Page images

hast revealed, let me content myself to adore thy Divine wisdom in what thou hast not revealed ; so let me enjoy thy light, that I may avoid thy fire.


It is a feeling comparison (that of Job, see marginal reading) of man born to labour, as the sparks to fly upward : that motion of theirs is no other than natural. Neither is it otherwise for man to labour; his mind is created active, apt to some or other ratiocination (reasoning); his joints all stirring; his nerves made for helps of moving; and his occasions of living call him forth to action : so, as an idle man doth not more want grace, than degenerate from nature. Indeed, at the first kindling of the fire, some sparks are wont, by the impulsion of the bellows to fly forward or sideward; and even so, in our first age, youthly vanity may move us to irregular courses; but when those first violences are overcome, and we have attained to a settledness of disposition, our sparks fly up, our life is labour ; and why should we not do that which we are made for? Why should not God rather grudge us our being, than we grudge him our work? It iş no thank to us that we labour out of necessity : out of my

obedience to thee, O God, I desire ever to be employed; I shall never have comfort in my toil, if it be rather a purveyance for myself, than a sacrifice to thee.


Nothing appears in this heap but dead ashes ; here is neither light, nor smoke, nor heat, and yet, when I stir up these embers to the bottom, there are found some living gleeds, which do both contain fire, and are apt to propagate it. Many a Christian breast is like this hearth; no life of grace appears there, for the time, either to his own sense, or to the apprehension of others; whilst the season of temptation lasteth, all seems cold and dead : yet still, at the worst, there is a secret coal from the altar of heaven raked up in their bosom; which, upon the gracious motions of the Almighty, doth both bewray some remainders of that divine fire, and is easily raised to a perfect flame. Nothing is more dangerous than to judge by appearances : why should I deject myself,

[ocr errors]

or censure others, for the utter extinction of that spirit, which doth but hide itself in the soul for a glorious advantage ?

Bp. Hall.

THE IVY. THE hungry man is not over nice in his food. The poor prodigal, when he could no longer obtain dainty meat, was fain to take


with "husks that the swine did eat.” As it is with the body, so it is with the soul. A hungry soul will be glad to get sustenance and strength from the meanest thing under heaven.

If a Christian has not the book of God's revelation at hand, he looks at the book of creation. If he cannot admire the all-glorious sun in the skies, he takes up with a tree, a flower, or a leaf, be it green or withered, and sees therein the handiwork of God. The oak tells him to be stable; and the ivy that twines around it is not without its lesson of instruction.

Ivy! thou art ever green;
Let me changeless then be seen:

my Saviour loves me, ne'er

old and sere.
Ivy! clinging round the tree,
Gladly would I learn of thee,
Clinging, as the year goes round,

To the cross would I be found. Yes, come shine or shade; wet or dry; summer's heat or winter's chilling blast! If the ivy looses its hold of the tree, it is soon trodden under foot; and if I loose my hold of the cross of Christ, then shall I also perish.

THE POWER OF GRACE EXEMPLIFIED. ABRAHAM received a command, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-offering.” How many circumstances with respect to nature and grace, increased the difficulty of his obedience ! Isaac was the object of his most ardent affections, in whom he lived more dearly than in himself. When his own life was almost expired, it had been miraculously renewed in his son, the heir of the promise, in whose seed all the nations of the world


It is pru

were to be blessed, Gen. xviii. 18. How afflictive to a parent's heart—not only to be a spectator, but the actor, the priest to offer the sacrifice ! Yet he “rose early, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” He built an altar, bound Isaac, and laid him on the altar, and stretched out his hand to slay him; when he was countermanded by a call from Heaven. In this was his faith made perfect, and appears

in its exaltation. The self-denial of Moses was as perfect and admirable in its kind. “When he was come to years,” he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.” When he understood the value of a crown, with the honours and riches annexed to it; in the age of youth and strength, when the carnal appetites are vehemently inclined to pleasure, and there was an opportunity of the freest indulgence—then he chose“ rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. dent advice not to choose when the passions are in a ferment and disorder; it is like eating meat in a fever, which increases the malady, and destroys the vitals. But Moses, in that time of his life, when the sensual passions are most inflamed and urgent, had his mind so clear and calm, that he deliberately, and with a full choice, preferred disgrace, poverty, and persecution, before the variety of attractive delights that ravish the carnal senses. Such was the sovereignty of his faith, that it composed the unruly passions, and kept them in obedience.

The patience of Job is as rare an instance. He was exposed to all the cruelty and arts of the tempter to overcome him. Suddenly and unexpectedly stripped of his estate, and deprived of his children; add to which, that his body was covered with loathsome and painful ulcers. Satan was confident that his afflictions would so exasperate his spirit, that he would blaspheme God to his face; and yet he blessed him with the most humble reverence and resigned submission to his sovereign will. When his wife, who should have been a comforter, insulted over him, and became a tempter, he repelled her with holy zeal and constancy. Neither by the assaults on his body, nor by the treachery of his wife, could the tempter prevail. In him" patience had its perfect work."



Call on a Sweep. AS I have just called on your neighbour, there can be no harm in stepping in a minute to speak to you, Edward ; I have not time to sit down, so never mind wiping your chair. It is not an easy matter for you to keep things clean about you, I dare say; your business must be attended to, and so long as you are a sweep, and work as you now do, we expect to see you sooty. Who would employ a sweep with a clean face, and dressed in a new suit of clothes, and a pair of white cotton stockings? Not I, most assuredly. And it is not a black face, but a black heart that is a reproach.

We cannot all choose our employment, or else, perhaps, you would not have been a sweep. It is not what we are in this world, that is of so much importance, as what we shall be in the world that is to come. A


has a soul to be saved as well as the sovereign that sits on a throne; ay, and will occupy as high a seat in heaven too, if he loves God, and lives a life of faith and obedience, relying alone for salvation on the merits of Jesus Christ. I shall put a tract in the window for you, Edward ; now let it be read carefully with

your wife next Lord's day, and see if you cannot get some good from it. I hope that you are kind to your poor boys; they have a hard life of it, and many a time has my heart ached on a cold winter's morning to see boys limping along the frosty ground, with bad shoes, and no stockings, shivering from head to foot as they carried their brushes under their arms, and their empty bags on their shoulders, crying “Sweep! Sweep!” You have been brought up to the business, and know what the poor lads have to bear. Be kind to them, and let them feel that if they have a hard business, they, at least, serve a good master.

I have heard strange reports, Edward, of sweeps encouraging their boys to thieve and steal whatever they can ; and I have heard say, that many a pot-hook, candlestick, and silver spoon has been carried away from a house in a sootbag. Now, set your face against this, for a dishonest penny does a man more harm, than a hundred pounds can do him good. God can see what is in the middle of a soot-bag, as plain as what is placed in the sunshine, and will punish the breaker of his commandments. The way to get on in the

world is to be industrious and careful, blessing God for what we have, and trusting him for what we want; for if we are not content in the state that we are already in, it is ten to one if we should ever be contented with any other. He who can commit his soul to God's keeping, and his affairs to God's disposing, is a richer man, Edward, than he would be made by having a thousand pounds safe in the Bank of England.

Call on a youthful Friend. How are you, James, how are you? Now, I have only five minutes to spare, and in that five minutes I will tell you

a tale.

* If you

A father once set out with his son on a visit to a neighbouring village, that lay at a little distance from the place where they were; but instead of keeping the turnpike-road, the father purposely entered on a common, here and there spread over with brambles and gorse bushes, where he wandered backwards and forwards for some time. The son was very patient, but at last he cried out, “Father, it is not at all likely that we shall get to the village so long as we wander among the gorse and bramble bushes." think so,” said the father, “we will leave the common directly,” so once more he got into the turnpike-road.

Not long after he took his son into a large garden, where abundance of fruit and flowers grew; this pleased the boy very much, but, after a time, he once more cried out to his father, “I do not see that we are much nearer the village than we were before, and we shall never get there, while we stop in this garden, that is certain.”

“ That being the case," said the father, “it will be very foolish to idle away our time here any longer," so getting again into the turnpike-road, he went straight forward to the village. On returning home again, the son began to question his father, “Father, what made you go into the garden, and among the brambles and gorse bushes ? ” said he,“ when the only way to get to the village was to keep straight along the turnpike-road?”

“To tell you the truth, my boy,” said the father, “I did it to teach you a lesson, and to point out the folly of seeking for a thing in a place where it is not likely to be found. You

« PreviousContinue »