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NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
"A'. .. ,
D AD HIS FLOCK
NED AND HIS FLOCK
THE STORY OF NED
THE SHEPHERD BOY.
C 0 IT S IN It : A TE
(THE LATE MISS C. D. IlLI.)
.1,' I'' .IF'' -.
T NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBUIRH; AND NEW YORK.
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
ED was a shepherd boy on
Hillside, a large sheep-farm
in a wild district of the
north of England. No one
knew who was his father or
mother. When a baby of about a fort-
night old, he had been found by his
present master lying under a wall,
wrapped up in a piece of coarse cloth,
and nearly dead from cold and hunger.
The farmer was too kind-hearted a
man to leave the baby to perish, and
he carried it home. He was a widower,
without any family, and neither he nor
6 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
the old woman who kept his house
knew how to manage the child; so he
gave it to the wife of one of his
labourers who had a young infant,
and who agreed to nurse the poor for-
saken Ned with her own.
Had Ned been thus found in a more
civilized part of the country, parish
officers and constables would at once
have set to work, and might have
found out the parents who had so
cruelly cast away their child. But
Hillside was in a wild, desolate re-
gion, where there were neither parish
officers nor constables. The farm
stretched over a large extent of bar-
ren hills and moors, and except the
few cottages clustered closely round
the farm-house, there was no human
habitation in the whole domain. One
might walk for a whole day across the
moors without meeting man, woman,
or child; and as the field in which
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 7
Ned had been laid was quite out of
sight of the farm-offices, those who
had brought him there had found no
difficulty in getting away unobserved.
After making inquiry of all his people,
and finding that no strangers had been
seen about the place, the farmer con-
cluded that it would be impossible to
discover to whom the child belonged,
and that the only thing to be done
was to bring him up himself.
For the first four or five years of
his life, Ned lived with the woman
who had nursed him, and who was a
good, kind mother to him. At the
end of that time, old Nelly, who kept
house for the farmer, took a fancy
that she should like to have Ned
under her own care, and her master
readily consented. So from that time
the farm-house was his home. He
was well fed and kindly treated by
both Nelly and her master, and led as
8 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
happy a life as a boy could wish to
lead. He was a bright, lively, good-
tempered little fellow, whom every
one liked, and who loved every one
with whom he had to do. He ran
out and in his master's house, out and
in the labourers' cottages with equal
freedom, and was welcomed kindly
by old and young wherever he went.
As he grew old enough he accom:
panied the labourers out to the fields,
now going with this man, and now
with that, as he chose; always ready
to give help where he could, and very
clever and intelligent in all he did, but
never required by any one to do more
than he liked. He was a universal
favourite, and as he seemed to belong
to the farm establishment in general,
rather than to any one in particular,
so no one considered him or herself
bound to keep him in order, or teach
him what he ought to do. It was well
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 9
his natural disposition was good and
kindly, otherwise, growing up, as he
did, without the least restraint, he
must have become a plague to himself
and to every one around him.
He was an active boy, who liked to
be always busy, and no kind of farm
work came amiss to him. But he had
a particular fancy for looking after
the sheep and cattle; and as he grew
older, he, of his own free will, took
upon himself the duties of a shepherd.
It was a strange fancy for a lively,
merry boy like him; for on those wild
sheep-farms, the shepherds are out all
day on the hill-sides and moors, with
no company except their dog and their
sheep or cattle; and one might have
thought that Ned must have missed
the pleasant bustle and lively chat of
the work in the home fields, where
several of the men and women were
busy together. But Ned had from
10 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
early childhood had a particular love
for all dumb animals-a particular
liking for their society. While still
very young, it had been his delight to
make friends with each individual
creature in the farmyard. Horses
and cattle, old and young pigs, even
hens and ducks, were all his intimate
friends, and seemed to have as great
a fancy for him as he had for them.
As he grew older, he made acquaint-
ance with the wild inhabitants-bird,
beast, and insect-that lived on the
moors and hills, and spent whole days
wandering about, seeking out their
haunts, and learning their habits. So
when he took to a shepherd's life, and
had to pass whole days alone with his
dog and sheep, he was at no loss for
amusement, occupation, or company.
Even in the wet, stormy weather,
when a shepherd's life is peculiarly
trying and dreary, Ned could make
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 11
himself quite contented under the
shelter of a wall or crag, with his
faithful dog to talk to, and the sheep
or cattle, each one of whom he knew
and loved, to look after and care for.
As he took upon him the regular duties
of a shepherd, it fell to his share
at set times to lie out on the hill-side
all night in the summer and autumn,
when the sheep were never driven
home, to watch them and keep them
from straying. But this was no hard-
ship to Ned, who seemed to be able,
with his active mind and contented
spirit, to find amusement and occupa-
tion at all times of the night and day.
He liked his work with all his heart,
and although he had neither father nor
mother, brother nor sister, to make a
home for him, the kindness and affec-
tion of his master and Nelly, and, in-
deed, of every one about the farm, pre..
vented him from ever feeling his loss.
12 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
To have such a kind master, and so
many friends to care for him, and to
love; to have a healthy .body, and an
active, happy spirit, a home and work
so thoroughly to his taste,-these
things formed the bright side of Ned's
lot in life. Its dark, and a fearfully
dark one it was, lay in the fact, that
of all those around him, there was not
one to care that the poor boy should
be brought up in the fear and love of
God-not one to teach him to know
the Lord and to seek to do his will.
Indeed, the darkness lay deeper still:
there was not one who cared for God,
who knew him as his or her own God
in Christ. As far as the world alone
was concerned, they were good people,
simple-hearted, honest, truthful, and
kindly. But of each and all of them
was this fearful character known in
heaven, "They were without God in
the world." They loved each other,
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 18
and cared for each other's welfare,
were glad to take pains and trouble to
bring about each other's good; but of
the great God in heaven, who had
created them, who had blessed, and
was blessing them every day of their
lives, they never thought. They had
no desire to know him, no care to
please him, no love to spare for One
who had in his goodness given them
all they had to love.
Such was their state, and there was
no one to remind them of its danger,
or to stir them up to seek an outlet
from it. I have said that Hillside lay
in a wild part of the country. In
maps and statute-books it was placed
within the bounds of a certain parish,
and that parish had a church and
clergyman belonging to it. But, for
any good that either clergyman or
church did to Hillside, they might as
well, or almost as well, have had no
14 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
existence. The church was miles and
miles away,-so far that no one about
the farm ever thought of going there,
--so far, indeed, that, except to the
young and very strong, regular attend-
ance was an impossibility. The clergy-
man lived near his church; he was at-
tentive to the people in his neighbour-
hood, but poor Hillside he considered
quite beyond his care. He was old
and rather infirm; perhaps he could
not well go so far over the rough
moors. I do not know; at least he
did not, and there was no one to take
his place, no one to care for the souls
of these poor, careless sinners. When
a young couple wished to be married,
or a child was to be baptized, they
went to their minister when and how
they could; and that was all the inter-
course they had with him from one
year's end to another. They had no
wish for more. They had almost all
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 15
---old, young, and middle-aged-spent
their whole lives upon the farm. They
had never known the blessings of a
regular attendance upon church ordi-
nances; and there was no kind friend
to open their eyes to the danger and
misery of their condition. In this
respect, master and men, male and
female, old and young, all were alike;
and our friend Ned was not different
from the others. He had been told
that there was a God, who had made
himself, and everything that he saw
around him; and having an active, in-
quiring mind, he often occupied him-
self, during his solitary watching, in
speculating about that God,-about
his nature and his place of abode. He
knew that the Bible was God's mes-
sage to men; and after his master had
taught him to read, he now and then
opened its pages, and read a little here
and there. But the book was old, the
16 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
paper yellow, the type bad,-it was
not easy to read; and Ned had never
been sufficiently interested to take
trouble to get over these difficulties.
God was to poor Ned a strange being,
of whom he knew little, and with
whom he had nothing to do. God's
Word was a dingy book, full of hard
words which he could not understand;
and God's day, one on which litt,
farm work was done, when the men
lay long in bed in the morning, and
sauntered about idly all day, and when
he, Ned, out on the hill-side, had more
visitors than on other days of the week,
because the others had time to come
to see him.
Thus had matters been until Ned
was about twelve years of age, when
the old clergyman died, and a younger
and more energetic man was appointed
in his place. The new clergyman, Mr.
Staunton, had a heart full of love to
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 17
God and man,-a heart bent upon
seeking God's glory and the salvation
of souls. At first, naturally, the
people near him occupied his time and
thoughts; but as he became acquainted
with the bounds of his parish, and with
the state of the inhabitants of the
wilder parts, his whole soul was stirred
with vehement desire to carry the
glorious news of the gospel to those
who knew not their want of it, for
whom as yet no man had cared.
It was a lovely summer day when
first he made his way to the lonely
farmyard among the hills. He was a
poor man, with a large family. He
could not afford to keep a horse, and
had come all the long, weary road on
foot; across moors where he could
hardly trace out the path; up steep
hill-sides, where there was no shade
from the fierce rays of a July sun;
and he was very weary before he
18 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
reached the farmhouse. Here a
heartily kind welcome was given to
him. The farmer had never had any
desire to see hisr clergyman,-had no
thought of the blessing he might get
from him. But he had a true, an
Englishman's respect for any who were
hearty and earnest in the work they
had to do; and therefore his heart
was at once won by the mere fact of
Mr. Staunton having taken so much
trouble to come and visit them; and
his hospitality, which would have been
hearty to any visitor, was ten times
more hearty to him. In the midst of a
press of work he came to see his guest
at the first moment he heard of his
arrival, pressed him to remain all day,
and upon Mr. Staunton expressing a
wish to have a meeting with all the
people about the place, he at once,
and with the utmost heartiness, set
about preparing his large kitchen to
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 19
receive them all, and called every one
of his labourers whom he could reach
from their work to come in, and make
acquaintance with their new minister.
All came, and brought their families
with them. The room was quite filled.
Mr. Staunton read a chapter, said a
little in explanation, and prayed with
them; and this was the first act of
public worship in which the most of
them had ever engaged. All were
quiet and attentive, out of respect to
the good gentleman who had taken so
much trouble, and come so far to make
church for them, as they expressed it.
But Mr. Staunton had not the comfort
of feeling that he had made much im-
pression on them, or had succeeded in
arousing them to a sense of the sinful-
ness of their careless, godless lives.
After dinner, he went out and visited
every cottage, conversing kindly, and
making friends with the women and
20 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
children; and then, promising to return
at a set time, he took his way slowly
home again in the cool of the evening,
his spirit sore for the careless state of
the people, and his heart lifted up in
prayer to God for their salvation.
Our friend Ned, being far away from
home with his flock, had not been
among those who enjoyed the privi-
lege of the pastor's first visit. But,
as Mr. Staunton was going home, he
came upon the boy, busy driving his
sheep into a corner between two rocks,
in order to get hold of and examine
one who appeared to be lame. Mr.
Staunton stood still to watch Ned, at
once pleased and interested by the un-
changing patience and good-humour
with which he bore with the way-
wardness of the sheep, and with the
blunders of his dog-a young, only
half-taught beast-who often hindered
rather than helped his master in his
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 21
task. What interested and amused
Mr. Staunton most, was to observe
how entirely Ned seemed to regard
both dog and sheep as reasonable
beings. He gave his directions in a
pleasant, encouraging tone-very dif-
ferent from the loud, angry-sounding
shouts in which shepherds indulge,
even when they are not angry. He
praised with great heartiness where
either party did well, and reasoned
with, rather than blamed them, where
they went against his wishes. After
many failures the object was at last
attained-the lame sheep caught, ex-
amined, set free again; and then the
boy sat down on a rock to rest, and to
converse with his dog.
You seem very fond of your dog,"
Mr. Staunton observed, coming up to
Ned started and looked round, and,
seeing that it was a gentleman who
22 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
spoke, rose with natural courtesy to
make his bow.
"Yes, sir," he said, smiling. "He
is as good a dog as can be. He means
to do right," he added excusingly;
"and when he does wrong, it's only be-
cause he does not know.-Ye'll know
soon, won't you, Nero ?"
"You seem greatly afraid of hurt-
ing his feelings," Mr. Staunton said,
as he sat down beside him.
Why, you see, sir," Ned answered,
with all the gravity of perfect belief,
"he is a dog who is easily hurt. Some
dogs can take a scolding, and never
mind; but this one gets quite low-
spirited like when he thinks he has
done ill, and can't forget it no way.
I have to keep always making ex-
cuses for him, or he'd lose heart alto-
"You are fond of your sheep too,"
Mr. Staunton observed.
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 23
"Very fond, particularly of some
of them," was Ned's hearty answer.
Particularly of some of them," Mr.
Staunton repeated, laughing. "Why,
I should have thought that all sheep
Indeed that is what they are not,"
Ned said, very earnestly. "Now, look
at that fellow, sir, with the fine straight
nose: I love that one dearly. Ever
since he was born he has been such an
honest, hearty fellow. He gets into
mischief often enough; for he is as
wild as need be, and full of fun. But
he has such a famous, good temper,
there is not a sulk in him; while the
one next him, though he is quiet and
well-behaved enough, yet, when once
he takes an ill turn, there's never no
getting him right again."
You must watch them pretty
closely to find out all these points,"
Mr. Staunton said, much amused.
24 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
"Well, sir," he said, "you know I
have plenty of time; and I like to
watch the beasts, and to know all about
Do you like a shepherd's life? Is
not it sometimes wearisome to be so
much alone ?" Mr. Staunton asked.
I'm never alone," was the prompt
reply. There are always the dog,
and the sheep or cattle, and lots of
birds and rabbits, and such like, to
look after and make friends with. It's
never wearisome. There are so many
of them, and all so different and all
so happy, it's grand to sit and watch
It is," Mr. Staunton said heartily;
" and you know, my boy, do you not,
who made all these different creatures,
and made them all so happy ?"
Yes, sir; it was the great God in
heaven," Ned answered, with grave
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 25
"He must be very good to have
made everything in this world so bright
and fair," Mr. Staunton said.
"Yes, sir; I often think of that
when I sit here all alone," Ned an-
swered, looking up with a bright, in-
"And not only has the good God
made everything we see, but he takes
care of everything from hour to hour,
from moment to moment. It is he
who provides food for all his crea-
tures, who keeps them in life, and sees
to it that each one shall have that
which is most suitable to its kind. It
is he who gives us every blessing that
we enjoy,-the fresh, pure air that we
breathe, the bright light by which we
see, the exceedingly fair earth upon
which we look out from morning to
night, the food we eat, the clothes we
put on, and the kind friends whom we
26 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
He spoke slowly, as if anxious to
carry Ned's mind along with him; and
the boy listened with pleased interest
"I did not think of that before,"
he said, thoughtfully. "But, to be
sure, it must be God who takes care
for all these wild creatures, and who
makes things go well for us too;
and, to be sure, he must be very
And is there no other still greater
proof of his exceeding goodness, kind-
ness, and love which he has shown to
us ?" Mr. Staunton asked.
Ned looked up eagerly. He evi-
dently wished to be told. Evidently
he did not know to what his companion
"You know who the Lord Jesus
Christ is, and what he has done for
men?" Mr. Staunton said.
I think I've heard the name," Ned
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 27
answered musingly. I think I've
seen it in the Bible."
Mr. Staunton drew a long sigh.
My poor boy," he began, mourn-
fully, but checked himself, lest his pity
should discourage or offend the boy.
He sat a moment silent, Ned looking
up at him anxiously, curiously. After
a minute spent in earnest prayer to
God that he would open his mouth to
speak suitable words, and open the
boy's heart to receive them, Mr. Staun-
ton began again.
"When God has made all things
so fair and good," he said, "when he
has done so much for us to make us
happy, has he not a right to expect
that we should love him, should be
grateful to him, should ever try to
please him and do his will ?"
"Yes," said Ned readily. "But
can we please him, and he so far away?
Does he want anything from us ?"
28 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
"He wants our hearts, our love.
He asks this from us in plain, direct
words. In the message he has sent
us in the Bible, he tells us that he
wishes us to love him. Is it not ter-
rible that men, who owe so much to
him, will not even give him back love
and gratitude when he asks for them?"
"Won't they ?-don't they?" Ned
asked eagerly, wonderingly.
How is it with you, my boy?"
Mr. Staunton asked in turn, laying his
hand on the boy's shoulder, and speak-
ing very impressively. Do you love
God ? Are you constantly grateful to
him for all that he has given to you,
for all that he is continually doing for
you ? Do you think often of him, as
you would do if you really loved him ?
Do you delight to find out all his good-
ness and greatness ?"
I might, if I had thought of it.
It's only that I never thought of it,"
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 29
Ned answered. He spoke eagerly,
but with great simplicity-more as if
he were telling a plain fact than as if
he wished to make excuses for him-
But, my boy, how is it that you
never thought of it ?" Mr. Staunton
answered gravely. You are the boy,
are you not, of whom they told me
that your good master found you cast
out to die behind a wall, with no one
to care for you, and whom he took up
and brought to his home, and has
lodged, and fed, and clothed, and been
kind and good to all your life ?"
If you had never, during all these
years, felt the least love or gratitude
to that good master-if you had never
cared to serve or please him-what
should you think of yourself?"
"That I was a wicked, heartless
monster," he answered with great
80 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
vehemence. "But, sir, I could not
be so bad-no one could."
Suppose you had been so bad,"
Mr. Staunton pursued, and any one
had charged you with ingratitude and
heartlessness on that account, should
you have thought it a good excuse to
say, that really you had never thought
about the matter-that you should
have loved him, and been grateful to
him, if it had ever come into your
mind to be so, but that it never had ?"
"No, sir; no, no," cried Ned; "it
would have made me a thousand times
worse to say that I had never even
thought of loving the master who has
done everything for me, who has been
the best and kindest friend I ever
And yet," said Mr. Staunton,
" who was it that gave you that good,
kind friend? Who was it who arranged
so that you should be cast down where
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 31
your master could find you, and not
on the bare moor, where no eye might
ever have seen you, no ear heard your
cry ? Who is it that gives you health
and happiness every hour of the day,
who ever watches you to keep evil and
sorrow from you ?"
God, sir; you said it was God."
"And you believe me ?"
I think-I am sure it must be so,"
he answered thoughtfully; "there is
no one else."
"And yet you think it well and
enough to say that you would have
loved him, and been grateful to him,
if only you had ever thought of being
Suddenly-in an instant, as it were
-Ned's mind took in the full force of
what Mr. Staunton meant. Convicted
to his own heart of base ingratitude
towards God, and deeply ashamed and
grieved, he bowed his head upon his
32 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
hands, and, without an attempt at
denial or excuse, sat silent and sorrow-
ful. Mr. Staunton thought it best to
leave him to think undisturbed; and
he sat silent beside him, lifting up his
heart in earnest prayer for a blessing
upon the impression which had evi-
dently been made upon the boy's heart.
After a few minutes Ned raised his
head, and, looking at Mr. Staunton
with a face which had become pale
from the depth of the feelings that had
been aroused within him, he said wist-
"But though I am so bad, surely
all are not ? Surely, surely there
must be some one to love the Lord,
who has been so good to all ?"
"We cannot go through all the
world to find the answer to that ques-
tion," said Mr. Staunton; "nor, if we
could, should we be able to know what
lies hidden in men's hearts. But the
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 83
Lord, who cannot lie, has said that
there is no man who doeth good and
sinneth not, no not one.' And for you
and me, Ned-"
For me," the boy interrupted vehe-
mently, "I have done ill all my life.
I have been horridly ungrateful, I
know. But for you, sir, surely you
love the Lord? "
"Like you, my boy," Mr. Staunton
answered solemnly, "for many years
of my life I never even thought of the
Lord, who was blessing me at every
moment; and of this I am quite sure,
that if he had not, in his exceeding
great love, given me his Holy Spirit,
to make me love him, I should never
have thought of or cared for him to
the day of my death."
But if all are thus bad," Ned asked
anxiously, what is to come of it ?-
what is to be done ? "
"If you and I, my dear boy, can
34 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
feel that it is terrible wickedness not
to love the Lord, who is so good to
us," Mr. Staunton answered earnestly,
"how much more must the holy God
in heaven condemn and hate this ex-
ceeding great sin As the holy Judge
over all the world, he cannot pass by
sin, or suffer it to go on and on,
through all time, without punishment;
and he has said, and must keep his
word, that every one that sinneth
shall be sent away into never, never-
Ned had risen and stood before Mr.
Staunton, his eyes fixed upon his face,
as if he wished to know the words
before they were spoken. His heart
was deeply stirred. He had no power
to deny the truth of Mr. Staunton's
assertion, that the holy Judge of all
the earth could not let sin go on
unpunished. His heart sank within
him at the thought, and it was
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 85
with a trembling voice that he asked
And is there no help "
"There is-there is," Mr. Staunton
cried, with great earnestness. Bless-
ed, ever blessed be the Lord, he has
provided help for us, who could not
help ourselves. The Lord, looking
down from heaven, and seeing how
we and all men had lost and ruined
ourselves, seeing that there was no
way by which we could save our own
souls, in his exceeding love and pity
he took the saving of us upon himself.
The Lord had an only, a well-beloved
Son, equal to himself in power and
glory-very God, even as the Father
is God. This is that Lord Jesus
Christ of whom I have told you. We
had sinned against the Son even as
against the Father, for he is with
the Father in all things that he doeth.
But this Lord against whom we had
86 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
sinned took pity on us, and offered
himself to bear all the punishment of
our sins in our stead; and God the
Father so loved the world which had
turned from him, and rebelled against
him, that he gave up his only-begotten,
his well-beloved Son, to be made sin,
to be counted as a sinner, to be dealt
with as a sinner, to bear all the fear-
ful load of punishment which should
have lasted for us through a never-
ending eternity, in order that we might
be forgiven, might be counted as
righteous, dealt with as righteous for
"Did he, did he, though ?" cried
Ned, clasping his hands above his head,
and the tears running down his cheeks.
His heart was fairly overwhelmed
within him. He could say no more.
He turned away, and, leaning against
the rock, hid his face upon it, hardly
able to think or to feel, as the glory
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 87
and exceeding beauty of these glorious
news pressed for the first time on his
mind and heart.
The sun was fast going to its set-
ting, evening was coming on, and Mr.
Staunton had a long walk before him
over a lonely moor. Until now he
had forgotten his walk, and every-
thing about himself, in his anxiety to
bring the poor, ignorant child to a
knowledge of the glorious gospel of
Jesus Christ. But now that his ob-
ject seemed so far attained, he remem-
bered that he ought to go home before
it became too dark to permit him to
find his way. He rose, and going up
to Ned, he laid his hand upon his
shoulder, and said affectionately,-
God bless you and teach you, my
boy, and bring you near unto himself.
I must go now; but I shall see you
again before long, I hope. Till then,
may the Lord have you in his holy
88 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
keeping. Here is a word for you, as
a shepherd, to think of: 'All we, like
sheep, have gone astray; we have
turned every one to his own way; and
the Lord hath laid on Christ the ini-
quity of us all.'"
Ned looked round, but all he could
say was a trembling "Thank you, sir,
thank you." And so they parted, and
Ned was left alone to think of all the
wonderful things he had heard.
He had full time to think of them.
As he had been out since very early
in the morning, another lad ought to
have taken his place for the night;
but in the unusual bustle and excite-
ment caused by Mr. Staunton's visit,
this matter was wholly forgotten.
The head shepherd, who should have
seen to it, was away from home at a
distant market, selling lambs. So
Ned was left alone until an early hour
the next morning, when the lad who
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 39
ought to have taken his place remem-
bered him, and went to relieve him.
Out on the open hill-side in a July
night it is never quite dark; but as
the shades of night came on, and Ned
realized how entirely he was alone,
he for the first time in his life felt
afraid. God seemed very near him-
the God towards whom he had been so
wickedly ungrateful-the God whom
he was learning to know as the hater
of sin-the holy Judge of all the earth.
The sense of his presence pressed upon
the boy's spirit. A cold shudder ran
through him every time he looked
round, as if he feared to see the great
Lord before him in the dim, uncertain
light-feared to hear his voice in the
stillness and silence that reigned all
around. The sense of his own sinful-
ness filled his whole thoughts,-the
glorious news of Christ having borne
his punishment in his stead was for
40 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
the time forgotten. He realized ever
more and more clearly how utterly
ungrateful he had been through all
his life, and he hated and was ashamed
of himself for that ingratitude. He
tried to quiet down his hatred of him-
self, his fear of the holy God, by re-
solving to love him greatly from that
very moment; and he strove to stir
up love by thinking of all the bless-
ings wherewith the Lord had blessed
him all his life long. But, to his
extreme dismay, he found that his
love was beyond his own control-
that, in spite of all he could do, his
heart remained hard, and cold, and
dead within him. Now, as his fear of
God increased, and the sense of his
own sinfulness increased with it, he
began to wish that there were no God
to ask for a love and gratitude which
he could not give. In great agitation
-hating, abhorring himself for the
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 41
wish, and yet unable to cast it from
him-he rose, and paced rapidly up
and down, as if he strove to walk away
from his own thoughts. Suddenly
there passed through his mind what
Mr. Staunton had said,-that he was
sure that he could never have loved
the Lord, had not the Lord given
him his Holy Spirit to make him do
so. Ned knew nothing about the
Holy Spirit but that he came from
God, and could bring men's hearts to
love God-that was enough for him;
and throwing himself on his face upon
the ground, he cried aloud to God for
his Holy Spirit-for the power to love
him and be grateful to him.
Ah, how gracious the Lord is !
How full of love and tender mercy!
As he has promised, "Before they
call, I will answer; while they are
yet speaking, I will hear; so he did
now, and sent his Holy Spirit to bring
42 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
to Ned's mind the things he had heard
from the mouth of God's servant.
Even while he lay upon the ground,
the words came sounding through his
heart, "All we, like sheep, have gone
astray; and the Lord hath laid upon
Christ the iniquity of us all;" and,
with the recollection, God gave him
faith to believe them, and to rest the
whole salvation of his soul in the
hands of the Saviour who had died
He lay long thus on his face, enjoy-
ing for the first time real communion
with his God-pouring out his whole
heart to him-telling him of all its
coldness and ingratitude thanking
and praising the Lord for his wondrous
goodness, in having provided a way of
forgiveness and peace for such a cold,
ungrateful sinner, and ever receiving
from God's Spirit new and deeper
views of his own want and of Christ's
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 43
fulness. When at last he rose from
the ground, oh, with what a free and
happy heart did he look around and
how exceedingly did he now rejoice to
feel that the Lord was very near him,
even by his side! The whole night
was spent in dwelling upon and re-
joicing in the glorious truths which
had that day been brought to his
knowledge. These truths were as yet
few in number; but, perhaps, in this
first stage of his religious life, it was
as well that they should be so, for he
had thus full time to search into and
realize them-to go down into their
depths, and to delight himself in their
exceeding beauty and preciousness.
Most of all were his thoughts busy in
trying to understand the marvellous
love and kindness of the Lord, in
taking upon himself the punishment
which ungrateful, unloving sinners had
called down upon their own heads;
44 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
and his mind seemed to ache under
the effort to realize how fearful must
have been the punishment he bore-
his heart seemed utterly overwhelmed
under the sense of that matchless love
which had moved him. The night
passed quickly away. Already the
eastern sky was beginning to brighten
before the rising of the sun, and yet
it seemed but an hour or two since
Mr. Staunton had left him, when he
heard the cheery voice of one of his
companions calling out to know where
he was; and in another minute, Long
Will, as he was called, came running
down the hill-side to join him. Long
Will was a kind, hearty lad, and was
full of concern and apologies for hav-
ing forgotten Ned until then.
"Ye see, Ned," he said, "we had a
visit from the minister; such a thing
was never heard of before, and we all
forgot everything else. Such a fine,
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 45
kind-spoken gentleman as he is I I
wish ye had seen him."
"I did," said Ned very quietly.
"He came across me here, and sat and
talked with me."
He wished to say more-to speak
of the glorious truths he had heard;
but his heart was too deeply stirred
to be able to speak calmly, and with
very few more words he parted from
his companion and turned towards
home. Before he had gone many
yards, however, it struck him that
Will could not have spoken so care-
lessly had he heard or understood
anything about Christ's wondrous love,
and, turning back, he was in a moment
again by his friend's side.
0 Will!" he cried, in an eager,
trembling voice, did he tell you that
the Lord Jesus Christ so loved us,
careless and ungrateful as we are, as
to take our sins upon him, and suffer
46 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
our punishment instead of us ?" He
could say no more. The feelings of
admiring gratitude which had been
filling his heart all night now fairly
overwhelmed him-he burst into tears,
and ashamed, he hardly knew why,
by Will's stare of blank astonishment,
he turned away and hastened home.
It was still very early morning, and
no one was as yet astir in the farm-
yard or house. Ned went softly to
his own little room, and to bed. He
fancied that his heart was too full to
suffer him to sleep; but he was mis-
taken. Two nights of watching, added
to the excitement and happiness of
the last few hours, had fairly worn
out his body, and even in the act
of praising God for having so loved
the world as to give his Son to die
for it, he fell fast asleep. Even in
sleep, however, these precious truths
were not forgotten. They visited him
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 47
in his dreams. In coming home that
morning his face had been turned to
the east, and his eye had been curi-
ously attracted and delighted by the
ever-increasing light and glory of that
part of the sky preparing for the sun-
rise. As he gazed upon it, it had
seemed to him that in just such a
bright and glorious place must the
Lord of glory have his abode; and he
had felt sorry to enter the house and
leave so much beauty behind him.
Now, in his dreams, the same fair
golden light seemed to arise straight
before him, as he walked over a moor,
still in the darkness and grayness of
early morning. As he went nearer,
the light grew more and more glorious,
until it seemed to open, and he saw
before him an exceedingly lovely land
of light and sunshine. He thought
that he pressed on to enter it. But
when he had reached the edge of the
48 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
moor he found that between him and
the fair country stretched a deep and
horrible pit, and as he looked and
wondered, he saw a glorious shining
Being, whom in his dream he knew
to be the Lord, the Judge of all the
earth. Now, too, Ned saw that on
his side of the pit were multitudes of
men, women, and children; that ever
and again one stepped forward to cross
the pit; that the Judge looked at
each one, and spoke words Ned did
not hear; and then the person to whom
these were spoken was either suddenly
dashed down into the pit, or was borne
up into the air, and carried into the
fair and glorious land behind the
At last it seemed to Ned that his
own time was come. Invisible hands
seemed to urge him forward to the
edge of the pit. He seemed to feel
the burning eye of the Judge fixed
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 49
upon him. In a moment all the years
he had lived in forgetfulness of God
seemed to pass before his mind, and
his heart failed for fear. A voice, too,
seemed to count up all the reasons he
had had for loving God, and to tell
how entirely that God had been out
of his thoughts; and Ned thought
that he must go down into the fearful
pit, to dwell there for ever. But sud-
denly a voice of exceeding sweetness
and beauty was heard, and that voice
Let him enter. All his sinfulness
and black ingratitude were counted to
me, and I have borne the punishment.
There is no punishment left to be
poured forth upon him."
And in trying to throw himself at
the feet of the Lord, who thus spoke,
Ned awoke with the tears running
down his cheeks, and his heart beat-
ing wildly with gladness and love.
50 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
I see it better and better now !"
he cried. "The Lord Jesus Christ
has made up for everything. There
is not a single thing left against me.
Oh, how good God is, to teach me
even when sleeping, even in my
The first leisure moment that after-
noon was given to seeking for an old
pocket Bible, which he remembered to
have seen lying about the house. The
family Bible in the parlour was too
large to carry about with him. After
a good deal of trouble he found the
treasure, bore it with him to the hill-
side; and as soon as Long Will had
left him, and he was alone with his
dog and his sheep, he opened it and
began to read. He thirsted to learn
all he could about his God and
He intended to begin at the begin-
ning and go straight on. But as he
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 51
turned over the pages, his eyes fell
upon the words Mr. Staunton had
quoted: "All we, like sheep, have
gone astray; we have turned every
one to his own way; and the Lord
hath laid on him the iniquity of us
all;" and he read the whole chapter.
He was too utterly ignorant of the
gospel history to understand the whole
of the chapter; but some parts were
very clear and very precious to him.
In his walk from the farm his thoughts
had been busy about what Mr. Staun-
ton had told him of Christ's glory, as
being equal to God the Father; and
about the blackness of his own ingrati-
tude, in having lived so many years
without one thought of, one desire
after the God who blessed him and
cared for him at every moment; and
as he read these wonderful words:
"But he was wounded for our trans-
gressions, he was bruised for our ini-
62 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
quities ; the chastisement of our peace
was laid upon him;" and thought of
the infinite glory and holiness of Him
of whom they were spoken, and of the
miserable carelessness, heedlessness,
and ingratitude of those whose trans-
gressions he bore; his heart was
melted within him with adoring, won-
dering love and gratitude. He did
not know that the account of men de-
spising and rejecting Christ was a
prophecy to be afterwards so entirely
fulfilled; he had never read how men
hid their faces from him when he was
upon earth; but taking the words as
the assertion of a simple truth, and
looking back upon the many years in
which he had never had a thought of
his blessed Saviour who had died for
him, his soul was bowed down under
a sense of sin, and he was only able to
repeat again and again, while the tears
ran down his cheeks, "And I esteemed
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 58
him not-and I esteemed him not."
He desired to learn all he could about
Christ; and as it flashed across his
mind that he had somewhere seen the
words, "The New Testament of our
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," he
turned over the leaves till he came to
the Gospel of St. Matthew, which he
began to read with the greatest eager-
ness and interest.
Perhaps some of you, my young
readers, have read that book ever since
you can recollect, and it may be no
more to you than any other pleasant
and interesting story. Alas! to some
among you it may not even be that.
You know it all so well, it is such an
old story to you, that you cannot be
interested in it, or care for it; and it
would be impossible for you to under-
stand the eagerness with which Ned
read every word, the intense delight
he found in every fresh proof of the
54 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
holiness, tenderness, and love of that
Saviour whom he was learning to
know and love as his own Saviour
and Friend. You, perhaps, weary of
reading or hearing read only one
chapter at a time, and often glance
towards the end, wishing that it were
not so long, or rejoicing that it hap-
pens to be a short one. Ned's eyes
never wandered, except that now and
then he raised them to look wistfully
at the sun, and to wish that it would
not move so fast to its setting, that he
could keep sufficient light to read by
even until morning; and after the
sun had gone down and night had
come on, and he was forced to shut
his book, still his thoughts were busy
with what he had read, still his heart
was filled with ever new and deeper
views of God's goodness, love, and
holiness, and of his own sinfulness and
ingratitude to him.
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 55
Many days and nights were thus
spent by him in reading and meditat-
ing upon God's Word. As he had
no one to explain what he read, many
words and many passages were too
hard for him to understand when he
first came to them. But with great
simplicity and confidence he kept ever
looking to God for the teaching of his
Spirit, and often what had seemed
dark to him at first, became plain and
clear under the light of another part
of the same blessed book.
And now I am afraid of making
my story too long, and I cannot tell
you, as I should like to do, how from
day to day Ned grew in knowledge
and in grace. All his spare time was
spent in reading God's Word. From
it he learned every day to understand
more fully the exceeding sinfulness of
his own heart and life. But from it
also he learned each day to rest more
66 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
entirely upon Christ for the pardon of
all his sins; and upon the Lord the
Holy Spirit for instruction in the
truths of God, and for strength to
walk in his ways.
And while he thus grew in know-
ledge and grace, he was not indifferent
to the spiritual welfare of those around
him. Rejoicing, as he did, in the
knowledge of his blessed Saviour, he
desired earnestly that every one he
loved should share his joy. At first
he took for granted that they must
share it. He understood that Mr.
Staunton had told to all the glorious
news which had filled his own heart
with such deep joy and love; and he
expected that all would be as much
impressed as he was. It seemed to
him impossible that any one could
hear of Christ's wondrous love to sin-
ners without having his own heart
filled with love and gratitude. He
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 67
could not believe that any one could
be made to know his own great rebel-
lion against God without having his
heart broken with shame and sorrow;
or could think of that everlasting
punishment which his sins had de-
served, and of the perfect salvation
from it which Christ had worked out
for him, without being overpowered
with joy. He expected to find every
one at the farm thus moved-thus
grateful, penitent, and rejoicing; and
great was his disappointment when he
found it was not so-when he found
that the men went about their work,
the women after their house cares,
with hearts and minds as filled with
these as if no more important subject
had ever been brought before them.
They did speak a good deal of the
pleasantness of Mr. Staunton's man-
ners, and of his kindness in coming so
far to see them; but of the kindness,
58 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
the love of that Saviour who came
down from heaven to save them, they
never thought, never spoke. Ned
could not understand it.
"Perhaps," he thought, "they did
not altogether understand what Mr.
Staunton said; perhaps he made his
words so very plain to me because he
saw that I was such an ignorant child;
perhaps he may have expected that
these men and women should under-
stand more easily than I could;" and
with this thought he tried to recollect
exactly how the truth had been told
to him, and to repeat it to his friends.
When one way of saying it made no
impression, he tried another and an-
other, using the words of his blessed
Bible, and putting them in every dif-
ferent form he could devise; but for
long in vain. Those to whom he
spoke assented readily to all he said,
readily expressed the admiration he
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 59
asked for. But even he could see
that their expressions were mere words
of course, and did not come from the
heart; and so soon as they were
spoken, the speaker turned gladly to
other things, and to the things of this
world, which were to him so much
more interesting than anything con-
cerning that God whom he had never
seen, and for whom he did not care.
Many and many a time was poor
Ned's heart grieved and sore wounded
by this carelessness and indifference.
He could not bear that those whom
he loved, and who were so kind to
him, should not love the Saviour to
whom he had given his whole heart.
He longed earnestly that every one
he knew should learn to love his dear
Lord; and, most of all, he longed that
his kind master should do so. To
him he spoke oftener than to any one
else; but from him he received as
60 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
careless answers as from others, and
for weeks, even for months, it seemed
as if no good had been done, no im-
More good, however, was doing
than Ned saw or could understand.
True, the farmer paid little heed to
Ned's words, they had little interest
for him, made little impression on him;
but the boy's great earnestness struck
and interested his master. It was so
evident that Ned's whole heart was
set upon the salvation of his friends,
that the farmer could not help think-
ing there must be more reality in re-
ligion-it must be a more real and
important matter than he had ever
thought before. He was first sur-
prised, and next greatly impressed, to
see how entirely Ned's heart was filled
with these things; and as he saw how
now the boy's eyes overflowed with
tears of tenderness at the thought of
NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY. 61
his Saviour's love, and how his whole
face lighted up with joy at the thought
of God's presence and care, he began
to think more seriously than ever in
his life before of those truths which
could so greatly move a mere light-
hearted boy. He began to take greater
interest in them, to seek them out for
himself, and, finally, to ask that God
would teach him to know and believe
all that had made Ned so happy, so
unlike any one else around him. And
as it was with the farmer, so it was
with his people.
Mr. Staunton paid many visits to
the farm, and had the joy of knowing
that many souls were saved by God's
blessing upon his teaching. But
often did he assert, and the people
also, that to the lovely life of the
humble shepherd boy did they owe
more than to anything Mr. Staunton
had done for them. Ned's constant
62 NED, THE SHEPHERD BOY.
happiness in the presence of a Father
reconciled through Christ, his constant
care to please him, and to serve his
fellow-men, caused many a careless
heart to think that there must be
truth and goodness in that religion
which was the spring of all the boy's
feelings and actions, and to desire to
know more of what had been such a
blessing to Ned.
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