The Baldwin Library
Y-C/, V. 10''
300oo for Young Vople.
AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION,
No. 146 CHETNUT STREET.
NEW YORK, No. 147 Nasau a Sreet.....BosTON, No. 9 ChrhilU.
LousVILLy No. 103 Phurth Street.
Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1852, by the
AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern Distritl of
*W No books are published by the AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION
without the sanction of the Committee of Publication, consisting of four-
teen members, from the following denominations of Christians, riz. Bap-
tist, Methodist, Congregationalist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran and
Reformed Dutch. Not more than three of the members can be of the same
denomination, and no book; can be published to which any member of the
OCnmittee shall object.
C. SHERM\N, PRINTER.
THa following pages are intended to furnish
simple and interesting materials for thought,
during those quiet Sunday hours when the
services of the sanctuary are suspended or
closed. From graver and more profound writ-
ings, youthful readers too frequently turn with
distaste; but cheerful and appropriate remarks
on subjects intimately associated with their
own ideas and feelings, from the pen of one
whose earnest sympathies are linked with
their's, will, it is hoped, engage their attention
and impress their hearts. It is impossible to
over-estimate the importance of making the
Sabbath, in their early experience, both a holy
and a happy day: and if this little book should
contribute to make it so, either by exciting
them to consecrate themselves to the service
of that Saviour, whose resurrection on their
behalf is commemorated on the day of rest;
or by strengthening in them those habits and
dispositions which are a preparation for the
eternal Sabbath above, the aim of the writer
will be attained.
THE FIRST SIN................... ................... ......... 9
THE DAY OF REST ......... .......................... ....... 14
THE RICH AND POOR...... .. ....... ................ .... 19
THE RELIGION OF LOVE... ................ .............. 21
THE FALSE EXCUSE............ ...... ......... ............ 27
THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER ..................... 31
THE DESERT WANDERER.................. ................. 33
THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE .......... .. ............. 41
THE BEST TIME.......... ...... .... ..... ............ 47
PROFESSION AND PRACTICE........ ..................... 55
A WORD IN SEASON................ .... ..... .... ...... 60
THE VINE............... .......... .. .. ...... ........... 6
THE RIGHT PRINCIPLE................. ..... ........ 68
WAYS OF USEFULNESS ................. ....... ..... 72
WHAT IS TRUTH? ........ .... .... ................ 84
REST FOR THE WEARY.............. ... .. ......... 92
WHAT A1M YOUR MOTIVES............................... 94
THE EASTERN STAR......................... .................. 99
THE SPIRIT OF PATIENCE.................................. 104
THE NIGHT COMETH........................... ............. 112
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR...................................... 114
LITTLE TRIALS ............ ............. ................. 122
THE WEDDING FEAST....................................... 127
THOUGHTS OF HEAVEN.......................................... 133
EARNESTNESS IN RELIGION................................. 134
THOUGHTS ON LIGHT........................................ 140
THE CONFLICT ............................................... 151
A re lirst iHn.
IT was a sad and awful day when our first parents
were banished for ever from their holy and beauti-
ful paradise. How deep must have been their an-
guish of spirit! How bitter their self-reproach!
They had lost the favour of that Being with whom
THE FIRST SIN.
they had held sweet and intimate communion, and
were exiled from his presence. Their purity of heart
and peace of conscience were exchanged for appre-
hension and guilt; and a fearful curse rested upon
their dark future. How terrible were the conse-
quences of sin,-of one sin! Yes, it was one sin
which expelled Adam and Eve from their happy
home. Do not think lightly of sin, dear young
reader. Do not say, "This is such a trifling act;"
or "So small an offence cannot greatly signify;" or
"God will not notice every slight instance of diso-
bedience." It is in this way that Satan tries to
make us deceive ourselves; he persuades us to be-
lieve that one wrong action, one deed of wilful dis-
obedience to God's commands, will not do us much
injury, nor offend our Maker. But this is not the
lesson which Eden, guarded by the flaming sword,
Still the thought has perhaps arisen in most
minds, with reference to the expulsion of our first
parents from Eden, that the punishment was dis-
proportioned to the offence. We listen, in early
childhood, with reverence and fear to the history of
.,4am and Eve, and are taught to draw from thence
our first lessons on obedience; but when we begin
'.o reflect and judge for ourselves, we are prone to
question whether this solitary sin was not too
Are your minds thus perplexed by the apparent
inequality of the sin and its punishment ? When
you sometimes hear persons speak jestihgly of para-
dise being lost "just by the eating of an apple," do
you, while shrinking from their levity and contempt,
feel harassed by the suspicion that God was unduly
THE FIRST SIN.
severe in his chastisement? Let us examine the
subject, then, and see whether your difficulty may
not be removed.
You must remember that it was the principle
involved in the first transgression, and not the out-
ward action only or chiefly, which incurred the dis-
pleasure of God. Guilt consists'in the internal
motive, and not in the outward act; and the insig-
nificance of the latter is no measure of the former.
Indeed, we might rather argue contrariwise, and say,
How great must be the sin of those, who for some
trifling gratification disregard the commands of the
Almighty! for if the test of obedience is easy, there
is the less excuse for disobeying.
Adam and Eve were placed in a lovely garden,
where they were surrounded by the most exquisite
enjoyments. Every beautiful object which met
their glance was their's to admire and appropriate.
Creation was subject to them. The only prohibition
which God made was, that they should not eat of the
fruit of a certain tree which grew in the midst of the
garden. Thousands of trees, waving with golden
fruit, were on every side, and only one out of the num-
ber was forbidden for their use. So richly blessed
our first parents were with the munificent giftaU
their Creator, it was surely base ingratitude, as
as open contempt of His authority, to pluck te
fruit from that one prohibited tree. The act was
one of wilful rebellion against the plain and reason-
able requirements of God; and the apparent unim-
portance of the deed only made it the more inex-
cusable. Besides, in crediting the assertion of Satan
in contradiction to the positive declaration of their
Maker, they practically made God a liar.
THE FIRST SIN.
Now this train of thought is a very fair reply to
the objection. It is, however, possible to obtain
even clearer perceptions of our first parents' guilt.
Their desire after the forbidden fruit was not the
mere prompting of natural appetite, nor the result
of perverse curiosity; but it was an attempt to
raise themselves to a level with Deity. "There is
an awful, though guilty, sublimity in the ambition
which ruined Adam and Eve. They fell from hu-
man perfection by attempting to reach Divine wis-
dom. They were angel-like in knowledge, and they
tried to be god-like in it, too. Thus it was for no
trifle that they perilled both body and soul." In
their simple act of disobedience was the germ of a
proud and ungovernable spirit, that aspired to
equality with, and independence of, God.
It is by considerations such as these that we are
enabled to form some adequate idea of the sin of
our first parents, and are prepared to admit the jus-
tice of that sentence which banished them from
their lovely paradise.
How mournful is the retrospect which we have
taken! The fair creation of God was early marred
by sin, and overspread with sorrow; for man, his
.-noblest work, lost the impress of his Maker, and
rendered himself unfit for his presence. Yet, even
within the precincts of forfeited paradise, the ac-
cents of mercy and compassion are heard, and a
bright ray of hope is thrown across the dreary
future. The seed of the woman shall bruise the
serpent's head." Blessed promise It cheered and
sustained many a trembling heart, during the dim
twilight of the first dispensation; and the glory of
its fulfilment is now richly reflected on our dark and
THE FIRST SIN. 13
sin-stained world. We look at Eden, and we are
sad; we gaze on Calvary, and we rejoice. A full
atonement has been made for sin; the law of God
has been satisfied and honoured; peace has been
proclaimed on earth; and heaven freely open-
ed to the most unworthy who believe in Jesus.
" There is therefore now no condemnation to them
which are in Christ Jesus."
How beautiful is the spring-time of the year !
The air seems so fresh and sweet; the green blades
of grass cover the long-barren fields; the pretty
flowers peep from under the ground; and the warm
sunshine makes every thing look so pleasant. A
good and great man once made this beautiful com-
parison : "I feel," he said, as if God, by giving
us the Sabbath, had given us fifty-two springs in
every year." The Sabbath was to him so delight-
ful and refreshing, that it seemed, in comparison
with other days, as lovely as the verdant and bloom-
ing spring which succeeds the cold and dreary
Yes; the Christian values the Sabbath-day. It
is a brief, but blessed, resting-place between earth
and heaven; a fair and green oasis in the desert of
life; a precious earnest of those unfading joys and
that perpetual repose which is in reserve for him.
Bright and beautiful scenes, which are often inter-
cepted from his view by the clouds and mists of
the world, are then revealed to his earnest and
steady gaze; and the sorrows and cares of time are
forgotten, or are felt to be comparatively light,
while he looks at the things which are not seen and
eternal. The Christian then draws near to God;
he holds intimate communion with his Saviour; his
faith is strengthened, and his hope invigorated.
T~r ERA of Ar~st.
THE DAY OF REST.
How sweet is the quiet hour which he devotes to
meditation and prayer! How delightful are the
refreshing services of the sanctuary A day in
thy courts," he exclaims, is better than a thousand.
I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into
the house of the Lord."
Does this experience, dear young reader, corre-
spond with your's? Do you call the Sabbath ade-
light, the holy of the Lord, honourable;" or is it
a wearisome and unwelcome day to you ? The en-
joyment of Sunday is a very fair test of the state
of our hearts; for, if we do not love the day which
God has especially consecrated for himself, is it
probable that we shall desire or appreciate an eter-
nal Sabbath above ?
But it may be that, from the force of early reli-
gious education, or from a real wish to remember
and keep holy the Sabbath, you strive to observe
the day of rest with seriousness and devotion ; but
you cannot find that pleasure in it which others pro-
fess to find: its duties are tedious to you; its privi-
liges are distasteful. This may arise from a mis-
taken idea of religion; you imagine, perhaps, that
it is suited only for Sunday h6urs. Your thoughts
and affections are occupied and absorbed, during the
week, in the affairs of the world; and you expect
that holy feelings and spiritual enjoyments will be
awakened by the mere recurrence of the day of
rest. But religion is not the lighting of a Sab-
bath lamp; or the forcing of all things out of their
current when the season of devotion returns." It
cannot be laid aside on Monday, and taken up
again on Sunday; but it must be interwoven with
our lives: it must form the mainspring of every
THE DAY OF REST.
action. If your religion is thus continual and
practical, you will never find the engagements of
Sunday irksome; but your happiest hours will be
those which are passed in the services of that hal-
lowed day. Seek then, dear young friend, for that
abiding influence of heavenly things, which will
transform the Sabbath in your estimation; and also
prepare you for a participation in the glories of the
"There remaineth a rest to the people of God."
This is a sweet assurance for those Christians who
are tempest-tossed on the rough ocean of life. The
storm will soon be over, and the haven of everlasting
security be gained. Youthful Christian Faint not
because of the burden and heat of the day. Hold
on a little longer, for presently the toils of earth
will be exchanged for the rest of heaven.
Heaven is a state of perfect happiness. It is a
land where care and grief are unknown. Its songs
are perpetual: its joys are unfading. "In thy
presence is fulness of joy ; at thy right hand there
are pleasures for evermore." Child of sorrow! If
you are in Christ by a living faith, let the thought
of heaven cast a bright ray across your night of
trouble. "Joy cometh in the morning." Your
light affliction is but for a moment. Meditate on the
joys of eternity; anticipate the bliss which shall
shortly be yours. The sufferings of this present
time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
that shall be revealed in us." Soon will the pearly
gates of the celestial city unfold for your admission;
soon will the anthems of the redeemed burst upon
your ear; every tear will be wiped away; every
lamentation be hushed.
THE DAY OF REST.
But heaven has attractions, not only for the
weary and sad-hearted, but also for the ardent and
the aspiring. Here coldness and imperfection mark
our holiest engagements; there our services will
be perpetual and untiring. "His servants shall
serve him." The distraction, the discouragements,
and the difficulties, which impede our course of
usefulness on earth, cannot interrupt our delight-
ful service above. Labour will then bring no
fatigue with it; disappointment will never weaken
effort. How cheering is the thought, when God
summons any of his servants from their sphere of
usefulness in this world, that he has nobler work
for them above !
And, as on each successive Sabbath, the Christian
enjoys a foretaste of the bliss which awaits him,
is it not the brightest of his anticipated delights,
that in heaven there will be an entire freedom from
sin ? Harassed now by sin and temptation, he ar-
dently aspires after that state .f perfect holiness.
O:, the blessedness of being Wtirely conformed to
the character of his Saviour; of enjoying a deliver-
ance, complete and eternal, from all that places the
soul out of harmony with God The prospect may
well cheer him amid his spiritual conflicts. Vic-
tory is close at hand. His foes shall be eternally
defeated. Clothed in a white robe, with a palm in
his hand, he shall soon join in that triumphant as-
cription of praise, Unto Him that loved us, and
washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath
made us kings and priests unto God and his Father;
to him be the glory and dominion for ever and
Let the brightness of that glorious Sabbath cast
18 THE DAY OF REST.
an additional lustre on the day of rest. The
Christian can never feel sufficiently thankful for the
kind appointment of his heavenly Father, which has
secured to him a weekly season of repose. "The
Sabbath bears upon its brow the bright signature of
God-the stamp and superscription of his likeness.
It is a holy and beautiful island, struck off from the
continent of heaven, and thrown down into the
stream of time." Yet, precious as the Sabbath is
to all who really desire that their physical strength
and moral energy should be sustained and in-
creased, through the weary march of life, it is after
all but a faint type of the never-ending rest above.
" Let us labour to enter into that rest." Let our
diligent improvement of present privileges evidence
our preparation for future glory.
THE RICH AND POOR.
(A r Air4 fit Pngr.
"The rich and poor meet together."-Prov. xxii. 2.
THE rich and poor! Hark! the sweet Sabbath-
Calls them to meet within the house of prayer;
Bids them forget the fading things of time,
And God's rich gifts, so freely offered, share.
In proud cathedrals, the soft light that streams
Through fretted aisles, with equal radiance gleams
On prince and peasant; from a thousand spires
Throughout our land one common song ascends,
From artisan and peer; each lowly bends,
And breathes in earnest prayer his warm desires.
The rich and poor! Where the bright sunbeam
On the green hillocks of the dead, they meet.
From peaceful cots, from lone ancestral halls,
From the dense city, and the calm retreat,
The grave its inmate gathers; earth's green
Welcomes her children to the same long rest;
The wealthy noble and the beggar rude
Find no distinction there. Life's richest bloom
And fairest honours wither in the tomb;
And man is linked in one vast brotherhood.
20 THE RICH AND POOR.
The rich and poor! Like rippling streams that
Each in their different course, yet blend at last
With the majestic deep; lost in its tide-
Soon will they meet; for time is hurrying fast
Towards the ocean of eternity:
The wise, the ignorant, the bond, the free,
Are nearing now its confines; on its shore
Earth's rank, and fame, and titles are unknown,
The immortal soul is recognized alone,
And "rich" and "poor" shall greet the ear no
AO J& .LTq
THE RELIGION OF LOVE.
14it rltltginn nf Itur.
PICTURE to yourself an affectionate and dutiful
child, having one of the kindest of parents, who
loves her very much : he has made many sacrifices
for her sake; and he does all in his power to pro-
mote her happiness. He never denies her any thing
that she wishes for, unless it would be really inju-
rious to give it; and he is continually furnishing
her with some fresh proof of his affection.
Now is it not strange, that a child, thus tenderly
beloved, should respond to these warm expressions
of feeling, and should love that parent with all the
ardour and devotedness of her young heart ? Is it
not strange, that she finds a pleasure in fulfilling his
requests, and in anticipating his desires; and es-
teems a kind smile and a sweet word of approval
from her father to be an ample return for the little
acts of love which she performs for him, and for
the willing obedience which she manifests towards
him ? Would it not seem more natural if she were
to dislike and avoid his society, and never manifest
the slightest desire to please and gratify him ?
Would you not expect that her ideas of her father
would be associated with gloom and unhappiness,
and that she would strive to forget him as much as
You are surprised at these inquiries; they appear
THE RELIGION OF LOVE.
to you absurd and unintelligible. The supposition
advanced is so improbable, that you wonder any
one should have taken the trouble to make it.
And yet, dear young reader, that imaginary state of
feeling perhaps too closely resembles your own.
You may be kind, affectionate, and obedient towards
an earthly parent; but how is the love of your
heavenly Father appreciated ? What is your opinion
of his service ? What is your estimate of religion ?
If you answer these questions fairly, is it not likely
that your reply will show that the idea which you
entertain of devotedness to God is by no means an
attractive one ? It rather wears a repulsive aspect.
Gloom, austerity, self-denial, and an abandonment
of innocent pleasures, are linked with your thoughts
of piety. You feel, that however religion may af-
fect your future, it would certainly mar your present,
happiness; and, therefore, you would like to enjoy
yourself in forgetfulness of your Creator until nearly
the close of life, and then you would give that atten-
tion to his claims which you deem necessary to
secure your entrance into heaven. Religion appears
to you like a bitter medicine, which is necessary but
unpalatable; or it resembles a dark and dreary road,
which you would gladly avoid, if you could reach
Eternal happiness without it. Is not this a transcript
of your feelings?
Now, if it is, we want you to see how mistaken,
how utterly mistaken, your idea of God's service has
hitherto been. Your indifference, or, more properly,
your aversion to religion, arises in part from your
wrong views of the character of God. You regard
him as a holy and exalted Being, whose authority
you cannot evade, and whose commands it is your
THE RELIGION OF LOVE.
duty to obey; and you believe that he will punish
the wicked and reward the good: but here you stop.
You find no pleasure in the contemplation of his
character, nor in the consideration of his will; and
you naturally shrink as much as you can from his
But this reluctance, dear young friend, to serve
God, is principally the result of a state of heart
which the Scriptures say is "enmity against God,"*
and its natural consequence,-an unenlightened un-
derstanding respecting God. You do not know the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.
You are ignorant of his character, and unacquainted
with his excellences. You have much to learn, and
you have also much to unlearn, respecting him.
Try and throw aside all your previous conceptions
of God, and study, as if for the first time, the re-
cord which he has given you of himself. Do not
draw your ideas of God either from the fears and
prejudices of your own mind, or from the mistaken
notions of those around you; but look at the por-
traiture which the Bible reveals to you. Ask God
himself to instruct and guide you. Ask Him, who
commanded the light to shine out of darkness," to
shine into your heart, "to give the light of the
knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
May He give you understanding, that you may
know him that is true.t
And what will this spiritual knowledge, dear
young reader, impart to you? It will impart the
blessed, the delightful assurance that God is love "
You will then find that love-infinite, tender, un-
* Rom. viii. 7.
+ 1 John v. 20.
THE RELIGION OF LOVE.
changeable love-has ever marked his conduct
towards you. He has shielded you in danger,
guided you in difficulty, and surrounded you with
mercy. He has given his only Son to shame and
death, that you might be forgiven and prepared for
his presence; and he has told you of that bright
home which he has prepared for his children. And
you will see that, through many years, this love has
been displayed towards you. It has never failed,
never faltered. Your indifference has not diminished
it; your ingratitude has not altered it; your sinful-
ness has not exhausted it. In tones of unutterable
tenderness and affection, God speaks to you, and the
gentle and persuasive words which fall upon your ear
are these : Wilt thou not from this time cry unto
me, My Father thou art the Guide of my youth ?"
Is it possible to resist such an appeal ? Is it possible
to think that an earnest and grateful response to it
is connected with gloom, and discomfort, and un-
happiness ? Oh no, dear reader! If you really be-
lieve that "God is love," and that He is therefore
love towards you, you will never doubt whether
his ways are ways of pleasantness, or his paths,
paths of peace. You will feel that to serve God is
your highest privilege, and you will delight to obey
But are there no difficulties, then, in the path to
heaven ? Are there no impediments in the Chris-
tian's course ? Yes; there are many obstacles which
arise to hinder his progress. The gate is strait, the
way is narrow, the cross must be encountered, be-
fore the crown is gained. But love helps him to
overcome all difficulties, and teaches him to find
happiness in that which seems full of trouble to
THE RELIGION OF LOVE.
others. It makes the yoke of Christ easy, and his
Some years ago, a child, a few weeks old, was
seized by an eagle,-one of the largest species in the
country,-and borne away to its lofty nest on one of
the most inaccessible cliffs. The mother, perceiving
her loss, hurried in alarm to the rescue of the child,
and the peasantry among whom the report spread,
rushed out to her aid. They all came to the foot of
the tremendous precipice. The peasants were will-
ing to risk their lives in order to rescue the little
infant; but how was the crag to be reached ? One
peasant tried to climb, but was obliged to return;
another tried, and came down injured; a third tried,
and failed; and one universal feeling of deep sorrow
and despair actuated the crowd as they gazed upon
the spot where the poor infant lay.
-At last, a woman was seen, climbing first one part
and then another; getting over one rock and then
another; and, while every heart trembled with alarm,
they saw her, to their amazement, reach the loftiest
crag, and clasp the infant rejoicingly to her bosom.
This heroic female descended the perilous steep with
her child; she moved from point to point; and, wljl
every one feared that the next step would precipitate
her, and dash her to pieces, they saw her reach the
ground with the infant in her arms Who was this
female ? Why did she succeed when others failed ?
It was the mother of the child! And what made
her overcome every obstacle ? There was a tie be-
tween that mother's heart and the infant, which drew
her to its place, and nerved her to brave every dan-
ger for its sake. That tie was love. This fact is a
striking proof of the power of love.
26 THE RELIGION OF LOVE.
Now it is just the same with love to God in our
hearts: it draws us to his service, binds us to his
iaws, and enables us to surmount every obstacle.
And it is the want of this love which has made you
regard obedience to him rather as hard servitude
than as perfect freedom.
The way to love God, is to believe that he loves
you. You must place yourself within reach of the
brilliant rays of the sun, if you would feel warm-
ed and enlivened. God commendeth his love
toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us." Believe this, and you will not, you
cannot, remain cold, and selfish, and unmoved. You
will love him who has first loved you; and your
feelings of long-repressed affection will gush forth in
their joyous flow, just as the ice-bound waters are
thawed by the gladsome sunbeams.
THE FALSE EXCUSE.
64f farIt duirnst.
How many difficulties, which are urged as objec-
tions against a full and heart-felt reception of Chris-
tianity, arise more from the wrong state of the
heart than from any real perplexity of the mind!
The plea of inability is frequently brought forward
as a reason for opposition to holiness. "I cannot
help it," is deemed a sufficient apology for continu-
ance in evil practices. But experience proves the
fallacy of such an excuse.
"Did I understand you rightly, sir," (said a mi-
nister, during a conversation on religious subjects
with a medical gentleman,) "that, in your opinion,
man was a creature of necessity; that he could do no-
thing but as and what he did; and consequently that
he is not a responsible agent, nor justly punishable ?"
Exactly so. That is my full conviction."
"But would he be responsible if he could do
otherwise than he does; in a word, if he was master
of himself and his own actions ?"
"Certainly; but this liberty of thinking and
acting is what I deny."
"I only wished fairly to understand your position
before I made a reply. Now, sir, I will produce a
fact, the strongest example of human weakness, and
will prove to you that man, in his most degraded
state, and consequently most unreasonable condition,
THE FALSE EXCUSE.
is a free agent, and therefore a responsible being.
For instance, take the case of a confirmed drunkard:
I go to him when he is so far under the influence
of intoxicating drink as scarcely to be able to see or
stand, yet capable of some exercise of his under-
standing. I try to persuade him not to drink the
liquor before him. Sin is so ugly that no one
chooses to own it, and therefore he looks out for an
excuse for it, 'I cannot help it, sir; 'tis all very
true what you say, but I cannot help it.'"
"The man's right, quite right, sir. The case
makes against you. We medical men know that
the habit of drinking becomes a disease; and a
drunkard can no more resist his desire for liquor,
than a man in a fever can get rid of his thirst by
his own will and pleasure."
Stay, if you please; let the fact be as you have
represented it, it will be still more to my purpose.
I am ready to allow that this wretched victim of in-
temperance approaches as near to necessity as any
example that can be supposed; yet I maintain that
he has not lost his volition and power to make a
choice, and therefore, on your own showing, he is re-
sponsible for his offences. Suppose I tell him, 'My
friend, I have put thirty grains of arsenic into that
glass ;' will he drink now ?"
Certainly not: he would not be such a fool."
"Very true; nor could any argument, short of
convincing him that I had not poisoned the liquor,
induce him to drink it. Then you must allow that
he could help drinking it if he pleased; that he
is under no law of necessity; but a free agent, and
"My opponent," says the minister, "made no
THE FALSE EXCUSE.
reply; but, in a somewhat hurried manner, advanced
a number of stale and silly objections. I saw he
had no love of truth, nor wish for conviction. I
suspected, as I learned afterwards, that he had an
interest in getting rid of the Bible; and was made
uneasy by the truth,-like a bird of the night, which
screams and flies away from the torch which dis-
covers its haunts."
Dear young reader! Do not be misled by any
attempt to disprove your responsibility to God.
You cannot really doubt this important fact, nor
will you endeavour to do so, unless a determined
love of sin, and a perseverance in it, prompt you to
stifle the voice of conscience, by denying the autho-
rity of your Maker. It is, at the best, a miserable
self-deception, which cannot last long. Eternity is
rapidly approaching, and then it must be swept
away for ever. How fearful to attempt to deceive
ourselves with such reasoning now !
It is, however, possible that the confession of
inability to serve God may arise from a very differ-
ent state of feeling. It may be the result of earnest
but unsuccessful attempts to serve God. The re-
sistance to sin has been real and repeated, but no
apparent victory has been gained; and, wearied by
continual defeat, the youthful mind gives up the
attempt in despair, and feels that it cannot do the
thing that it would. But such a mind does not, on
this account, refuse to recognize the responsibility
of the creature to the Creator. It is rather the be-
lief of this fact which induces the feeling of bitter
regret and self-condemnation.
Now this consciousness of weakness and imper-
fection is not really discouraging, although it may
30 THE FALSE EXCUSE.
appear to be so. It prepares for the reception of
that strength without which we can accomplish
nothing that is good or holy. It teaches us to turn
from dependence on self to dependence on God.
He never gives us commands which he does not
enable us to obey; and we must ask for strength
from him, since we cannot find it in ourselves. He
is both able and willing to supply all our need.
"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that
have no might he increaseth strength." There is
no ground then for distress or despondency. God's
kind promise, "My grace is sufficient for thee," will
soon win from us the grateful acknowledgment, "I
can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth
Never let us forget that the flippant "cannot"
of the careless transgressor, and the timid cannot"
of the fearful Christian are alike unwarranted; and
that, although our responsibility to God may be
denied, it cannot be evaded.
THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER.
,94r ki hn a ji-|>tlnnl fra rjr.
SHE came amidst her children,
Like sunshine 'mongst the flowers;
Cheering with love's soft radiance
Those blessed Sabbath hours.
They clustered fondly round her,
As round a mother's knee;
While she told them the sweet story
Of our Saviour's infancy.
Not in language grave and stately,
Nor laboured nor refined;
But in words that fell like dew-drops
Upon the tender mind.
And she drew from them sweet lessons,
Which that simple history taught,
By the gradual unfolding
Of each child's hidden thought.
And she bade them, in life's spring-time,
Before earth's joys grew dim,
Confide in that Redeemer,
And strive to grow like him !
32 THE BUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER.
It was a lovely picture,
So bright, yet so serene;
For there lay a moral grandeur
On that quiet Sabbath scene.
Her's was an angel's mission-
Nay, perchance there is not given
So noble an employment
To the seraph throng in heaven.
It was her's to guide the wandering;
To make the simple wise;
To train those young immortals
For their home beyond the skies.
O happy, happy children,
Thus gathered to the fold
Before the dark temptations
Of life had on them rolled !
O happy, happy teacher !
Fadeless is her renown;
Brighter than monarch's diadem
Will be her starry crown.
THOU GOD SEEST ME.
* -' 'w-. J.
obnn @na neest ^M ; or, eP
BY a fountain of water, in the wilderness, sat a
wearied and sorrowful traveller. Worn with fatigue
and excitement, she had been compelled to pause
awhile in her hasty journey; and, as her eye rested
on the cheerless scenery around her, her proud and
indignant glance gradually softened into a sad and
34 THOU GOD SEEST ME; OR,
pensive expression of countenance. She was a
wanderer whom unkind treatment had driven from
her home. Her lot was that of a servant, and the
harsh conduct of her irritated mistress had induced
her to run away from her service; but she knew
not where to seek for shelter and food. How pain-
ful and trying was her situation She was alone in
a desert path. No one pitied her; no one cared for
her. Whither could she bend her faltering steps ?
Homeless, friendless, and unhappy, she lingered by
the water-side, when her attention was suddenly ar-
rested by an angel voice, and these words of inquiry
sounded in her ear: "Hagar,-whence camest
thou ? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I
flee from the face of my mistress Sarai."
Oh, how welcome to that poor wanderer was the
interest which was thus manifested in her fate!
Hope sprang up in her heart, for God had not for-
gotten her, and some way of deliverance was surely
at hand. It was even so. The angelic messenger
bade her return to her mistress, assuring her that
she should experience the fulfilment of a gracious
promise, which would insure her own happiness, and
the prosperity and renown of her numerous de-
With a lightened heart, Hagar retraced her
steps; but not until her firm belief of an ever-
watchful Providence had found expression in the
grateful acknowledgment-" Thou God seest me."
"Thou God seest me !" This truth, so cheering
to the mind of that desert wanderer, is one which
should also encourage us in our wilderness journey,
but too frequently the thought of God's omni-
science excites our fear and dread, instead of awaken-
THE DESERT WANDERER.
ing our love and confidence. It is true, that Ha-
gar's words are suggestive of solemn warning to the
careless and the disobedient; and the remembrance
of them has often powerfully impressed the guilty
A peasant, who was in the habit of going to a
neighbour's corn-field to steal the grain, one day
took his son with him, a boy of eight years of age.
The father told him to hold the bag, while he look-
ed if any one was near to see him. After standing
on the fence, and peeping through all the corn-rows,
he returned to take the bag from the child, and
began his sinful work.
Father," said the boy, "you forgot to look
The man dropped the bag in a fright, and ex-
claimed, Which way, child ?" supposing he had
seen some one.
You forgot to look up to the sky, to see whether
God was noticing you!"
The father was struck with his child's reproof.
He felt that the eye of God was upon him; and,
alarmed by this consciousness, he abandoned his
pursuit, and never again resumed it. "THOU
GOD SEEST ME," was the thought which arrested
his progress, in a sinful and dishonest course.
But although the recognition of God's omniscience
may and ought to deter us from the transgression
of his commandments, this was not the light in
which it was regarded by the sorrowful Hagar;
neither is it the connection in which we now wish
to consider it. We would rather let the words,
" Thou God seest me," suggest to us, as they did to
Hagar, thoughts of hope and consolation.
36 THOU GOD SEEST ME; OR,
In moments of sadness and disappointment-and
the youngest and happiest of our number must
sometimes experience such moments-how sweet is
the recollection that our Father in heaven is look-
ing down upon us in tenderness and love !
Are you unhappy, dear young reader ? So was
Hagar as she sat by the fountain-side. Whatever
may be your trouble, your source of comfort is
the same as Hagar's: "Thou God seest me!"
Fear not. Your sorrowful history is all known to
him, and he will not suffer you to be tried above
that which you are able to bear.
Have you met with some disappointment? So
had the servant-maid of Sarai. Her position in
Abraham's house had doubtless awakened in her
mind many bright hopes of the future; and bitterly
must she have felt the reverse in her circumstances,
when, in that very house, she met with treatment
which occasioned her hasty flight from it. Let the
thought which then solaced her drooping spirit
revive yours: "Thou God seest me." Disappoint-
ment is hard to bear at any time; but it is especially
hard in the sunny days of youth, when the heart is
comparatively a stranger to sorrow. But, however
delusive and unsatisfying the things of earth may
have proved, God has not forgotten you.
Is the origin of your grief the unkindness of
some friend or associate? Such was also the occa-
sion of Hagar's sorrow. The unkind and severe
behaviour of Sarah made Abraham's servant a fu-
gitive from her home. Unable any longer to endure
the ill treatment of her mistress, she fled into the
wilderness. How welcome was the intelligence, that
God regarded and pitied her! That assurance,
THE DESERT WANDERER.
dear young reader, is equally your's. The eye of
God rests upon you now, as it did upon Hagar;
and there is as much compassion in his glance, as
when it fell upon that desert wanderer.
We are told of an amiable and dutiful daughter,
who had learned, through the pious instructions of
her Sunday-school teacher, to obey her heavenly
Father, but who encountered much opposition from
her parents, on account of her attention to religion.
Her father at length became so exasperated, that, upon
her gentle but steady refusal to relinquish the read-
ing of her Bible and an attendance at the house
of God, he turned her out of doors. "She might
find a home where she could," he said, "if she did
not choose to conform to his rules." Poor girl!
she turned away from her home with an aching
heart; for it was night, and she had no lodging to
go to: but she looked up to the star-lit sky, and
remembered that God saw her, and that he would
preserve and direct her. "When my father and
my mother forsake me," she exclaimed, then the
Lord will take me up !" Her father heard these
words through the half-closed door, and, touched by
the simple faith of his daughter, hastily recalled
her, and sought her forgiveness for his unkindness
How lonely and desolate was Hagar's position at
that wilderness fountain She seemed unnoticed
and uncared for. No kind friend was at hand to
console and help her; no gentle voice spoke to her
in language of affectionate sympathy. It is possi-
sible that some youthful reader feels that there is
in this respect a resemblance between Hagar's case
and her own. You are placed, by the providence
38 THOU GOD SEEST ME; OR,
of God, among persons with whom you have
neither congeniality of feeling nor unison of inte-
rest. It is your painful experience to realize the
truth of the wise man's saying, The heart knoweth
its own bitterness." It seems as if you were over-
looked or forgotten by the careless-hearted ones
around you. You feel, in this wide busy world,
that you are alone. But has God forgotten you ?
Are you unseen by that 'Being who beholdeth all
the sons of men ? Is not his eye upon them that
fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy ?
Then weep not, that none are around thee to love-
For a Father is with thee to bless;
And if griefs have exalted thy spirit above,
Oh say, would'st thou wish for one less?
He is with thee whose favour for ever is life;
Could a mortal friend guard thee so well ?
Oh hush the vain wish, calm thy bosom's wild strife,
And forbid e'en a thought to rebel."
"Thou God seest me." Believe this, Christian
reader, and it will gladden your heart, and inspire
you with confidence amid the difficulties and the
temptations of life. Thou God seest me" is a de-
claration involving both his sympathy and his help;
for like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord
pitieth them that fear him; and his compassion is
linked with infinite power to bless and succour them.
Wait patiently; and you, like Hagar, shall find that
he is a very present help in time of trouble. He
may not indeed send a visible, angelic messenger to
you, as he did to the mourning servant of Abraham;
but his message of love, by his word, by his minis-
ters, by his providence, or by his Spirit, will surely
THE DESERT WANDERER.
be vouchsafed to you. And what will that message
contain ? It will contain counsel and consolation.
Listen to the counsel. "Return to thy mistress,
and submit thyself under her hands." Such was
the direction given to Hagar. There was a duty to
be performed, as well as a promise to be received.
And you will generally observe, in seasons of dis-
tress, that when God speaks to you, he marks out
something which you are to do. Remember, your
realization of his promise is often inseparable from
your obedience to his commands.
Consider the consolation. "Behold, thou shalt
bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael;
and I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it
shall not be numbered for multitude." Yes, dear
reader, God blesses those who put their trust in him.
" He will speak peace to his saints." Exceeding
great and precious promises are unfolded to them.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in
the morning; for as surely as they sow in tears,
they shall reap in joy.
"Thou God seest me." Do you hesitate to ap-
propriate the comfort which the Christian derives
from this assurance ? It must be because you have
not yet learned to regard God in his true character:
"God is love." Now, if you think of him as a
Being who is opposed to you, or displeased with
you, it is evident that the contemplation of his Di-
vine attributes cannot be welcome to you. The
recollection of his eye being ever upon you will
rather alarm than console you. Confidence in God,
and an assurance of his favour, is indispensable to
the happiness which arises from the thought of his
40 THOU GOD SEEST ME, ETC.
But I have sinned; and does not God hate sin,
and has he not declared that he will by no means
clear the guilty ?"
True; but why not read that solemn lesson where
he would have you read it-at Calvary ? Stand be-
neath your Saviour's cross, and you will see how
God can be just, and yet the justifier of him that
believeth in Jesus. Can you doubt his love towards
you, when for your sake he spared not his only
begotten Son? Open your heart, dear young
reader, for the reception of that love. Put your
trust in Jesus. Believe in him with the heart, and
banish from your mind all distrust and dread of
God. It is in this way, and only in this way, that the
bright and sustaining hope which results from the
knowledge of God's omniscience can be enjoyed by
THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE.
Elr Vunirr nf conunsiurr.
"How delightful it is to have the bird in the
bosom sing sweetly !" Such was the quaint obser-
vation of an old author respecting an approving
conscience; and the idea which he intended to con-
vey by this simile is one which cannot be too forci-
bly or too frequently impressed upon our minds;
for, "if our heart condemn us not, then have we
confidence towards God."*
We live in a world where our actions-sometimes
through wilfulness, sometimes through ignorance-
are often misunderstood; and, consequently, if our
happiness were dependent upon the opinion of our
fellow-creatures, it would have a very variable foun-
dation, and settled serenity of mind would be unat-
tainable. But our peace has not been left thus
dependent upon the views which others take of our
conduct; for the approval of our own conscience is
sufficient to make us calm and happy in the midst
of unkindness, injustice, and bitter persecution.
A youth of seventeen, greatly beloved by his
aged father, was torn from his home, cruelly sold
for a slave, and carried away into a far distant
country. He was purchased by a man of wealth
and power, whom he served faithfully, and who
S1 John iii. 21.
42 THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE.
soon learned to appreciate his integrity and useful-
ness. His master's property was freely intrusted to
his care; and his fellow-servants perhaps envied the
distinction which was conferred upon the new-
comer. But how uncertain is the favour of man !
In one day, through the artful representations of
a revengeful woman-his master's wife-this captive
youth was accused of a high crime, hastily dismissed
from his post of honour, and thrown into prison
But, when he recovered from the shock which must
have followed so rapid and unexpected a change, do
you imagine that he was cut off from every source
of happiness? Oh no; "the little bird in the
bosom sang sweetly," and the music of its voice
hushed the discordant sounds which had agitated
his feelings, and soothed his sorrow. He was inno-
cent of the crime alleged against him; and he had
a conscience void of offence, both before God and
man. Whatever his master or his old associates
might believe concerning him, his own heart acquit-
ted him of the sin which had been laid to his charge;
and this inward consciousness of freedom from this
guilt lighted up those prison walls with a bright
Now, it is not probable that you will ever expe-
rience such malicious treatment as did the youthful
Joseph; yet it is hardly possible for you, if you love
and fear God, to pass through life without being
exposed to unjust and ill-natured remarks; and
therefore the thought which comforted him will be
needed by you. Unkind insinuations, or direct
imputation of wrong motives, whether uttered by
the rough companions of a workshop, or the polished
inmates of a drawing-room, are very hard to bear;
THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE.
but, if conscience gives us a favourable verdict, we
shall enjoy a sweet satisfaction within, which will
compensate for all outward trial. Only take care
that "the bird in the bosom sing sweetly," and then
you possess that which will cheer and encourage
you in the path of duty.
But does this bird always sing sweetly? Ah,
dear reader, are there not times when its melodious
strains are silent, or rather when it speaks to you in
very different tones ? Are there not times when
it reproaches and condemns you, because you would
not listen to its warning notes, but persisted in the
indulgence of those sins which it bade you shun ?
Oh, how much mental anguish is occasioned by
stifling the voice of conscience! Remorse is sure,
sooner or later, to follow the wilful disregard of its
And remorse is not the only evil consequent
upon the violation of conscience. If its warnings
are neglected, the character will grow weak and
undecided, and the judgment will become warped;
and, by long persistence in such a course, the heart
will lose its tenderness and impressibility. Con-
science will cease to speak at all; or else its feeble
remonstrances will fail to produce any effect; sin
will be committed without compunction, and the
thought of a judgment day will excite no fear.
But conscience will not continue for ever thus un-
heard and unheeded. It may be stupified and
silenced for a time, but its reaction will be fearful.
In a dying hour, perhaps, it will be roused from its
slumber; and who shall portray the terrible anguish
which will then be felt by the departing spirit; or,
if it wake not in this world, we know how intense
44 THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE.
must be the suffering-represented by the worm
that dieth not, and the fire that is never quenched-
which it will inflict upon the soul for ever.
Always listen, dear reader, to what conscience
says to you; and never act in opposition to its au-
thority. In all your arrangements and decisions
be guided by this inward monitor. When it ap-
proves, go on; when it disapproves, stop imme-
It is, however, important you should bear in mind,
that, although it is our bounden duty thus to hear
and obey the voice of conscience, the strictest com-
pliance with all that conscience enjoins is not enough
to justify our actions, or to please God.
"Not enough ?" inquires some youthful reader,
with surprise. "Will not God be satisfied, if
we honestly act out what we believe to be right ?"
Now, you must remember that the decisions of
the conscience are influenced by the convictions of
the understanding. What a man believeth to be
his duty, conscience tells him he ought to do; but
his intellectual perceptions may be so dim and dis-
torted-whether by a deceitful heart, or through
early prejudices, sinful habits, or false teachers-as to
mislead him in his investigations, and he may con-
found truth with error, and call darkness light.
Conscience, in such a case, may cry, "Peace, peace,
when there is no peace." The approval of conscience
therefore is of little value, unless its commendation
be based upon the conviction of a mind enlightened
by the Spirit of God.
It is possible, for instance, to be sincere and
earnest in our attempts to serve God, and yet to act
at the same time in direct opposition to his mind
THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE.
and will. The wretched Suttee, who immolates
herself upon the funeral pile of her husband, ima-
gines that she thus secures her everlasting happi-
ness; and the unhappy ascetic, who wearies himself
with long fasts and bitter penances, believes that
his self-torture is acceptable to God. But is sincerity
a sufficient test of true religion ? Look at the
apostle Paul before his conversion to Christianity.
With what burning ardour and intensity of purpose
did he persecute the disciples of the Saviour. And
he verily thought he was doing God service Yet
his conduct was completely at variance with the
principles of true religion. Nevertheless, according
to your idea that the honest following out of our
convictions is all that is required of us, we ought to
attach as much praise to Saul the persecutor, as we
do to Paul the apostle.
You will often hear it said, in reference to some
individuals whose mode of life is not in unison with
the revealed word of God," Oh, but he is very
earnest and sincere; he means well." Now, while
every person who acts conscientiously deserves our
respect, we must not forget that sincerity and zeal
cannot form any excuse for the violation of God's
commandments; because we have his word of truth
for our guide, and are bound to regulate all our
actions according to its directions. The rules
which are given for our guidance are plain and
simple; and therefore, if through ignorance or
inattention we fail to apply them to our varying
circumstances, the responsibility of our mistakes
must rest with ourselves.
Search the Scriptures, then-humbly, prayer-
fully, and constantly. Reason, unless enlightened
46 THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE.
by revelation, cannot be depended upon. You
must be diligent students of God's word, if you
would be preserved from error, and wish to model
your life according to his will.
A conscience thus associated with an enlight-
ened understanding will be a truthful conscience,
but on that very account it will often prove an
accusing conscience. It will remind you of sins,
many and aggravated, which you had forgotten;
it will point out sad defects in duty which you
had overlooked; and you must plead guilty to
its charges. How can you answer them? You
must reply, dear reader, as one of the Reformers
did when he imagined that his great enemy
brought before his view a long and dark catalogue
of sins-sins of childhood, of youth, and of riper
years; and charged him with their commission : "It
is true-all true; but you have forgotten to add
that which fully absolves me from their guilt-' the
blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin !'"
This must be your answer, your only answer,
to the accusation of conscience; and, thank God!
when used with faith in Christ, it is sufficient to
satisfy every demand.
Let everlasting glories crown
Thy head, my Saviour and my Lord !
Thy hands have brought salvation down,
And writ the blessings in thy word.
In vain the trembling conscience seeks
Some solid ground to rest upon:
With long despair the spirit breaks,
Till we apply to Christ alone.
How well thy blessed truths agree!
Iow wise and holy thy commands!
Thy promises, how firm they be !
How firm our hope, our comfort stands !
THE BEST TIME.
i(K %6rst limP.
FEw young persons refuse to acknowledge that
God has a claim to their affection and obedience;
but many do not consent to the direction of his in-
spired word, as to the period when their consecra-
tion to his service should begin. God's word plainly
declares that now is the accepted time, and that
now is the day of salvation;" and he bids us re-
member our Creator in the days of our youth: but
the practical rendering and response of many rea-
ders is, To-morrow is the accepted time; to-morrow
is the day of salvation: we will remember our
Creator at the close of our lives."
How sad is this want of harmony, upon the
most important of all subjects, between God and
ourselves It furnishes too sure a proof of the
depravity of our nature; for, had man continued in
his original state of holiness and love, there had
not been this reluctance manifested to immediate
and constant devotion to God. But now we are so
unwilling to seek God, and so prone to procrastinate
in religion, that it requires powerful argument and
strong persuasion, and the grace of the Holy Spirit,
to induce us to believe that now is the time-the
best time-to begin to serve God. May that Holy
Spirit impress and influence our hearts, while we
think of some of the reasons which should urge our
THE BEST TIME.
immediate attention to the gracious command of
1. Life is uncertain. You may die before you are
old. You may die soon. You are not sure that
you will live till to-morrow. But you do not real-
ize the probability of your early departure from
this world. With the bloom of health on your
cheek, the vigour and animation of youth in your
frame, and flattering worldly prospects before you,
you imagine that you shall yet live for many years.
It is true, you may allow that young persons often
die, but you secretly cherish the persuasion that
their destiny will not be your's; and in this way you
evade the solemn inferences which are drawn from
the uncertainty of life.
But is it wise to deceive yourself thus? Will
your forgetfulness of the indisputable truth, that
"in the midst of life we are in death," retard the
approach of the angel of death? Are you more
invulnerable to his touch than that little child, who
in the morning was playing in front of his father's
cottage, full of health and glee, and who, before the
evening closed, was lying pale and lifeless in his
mother's arms ? What assurance have you that the
sun, which to-day shines on your path, will not
shine, to-morrow, upon your grave ? Why, then, do
you presumptuously put off until another day your
attention to religion ?
A clergyman was conversing, one evening, with
a young man on religious topics. He found him
well-read on general subjects, most amiable in his
disposition and manners, but rather inclined to
He said to him, "When do you mean to give
THE BEST TIME.
the subject of religion an honest and diligent at
"I am going to-morrow to Birmingham, to form
an advantageous partnership in a leading house. It
will take me two or three months to complete all
the arrangements, and then, I assure you, I will
read and think as you have advised."
But what if you should die before the arrival
of the time you fix ? I hear a very solemn warn-
ing-' This night thy soul shall be required of
thee : then whose shall those things be, which thou
hast provided?' Depend upon it, you are deceiving
your own heart. To-moRRow' is a fatal delusion,
and has been the ruin of thousands. He who de-
fers the duty of the moment may never see the more
convenient season. You might at least begin with
an hour or two a day, till you have more leisure."
It is impossible, sir. I cannot spare a moment.
My whole time and thoughts will be engaged in
getting into the business of the house; and a proper
attention to it at first may affect all my future life."
But is this the sound exercise of reason ?"
The young man made no reply. They parted;
and, before the end of a month, the clergyman
heard that his young friend had been summoned
into eternity !
Youthful reader! begin now. There is but a
step between you and death." Let the precarious
tenure of your life urge you to immediate decision.
2. Time is short. How brief is the duration of
the longest existence upon earth Suppose you
are even allowed to pass the boundary line of three-
score, years and ten, even then your life will, in
comparison with eternity, and in consideration of
THE BEST TIME.
the high and holy results which it ought to accom-
plish, appear exceedingly short.
But it does not require much time to repent of
sin, and to believe in Jesus Christ. A long life,
surely, is not necessary to insure salvation ?"
No, certainly not. One simple act of true faith
in Christ unites the sinner to his Saviour, and is the
first link in that chain of events which terminates
in glory. But is your only idea of salvation that
of being delivered from everlasting misery ? Have
you forgotten that sanctification is the sequel of
justification ? Have you no wish to be purified
from sin, and to be prepared for the unsullied in-
heritance of the saints in light? You should regard
your present life as the preparation for eternity.
You will have to struggle against the evil propen-
sities of your nature, and to overcome sinful and
long-cherished habits; you will have to deny all
ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and perfect ho-
liness in the fear of God. And is this an easy or
a momentary task ? Does it not rather require all
the time and the energy which you can possibly de-
vote to it; and should you not at once begin to
work out your salvation with fear and trembling ?
A few brief hours, from sunrise to sunset, form a
day-such is life. It is rapidly passing away. The
shades of evening will soon gather over the sky:
and the night will come, in which no man can work.
And the momentous object of your existence is not
yet attained; you have not even put forth one effort
towards it! Surely you have no time to lose in
indecision or procrastination.
3. Delay is dangerous. You imagine that, should
your life be spared, you can return to God at some
THE BEST TIME.
future period as easily as you can now; and this pre-
sumptuous expectation of his favour makes you regard
your present alienation from his service without much
uneasiness or alarm. But God does not promise to
give you his blessings in a few years' time, if you
refuse them now. To penitent and believing sin-
ners, although their sins may have been of crimson
dye, we know that his forgiveness is at all times
readily extended; but upon what principle do you
calculate that it will always be in your power to
obtain this spirit of contrition and faith? Have
you never heard of the hardening influence of sin ?
Long opposition to the ways and will of God is
likely to leave you, in old age, without even the
wish to be saved.
An old man called his grand-children around his
dying-bed, and thus addressed them: "When I was
a boy, something seemed to say to me, Seek God
now;' but I thought that religion was incompatible
with youthful amusement, and therefore I resolved
to wait until I grew up to be a man. I did so;
and was then reminded by conscience of my early
promise: but business demanded all my attention,
and I again determined to wait till the middle of
life. My serious impressions left me for some
years : they were again renewed; the Spirit whis-
pered, Seek God noit;' but then I had less time
than ever. Satan advised my waiting till I was
old; then my children would be settled in the
world, and I should have nothing else to do. I
could then give an undivided attention to it. I
listened to his suggestion. I have lived to be old;
but now I have no desire to attend to the concerns
of my soul-my heart is hardened. Now I have no
THE BEST TIME.
hope. Already I feel within me the beginning of
eternal misery. Take warning from my miserable
end: seek God now ; let nothing tempt you to put
off this important concern."
Let the dying advice of this unhappy man sink
deep into your hearts. The cares and the troubles
of life have not yet filled your thoughts; a long
course of sin has not yet hardened your tender
feelings: now is the time,-the best time,-for you
to seek God in Christ Jesus. The little stream can
be turned in the direction we wish; but we cannot
move the mighty river. The slender seedling can
be transplanted with ease; but not the sturdy tree.
It is a hazardous experiment to postpone your at-
tention to religion; not only because your soul
might this night be required of you, but because
your wilful persistence in such conduct may provoke
the awful sentence, "Ephraim is joined to idols;
let him alone !"
4. But delay is ungrateful as well as dangerous.
God is not only your Creator, but your Friend and
Benefactor. From him every blessing which you en-
joy is derived. Your physical powers, your mental
strength, and your domestic happiness are proofs of
his great loving-kindness; but the gift of his only and
beloved Son surpasses every other demonstration of
his regard for you. And is this the Being whom you
intend to forget and neglect until you are wearied
with the pleasures of sin, or are unable to engage in
them any longer ? Can you-even should he then ac-
cept that heart which you refused to yield to him in
years of health and vigour-be so base and ungrateful
as to think of offering him only your worn-out fac-
ulties, your withered feelings, and your last moments?
THE BEST TIME.
Surely this is not the return which you would make
to his marvellous goodness? Come, then, in the
morning of life, and offer your warm affections,
your glowing ardour, and your unwearied energies
to his service; let the first-fruits of your intellect,
and the fresh and joyous feelings of your heart, be
laid upon his altar.
But might not the arguments which we adopt,
and the persuasions which we employ to induce you
to consecrate yourself to God's service while it is
called to-day, naturally lead any one to conclude
that we were urging you to some most difficult and
disagreeable undertaking ? Yet how untrue would
be such an inference, for we are in reality only en-
treating you to be happy. It seems as if ear-
nest remonstrance and willing appeals on such a
subject as this did injustice to the very instincts of
your being; for the desire of happiness is so deeply
implanted in our mental constitution that we can
hardly imagine you to be reluctant to obtain it.
Then why hesitate any longer to walk in the ways
of pleasantness and in the paths of peace; why
linger far off from your Father's home, when that
Father is ready to welcome you and rejoice over
you? No weary pilgrimage, no bitter penance, no
renunciation of innocent or rational pleasure, is de-
manded from you; but you are simply asked to re-
ciprocate the love of that Saviour who was so soli-
citous for your present and future happiness, that he
gave his own life to procure it for you: you are
affectionately counselled to accept the peace and
joy which he waits to impart-peace with God,
peace with your own conscience, peace with all man-
kind, and joy so pure, so deep, so lasting, that the
THE BEST TIME.
wildest storms of earth cannot ruffle it. Are you
unwilling to share these rich blessings ? You can-
not surely be so indifferent to your own welfare as
to refuse them.
Dear young reader, are you yet undecided?
Light-hearted and careless, do you glance at these
remarks with good-humoured indifference, and pro-
mise that at some convenient season you will
certainly attend to them ?
It is reported of Archias, a Grecian magistrate,
that a conspiracy was formed against his life. A
friend, who knew the plot, despatched a courier with
the intelligence, who on being admitted to the pre-
sence of the magistrate, delivered to him a packet
with this message:-" My lord, the person who
writes you this letter conjures you to read it imme-
diately; it contains serious matters." Archias, who
was then at a feast, replied smiling, Serious affairs
to-morrow;" put the packet aside, and continued
the revel. On that night the plot was executed, the
magistrate slain, and Archias on the morrow, when
he intended to read the letter, was a mutilated
corpse, leaving to the world a fearful example of
the effects of procrastination.
Youthful reader! Take warning! Now is the
PROFESSION AND PRACTICE.
Vrnf issinu anh Vrartire.
OUR estimate of a person's character is gene-
rally determined more by his conduct than his
conversation. His language may be eloquent and
persuasive; but, if it is at variance with his deeds,
we shall not attach much value to it. So uni-
versal is this habit of judging, that it has passed
into a common proverb-" Actions speak louder
How highly important, then, is it that those
who profess to love the Saviour should be care-
ful to adorn his doctrine in all things! The
world does not, and will not, investigate their
principles; but it reads theft practice; and it
expects consistency from the avowed followers of
A gentleman, who was of a hasty and passionate
temper, had a dispute with a friend of his who
was a professing Christian; and, with strong feel-
ings of resentment, he paid him a visit for the
express purpose of quarrelling with him. He
accordingly stated the nature and extent of the
conceived injury, and was preparing to load him
with severe reproaches, when his friend interrupted
him by acknowledging with the utmost readiness
and frankness the injustice of which he had been
56 PROFESSION AND PRACTICE.
guilty, expressing his sincere regret for the wrong
which he had done, requesting his forgiveness, and
offering him ample compensation. He was com-
pelled to say that he was satisfied, and withdrew, full
of mortification that be had been prevented from
pouring forth his indignant reproaches.
As he was walking home, he said to himself,
"There must be something more in religion than I
have hitherto suspected. Were any man to speak
to me in the tone of haughtiness and provocation
with which I addressed my friend this morning, it
would be impossible for me to preserve the even
temper which he manifested, and especially to ac-
knowledge with so much frankness and meekness
the wrong which I had done. I could not so easily
ask forgiveness of the man whom I had injured, nor
so cheerfully promise a satisfactory recompense. I
should have met his anger with at least equal
warmth, and have given him reproach for reproach.
There is something in this man's disposition which
there is not in mine. There is something in the
religion which he professes, and which I am forced
to believe he feels; something which makes him far
more amiable than I am. This subject strikes me
in a manner to which I have previously been a
stranger. It is time to examine it more thoroughly
and with more solicitude than I have ever yet
From this simple incident a train of thought
commenced in the mind of that gentleman, which
terminated in his becoming a real Christian, and
subsequently a devoted minister of the gospel.
How happy his friend must have felt when he
learned that his consistent and lovely conduct had
PROFESSION AND PRACTICE.
been the means of effecting so much good With-
out saying even one word to him about religion, he
had won him to a consideration of its claims, and a
participation of its hopes!
A clergyman, who was chaplain of a little squad-
ron stationed in the Mediterranean for five years,
related the following interesting anecdote, which
occurred during that time.
The commodore was a frank and generous man,
who treated me with marked attention; and I
used to preach in all the ships but one. This was
a small frigate, and its captain was an irreligious
and profane man. He used to say, he wanted
no canting parson for a pilot; and he embraced
every opportunity of annoying me. Being a per-
son of violent temper, he took offence, and insulted
the commodore, who meant to send him home.
When I heard of his intention, I waited on the
commodore, and said I had come to.ask a particular
favour of him.
'That shall be granted. I am always happy to
oblige you. What is it ?'
"' That you will overlook the conduct of Captain
S-,' said I.
"' Nay, nay; you cannot be serious. Is he not
your greatest enemy; and I believe the only man
in the fleet who does not wish to see you on board
his ship ?'
"'That's the very reason why I ask the fa-
vour, commodore. I must practise as well as
"' Well, well! it is an odd whim; but if, on re-
flection, I can grant your request without prejudice
to the service, I will do it.'
58 PROFESSION AND PRACTICE.
"'The next day I renewed my petition.
"' Well,' said he, if Captain S- will make a
public apology, I will overlook his conduct.'
"I instantly got into a boat and rowed to the
frigate. The captain met me with a frown on his
countenance; but, when I told him my business, I
saw a tear in his eye, and taking me by the hand he
said, 'Mr. -, I really do not understand your reli-
gion.; but I do understand your conduct; and I
"The affair blew over, and he pressed me to
preach in his ship. The first time I went there the
whole crew were dressed in their best clothes, and
the captain at my right hand. I could hardly utter
a word, my mind was so much moved, and so were
the whole crew. There seemed a more than
ordinary solemnity among us.
That very night the ship disappeared, and not
a soul survived to tell the tale None ever knew
how it happened; but we supposed, as there had
been a gale of wind, she foundered and went down
in deep water."
How cheering the thought that the men thus
suddenly summoned into eternity had even that one
opportunity'of listening to the blessed message of
the gospel. May we not hope that God's purposes
of mercy were accomplished in some who had heard,
under circumstances which were so peculiarly adapt-
ed, with his blessing, to prepare their minds to
welcome and receive it!
See, dear young reader, how "example" is more
regarded than precept." Persons can understand
our conduct, if they cannot appreciate our princi-
ples; and they form their opinion of us more from
PROFESSION AND PRACTICE. 59
what we do than from what we say. We should
therefore rather strive to live well than to talk well.
The religion of Christ teaches us to let our light
shine before men, that they may see our good
works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
Then, by your gentle and attractive mien,
Commend the holy faith which you profess;
That in your daily conduct may be seen
Religion in its winning loveliness !
a *wnr iun n Unn.
The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
-1 John i. 7.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the for-
giveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."-Eph. i. 7.
IN the calm evening of a sultry day,
A toil-worn missionary, deep in thought,
With patient step pursued his onward way,
To the dear home his heart so fondly sought.
A WORD IN SEASON.
- .^- .-- ; ..
A WORD IN SEASON.
On the soft balmy air there rose no sound,
And yet he paused : for on the dewy ground
A travel-worn and feeble native lay,
Whose haggard frame and quickly-heaving breath
Foretold too truly the approach of death.
The gentle minister, with looks of love,
Bent in much kindness o'er the dying man,
And strove to lead his wandering thoughts above,
Ere death for ever closed life's little span.
"What is thy hope," he asked in mildest tone,
"When thou shalt enter on a world unknown ?
Oh, will it faithful in the trial prove ?"
A bright gleam lighted up that half-closed eye,
And murmuring accents gave this sweet reply :
"The blood of Jesus Christ, God's only Son,
Cleanses from every sin!"-The life-blood
From the warm beating heart-the faltering
In death's long silence was that moment hushed.
The missionary paused in solemn awe;
And, as he gazed, a folded paper saw;
Which in that hand, so lifeless now, was
And found a single tattered leaf which bore
The precious verse those lips could breathe no
Ah that had led the weary soul to him
Who is the trembling sinner's perfect rest;
62 A WORD IN SEASON.
And, when all earthly hopes were faint and dim,
Had filled with rich abiding peace his breast.
The man of God his lonely path pursued
With feelings of adoring gratitude;
And oft in notes of praise his joy expressed
That one pure ray of truth, in mercy given,
Had guided that poor wanderer safe to heaven.
IN a small town in Jerusalem, a little band of men
were assembled. They looked very sorrowful, and
well they might, for bitter grief and trial was before
them. Their beloved Friend and Master was going
to leave them. For nearly three years they had
been his constant companions: but now the hour
of separation was fast approaching; and they must
be left alone in the world. Sadness was marked on
each countenance, and sorrow filled each heart.
How eagerly they listened to the kind and gentle
words which fell from their Master's lips; for they
felt that, in a short time, those sweet tones would
be hushed and silent.
Their kind Friend told them much to cheer and
comfort them under the prospect of his departure;
and then-perhaps the illustration was chosen from
the rich and luxuriant vines which met his eye, or
from the fruit of the vine, of which they had just been
drinking-he added, "I am the true vine, and my
Father is the husbandman !" Ah, you know who
spoke these sweet words. It was Jesus Christ. Yes;
our Saviour compares himself to a vine.
The land of Canaan was celebrated for its beauti-
ful vines. It was called, by God, a land of vines."
The surprise that was felt by the Israelites, on see-
ing the bunch of grapes which was brought from the
valley of Eshcol, may easily be imagined; because
the grapes of Egypt, to which they had been accus-
tomed, were particularly small. "And they came
unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence
a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare
it between two upon a staff."* This account is
confirmed by several travellers. One informs us,
that in the valley of Eshcol were bunches of grapes
of ten and twelve pounds; and another says that
there were bunches in the valley of Hebron so
large that two men could scarcely carry them.
Much care was exercised by the Israelites in the
culture of the vine. They sometimes built a lower
wall within the outward one of their vineyards, and
used great dexterity in training the fruitful branches
over it. They were also in the habit of training the
tender shoots on trellises, about a well, to furnish a
refreshing shade for the family during the heat of
the day : Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruit-
ful bough by a well; whose branches run over a
wall."t The houses in the East are built in the
form of a square, with an open space in the midst,
and apartments on each side; and it was common to
cover the stairs leading to the upper rooms with
vines; and a lattice-work of wood was often raised
against the walls, upon which climbed a vine, or
other mantling shrub. This explains the beautiful
metaphor in the 128th Psalm-" Thy wife shall be
as a fruitful vine by the side of thy house."
The Jewish nation, as the chosen people of God,
was compared to a vine. God is represented as
having planted it, and cultivated it with great care:
* Num. xiii. 23.
t Gen. xlix. 22.
" Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou
hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou
preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to
to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills
were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs
thereof were like the goodly cedars."*
The vine, therefore, was an emblem peculiarly
adapted for Jewish minds; and our Saviour's ap-
propriate application of it to himself would be
quickly appreciated by his disciples: "I am the
true vine." The vine is a tree with which most
refreshing and delightful thoughts are associated.
In it vegetative life flows fast and freely, and its
fruit is given for the sustenance and delight of man.
So Jesus Christ came into our world, that he might
impart life and happiness to the souls of men : "I
am come that they might have life, and that they
might have it more abundantly."t
Christians are called vine-branches. This beauti-
ful comparison illustrates some important truths
which are connected with their position and cha-
1. It represents union. How intimate is the
connection which subsists between the branch and
the stem or vine! Yet such is the close and won-
derful relationship which Christ's people sustain
towards him. They are joined to him; they are
identified with him; they are one with him. It is
in consequence of this union that they are said to
be crucified and risen with Christ, and to sit together
with him in heavenly places. Are you a branch,
dear reader, in the true and heavenly Vine ? Have
you, by faith, united yourself to the Saviour ?
* Ps. Ixxx. 8-10.
t John x. 10.
2. It expresses dependence. How striking is the
analogy, in this point, between the branches of the
natural vine and the branches of the spiritual vine!
Each branch depends upon the parent stem, and
would soon wither and die if cut off from that.
The life of the tree is the life of the branch. So it
is only by union to Christ that the life of the
Christian can be begun or maintained. He possesses
no vitality apart from his Saviour. Dear young
reader, cling closely to your Saviour. Without
him you can do nothing. You are weak, and igno-
rant, and sinful; but if you put your confidence in
Jesus, and adide in him, you will receive grace from
him, and will grow like him.
3. It implies fruitfulnes. The vine bears fruit.
How beautiful the bunches look as they hang upon
the branches amidst the green foliage The fruit
is of different colours, green and purple; but it is
all beautiful. And all those who belong to Jesus
Christ bring forth fruit. They try to please God,
and to be kind and gentle to those around them.
" The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-
suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance."* Would you ascertain whether you
are branches of the true vine ?-Ask yourselves
whether you are bearing fruit. "Even a child is
known by his doings." Remember, it is nearness
to Christ, it is faith in him, which will make you
strong and holy.
The vine-branches are pruned. Too many leaves
spoil the appearance of the vine, and keep out the
sun; and they also draw the sap away from the
* Gal. v. 22.
grapes. So the husbandman prunes the fruitful
branches. He cuts away some of the shoots and
suckers, that he may make the clusters richer. It
is just so that God deals with his people. He sends
them trial and sorrow, because he wishes to make
them, eventually, holier and happier. The Rev.
Richard Cecil was, one day, walking in the college-
garden at Oxford. He felt very sad and dejected,
on account of the trials which he had to endure.
During his walk, he saw a fine pomegranate-tree
almost cut through the stem. On asking the
gardener why this was done, he received an answer
which brought him much comfort. "Sir," replied
the man, this tree used to shoot so strong that it
bore nothing but leaves; I was therefore obliged to
cut it in this manner; and when it was almost cut
through, then it began to bear plenty of fruit."
"Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth."
Youthful reader! confide in your Saviour now,
and cleave continually to him; and then, when
temptations and afflictions come, you shall be safe in
him. You shall bring forth fruit in old age; and
at last be transplanted to a fairer world, where the-
storms and sorrows of life can never enter.
THE RIGHT PRINCIPLE.
1or Riglt jrinciplt.
THE revealed will of God is our rule of action.
We must not take for our guide the maxims of the
world, or suppose that the prescriptions of man can
repeal the laws of his Creator. Our inquiry, in
reference to our daily conduct, and in connection
with every fresh step in our lives, should be-not is
it pleasant ? Is it expedient ? Is it popular ? but-
is it right? Is it in accordance with the plain require-
ments of God? Lord, what wilt thou have me
to do?" The prayerful and impartial study of
his word will never fail to assist us in every dif-
ficulty. "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and
he shall direct thy paths."* Thy word is a lamp
unto my feet, and a light unto my path."t
But we are frequently perplexed in framing our
course of action; not so much from ignorance of
right principles as from disinclination to right prac.
tice. Obedience to God sometimes involves dis-
pleasure from man, and we are not willing to incur
that; or a regard to his commandments would injure
our present means of subsistence, and blight our
future prospects; and we can hardly believe that he
will expect so great a sacrifice from us.
P 1 Ps. cxix. 105.
: Prov. iii. 6.
THE RIGHT PRINCIPLE.
A lady was one day trying to persuade an indi-
vidual, with whom she was acquainted, to close his
shop on'the Sunday.
I am very sorry, ma'am, to keep open shop,"
was the reply; but we take more on Sundays
than on any other day in the week."
"But we are told in the Bible that' the blessing
of the Lord maketh rich;' and we cannot expect
his blessing if we act in disobedience to his law.
On the other hand, those who have trusted God,
and acted in obedience to his will, have not only
enjoyed peace of mind and spiritual profit; but
have even found, in keeping God's commandments,
a present temporal reward."
"Yes, ma'am; I don't doubt it. I am quite sure
that we ought to keep the Sabbath, and I do hope
that when we get on a little, we shall be able to do
so; but we must provide for our family first, you
know. We are really obliged to open our shop on
Sunday; for if we were to shut it up, we should lose
most of our customers."
Now these simple remarks furnish an illustration
of the subject we are considering. The favour of
the world is deemed of more value than the ap-
proval of God; and the violation of his commands is
justified on the plea of necessity. "God is merci-
ful," it is argued; "and he will not mark with
severity a line of conduct which is indispensable to
our comfort and success in life, although it may not
be in exact unison with his law."
Such reasoning is false and futile. It never can
be necessary to do that which is wrong. Let it be
a settled principle in your minds, that sin is a mat-
ter of choice, not of obligation. If any contem-
THE RIGHT PRINCIPLE.
plated action is opposed to the positive declaration
of God, you may rest assured that its performance,
under any circumstances, is not requisite for your
welfare or happiness. Is it conceivable that a God
of infinite love and wisdom has framed a law for
his creatures, the observance of which will prove
injurious to their well-being? Are we better
judges than he is of what is essential for our peace
and prosperity ? It is true, that the promotion of
our interest may sometimes appear incompatible
with strict deference to his authority; but this
arises from our partial and defective judgment. We
imagine that the possession of certain things would
be conducive to much happiness, when it is very
probable that their acquisition would be highly de-
trimental to us. Certain it is, that if their attain-
ment depends on our disobeying the commandments
of our Maker, they are both unnecessary and
It would prevent much indecision and sorrow, if
this principle were clearly recognized and honestly
acted upon. There would be no hesitation then
between the claims of God and the claims of man,
because we should at once admit the superiority of
the former. We should seek first the kingdom of
God and his righteousness, and believe that all
things would be added to us.
A sailor, who was employed by the captain of a
steam-vessel, objected to work unnecessarily on the
Sabbath, in taking in or unloading goods.
"We have no Sabbaths here in our business,"
said the captain, roughly; but he offered the man
an increase of wages if he would continue with him,
and labour on the Lord's day. The sailor, although
THE RIGHT PRINCIPLE. 71
sorry to be turned out of employment, steadily re-
fused to do so, and was discharged. He came to
Europe, and the first newspaper which he took up
on his arrival informed him that the steam-boat
which knew no Sabbath" had been blown up al-
most immediately after his departure, and that
nearly one hundred lives had been lost. The sailor
felt truly thankful to God for his escape, and re-
solved always to be prompt and decided in refusing
to do wrong, whatever consequences might appear
likely to follow.
How true it is, that God will honour those who
honour him! The path of obedience is the path of
safety. Never hesitate, dear reader, about doing
his will. If you serve God, he will take care of
you; and even if for a time you should meet with
reproach and suffering, you will find that a peaceful
conscience and the favour of God will more than
compensate for that.
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
3Wagg nf strfnlntes.
THE happiest persons in the world are those who
strive to be useful. A selfish man, who does not
try to help others and to be kind to them, can-
not enjoy half that peace of mind and that gladness
of heart which is experienced by the benevolent and
the self-denying; for God has so constituted us as
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
to make our temporal happiness result, in a great
measure, from our endeavours to promote the welfare
of those around us. Love to our neighbour is a
self-denying principle, which leads us to make per-
sonal sacrifices for the sake of doing him good, and
which ever regards his present benefit as subordi-
nate to his future welfare. In thus loving our
neighbour as ourselves, we not only fulfil the law of
God, but we also, indirectly, increase our own
But perhaps you say, How can I do any good ?
I am so young and so inexperienced, and I have so
little money; I do not think I can be really useful,
until I possess much larger resources, and have
It is a great mistake, dear young reader, to sup-
pose that either great wealth or great talents are
necessary for this purpose. The little dew-drop is
not a mighty river, bearing proud ships upon its
bosom, and assisting the commerce of powerful na-
tions; but it performs its gentle mission by moisten-
ing the slender blade of grass, and refreshing the
delicate leaves of the flower. Cannot you be as useful
as a dew-drop ? Is there no little child in your home
circle whose tender heart might be influenced for
good by your kind words? Is there no young
friend by your side who is in want of sympathy and
A single bright ray of sunshine beamed through
the narrow casement window of a sick boy's room,
and be smiled when he saw it, for it made him feel
more cheerful. Caniyou not be as useful as a sun-
beam? Could you not visit that weary little in-
valid, and talk pleasantly to him, and thus brighten
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
his lonely hours ? Or, could you not send a letter
or a tract to that aged neighbour of yours, who is
rapidly approaching a grave that is ungilded by the
glorious assurances of the gospel ?
Sweet nature even may impart
Eloquent lessons to the heart;
Teaching us that we each possess
Our varied spheres of usefulness:
And that our talents are designed
To bless, and aid, and cheer mankind.
Suppose we point out three or four different chan-
nels in which your usefulness may flow? It would
take us too long now to follow them in their course,
or to describe the tributary streams of which they
are composed; but the simple mention of them will
be sufficient for your guidance:-
1. Example. A good example is one of the best
ways in which you can do good to others. If you
are kind, unselfish, and obedient, your conduct may
lead others to see the loveliness of true religion,
and to trust in that Saviour whose grace has made
you to differ from them.
A thoughtless nobleman, who paid a visit to
Archbishop Fenelon, was so struck with his holy
and beautiful life, that he exclaimed, at parting,
"If I stay here any longer, I shall become a
Christian in spite of myself!" How powerful is
A young man, when about to be ordained as a
Christian minister, stated that, at one period of his
life, he had been nearly betra.*d into the principles
of infidelity. But," he added, there was one ar-
gument in favour of Christianity which I could never
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
refute-the consistent conduct of my own father !"
That father's example, under God, saved his son.
Now, dear reader, what example are you setting
to those around you? Your behaviour will and
must exert a silent influence over your associates;
for no man liveth unto himself: are you taking care
that it shall be of a beneficial character ? Remem-
ber, your actions make a far deeper impression, for
good or evil, than your words. If a person, who
gave way to violent and ungovernable passions, were
to tell others how important it was that they should
be gentle and good-tempered; which do you think
would have most weight with them-what he said,
or what he did ? What he did, certainly. His
angry looks and hasty language would speak more
powerfully than his advice, aid would most proba-
bly neutralize all its good effect. If you wish to be
useful, look well to your example.
2. Sympathy. What is sympathy? It is that kind
feeling which makes a person take as much interest
in the joys or sorrows of others as if they were his
own. Some young people never seem to care about
anybody but themselves. If they see persons who
appear very unhappy, they are not at all concerned,
and make no effort to help and comfort them: or,
if they hear that something very agreeable has
happened to one of their friends, it does not make
them feel glad; perhaps it only excites their envy.
Such young people have not learned to sympathize.
A pious mother, who was in the habit of asking
her children, before they retired at night, what they
had done through the day to make others happy,
found her young twin-daughters silent. The ques-
tion was repeated. "I can remember nothing good
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
all this day, dear mother," said one; only one of
my school-fellows was happy because she had gained
the top of the class, and I smiled on her, and ran
to kiss her; so she said I was kind: this is all,
dear mother." The other continued, "A little
girl who sat by me on the form at school, had lost a
little brother. I saw that, while she learned her
lesson, she hid her face in the book and wept.
I felt sorry, and hid my face behind the same book,
and wept with her. Then she looked up and was
comforted, and put her arms round my neck; and I
do not know why, but she said I had done her good."
The mother kissed her dear children, and replied,
"To weep with those who weep, and to rejoice with
those who rejoice, is to imitate our blessed Re-
Now, these little sisters were full of sympathy:
they were kind and affectionate; they felt for others.
How much our grief is lightened when a gentle
hand wipes away our tears, and a soft voice speaks
to us words of hope and consolation! How much
it increases our happiness to find that others notice
our joy, and tell us how happy it makes them to
see it. Sympathy is more valuable than money. A
purse of gold would not soothe the anguish of a
mother who is weeping over her infant's grave; but
a word, or even a look of sympathy, may alleviate
her distress. Try, then, if you cannot do good by
the expression of your sympathy. When visiting
and relieving cases of distress, recollect that your
assistance will not be half so welcome, if it is un-
accompanied by sympathy. Some persons, who
are really kind-hearted and benevolent, mar their
usefulness by their cold manner and their pa-
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
tronizing air: they bestow their money upon
the poor, but they do not manifest any fellow-
feeling with them. But the gospel teaches us
to weep with them that weep: it bids us, "bear
one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of
3. Conversation. How fond most young peo-
ple are of talking! Watch that group of girls.
How fast they chatter about their homes, their
dress, their studies! Listen to those boys. How
much they have to say about their amusements,
their books, and their plans for the future! Now
there is no harm in talking about such things;
only our conversation should not always be about
earthly things. If we are anxious to be useful,
we shall try to do good with our tongues. "A
word spoken in season, how good is it." Not
that we are to be great talkers about religion; for
where there is much talking there is generally
little doing. A tree that is very full of leaves
frequently bears no fruit. But there are sometimes
opportunities afforded us of speaking about Jesus
Christ, and of doing others good, which we should
A young man, celebrated for his literary at-
tainments, (especially for his knowledge of mathe-
matics,) but unhappily distinguished also for his
opposition to the gospel, was spending an evening
with a gentleman to whom he had been introduced
by a mutual friend. The gentleman thought to.
himself, What can I say that may do this young
man good ?" After much interesting conversation,
as they were about to part, he remarked, "I have
heard that you are celebrated for your mathemati-
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
cal skill; I have a problem which I wish you to
solve." "What is it ?" inquired the young man,
The gentleman answered, in a very serious tone,
"What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole
world, and lose his own soul ?"
The young man smiled, and affected to make
light of it; but he could not shake off the im-
pression made upon his mind by the proposed
problem. In his business, in his studies, and in
the giddy round of pleasure, the question still for-
cibly returned to him. It finally resulted, by Di-
vine grace, in his conversion to God; and he be-
came an able advocate and preacher of that gospel
which he had once rejected. What good here
followed, under the blessing of God, from that single
Now, dear reader, remember that speech is as
much one of God's gifts as eminent talents or ex-
tensive wealth, and that you are therefore equally
bound to use it for his glory and the edification
of others. How much should we contribute to the
benefit of our fellow-creatures, if we acted more
upon this principle in our intercourse with them!
4. Efort. The young Christian may also strive,
by personal activity in his Saviour's cause, to
extend his kingdom upon earth. In the varied
schemes of Christian usefulness, such as Sunday-
school instruction and the distribution of religious
books, he will eagerly take a part; but especially
will he endeavour to do good to those who come
within his own more immediate sphere. Lord,
what wilt thou have me to do ?" will be his frequent
and heartfelt inquiry.
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
A little girl, who loved her Saviour, was much
grieved by the desecration of the Sabbath, through
the business which was carried on by various
shopkeepers in the neighbourhood where she re-
sided. She enclosed a tract on the subject to each
of those Sabbath-breakers; and, in a short time,
she had the pleasure of seeing six of their shops
closed on the Sunday!
Look around, dear reader, and see whether you
have not similar opportunities of usefulness within
your reach; and work while it is called to-day; for
the night is rapidly approaching, in which no man
5. Contribution. Many persons appear to ima-
gine that giving money to others is the only way in
which they can do good; but although we have
seen that this is not the case, and that the contri-
bution of money to religious funds is not essential
to our usefulness in God's service, yet we must not
forget that, in the present state of society, money is
a necessary means of carrying out most plans of
Christian philanthropy. We should, therefore, so
far as it is in our power to do so, assist all wise, be-
nevolent enterprises with pecuniary aid. If God
has blessed us with comparative wealth, our con-
tributions to charitable and scriptural societies ought
to be liberal; and if our lot is found among the
poor of this world, we should still cast our mite into
the treasury, knowing that each offering there is
accepted according to that a man hath. One penny
from a poor man may be in reality a larger donation
than one hundred pounds from a rich one. Beautiful
are the instances of generosity which have been ex-
hibited by persons in the humble ranks of life;
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
thus proving that the development of Christian
graces is perfectly independent of worldly pros-
perity. How does our heart glow at the recollection
of those noble individuals, mentioned by St. Paul,
whose deep poverty, in a great trial of affliction,
abounded unto the riches of their liberality; for to
their power, yea, and beyond their power, they
were willing to help those who were in need.
How brightly those two mites shine which the
poor widow, whom our Lord commended, dropped
in among the costly gifts of her countrymen!
Why, according to right calculation, she gave more
than they all! Her spirit seems to have been im-
bibed in our day by the poor widow of a Russian
soldier, who, upon contributing a rouble to the
Bible Society, was kindly asked whether that sum
was not too large for one in her straitened circum-
stances; her beautiful reply was, "Love is not
afraid of giving too much !" But our approbation
of such conduct should be followed by our imita-
tion of it. What are we giving to promote the
advancement of religion and happiness among men ?
What sacrifices have we ever made for Christ ?
6. Intercessory Prayer. How delightful is the
thought, that those who cannot be influenced by
our example, or our remonstrances, may be reached
by our prayers! Perhaps there is some friend,
separated from us by thousands of miles, for whose
welfare we are deeply solicitous; or there is some
beloved one in our home, who repels every effort
which we make to arouse him or her to a sense of
danger. How impossible it seems to do such a one
good! But is it really impossible? Impossible!
when there is a throne of grace, where we are en-
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
courage to ask what we will in the name of Christ,
and it shall be done unto us ? Impossible when
we know that the effectual, fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much ? No, dear reader;
we have every encouragement to hope that earnest
and persevering prayer for others will be heard and
Listen to Moses, as he pleaded with God on
behalf of his guilty countrymen: Turn from thy
fierce wrath," he exclaimed, "and repent of this
evil against thy people;" although God had just
said to him, "Let me alone, that my wrath may
wax hot against them, that I may destroy them."
And what was the result of his prayer? The
Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do
unto his people." Or, hearken to him again on
another occasion: "Pardon, I beseech thee, the
iniquity of this people, according unto the great-
ness of thy mercy." His petition was granted
almost as soon as proffered: "I have pardoned
according to thy word." Or call to mind the
example of Job, who, at the express command of
God himself, prayed for his three friends; and the
Lord not only accepted his mediation for them, but
made it the turning-point of his own restoration to
happiness and prosperity. Or turn to the records
of Jesus Christ's ministry upon earth, and mark
the numerous instances in which his favour was
besought, and never besought in vain, for friends
and relatives. The Syrophenician woman, the
ruler Jairus, the centurion, and others are suf-
ficient proofs that intercessory prayer was not
unwelcome in a Saviour's ear, nor disregarded by
WAYS OF USEFULNESS.
And, in later days, how numberless are the pre-
cious corroborations of this comforting fact. Take
one instance. Glance back to the fourth century,
and see that weeping mother offering up her reite-
.rated prayers for her only and dissolute son. Day
after day, she beseeches God on his account; but she
appears to be unheard, for he reaches his twenty-fifth
year without giving any evidence of a moral change.
Almost despairing of success, she goes to unbosom
her grF to an aged bishop. Go home," he says,
when Ie has listened to her sorrowful recital; "the
child of so many prayers cannot be lost." She re-
turns, and at length the answer comes. From her
son's own lips she receives the glad tidings of his
conversion to God; and her voice of lamentation is
changed into the song of praise. It was Augustine.
Now, the God of the weeping and the rejoicing
Monica is still the God who hears and answers
prayer. Intercede with him, then, for your friends
and connections-for the neighbourhood where you
reside-the land in which you dwell-the world of
which you are an inhabitant. Plead for the heathen
at home, and for the heathen abroad. Pray for the
ministers of Christ, and for the missionaries of the
cross. You are perhaps poor, and timid, and un-
known; and you cannot give much, or say much,
for the cause of that Saviour whom you love and
whom you desire to serve; but you can pray that
his kingdom may come, and that his will may be
done on earth as it is in heaven; you can remind
him of the promises which he has made respecting
the world being filled with his knowledge, and all
nations being blessed in him ; and you can beseech
him to hasten their fulfilment.
WAYS OF USEFULNESS. 83
How truly noble is a useful life! Birth and
elevated rank may satisfy the earthly-minded; but
the Christian is a co-worker with the Eternal, and
shall shine as the stars for ever and ever Aspire,
dear young friends, after this glorious privilege, this
immortal dignity !
WHAT IS TRUTH '
wlyt is trnt4?
WHAT is truth ? How many persons there are
in the world who have never yet asked this ques-
tion They are so busily occupied with the tran-
sient pleasures and the trifling cares of life, and are
so utterly regardless of higher and nobler pursuits,
that they seem rather to be governed by instinct
than guided by intellect. They build their houses;
they provide for their daily wants; they love and
cherish their offspring: so do the lower orders of
creation. But the anxious search after a sure
resting-place for the spirit, amidst the agitation, the
uncertainty, and the delusion which bewilder it on
every aide, is perfectly unknown to them. The
heartfelt and irrepressible inquiry, What is truth ?
has never risen to their lips. Immortal beings,
living in a world of problems, and hastening to a
world of realities-the only exercise of their reflec-
tive and reasoning powers is, "Let us eat and
drink; for to-morrow we die!" What is truth?
It were superfluous to attempt to furnish them with
an answer; for they have not mental energy enough
to investigate the subject, nor sufficient moral sensi-
bility to feel its importance.
But, happily, all mankind are not of this de-
scription; all are not thus indifferent to the discovery
and the acquisition of truth. Many thoughtful and
WHAT IS TRUTH?
intelligent minds are deeply alive to the importance
of having a solid foundation for their faith to rest
upon, and they are earnestly striving to find it. It
is with such that we desire now to sympathize; and
we would gladly point out to them any light which
has helped us on in the selfsame path which they
are treading; for we, like them, are seekers after
Now, we meet with many disappointments in our
high enterprise, from not prosecuting it in the right
way. We take incompetent guides to direct us, and
we are naturally dissatisfied with the termination to
which they bring us; or we look for truth, either
where it does not exist, or where it is very imperfectly
developed; and because we fail again and again, in
our endeavour to find it, we feel discouraged, and
we are in danger of giving up, in despair, the at-
tainment of our object.
But you reply, "I have sought for truth among
those who profess to worship and serve him who is
the very essence of truth. I have listened to their
teachings, and read their writings; I have mingled
in their assemblies, and watched their proceedings
but I am as unsatisfied as ever. Their diversity of
opinion, their selfishness of motive, and their in-
terminable quarrels about some circumstantial trifle,
weary and disappoint me. I want truth, not secta-
rianism: where shall I find it ?"
This candid expression of feeling will, we believe,
find an echo in the recesses of many youthful hearts.
Brought up in the bosom of religious families,
some young persons cordially adopt the faith of
their fathers; and, from the quietude of their tem-
perament, and the superficial character of their
WHAT TB TRUTH ?
thoughts, are easily satisfied with the religious
world around them. But there are others, placed
in exactly the same external position, who philoso-
phize more deeply, and who are the subjects of
much harassing doubt and painful uncertainty.
The peculiarities of religious systems seem to them
rather the meagre substitutes for truth than the
varied expressions of it; and ,he selfish contro-
versies and party spirit of professed Christians throw
an air of doubt, in their estimation, over the truths
which are held by them. dThe danger to which
such young persons are exposed is that of being
turned aside to cheerless infidelity, or of rushing
into the opposite extreme of credulity.
Now it would not be difficult to meet this state
of mind by a fair representation of the things
which occasion it. It might be shown that, deplor-
able as are the dissensions of really Christian peo-
ple, there exists an unanimity among them on the
essential points; and that they are really building
on the foundation of truth, although straw and
stubble may sadly disfigure the superstructure. But
it is far the best plan to bid all inquirers after truth
look for it at once where it is to be found in all its
native purity and simplicity. Truth may be dis-
torted or concealed by human prejudice or passion,
but it remains itself the same; and therefore, if
you desire to recognize it, you must be enabled to
pierce through the artificial and cloudy atmosphere
which intercepts it from your view.
You want truth; why then look for the faint and
imperfect reflections of earth, when you can gaze
upon the bright and beautiful orbs which shine above
you in the heavens ?
WHAT IS TRUTH?
The origin of all truth is God. He is pure, es-
sential, immutable truth. He cannot err; he can-
not deceive. With him there is no variableness,
neither shadow of turning. Fix your thoughts
upon God. Study his character. Meditate upon
But how shall you, a finite being, attain to the
knowledge of an infinite Creator ? How shall you,
a sinful mortal, be brought into contact with the
God of holiness and truth? You cannot hold per-
sonal converse with God: how, then, shall you ac-
quaint yourself with him, and be at peace ?
His word is truth. God knew that the immortal
spirit which he created could never be happy or
satisfied without-a clear perception of truth; and
therefore he has revealed himself to us through the
medium of his inspired word. You want truth;
listen to what God says, and you shall find it. You
are not left to grope your way in darkness and in
danger, mistaking illusions for realities, and grasp-
ing error instead of truth; for God himself is your
teacher, and your resting-place is the Rook of
Let no one shake your confidence in the sacred
Scriptures. Many will try to do so. The open
attacks of the avowed infidel and the covert insinu-
ations of the professed teachers of religion will be
employed to undermine your faith in God's word;
and, if you once admit their unhappy and illogical
reasoning, you will be tossed about upon a sea of
doubt and skepticism, and never find an anchor for
your troubled spirit. Let go your hold on the only
depository of truth; and what remains for you but
perpetual disquietude and restlesness ?
WHAT IS TRUTH?
It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that
your mind should be thoroughly assured that all
Scripture is given by inspiration of God;" else
what guarantee have you for the infallibility of its
declarations ? If, then, you entertain any suspi-
cions of its authenticity and authority, do not hastily
endeavour to repress them, nor yet leave them to
take their chance; but bring them immediately to
the light, and see whether they will bear the scru-
tiny of candid investigation; and, if you will
honestly and prayerfully examine the subject, there
can be no doubt as to the conclusion at which you
will arrive. You will recognize, in those Scriptures,
the direct and intelligible voice of the Almighty,
and you will thankfully respond to the affirmation
of Christ-" Thy word is truth !"
Cling to the revelation which God has in mercy
vouchsafed to you. Let it be a light to your feet,
and a lamp to your path. It will guide you through
many difficulties, and clear up many labyrinths;
and, while multitudes around are misled by sophis-
try and deceived by falsehood, you shall know the
truth; and the truth shall make you free.
But it is possible that your belief in the Bible
may be accompanied by some misgivings as to the
certainty of your obtaining from it a positive an-
swer to your inquiry-" What is truth ?" The con-
flicting opinions and the erroneous sentiments
which are -professedly gathered from its pages by
various readers, make you hesitate to trust yourself
implicitly to its guidance. How can you, after all,
be sure that you shall find the truth ?
Now, you must recollect that mistakes about the
truth do not affect the truth itself. The erroneous
WHAT IS TRUTH?
ideas of ancient astronomers respecting the shape
and position of our world, did not alter the fact
that the earth was a revolving sphere, and but a
small and subordinate part of the planetary system.
So the wrong theories which men, even Christian
men, have constructed upon their supposed appre-
hension of truth, by no means destroy the real
character of that truth. Truth is not responsible
for the false inferences which human ignorance and
infirmity have drawn from it.
But how am I to avoid forming incorrect ideas
of truth ?
1. You must strive against prejudice. Prejudice
warps the judgment and misleads the reason. Dr.
Taylor, of Norwich, once said to Mr. Newton,
" Sir, I have collated every word in the Hebrew
Scriptures seventeen times; and it is very strange
if the doctrine of the atonement, which you hold,
should not have been found by me." Mr. Newton
replied, I am not surprised at this: I once weat
to light my candle with the extinguisher on it.
Prejudices, from education and learning, often form
an extinguisher. It is not enough that you bring
the candle; you must remove the extinguisher."
2. You must avoid the bias of sectarian prefer-
ences. Many persons study the Bible more for the
purpose of finding there a confirmation of their
own preconceived and favourite opinions, than of
ascertaining what is the simple testimony of God.
They are certainly influenced by a love of the
truth; but it is in close association with, and in
subordination to, their denominational peculiarities.
Guard against the influence of party spirit. You
must search-not for Calvinism, nor Arminianism;
WHAT IS TRUTH?
not for Episcopacy, Presbyterianism, Independency,
or Wesleyanism; but for truth-truth which shall
endure when all ecclesiastical distinctions are for
ever swept away.
3. You must be impartial in your reception of
truth. It is by contracted and imperfect views of
truth that so many erroneous opinions have crept
into the church. Remember, partial truth is often
positive error. Strive, then, to get a wide and com-
prehensive survey of revealed truth. Do not circum-
scribe it within the compass of your own unworthy
conceptions; nor estimate it according to your selfish
inclination. Take it just as you find it; neither
diminishing it, nor adding to it. It is in this way
only that you will gain any adequate answer to your
inquiry-" What is truth ?"
4. You must ask for the aid of the Holy Spirit;
not to make the truth more simple, but to increase
your perception of it. What was David's prayer ?
" Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold won-
trous things out of thy law."* He did not want a.
plainer revelation, but a more enlightened mind.
It is just so with ourselves now. Our understand-
ing must be opened before we can understand the
Scriptures. And the influences of the Holy Spirit
are necessary, not only, nor indeed chiefly, to
strengthen our powers of comprehension, but to re-
move the natural aversion which we feel towards
practical and humbling truth. Much of the truth
which is contained in Scripture is of this tendency;
and, therefore, the Holy Spirit joins his personal
agency to his written testimony, and, by overcoming
Ps. exix. 18.
WHAT IS TRUTH? 91
the disinclination of our hearts, leads us into all
truth. Implore his guidance, dear reader, as you
peruse the pages of Holy Writ.
What is truth ? Search the Scriptures if you
would ascertain what truth is. The reply, which
will direct and comfort you in this world, and in-
sure your everlasting happiness in another, is writ-
ten there in characters so bright and so legible that
he who runs may read it
BEST FOR THE WEARY.
teat for tir marq.
OH how bright a path is thine,
Fairy flowers around it twine:
And thy sky of purest blue
Never clouds its lovely hue;
But the sun with dazzling ray
Sheds its lustre o'er thy way;
And thy passing moments seem
Like a calm, untroubled dream.
Yet, although so richly blest,
Thou art ever seeking rest;
As the bird, with drooping wing,
Oft from bough to bough will spring;
And, when every branch is tried,
Still remains dissatisfied:
So thy spirit strives in vain
Rest from earthly joys to gain.
Pleasure, riches, fame and love,
All alike deceitful prove;
Leave thee sorrowful, distrest,
Still as far from peace and rest;
While the shadows of the tomb
Cast o'er coming days their gloom,
And the thoughts of death and hell
Waken fears thou canst not quell.
REST FOR THE WEARY. 93
Spirit of immortal birth !
Rest is never found on earth;
Lift thy drooping hopes above,
Seek it in a Saviour's love;
Listen to his gentle voice,
Bidding thee, at once, rejoice,
"Come, ye weary and distrest,
I will give you perfect rest."
Nothing is required of thee,
Take it--'tis a gift, 'tis free;
Let thy restless wanderings close,
And enjoy this sweet repose:
Like the deep unruffled tide,
Then thy tranquil hours will glide;
And, when earthly ties are riven,
Thou shalt find thy rest in heaven.
94 WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVES ?
wat arn TOUt vntims?
THE character of our actions must be determined,
principally, by our motives; because the standard
by which those actions are rightly estimated is a
spiritual one. God's revelation of his will is, to
his creatures, the criterion of right and wrong;
and his law extends to the heart as well as to the
life; and appoints, not only our course of conduct,
but our state of feeling. We cannot, then, suppose
that a fair exterior is all that is requisite to insure
for us the approval of our Maker. He penetrates
the recesses of our heart, and detects its secret prin-
ciples of action.
Some young persons are disposed to complain of
this severe scrutiny. They admit that God has
a right to regulate their outward life, but they
shrink from the sovereign claim which he makes
upon the heart. Their idea is, that he should be
satisfied with correct and amiable conduct, without
any examination of the motives which occasion it;
forgetting that in these motives is contained the
essential state of their character towards him. Is
the judgment which we ourselves form of the con-
duct of others based upon the principle contended
for? No; we are guided in our estimate by the
knowledge which we possess, or imagine we possess,
of their real intentions; so that an apparently vir-
WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVES?
tuous action loses all its moral excellence, if we
find that it resulted from base or unworthy motives.
Can that God, then, who is perfectly acquainted
with every feeling of the human heart, rest satisfied
with mere externals? No; he cannot. He re-
quires truth in the inward part; and his judgment
of our brightest deeds is influenced, not by their
external complexion, but by the source from which
they spring. The Lord seeth not as man seeth."
And although we may gain the applause of our
fellow-men, and regard ourselves with much self-
complacency; yet, if our hearts are not right be-
fore him, we shall stand condemned at his tribunal,
however highly we may be esteemed among men.
Let us seriously examine our motives, dear
reader. Let us try them by the test of God's holy
word. Are they such as He who searcheth the
heart will approve ?
The result of our self-examination may not be
pleasing. It may convince us that we have hitherto
been guided by wrong impulses; that our best ac-
tions were destitute of moral worth: but never let
us shrink from the truth. Far better to be acquaint-
ed with our real character now, than to find, in the
light of eternity, that we have been self-deceivers.
For suppose that our past life has been wrong-
all wrong-because regulated by selfish and impure
motives; it is unwise and unnecessary to attempt to
conceal that from ourselves: unwise, because we
must one day awake to the consciousness of it; and
unnecessary, because there is forgiveness for the
past and help for the future. It is possible for
motives, as well as our conduct, to be altered.
What! "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or
96 WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVES?
the leopard his spots?" Ah, dear reader, the
things which are impossible with men are possible
with God. His grace can renew and sanctify the
heart which has long been under the dominion of
self and the world. It can transform and eradicate
old motives, by implanting those which are nobler
and more powerful. Seek that grace, and it will be
freely given to you.
How encouraging to the timid Christian is his
contemplation of God, as a God who looks at the
heart! Placed, perhaps, where his actions are mis-
construed, and his good is evil spoken of, or where
his identity with the true servants of God is doubted
or unrecognised, the assurance that there is One
above who reads his heart and sees the motives
which are predominant there, cheers and animates
him. Men may be mistaken and unjust in their
estimate of his character, but God cannot err; for
he is perfectly acquainted with the principles which
influence every heart: and if he graciously ap-
proves, the opinion of man is comparatively unim-
portant. Those who are conscious of their integri-
ty in his sight, may bear patiently the undeserved
censures of people around them.
Yet even the real Christian has cause for sorrow
and self-abasement, as he analyzes the motives which
impel him to activity in God's service. How much
impurity and imperfection mingle with his holiest
desires How many of the incentives, which urge
him on in the path of usefulness, fall grievously
short of the standard at which he ought to aim\
He is sometimes tempted to think that he had better
relinquish his efforts until his motives shall be purer.
We say, tempted; because it is a temptation, and
WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVES? 97
as such should be steadily resisted. Purification
of motive is never attained by neglect of duty.
None who have put their hand to the plough must
look back. While you mourn, then, over the de-
fectiveness of your best services, do not abandon
them; but, with earnest prayer for the sanctifying
grace of the Holy Spirit, persevere; and while you
are working for God, he will work in you both to
will and to do of his good pleasure."