Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The wedge
 Goads and nails
 Are you breathing?
 The tidal river
 The secret of the lord
 Weights and wings
 Rocking Stones
 The kiss
 All fools' day
 'But if not'
 The touchstone
 The spectre of the brocken
 'As water'
 'Hold your tongue'
 The drill of life
 The parable of the cricket...
 The city of gold
 The gate of pearl
 Back Cover

Group Title: Edges and wedges : a book for the young
Title: Edges and wedges
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00082952/00001
 Material Information
Title: Edges and wedges a book for the young
Physical Description: 160 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Mackray, Archibald N
Religious Tract Society (Great Britain) ( Publisher )
Selwood Printing Works ( Printer )
Butler and Tanner ( Printer )
R. & E. Taylor (Firm) ( Engraver )
Publisher: Religious Tract Society
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Butler & Tanner ; Selwood Printing Works
Publication Date: [1895?]
Subject: Christian life -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Tools -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Storytelling -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1895
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
England -- Frome
Statement of Responsibility: by Archibald N. Mackray.
General Note: Date of publication from inscription.
General Note: Illustrations engraved by R. and E. Taylor.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00082952
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002233596
notis - ALH4005
oclc - 228107571

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    The wedge
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Goads and nails
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Are you breathing?
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
    The tidal river
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
    The secret of the lord
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
    Weights and wings
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
    Rocking Stones
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
    The kiss
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
    All fools' day
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
    'But if not'
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
    The touchstone
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
    The spectre of the brocken
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
    'As water'
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    'Hold your tongue'
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
    The drill of life
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
    The parable of the cricket field
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
    The city of gold
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
    The gate of pearl
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

The Baldwin Library


~ 76~



.~ ~;-


N aaoh for fiy punmg


Author of 'Bird-Preachers '


l'lo.1E, AND LONDON.








x BUT IF NOT.' (For Boys) 75




XV THE DRILL OF LIFE (Spoken to Members of
the Boys' Brigade) 117

Elevens of all Ages) 132




With purpose of heart.'-Acts xi. 23
o you know how to use a needle?
Of course we do,' says the youngest
of my girl readers, answering for all the
fair sisterhood. And I wouldn't like to hint
that there exists a boy who couldn't drive a
nail well home, even if he did give his fingers a
taste of the hammer. An axe is an ugly thing
for little folks to meddle with, but there was
a handy little chisel in the box of tools you got
last Christmas. Now, I wish you to remem-
ber that needle and nail, axe and chisel, are
examples of the wedge-one of the mechani-
cal powers (if that is not too big a word for
some of you) by the aid of which men can do
many things that would be otherwise quite im-
possible. By the use of the wedge they can
split a tree and rend the solid rock. Great
ships, too, are raised every day in dry docks
by the same means.
Just stop for a moment and see whether you

8 Edges and Wedges

can put your hand upon a bit of metal or wood,
thick at one end and sloping down to a thin
edge at the other end, which will make my
object lesson quite plain to you. For all sorts
of wedges, big and little, have this one thing
in common-they have only a single edge.
And you can do so much with the wedge be-
cause it is a kind of inclined plane, and its thin
end-it may be a knife's edge-answers to all
the force which you can give, by pressing or
driving, to its thick end.
Suppose, however, that you had a wedge
with two edges; an iron nail, for example,
whose point had got split. Could you or the
best of carpenters do much with it? Boys
know very well that if the big blade of the
pocket-knife gets rough and jagged, it is 'no
good' ; and if you tried to drive a wedge that
had a double edge into a piece of timber, you
might shatter the wedge but you couldn't split
the wood. Get the thin end of the wedge
into anything and you will work wonders, but
only a fool would try to work with a wedge
that had two edges.
Now I want you to think whether there is
not something within you, belonging to your
minds and hearts, which acts like a wedge.
Your fathers would speak of it as your will

The Wedge 9

or your purpose. And it is hard to say what
may not be done or dared by boys and girls
who work with the wedge of a single intention.
Thus prizes are won at school, great scores
are made at cricket, victories are gained over
our evil selves, and battles are fought for truth,
and right, and God. All the might of imperial
Rome was often unable to make a Christian
maiden lay an idolatrous garland on the statue
of Jupiter, and boys in those old fierce days
have chosen rather to face the hungry lions
than renounce their Saviour. That was a
wedge-like word with a single edge into which
our King Henry V. put all the strength of his
determination whenever he was asked to do
what was wrong. 'Impossible!' was the only
answer he gave. And I could wish that all
my readers met the call of duty with the same
force of will which crashed through every
obstacle as the king who said simply, when
some good thing was proposed to him, 'It
must be done.'
But when the wedge has got two edges,
when the heart is divided, and the will does not
all go the same way, what weakness and failure
and defeat are the result! You are working
with a double-edged wedge when you try to
learn your school lessons and have a story book

ro Edges and Wedges

conveniently beside you, just to glance at for
a moment now and then ; when you run an
errand and have a game at ball as you go;
when you kneel at night to say your prayers,
and let your thoughts at the same time chase
one another all over the world. Boys grow
up into men and turn out miserable failures
because they have never learned to do one
thing at a time and with their whole heart. I
warn you against young Master Facing-Both-
Ways, although he has a pleasant smile and
seems to agree with all you say. He doesn't
look straight at you. His talk sounds hollow.
He chums with you to-day, and with quite
another set to-morrow. You can never be
sure of him. He is like the man in the Bible
who thought to serve two masters. Even the
gentle Jesus abhorred the double-minded. A
wedge with two edges is worse than useless.
Think of the good and noble men you have
read of, like Moses, David, Daniel, Paul,
Luther, Knox, Gordon. They were all men
of a single intention, who set their faces like
a flint to the path of duty. .But it is in the
life story of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, who
is able to make us like Himself, that we have
the best example of a will that works like a
wedge with a single edge. His boyhood was

The Wedge

as real as your own, but it was never weakened
and wasted by opposite wills that both wanted
to have their way. When He was just twelve
years old He wondered that anybody (least of
all His own good mother) should not under-
stand that He must be supremely interested
in the things of His Father in heaven. The
thin end of the wedge went in so readily and
quietly! An old English poet calls Christ very
'The first true gentleman that ever breathed.'1
But all the strength of His manhood went
without loss or strain, without hurry or hesita-
tion, to the doing of His Father's will. When
you sing about the 'Green hill far away,' you
may well confess-
'We may not know, we cannot tell
What pains He had to bear,'
as He hung upon the awful cross. But the
wedge had only a single edge, and it was very
fine. Men's thoughts and ways about sacrifice
had become so poor and unreal, or so wrong
and hideous, that it was the delight of Jesus,
through all His unknown sufferings and sor-
rows, to fulfil the true will of God about saving
others by suffering for them. And even if you
1 Dekker.

12 Edges and IW ":;

feel yourselves to be just a bundle of contradic-
tions, and if you can't make a thorough work
of any duty because your will has got more
than a single edge, Jesus has no greater joy
than to make you like Himself. Let the smith
put the split nail into his furnace until it is
red-hot and he will soon shape it into a single
sharp point. Let him put the rough and
jagged chisel upon his whirling wheel and he
will turn it into a useful wedge with one thin
end. Christ can melt all our rebel wants and
wishes in the fire of His love, and He can
simplify and purify our wills until they shall be-
come the echoes of God's voice.
This simple, friendly talk would be better
remembered, and be longer helpful, if you
would take pen and ink and draw the outline
of a wedge. Then you might put such a
prayer as this at the top : Teach me to do Thy
will; within the wedge itself this would be a
good watchword: Wi'th purpose of zearl; and
underneath the thin edge of the wedge you
could not do better than write the resolve of
the brave St. Paul: This one tlizz I do.



'The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails well
fastened.'-Eccles. xii. II (R.V.).
-'ou have all learned, though not without
P tears, to read. At least, the reading
'lesson has begun, although it may be far
from being finished. Are we not learning to
read all our lives? The larger part of your
waking hours, in and out of school, has to be
spent among books. And many of you, I hope,
have begun to love reading for its own sake.
You have discovered the secret of one of life's
highest and longest joys when you find cdm-
panionship in good books, and are turning to
them as to your best friends.
But I am afraid that a great deal of our
reading is as resultless as dropping seed on the
flagstones. 'In at one ear and out at the
other' is too true a proverb. It might help us
to take heed what we read and how we read
if we had a little earnest talk about the two
picture words by which Ecclesiastes, or the

Edges and tWedges

Preacher, sets forth some of the uses of all
wise words and good books.

You have seen, I daresay, a picture of an
Eastern labourer at the plough. Two, four, or
eight yoke of oxen may be before him ; and,
like some two-legged creatures I know of, they
are not always intent upon their proper busi-
ness, but are prone to be just too placid and
restful. They need to be roused to action and
made to mind their immediate duty. A whip
would hardly meet the case. So the plough-
man in Bible lands long ago, as in Southern
Europe and Western Asia to-day, was armed
with a wooden pole, eight or ten feet in length
and tipped with iron, by which he could very
efficiently bestir the lazy members of his team
and bring refractory ones to a more sober
This, then, is the first use of the words of
the wise, especially of teachers, guides, and
friends of the young. They stir the mind,
touch the heart and rouse to action. It isn't
easy to wake up some of you in the morning
and get you fairly out of bed. And words need
to be like ox goads, if they are to lead you to

Goads and Nails

think wisely, feel rightly and do bravely. You
may go on reading story books in an idle,
dreamy fashion, until you persuade yourselves
that you have been the prime actors in the
scenes over which you have laughed and wept.
The prick of the goad would be useful here.
Many a growing lad has found the turning-
point of his life in a long and earnest talk with
some older and wiser friend whose faithful
words have pierced the wind-bag of his self-
conceit, shamed him out of his idle ways, and
stirred him to a noble ambition.
Of all wise words none have such power to
awaken thought, kindle feeling and urge to
action as the words of the good old Book,
through which the Spirit of God is now speak-
ing to every one who has ears to hear. The
ox goad is, indeed, a coarse and clumsy weapon
to take as an emblem of the Word of God,
which is the sword of the Spirit. But the
Bible does prick the conscience and the heart
like a goad.
It was so in the experience of Augustine,
when the heavenly voice came to him in the
garden of Milan saying, Tolle et lege, Take up
and read,' and, opening the New Testament at
Romans xiii., his eyes fell on words at the close
of the chapter which awoke within him the

Edges and Wedges

pulses of a new life. Honest Martin Luther
found out at Rome that only the Word of
God could heal the wounds it had made.
And as John Wesley listened to the singing of
Psalm cxxx. in St. Paul's Cathedral, he learned
the truth which went straight to the quick of
his heart, that God is to be feared because He
so freely forgives.
Many of you, I trust, could put a little figure
of a goad over against more than one place in
your Bibles, because this text aroused you from
idle, careless ways, and that helped you to win
a battle over some evil habit, and yet another
kept you firm in the shock of temptation.
What do some oxen do when the ploughman
prods them with his goad? They kick back.
Do you remember how our Lord, from His
heavenly glory, charged the persecutor of His
saints, and therefore of Himself, with doing
this foolish and futile thing when he madly re-
sisted the striving of the good Spirit of God
and the accusing of his own conscience ? 'Saul,
Saul, it is hard for thee to kick against the
goad!' Perhaps this is what Jesus has to say
about some of you.
But the Preacher's second picture word is

Goads anzd Nails

He means the big wooden peg that holds
the tent rope, or the golden nail that fastened
the boards of the Tabernacle. All wise words,
and especially the words of perfect Wisdom,
are not only like goads that arouse and bestir,
but they are also like nails that give safe and
sure holding. It is well for a man, said the
Rabbis, to have a nail on which to hang his
thoughts. What confusion there would be at
school and in the house if there were no pegs
for your caps and hats! But that is just the
state of many people's minds. Their thoughts
are all 'higgledy-piggledy,' and nothing can be
found when it is wanted. You should be stor-
ing your minds betimes with great thoughts
and wise words to which you can always attach
yourselves when you have to be your own
company. That is how you may make your
mind a kingdom of which you can never be
I have known old people who, in the long
hours of sleepless nights, have held their minds
from growing weary and fearful by the nails
of well-remembered Scriptures and hymns. If
you start in the morning with a text for the


20 Edges and Wedges

day, and have it well fixed in the mind, you
will have a hold-fast against the tempter's
most sudden assaults. And when in the even-
ing you find the nail still in its place, you will
be able to say, with one of God's heroes in the
old times, The testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple.'
I want you, then, to take the Goad and the
Nail as tests of the books you read and your
manner of reading them. Do they push you
forward in the right direction, and do they hold
you fast to what is good and true ? Columbus'
conviction that there was another world in the
West sent him voyaging through unknown seas,
and kept him steadfast in his mission in spite
of every difficulty and disappointment. If you
will turn to the muster roll of the faithful in
Hebrews xi., you will see for yourselves how
the promise of God has been both goad and
nail to such heroes as Abraham, Joseph, and
Moses. The three boys who went on wor-
shipping the true God in heathen Babylon, and
held to Him in the face of the fiery furnace
heated seven times, are splendid examples of
the impelling and retaining power of the Word
of God. The call of Christ to come to Him
as their Saviour and Lord, and follow Him as

Goads and Nails 21

their Guide, Guardian, and Friend, is to-day
entering, goad-like, into young hearts and lives,
arousing and inspiring them by 'the expulsive
power of a new affection,' to new aims and
endeavours; and, like the bolt that fastens the
plates of our ironclads, it is also holding them
true to duty and to God.
It belongs to Christ to make us like Him-
self. By His wisdom we grow wise. In trust-
ing Him we become trustworthy. His love is
the magnet of love, till we too come to possess
a little of His attractive power. It is thus that
your words, your private, confidential talk with
friend and chum, may have the stimulating and
sustaining virtues of the goad and the nail.
Never mind an angry retort or surly refusal.
Wake up your class-fellow to prepare for his
exam. Bestir your companion to bear himself
more bravely in the battle of life. Let every
letter to your friend have something in it that
will help him forward. Let your words be
what Luther said St. Paul's were-living crea-
tures with hands and feet. The nail is, per-
haps, more needful than the goad. Your word
should always be your bond. You must always
be a hold-fast to your brothers and sisters, and
your weak, wavering mate you must keep from

22 Edges and Wedges

going to the bad. The saving power of Christ's
words may always be passing into ours.

'Oh, strengthen me, that, while I stand
Firm on the rock and strong in Thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers with the troubled sea.
Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dost impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.' 1

1 F. R. Havergal.


'Hide not Thine ear at my breathing.'-Lam. iii. 56
IIEY had taken him, poor boy, out of the
river, dripping and deathly pale, his hands
still holding the grass-roots which he had
clutched as he slipped from the bank. But
his rescuers knew what to do, and after, oh!
such a long time, as it seemed, they whispered
to one another, and the whisper flew round the
circle of anxious playmates, who felt that some-
thing of their own life had come back to them
as each said to his neighbour, He is breathing
again!' For they knew that if he breathed he
couldn't be really dead.
I daresay it was a word from the good old
Book that had come into their minds, though
they didn't know it. For we often read in the
Bible of 'the breath of life.' Yes; breathing
is the sign and proof of being alive. Some-
times, when all other tokens of life are gone, a
mirror is held over the mouth, and if the slight-
est dimness comes upon the glass it is known
that the breath of life still lingers. For we

24 Edges and Wedges

have a kind of living pair of bellows in our
chests, rising and falling every few moments.
When they expand, the air of heaven comes in
to give the blood what it requires, and they
squeeze it out again when they contract, al-
though we are never quite 'out of breath.'
For that would mean to cease to live.
Now, what is true of the life of the body is
true of another and higher kind of life-one
that thinks, feels, loves, hates, does and dares
right nobly, and is the very best thing in us,
for it is God Himself in us. This life shows
itself by breathing. We call its breathing
prayer. So that if you want to know whether
you are living this best and highest kind of life
-the life Jesus lived-just stop and ask
whether you have been praying to God to-day,
thinking about Him, and wanting to do what
He likes: whether you have been breathing,
for prayer is-
'A breath that fleets beyond this iron world,
And touches Him who made it.'
Now you will understand your text for the
week. How often you have lamented the fate
of the timid, sensitive, yet brave and unflinch-
ing, prophet, whom the wicked princes of
Jerusalem left to starve in the prison-pit, be-
1 Tennyson.

Are You Breathing?

cause he would be neither flattered nor fright-
ened into speaking anything but the truth God
gave him to speak! And you boys would have
liked to have had a hand at the ropes by which
the good Ethiopian got him drawn up out of
the foul black mud at the bottom of the empty
cistern into which he had been thrown.
Now, this was what Jeremiah said to God,
when left alone to die miserably in the filthy
dungeon, Hide not Thine ear at my breathing.
Every breath he drew was a prayer, a cry.
But the cry was so lone and low that only God
could hear it, and the martyr felt that He would
put down His ear close to listen. Just as
mother has bent low over you when once you
were so ill that you could do no more than
breathe your wishes into her ear. How I wish
we got to think and feel that praying to God is
just like breathing, and that we can live only
as we pray!
It is not alone with the pair of bellows we
call the lungs that you breathe. There is a
kind of breathing that goes on all over the sur-
face of the body.
If you look at the back of your hand, you
will see (supposing it is clean enough) a multi-
tude of little holes or pores. Each of these
leads into a tiny twisted pipe, up which there

26 Edges and W;edges

is constantly rising from the blood vessels a
kind of foul breath or steam which, as you
know very well, gathers on your face when you
have been running hard, in great drops. If
the body could not breathe or sweat away its
impurities, the blood would get poisoned, and
we would die. This was the sad fate of a little
boy, a long while ago, at a grand procession in
Rome, where he was made to represent an
angel by covering his whole body with gold-
leaf and fastening a pair of gold wings to his
shoulders. The little fellow looked so lovely
that his mother let him go to bed in all his
gilded glory. But when she came to wake the
sleeping angel next morning, she found that he
was dead. The glittering gold-leaf, stopping
up all the breathing holes of the body, had
killed him.
And the better life which you and I and
everybody might live and enjoy by trusting in
Jesus and doing good is killed in the same way.
If we would but remember that whatever
hinders us from thinking about our Saviour-
God, telling Him everything and trying to
please Him, is stopping our soul's breath and
slowly killing us!
'And if for any wish thou dar'st not pray,
Then pray to God to cast that wish away.'

Are You Brealzing? 27

He is putting His ear, just now, close to your
secret heart. Does He hear it breathing?
One word more. When do you breathe
loudest? When do you work your bellows
hardest ? When you use the dumb bells or
skipping rope, or have a long run, or do a stiff
bit of work. And when do you pray best?
When are your souls most filled with the
breath of God ? When you try to be good,
when you are training in Christ's gymnasium,
'exercising yourselves unto godliness.' You
never breathed so loud, never prayed so hard,
as when you closed your teeth upon the angry
word or the mean lie, or stood up for the weak
and wronged, or denied yourself for another's
sake. Some of my boy readers can translate
St. Benedict's watchword Ora et labor.
Praying and working are just like the double
action of the lungs. And if, holding on by
Jesus, you set yourselves in earnest to love the
good and do the right, and hate every wicked
way, up in heaven God will hear your breath

'I came that they may have life, and may have it abun-
dantly.'--fo/n x. io (R.V.)
mHE river is one of the oldest emblems of
human life. The boys and girls of long
ago, as well as of yesterday, had their de-
lightful day-dreams as they lay upon the
river bank in the glad summer time. And
though your life is only opening out before you,
you know that it may [unfold the same story
which the river tells, in its own way, of tiny
beginnings, first uncertain directions and count-
less little tributaries ; a story, too, of noisy shal-
lows, sluggish flats, silent pools, and finally of
a peaceful, majestic ending, which is, however,
but a new and nobler beginning, in the blue,
the infinite sea.
But there is one notable feature of the great
rivers of the world which our story has not
included. And if the Brook may be credited
with the musical song many of you know, we
might, perhaps, fancy the River growing weary
of its constant flow, sighing over its hard lot ot
rush and race and perpetual pouring of itself

1 -


The Tid/al River

away. But one day a strange thing happened
to it. Its waters ceased to flow down into the
vast, insatiable sea. On the contrary, the sea
began to flow up into the river, filling it from
bank to bank, while great ships sailed on its
broader bosom, and strange fish swam far up
its deeper channels. Instead of giving it was
getting, instead of flowing away it was filling
up. It had become a tidal river. The sea
took possession of it twice a day for many a
mile. Up the Amazon, for example, the tide
flows for 576 miles, and the Mersey at its
mouth rises thirty feet at high tide. What a
triumphant song the tidal river may be sup-
posed to sing!
The river of human life, yours and mine, is,
or ought to be, a tidal river. For the ocean of
God's life and love is seeking by every channel
to flow into and possess our minds and hearts
and wills, and make our little lives larger and
richer and more useful. You wonder now how
you once got so much enjoyment out of your,
old toys and games, and to-morrow you will
care little for the dearest desire of to-day. The
cry of the human heart is everywhere for 'more
life and fuller,' though it takes wasteful and
woeful ways of satisfying its needs. But every
tidal river is charged by God to tell, in its own

Edges and Wedges

way, the glad news of His Son's coming, that
you and I and everybody may have the best
of life and abundance of it. Have you never
felt the tide of Truth, Purity, and Love rising
within you, as you looked down into the cup of
a flower or watched the white clouds overhead
or read of brave deeds or knelt in prayer or
did a kind act that cost you something ? I
wish you would stop and consider whether you
are letting the sea of God's grace into the river
of ybur lives.
'Lord, we are rivers running to Thy sea,
Our waves and ripples all derived from Thee:
A nothing we should have, a nothing be,
Except for Thee.
Sweet are the waters of Thy shoreless sea,
Make sweet our waters that make haste to Thee;
Pour in Thy sweetness, that ourselves may be
Sweetness to Thee.' 1
I never heard of any riverside people neglect-
ing or resisting the tides that flowed up their
rivers. They know their value too well to be
guilty of such suicidal folly. And as many
causes are at work at the mouths of rivers to
bar out the sea, there are many skilful and
costly contrivances for removing obstructions,
deepening the estuaries, and keeping the tidal
1 Christian Rossetti.

The Tidal River

way open. Jetties serve to prevent the sand
From silting up. Training walls concentrate
Sand guide the flow of the tides. And huge
dredging machines are kept working at great
expense to remove the drift of the river and
Increase its tidal capacity. Without going
beyond our own shores, one may see on the
Clyde and the Tyne how to make the most of
the wealth-bringing tides of the sea.
I wish we cared half as much to make room
in our hearts and lives for the tides of God's
saving love. But pious wishes are not enough.
We must give ourselves to real, hard, steady
dredging. Sheer laziness, the habit of putting
off till to-morrow what should be done to-day,
selfish greed, bad temper and evil companion-
ship are obstructions that must be cleared out
at all costs. We must attend to the training
walls of God's holy commandments. For the
tides of His grace run best in the lines of faith,
in the promises and obedience to the precepts
of God's Word. And if we practise the double
P. of the great missionary -' Prayer and
Pains,'-we shall enlarge our hearts and increase
our tidal capacity. It is a great thing to lay
ourselves out, like the river, for the inflowing
of the Spirit of truth and power and love. The
tide would never ebb if we tried always to be

34 Edges and Wedges

living with Jesus, who is come that we might
have life in Him, and have it ever more abun-
dantly. No more sticking in the mud nor
standing apart from each other. The tide is
coming in; and what may we not be and do
and dare when the infinite sea of God's love is
filling up the river of your life and mine until
it overflows all its banks ?
Here is a little bit of a sermon preached by
a great and good man to the House of Com-
mons more than 300 years ago. I do not think
that you will find Dr. Cudworth too hard to
understand, and his noble words might well
be taken to proclaim the gospel of the Tidal
River: 'There is a straitnesse, slavery, and
narrownesse in all sinne; sinne crowds and
crumples up our souls, which, if they were
freely spread abroad, would be as wide and
large as the whole universe. No man is truly
free but he that hath his will ,enlarged to the
extent of God's own will, by loving whatsoever
God loves and nothing else. He
enjoys a boundlesse liberty and a boundlesse
sweetnesse, according to his boundlesse love.
He enclaspeth the whole world within his out-
stretched arms. His soul is as wide as the
whole universe, as big as yesterday, to-day and
for ever.'


Ps. xxv. 14
IIHAVE forgotten, I fear, most of the riddles
I was familiar with when a boy. But this
one, at least, has stuck to my memory:
'Too much for one, enough for two, and
nothing at all for three.' It is what little
folks dearly love to possess. How close the
little heads come together! What whispering
and listening! What vows of silence! And
what confidential looks and nods pass between
the two for whom it is just enough Yes, it is
delightful to have a real good secret with just
one other; and if it should come to the tip of
the tongue, the teeth must close firmly. upon it
before it gets to a third, when, as the riddle
says, it would be nothing at all.
It is not, of course, every secret that we
should wish to know or ought to keep. There
are false, foul, guilty, ghastly secrets that turn
the hearts that hold them into living hells.
Like the black streak in the white marble,
many a young life has been lastingly defiled by

36 Edges and Wedges

some hidden evil which it has taken into itself.
If I speak to boy or girl who has a dark secret
in the heart which is poisoning all the sweet
springs of life, let me urge them to tell all at
once to their own father or mother, and have
done with the foul thing before it becomes, like
the flaw in the marble, part of themselves.
But this world is full of secrets, rare, rich,
and rewarding, which the wise and good God
has put into air, water, and fire; into tree,
flower, and stone; into every form of life, and
into the words and ways of men. What a
fruitful secret young James Watt found in the
white cloud of steam which he watched as it
came out of his mother's kettle boiling on the
fire And if you will keep your eyes and ears
open, and, like Sir Isaac Newton, give atten-
tion to things, you may one day discover some
new secret of Nature which may prove a great
blessing to mankind.
But our text speaks of the secret of secrets,
and tells us, also, how we may make it our very
own. The words are soon learned, but we
shall never find out all the wonders that lie
within them. The secret of the Lord is with
them that fear Him.' Just think of it. God
and you come so close together that He tells
you His secret. He sent His Son from heaven

The Secret of lte Lord

to earth to bring about this close, confidential
fellowship. It is in Jesus, the Son of His love
and the Saviour of the world, that the secret
of the Lord is with them that fear Him.
This word 'secret' is a picture-word. It
suggests a couch, or rather a carpet, spread
upon the floor, just large enough for two, upon
which in the East they sit, tete-a-tite, as the
French say, their heads close together in
private, confidential talk.
This picture-word is thus a little window
which lets you look into a great matter. God
takes His people into such near and dear re-
lations to Himself that they sit, as it were, upon
the same carpet. The secret of the Lord is
with them. But nobody understood all that
this could mean until God Himself became one
of us, under the conditions of a human birth
and a human life, and looked out upon men
with human eyes, and drew them to Himself
with human hands, and loved them into loving
Him with a human heart that broke in its
sorrow for their sin and misery.
Who is it that is called Immanuel ? And
what does that name mean ? I was one day
sitting, very lonely, in the dining-room of a
foreign hotel, with a hundred and fifty noisy
Germans around me. Waiting till the head

38 Edges and Wedges

waiter came round for payment of my dinner,
I was testing my eyesight, which was then
very weak, with a thaler, or German crown-
piece, I had in my hand. To my surprise and
delight, I found around the rim of the big
silver coin the watchword of the now Imperial
House of the Hohenzollerns : Gott mit uns'
-'God with us.' It came to me, this old
battle cry of the Prussians, as the very secret
of the Lord, and I thought of the dying words
of John Wesley-' The best of all is, God is
with us.' And I felt, I hope, something of the
humble, holy,'loving fear of the Lord, without
which we can have no secrets with Him.
Try now to remember the three words, each
beginning with a t, which will show you suffi-
ciently the character of the happy Fearers of
the Lord, whom He takes into His counsel, and
to whom He tells His secret-trust, trth, and
You must trust the Lord, saying from the
heart the first two words of the Lord's Prayer,
which a poor boy in the East End of London,
who had never been within a church, and who
knew nothing of the Bible, prayed night and
morning at his wretched bedside, and this one
struggling sunbeam transformed his dim, sad
life-' Our Father.'

The Secret of the Lord 39

Then you must be true to the Lord; trust-
worthy, as well as, and just because you are,
trustful. God will not tell His secrets to those
who do not keep His word.
Finally, you must have a tender heart to-
wards the Lord, such as you have towards your
own mother, whom you can't bear to offend,
whom it pains you to grieve. What is called
fear in the Old Testament is called love in the
New. The secret of secrets is Jesus Himself,
and only love knows Love. He is with them
that are trustful, truthful, and tender-hearted;
with them in the street, at the school, in the
shop, and when afar off upon the sea; with
them as their Guide, Guardian, Friend, and
Companion. Oh, it is good to have secrets
with the Lord Jesus-quiet talks, hidden con-
fidences. A good man used at times, as he
walked along the street, to raise his hat from
his head, and, on being asked by a friend why
he did so, he confessed that it was because he
felt the Lord so near to him. I have a vivid
remembrance of a visit I paid, when a boy, to
a feeble old man, who had long been 'beadle'
in our church, in a country town in the north of
Scotland, and whom I found lying in what was
called a box bed in a comfortless little room.
'How lonely, Gordon, you must be here!' I

Edges and Wedges

said in boyish honesty. Oh no, master,' he
answered, 'I'm never lonely.' The good man's
confession is one of my earliest recollections.
I must have felt that he possessed a secret that
was unknown to me one that Jesus had
taught him: 'Alone, yet not alone, for the
Father is with me.'
The secrets in people's hearts may often be
guessed at from their faces. You may some-
times know those with whom is the secret of
the Lord by their peaceful, happy looks, but a
surer sign is their gracious words, kind acts,
and winsome lives. Even in heaven there will
be the secret of the Lord. Everything will
not be public. We shall not be lost in the
crowd. For it is our Father's house, and not
one child will be confounded with another.
Christ promises to him who overcomes in the
good fight of faith-to every one who by His
grace and strength is true, brave, pure, kind,
and loving, 'a white stone, and upon the stone
a new name written, which no one knoweth
but he that receiveth it.' What a secret that
will be! I wonder what it can be! I mean to
find out one day. Will you ?


'It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.'
Lam. iii. 27
W HEIGHTS AND WINGS; the youngest of
'j my readers pan easily remember these
Stwo words, each of them beginning with
the double v, which is such a trouble to
foreigners. And I shall try to show you how
all our weights may become wings. The truth
will, perhaps, find readiest entrance into your
minds through the fable that tells how the
birds came to fly. For at the first they could
only run upon the ground like other creatures.
But one day God brought two little burdens,
and laid them down on either side of every
bird according to the size of each. And He
said to them (for God can speak to birds as
well as to angels and men), 'Take up these
burdens and carry them for Me.' Now the
birds that obeyed God's command found that
the burdens beside them clung to, and became
part of, themselves. They could move them

Edges and Wedges

about and rise with them, until at last by means
of them they mounted aloft and roamed at will
through God's great heaven of blue. The
weights became wings. In bearing their bur-
dens the birds found that their burdens bore
Now I don't believe that the youngest little
toddler who listens to what I am saying is
quite without a burden, or difficulty, or trouble.
Haven't some eyes been wet to-day, some
hearts sad, some little heads very perplexed ?
Oh, they don't know children who think that
they are without troubles and cares! Brave
little weight-carriers I know of, who are 'breed-
ing their future wings.' I have heard girls, not
very young either, singing a rather foolish song
about wings, and what they would do with
them if they had them. And when we put the
wishing cap on our heads we suddenly mount
up as on eagles' wings, and we do marvellous
things. But it is out of our heavy weights,
not our idle wishes, that we gain real wings.
Haven't you found this out for yourselves?
Learning to write, for example, is not an easy
thing. Oh, the weariness of those everlasting
strokes and pot-hooks, the fingers that will get
inky, and the copybooks that will get blotted,
and the pens that never will go right, even

Weights and Wings

when the sympathetic tongue is following the
devious course of each uncertain capital! But
now that by letter writing you can still talk to
father and mother when they are from home,
and know what your brother is doing in Canada
or Australia, have not the weights become
wings? How I have pitied people who, having
never learned to write even their own names,
have had to be content with making a mark
like this-X! It is a life-long burden they
have to carry, because they had not borne the
school yoke in their youth.
Neither is it easy to learn languages. The
French verbs are such a bother to the brain,
and if the roads of the Romans go straight
over hill and dale, their long sentences seem
as confused and confusing as the maze at
Hampton Court. But when you come to
travel on the Continent, or go into an office in
the City, or when you can make companions
of the wisest and wittiest of the old Greeks
and Romans, you will find that the weights
have given you wings. I have known lads at
school and college who were heavily weighted
in the race by what we call adverse circum-
stances. Some of them lived just one or two
degrees above starvation. Oh, it was hard,
cruel work! But their difficulties became a

Edges and Vedges

divine discipline. They learned to do without,
and that is a way of growing rich in which the
poorest may excel. They learned the secret,
through prayer and pains, of turning weights
into wings.
Look at that boy of twelve or fourteen, sit-
ting, on a summer evening, in the early years
of this century, on the coping of the railing
that enclosed Canterbury Cathedral. He has
worked hard all day in the shop of a coach-
builder. Too poor to purchase drawing mate-
rials, he is content with an old slate and pencil;
and it was thus equipped that an artist found
little Sidney Cooper, night after night, on the
coping, sketching the great church, and gave
him, to his astonishment and delight, his first
bundle of pencils. The boy became a famous
landscape painter, and in the story of his life,
which he has lately told, his use of the slate for
sketching the cathedral is seen to be only the
first of many other instances of weights be-
coming wings. And this is how the veteran
artist closes his autobiography: I feel that I
have risen to some distinction, and that I have
a name which no gold could purchase nor parch-
ment alienate. I have, moreover, found peace
in the better knowledge of my Saviour, and
grace which will comfort me for the rest of my

Weighls and Wings

life; as well as trust, which will bear me
through the dark valley when my time comes,
and the blessed assurance that there is a glori-
ous immortality, and that I shall one day see
Him as He is.'
But it is 'when we read the sweet story of
old, when Jesus was here among men,' that we
learn best how weights become wings. We
shall never, indeed, know all the burdens that
were laid on Him when He gave Himself to
do the Father's will and save the world. But
He spoke of His sufferings and death for us as
His being 'lifted up.' And if under the bur-
den of our salvation He was lifted up to the
cross of shame, was He not also, by the same
burden, lifted up to the throne of glory, where
He holds the post of honour in the universe of
God? You remember how He likened His
strong, tender, self-sacrificing, unquenchable
love to the wing of the mother bird spread over
the helpless brood in the hour of peril. But
we shall never put our trust under the shadow
of His wings until we really believe that all the
heavy, crushing weights He bore for us, as Boy
and Man, as' Servant, Sufferer, and Saviour,
have given Him His wings of pitying, shelter-
ing, saving love, under which He would gather
us and all men.

46 Edges and Wedges

And Jesus is the Power to make us like
Himself. It is a hard struggle for boys and
girls, as well as for grown men and women, to
curb the temper, crush down evil thoughts, and
hate every wicked way, and be truthful, faithful,
pure-hearted, generous, and brave. But if you
ask the Saviour to help you; if you join com-
pany with Him and get Him to fill you with
His own spirit of trust and love, of purity and
patience, of grace and glory, you will find that
the burdens you carry are carrying you. And
out of the weights you have to bear, as Chris-
tian boys and girls, you will acquire good and
noble habits that will be as eagles' wings to
you in all your future lives.
The birds in the fable that would not carry
the weights God in His wise love put down
beside them are wingless to-day. Even the
kite you fly in the meadow will not mount up
steadily without a weight to its tail. To be
without a burden is the greatest burden of all.
The old prophet was right when he said that it
was good for a man to bear the yoke in his
youth. You should see the gleam of bright
wings in every. heavy weight you are called to
carry. In the school of Christ the yoke gives
ease and the burden grows light. To bear the
cross is to wear the crown.


; ~:



'Speak unto the children that they go forward.'-
Exod. xiv. 15

W THIEN I lived in South Devon I often spent
..a holiday on Dartmoor, where I have
'i'9 passed many a restful hour among those
great, odd-looking masses of rock known by
the name of Tors. They have such funny,
fantastic shapes. There is what looks like a
huge honeycomb, and yonder is the face of an
old man with enormous nose, while farther off
there is a ruined tower that might have been
once a part of a keep or castle. But they are
all self-made, or rather self-ruined. Their
granite is of a kind that decomposes in the
course of time. The sand and earth get washed
away by the winters' rains. Growing top-heavy
as the ages run on, and sorely beaten by wind
and weather, those huge masses of stone at last
fell in upon themselves, and took those strange,
weird shapes that have given rise to many a
fabulous tale. One of. these rocks is called a
logan, or rocking stone. The rock has been

50 Edges and Wedges

gradually eaten away into two parts, the upper
half retaining its upright position, and having
its point of support resting in a natural socket
in the lower half. Hence, while a strong push
makes the huge stone move in its socket, not
the strongest arm can move it out of its place.
It rocks for a time, but as surely returns to its
old point of repose. These rocking stones are
found in several parts of our country, and used
to be held in awe by the simple country folk,
who fancied that they might learn something
about the future from the number of times the
strange stone rock rocked after it had been
But while they are no longer used for divina-
tion I have found a sermon in these stones,
which I have often needed to preach to myself.
And how many boys and girls there are like
the logan or rocking stone! Moved they may
be, but never removed. They rock, but will
not run. They are like the son in the parable
who promptly answered his father's vineyard
call, I go, sir' ; but went not. You have felt,
once and again as I have talked with you, that
the preacher was describing your own faults,
and throwing an electric light upon the hidden
evils of your hearts, and you have been ashamed
of your own meanness, selfishness, cowardice

Rocking Stones 51

and cruelty. You have felt your eyes grow
moist and a lump came into your throat, as you
read about little unknown heroes and heroines,
inspired by the love of Christ, at any cost of
service or suffering, to be the saviours of
others. And you have longed to be true and
good and brave and self-sacrificing like them.
But the rocking stone, let it be pushed ever so
hard, still keeps in its old socket.
And how many of my readers still put feeling
in the place of acting, and meaning to do in-
stead of really doing! Yet all that is best in
boy and girl nature recoils from this undecided,
see-saw sort of life. None is more deservedly
detested at school than the boneless fellow who
never makes up his mind, never sticks to his
guns, is 'everything by starts and nothing long.'
You can't play with him, work with him, con-
fide in him-you can't even fight with him.
Boys should be like their school colours-no
mistaking what they are. Even my little six-
year-old, catching the excitement of the town
where we lived over a parliamentary election,
but not very sure about his words, was quite
certain that he was 'a Liberary,' while his twin-
sister was not less emphatic in declaring that,
like all good people, she was 'a Conservatory.'
No part, I fancy, of the great Caesar's life

Edges and Wedges

awakens youthful enthusiasm like his early
defiance of a jealous Senate who forbade him
to cross the boundary of the northern province
of Italy. He wandered all day along the banks
of the forbidden river, until preferring, as he
said, to be the hammer rather than the anvil, he
plunged into the stream and led his victorious
soldiers straight to Rome. And now, 'crossing
the Rubicon' is another name for manly re-
solve, thorough decision, taking a step which
can never be retraced.
Some of you know very well what is the
Rubicon in your life, before which you have
dallied and delayed far too long. And this is
God's call to you as truly as to faithless, fearful
Israel before the Red Sea-' Go FORWARD.'
It is on the other side of the Rubicon of per-
sonal decision for Christ that His open secret
will be found. And if there is a heavy weight
before you, lift it, and it will give you wings.
Carry the cross, and the cross will carry you.
I do like the reply of the little girl when her
mother, who had been showing her a picture
of the surly disciples repelling the women and
children from their Master's presence, said, If
we had been there, I would have pushed you,
not from Him but to Him.' 'Mother,' she
answered, I would have gone without push-

Rocking Stones

ing.' Do not rock to and fro any longer in
aimless, pithless fashion. Run, and never look
back. Translate your feelings into facts. Make
your wishes works. Ora et labor was the old
monk's maxim. And remember that it is
prayer and pains together that will accomplish
everything. Not the toughest tree nor the
hardest rock can resist the cleavage of a wedge
that has a single edge. But a wedge with two
edges is useless. That is why some of you
have made so little progress, or rather, haven't
yet really started in the way of life. You have
a double mind, a divided heart. You are like
the rocking stone on the Devon moor. Take
care. The process of decay is still going on
in these old tors. The point of support is
gradually wasting away, and one day the logan
will cease to rock and become quite irre-
sponsive to the touch of the strongest or the
purest. If you do not act upon the secret
promptings of the good Spirit of God, you will
soon cease to feel them. Christ comes close
up to each of you, calling you by the word of
His grace, touching you by the love of His
cross. But He moves on, this Light of Life,
and if you do not follow, you will be left in the
cold and in the dark. 'Speak,' says the Lord,
' zlto /he children tat th/ey-go forward.'


'Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.'- i Cor. xvi. 20
HERE are other things than sermons that
consist of 'two heads and an application.'
The Romans had a word gztstus, which
means taste or relis/, whence comes our word
choice-anything that has a good taste. It is
another form of the same word which I have
chosen for my text. A kiss is a choice thing.
It tastes or smacks delightfully. Hence it is
the common sign and seal of friendship. The
meeting of parent with child, of brother with
sister, of friend and lover, tastes sweet to the
heart, and the mutual pressure of the lips is the
token of this sweetness. There are, indeed,
different forms of salutation among nations and
tribes-some of them, as it seems to us, strange
and nasty, like the rubbing of noses. But the
kiss is the commonest, especially on the conti-
nent of Europe and throughout the East. I
once felt quite awkward and shame-faced when
a Russian count, an exile for conscience' sake,

The Kiss 55

with whom I had enjoyed in a foreign town
much pleasant Christian intercourse, kissed me
on both cheeks as we parted at the railway
station. A warm grasp of the hand might
have done as well.
There's a deal of kissing, not always of the
right sort, in the Bible. You might spend a
little while in searching out the typical instances
-such as the kiss of subtle Jacob, of generous
Joseph, of honest Boaz, of cruel Joab, of trait-
orous Judas. The first Christians differed from
other people in nothing more 'than in their
mutual love and devotion;.not otherwise could
they have shown themselves true followers of
the Prince of Peace and King of Love. And
thus 'the kiss of love' came to be the tender
token of membership in the Christian society.
They called it 'giving the peace' to one
another. It accompanied every act of worship.
It was the seal of prayer and holy communion.
They kissed at baptism and marriage, and the
kiss of peace was left upon the lips of the dy-
ing and the dead. These simple loving ways
suited the infancy of Christ's Church, just as
childhood is the kissing time among ourselves.
But they were apt to be abused. So the good
people, when they met in church, instead of
kissing each other, were content to kiss a

56 Edges and Wedges

wooden tablet or plate of metal, figured with
the Crucifixion, which they called 'the pax,' or
the peace, and which they handed round the
assembly. But this was an odd, unreal kind
of practice, more childish than childlike. The
apostolic counsel just means that Christian
people, young and old, when they meet each
other, are to show their kind and friendly feel-
ings in all frank, hearty, becoming ways. Don't
you think that the children all over the world,
who have !church in the house' on Sunday
evenings, should 'greet one another with a holy
kiss,' should think kindly of one another, and
ask for each other the choicest gifts of God's
love ? Just stop for a moment and send a real
kiss of love and peace to all who may, with you,
be reading or hearing these words.
The apostolic rule is very practical. It
means that you give mother a chair before you
take one for yourself, that you do not leave
your little sister in the cold corner, that you
have a kind welcome for the new boy or girl in
your class at school, and that there is to be no
rough speech to the servants at home; for is
it not mean and cowardly to speak rudely to
those who cannot repay you in your own coin ?
But 'the corruption of the best is the worst.'
Rose leaves are fragrant even in decay; but

The Kiss

our darling baby couldn't long be looked at
when the light of life had gone out of his blue
eyes. Unless our kiss of greeting is 'holy,'
that is, simple and sincere, unless the heart
kisses as well as the lips, we had better not kiss
at all. And it is so easy to do right things in
wrong ways. Is the shell of much value with-
out the nut, or the candlestick without the
candle, or the envelope without the letter ?
SKisses may be hollow and false and poisonous.
We read more about bad kisses in the Bible
than about good ones. Whose was the kiss of
the deceiver, and whose the kiss of the assassin?
Blackest of all was the kiss of the traitor under
the moon-lit olives of Gethsemane, which
wounded the heart of Jesus more cruelly than
the cross nails tore His hands. Yet by the
pure lips he had so foully polluted, Judas was
still called 'friend,' as if to give him one last
opportunity of repenting. Let us take care
that our kisses are always honest and sincere.
Don't be little hypocrites, saying what you do
not mean, and acting differently from what you
feel. It is like the kiss of Jacob, to greet your
father pleasantly at night if you have deceived
him about your conduct during the day. And
if you have talked against a schoolfellow be-
hind his back and plotted to do him a shabby

Edges and Wedges

turn, and thereafter accost him as your own
friend and chosen chum, you are acting much
as Judas did, whose kiss told a lie that might
have shocked a devil. I was reading lately
about an eminent man of science, Professor
Sedgwick, who lived to be eighty-eight years
of age. Everybody loved him. Dean Stanley,
who was his friend, said that his eye was like
the eagle's when it flashed fire against what
was wrong. The good dean treasured an old
grammar, all tattered and torn, which had
belonged to Sedgwick when he was a little boy
at school; for he found, written in boyish hand,
on the first page these words from Shakespeare,
which his friend nobly exemplified through his
long and honoured career: 'Still in thy right
hand carry gentle peace to silence envious
tongues. Be just, and fear not.' That is the
spirit which you must cherish, if your friendship
is to be worth the having, and if its every token
is to be honest and holy.
But, before I close, I must tell you of another
kind of kiss, although it is almost too sacred
and secret to talk about. God wants you to
kiss Him.. The soft winds that fan your
cheeks, the sunlight that sparkles in your eyes,
every rose that yields you its sweet scent, and
every warm kiss imprinted on your lips by

The Kiss 59

father, mother, and friend, might teach you
that. But more. God, as you all know, looks
upon us with the human eyes, touches us with
the human hands, and loves us with the human
heart of Jesus, the Lover of little children and
the Good Shepherd, who gave His life for the
sheep. He is the King of whom we read in
the second Psalm, that echoes the treasonous
talk of evil plotters in their divans. But it is
all in vain. For Jesus is on the throne, and
this is the call of God which rings through the
Bible, and is uttered in all that is tender and
terrible in Nature, and speaks with still, small
voice in all the duties and joys and sorrows of
boyhood and girlhood : Kiss the Son, lest He
be angry.'
There is the kiss of wors/zi. And Jesus
loves the heart's praise of the children. There
is tke kiss of love. And Jesus has no other
test of discipleship than the old question to
Peter: Lovest thou Me?' And there is the
kiss of obedience. When a soldier or a states-
man is appointed by the Queen to any special
service he has the honour of kissing her hand,
as he sets forth to do her bidding. And every
boy and girl, just as they are, may 'kiss hands'
with Jesus now, if they give themselves in His
grace to their own special mission of modesty,

Edges and WVedges

trust, love, and cheerfulness. Jesus wants to
be kissed with the homage of our hearts, the
words of our lips and the service of our hands.
Once He was the guest of a rich man, who
was cold and suspicious, and gave Him no kiss
of welcome, as he should have done. Jesus
felt the slight, as He still feels it. But a poor
woman, who had led a bad life until Jesus told
her of the Father's love and led her to trust in
His forgiveness, so that she was drawn even to
the house of the Pharisee by her devotion to
her Saviour, made up for Simon's cold indiffer-
ence, as-
'She sat and wept, and with her untressed hair
Still wiped the feet she was so blessed to touch;
And He wiped off the soiling of despair
From her sweet soul, because she loved so much.
I am a sinner, full of doubts and fears,
Make me a humble thing of love and tears.'
Yes, Jesus shall never want for trust and love
and praise. But can you bear it that He should
say secretly to you now, as one day He may
have to say it openly before His Father and
the holy angels,-
Thou gavest Me no kiss' ?


TV 7,1,A\ '



I have played the fool.'-i Sam. xxvi. 21

WT E are all children on the first morning of
AT' April. Hunt-the-gowk' is the familiar
1C" name of the day in Scotland, 'gowk'
being the Scotch for cuckoo, which has come
to mean a foolish person. It is not pleasant to
be made a gowk or fool of, on any day, and
there are limits to the liberty of deception, even
on the first day of April. But he must be a
sour, churlish fellow who takes offence at being
sent, that day, on a bootless errand, or grows
angry because some practical joke has been
played upon him. There isn't too much laughter
in the world. Work at home and school will
go on more smoothly and briskly after the
pleasantries of Fools' Day morning, even if
there has been a spice of mischief in them.
I hardly know why the first of April has
been chosen for taking people off their guard
and turning the laugh against them. In old
times the year began on March 25, and the

Edges and Wedges

festivities of the new year continued till April
i. When, however, a change was made in
the kalendar, and the year began on January i,
the old associations of March 25 were felt to
be absurdly out of place, and all were fools
who sought for New Year's Day on April i.
But this doubtful explanation leaves the fact
unexplained that a fools' day is observed by
other and remote nations. There is an Indian
tradition, for example, about a young prince,
who was as good as he was brave, and who
was beloved by gods and men. But there was
an evil enchanter who hated the prince and
sought to set his people against him. The
brave prince challenged the enchanter to a trial
of strength. But the evil arts of his foe pre-
vailed. The poor prince suddenly disappeared,
and though sought for by his sorrowing people
long and far, he was never seen again. To
keep his memory alive among them, the search
was renewed on every anniversary of his dis-
appearance, which happened on the first day of
April. Mothers used to say on that day to
their daughters, 'Go and search for the good
prince and you will find a husband.' Teachers
said to their scholars, Go and find the young
prince and you will become wise. But the
search was vain. Not thus were girls to be-




All Fools' Day 67

come happy wives, nor boys wise men. So
the first of April came to be called by far-away
peoples as well as by ourselves 'All Fools' Day.'
But let the origin or origins of the day be
what they may, it is, perhaps, well for us to
have one day in the year to learn how foolish
we all are as we search for what cannot be
found, and seek after what is never attained.
Smiles and tears are very near neighbours.
And when Fools' Day next comes round we
may discover some sobering and humbling
truths under our jokes and jests, and see that
we are really laughing at ourselves when we
grow merry over those whom we have sent on
idle quests.
The child sets out to fird the rainbow that
spans the hillside, or hastens to nail the fugitive
sunbeam to the window sill, or thinks to keep
the lustrous soap bubble as a thing of beauty
for ever. How foolish! But children of a
larger growth, who may be counted among the
wise, are befooling themselves in a similar way
every day.
As David, who was then at his noblest and
best, stood on the top of the crag looking
across the gully, on the other side of which
were Saul and his officers, and holding aloft
the royal spear which yesternight he could

Edges and Wedges

have plunged into his pursuer's heart, the con-
science of the moody, jealous king smote him,
and he cried out in bitterness of soul, Behold,
I have played the fool and have erred exceed-
ingly.' And many a boy has spoken the same
remorseful words 'between his teeth' when he
finds that through his unrestrained passion for
sport he has been floug/ed in the day of trial,
or that he has lost his situation through his
companionship with a bad set.
In old days, when there was a jester or
'fool' in every great man's house, one of this
odd class had given to him by his master a
gold-headed staff, which he was to keep until
he could find a greater fool than himself. His
lord fell sick unto death. The friendly fool
came to see him and asked him question after
question,-' where he was going ?' whether he
was coming back again ?' what preparation he
had made for the journey and for what was to
come after ?' But the sick man could answer
only by a sad shake of the head, implying that
he was quite ignorant on all the points at issue.
Then spake the poor fool, laying his staff by the
side of the great man, Master, thou tellest me
that thou art about to take a long journey, of
which thou hast long known, and from which
thou shalt not return, but for which thou hast

All Fools' Day

made no preparation, and of the end of which
thou knowest nothing. I must give thee this
staff thou gavest me. For surely I have found
a greater fool than myself.'
Was he not right ? So many people in this
world are reckoned to be clever and 'cute, and
are envied for their success, who have spent all
their time and strength and the best blood of
their hearts in cramming the carriage which
they must leave behind them as soon as they
come to the close of the first stage in a long
Fool is a tell-tale word, coming from the
Latin word for a wind-bag, and seen in the
verb to blow. Puffed cheeks with cap and
bells, was the made-up fool of long ago as of
to-day. When you are writing your class
exercises on 'foolscap,' do you think of this
odd mark of old paper makers which has given
this size of paper its name, and do you take
care not to lead the examiner to think that the
fool's cap would fit you well ?
In the Book of Proverbs, which is filled with
wise counsels and grave warnings for the young
-and a nice pocket edition of it can be bought
for a halfpenny,-much is told us about fools
and foolishness. It isn't the simple, slow-
witted boy or girl who deserves the naughty

Edges and Wedges

name, and you incur the displeasure of the
Divine Protector of the weak and Avenger of
the wronged, when, in contempt or scorn, you
call any one a fool because he may be less
clever, less cultured, and probably less con-
ceited than you are.
I can't attempt to catalogue all the evil
qualities of mind and heart, of will and way,
which are found in the 'fool' of the Bible.
Happily, none of you have reached the deeper,
darker, almost hopeless stages of what the
Bible calls folly, when the heart gets quite
insensible to what is good and true, and doesn't
feel or find God anywhere. But there is a folly
which the Book of Wisdom tells us is bound
up with the heart of a child, and unless you
get rid of it in early life, you will never reach a
noble manhood or womanhood, but live all your
days in what Milton calls 'the paradise of fools.'
For the commonest word in the Bible for
fool and folly just means weakness, moral
weakness. The fool is proud, self-confident,
headstrong. He won't take advice, refuses to
be controlled, and is quite sure that all will
come right at last though he is sailing down
the rapids. I wish that I could frighten some
feather-brained, self-willed boy with the picture
of the fool in the Book of Proverbs.

All Fools' Day

It is painted from the life. He has a vacant,
wandering look, for his eyes are at the ends of
the earth. Gazing at the stars he falls into the
ditch. He prates or talks idly with his mouth.
He is the original of Bunyan's Mr. Talkative.
A meddling or meddlesome fellow he is, 'show-
ing his teeth,' as the word means, like a snarling
dog. Yet, for all the good he does, his legs
might hang as loose as a cripple's. He can
keep what is entrusted to him no longer than
the stone remains in the whirling sling. If you
could put him into a mortar and pound him with
a pestle, his folly would still stick to him.
Counsel and warning and the hard lessons of
experience are quite wasted on him. His folly
is always repeating itself, and like the dog to
its vomit, he returns quite infatuated to his old
wicked ways.
A frightful picture and all too true. But the
evil is not incurable. The fool is not given up
hopelessly to his folly. Christ has come to
make the foolish wise and the bad good. His
Spirit of truth and love is striving with the
senseless, reckless temper of fools. I have
played the fool,' may be the penitent cry of a
new heart and may mark the first step in the
ways of wisdom. If there is an All Fools'
Day in the year, there is also the Day of All

Edges and Wedges

Saints. And in their goodly fellowship you
and I may humbly hope to have a place, if we
have taken the yoke of Christ upon us and are
learners in His school.

'I have no wisdom, save in Him who is
My Wisdom and my Teacher, both in one;
No wisdom can I lack while Thou art wise,
No teaching do I crave, save Thine alone.'

1 H. 3onar.



Dan. iii. 18


IREE short words, soon spoken, easily re-
membered, not easily forgotten. I do not
know that braver words were ever spoken.
They show the high-water mark of courage
and devotion, for they denote the heroism of
the few in the face of the many, of the weak
before the strong-the heroism of the soldier
who, when urged to save his life by the loss
of his honour, said: 'It is necessary that my
honour should live. It is not necessary that I
'But if no .' The very words for
boys and lads to learn, and love, and live.
These three lads, with their uncouth names,
were not much more than boys. It is an old,
old story. You can read the name of the king
before whom they were arraigned and the

76 Edges and Wedges

records of his conquests on clay cylinders now
in the British Museum. And we are not called
to fall down before a golden image rising a
hundred feet into the sky. Nor are we in any
danger of being thrown into a furnace of leap-
ing, hissing flame, just as we have no reason to
expect deliverance in a miraculous way if we
venture life for truth, and right, and God.
But these Hebrew lads thought, felt, lived,
loved, just as we do. Righteousness, good-
ness, and God are the same to-day as in those
far-off times. There are tyrants still ; cruelties,
idolatries, temptations still; and in the boy life
of London, as of Babylon, the inevitable choice
has still to be made between the gain and
pleasure of sin and the loss and pain that come
of doing one's duty and serving God.
The early Christians knew well what this
story meant for them, else they would not have
loved to scratch on the walls of the catacombs
the three boys in their Phrygian caps and Per-
sian trousers. And if, as is probable, some
Wesleyan boys are among my readers, they
should have a special interest in these words
of the Hebrew protesters, for they formed the
text of a noble sermon preached by the father
of the brothers Wesley, who was a curate in
London, in condemnation of the tyrannous

'But f not .' 77

mandate of James II. on the eve of the Revo-
Fire is fire. And a burning fiery furnace,
licking up the mighty men who went near
enough to cast the unresisting youths into its
roaring flames, was surely sufficient trial of
faith and constancy. But I believe that these
brave lads had undergone a severer ordeal in
the corrupt court of Babylon, beset, as they
were, by envious and unscrupulous foes, who
were bent upon their downfall. He has the
martyr's heart who does his duty, whatever it
may be, regardless of consequences. That
weak, timid, sensitive boy in Tom Brown's
Schooldays, who knelt in the open dormitory
to say his prayers, although heavy boots were
flung at his head, till Tom became his pro-
tector, showed the spirit of the Hebrew youths
and knew the meaning of their noble alterna-
tive 'But if not And the same spirit
sustains many a young apprentice who refuses
to swear, or drink, or gamble like others in the
workshop, and who has, therefore, to bear,
unnoticed and unknown, what is little short of
a living martyrdom.
Across the centuries, then, you may well
strike hands with these three young confessors
in Babylon. I want you to chum with these

Edges and WTV I

lads, who, when they had to turn or burn, chose
the fire. Let us talk for a little about their
courage, their endurance, their deliverance.
i. I have said that theirs was the highest
kind of courage, and you will, I think, agree
with me. All courage is good; and if your
companionship is of the right sort, those of you
who are weak and timid will be gaining nerve
and pluck. But. don't confound cheek with
courage. The rude, swaggering fellow is gener-
ally a bully, and grows white and whimpering
as soon as a decent, steady, manly lad stands
up to him. Many of you know that our word
courage comes from the Latin cor, which means
the heart; for it is a thing of the heart. You
know what English king was called the lion-
hearted. But I doubt whether many of you
know the origin of our English word coward.
It also comes from a Latin word, cauda, which
means a tail. A coward is a creature that
turns tail, like the cur that runs yelping down
the street with his tail between his legs. Boys
with tails, in this sense, had better be shut
up with the monkeys in the Zoo. At school
and in the playground, in the church and the
world, we want boys with hearts-that is, cour-
Physical courage is not to be despised. The

' But if not .

prime need of the soldier, according to General
Wolseley, is nerve; and the little boy's answer
to the question, 'What is nerve?' was a very
good one, when he said, 'It is walking on
awfully high walls and liking it.' Your athletic
sports and class drill should be making you
cool and self-possessed in the sudden moment
of danger; although I don't want you to show
your nerve in the way little Bob Clive did, who
climbed to the top of the church steeple at
Market Drayton, perched himself on the sum-
mit, and made grimaces at the people below,
who were expecting to see him dashed to
pieces. But one does not wonder that a boy
of such nerve became one of the heroes of the.
Indian Mutiny, and led a little army of x,ooo
against one that numbered 5,000 horse and
40,000 infantry.
But moral courage, as you will have to learn,
is a harder and higher attainment than the
most splendid dash and daring. Self-conquest
is the greatest of victories. The hero of a
hundred fights was never so courageous as
when he refused to fight a duel, sending back
this message to his challenger: 'I am afraid of
sinning; you know I am not afraid of fighting.'
What do you think of this epitaph, which is
placed on the grave of a soldier ?

Edges and Wedges

'Here lies a soldier, whom all must applaud,
Who fought many battles at home and abroad;
But the hottest engagement he ever was in
Was the conquest of self in the battle of sin.'

Higher than the courage of the soldier who
carries the colours through a rain of bullets;
higher than the courage of the fireman who
rescues the terror-stricken inmates of a burning
house through choking smoke; higher than the
courage of the lifeboat crew who struggle
through a blinding storm to the sinking wreck,
was the courage of these three Hebrew boys.
For these others-heroes all-had the stir and
stimulus of applauding onlookers, or the assur-
ance that their country would welcome them
home with honours if they lived, or bless their
memory if they died. But the Hebrew boys
had none of these incentives. They stood
alone, against all the world's pomp, and power,
and praise, to do a thing unheard of in Babylon
-to set their wills against the will of the
mightiest monarch in the world, who thought
himself a match for any of the gods--to do
what was unpopular, suspected, and detested.
They had to give up dear life when it was
fairest and most attractive, and when they had
their feet on the ladder of honour and fame.
And it seemed such a little thing they were

'But if not .' 8

asked to do-to bow their heads before the
image of the god of Babylon. It was what
everybody was doing; and it was hard to be
marked out as young Pharisees, and hypocrites,
and traitors, and they hadn't the clear, strong
vision of another world and of a waiting, wel-
coming Saviour and Lord on the other side of
the leaping, hissing flame. No, they lived long
before Jesus had come to open the kingdom of
heaven to all believers.
Boys, wasn't it the highest kind of courage
just to do the right because it was right ? to be
faithful to duty and obedient to the will of God,
though nothing came of it but suspicion, shame,
suffering, and an awful death? This is the
courage of the martyr, the courage of Jesus
Christ Himself, who rejected the offer of all
the world's power and glory, and chose the
path of obedience to duty which led Him
straight to the cross. This is the courage I
want you to show-the courage to be honest
when it seems the worst policy, and to do the
right though it brings you not smiles but
frowns, not success but failure, not blessing but
cursing. Men and women are still tempted to
worship the idols of worldly success, popular
favour, self-interest, and material gain; and
you boys, I know, are tempted every day to be

82 Edges and Wedges

cheeky, and deceitful, and false, to spend
money that is not yours, to indulge in nasty
talk, to smoke, drink, and gamble, to give up
prayer, to forget God and deny your Lord and
Be brave like these Hebrew lads. Refuse
to worship any idol. Stand up against lying,
cheating, and swearing. Dare to do right, and
be sure that God will somehow help and deliver
you, though you suffer for your honesty, purity,
and dutifulness, and your companions unite to
molest you, and you don't seem to have a
friend on the earth.
2. But imitate these Hebrew confessors in
their endurance as well as in their daring.
Their courage was not a mere flash in the pan ;
it didn't go down to their shoes at the first
sight of the roaring furnace. Their minds
were made up, their convictions quite settled.
They endured as seeing God, who was invisible
to all else-a name and nothing more.
How that second chance the king gave them
must have tried the young believers They
had time to reconsider their position. They
never felt before how sweet life was. Friends,
perhaps, came round them-Babylonian girls,
who loved them and whom they loved, hung
upon them, and, with tears, urged them not to

'But if Ito

brave the fury of the king. It was a hard
trial. But they persevered, these three lone
lads, against all the world. If they must turn
or burn, welcome the fire!
All boys know something of this second
chance the Hebrew confessors got. The bad
set in the street, or school, or shop try to get
round you, coaxing, flattering, or frightening.
Come with us, do as we do, and (as the king
said) it will be well with you; if not, there is
the burning fiery furnace. Then they turn
round and tell lies about you, persecute you,
and do all they can to make your life miserable.
It is just what the tyrants did long ago with
the young Christians. They showed them the
lions tearing up the living bodies of older
Christians, and then said, 'Give up, or that's
your fate.'
Boys, hold on, stand your second trial. Said
one of the Covenanting ministers in Scotland
to the Marquis of Argyll, as he stood for con-
science sake before the 'Maiden,' a kind of
guillotine still to be seen in the Antiquarian
Museum in Edinburgh: 'My lord, now hold
your grip sicker.' That's what you and all of
us need to do. Hold fast your grip on duty,
on God, on your own Lord and Saviour, who
will never forsake you. Away with a religion

Edges and Wedges

of concealments and compromises, that knuckles
down to the tempter and goes with the crowd!
I want for you a religion that's fireproof, that
will enable you to suffer rather than sin, and
to die rather than tell a lie. Oh, that you were
like the famous Cameronian Regiment, of
whom it was said that they prayed as they
fought, and fought as they prayed ; they might
be slain, but never conquered. Yes, help,
deliverance, and victory will come in God's
time and way, which are always the best.
These Hebrew confessors trusted God to de-
liver them from the fire, but if not-if this were
not His will concerning them, they did not
complain, they did not hesitate; they would
still do their duty and be faithful to their God.
There was one swift moment of fierce agony,
and then they found what they had never
imagined-their God able to deliver them, not
from the fire, but, what was greater and more
glorious, in the fire. And their tyrant, who
had smiled grimly as he saw the daring youths
who ventured to dispute his will tossed into the
flames, starts from his throne in astonishment
and dismay as he sees them walking loose and
unharmed in the furnace that swallowed up
their executioners, and a Fourth is with them,
more glorious than the sons of men, wearing

'Bzul 2f nol

the mien and apparelled in the celestial splen-
dour of a Son of God.
3. It is a nobler thing to be saved in the fire
than from it. It is better to be carried victo-
rious through the fight than to be exempted
from it. If you are truthful, dutiful, God-
fearing, and Christ-loving, you will be delivered
in your boyish troubles, secret temptations, and
unknown conflicts. You will find One with
you, the strong Son of God. General Gordon
used to say that without the presence of God
he was no better than an empty sack bumping
on a camel's back. And you know what the
hero of Khartoum was when God was with
him in the fire. He who suffered and died for
you, and who loves you and lives for you, and
will let nothing really harm you, calls you to
trust Him and serve Him, firm to the end.
You all know what a roll-call means. If you
have long left school, yet even the oldest of
you can remember how he used to answer to
his name. But there's another roll-call in the
future-not far off for some of you-when no
true servant or soldier of Christ will fail to
answer to his name. On a tombstone in a
Scottish parish, covering the remains of a brave
officer, is placed this sentence : 'Just as the last
bell struck, a peculiar sweet smile shone on

86 E.l" and Wedges

his face, and he lifted up his head a little and
quickly said, Adsum, and fell back. It was the
word we used at school, when our names were
called; and he whose heart was that of a little
child had answered to his name, and stood in
the presence of the Master.' That sentence,
taken from Thackeray's Newcomes, is fitly
placed over the grave of the fine old soldier
who was the original of the great writer's hero.
May grace be given to you, and me, and to all
who read my simple words, to do the right,
careless of consequences, to love and serve our
Lord for His own sake, and be faithful unto
death. Then shall we be able to answer to
our names, not in shame, but with joy, when
the Master calls-that 'Lord of love and
power,' whom our cleansed sight, 'through
sevenfold flames,' may see,-
'Walking with His faithful three.'

1 Keble


'The Lord trieth the hearts.'-Prov. xvii. 3
9UR words, like old coins, pass among us so
unquestioned that, when I chose the
subject for my present simple talk with
young folks, I was not thinking of.the hard
black stone which was once used as a rough-
and-ready means of testing the purity of gold
But young folks are very inquisitive, and I
shall not get you to listen to me until I have
answered the question which my text has set
you asking. Well, you know, I daresay, that
while many things are made of gold, scarcely
anything, not even the gold sovereign, is made
of pure gold. The precious metal 'is mixed
with others less precious, and especially with
copper, and people naturally wanted to know
how much alloy or baser stuff was mixed with
the real thing.. The assayer or tester .found it
out in this way. He prepared a number of very
thin bars or needles of gold, one of which was
made of the pure metal, another contained one

Edges and Wedges

part of copper, a third two parts, and so on.
Now, each of these needles when drawn across
the black stone left a red mark of a darker or
lighter shade, according to the proportion of
copper in each. When, therefore, anybody
wanted to know how much alloy was in the
piece of gold he might have, the assayer had
just to make a mark with it on his touchstone,
and comparing this with the markings that
were already registered, he could tell with
tolerable accuracy how far the gold was pure
or impure. So much, then, for the goldsmith's
Now, I have read somewhere of a man who,
long, long ago, appeared among men-they
knew not whence he came-who possessed a
very mysterious touchstone. It tested every-
thing in the land, and discovered its real nature
and worth. Much that seemed fair became
foul, and what was lightly esteemed proved to
be of highest value. Fine jewels lost all their
brilliance, and statues of gold crumbled at its
touch. None escaped this strange assayer's
test, whether king, priest, or beggar. But the
people at length grew angry. They tired
of being continually tested. They wanted
things to be as they once were. So they rose
against the mysterious Stranger and slew him


The Touchstone

and destroyed his touchstone. But they didn't
gain much thereby. Although the stone was
gone, its testing remained. They couldn't alter
its judgments. The foul could never be fair
again, nor the sham pass for reality.
This is the touchstone I want you to think
about. It is the touchstone of truth-God's
truth, for all truth is of God. His scholars
learn it, His saints know it, His prophets preach
it, His soldiers fight for it, and wherever it
comes it works great changes. Not all that
glitters is found to be gold. Lies are forced to
show their ugliness, and the swaggering knave
can no longer pass for a brave and honest man.
But people don't like to be thus tried and tested
by truth. Those who search for it are despised.
Those who publish it are persecuted. Those
who fight for it find few willing to aid them.
Nevertheless, the truth prevails, for God is
stronger than all beside. They might put the
apostle in prison, but they couldn't keep his
Gospel in chains. They might burn the Bible,
but they couldn't destroy the faith, and love,
and hope which it had kindled in human hearts.
Nothing can rub out the marks which the touch-
stone of God's truth has made upon the con-
science. You can never think that to be right
which you have felt to be wrong. And you can't

90 Edges and Wedges

reckon that to be real gold which leaves little
else than a copper mark upon the touchstone.
Tom Brown couldn't work any more with cribs
when the quiet, unconscious influence of little
Arthur's pure example had made the old, easy
way of getting over his difficulties seem mean
and cowardly. And there is, perhaps, a biggish
girl among those I am now addressing who
sees, even when she tries to shut her eyes to
the unpleasant discovery, that her conduct to
her little sister to-day cannot stand the test of
truth and kindness. The gold is nothing but
For you and me the strange story of the man
and his touchstone just means the presence of
Jesus and the voice of His Spirit within us.
He called Himself the Truth. He knew what
was in man. Nobody could wear a mask before
Him, nor appear other than he was. It was
the bad people who put a fair cloak over their
foul sins, and strutted about as the most
excellent of the earth, whom He saw through
and through. He showed them the awful sight
of their real selves, as the only way of their
ever becoming better. But they hated Him
for His truthfulness, and determined to get rid
of Him. The people who knew they were all
wrong and didn't conceal their badness He

The Touc/stone 91

pitied, and took to His heart, and saved them
from their evil selves. One reason why Jesus
loved children so much was because they looked
straight into His face, answered to His call,
and didn't try to be other than they were. Oh,
it is a solemn thing to stand in the pure and
perfect light of Christ's presence, for it is the
presence of God. But it is the only way to get
rest and peace. In the game of hide-and-seek
you try all kinds of dodges to escape detection.
But as soon as you are caught all concealment
ends, and you walk in openly, with your captor
as your friend. There was no escape from the
Man and His touchstone. 'The only way to
hide from God,' said Augustine, 'is to hide in
God.' And though it never is done until we
are sorry for our bad, untruthful, selfish ways
and want to be different, yet it is the happiest
hour in all our lives when we give ourselves up
to Jesus, the Saviour and Judge, and ask Him
to take us in hand, forgive us, search and prove
us, and make us real and true in everything.
When John Ruskin was once addressing an
assembly of big, strong men at Camberwell, he
told them that if they wanted to be true work-
men they must become childlike. And he gave
them four marks of right childhood. They are
four red lines on the black touchstone that show

EtSges andl Te~clkes

the real gold of childhood by which you may
try and prove yourselves. To be modest is the
first note of right childhood, according to this
good and wise man. To be faithful is the
second; there is nothing better than to be a
trustful and trustworthy child. To be loving is
the third; and it must be love that shows itself
in real kindness and helpfulness. To be cheer-
ful is the fourth and last essential; and the
humble, trustful, loving child will be full of
God's own cheer.
I would-not like any sensitive, true-hearted
boy or girl to be discouraged by what I have
said to them about the touchstone of life and
character. If the wedge you work with has got
a single edge; if you really want to stand right
with truth and duty and God; if you put your-
selves into the hands of Jesus to be tried and
strengthened, trained and saved by Him, you
must not lose heart because the touchstone
shows that there is still much alloy in the gold.
Good and true men were the monks and their
abbot who lived in a certain monastery long
ago. But it was a sore distress to them that
they could not better render the daily service
of praise. Although they did their best, their
songs, it was said, were enough to frighten
away the birds. Then a new brother came

The Touchstone 93

among them, who possessed the divine gift of
song. And one night, as his pure and perfect
voice rose in the stillness of the chapel and filled
its silences with the music of the MAagni/icat,
the holy but songless monks began to weep
for joy that now at last the Lord was worthily
praised. The same night, however, the good
abbot had a vision of Christ, who asked him
why, for the first time these many years, no
song of praise had gone up to heaven from the
brotherhood, whose evening hymn had been so
sweet to the ear of the Lord they loved. Over-
whelmed by the revelation, the abbot told how
they had sorrowed that they sang so vilely when
they tried their best, and how they had rejoiced
that night when their new brother sang the
IMagn;ficat with a perfectness that made them
silent for very shame. 'Ah,' said the Lord,
'he sang to his own praise, and the song of the
insincere never reaches heaven. Only the
humble can sing My praise, and what sounds dis-
cordant on earth may be sweetest harmony in
heaven.' Doubtless the abbot and his monks
took fresh hope from the heavenly vision, and
the melody of their hearts made their voices
musical in the ear of the Lord. So may it be
with us, if it is the Lord's judgment that chiefly
concerns us. 'Within the folded seed He sees

94 Edges and Wedges

the flower, and in the will the deed.' And our
talk about the touchstone will not have been in
vain if now upon the knees of our souls' we pray
' Search me, O God, and know my heart: try
me and know my thoughts, and see if there be
any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way

Conformed to the image of His Son.'-Rom. viii. 29

TAVE you heard of the Spectre of the
Brocken ? It is not a ghost-story, although
People are not a little startled at first by
the sight. I want to tell you about it for the
sake of the truth which it will serve, I hope,
to fix in your minds.
The Brocken is the name given to the high-
est summit of one of the Hartz Mountains in
Saxony. If you were there this evening just
before sunset, you would probably find your-
selves in a region of mist and cloud. I shall
suppose you are making your way down the
steep mountain path. On turning a sharp
corner, so that the sun is shining low down at
your back, you are startled to see straight
before you on the opposite bank of fog or mist
a gigantic human form. It stops when you
stop; it moves when you move; it holds up

96 Edges and Wedges

its huge hands when you hold up yours; it
does everything that you do, but on an immense
scale, and the strange, startling apparition has
a rainbow-coloured halo around its head. No
wonder that the traveller is at first puzzled and
alarmed at this Spectre of the Brocken. But
it is just yourself that you would be looking
at and shrinking from--the shadow of yourself
thrown upon the misty eastern horizon, greatly
magnified in the slanting sunlight, which gets
broken up into a rude kind of halo by the
watery particles held in the fog.
Now, children, you have never, probably,
seen this spectre of the mountain; but you
have seen something like it, only far more real
and important; for there are times and scenes
in your young lives when you may and do
really look upon your magnified selves-your-
selves as you will be when grown into men and
women, or even when you have passed into the
great, solemn eternity. Milestones are useful
on a long, unknown road. But God has made
of every turn of our lot a mirror in which we
may see what we are going to make of our-
selves and our lives. Oh, how the sight should
shock and alarm some of you, and how it may
encourage and strengthen others How like
he is to his father,' and She is the very image

The Spectre of lte Brocken 97

of her mother,' are exclamations which you
often hear very pleasedly from your friends.
But I want you to remember that you are now
little fathers and mothers, and that your
parents are just yourselves as you will be when
you have beards and are merchants, or farmers,
or doctors, or parsons, or when you wear long
dresses and have houses of your own, and
when you are whitening under the snows of old
age. The child is father of the man.'
Don't you think that Cain might have seen
the murderer he was going to be in his hatred
and jealousy of his brother, and in God's
merciful warning that sin was crouching like
a wild beast at the door of his heart, ready to
make the fatal spring ? How the young shep-
herd of Bethlehem must have dreamed and
pondered and prayed about his anointing by
the great prophet of Jehovah; and would he
not learn from his care of his father's flocks and
his battle with lion and bear, something at
least of what he might yet do and dare as
the Saviour and Shepherd of Israel? I can
fancy that Simon, the Galilean fisherman,
puzzled and troubled his mates not a little,
when they were out upon the lake, as he fell to
brooding over the new name of Peter, or Rock,
which the Christ had given him, and in which

Edges and Wedges

he saw what even he, impulsive and unstable
as he knew himself to be, might, by His grace,
become. It was this new, strange promise and
hope of being a rock-man that bound the rash,
uncertain Simon for ever to the Lord, and
helped to make him the strengthener of his
brethren and the foremost of the apostles.
Your boyish and girlish day-dreams about
what you are going to be should be neither
idle nor fleeting. The boy grows for the
moment quite manful, and the girl a thoughtful
woman, when the ruling passion of their after
lives first lays hold upon them, and they seem
to see themselves crowned in the far future as
artist or musician, merchant or explorer, soldier,
or nurse or missionary. Dream your dreams,
my boys and girls. Cherish your hopes, and
hold to your ideals against every temptation to
give them up. I don't want any of you to be
like the maiden in the old story, who set out in
the morning to follow her native spring to its
ocean fulness, whose distant murmurs awakened
strange longings in her soul, but who grew
tired of the long quest, and turned aside into
the sleepy meadows, where the sound of the
sea was heard no more. Oh, the pity of it!
For though the meadow-life was pleasant

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