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SUNDAY AFTERNOON LIBRARY
THE CHILDREN'S PORTION
ALEXANDER MACLEOD, D.D.
HODIDER ANDI STOUGHTON
27, PATERNOSTER ROW
tbe sunbap afternoon ltbrary
I. TALKING TO THE CHILDREN.
By the Rev. ALEXANDER MACLEOI), D.D.
2. THE GENTLE HEART.
By the same Author.
3. THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
By the same Author.
4. THE CHURCHETTE.
By the Rev. J. REID HOWATT.
Crown 8vo, cloth, price 3s. 6d. each ; or complete in
case, price 2s.
LONDON: HODDER AND STOUGHTON.
ALEXANDER MACLEOD, D).D.
"The children's bread"
HODDI)ER AND STOUGHTON
27, PATERNCSTER ROW
Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.
SOR some years I have been in the
habit of giving from ten to fifteen
minutes of the Morning Service on
Sunday to the instruction of the
children present. In that brief space
a children's hymn is sung and a
children's sermon preached. The sermon is the "por-
tion" announced in the title of this little book,-the
children's portion, or share, of the Sunday feast. And
the book itself is a selection from the portions given
during the last three years. The filled-out title would
be,-THE CHILDREN'S PORTION IN THE SUNDAY SERVICE.
So far as the matter printed goes, the sermons are
given very nearly as delivered. But those who have
had much experience in speaking to children know,
that certain things which are necessary to success in
such speaking,-the repetitions, the catchwords for
memory, the crumbling down of hard words in a text,
and the little escapes of tender endearment,-will not
bear reproduction in print. Besides, it is, after all,
only the main thoughts and illustrations of such
vi PREFA CE.
sermons which, when transferred to a book, can be
interesting either to young or old.
The practice of bringing in a little sermon for the
children during the ordinary service is, I am happy to
know, extending. But as yet it is still the exception.
And it will not, I trust, be considered out of place
if I use this Preface to say a word or two in its com-
At least one in every three who come to our
churches is a child under twelve years of age. In
every congregation of worshippers, therefore, there
is a congregation of children.
Sunday brings to those young hearts a certain stir
of expectation, Everything is different from other
days. The very preparation announces that it is to
some great festival the family are going. The thoughts
of the children are set toward a great occasion. Sunday
after Sunday they go up to it with expectation in their
hearts; and Sunday after Sunday, in the majority of
our churches, this expectation is not recognized,-their
presence is not felt, and they are not once addressed.
The psalms and hymns express experiences at which
they have not arrived. The sermon is in a language
they do not understand. At length the great occasion
has come to an end: the people are faring back to their
homes; but not one word has been spoken to the
children, concerning whom our Lord left this injunc-
tion, Feed My lambs."
Who can think of the immense number of children
PREFA CE. vii
throughout our churches, who come up to the public
service Sunday after Sunday with eager hope of
finding some interest for their young souls, with that
hope growing smaller and smaller as the brief years
of childhood run out, until at last the pathetic habit
is formed of expecting nothing? Who can think of
this, and not sympathize with the desire to provide for
them also a portion in the service, which they shall
look forward to, and by which their spiritual lives shall
be fed ?
I use the freedom here of entreating my younger
brethren in the ministry to consider these circum-
stances of the children in their flocks, and whether it is
not their duty in some way or other to meet their need.
It cannot be a satisfactory reflection to any minister
that his teaching flows like a river not through but
past the lives of the children. It could not but be joy
to him and a blessing to his own soul, if at every
morning service, for one ten minutes out of the ninety,
he were in direct contact with the souls of the children.
It seems to me-I say it respectfully-that never a
Sunday should pass in which the preacher does not
give wings to some story of God's love, or Christian
life. Such a story will go up and down, and in and
out, in young hearts, throughout the week that follows,
doing work for God. In this way he would whet and
keep whole the appetite of the children for the
services of the sanctuary. Doing this, he would open
to their young eyes the windows of heaven, and give
viii I'E PA CE.
them glimpses of the vision of God. And in that
golden space, in those so consecrated minutes, he
would bring back for them, and it may be for their
parents as well, the days when Jesus spoke to the
disciples in parables, and taught those children of Iis
love, as they were able to receive His words.
49, SHREWSBURY ROAD, BIRKENHEAD.
A DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE: THREE PORTIONS I
I. A WOODEN GOD.
II. A REVIVAL.
III. THE MIRACLE.
POOR, YET MAKING MANY RICH 17
LIZZIE LAIRD: THREE PORTIONS 23
I. HER POVERTY.
II. GOD COMES TO HER HELP.
III. HIS POOR ONE MAKES OTHERS RICH.
THE LITTLE MISSIONARY 43
OF THINKING TOO HIGHLY OF OURSELVES 53
THE WISHING WELL .. .63
CARLO: TWO PORTIONS 73
I. "THOUGH YE HAVE LIEN AMONG THE POTS."
II. "'WINGS OF A DOVE COVERED WITH SILVER."
A LITTLE BIRD'S SONG 89
(.'.vI 71/,N f$.
THIE GOLDEN AGE : SIX PORTIONS 97
I. TIE KING'S CHILDREN.
II. DIFFERENT VIEWS.
III. SEARCH FOR TIE GOLDEN AGT,
IV. A PLAGUE-STRICKEN VILLAGE.
V. RETURN OF THE SEARCHEIRS.
VI. TIE FINDER OF THE AGE.
THE COMMON SALVATION 123
GOD EVERYWHERE: THREE PORTIONS 131
I. IN THE WOODS.
II. IN DARK PLACES,
III. IN A HOSPITAL.
A CHILDREN'S CHAPTER 147
"PROVIDENCE IS MY HERITAGE 159
THE EMPEROR AND THE WIDOW 167
THE LUCK FLOWER. 175
HENRY AND TRITEMIUS: TWO STORIES 183
TRUTH IS BEST. 193
THE GOLDEN RULE: FOUR PORTIONS. 203
I. A GOLDEN STREET.
II. DOING TO OTHERS AS WE WOULD HAVE OTHERS DO
III. LOVING OUR NEIGHBOURS AS OURSELVES.
IV. THE BLESSING OF OBEYING THE RULE.
A STORY ABOUT A MOTHER 23
"COMES OF A BAD LOT 3
A STORY OF THE DARK AGES : TWO PORTIONS
TO ILLUSTRATE THE BEATITUDES 241
II. ISOFENE'S WORK.
ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE 259
DR. ROBERT MOFFAT 267
A BIBLE PICTURE 281
A SERMON ON PLAY: THREE PORTIONS 289
I. CHILDREN PLAYING.
II. PURPOSE OF PLAY.
III. POEM BY A FRIEND.
ON FINDING GOD 303
HOW TROUBLES HELP US TO FIND GOD 315
A MAN ON A CROSS WHO FOUND GOD 327
DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE.
I. A WOODEN GOD.
II. A REVIVAL.
III. THE MIRACLE.
A DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE.
A WOODEN GOD.
'NrB / OU must not imagine when you hear of
miracles that they were only wrought in
Galilee and Judea, and only when Jesus
was living on the earth. Miracles never
cease. Jesus is working them now, and
in this very land. When He was bidding
the disciples farewell He said, I go away; but I will
send another Comforter." "Another," he said. That
meant, One who should be in His place and carry on
His work. In this other Comforter, who is the Holy
Spirit, Jesus is still living among men, still going about
doing good-opening the eyes of the blind, making the
lame to walk, and raising the dead. It is to the study
of one of these miracles I am going to take you to-day.
I am about to tell you the story of a man who was
raised from the dead.
He was really dead; but the deadness was not in
4 THE CIIII,)AEN'S 'PORTION.
his body. His body was full of life; it was strong,
well built, and tall. IThe deadness was in hIis soil.
Almost everything that God likes to see living in a soul
was dead in him-love for God, desire for heaven,
concern about salvation, prayer, thankfulness, kindness
to wife and children, self-respect, respect for religion
and the Church,-all these were dead. If the Apostle
Paul had known him, he would have called him "a
man dead in trespasses and sins."
The things that killed out the life in Joe were
gambling and drink. In the cleverness that can move
chequers on a draught-board so as to win the game,
he was the best in all the district where he lived.
Many a match he had played for the county; many
a game he had won for it. Although he was only a
collier, everybody, rich and poor, called him "the
champion." Joe was proud of that. His draught-
playing was the pride of his life; and his draught-
board with its black and white squares, standing on the
kitchen mantelpiece between two brass candle-sticks,
was the first object he looked at on entering his
The evil thing for Joe was that the games in which
he took such pride were all played in public-houses.
And when a game was over, and especially if Joe had
won, his friends who had made money by his winning
would order a supper that they might drink to his
health. This was the snare in which poor Joe, like
a silly bird, was caught. This was the evil that made
A DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE. 5
a dead man of Joe. It was like letting a murderer
into the best places of his soul. Everything brave,
and good, and reasonable, and kind in him was killed.
His good sense, his home-love, his very cleverness as
a player-all fell down stabbed to the heart within him.
And it was no longer Joe. It was a savage-a monster,
who, coming home from these suppers, struck at wife
and children in a blind fury, until they fled beyond the
reach of his blows.
There was one thing in Joe which more than any-
thing else had long since been killed. That was
religion. Joe neither went to church nor let his wife
or children go. He did not believe in going to church.
He had six children, and not one of them was baptized.
He spent his Sundays lounging about the house or
the fields. In the afternoon the neighbours would
come in to have a chat, and would sometimes say with
a smile, Well, Joe, have you been to kirk to-day ?"
Always when this was said his wife answered for him,
" Nay, he's no been to kirk," and then, pointing to
the draught-board on the chimney-piece, would add,
"Joe's god is a wooden god."
Although Joe only smiled when his wife spoke in
this way, her words took hold of him. And sometimes,
on the Sundays, as he saw his neighbours going past to
the village church, he would catch himself saying, "Joe's
god is a wooden god." But he only hardened himself
the more against church-going. "It's all rant," he
would say. "Gi'e me a man that's honest and kind,
6 77/F (1//11,/A'As", I'0oA'VY/oVN.
and I seek nac better." Joe was far from being such a
man; but by words like these he deceived himself,
and was content to remain among the dead.
I used to be very sorry for his wife. She had known
happier days. Her father was an elder in the village
church, and she herself had been in the choir before she
married Joe. It was for long a hard lot to her to have
to stay away from church. She missed the happy
Sundays-the sweet singing of the choir and the good
words of my friend, who was her minister. It was
harder still when she came to have children. She
would have liked to have taken them to church to be
baptized. Alas! they were never allowed to enter the
church. They did not go even to a Sunday-school.
" It's all rant, Jeanie," their father would say to her
when she pleaded with him to let them go. Joe was not
so bad as that when she married him. Although he
did not even then care much about the church, he had
not been caught by the snare of drink; and for many
years he was as kind as a man could be. The children
used to watch for his home-coming and run out to
meet him; and Joe would come striding along the road
with two of them on his shoulders and the rest running
at his side.
But those times were long since past. Everything
had changed for Jean. Her home was miserable.
Her life was full of sorrow. The church seemed far
away from her, out of her reach, in another and distant
world. And her children were growing up without
A DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE. 7
learning to worship God. Sometimes, sitting by her-
self, her eyes would fill with tears as she thought of
her life, and she would say, Is there no hope ? Is
this to go on from year to year till we die ? Is Joe
really to perish ? "
I cannot say that Jean prayed to God. It is not
easy to live in a house like hers, and keep up the
habit of praying. But she was afflicted, and she
lifted up the cry of the afflicted. And God heard her
cry, and was even then on His way to her help.
Two things took place which prepared the way for
the work of God on Joe.
The first was a revival. There is nothing in our life
more wonderful. It comes when nobody is thinking of
it. People are busy in their homes and work- places, as
at other times: the peasant in the field; the weaver on
his loom; the housewife at her fireside; the merchant
in his shop. And suddenly this wonder begins. It
begins in the soul. A still small voice is heard speak-
ing to the soul about Christ, about heaven, about
eternity. Everybody begins to feel that God is near.
It is as if the heaven had opened and some great new
thing had come down. It is like the old miracle of
the angels in the sky when Christ was born.
There was a sense of something wonderful having
8 YHE CHILDREN'S POR 7ION.
taken place. Some were afraid; others said, Canl this
good thing be real ? Then neighbour talked to
neighbour about it, and told each other what they felt
working in their souls. By-and-by the fear passed
and joy came in its place. Homes that had not known
prayer or praise for years began to be filled with the
sweet music. People who thought it tiresome to speak
about religion could now speak of nothing else. Men
and women, boys and girls, went into quiet places and
cried to God for a blessing. Everything took on a
new look. Everything common was lifted into the
light of heaven. And people who had all their life
long loved the Lord felt that they were loving Him
now with a better and stronger love, and their hearts
were filled with gladness.
It spread as the dawn does. All the country round
about was filled with it. Travellers driving along the
highways and parish roads in the evening passed many
a little company singing hymns as they marched along.
As the reapers rested for their midday meal they broke
out into songs of joy. Even the children coming from
the school took up the hymns and sang them as
they returned to their homes. The strangest thing of
all was the way in which it took hold of the miners.
The men went down into the pits daily singing the
revival songs. The songs were heard from one and
another in the darkness of the pits, and when the men
came up again the songs burst out anew. Begrimed,
black, disfigured by coal-dust and mining-dress, the
A DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE. 9
men marched in little parties along the road singing as
It seemed as if suddenly old things had become
new. The Sunday service was new, the sermon was
new, and it was a new gospel the people heard. The
very Bible became new. It was a delight to go to
church. The Communion Sunday when it came round
was like a feast-day of heaven. God was felt to be
meeting with the people, and the people became more
and more eager for His blessing. A strong desire also
took hold of them to share the joys they had received
with others. Prayer-meetings were opened in the vil-
lages round about. A meeting was begun in the village
where Joe lived, and in the cottage that stood nearest
to his own. Nobody could tell the happiness which this
was to Jean. Although she could not go to the church,
the church, through this meeting, had come to her. She
tidied up the children and herself, and prepared to go to it.
While these wonderful things of the revival were
taking place and changing the life of the village, the
second event to which I referred was laying hold of
Joe. Two or three months before, a man had come
forward and said he would play Joe for the champion-
ship. Nobody knew better than Joe himself that he was
not as clever at the game as he used to be. Although
he never took drink before playing, the drink he took
after was fast hurting him and making him dull
and stupid. But he could not refuse the challenge.
Great preparations were made by the friends of the two
1o [77711 C1iii. IINA' S''/, /('O 7ONV.
players. The game was to co(iii off in the: i nn of a
little town about ten miles from his village, an.d he had
to be absent from home a couple of days. Ile came
back on the evening of the second day, just as Jean
was opening the door to go to the meeting. She saw
at a glance that he had lost the game. He had neither
sign nor smell of drink, but he was silent and sullen,
and in one of his cruel moods. Why were they dressed ?
he asked angrily. Did they mean to go in with the
ranters ? They should not go if he could hinder.
And if they dared to go when he was gone, he would
beat every one of them when he came back.
The poor mother knew too well when Joe spoke in
that way that he would keep his word. She could not
speak; she could not even shed tears. She simply took
off her bonnet and shawl and sent the children out to
play. But as the sound of the psalms which were
being sung next door was blown in through the open
window, she thought that the very saddest hour of her
life had come. But it was not so. Although she
knew it not, she was at the end of her weary sufferings.
She had heard the last cruel word Joe was to speak
either to the children or her. That very night Joe was
to be met by God.
In a coal-mine when there is plenty of trade the
miners work day and night. At that time Joe was on
A DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE. ii
the night shift, and so soon as he had changed his
clothes and fixed his lamp on his cap, he set out for
the pit. There was still some daylight in the sky, and
Joe went by back roads where no one could meet him.
When he came to the pit's mouth his fellow-miners
were waiting for him, and ready to go down. Whether
they saw that he was vexed, or were thinking of
something better, no one spoke of his failure. And in
a minute or two they were all standing in the iron
basket, in which they were let down to the bottom of
the mine. The mine was very deep, and the coal lay
in seams in which a miner could not stand upright
when cutting it out. He could only dig out the coal by
lying on his side. And usually only one could work in
such a seam. Joe crawled to the place in the seam he
was working, but somehow or other he could not settle
to his work. The cruel words he had spoken about
the meeting kept coming into his thoughts. It seemed
to him as he lay there in the almost total darkness
that they were wicked as well as cruel. And then the
shame of losing the championship fell on him, and
then scorn of himself that by his own follies he had lost
it. And then began, in that total darkness, the great
miracle of raising a dead soul to life. God met this
poor dead one in the deep pit, and said to him, "Arise
from the dead." Now it is God's way, when working
a wonder like that which He was about to work on
Joe, to use some word from the Bible. But Joe knew
almost nothing of the Bible. He had not opened it
12 Y77/ Cl'/I/.DR 'S /'O '/ '/OWV.
since he was a boy at school. Therefore God mad(e
use of such words as he did know. He took the
words he had so often smiled at when his wife spoke
them on Sunday afternoons: Joe's god is a wooden
god," and worked these among the man's thoughts.
"A wooden god The words seemed to him to
come back to him out of some world in which they had
been treasured up against him. Without knowing
what he had done, he had set his lamp on the floor,
a little distance from where he lay. And it seemed to
him as if it broke into little stars far, far away, which
he was trying to come near to, but was kept back from by
the words "A wooden god." It was really as Jean had
said. He had given himself, body and soul, to the
worship of the draught-board. For that, he had
turned away from church and home. He thought of
his unkind treatment of his wife and children. He
thought of the happy times he had cast away from his
life. He thought of the waste of years and strength,
of wages and happiness in the public-house. Just at
that moment a waft of song came to him from another
seam in the pit. Two or three men there were singing
a hymn together. This added to his misery. Joe had
never joined in such a song. For all the years of his
married life he had never spoken to his children about
God. He had never taken them to the house of prayer.
In all this, God was showing him the form of man he
had been. He saw himself as he had been living for
years, a miserable creature, dead to everything, dead to
A DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE. '3
God. As these visions of his past life swept across his
soul, he trembled from head to foot. He could not
move. He could not cry. The rock above him seemed
to be closing down upon him. He still saw the feeble
flicker of his lamp, but it only made the darkness more
real for him. In a dim way he began to be aware, and
the terror of it fell down into his soul, that he was
alone with God.
How long this state of things continued Joe never
knew. But when the other miners came up in the
morning he did not appear. Nobody had seen him
since they went down the night before. Two of the
men went down to search for him. They called at the
entrance to his seam, but he made no reply. At last
they found him lying as if he were dead, but with his
eyes wide open, at the spot where he had gone to work.
Going back for help, they got him to the top and laid
him on the ground. He was breathing, but he could
not speak, and every now and again a great quiver went
through his body. The men got a stretcher and carried
him to his home. There Joe lay for three days,
speechless, but little by little coming to himself. And
then, as feeble as an infant, he got up. His neighbours
were very kind. His wife's old minister also came to
see him, and began to tell him of the love of God.
Joe thanked him, but said it was thrown away on him.
God could never take hold of him. There might be
love for everybody else in the world, but not for him.
" My god has been a wooden god," Then he broke
I THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
down, and sobbed like a child. The minister came to
see him every day. Ie was very wise in speaking to
men like Joe. iHe knew how to win them. le did
not speak much. He only read little bits of the Gospels
and the First Epistle of John. On these occasions Joe
sat with his head on his hands; but always when the
minister, after reading, asked if they might pray, he
replied, "Surely, surely." And thus, little by little,
this once dead soul, the gates of which had been first
pressed open by the words, "Joe's god is a wooden
god," received the whole gospel, and he began to live
to God. It was nearly six months before he ventured
to go to the church. It was a summer day, and the
road was full of people going to the service. Every-
body was glad to see him. Jean was by his side, and
the children came up behind dressed in new clothes.
For the six months which followed Joe was never
absent. Then, one night, the minister was in his
study, and heard a knock at the door. It was Joe.
" Would it be too much for him to ask to be received
into the Church ? Could Jean and he be received ? "
The minister welcomed him with joy of heart. And at
the next communion Joe and Jean were there. Three
months more passed, and again he knocked at the
minister's door. Could his children be baptized?"
" Certainly," replied my friend, and added, You would
like the baptism to be in the house, Joe ? Shall I
come next Monday?" But Joe said, "Thanks,
minister. It is very kind of you to offer to come; but
A DEAD MAN BROUGHT TO LIFE. 15
if it is all the same to you, as I sinned openly, I should
like to acknowledge God openly in this, and I will come
to the church." And to the church he came with his
children. There were few dry eyes in the church that
afternoon as Joe and Jean led their children, one by
one, up to be baptized.
The neighbours asked Jean, some months after, how
she liked the new ways of Joe. It's just heaven upon
earth," she said. Joe was a new man.
That is the story of the man whom the Holy Spirit
raised from the dead.
.\ ... --- -
"'___! ; i _ _ _
?It p- ~4
"POOR, YET MAKING MANY RICH."
POOR, YET MAKING MANY RICH."
3 MONG the wonderful things mentioned
Sin the New Testament none is more
wonderful than this, that it was by poor
people the good news concerning Christ
) .was first made known. Never were
poorer people than these. Poor fishermen, poor tent-
makers, poor labouring men and women, poor slaves,
-such were the people by whom the good news was
carried throughout the world. They had neither money
nor fine clothing, nor lands nor fine houses. They had
nothing but what they earned by the labour of their
hands. They came from fishing villages, from despised
little homes among the hills, from back streets in great
cities. Nobody knew them. Nobody ever heard of
them before. They were mocked. They were beaten
with rods. They were cast into prison. Yet they
were helped by God to go from place to place telling
their wonderful story. And poor and despised and ill-
treated though they were, they made the world rich
by the story they told.
20 THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
Poor, yet making many rich:" that was how Paul
described them. They arrived in th'e great cities,
Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, or Philippi, and began in the
first company they entered to tell their news. They
had seen the Son of God on the earth. They had seen
Him opening the eyes of the blind, healing the sick,
raising the dead. More wonderful still, they had seen
wicked men putting Him to death, and they had seen
Him alive again, risen from among the dead. They
were like people who had been in heaven. In a sense
they had really been in heaven. They had been with
the King of heaven. They had heard Him speak.
They had received His blessing. They had His life in
their hearts. I fancy myself sometimes back in those
meetings,- where these poor people were telling their
story. I see their eyes streaming with tears as they
tell of the cruel sufferings the dear Saviour had to
endure. And I see the tears dried up and a glow over
all their face as they tell of His resurrection and His
going up to heaven.
At those meetings people who had never heard of
the kindness of God learned from the lips of these
messengers that He so loved the world as to send His
only Son to die for it. People who did not know the
"mighty power of God learned that it was so great as
to break the door of the grave and bring the dead
Saviour back to life. After hearing news so gladsome
many burst out into joyful cries. "The great God
loves us," they said; "and He will not leave our souls
POOR, YET MAKING MANY RICH. 21
to perish, nor our bodies to lie in the dust for ever!"
Great new thoughts came into their hearts, such as
never had been there before. Strange new desires
stirred within them and made them eager to be near to
God that they might love Him and serve Him better
than they had ever done. It seemed to themselves
as if they had been carried up to the very door of
heaven and had seen its happy life, and the Saviour
who had died for them sitting on its throne, and a light
of love on His face as He turned His look to where they
In this way, in the days when Paul lived, the poor
made many rich. But it is not back in those days only
that this wonder has been seen. There never has been
a time in which God did not give grace to poor people
to do this very thing. It is a wonder that never ceases.
We have only to open our eyes, and we shall see it in
the days in which we ourselves are living. Nobody is
too poor to be used in the service of the loving God.
The greatest Servant He ever had upon the earth was
so poor that He had not where to lay His head.
Sometimes when I stand up to speak to you, and see
your faces glowing with health, and think of the bright
homes in which you live, where everything comes to
you like magic, where want is unknown, and remember
homes of a different kind, where food is scant, where
faces are pale, the thought comes into my mind that
although in some things you are well off, in others, by
your very well-offness, you suffer loss. You do not
22 THE CHILDREN'S POR7O1N.
know the gladness over little mercies which those who
dwell in such homes know. You do not know the
tenderness which God shows to the people who live in
these homes, nor the help which He brings into their
humble lives, nor the great uses to which, through
their very poverty, they are sometimes put.
Receiving so many good things from God yourselves,
which poor children never receive, you might think-
at any rate, you are in danger of thinking-that God is
kind only to you and to children as well off as you.
Therefore I am going to tell you a story of the kindness
of God to the poor. And by this story I shall try to
make plain to you the wonder of which I have spoken,
how He works this power of making others rich into the
lives of the poor.
.,ilow.. -a.. "
-7 " ~
IN THREE PORTIONS.
I. HER POVERTY.
II. GOD COMES TO HER HELP.
III. His POOR ONE MAKES OTHERS RICII.
IN THREE PORTIONS.
T is a story of our own days, and of one
of God's daughters who was very poor,
Sj I am going to tell. I think, when I tell
Syou all the story, you will see that almost
nobody could be poorer than she. She
was a lonesome woman, who lived on
alms and was broken in body. And yet,
by God's blessing upon her, through many years, she
was enabled to make many rich.
It is just seventy years since Lizzie Laird was born.
Her birthplace was a colliers' village in Scotland. Her
father was a collier. It was a poor cottage he and his
children had to live in. It was poor clothes they wore.
It was poor food they ate. And they had a bit of
poverty in their lot worse than any of these. They
were a kind of slaves. They were bought and sold
26 THE CHILDREN'S POR TION
with the land on which they lived. And all their days
both father and children had to drudge on poor wages,
in the dismal coal-pits, for the owner of the land. One
of the hardest things in this part of their poverty was
that the children had to leave school before they had
learned to read, and go down into the pits and work.
This hard thing came to Lizzie before she was ten
years old. She had hardly got farther than the second
reading book. And she had not even begun to write or
do sums. A day came that was the poor child's last
day at school. And next day, dressed in a coarse
flannel frock and hood, she was standing at the pit
mouth waiting to be taken down into the dark workings
below. It is pitiful to think of it! From the village to
the pit mouth the road passes through fields and woods.
The fields were filled with primroses and daisies and
buttercups. The birds were busy bringing food to their
young in the trees and hedges as she passed. The air
was filled with their joyous twitter and song. In an
orchard she passed, the apple-blossom was on every
tree. The farm children were passing, with their bags
and slates, to the school, which she was never more to
enter. And high overhead shone the sun. Lizzie was
a beautiful child. She had beautiful hair and a beautiful
face. I think I see her walking to the pit that summer
morning. Her hair is folded back under her hood.
Her little face looks out from under it as from a picture
frame. Some tears are stealing down her cheeks.
The honest father is silently patting her on the shoulder.
LIZZIE LAIRD. 27
A very little would bring tears to his cheeks too. His
heart is sore for this child of his love. He feels the
hardness of the lot that binds him to take her down
into the dismal pit. Dinna fear, Lizzie." That is all
he can say to comfort her. He says it again and
again as they come nearer to the pit. He remembers
how he also, when he was as young as she, had to go
the same road. And he pats her again, and draws her
a little closer to him in his love. At last they have
come to the place. Grimy men are waiting for them,
to go into the iron cage which is to lower them into the
workings below. Lizzie is lifted in by her father, who
stands close to her; and the cage begins to descend.
Down, down, down it goes. Darker and darker grows
the way. Poor Lizzie would cry if the strange men
were not there. At last she feels herself lifted out, and
her life as a child-slave begins.
For eight long years, every day she lived, except
Sunday, she had to go down into that pit. For eight
long years she was set to cruel work fit only for a
beast of burden. Day by day, all through those years,
she had to fill barrows with the coals dug out by the
miners and then wheel the coals to the foot of the shaft,
to be taken up by the trucks to the top. Could any
young life be poorer ? She had neither school nor
books, nor times for play. Her beautiful face, which
would have been a joy to look at, was hidden in the
darkness of the pit. She had to toil in that darkness
when the sowers were sowing in the fields in spring,
28 71H C/I/.TJ)EN'S POR770N.
and the reapers in autumn were cutting down the
grain. She had to toil where no bird sang, where no
flower grew, where no sun shone. That was the lot of
Lizzie Laird till she was eighteen years of age. Poor,
poor Lizzie And yet she was to become poorer still.
She was to become so poor that this time between
childhood and womanhood, this hard time when she
had to step into the iron cage every morning, and wheel
her heavy load from the workings to the shaft, along
the dark tunnels, should seem to her a time of riches.
Poor though she was during all that time, she still had
certain things which were better to her than gold or
silver. She had health. She had strength to toil.
She could walk. She could run. And every afternoon
she had the joy of coming home. And she had her beauty
still. And she was young, and full of life, of happy
spirits, and of hope. She was even counting the
months till she should not need to go down into the pit
at all. Love had come to her, and she was engaged to
be married. These were good things in her lot-real
riches, but she was about to lose them all.
One day, driving her wheelbarrow along one of the
tunnels-without a moment's warning, and while she
was right under it-the roof fell down upon her, and
the beautiful girl was buried under masses of rock.
The miners, hearing the noise, rushed to the spot.
But it was hours before the poor sufferer was reached
and got out. Her beautiful form was broken. She
was maimed, bruised, spoiled for life. Her limbs were
LIZZIE LAIRD. 29
crushed out of shape, crushed together into one in-
describable mass. She was all but dead.
For four years she had to lie on her face, wounded
all over, with flesh all bruised, and in agonies of pain.
But worse to bear, I think, than her pain was her
sorrow, her lament for her youth. Day and night she
cried over her blighted hopes and the young joys, and
the life and health that could never return. Poor
Lizzie! It was a sorrow, among heavier sorrows, that
the young man to whom she was engaged might cease
to love her. One day he failed to call on her at the
usual hour. It was the fair at Falkirk. And she said,
He has gone to the fair and forgotten me." But just
then the honest lad pushed open the door and came in.
He had indeed been to the fair; but it was to get
her a basket of blackberries, which she liked, and
which he brought and laid beside her on her bed.
At the end of four years the pain ceased; but her
strength never returned to her. Her limbs fell from her
bit by bit. She gave her sweetheart his liberty. She
was an invalid all the rest of her days; for forty-nine
years she never was able to leave her bed. She saw
her father and mother passing away by death. Her
brothers and sisters also went out from the home, some
dying, some into homes of their own. There was left
with Lizzie only one sister, and she was both deaf and
dumb. And they were both penniless. This was the
poverty of Lizzie Laird.
30 7i/A CIl/ILIDKEA'S PU'ORA1U'N.
GOD COMES TO HER HELP.
1 have told you of the poverty of Lizzie Laird. In the
things that made this poverty she remained poor to the
end of her life. But I am going to tell you now how God
came to her in her poverty, and made her rich in other
things-in the things of the soul-with which things
in her after-years she was able to make others rich.
Very wonderful are the ways which God has in
helping the poor among His children. When things
are very bad with them, when they seem to be at the
worst, He steps in with His help. It is the old story
of the Israelites over again. They are fleeing before
the face of cruel foes; their way is stopped up by some
bitter sea. And just then, when they seem to be lost,
the Lord opens up a way for them, divides the very sea
for them, and brings them by that new way into a
better life than they had ever known. And so He did
with Lizzie Laird.
The first thing He did was to open up a way for her
to His own heart. It was the great highway by which
so many have travelled to that heart. It was the
highway of the Cross. He began by turning her
thoughts to a lot more sorrowful than her own. He
brought her to the Cross of His Son. Lizzie had
never before seen the terribleness of the sufferings of
Christ. It went to her heart that the innocent Jesus
should have been so cruelly used. She thought of the
LIZZIE LAIARD. 31
crown of thorns, of the nails, of the shame, of the
mocking, of the pain, till the tears ran like streams
from her eyes. What were her sufferings compared
with His ? Then God opened her eyes to see that the
Sufferer was a Sufferer for her. For love of her He had
endured those thorns, those nails, those pains, and the
hiding of His Father's face. But the most wonderful
vision of all was when she came to see that the
Sufferer and God were one, that the Cross was a door
opening into the heart of God, and that the heart it
opened up was a heart filled with love for her. Little
by little she came to understand that Jesus had died to
make a way for her from all her sorrow, and from all
sin, to peace and joy and a dwelling-place in the heart
of God. When Lizzie first caught sight of this she
cried as much for joy as before she had cried for sorrow.
When she went to sleep at night the joy was there;
when she awoke in the morning it was still there; it
was like a bird of heaven for ever singing in her soul.
When God had thus opened up to Lizzie the way to
His heart, He next put the desire into hers to be a good
reader of His Word. Lizzie had been taken from
school before she could read well. She now set
herself to learn to read, that she might be able to learn
all the story of the Cross.
And before long, so eager was she that she became
an excellent reader, and soon thereafter she had
favourite places which she read over and over again.
There was one verse which she took into the deepest
32 7 CHIIILIDRE/V'S P'OR TION.
and wa IIrmst part of her heart. It was the verse
which says, He loved me and gave Himself for me."
I cannot tell you the joy those words were to her,
or the effect they had on her thoughts. They seemed
to change everything. They made her troubles look
small and her mercies great. And when people would
still sometimes pity her, she would smile and say:
"Ay, but I have something grand over against all my
sufferings : I know that 'He loved me and gave Him-
self for me.'
Another kindness which God sent to Lizzie was
the friendship of some Christian gentlewomen in the
neighbourhood. Those ladies, real angels of God upon
earth, saw this poor child of their heavenly Father, saw
her misery, her poverty, and her loneliness, and their
hearts were drawn out in sisterly pity towards her.
Out of this friendship came help of many kinds : help
in food, in clothing, in books, in widening of thought,
in refinement of speech, and what was better still, in
brightening of her religious life. They were them-
selves religious people. And it happens that the
Church to which they belonged has a comfort for sick
people which the Church in which Lizzie was brought
up does not possess. It can bring the Sacrament of the
Lord's Supper into a sick-room. And the heart of
this lonely Christian, so many years shut out from the
Church itself, longed to show its love to her Saviour in
this way. When the friends I am referring to knew
this, they asked their clergyman to bring the Sacrament
LIZZIE LAIRD. 33
to Lizzie. And he and they and she took it together in
Lizzie's room. It was a great new joy to Lizzie.
It was also the beginning of her acquaintance with
the prayer-book used in the church of these friends.
She read in this every day from that time on and used
the prayers morning and evening. Then she got to
understand the feast days and the prayers and passages
of Scripture proper to those days. It was new to her
to link particular days with particular events in the life
of Christ. But little by little those days came to her
like new thoughts, like new joys into the days of the
year. Christmas, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Whit
Sunday, and all the rest: she came to be interested in
them and to seek to be in the spirit of them when they
came. Her year became a Christian year. And as
often as one of the great days came round a fresh
white counterpane was spread on her bed, new flowers
were gathered to brighten the room, a little service was
held, often by herself alone. It was, while it lasted, a
little gleam of heaven upon earth.
In all this God was making Lizzie fit to be an
enricher of others. So long as she kept moaning over
her hard lot and her lost chances, and thinking of
nobody but herself, she could be a help to nobody.
But God, as we have seen, brought her away from all
that moaning. He drew her heart to Himself. He
helped her to give up being sorry about her hurts.
He helped her to see that He could turn what had
happened to her to good. And he gave her grace to
34 7HE CHILDREN'S ,PORTION.
say, and from the heart to say: Not my way, but
Thine, O God."
I must not leave you to think it was quite easy for
Lizzie to say this. It was far from easy, and it was
a long time before she was able to say it. And I will
tell you a little bit of her life, which belongs to some
years after the years I am speaking of just now, which
will show you how hard and slow the work was of
bringing her in all things to commit her way to God
and say, Thy will be done."
Lizzie had a great love for light. I suppose this
arose from the cruel way in which she had been shut
out from the light when she was made to work in the
coal-pit. Perhaps, also, the love of light had been born
with her. To her, as to others, light was pleasant to
the eyes. At any rate, it was part of life to love it.
She loved to think of the sun. She loved to think of
the morning light creeping up from behind the hills,
shining over them, growing brighter and stronger, and
filling the valleys with beauty and colour, and spreading
over all the earth. And nothing of an outward kind was
a greater joy to her than to look on green fields and
woods and gardens when the sun was shining on them.
But in the poor cottage in which she lived she was shut
out from this joy. Her bedroom window looked out on
nothing beautiful at all. She could neither see green
fields, nor woods, nor garden, nor sunrise, nor sunset.
She could not even see the sky, but only dull unchanging
square of light, the mere size of the window frame.
LIZZIE LAIRD. 35
As she lay in her little room her heart kept longing
for some chance of seeing those beautiful sights, the
trees, the green fields, and the rising and setting lights
of the sun. She remembered the days of her child-
hood, when, coming up out of the darkness of the pit
in the evening, she saw the bars of gold and purple
in the sky. She remembered also the rainbows she
had seen, and the moon and the stars, and the driving
clouds, and the shadows creeping along the hill-sides.
And she longed to see those beautiful things again.
Well, this very desire of her heart was to be given
to her; but in a strange way, and only for a moment.
A season of heavy rains had come. The roads in the
villages were like rivers. The fields on every side
became like lakes. The water rose higher and higher
and began to flow into the cottages. The villagers
had to escape for their lives. At last it rose to the
cottage where Lizzie and her dumb sister lived. The
neighbours came to their help, and lifting Lizzie in her
bed as she was, they carried her out of her little, room
-out of the dull light of that room into the open-
into a place of safety under the full light of day. And
it was too much for her. By the very light she longed
for, she was smitten blind. She remained blind for
some time. After that-when her sight returned to
her-she gave up sorrowing for green fields and fuller
light. In respect of these things, much as she loved
them, she learned to say, "Thy way, not mine, O
Father." She put herself wholly into the hands of
36 THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
God, to give her light or darkness, green fields or
absence Df green fields, as He saw to be best. And
her heavenly Father, who was not grudging the joy
of green fields and sunlight to His afflicted child, but
only weaning her from beautiful things which she had
no longer eyes to look upon-began to open up for her
every day things more beautiful far in that world whose
light never fades and whose beautiful things even the
blind can see.
And Lizzie came to understand that this was the
purpose of God. And freely and heartily she gave
herself up to be dealt with as God thought best. And
from that hour life grew brighter for her: the tears
went out of her eyes and the sorrow out of her heart,
and she began to be an enricher of others.
His POOR ONE MAKES OTHERS RICH.
Lizzie was now prepared for the good work which she
was to carry on for God in that poor room for more
than forty years. It was, as I have told you before,
the work of making others rich. It was very quiet
work. It was work that, in the doing, made little
show. I am sure Lizzie herself never thought of it
as work. But, all the same, it was work, and work of
a kind that is very precious to God.
I will begin by telling you how she made rich the
poor deaf and dumb sister who lived with her. Poor
LIZZIE LAIRD. 37
and broken though Lizzie was, she was less poor than
this sister. She felt that she was set over her to care
for her, and she became mother and father to her. At
that time schools for the deaf and dumb were not open
for people as poor as Lizzie's sister, and there was
nobody to teach the finger signs which are now known
to so many. But Lizzie made signs for her sister and
herself by which they could understand each other.
Sometimes it was a look, sometimes a movement of
the hand; but, one way and another, the deaf sister
understood, and life was made pleasant to her, and
home was made a happy place to her. I think that
is a beautiful fact in Lizzie's life, that she began her
work of enriching others by making happy the poor
dumb sister under her own roof.
In the village where Lizzie lived girls were married
when very young, and they were mothers before they
had learned many of the things which mothers need
to know. These young mothers used to come to
Lizzie for advice. She was an excellent needlewoman,
and knew how to shape and sew dresses and under-
clothing for the babies. She taught them to sew, to
shape, and to make up the little dresses. She taught
them also to patch and to darn. And she did all this
in the cheeriest way, encouraging them, and dropping
in good words for God as the sewing lesson went on,
and words to help them to strive to make their homes
happy and bright. Many a young mother got rich
blessings at Lizzie's bedside. When the lessons in
38 7T1' CIILDREA"'S PORIO 77N.
sewing were ended, they found that they had been
receiving lessons better still all the while. They had
learned that heaven was very near to them, that the
brightness of it and the love of it could be in the
poorest cottage. They had found it in the room of
this poor sick woman, and they left her presence with
this thought in their hearts, that it could be brought
into the homes over which they themselves were set,
and into the lives of the little children they had received
There was one thing of which Lizzie was very fond.
She liked to have little meetings for prayer in her
room, and by-and-by these meetings came to be held
from month to month to pray for a blessing on the work
of foreign missions. For these meetings Lizzie always
prepared herself. She had become, through her inter-
course with the kind ladies I mentioned, a most beau-
tiful reader. She selected interesting stories from the
missionary magazines, and read them between the
prayers. In this way she kept alive an interest in
missionary work among those who came to the meet-
ings. Those who came got tidings of work for God
which, perhaps, they would not otherwise have got.
But they got far more than that. They also saw the
interest taken in God's work by that poor invalid.
They saw her face glowing with joy as she read of
that work in heathen lands. They heard the sweet
murmur of Christian speech of one who was herself
living to God. And they returned to their homes with
LIZZIE LAIRD. 39
this feeling in their hearts, that they had been at-
tending a missionary meeting at the very gate of
Lizzie's greatest work for God, in the enrichment
of others, was work of example. This is work which
is very dear to God. It is greater than almost any
other work we can do. To everybody who entered her
room Lizzie was an example of patient suffering. She
was, as I have told you, very poor. Money she had
none, except what she received from kind friends and
the parish. She was broken in body-a mere trunk-
fixed on her bed, obliged to lie on her face; yet no
murmur ever passed her lips. She took a loving
interest in the affairs of her neighbours. If any good
came to them, she rejoiced; if any sorrow, she wept
with them. She loved children, and was loved by
them in return. Bands of them would come at times
and sing hymns at her door to cheer her. As a rule
she was cheerful, sometimes even merry, when friends
called on her. To see Lizzie happy, to hear her plea-
sant speech, to listen to her merry laugh, was all the
same with seeing the kindness and power of God at
work. Only God could give the happiness which one
so poor and broken as Lizzie now enjoyed. It made
people think of God. It made many who grumbled
over their own little troubles ashamed of their grumb-
ling; and it opened up to some, who otherwise might
never have seen it, a view of the presence of Christ in
the house of one of His poorest sisters.
40 77/A C1IL)R)A'AN'AS I'7 A /1( )V1 .
A friend of mine went to see Lizzie solllctimes. I
will tell you how she made him rich. 1cir fice made
him think of angels; it was the likest to what lie
fancied the faces of angels must be. It always seemed
to him also, when he was visiting her, as if that humble
little room was a room in heaven. Everything he
heard and saw spoke to him of the better world.
Everything was beautiful. Flowers, although of the
commonest sort, always stood on the table. A beauti-
ful white quilt covered the bed. Lizzie's hands were
like the hands of a queen. Her pleasant and refined
talk was talk with God in it. Her smile was the smile
of one who had a continual joy in her heart, and the
happy, happy laugh that sometimes came in, was like
what he fancied the laughter of children in heaven
must be. That was the riches he got. He came away
from her presence with the thought in his heart, I
have been in one of the ante-rooms of heaven."
This was the riches with which, through God's help,
she enriched the people who came to see her. She
opened up views of heaven to them. The light of it
shone in her eyes; the speech of it dropped from her
lips; and in the hearts of rich and poor alike the
thought of it was found after they left the bedroom of
poor Lizzie Laird.
Lizzie could not have made people feel in that way
if she had not got the life of heaven in her own soul.
But it was that life she lived. The thought of heaven,
the hope of one day going to Christ there, the feeling
LIZZIE LAIRD. 41
that Christ was meanwhile with her here,-this was the
secret of her power to make others rich. It was a joy
rising continually in new bursts of gladness in her heart.
It was her song in the night. Always night and day
welled up and sounded this song in her soul.
And all this grew as she grew old. The light on
her face became more and more a light from heaven.
Her face itself became more beautiful. Her bright,
dark eyes became brighter and more filled with joy.
Her fine hair remained with her to the end, and only
tinged with grey. Her well-made body showed more
and more the beauty that had been spoiled in the
dismal mine. Her fine hands grew finer, softer, more
and more like the hands of a queen. Her speech
became more refined. And the accent of heaven went
deeper and deeper into her voice.
About two years before her death her pains came
back to her. She had a time of great suffering till the
12th of January, 1881. On that day she died, an old
woman not far from seventy years of age, leaning on
the neck of a niece she loved. She was buried in the
churchyard of the village in which she suffered so long.
A great multitude followed her body to the grave. It
was felt by many that day that a light of heaven had
gone out upon the earth, and that the world was poorer
since Lizzie Laird had gone home to God.
THE LITTLE MISSIONARY Y.
THE LITTLE MISSIONARY.
/ N the outskirts of a city I well know, lived,
more than thirty years ago, a friend of
~mine whose name was Barbara. At the
time I first met with her she was still a
girl attending school. And I remember
that she was small and slender in her
form, and that she had dark hair and large
kindling brown eyes. Everybody who knew her loved
her. She was a kindly, eager, bright girl, a great
reader, very fond of good books, but especially fond
of books about missionaries. And among books of
this kind, there was one, much read in those days,
which was her greatest favourite. This was the life
of a brave young scholar called Henry Martyn, who
gave up his English life and went to India to be a mis-
sionary there. Barbara used to say. If I were a
boy, and clever like Henry Martyn, I should do just as
he did, and go to India too."
A few years after that Barbara was married, and in a
home of her own. It was a very pleasant home to
46 TIHE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
visit. Barbara was happy in her husband, and she
and her husband happy in God. And by-and-by they
were happier still, for God sent them a beautiful baby
Barbara's heart overflowed with joy and with thank-
fulness to God. Every now and again, as she clasped
her baby to her breast, she would burst forth into
singing. A thought greater than she had yet courage
to speak of was in her heart. Although she herself
could not follow in the footsteps of Henry Martyn, her
boy might live to do it. She went into God's presence
every day and told this thought to him in her prayers.
Then she found courage to name it to her husband.
And before many days were over her joy was complete,
for her husband and she agreed together to give their
boy to God, and to train him up to become a mission-
ary like Henry Martyn.
In this purpose Barbara, with her husband, rested,
and had great joy of heart. When the baby was
brought to the church to be baptized, the name given
was Henry Martyn. And by-and-by it came to be
known among their friends in the church that Henry
was to become a missionary. When we kissed the
baby or took him into our arms to dandle him we called
him the little missionary." And the happy months of
babyhood went on.
But when the months of babyhood were past, the
friends who came to call on Barbara noticed a strange
look about her face. The joy seemed to be going out
THE LITTLE MISSIONARY. 47
of it, and they saw that she looked eagerly at the eyes
of her visitors as they looked at her child. But she
said nothing. The time had come when the little
missionary should have been speaking his first word
for God, when he should have been saying mamma,"
and he had not said it, nor made any trial of saying it.
He never said it. He was both deaf and dumb. He
looked up into her face in the old way, the large
brown eyes kindling with love; but that was all. She
took him to the doctors in her own city; she went to
Edinburgh and London to show him to more famous
doctors there. They could do nothing. Henry Martyn,
who had been given to God to be a missionary, re-
mained deaf and dumb.
Barbara had other children, bright like herself, and
happy and eager as she had been in her early days.
And she bowed her spirit to the will of God with
respect to Henry. Often, as the little group were
sitting around the table, she would fix her eyes on
Henry and wonder over the ways of God. But she
never lost faith in God. She never fell into the evil
thought that God was unkind to her. She held to
this-that God, in His own good way, would bless
him and keep him in His love.
It happened that Barbara's youngest brother was
living in her home. Soon after Barbara was married
her mother died, and the home of her childhood was
broken up. On her death-bed her mother had said to
her, "Barbara, watch over Reuben; the rest can take
4S THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
care of themselves." And Barbara had said, Darling,
I will be unto him even as a mother." And she was.
She loved him with a love like the love she put forth
on her children. But Reuben was a great care to her.
He took no interest in the things of his soul. He
never opened his Bible. He never entered a church.
He was living like one who did not believe in God, or
in Christ, or in a better world. And by-and-by he
became friendly with a set of men, both young and old,
who met together to study books that made a mock of
the Bible and of the Church. Barbara pled with him ;
Barbara prayed for him; in secret Barbara wept over
him. And I really believe that this was as hard a trial
to her as the dumbness of her firstborn.
From the first day Reuben came into the home
the speechless Henry took to him as his friend.
When Reuben came in to his meals, the little man ran
forward to him with uplifted arms. When Reuben sat
down he climbed up on his knee. If he got a new toy
or picture-book, Reuben was the first to see it. And
of all in the house, when anything ailed him, only
Reuben could hush him to sleep. Reuben loved the
child as much as the child loved him.
When Reuben's ways had become so as I have
described, little Henry was about twelve years old. He
had never been strong. He had never been so strong
that his parents could send him to a school for the deaf
and the dumb. The only teaching he had was from
his mother and Reuben. They had learned to speak
THE LITTLE MISSIONARY. 49
with the fingers, and little by little Henry was brought
to understand and to use his own. But in the midst of
these lessons his health gave way. He had a serious
illness. In this illness the little heart yearned more
than ever it had done for Reuben. In the evenings,
when Reuben came home from his work, the little
arms were stretched out for his friend, and he had to be
taken out of bed and nestled on Reuben's knees.
And Reuben gave up all his outdoor friends that he
might meet this love of the child. He told some of
them that he felt Henry tugging at him, and saw him
reaching out his arms to him all day long. He came
straight home every night, and took up his place as
Henry's nurse. And dumb though Henry was, he
spoke for God to Reuben's heart. His love made a
language of its own that it might appeal to that heart.
And in strange ways, which I cannot explain, echoes of
the love which God had for both the child and himself
began to sound in his heart and escape by his lips in
little snatches of remembered hymns. And, more
wonderful still, he was led back by the child's need to
prayer. Henry's sufferings were sometimes so great
and difficult to help that when the rest of the house-
hold had gone to their beds, and Reuben was alone
with the sufferer, he would kneel beside the little crib
and cry to God for help.
In the room where Reuben and the child slept there
was a shelf filled with books. And among the books
was one with pictures of the sufferings of Christ, by a
50 711E CHILDREN'S FORY ION.
great painter called Albert DIirer. In the long evenings,
when the child was propped up with pillows and
Reuben had shown him every toy and curious thing in
the room, he would next take down the picture-book
and show him the pictures of the sufferings of Christ.
There were pictures of all His sufferings. There was a
picture of Christ weeping over Jerusalem, and one of
His betrayal in the garden, and one of His scourging,
and one of His fainting under the weight of the Cross,
and one of Him when hanging on the Cross. But the
picture which most moved little Henry was that in
which the Lord is being nailed to the Cross. The
Cross is lying on the ground; the Lord is stretched
upon it. A man is driving a nail into the left hand;
another man is boring a hole to make the place ready
for the right hand; in front a soldier is waiting with
the nail; behind, the mother of Christ is looking on
with a face full of anguish, and behind her are the
women of Jerusalem that wept for Jesus. It is one of
the most awful pictures of the Lord's sufferings ever
made by man. Henry asked to see it every evening. And
by the finger-speech-as well as he could-the child
was made to understand both Who the sufferer was and
why He was suffering. Tears would often come into
Henry's eyes as he looked at this picture. And some-
times he would lift it to his lips and kiss it.
But now it was too plain that Henry's own sufferings
were to end in death. His face was white and pinched;
his brown eyes grew larger and larger and shone like
THE LITTLE MISSIONARY. 5I
lamps; his body was hot and spent. It was an
autumn evening when the sufferings came to an end.
He had been very restless during the day, but became
quiet when Reuben came home and sat by his side
with the little hand in his. There was a long glow of
red and purple in the sky that evening, and the child
was placed so that he could see it. About eight o'clock
he motioned to Reuben for the picture-book, and then
for the picture which had touched him most. Then
he took the book into his thin hands and pressed it
open at that picture on his breast. And then, looking
straight into his mother's eyes, he died.
So the gracious God did not put Barbara to shame,
neither did He reject her gift. Little Henry lived to
speak for Him and to save the soul of his uncle.
Though dead he continued to speak in the home.
Every other child in the family was drawn nearer to
God by his death. The home itself in their esteem
seemed to be lifted nearer to heaven. And heaven
also was more precious to them than ever as they
remembered that it was the land where the tongue of
the dumb shall sing.
For many years Reuben was not able to speak about
Henry without tears. But when those years had passed,
he told me that at times he still felt the little sufferer
tugging at his heart; and in the autumn evenings
when a glow is on the sky he seems to hear a far-off
voice calling to him, "Reuben, my own Reuben, come
to me, to this happy land."
OF THINKING TOO HIGHLY OF OURSELVES.
OF THINKING TOO HIGHLY OF OUR-
OR I say unto you, through the grace
given unto me, to every man that is
among you: Not to think of himself
more highly than he ought to think."
It was the Apostle Paul who said
this. He says it in his letter to the
Roman Church. You cannot help feeling, in reading
it, that he is very earnest in saying it. He had seen,
as he went up and down among the Churches, that it
was a thing which much needed to be said. Those
were the first Churches, and the people who belonged
to them had not been Christians long. There were
many things they could not yet understand. And per-
haps they did not yet understand that it could be a fault
to do what all their lives before they had been doing,
to think more highly of themselves than they ought.
But, as I have said, Paul is very earnest in telling them
that this thing ought not to be. And in another of his
letters-his letter to the Philippian Church, he says
what may be called the other half of what he said to
56 TIE CIIL DIRIvE'S FOR 7YON.
those in Rome : Let each esteem other better than
himself." Paul saw that homes would be happier, and
churches holier, and the whole world better, if only
those two things could be done.
Now, as often as I read those words together, three
thoughts come into my heart. First, I cannot help
thinking how wonderful it is that things so simple as
not thinking too highly of ourselves, and thinking more
highly of others than of ourselves, should have such
power as they have. Next, I think that they are things
which everybody who is willing to try is able, by God's
help, to do. And then I am filled with the thought of
the exceeding goodness of God in putting such simple,
such easy means of doing good into everybody's
I really believe, therefore, if the holy Paul were
living now and had to speak to children, it would be
such words as these he would speak :-" You need,
just like the first Christians, to learn how simple and
easy the rules of Christian life are; and how close to
you, young though you be, lie powers of God by which
you can be working for God and making those about
you happy every day you live." Therefore I take
those words of Paul for. my sermon for you to-day.
I say unto you, dear children, through the grace given
unto me, to every one who is among you, not to think
of himself more highly than he ought to think. And
I entreat you, with my whole heart, this very day to
begin and let each esteem other better than himself.
OF THINKINGG TOO HIGHLY OF OURSELVES. 57
It is misery to do anything else. The life that
acts otherwise is the evil life of pride. It is pride
that leads children to think no other children are as
good as they. It is pride that makes it difficult to see
the good that is in those around us. More than any-
thing else in an evil heart is this evil of pride a sorrow
to God. It blinds our eyes to the good that is in God
Himself. It makes us haughty, and envious, and
scornful. It leads to heartbreaks in families, and to
quarrels in schools, and to hatred and wars with
nations. It is such an evil that it can turn religion
itself into a thing abominable to both God and man.
It was pride that made the Pharisee who was praying
beside the Publican in the temple to say, "God, I
thank thee that I am not as other men, or even as this
It was my good fortune not long ago to hear told by
a friend some wonderful German stories.* And one of
these brings out, so much better than I could do, the
misery to which pride of this kind leads, that I shall try
to re-tell it instead of preaching a sermon to you to-day.
In a certain German city, many, many years ago,
lived a young man who was an organ-builder. Nobody
could build such organs as his. And every new one he
built was better than the one before. He was called
At last he built one that was better than all the rest.
He called it the Wonderful Organ. It was so made
"* By Professor Volkmann, of Halle.
5S TilE, CIIIDAREN'S PORTION.
that on certain occasions it could play of itself. The
occasions when it could play of itself were when good,
right-hearted, well-behaved young people came into the
church to be married. As soon as two such young
persons crossed the threshold of the church the organ
began to play of its own accord. But if either the one
or the other was bad, or had an evil pride in the heart,
it did not play.
When the young master-builder finished this organ,
and got it built into its place in the church, he said to
himself, My fortune is made now, and I shall have a
home of my own, and a wife. And I will take my
bride to the church in which my wonderful organ is.
And as soon as we cross the threshold it will burst out
into happy music, and all the people will say, 'That
is the wonderful organ, and this is the master who
built it, and she who is beside him is his bride.' "
So he went one day to seek a bride. He went to
the fairest, kindest, most modest girl in all the city,
and he said to her that he loved her and wished her to
become his bride. And she gave him her love, and the
day for the wedding was fixed.
It was a beautiful day, and the wedding guests were
happy. But the bridegroom kept filling his heart with
the thought, that so soon as he took his beautiful bride
into the church his organ would begin to play, and all
the people would say, "Listen to the wonderful organ,
and see the builder of it is there." His heart was
filled with pride in his organ and himself, so that
OF THINKING TOO HIGHLY OF OURSELVES. 59
there was not room in it for any thought or feeling
So the wedding company came to the church door,
and the bridegroom and the bride passed in. But the
organ did not play, and its silence went to the bride-
groom's heart like a knife. Have I made a mistake
in my choice ? he said to himself. Is this fair-
looking maiden not fair, not good ? Alas for me this
He did not once think that the evil which made his
organ silent might be the evil of pride in himself. The
smiles went out of his face; the joy went out of his
heart; his warm hands got cold and clammy. He
went through the wedding ceremony like a dead man.
He did not touch the wedding breakfast; he did not
say one kind word that whole day to his bride; he
only kept brooding over the evil thought, that the fair
young creature who had given him her love was not
fair, nor good, at heart. And with this evil thought in
his soul he stole out so soon as the guests were gone
and it was dark enough, and left his beautiful bride alone.
He went from street to street till he got outside of
the walls. Then he took the road to a foreign country
and walked all that night, and the night following,
sleeping where he could by day. At last he came to
a city in which he was not known, and there he took
up his abode. And in that strange city he lived for
many years; he lived till grey hairs were beginning to
show themselves on his head. And still he thought
60 TIHE CHILDREN'S POR 7ON.
that he was in sorrow and in hiding because there had
been evil in his bride.
One day, however, when all those years had passed,
there came into his heart a great longing to see his
native city, and if it might be his bride also once
more. He tried to put away the longing; but it would
not be put away. So at length he said to himself, I
will go back once more and look upon the organ and
upon her." And with that he rose, and left the place
in which he had been living so many years. And he
turned his steps to the city in which he had left his
wonderful organ and his bride.
At last he saw the spires of his native city in the
distance, and by-and-by he was at its gate. So eager
to enter it was he now that he had begun to run. And
the people he passed turned round and looked at the
stranger who was running as if for his life.
As he ran he met a funeral procession. The people
walking in it were weeping, and the street along which
it was passing was filled with people also weeping.
" Whose funeral is this?" he asked. "It is the
funeral of a saint, of one who has been as an angel in
the city, so kind was she to the sick and the poor."
Then the people named her. It was his own bride.
And, oh then, in the poor man's soul, fell down the
cruel wall which his pride had built, and which, for so
many years, had kept him from seeing the spotless
purity, the holy charity of his bride. Then, when too
late to ask her pardon, he beheld the worth he had
OF THINKING TOO HIGH Y OF OURSEL VES. 61
wronged. And in that same moment he learned that it
was the pride of his own heart which had stilled the
organ on the wedding-day. He trembled from head to
foot. A horror of shame and humiliation fell upon his
soul, tears streamed from his eyes, and sobs burst from
his breast. But he went forth among the pall-bearers
and begged to be allowed to help. The people thought
he was some poor workman whom their dead angel had
helped. But now a wonderful thing took place. As
the pall-bearers with the body crossed the threshold
and passed forward into the church, the great organ, of
its own accord, burst forth into an anthem of praise.
It was too much for the poor organ-builder. Sick at
heart because of his sin, and faint with his long journey,
he sank exhausted at the base of a pillar. He had
spoiled his life and the life of the dead one of whom he
had not been worthy. Never now could he tell his
sorrow. Never now could he give or receive her love.
There was just one comfort. He knew that God had
forgiveness for sinners as bad as he. And he seemed
to hear in the tones of the organ the very tones of the
As the people were about to lower his bride's coffin
into the grave, he was seen to grow white and to fall
forward on the floor. Some who hurried to his help
found that he was already dead. And by some token
about his dress or person they discovered that this was
the husband of the saint they had come to lay in the
grave. And the teaching of God fell upon their hearts.
62 IHE CHILDREN'S PO RTION.
They kept back the body of the bride. They prepared
the dead husband for burial. And they laid them
together in the same grave. And as the two bodies
were being lowered into the grave, the organ, of its own
accord, began to play. It played such an anthem as
had never before been heard, of the most heavenly
music. But after that it was never known to play of
its own accord.
/ r __j
THE WISHING WELL.
THE WISHING WELL.
WAS this autumn taken by a young friend
"- to a well among the Northumberland hills,
which is known by the name of "The
Wishing Well." It lies in a lonely valley,
marshy and stony, where only sheep and
cows are to be met. To this well the
Northumbrians of former days used to
come, and, standing by its brink, silently wish the wish
of their heart. And as they did so they said to them-
selves, Our wish shall, one day, sooner or later, come
But that was long ago. That was away back in
times when people believed that wells were holy places,
in which God sometimes dwelt, and in which His power
was present to heal diseases, and even to take sorrow
from the heart. In those days it came to be thought
that this particular well among the Northumberland
hills was a living thing, which had an ear that opened
into the ear of God, and that every wish wished at its
brink, so be it were the real wish of the heart, would
one day surely be fulfilled. It seems mere folly to us
now. And although young people still go up to the
well, and take their friends to visit it, and make a show
66 THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
of wishing the wish of their heart at its brink, it is only
as a bit of pleasure. The old faith in it is gone. And
the going to it and the wishing at its brink are mere
forms of a life that is dead.
But as I stood beside it with my young friend that
forenoon, in that lonesome valley, with not a sound to
break the stillness of the place except our talk, it came
into my mind that in one thing at least it was not
altogether a foolish belief which the old people had.
The wishes of people's hearts are still granted to them.
Whether they wish their wishes at holy wells or no, the
wish, in the long run, comes to pass. For what comes
out in the wish of the heart is the life of the soul.
And what the soul wishes for is a prayer that goes at
once into the ear of God. And that is true for both
you and me. And that makes it needful to see that we
have only good wishes in our hearts. For it is with us
as with the old Northumbrians. What we truly wish,
what we wish deep down in the heart, where only
God and our own thoughts can enter,-that, sooner or
later, that, in this world or the next, we shall certainly
One of the wonderful stories I heard from the friend
I mentioned in my last sermon makes this truth as
plain as day. But it is only a little echo of it I can
recall. At any rate, I cannot tell it just as it came
Away out in the Northern Sea of Scotland stand
clusters of lonely islands. In these, long ago, churches
THE WISHING WELL. 67
were few and far between, and many of the islanders
had to go to church in boats.
On one particular Sunday a little crowd was waiting
for the boat. And among those who went into it when
it came were the Laird of Nigg, and a poor hind who
attended to sheep and ponies in the winter-time, and in
the summer went out to fish.
Now the captain of the boat saw that the wind was
rising, and he arranged the people in the seats so as to
balance the boat and make it sail fair, and unfortunately
he put the Laird and the hind side by side on the same
seat. The Laird was very angry, but he could not
show his anger, for the hind and he were members of
the same church, and although the hind was poor and
poorly dressed, he was greatly esteemed.
By-and-by the people began to talk about heaven,
and about the happiness they expected there.
For my part," said the poor hind, "if I should be
thought worthy to enter heaven at all, I shall be
thankful to sit on the lowest footstool, if only I may see
my Saviour from there. I want nothing but to look on
the face of Christ for ever."
"I should want a great deal more than that," said
the Laird. I should want a fine house to live in, and
plenty to eat, and fine clothes, and as much gold as I
He was going on to tell what other things he wished
for, when a strong wind suddenly smote the sails and
put an end to the conversation. And before the
6S THE CHILDREN'S POR TION.
captain could hinder it, the boat was driven out to
sea, and they did not get to church that day.
The Laird got very drowsy, and by-and-by he fell
into a deep sleep. And in his sleep he had this dream.
He dreamed that he and the poor hind had died and
were on their way together to the gate of the other
world. And he began to question the hind about their
conversation in the boat. "Do you really mean," he
said, to ask for nothing when you come to heaven,
but to sit on a footstool and look on the face of Christ ? "
" If I only may be admitted to such bliss, I shall be
for ever thankful," said the hind.
Then they came to the gate. The poor hind was too
timid to knock. He only gave a tiny little tap, as if he
were not worthy even to do that. But the Laird
seized the great knocker, and made it bang again and
again. And immediately the gate was opened, and an
angel came out. He looked kindly at the hind, but not
so kindly at the Laird. But he said to both, "Come
in." Then he brought them into a large round hall,
with more than a thousand doors opening into differ-
ent passages all round. And after looking at them
silently for a little, he said, "In this world people
receive what they have wished for in the world below.
Recall the wish that was the wish of your very heart
below. And what you ask for you shall have."
The Laird did not wait to hear what his poor
neighbour might ask. He answered at once and said,
" I want a marble palace to live in, green velvet edged
THE WISHING WELL. 69
with gold to wear, a fine banquet every day, and as
much gold as I can count."
You shall have all these," said the angel. So he
opened one of the thousand doors and led him in.
Before him was a magnificent palace of marble, whose
doors opened to receive him. In the dressing-room
were robes of green velvet edged with gold. In the
dining-room the table was covered with the richest
food. And the cellars were filled with gold. When
the angel had shown him all these things he left him.
But the Laird noticed that he locked the door of the
palace as he went out.
A year went past. Ten, twenty, a hundred years
went past. And still the banquets were spread. And
the rich dresses were provided. And the cellars
remained full of gold. But the Laird was not so
happy as he had expected to be.
One day he heard a key turn in the lock, and the
angel entered. "How are you getting on in your
marble palace?" said the angel. The Laird replied,
"I did not expect heaven would be dull like this."
" Heaven !" exclaimed the angel. "You surely do not
think that this is heaven? You are in hell." The
Laird began to tremble. Could I see heaven from
here ?" he asked. The angel led him up to the top-
most tower of the palace, and drew out a slate. A ray
of the most beautiful light came through, and made all
the colours of the rainbow on the walls of the tower.
" If you fix your eye at that opening, and let it travel
70 ITE CHILDREN'S POR7 ION.
along the ray of light, at the far end of it you will have
a glimpse of heaven." Standing on his tiptoes, he
steadied his eye at the open space and looked. Far
away he beheld a throne, the most glorious he had
ever dreamed or heard of, and on the throne a form
more beautiful than he had words to describe. And he
also saw sitting on a footstool near the throne the hind
he had despised, gazing at the face of God, and his
own face filled with signs of peace and joy. IIe was
about to put some more questions to the angel when
he found that he was gone, and even at that moment
locking the palace door. A great horror took hold of
him. He felt himself trembling from head to foot.
He tried to cry on the angel to come back, but not a
sound would come into his lips. The last thing of his
dream he remembered was that he fell on the floor of
the tower room and hid his face in his hands.
When he awoke he found himself still sitting in the
boat. His head had fallen on his poor neighbour's
shoulder, and the kind man had made a pillow for it
there. How thankful the Laird now felt that he was
still on this side of the grave! How sinful now seemed
to him the pride which wanted a marble palace instead
of God! And how poor and mean looked in his own
eyes the arrogance and hard-heartedness with which
he had regarded the humble hind!
I do not know all that happened to the Laird in his
after life. But on that Sunday evening, when the boat
got back into the harbour, he asked the poor hind to
THE WISHING WELL. 71
come up with him to his house and dine with him.
Then, when they were alone, he asked him to pray for
him. And when they were about to part, he lifted the
hand of the poor hind to his lips and kissed it gently.
It was observed in after days, when the Laird prayed
with his family, that every morning he asked for grace
to enable him and his that day to set their hearts on
the things of God. And that is the prayer I commend
to each of you. Ask help from God to wish from the
heart the things which He would have you to wish;
the things which are at His right hand in the heavenly
places. That is the wish you will be glad to have
wished when your earthly life is ended; that also is
the wish whose fulfilment will be your portion in the
very heaven of God.
,"-- : -~ -- ---- -2 ......---
, ~ ~-,lpsW~Pt~~ r ii~~
I. "THOUGH YE HAVE LIEN AMONG THE POTS."
II. WINGS OF A DOVE COVERED WITH SILVER."
"THOUGH YE HAVE LIEN AMONG THE POTS."
SFEW years ago a book was published
_I by a lady, in which she made many
Sth in g s w h ic h a r e in th e B ib le p la in b y
telling what she had seen in the land
) ^ where the Bible was written. Among
the things made plain by her was the
verse in Psalm lxviii.- "Though ye have lien among
the pots, yet ye shall be as the wings of a dove covered
with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."
In the land where the Bible was written the houses
have flat roofs. People go up, there in the cool
evenings to sit. Sometimes they sleep there; and
sometimes they cook their food there.
When the food is cooked on the roof, the fire is
built in a corner; the pots and pans are kept in that
corner; and, of course, there is always a heap of soot
and ashes there.
Now the nights are soiiietimes very cold in that land,
76 THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
and doves like to have a warm bed to sleep in, and
they are wise enough to find out and like the warm
corner on the house-tops where the fires have been.
And although it is not very tidy or clean there, it is
warm, and they fold their wings and lie down in the
ashes beside the pots and pans, and go to sleep; and
very soon their beautiful wings are soiled and blackened
with ashes and soot.
One morning, when this lady had been sleeping on
the roof of the house where she was staying, she
happened to wake very early, and as she was looking
about her and at the beautiful sky, she saw some doves
that had been sleeping in the fireplace waking up, rising
from their bed of ashes, and shooting out and up in
the morning air. And as they flew past she noticed
that the morning light fell so richly on their wings
that they shone like silver and gold.
Then she remembered this verse in the sixty-eighth
Psalm. The very thing she was looking at had been
seen hundreds of years before by the singer who first
sang that psalm. He had said to himself, just as this
lady said, That is a picture of the change which takes
place when God drops down His blessing on any
humble life." Yes, just that way shine the lives of
poor mothers and mothers' children when God visits
their lowly homes with the glad tidings of His love.
He brings them out into the light. He covers them
with the light. They become His children, and every-
thing in them and about them is changed. They are
like the doves that have been sleeping among the ashes,
with wings all soiled by their humble bed among the
pots, soaring into the beautiful light of the morning,
until the soiled wings shine as if covered with silver,
and the feathers as with yellow gold.
I once heard of a poor boy of whose life this verse is
almost the very story, and to whom on two occasions it
came as if sent from God Himself. He had been
brought over from Savoy to sweep chimneys in London.
I am afraid he was stolen and sold to do this work. It
was a hard time for boys like him. They had to rise
in the early morning, before the people of the city had
begun to wake, and go out with a brush in their hand
and a bag on their back, barefooted, winter and
summer, after their masters, along the silent streets,
crying, "Chimneys to sweep-sweep--sweep! But,
far worse than that, they had to go up the chimneys,
from the fireplace inside to the chimney-pot on the
roof, brushing all the way. Sometimes, in the cold
mornings, perhaps only half awake, the little fellows
would be afraid to go up all alone into the dark and
narrow chimney; and too often when this befell they
were beaten and compelled to go up. Many and many
a time when I myself was a boy have I met those
tiny little chaps in the street, with white channels on
their black cheeks, where the tears had been run-
I do not know that Carlo, whose story I am telling,
was ever beaten by his master; but he was often
7S THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
spoken to very harshly. He was not very well fed.
He had to sleep in a miserable bed. His clothes were
very thin, and soiled, and poor; and he was as
lonesome as any boy ever was in London. He knew
no one. His father, if he was living still, was far
away in Savoy. His mother was dead. He had never
been to school; he did not even know the A B C.
The only pleasure he had was playing marbles with
boys as poor as himself.
There was one thing, however, in Carlo's life, poor
and wretched though his lot was, which was better to
him than money or fine clothes. God had put a great
hunger for school learning into his heart. As he went
along the streets and saw the shop-signs, he often said
to himself, Some day I hope to be able to read these
And the day came, sooner than he hoped for, when
he was to make a beginning in this learning. It was
a bright day in summer. His morning's work was
over; he had been to his master's place with his bag
and brush; and now, with the soot rubbed off his face
and shaken out of his hair, he was going some errand
for his master's wife. He had to cross a large square
in which there was a public school. Just then the
boys had their play-hour, and it was the time for
marbles. Little groups were scattered about, kneeling
and bending over their game, and some of the school-
books had been thrown on the ground, and were being
blown open by the wind.
It was the first time Carlo had seen a school-book,
or, except through a bookseller's window, any book.
He stopped, he knelt down, he looked at what seemed
to him the strange forms of the letters. And the
desire came strongly into his heart that he also might
have the blessing which those boys who were playing
had, and one day be able to read their books. Just
then, however, the boy whose book lhe was bending
over saw the black figure near it, and came up and gave
him a scolding for looking at his books. 'The poor
Savoyard at first started up, and shrank back afraid and
sorry, and was about to pass on, when a thought came
into his mind in a moment, and in his broken English
he spoke it out: "I am sorry I did not mean to
soil your book; but if you will turn over the leaves
and let me see to the end I will give you some marbles."
The boy went into that proposal at once and got the
marbles. And then the sweep-boy said, I should so
like to learn to read a book. I will come every day at
this hour if you will teach me the letters, and I will
give you a marble for every letter I learn." This
bargain also was struck, and the little man soon began
to get well on in the alphabet. But the book in which
he had his lessons began also to have some marks of
sooty fingers, and his boy-teacher told him that he
was being scolded in the school, and could not teach
him any more.
Carlo was very sad, and it was a day or two before
his sadness grew less. But just then he remembered
8o THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
that there was a churchyard near the square, and that
the headstones were covered with letters. He went
back to the boy who had taught him, gave him a hand-
ful of marbles he had won that morning, and asked if
he would come for five minutes every day to the
cemetery and teach him from the stones. And he did.
And other boys came to think it good play to help.
And by-and-by the poor Savoyard knew letters and
was able to read the smaller words on the stones.
WINGS OF A DOVE COVERED WITH SILVER."
THE story I am telling you takes us back to the time
when Sunday-schools began to be held in London.
By some means or other Carlo found his way to a
Sunday-school. Here it was his good hap to have a
kind teacher, a working joiner, who took an interest in
him, and helped him to learn to read. And before long
he could read the easy verses in the Gospels pretty
The teacher's son was about Carlo's own age, but
was attending a public school. He was a very kind
lad, and used to tell the poor Savoyard what fine
doings they sometimes had at school. One Sunday
he came to him in great glee, and said the school was
to go in procession with other schools to St. Paul's
Cathedral on Holy Thursday, and it was to be a
holiday. And then he said, "And you will come also,
Carlo; it will be fine to be there." Carlo resolved to
be there. It wanted suome weeks to the time, but he
began to get ready for the coming joy. His master
gave him liberty for tliat day, and tlhe master's wife
said she would see to his having a pair of shoes and a
cap. And at last the day came, and Carlo was early
at St. Paul's.
But it was one thing to be allowed to attAend a
Sunday-school in a back court of the City and in a
poor room, and another thing to be allowed to enter
St. Paul's on Holy Thursday. Carlo's Sunday clotlies
were only a little better than tlose he wore on week-
days, and they bore marks by which any one could see
that the wearer of thcm was an apprentice sweep.
Although he had washed his hands and face, he had
to do it without soap, and they also bore some marks
of his daily labours. To look at him, it must be said
Carlo was anything but clean. But he did not know
this. He had done the best he could to be clean, and
he came up to the door through which the schools were
passing in, and went forward to enter. Alas! a sharp
rude blow was dealt him by the staff of one of the
doorkeepers, and in an angry voice the man ordered
him to stand back and let the school children in.
Never before did Carlo realize how far he was from
good things. He was not good enough even to enter
a church. The tears started into his eyes. The day
he had so long looked forward to was to be for him a
day of misery. IHe had not courage to make a second
82 THE CHILDREN'S PORTlION.
attempt to enter. He turned aside and sat down on
one of the gravestones with a heavy and sad heart.
Meanwhile the procession of children passed in;
hundreds and thousands went in. And then the
Just at that time there was living in London a very
wonderful man, a painter of great pictures and also a
poet. His name was William Blake. He must have
seen the children marching into St. Paul's.
As far as I can make out by the dates of my story,
it was in that very year that this painter-poet wrote
his great song called "Holy Thursday," in which he
describes the procession :-
" 'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
Came children walking two and two, in red and blue and green,
Grey-headed beadles walked before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of St. Paul's they like Thames waters flow."
But poor Carlo had neither red nor blue nor green to
put on. And it was one of those grey-headed beadles
who so cruelly struck him with his staff. As he sat
there he fairly broke down. It was like being shut out
of heaven. His thoughts went away far back into a
happier time in Savoy. He remembered being taken
once by his mother into a building larger and grander
even than St. Paul's, and no one had offered to shut
him out then. But those days were gone. His mother
was dead; he was a stranger and an outcast now in a
It was rather cold where he had taken up his seat,
and he went round to the sunny side of the cathedral,
and sat down beneath a window where he could hear
the organ play. Just inside there, as it happened, the
choir was placed, and the anthem that day had been
chosen from the sixty-eighth Psalm. It was only the
sound he could hear when the whole choir sang. But
now and again single voices took up the words, and
these fell on his ear with great distinctness. And thus,
to this poor child that day came to comfort him the
words which have led me to tell this story,
"Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be
as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her
feathers with yellow gold." It was as if the words had
been sent to him direct from God. He could not
quite understand their meaning; he only understood
that they were words for such as he. It was because
he had been lying among the pots that he was shut out
from the church that morning. And now God was
speaking to him by the words of the singer who sang
that verse of the psalm.
A new feeling took hold of him. In a dim way he
felt that God would not shut him out. He waited till
the service was over and the school in which his friend
was had marched past, and then went home.
And it was none too soon that he went home.
Everything there was in a confusion. A fire had
broken out in the City, and the master had been sent
for to help to put it out. Carlo was to come after him
as soon as he returned. He had taken very little food
84 THE CHILDREN'S PORTION.
in the morning, and although he was both hungry and
faint now, he had to change his clothes and hurry after
his master as fast as he could. The moment he arrived
his master ordered him to climb a neighboring roof,
and pour the buckets of water which would be sent up
to him on that. But to that very roof, as soon as he
had reached it, the wind began to bend the flames.
When he took his place on the ridge the smoke and
the heat were stifling. And soon it was plain that this
house also would be burned. The master shouted to
the boy to come down, but the crackling of the fire and
the hubbub of the noise below drowned it, so that Carlo
never heard. And then, as I said, he was faint with
hunger and not able to decide for himself. He waited
for the buckets which never came up. The master got
to be busy at other parts of the fire, and forgot that the
boy had not come down. And there the child sat,
waiting to do the work he had been sent up to do, un-
able to move because he had been ordered there, the
flames all the while coming nearer and nearer every
moment. Should he go down ? He knew he would be
beaten if the water were carried up and he not there.
He shouted as loud as he could for the water, but the
noise of the fire drowned his voice too.
What happened after that he never could tell.
Whether he fell from the top, or was carried down on
the falling roof, nobody knew. A fireman found him
among the wreck in an insensible state. And when he
came to himself he was in a hospital.
It was a long time before he could move his limbs.
Both had been broken by the fall, and he had other
hurts besides. When at length the doctor said that
his bones were knit, it was only to add, But you are
not well yourself, poor boy!" He was far from well.
He could not sleep at nights for pains in his breast.
He was not able to take his food, and by-and-by it
became plain to everybody who saw him that Carlo
would never leave that bed alive.
Yet that was, perhaps, the happiest time of his life.
The Sunday-school teacher, whose son had been so
kind to him, and who had helped him to read the
Bible, came to see him two or three times a week.
And always he spent a part of Sunday afternoon at his
bedside. He could not speak much to Carlo, but he
had kind ways with him, and used to read nice verses
from the Bible. The boy thought to himself, that if
Jesus had been in London he would have done just as
this kind visitor did. And once or twice he let out
that that thought was in his mind. At one visit the
poor boy's face was covered over with beads of sweat,
and the teacher took his handkerchief and gently wiped
the face dry. The sufferer looked up and whispered,
"Jesus would have done that too." Another time his
friend took him a basket of sponge-cake and some
strawberries, and made a little feast for the two. Carlo
said, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with
But meanwhile he was sinking fast. He had been
86 THE CHILDREN'S POR TION.
six months in the hospital; the winter was drawing
near; the nights were getting cold; but his visitor
never failed to come. One Sunday he found Carlo
asleep, and he sat at the bedside till he should wake
up. As he sat there, he could not help watching the
white pinched face on the pillow. A flush was just
then touching the cheeks, and something like a smile
was moving over the lips. And then the eyes opened.
"I knew it was you," he said, I have been seeing
you in a dream. And such a happy dream it was!"
Then, between spasms of pain, almost by single
syllables at a time, he told his dream.
He was in the presence of a great church, greater
than St. Paul's, as great and beautiful as the church
his mother took him to when a child. It was summer
time; the birds were singing; the grass was white
with flowers. As he stood there, troops of children
began to arrive and to pass into the church. They
were dressed in the most lovely dresses he had ever
seen, and were smiling and singing as they went past.
He also wished to enter, but remembered that he was
covered with sooty clothes. But a strange thing
happened. He seemed to see himself, all black and
grimy, going up timidly to the door and pleading to
get in. And he noticed, as the black-robed child stood
there, that the great doors of the church were thrown
open, and an angel came out and touched him. He
saw the blackness passing away. He saw the angel
covering the boy with a white and shining robe. He
saw him taking the boy by the hand and leading him
in. And just at that moment he heard sung by a
single voice in the choir, as he had heard six months
before, but more sweetly, the words, Though ye have
lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a
dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow
gold." But, dear teacher, the great sight was this,
I thought that angel was just like you."
That was the last visit the teacher had to make to
his poor scholar. Carlo died next day, and I am sure
he went to that very Saviour whom he had learned to
know, partly from reading about him in the Gospel and
partly from seeing Him--or thinking he saw Him-in
the face and words and acts of his gentle teacher.