that my littlegift put new life into the sinking heart of the poor sick-- father, and the nourishment procured with some of themoney gave strength to his weak frame. The father ob-tained employment; the little brother found work to do inan office'; and the little girl obtained the favourable noticeof a celebrated pianist, who saw that she possessed musicalgifts of high order, so that by his teaching she became ableto support herself. Thus, you see, that money made awhole family happy, grateful, and useful, and bought methis beautiful instrument.'This was vineyard work, with profit following it in thislife.- And then there is profit following vineyard work in thelife to come. There is a beautiful passage from the Bible,always used in our burial- service, when we stand at the
60 THE BEST TrINGS.graves of our departed friends: Blessed are the dead whodie in the Lord; yea, saith the Spirit, for they rest fromtheir labours, and their works do follow them.' But howdo their works follow them ? In the profit resulting fromthem; in the rewards they will receive from Jesus, at thetime of His coming again. Those rewards will be great,glorious, everlasting.My dear children, I want you all to be engaged inthis blessed work. You need not wait till you grow older.You are all old enough to engage in this work. Godwishes you to begin at once. He says-' Go work, to-day,in my vineyard.' There is work for the youngest of youto do. Let us all try to act according to these simplelines, with which I will close this subject:-'I may, if I have but a mind,Do good in many ways;Plenty lo do the young may find,In these our busy days.Sad would it be, though young and small,If I were of no use at all.One gentle word that I may speak,Or one kind, loving deed,May, through a trifle poor and weak,Prove like a tihy seed;And who can tell what good may springFrom such a very little thing !' Then let me try, each day and hour,To act upon this plan,-What little good is in my power,To do it while I can;If to be useful thus I try,I may do better by and by.'
? -IV.f C^ Iks bet (arfix.'Overcome evil with good..'-RoMAsts xI. 21.-: 0f b overcome means to conquer,-to-get the vic-tory over some person, or thing. Before aperson can overcome another he must have a_f~fir struggle, or fight, with him, as David had-with Goliath. The way in which fighting has been donehas differed very much in different, ages.In old times, before a soldier went out to fight, he usedto have his body covered all over with armour. He wouldhave a sort of coat, made out of brass or steel, for theupper part of his body. ie would have plates of brass orsteel,.fitted together like the scales of a fish, for his lowerlimbs. He would have a helmet or cap, of iron or brass,for his: had, and a shield to carry before him. Then hewould arm himself with a sword and spear, and so hewould go forth to battle.But now, since fire-arms have been introduced, this old-fashioned armour is laid aside. It will not protect men-from bullets and cannon-balls, and so it is of little use.Our soldiers, when they go out to battle, are armed withswords, muskets, rifles, and pistols.But it is a very different kind of warfare from this thatSt. Paul is speaking of in our text. No sword or spear,no gun or club, or even a sling and stone, is needed here;our text tells us to overcome evil with good.' The goodhere spoken of means kindness, or goodness. In the verse61
62 T E BES rTHINGS.before the one of which we are speaking, we read, If thineenemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: forin so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head- This refers to the way in which hard metals are melted.They are put in what is called a crucible,-that is, avessel made on purpose to bear the greatest amount of heat.This vessel is set upon charcoal, and charcoal is heaped upall around it, and over the top of it. The coal is then seton fire, a very great heat is raised, and the hard metal inthe crucible is melted down into a liquid form, and theartist can do anything he pleases with it.Now this is the way in which God would have us sub-due our enemies. By surrounding them with acts of kind-ness, he would -have us soften them down, just as themetal melts in the crucible, under the heat of the charcoalfire; and this is the meaning of the words, overcome evilwith good.' This is the Best Warfare. It is so for fivereasons.In the first place, to 'overcome evil with good' is THECHEAPEST WARFARE.War is one of the dearest things that men have to dowith. It costs the United States Government thirtymillions of dollars, every year, for the army and navy,to keep them ready to fight by land or by sea.Some'years since that Government found it necessary todrive a few Indians out of Florida. A small army wassent-there to do it; but -before they got through, it costfdrty millions of dollars.When England was engaged in fighting with NapoleonBonaparte, it cost that country two hundred thousandpounds every day. It costs'the nations of Europe, to keepup their preparations for war, two hundred millions of-pounds every year. We can form no idea how many athousand millions of pounds are. But we know it is afrightful sum to pay, just for the sake of killing men.
.2.X t- -.. -.. ':-THE BEST -WARFARE. 63W- y, withavery small part of that money we could clothefeed .all the poor. people in the world, and take care of-all.the sick, and teach all the ignorant, and build churches,l 'asend missionaries wherever they were needed, and givea- copy of the Bible to every heathen..rom'au this we see what a costly thing war is. But,-- -to'veconme eil .with good' is a very cheap warfare. Iti. t is. tesaO IuyJ anygxms, orAwids, in, order to^iAda^ i~ e wde or. Ashot is needed; love andBL~s p -weapons sed.in this warfare,-and:iakes it so very cheap. Kind words costnd actions cost next to nothing. If theia'l d should engage in this warfare, and try to-' overcome all evil with good, it would not cost as much asi 9ur government has to pay for the support of a single regi-' mient of soldiers. Overcoming evil with good is the BestI Warfare, because it is the cheapest.' -,In' the second place, this is the Best Warfare, because iti.aHERPEASANTET.. ... The: other warfares in which men engage are very un--'i::. ,~ o:au ythings help.to make them so. Let usa ^m;ent ilat some of these.. ::' : ki: of war make it -unpleasant. Soldiers.aak along and fatiguing journeys, with heavyoi their backs. This was the case in a remark-~ ~manmer *with the English army, in putting down the' ~eeent rebellion in India. The poor soldiers had to marchmany miles a day, under a burning sun, and carrying theirh eavy muskets and knapsacks. Great numbers of themwere so overcome by the heat of the sun, and the fatigueof fjtheir journey, that they dropped down dead, as they: ent toiling on their way.' : u. pe*rhaps, nothing ever occurred to .show the un--peaatnassr war, in this respect, so sadly as what we|: r-eaoibou in theretreat of Napoleon's army from, Moscow.
64THE BEST THINGS.-It'took place in the midst of a Russian winter,-and win-ter there is much more severe than with us. The armylost all their baggage, and without shelter or food, the poorfellows, who had followed their Emperor on this expedition,were obliged to begin their long and dreary homewardmarch, with a powerful 'enemy hanging about them, andshooting them down as they went, by hundreds and thou-sands. And with frost and snow, and all the horrors of aRussian winter let loose upon them, they were frozen stiff,or killed by hunger and fatigue. The roads by which theypassed were strewed thick with the dead bodies of miserablemen, left unburied, to be food for the hungry wolves. Oh,how dreadful this is to think of! This shows, indeed, howunpleasant a thing war is.But there is no toil, or labour, like this connected withthe warfare of which we are speaking. Here, the enemyagainst whom we have to fight is Evil.' But where shallwe find this enemy 1- We may find it in the ugly tempersand dispositions, either in our own hearts and lives, or thehearts and lives of those around us. We have no toilsomejourney to undertake in order to find our enemy. Thatenemy is with us, or about us, at all times. In church, athome, by the wayside, at school, when playing, when work-ing, wherever we go, whatever we do, the enemy is alwaysat hand, and we may be carrying on this Best Warfarecontinually. It is the pleasantest warfare, because it isfree from the toil and labour which. generally attend allother warfare.Another thing which renders ordinary warfare unpleasantis the DANGER which attends it.War is a very dangerous employment. During the timeof battle hundreds of cannons, and thousands of guns,arefired off all the time. Every moment the soldier is indanger of having his head taken off by a cannon-ball, orhis heart pierced through with a bullet. Sometimes the
-. ''' ^THEE BEST WARFARE. 65.-bulletsfily ike hail, and men are mowed down before them; kee grass beneath the scythe. This must be very un-:7 pleasant. How strange it is that men are willing to face'all this danger, and oftentimes for the merest trifle.But there is no such danger as this in the best warfareof which we are speaking. Those-who engage in it areperfectly safe. Sometimes Satan, or wicked men, try toinjure those who are seeking to overcome evil with good;but God takes care of them, and will not suffer them to be: hurt. This is the reason why St. Peter asks the question,Who is he'that can harm you, if ye be followers of thatwhich is good 2' The Bible represents God as keeping His' people in the hollow of His hand, and guarding them as a-man guards the apple of his eye. It was the knowledgeof this which led David to say, 'The Lord is my light and" my salvation: whom, then, shall I fear l The Lord is thestrength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid V ThisBest.Warfare is safe and free from danger, and this makes; -it so pleasant.I'-* .-And,'theln, .another thing which- makes war unpleasant? ie"i'a:a a .suf ering. which it inflicts. -.'*' towaiak out on a field of battle, after tilef- f' i: S o'~what horrible sights we should see There; woued qbe great heaps of the slain. Some, perhaps, had- "been killed in a moment, without much pain. Others hadI been shockingly wounded, and died in lingering agony.We should find mangled bodies, and arms, and legs, lyingabout in every direction. We should see poor woundedmen, with broken limbs, all cut and gashed, sighing, andgroaning, and crying for help. Hospitals would be filledfrom that battle-field, and hundreds would be crippled andlamed for life. This is one of the things which makes warso unpleasant.But, in the Best Warfare,' nothing of this kind takesplace: no blood is shed here; no bones are broken; no"-' E
66 THE BEST THI-GS.wives are made widows;: no children made orphans. Thiswarfare heals wounds, but never inflicts them. It saveslife, but never destroys it. --There is no toil, no danger, nosuffering, in overcoming evil with good. This makes itvery pleasant. It is the Best Warfare, because it is thepleasantest.But, it is so, in the third place, because it is the MOSTEFFECTUAL.Perhaps you remember the fable of the dispute whichonce arose between the wind and the sun, as to which ofthem was the more powerful. They argued the matter fora long time, without coming to a satisfactory conclusion.At last they resolved to decide the matter by trying whichof them could first induce a-traveller, going along the road,-to part with his cloak. The wind tried first. He began -to blow as hard as he could; but the harder he blew thetighter the poor traveller wrapped his cloak around himThe wind blew till he was tired, and then gave up; butstill the traveller held on to his cloak.Then came the sun's turn. He shone with all hismight. As it grew warmer and warmer, the travellerheld his cloak more loosely about him. At length it grewso hot that he was glad to throw it aside altogether. Sothe sun proved stronger than the wind.Kindness will conquer when nothing else can.' Children,' said a kind father to his little family, as hetook a seat by the fireside, and gathered them round himfor a pleasant talk, which is the best way to kill anenemy -'Why, shoot him, to be sure,' said one.'No, stab him,' said a second.' No, starve him,' said a third.' But, I think,' said their father, 'I can show you abetter way than this. An enemy may be killed withouttaking from him his life, or shedding a single drop of his
THE BEST WARFARE. 67blood. Let me tell you a story to show how it may bedone.' here was a farmer, once, who was a very cross, surly,disagreeable man. Everybody in the neighbourhood knewhim, and everybody disliked him. He was sure to makethe most of whatever went wrong about him, and the pooroffender always met with severe punishment. There wasnot a boy in all the neighbourhood who didn't feel uncom-fortable as he passed his gate; and the poor dog thatbarked at his geese, or the neighbour's rooster that crowed,on his wall, was speedily visited either with the lash ofhis whip, or the shot from his gun. The very cat knewhis footsteps and slunk away from him in terror. He wasa complete pest, 'as much so to himself as to those abouthim. Every day brought him some fresh trouble, andfound him in continual " hot water;" indeed,, his very lifewas made up of broils.'After a time, a good Farmer Green came to live nearhim, and, as you may suppose, he was soon told the char-acter of his not bverpleasant neighbour."Well'" saiiehe -"if he 'shows off' on me, I'll very, sooikitthl n!' -' This.remark of Farmer Green's soon got afloat, andall sorts of things were said about it. He seemed the verylast man to "kill" any one, for his looks, and words, andactions, all told of a loving heart, which throbbed in hisbosom and directed-his life. Nobody could think for amoment of his becoming a murderer. Mr. Green's inten-tion, at length, came to the ears of the ill-natured farmer,and you may be very sure he was not at all pleased, aboutit. Everything he could do to tease, annoy, and even in-jure Mr. Green, was done; but, somehow or other, theman who was to " kill". this ugly-tempered farmer took itall in good part, and spoke as calmly and looked'as kindly- as ever.
, II68 HE BEST THINGS.' One day Mrs. Green sent to the wife of our surlyfriend a basket of nice plums; but her husband wouldn'tlet her have them, He told the person who brought them,very gruffly, that "it was only done to get some of hispears in return, and he wasn't going to give any of themaway."' At another time Mr. Green's team of oxen stuck fastin a bog, and when he asked his neighbour for a littlehelp, he told him, in a very rough way, that "he hadenough to do to mind his own business," and refused tohelp him.' "Never mind," said Green, to some one standing by,-" I'll kill him very soon,--see if I don't."Soon after this-the team of the ill-natured man was inthe same plight that his neighbour's had been in. Mr.Green saw it. He ran for his oxen and chains, and setoff to the bog. He spoke kindly, offered his help, andbegan to render it; but what did he receive in reply .Why, a fierce look, and an angry word, "I don't want anyof your help take your oxen away.""' No," said the other, " I must help you, for the nightis coming on, and what is bad enough by day, is ten timesworse in the dark." Away pulled the oxen and the men,and soon all was set right again.'A strange feeling did that rough, cross man carryhome with him that evening; something which he hadnever felt before. And a strange look did his wife givehim, as he said, " Peg, Farmer Green has killed me I Hesaid he would, and he has done it."' Yes, the " enemy" was "killed," without the loss of asingle life, or one drop of blood. He went in the morn- -ing to confess his ingratitude to his kind neighbour, andto ask his forgiveness; and the very man who had beennoted for nothing but his wickedness, became the friendof all'- '3
THE BEST WARFARE.69There is the greatest difference in the world betweenconquering by power, and conquering by kindness. Theformer is like building a dam across a stream of water.It may stop its flow for a little while, but presently thedam may give way, and then the stream will rush onwvith more force and fury than ever. Conquering by kind-ness is like drying up the springs which feed the stream.Conquering by power is like keeping a lion from doing-harm by chaining him; conquering by kindness keeps thelion from doing harm, by changing his nature and turninghim into a lamb.Let me give you an illustration of the power of kindnessin effectually subduing a hard heart.In a certain town in France there is a school for theinstruction and improvement of poor boys, who are foundwandering about the streets of Paris, without parentalcare. It. is supported by voluntary contributions. Theboys are taught all sorts of out-door and in-door work, andhave regular seasons for play and recreation. When anyone commits a fault requiring serious punishment, all theboys are assembled, as a sort of council, to deliberate anddeside on the kind of punishment to be inflicted; whichgenerally consists of imprisonment in a dungeon for anumber of days, without, of course, having any part in therecreations of the school.There are more than a hundred boys in this institution;-and there is one thing very singular in the disciplinethere used. After sentence is passed by the boys on anyoffender, under the approval of the director, the questionis put, Will any of you consent to become the patron ofthis offender,-that is, to take his place now, and sufferin his room and stead, while he goes free ?' And it sel-dom happens but that some -one is found to step forward,and ransom. the offender by undergoing his punishmentfor him. In this case the offender is required to act asB^.
F-MM 7 I- 2: -: ? ~ -,TLVG&-THN-ST Tfportr to his substitute, and carry his bread and water tohim; in his dungeon, during all the time of his captivity.The effect of this is generally found to be, that the mosthard-hearted boy is softened and subdued, by-seeing an-other actually, and willingly, enduring what he deservedto suffer.A remarkable 6ase occurred there not long ago. A boy,whose violent temper and bad conduct had caused him tobe turned out of several schools in Paris, and who waslikely to become an outlaw and a terror to all good people,was received into this institution, For a time the newscenes and society about him, and the constant variety ofpleasant occupations, seemed to have subdued his temper;but, at'length, his evil disposition showed itself; and, ina fit of anger, he drew a knife on a boy with whom he hadquarrelled, and stabbed him in the breast. The woundwas severe, but not mortal, and while the bleeding boy- was carried to the hospital, the rest of the inmates weresummoned to decide on what was to be done with theoffender; The boys agreed, at once, that he should in-i Stantly be dismissed from the school, and never allowed toenter it again. The director opposed this. He said thiswould certainly ruin the boy, and bring him, in a littlewhile, to the penitentiary, or the gallows. He asked themto think of some other punishment. They fixed upon along imprisonment. The usual question was asked, but noone offered take the place of the wicked boy, and hewas marched- off to prison.After some days the director reminded the boys of thiscase, and asked, Will no one become the patron of this-unhappy youth ?' After a'short silence a voice was heard,saying, 'I will.' The astonished boys looked round, andsaw the very youth coming forward who had been wounded,and who was just discharged from the sick ward. He wentto the dungeon and took the place of the would-be murriI
. 'THE BEST WARFARE. 7-iderer-(for had the boy's strength been equal to his passion,the blow would have been fatal, both boys being only nineor ten 'years old). At first the hardened offender seemed' unmoved by the strange kindness shown to him; but after he 7.had carried the food to his generous patron for' some time;after he had seen him still pale and feeble from the effectof his wound, 'suffering for his sake the loss of light, lilerty,and enjoyment, his stout heart began to melt. He struggledagainst it for a-while, but it was'no use, and at last he gaveup:a-nd, casting himself- at the feet of the director, he,-af3sed, and bewailed with bitter tears, the wickedness, of his heart, and expressed the determination to lead a dif-ferent life for the time to come.Now, no force or power in the world could have pro-duced such an effect upon this boy as this kindness did.He might have been locked up in dungeons, or loaded withchains, and yet have had a murderer's heart all the time.But when the 'evil' in his nature was 'overcome withgood,' it was effectually overcome.- To- 'overcome evil with good' is the Best Warfare,because it is the most effectual. .:t, min the fourth place, this is the Best Warfare, be-cause -it is 'M MOST HONOURABLE.Beasts and men conquer by force, or power, but God con-quers bylove. The eagle and the hawk conquer weaker birds,how ?--by power. The lion, the. tiger, and the bear con-quer weaker animals, how 1-by power. Strong nations con-quer weaker ones, how 2-by power. If we try to conquerothers by power, we are imitating animals, or men. If wetry to conquer by kindness or love, we are imitating God.Those great men-killers, Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon,tried- to conquer the world by power. They destroyedthousands and millions of their fellow-creatures, but theydid not succeed in conquering the world. Jesus is trying- o conquer the world by love, -He is succeeding. He will
THE BEST .HINGS.succeed. Jesus has more power than all the men in theworld, and all the angels in heaven, put together. But Hedoes not conquer men by telling them of His,power. Hehas a dreadful prison into which He will put His enemies.But He does not conquer men by telling them about thatprison. Jesus has wonderful love for sinners. He camefrom heaven to show it. He was born a poor child, anderadled in a manger, to show it. He was nailed to thecross, in bitter agony, to show it. And it is the power ofthis love which makes people Christians. Jesus conquersby love. It was the love of Jesus which conquered St.Paul, when he was hastening to Damascus to persecute theChristians; and millions on millions since then, both youngand old, rich and poor, have been conquered in the sameway. Jesus is the most honourable of all persons: What-ever tends to make us like Him is honourable. Butnothing does this more than the exercise of kindness.Let me give you an illustration of two kinds of revenge.The one was returning evil for evil; the other was over-coming evil with good.. You may judge which is themore- lonourable of the two.Two men, living in the southern part of Africa, had aquarrel, and became bitter enemies to each other. After awhile one of them found a little girl, belonging to hisenemy, the woods, at some distance from her father'shouse. He seized her and cut off both her hands; and ashe sent her home screaming, with her bleeding wrists, hesaid to her, 'I have -had my revenge.'Years passed away. The little girl had grown up to bealmost a young woman. One day there came to herfather's door, a poor, worn-out, grey-headed old man, whoasked for something to eat. She knew him at once as thecruel man who had cut off her hands. She went into thehut, and ordered the servant to take him bread and milk, asmuch as he could eat, and sat down and watched him eat it,
THE BEST WARFARE. 73When he had finished she dropped the covering that hidher handless wrists from view, and holding them up beforehim she exclaimed, I have had my revenge !' repeating thevery sentence he had uttered when he so cruelly maimedher. The man was, overwhelmed with surprise andhumiliation. The secret of it was, that, in the meantime,the girl had become a Christian, and had learned the mean-ing of the verse just before our text :-' If thine enemyhunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in sodoing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.' How-beautiful the conduct of this injured Christian girl appears,in contrast with that of her heathen enemy !In the courts of earthly kings it is always esteemed hon-ourable to do as the king does. Jesus is our King. Heconquers by kindness. When we overcome evil with good,'therefore, we are like Jesus. There is no honour in theworld like this. This is the Best Warfare, then, becauseit is the most honourable.There is only one other reason of which I would speak.To overcome evil with good' is the Best Warfare, becauseALL MAY ENGAGE IN IT.When they are enlisting soldiers for an army, they willonly take men. And these, too, must be men of a parti-cular character. They must not be too old, or too young.Generally they will not take any under eighteen years ofage, or over fifty. Women or children, the lame, the sick,the blind, the aged, will not answer to go to war. Theymust be men of a proper age, strong, able-bodied,, andhearty.But it is very different with the warfare of which weare now speaking. In this, any and all may engage. Oldand young, women and children, sick and lame, may take-part here, as well as strong men. The smallest child mayengage in it. A visitor once went into a school in thecity of Boston. There he saw a boy and girl, who were/I
te l: Mx 'istea ^sitting on the same seat. The little:- by'ws veaediat something his sister had done, and strucki er a btlow. The'little girl was provoked, and raised herhand to strike him again. Her face was red with anger,and her clenched fist was aimed at her brother, when the- teacher caught her eye. Stop, my dear,' said he, 'you'had better kiss your brother than strike him.'The look and the word reached her heart. Her handdropped. She threw her arms round his-neck and kissed-him. The boy was moved. He could have stood against-the blow. He expected that; but a kiss was unexpected.He could not stand against a sister's kiss. He thought ofthe wrong he had done her, with the return she had made,-and he -tears rolled down his cheeks.. His sister wipedaway his tears with her little handkerchief. hBut her-kindness only made-him cry the faster; he was completelysubdued. This little girl had engaged in the Best Warfare.The most ignorant and weak-minded persons may engagein it.There was once a half-witted young man, named Amos.The gentleman for whom he worked had a little boy namedWillie. Poor Amos was feeble-minded, and could notthink much for himself; yet he was tender-hearted, oblig-ing, and affectionate. No matter how tired he might be,he was always ready to help any one who wanted help.HiS-temper was so cheerful that a few pleasant wordswold aiake hi- happy, and it took but little kindness towia-hislo ve. -' bi. ?And yet, because he was weak-minded, some bad boyswould make fun of him, tease him, and frighten him.Willie did so. He played a great many provoking tricksupon Amos. Among the rest, he would sometimes frightenhim by slyly creeping under his bed at night, moving it,,and making strange sounds. This would.alarm Amos so,'that he would moan, and cry, and pray, in his own way,
THE BEST WARFARE. 75-most'pitifully. It is very sad that Willie should havedone so cruel and wicked a thing.It was so ordered that Willie had a long and painfulsickness. He was by turns in great distress, and delirious.He would have no one do anything for him but his parentsand Amos. It was touching then to see the tenderness,self-sacrifice, and devotedness of the ill-treated Amos. Heshrunk from nothing which might relieve or gratify thesick boy; he taxed his feeble powers of thought and in-vention to the uttermost, to try and please him. Nightafter night he watched faithfully by his side;, and whenthe little invalid was restless and weary of his -couch, hewould take him carefully in his strong arms, and walk upand down with him, and soothe his weariness.-But the most touching thing of all was to hear Amospray for him. When he thought he was alone withWillie, he would kneel down and pour out his heart toGod for him. He had never been taught to pray; butthough his words were incorrect, he could express hisreverence for the great Being whom he addressed, and tellHim. his wants. In the most solemn and earnest tones hesaid, 'Oh, Holy Spirit! please don't let Willie die pleasedon't! Make him.good first. Oh, please for sake.'Willie's heart was softened by the tenderness and devo-tion of Amos; but most of all by this imperfect yet heart-felt prayer from one whom he had looked upon withcontempt; whom he had ridiculed and ill-treated. Oh,'thought he, 'how could I have been so bad I'll never-ridicule -and abuse this kind, good fellow again 1 Howeatrnestly he prays for me! Poor thing he thinks I needprayer; he is afraid to have me die. And snre enoughI-'ve need to be afraid to die.' And roused to-his dangerandsin, hprayed feryently for himself. -One night, when Amos had brought him a cool, refresh-ing drink, Willie drew himtoivards him, and nutting his
_1Y__ll__ ___s___B_____I76THE -BEST <THIXGCS.arms around his neck, kissed him. 'Oh, Amos,' he said,'your prayer has saved me. I have prayed too, and Godhas given me a heart to hate sin. I'm very sorry thatI 've been so bad to you. I'll never frighten you again,and I won't trouble you any more.'Poor Amos knew not what to say, but he wept, andkissed Willie, and prayed again more fervently than ever,'Don't let Willie die !'Willie did not die; and when he grew better he saidto Amos, You taught me to pray with my heart, thoughI knew the words before;' and with gentleness andpatience, he taught that poor dull youth to call aright on thename of Him who heareth prayer,' and also to urge hispetition for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.'' I shall always love to hear you pray. Let us praytogether,' said Willie to Amos; and what a contrast wasthe scene when they bowed together in love, to that inwhich Willie had acted as the cruel tormentor, and Amosas the patient sufferer What a change had been wrought!and all by the love and tenderness of that poor youth asthe instrument. Amos, ignorant and weak-minded as hewas, was engaged in the Best Warfare.Persons in the very humblest circumstances may engagein it.'When I was a small boy,' says the poet Southey, therewas a black boy in the neighbourhood by the name of JimDick. A number of my playfellows and myself were oneevening collected together at our sports, and began to tor-ment the poor black by calling him " Nigger," " Snowball,""Blackamoor," and other degrading names. The poor fellowappeared very much grieved at our conduct, and soonleft us.' Not long after we made an appointment to go skatingin the neighbourhood; but on the day of the appointmentI had the misfortune to break my skates, and I could' noti
THE BEST WARFARE. 77- -go without borrowing. Jim's skates. I went to him andasked him for them. "0 yes, Robert, you may havethem, and welcome," was his answer. When I went toreturn them, I found Jim sitting by the fire, in the kitchen,reading the Bible. I told him I returned his skates, andwas much obliged to him for his kindness. He looked atme as he took the skates, and, with tears in his eyes, saidto me, "Robert, don't ever call me blackamoor again," andimmediately left the room. The words melted my heart.I burst into tears, and resolved, from that time, never againto abuse a poor black.' That negro, in his humble posi-tion, was engaged in the Best Warfare.Aid then, too, persons in the most exalted positions mayengage in this warfare.A Chinese emperor once heard that his enemies hadraised an insurrection in one of the distant provinces.Come, my friends,' said he, to those about him, 'followme, and I promise you that we shall destroy our enemies.'He marched forward, and the rebels submitted on hisapproach. All now thought that he would take the mostsignal revenge. Instead of this, however, they were sur-prised to see the captives trtedwithmildness and humanity.' What !' cried one ofll c ers, is this the way in whichyou fulfil your promise I Your royal word was given thatyour enemies should be destroyed, and, behold, you havepardoned them all, and even showed special favour to someof them!''I promised,' replied the emperor, with a generous air,'to destroy my enemies. This I have done. For see,they are enemies no longer; I have made them my friends.'How well might Christian people learn to imitate sonoble an example, and learn to overcome evil with good.'That Chinese emperor was engaged 'in the Best Warfare.And thus we have considered five reasons, why 'over-coming evil with good' is. the Best Warfare. It is so
' 78THE AEST THINGS.because -it --is the CHEAPEST warfare; because it is thePLEASANTEST warfare; because it is the MOST EFFECTUALwarfare; because it is the MOST HoNouRABLE'warfare; andbecause it is a WARFARE IN WHICH ALL MAY ENGAGE.Well then, my dear children, let me entreat you all to.enlist in this warfare. I wish you all to join the greatarmy of those who are trying to 'overcome evil with good.'Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the Captain of this army.Love is the badge which His soldiers wear. Here are someof the short, standing rules which He requires all Hissoldiers to mind: Never get angry,' Never speak crossly,''Conquer by kindness,' or, to unite them all in one, we'have this one great rule, which Jesus expects all His soldiersto mind, in the words of the text, 'OVERCOME EVIL WITHGo6D.' You cannot do'thia by yourself; but if you prayearnestly to Jesus, He will help you, and then you will findit an easy, pleasant rule to live by. It will make ourearth like heaven, when all people learn to mind this rule.And then the words of the prophet shall be fulfilled:' Thewolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall liedown with the kid; the calf, the young lion, and thefatling together; and a little child shall lead them.'
V.HIS text speaks about pity. Now let us seewhat pity is, before we go any further. Pityis the feeling of sorrow we find in our heartswhen we see a person in trouble, or distress,For instance, it is a very cold day, and the ground iscovered with snow; and as you go along the street, withyour nice warm clothes around you, you see-a poor littlegirl with no shoes-or stockings on. Her dress is thin andragged. Hungry and cold, she trembles as she goes, andher teeth chatter as the wind sweeps by her. When youlook at -that poor child your heart swells, your eyes fillwith tears, and you feel as if you would like to take herhome and set her down by the fire to warm herself, andgive her something good to eat, and get her some better-lothes to put on. And this feeling,-which you have, whenyou look at this poor child, is what we call pity.There are two kinds of pity : there is a wrong kind, anda right kind. The wrong kind of pity makes people feel,without making them do, or give anything. The rightkind makes people do, or give as well as feel. For instance;there was a poormanwho got his living by driving wood fromthe .harf. One day, as he was driving his cart along thestreet, his horse fell down ana died. This was.a great lossto him., That horse had been his only dependence. He79
~~~~~r r a ~~~~~~~z-1 -Ia C II1,-1-~ _.~. _80HE BEST THINGS.had no money to buy another with. And when he thoughtof his family being left without bread, in the middle-ofwinter, he couldn't help crying. A crowd of people soongathered round the poor man and his dead horse: andwhen they saw how much distressed he was-' Poor fellow,'said one, 'I'm very sorry for him.' So am I,' saidanother. 'I pity him very much,' said a third. Butstill none of them gave him anything. This was the wrongkind of pity. It was feeling without giving. Presently,however, a gentleman stepped up to these persons, andsaid, Here, my friends, I pity the poor man a sovereign;how much do you pity him ?' That was the right kind offeeling. It not only led the man tofeel, but to give.And this is the kind of pity that Solomon speaks of inour text. He says, 'He that hath pity upon the poorlendeth unto the Lord.' This means that if we have theright kind of pity fori the poor, we shall want to do, orgive something to help them, and that what we do or giveto them, God regards as done or given to Himself.Now, what we lend to another we call a loan. Thereare places in this city called loan-offices. Suppose a per-son is very much in want of money. He has a silver cup,or a gold watch, or any valuable article, and if he takesthis to one of these offices and leaves it there, they willlend him some money, or give him a loan for what heleaves. And so we may call the Church of Christ God'sloan-ofice. All that is done or given in this Church, Godis pleased to consider as lent to Him. And in presentingour offering here, we are lending it to the Lord. Thereare many different kinds of loans, but that which is lentto the Lord is-the Best loan. We may consider threereasons why this is the Best Loan:-In the first place, to lend to the Lord is the Best Loan,because HE RECEIVES THE SMALLEST SUMS.One day, when Jesus was on earth, He was going into
THE BEST LOAN.81 -the temple at Jerusalem. 'Near the door of the templewas a large box with a hole in the lid of it. It wasplaced there on purpose for the people to put their offeringsof money in it for the use of the temple. While Jesuswas looking at it, a great many rich people went by, and'they threw in their gold and silver by the handful. Butpresently a poor old widow woman came tottering along.All the money she had in the world was two mites, whichmake a farthing. She untied the corner of her napkin,took out her two mites, and cast them into the box.Now some of you might be ready to think that a farthing-a single fartliing-would be lost and overlooked amongthe heaps of gold and silver, which the rich men had castin. But it was not so. Jesus saw it. Jesus accepted it.He said, that widow's farthing was worth more to Himthan all the large sums which the rich men had cast in.He received that farthing as a loan. He put it down inHis book. He has kept an account of it, and at the Dayof Judgment we shall all hear about it, and see how muchthat poor widow has gained on the farthing she lent to theLord.At another time, when Jesus was on earth,.-He said,that if anybody should give a cup of cold water even' toone of His people, He would give a reward to that person.Now suppose you should go to a banker's office where theyare accustomed to borrow money or make loans, and offerto lend them a farthing if they would open an account intheir books, and put your name down-what do you thinkthey would say ? Why, they would be very likely to say,' Pooh pooh pooh get away, you foolish child, Wedon't want your farthings. We don't do business in sucha trifling way. You must come with your hundreds orthousands of pounds, if you want to open an account at'our office.'Rut it is very different with God's loan-office. He isF
82 T-e EB EST TIN S.willing o receive the -very smallest ums. He is willingt- oen -ainaccount with beggars,-'with poor widows,'wit little children. He will let people lend to -Him any-thing 'they have to spare, no matter -how little it is. Heillput down in His book a penny, a farthing,-the small-est mite, a cup of cold water, a gentle deed, a kind word,a sweet smile, a pitying look, anything whatever that Hispeople have to give. Oh, how wonderful it is that God,who is so great, so rich, who owns all things in heavenand earth, should be willing to take loans from His peopleat all! And how still more wonderful that He should;be willing to take such small loans Lendingto the Lordis the Best Loan, because He receives the smallest sums.L:-iding t tthe Lord: i the Best Loan, because it is soSAFE.Sometimes people build houses with their money, andthink then it is sure to be safe: But the fire may burnup-these houses; and- even if they are insured the insur-ance office may fail, and then all their money ends insmoke.Sometimes people lend their money to their friends, andfeel sure that it is safe with them. But those friends mayfail in business and lose all their own money, and whatthey have borrowed too, or those persons may not be reallyhonest people, and then they may cheat their friends of allthe money which they had lent.So metnes people turn all their money inriagold andlock it iipi a strong-box, or hide it away in some secretplace, and ithink hat 'i-thisway they can certainly keepit in safety. But there the robber's hand may reach it- and take it all away.I remember reading about a man-who did this verything, and was served just in this way. He had a sum ofmoney which he was afraid to lend to any one, or' trustout of his own keeping. So he had it all changed into
0 : : :THE BEST LOAN. Sgold 5Biees. Then he went into the woods near his houseand chose out a retired spot, shaded round with trees,where nobody would ever think of looking for money; andthere, at the foot of a large tree, he dug a hole, and putin some flat stones so as to make a kind of box. Therehe put his money. He got a broad flat stone to lay overthe box, like a lid, and then covered the dirt and leavesall over it, so,that nobody would ever suppose that therewas anything hid away there. Then two or three-timesa week-he : would steal .away there all alone, when hethought nobody saw him, to open the stone box'and see ifthe money was there, and then cover it up and go awayagain.Now it happened that there was a bad man who livedin the neighbourhood. He had seen this person severaltimes going into the woods, and he was curious to knowwhat he went for. So one day he watched him cautiouslyfrom a distance; and after the owner of the money was-gone he went and took it all away. He put a pebblestone in the box for every gold piece he took out. A-fewi days after the.man came again to look at his gold.- Helifted up.the lid of the box-but lo! his gold was gone t; Then he wrug 'his hands and tore his hair, and cried asthoui his heart would break. Yet, it all did no good.But nobody ever loses what is lent to the Lord. Letmesho'w you a boy's experience of this. Here is a storyabout The lent half-dollar.''What are you crying for V' said Arthur to a little raggedboy that he overtook on hin way home from the' villageschool. There was something in his way of crying, whichmade Arthur think there was a cause for it. -'am-hungry,',said the boy, 'and can't get anything toeat.' -s : i:. Why does not your mother give you something 1teatr
848THE BEST TWHiS.'She is sick and can't get up, and hasn't anything forherself.' .' Where's your father V'' I haven't any. He was drowned at sea.'' Where do you live V''Down there,' pointing to a miserable hut in a distantlane.Come with me, and I'll get you something.'Arthur turned back and the boy followed him. He hada few coppers in his pocket, just enough, as it proved, tobuy a loaf of bread. He gave it to the boy, and told himhe would go home with him. The boy took the loaf, andthough he did not break it, he looked at it so wistfully,that Arthur took the knife and cut off a slice, and gave-him to eat. He ate it in a manner which showed he toldthe truth, when he said he was hungry. The tears cameinto Arthur's eyes as he saw him swallow the bread withsuch eagerness. He remembered, with some self-reproach,how he had sometimes complained, because he had nothingmore than bread and butter for supper. On their way tothe boy's home, Arthur learned that the family had movedinto the place about a week before :-that his mother wastaken sick the day after he came, and was unable to leaveher bed-that there were two children younger than him-self-that their last food was eaten the day before-thathis mother had sent him out to beg for the first time inhis life-that the first man he asked told him beggarswould be put in jail: so he was afraid to ask anybody else,but was returning home when Arthur overtook him, andasked him what he was crying for.On arriving at the house, Arthur went in and saw agood-looking woman on the bed, with two small childrencrying by her side. As he opened the door, he heard theoldest say, 'Do, mamma, give me something to eat.' They,stopped crying when Arthur and the boy came in. The
-. THE BEST LOAN. 85boy ran to the bed, and gave his mother the loaf; andpointing to Arthur said-' He bought it for me.''Thank you,' said the woman, may God bless you, andgive you the bread of eternal life.'The oldest girl jumped up and down in her joy, and theyoungest tried to seize the loaf, and struggled hard to doso, but did not speak. Seeing that the widow's hands weretoo weak, Arthur took the loaf and cut off a piece for theoldest first, and then for the girl and boy. He then gavethe loaf to the widow. She ate a small piece, and thenclosed her eyes, and seemed to be engaged in silent prayer.'She must be one of the Lord's poor,' thought Arthur.'I'll go and get something for you as quick as I can,' saidhe, and departed.He went to a kind neighbour who lived near, and toldher the story; and she immediately sent some milk, andbread, and butter, and tea, and sugar, and said she wouldcome herself as soon as she could get the baby asleep.Arthur had half a dollar at home, which he wished togive the poor woman. His father gave it to him for watch-ing the sheep, and told him he must not spend it, but putit out at interest, or trade with it so as to maker something.He knew his father would not let him give it'away, for hewas not a Christian, and thought of little else than makingand saving money. Arthur's mother died when he was aninfant; but with her last breath she gave him to God.Whea Arthur was five years old, he was sent to schoolto a pious teacher, who cared for his soul: and knowingthat he had no teacher at home, she took unusual pains toinstruct him in the principles of religion. The Holy Spirithelped her efforts, and before he was eight years old, hegave good evidence of being a Christian. Arthur was nowin his tenth year. He thought a good deal about how hewas to help the poor widow, and at last he hit upon a planwhich proved successful
86 IHE BEST 'THINfS.Hisfather was very desirous that he should begin to actfor himself in business matters, -such as making bargains.He did not wish him to ask his advice in doing so, but to-go by his own judgment. After the business was done,he would show whether it was wise or not: but he never.scolded him for these things, lest he should discourage himfrom acting on his own responsibility.In view of these facts, Arthur formed his plan.'Father,' said he, may I lend my half-dollar '' To some spendthrift boy, I suppose ?' said his father.'No, sir, I won't lend it without good security.'His father was quite pleased with his idea about goodsecurity, bt he did not inquire what it was, for he wishedArthur to decide for himself. He told him to lend it, butbe careful not to lose it.' I'll be sure about that,' said Arthur.So he took his half-dollar, and ran to the poor widow,and gave it to her, and came away before she had time to'thank him.At night his father asked him if he had put out hismoney.' Yes, sir.''Who did you lend it to ?''I gave it to a poor starving widow in Mr. Harvey'shouse.'A dark frown gathered on his father's brow, as he said-' Do you call that lending ? Did you not ask my per-mission to lend it I Have I a son that will deceive me ''No, sir,' said Arthur, I did lend it.' He then openedhis Bible that he had ready, with his finger on Prov. xix.17, and read-' He that hath pity on the poor lendeth tothe Lord, and that which he hath given will he pay himagain.' -'I lent it to the Lord, father, and I call that writtenpromise good security.'
: : TH BEST LOAN..'Lend it to the Lord This is all nonsense,' said hisfather. He will never pay you.'' Yes, He will; He says He will pay again.'rI thought you had more sense,' said his father. Butthis was not said in an angry tone. The truth was, theold man was pleased with the ingenuity, as he called-it, ofhis son. He did not wish to discourage that. So he, took.out his purse,and handed Arthur a half-dollar.; A Herm,'.saide he, 'the Lordwill never repay ou--so I mst, or youwill neverisee your money agai.' ;g .'Thank you, sir,' said Arthur. And then he said tohimself-' Now in my way of thinking the Lord has paidme, and much sooner thin I expected too. I didn't hardly,expect He would pay me back in money. The hearts ofall men are in His hand, and the gold and silver are His:He has put it into my father's heart to pay me back my '*half-dollar. Money lent to the Lord is safe, I'll lend itagain.'Lending to the Lord is the Best Loan, because it is sosafe. -And then there is a third reason, why lending to theLord is the Best Loan, and that-is, becauso !-iYScooD .INTEREST. -.- .We hear business men. talking a great deal about interest.Interest means the profit they get on their money whenthey lend it.Now the question is, what interest does God pay onwhateople lend to Him ? This is an important question.Who can answer it X Jesus will answer it. I have saidthe Church is God's loan-office. The Bible is the bookkept in this office, to tell us the terms on which God1 takesloans from His-people. You want to know whaO'interestGod gives to those who lendImoney to Him, by giving itto tAe popr, or using it- to end .th;gospel, abroad -in the-world- Well, let us open the Bible and see. Here is a
88 THE BEST TItIoGS.passage in which Jesus is speaking on this very point.Listen t6 what He says. Peter had asked Jesus this veryquestion. He said-' Behold, we have forsaken all andfollowed thee; what shall we have therefore ? And Jesussaid, Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, orsisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or landsfor my name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, andshall inherit everlasting life' (Matt. xix. 27-29).Jesus promises to pay His people at the rate of an'hundred-fold' in the present life, and then take them toheaven when they die. This does not mean that for-everyshilling we give to the poor, or to the Bible or MissionarySociety, God will directly give us back again a hundredshillings:' but it does mean that for all we so give .to Hispoor, and thusrlend to Him, He will pay us back again, inone way or another, what will be equal to- a hundredfold,or a. hundred per cent. interest, or profit, on all we havegiven to His cause, or lent to Him.Now let me give you some examples of the way in whichGod pays again those who lend money, or labour, to Him.And God takes labour as well as money on loan.Some years ago, a gentleman was travelling in thecountry. A thunder shower came on suddenly. This led- .him to' seek shelter in a cabin by the wayside. Duringhis short stay he conversed with the woman who livedthere, about God and her soul. Presently, the rain.was over.As he rose-to go on his way, he thanked the good womanfor her kindness, and begged her to read her Bible dailyand try to follow its instructions. i With tears in her eyesshe said-' Ah sir, we have no Bible. We never havebeen able to buy one.''Could you read one if you had it he asked.'Yes, sir, and would do it gladly.''Poor woman,' said he, 'I heartily pity you. Fare-well'
Best Things-if'ae 88.
"' T77~ ~~THE BEST LOAN. 89But after starting, he felt so much for this poor womanthat he turned back again. Yet, what was he to do 1He had more than two days' journey still before him andbarely -enough' money left to pay for his meals on theway. He thought about the words of the text, He thathath pity upon the poor lendeth to the Lord.' He said inhis heart-' I will trust the Lord for getting home.' Hetook a crown from his purse, and gave it to the woman tobuy a Bible with. He then went on his way. At night hetook lodging at a private house. -As he had very littlechange left, he thought he would make his supper olr somecold provisions he had with him. But when the familycame to the table, he was urged to take a seat vw.ith them,and invited to ask a blessing. Then he felt himself athome, and spoke freely about Jesus, and the happiness ofHis service ; and the family listened with pleasure to whathe said. In the morning he offered to pay for his lodging,but the people would take nothing. He travelled on till,late in the morning, when, finding no hotel, he stopped ata private house for breakfast. While waiting, he spoke a\few words to the family, recommending the service ofChrist to them. When ready to start, the mistress of'thehduse would take nothing for his breakfast, or for the oatswhich his horse had eaten. And so he went on, askingfor, and receiving refreshment when he wanted it, andoffering to pay for it as any other traveller would do; butno one would take anything, although they did not knowbut that he had plenty po money.'What does this mean .' said he to himself. 'I wasnever treated so on a journey before.'Then he recollected the crown he had given to the poorwoman, and thewords of our text which had induced himto do it 'He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth tothe Lord, and that which he hath gien will he payhim agaim'
Eg ii kTHA BEST TWINGS.'Surely I have been well paid,' said he. 'It is safe tolend to the Lord: and profitable too.Until he got home he had nothing to pay. God put itinto the hearts of the people to be kind and hospitable toHis servant, and to ask no pay for what they gave him.But that was not all. About a year and a half afterthis, the gentleman referred to found, on inquiry, that thewoman, to whom he gave the crown, bought the Bible, andbegan to read it earnestly. .The result was, that she be-came a Christian, and through God's blessing on her efforts,between thirty and forty persons had been converted toGod in that neighbourhood Ah then that good man feltthat he was paid back again. Then he felt that he hadreceived more than a hundred-fold' for his crown lent tothe Lord. He Iwas satisfied that lending-to the Lord isthe Best Loan because He pays good interest.But God takes what people do, as well as what theygive, on loan, and He pays good interest on this too. Letme tell.you about a little boy who had nothing to give; butwho tiled to do something, and God paid him well for it.'Children, those of you who will bring new scholars toschool shall be rewarded with some nice books,' said thesuperintendent of a Sunday-school to his scholars one day.'I can't get any new scholars,' said several of thechildren to themselves.I'll try what I can do,' said one little boy. He wentstraight home to his father, and said-'Father, will you go to Sabbath-school with me ?''I can't read, my son,' said the father, with a look ofshame.'OuI teachers will teach you, dear father,' said he, in arespectful and affectionate manner.'Well, I'll go,' said the father.He went. He learned to read. He became a Chris-tian. Then he felt so much interested in the Sunday-
F.-F-M7117- I I 7 7-1THE- BEST LOAN. 91school-cause that he engaged himself as a Sunday-schoolcolporteur, and in four years that man had established four' .hundred Sunday-schools, into which thirty-five thousandchildren had been gathered. Only think of all this amountof good resulting from the one effort of that little boy,-when he said-' I'll try.' God paid him again more thana hundred-fold .I could go on, ever so long,-telling you cases of thiskind; .but I will mention only one more; Nearly half acentury ago, long before railroads were invented, a stage-coach used to run every day between Glasgow and Greenock,in Scotland. One day, a lady, who was travelling in thiscoach, noticed a boy walking barefooted, and looking very_tired as he struggled to get along. She asked the coach-man to take him up and give him a seat, and she wouldpay for it. When they arrived at the inn at Greenock,which is a seaport town,, she asked the boy what he hadcome there'for.- He said he wished to be a sailor, andhoped some of the captains would engage him. She gavehim half-a-crown, wished him success, and told him to bea good boy, and try to love and serve God.Afer this,. twenty years passed away. One afternoonthe coach was going along that same road, returning toGlasgow. Among the passengers was a sea-captain. Whenthey reached jat about the same spot above referred to,the captain observed an old lady on the road; walking veryslowly, and looking very tired and weary. He asked thedriver to put her in thegcoach, as there was an empty seat,and he would pay for her. Shortly after, as they werechanging horses, all the passengers got out except the cap-.tain and the old lady. As they were alone, the ladythanked the captain for his kindness in giving her a seat,as she was unable to pay for one. He said he had alwaysfelt a-pity for poor tired foot-travellers: for twenty yearsago, when he was a poor boy travelling on foot, near this'
ao92 THE BEST THINGS.very place, some kind-hearted lady ordered the coachmanto take him up, and paid for his seat. 'I remember thatvery well,' said she; 'for I am that lady, but my condi-.tion is very mich changed. Then I was very well off;but now I am reduced to poverty, by the bad conduct of aprodigal son.' Then the captain shook hands with her,and said how glad he was to see her. 'I have been verysuccessful,' said he, an!l am now going home to live onmy fortune; and now, my good friend, I will settle twenty.five pounds upon you every year as long as you live.'-God paid her back again more than a hundred-fold whatshe gave, in pity, to that poor boy.Well then, for these three reasons, lending to the Lordis the Best Loan. It is so, because He receives the smallestsums: because what is lent to Him is safe: and becauseHe pays good interest.Now, my dear children, let us all believe in our heartsthat God means what He says, when He makes this pro-mise; and let us show by our conduct that we do believeit. We are now -going to make our offering. In doingthis, we lend it to the Lord. This is just what we do withit when we give it to the poor. How wonderful it is thatGod, who owns all things, should be willing to borrow ofus. Yet, it is so. Oh, what an honour, what a privilege,to be permitted to lend anything to Him How willingly,how gladly we should lend to Him! I know we makeour offering willingly, and that is one reason why we havesuch happy anniversaries. God makes us all feel that 'Itis more blessed to give than to receive.' May God acceptthis offering, and reward you all a hundred-fold for whatyou give !'He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto theLord, and that which he giveth He will pay him- again.'