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UPON THE LENGTH OF THE WAY.
How far off is yonder great mountain! My very eye is weary with the foresight of so great a distance; yet time and patience shall overcome it; this night we shall hope to lodge beyond it. Some things are more tedious in their expectation than in their performance. The comfort is, that every step I take, sets me nearer to my end: when I once come there, I shall both forget how long it now seems, and please myself to look back upon the way that I have measured.
It is thus in our passage to heaven; my weak nature is ready to faint under the very conceit of the length and difficulty of this journey; my eye doth not more guide than discourage me. Many steps of grace and true obedience, shall bring me insensibly thither; only let me move, and hope, and God's good leisure shall perfect my salvation. O Lord, give me to possess my soul with patience, and not so much to regard speed, as certainty. When I come to the top of thine holy hill, all these weary paces, and deep sloughs shall either be forgotten, or contribute to my happiness in their remembrance.
UPON LYING DOWN TO REST.
What a circle there is of human actions and events! We are never without some change, and yet that change is without any great variety: we sleep and wake, and wake and sleep, and eat and feel empty, labour in a continual interchange, yet hath the infinite wisdom of God so ordered it, that we are not weary of these perpetual iterations, but with no less appetite enter into our daily courses than if we should pass them but once in our life. When I am weary of my day's labour, how willingly do I undress myself, and betake myself to my bed; and ere morning, when I have wearied my restless bed, how glad am I to rise and renew my labour!
Why am I not more desirous to be unclothed of this body, that I may be clothed upon with immortality? What is this but my closest garment, which when it is once put off, my soul is at liberty and ease. Many a time have I lain down here in desire of rest, and after some tedious changing of sides, have risen sleepless, disappointed, languishing: in
my last uncasing, my body shall not fail of repose, nor my soul of joy; and in my rising up, neither of them shall fail of glory. What hinders me, O God, but my infidelity (unbelief) from longing for this happy dissolution? The world hath misery and toil enough, and heaven hath more than enough blessedness to perfect my desires of that my last and glorious change. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. Bp. Hall.
THE POOR WIDOW AND HER DUTIFUL CHILDREN.
A WRITER in the "Sunday School Journal" of America, says Mrs. M. was a native of Scotland, and was married in Aberdeen to a man who proved to be dissipated and worthless. Soon after their marriage, they came to North Carolina, where they lived until after the birth of their eighth child. They then removed to the very same spot where the widow is now living in South Alabama. They were then miserably poor, not being able to enter one forty-acres lot of public land. They pitched their tent in the woods, and in a few weeks put up a cabin on land which they hoped at some future day to be able to pay for. But they had been but a short time in their new habitation when the husband, after a short sickness, died, and left the widow in a new country, far from friends, with few neighbours, and none able or disposed to aid; with eight children, the oldest only thirteen years of age, and the youngest but six months; without money, and destitute of almost every thing save health and industry, and religion. But this truly devout Christian did not lay stress upon these particulars in relating her history. She complained most of being in a land of wickedness, without churches, schools and Christian society. I remarked that it must have been peculiarly distressing to her, who was educated in Scotland, to see her children growing up without being able to read. "Not so, Mr. C.," she replied, "my children can all read the Bible, and have read it often, and have all learned the catechism, too, from the youngest to the oldest of them." “And did you have no school?" "Not a school for nine miles round, until my eldest boy was able to keep a little one himself; but I taught all my children at home on sabbaths and at night; and sometimes on rainy days I made the two oldest teach the
others, for they had learned to read, and to write a little, before their father died."
Think you, Christian reader, that it was possible for me, after this narrative, to pass by the good woman without seeing her children, and making her heart glad by visiting her humble cottage? On the next Wednesday I preached at her house, and can truly say that I enjoyed the luxury of doing good. I was not disappointed in the character of her family. I found her children well behaved, well disposed, modest, affectionate, obedient, industrious, economical, and promising fair to make useful citizens. Her oldest son, who was lame, was assessor and collector of the county tax. Her second son, who was recently buried, had been a charge upon the family all his life, being afflicted with white swelling. Her third son, with the aid of those younger, cultivated the tract of land on which they lived, and which was now their own, for their industry had enabled them long ago to enter it. This family, reared up in this way, was necessarily without refinement. Their fare was plain, and their dress coarse, and their manners unpolished. But their honesty, simplicity, modesty, and unaffected hospitality, kindness, and cordiality, bound me to them with strong cords. In passing through that country again, I rode twenty miles out of my way to see them, and feel unable to express my gratification, or their gratitude.
Some parents complain of having no time to instruct their children. But have any less time than this widow? She had a large family to supply with food and raiment by her own labour. Yet she taught them to read and write, and gave them far more religious instruction than is given to the sons of many professors who live in opulence.
S. D. C.
CALLS OF USEFULNESS.
A Call on one aged Eighty-two.
Visitor. With your permission I will leave a tract with you, and as you are in years, perhaps "OLD GABRIEL" may prove a word in season.
Old Man. Thank you, I will read it gladly, and if it be written in agreement with God's holy word, I shall prize it accordingly.
Visitor. You speak like one who is no stranger to Divine things, and are, I hope, living a life of faith and obedience, renouncing yourself as nothing, and acknowledging God to be all in all.
Old Man. I am eighty-two years of age come next March, and God has graciously given me, among many mercies, the mercy of being made sensible of his goodness, but I am not unmindful of my infirmities. I remember once, sir, hearing an aged minister declare from the pulpit, that when he was forty years old, he considered himself so good, that he believed the temptations of Satan had no power over him, but when he had arrived at threescore and ten, he was constrained to acknowledge that "Satan had a bait for old birds still." Now, sir, what the minister found at threescore and ten, I find at eighty-two, that I am a poor, weak, worthless creature, totally dependant on God's goodness and grace, feeling every day of my life, that "Satan has a bait for old birds still."
Visitor. Come, I have got something by calling upon you, well worth remembering. If I leave with you a word in season, I shall take one away with me also, may they both be blessed to the good of our souls.
A Call on a Penitent Son.
Francis, I call upon you, on account of the letter that you have written to your father. Your conduct had well nigh broken his heart, but your contrition and hearty desire for forgiveness, have been a cordial to his fainting spirit, and I am come, not to upbraid, but to encourage you.
Happy indeed is that pilgrim, if such a one is to be found, who amid the thorns and briers that obstruct his pathway to a better world, can discover none of his own planting. You have sinned, and you have sorrowed, for no one can sin without sorrowing; but you have done what it would be well if every sinner under heaven would do, you have repented in bitterness and tears, and if, as you say your letter, you are not only desirous to obtain pardon of your father on earth, but of your heavenly Father also, be assured that your prayer will be heard. "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him," Dan. ix. 9.
It may be that your past error may teach you your own weakness, and dispose you to seek strength from above. You will, I trust, be more humble, more watchful over yourself, and more frequently kneel at the throne of grace to seek Divine support in the name of a merciful Redeemer. If a hardened transgressor has everything to fear; a repentant prodigal has everything to hope. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.'
There is no one in the wide world who is such a friend to you as your father, for no one loves you as he does, and no one will delight so much in your welfare. You must go to him, and you will find that his arms and his heart are ready to receive you. Nay, do not give way now, Francis, but rejoice; not that you have gone astray, but that you are returned into the ways of righteousness and peace. No words are sharp enough for one persevering in sin, no language is too kind for the afflicted penitent. Away with the shadows that surrounded you, and welcome the brighter hope that shines on your future path. As the load is taken from your heart, let your heart rejoice, for not only is there gladness on earth, but joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
A Call on a harsh Parent.
Mr. Stanley, you must not take it amiss that I call upon you respecting your son. I know that he has sorely displeased you, that he has sadly committed himself, and that he is not so sensible of his error as he ought to be, but having known him so long, I am much interested in his welfare.
It is a blessed thing to show mercy to those who have gone astray, and to manifest long suffering and forbearance towards them; for kindness has melted many a heart that severity would never have broken.
As a parent, you feel the unworthy conduct of your son, but I sadly fear that you take the wrong method to lead him to a proper sense of his misconduct, and to bring him back to the path of duty.
Unreasonable severity often makes an offender try to