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means of some business transaction, I continued Mr. Graspin, not heeding without the actual outlay on his part him. “I want to buy your hope.” of a penny; and the tax on the “My what?” aforesaid pew was very, very small, "Your hope-your hope in for that had been compromised for, | Christ." by the large price which had been “But-” said Mr. Simer. originally paid for the pew itself “No buts, if you please, neighwhen the church was feeble and bour. I mean what I say. You in debt. Besides this, whenever | have often urged me to leave off my there were poor in the neighbour ways and get a hope. I have got to hood to be relieved, Mr. Charles leave off my ways now,” said Mr. Simer always gaye—“ something." Graspin, lowering his voice and The sum of the whole matter was speaking in a solemn tone; “yes, that, considering the many calls upon all, everything now, and I want a his purse, his many losses, and taking hope. Don't interrupt me, Sir; I into consideration the fact that he know what you would say, but I was now already giving—"some have no time now. I can't get one thing,” Mr. Charles Simer came to in the way you would recommend, the conclusion that he would, on the I must buy one. I want yours. whole, lay by him in store, on the Come, sell it.” first day of each week, the sum of “But it can't be sold; it can't be Sixpence!
bought." Having formed this generous de “ Tut, tut, neighbour, I have no termination, he lay back in his chair time to waste-no time. I tell you I and slept.
want to buy your hope. I'll give—” He was soon not a little surprised to “Why, man,” said Mr. Simer, see sitting, on the opposite side of the “ you are out of your head; the room, the figure of what he supposed thing is absurd, impossible! Even to be his neighbour, Mr. Graspin. if it could be bought, it is precious, This Mr. Graspin was a man who, oh, so precious, " literally, neither feared God nor "So precious!” said Mr. Graspin, regarded Him; worldly - minded, with a most bitter sneer, “80 preavaricious, profane, though, in the cious! I should value that hope now, main, upright in his dealings, but more, far more than you do, Mr. only because he found it his interest Simer.” to be so. Mr. Simer was the more “Do you suppose that all the amazed to see him at this time, treasures of earth ". because his neighbour was then sup “Yes, Sir!” said Graspin, starting posed to be confined to his bed by a to his feet, “ the half, the quarter, dangerous illness. Pale and haggard an infinitesimal part, would buy it. sat Mr. Graspin, slightly bending I know the value you set upon your forward, with his hands on his knees, hope.” and eyes intently fixed on Mr. ic And what is it?" asked Mr. Simer, just as though he knew all Simer, with a look of surprise. that had been passing in his mind. Mr. Graspin bent forward and Before Mr. Simer had time to recover | gazed into his neighbour's face with a om his surprise, Mr. Graspin, piercing look, ana po
| piercing look, and pointing his bony
fingers at him, said, in a slow and "Neighbour Simer, I want to make solemn tone,“ SIXPENCE A WEEK !” a purchase."
Mr. Simer was thunderstruck. But "I do not transact business on the he had no time to be surprised, for Lord's day, Sir,” said Mr. Simer. Mr. Graspin disappeared as myste.
'I want to make a purchase," riously as he had entered,
The wall before him appeared to you would say. But listen. When open like sliding doors, and he saw you enter upon this vast possession, by the road-side the figure of a remember what, up to this moment, young man sitting upon a rock; his | you have been a beggar—without a face was covered with his hands; his farthing in this world. Remember hair was coarse and matted; he was who gave you hands to labour, health barefoot, ragged, and his whole ap- to enjoy those fields, that superb pearance was that of a way-worn dwelling, remember who gave them, beggar. The miserable object was and, if to defray the expense of groaning and sobbing. At length he | giving to poorer men the glad uncovered his face, looked up and | tidings of the Gospel, He should exclaimed piteously,
send his messenger to you, demand“No friends, no home, no food, | ing a part, nay all, that is now comno work, I must starye !”
mitted to your hands, beware, lest Mr. Simer nearly fell from his you forget yourself! Beware lest chair. For in that wretched object you fancy that what you hold is before him he recognised himself! yours ! Beware lest you claim a Yes, what he was thirty-seven years right to withhold, or think that you before, when, houseless and friend are making a sacrifice to give !" less, he wandered in that same Quick as lightning the whole neighbourhood where now lay his scene vanished, and Mr. Simer saw, vast possessions.
in a well-furnished apartment, that While Mr. Simer was gazing in same youth, thirty-seven years older mute astonishment at the sight before ! -saw himself meditating, with a him, he saw before him the figure of | Bible before him-heard himself say, à man wearing the garb of an in a tone of evident self-satisfaction, apostle. It approached the young “I think I can afford to give to beggar, and touching his shoulder, missions-SIXPENCE A WEEK !" said,
Again the scene changed. Mr. “Young man, I have a commis- Simer saw a vessel noored off a sion to execute. I come from my coast. On the shore was a missionmaster. Do you see those rich fields ary with his family about to embark waving in the sun. Take them !" in a boat to be conveyed to the ship.
The young man looked up in Around them were gathered a large amazement.
assemblage of heathen. Mr. Simer “ Those flocks and herds ? Tale heard no voice, but there were sighs them!”
and stifled sobs, and affecting leaveThe youth did not move.
takings. It was a melancholy spec“Those barns ? that costly man tacle; for it was evident that a sion ? Take them! There is a deed missionary was about to leave his for them all!”
post for his home across the wide “Mine!” said the beggar, " mine!" waters. At length a native, distin
“Yes, yours, to have and to hold; guished from the rest by a plume but, mark me, only as a tenant at which he wore on his head, and by will. Take, use, enjoy; but they sundry ornaments about his person, are not yours. You are a tenant." indicating that he was a man of rank “Of whom ?” he asked.
in his tribe, stepped forward and “Of my Master.”
said, “And your Master is—”.
"Father, you have left your “Our Heavenly Father!”
brothers beyond the great water to The youth would have fallen at his tell us of heaven. You have put feet, but the speaker withheld him. light into our dark hearts. You have
“Your thanks are not due to me,” fed us with the food that good spirits said the stranger, “I know what I in heaven eat. You have taught us to break in pieces the wood and stone appalling silence, and the letters gods which we and our fathers used again slowly moved and formed to worship. We do not kill now; themselves into the word “ Miser." we do not steal now. Our wives are It would seem as though the infernal happy; our mothers do not throw to world had broken loose. À most the bear and the wolf their babes. unearthly shout arose, and the sucBut there are many who have not cessive flashes of lightning, which heard you yet. When you go we seemed in fact to be but one contimáy forget what you have said ; our nued blaze, revealed haggard men children may never learn these good and women, and children, frantic things; why do you leave us ?”
with fury, and hideous things, having "Alas,” said the missionary, “I but a slight resemblance to anything must; my brothers at home will not | human—things with tusks-things sustain me”
with claws — things with serpents' “But are they not rich ?” asked heads, and elephants' bodies, and the chief.
dragons' wings--and on, on they “Yes, rich; some of them very rushed, and, like a pack of hungry rich."
wolves, stood in a circle round Mr. "Do they know about these good Simer. things you tell us of ?”
- There's the man with a hope !" “ Yes !"
shouted a trumpet-like voice. “Give “And they will not let us, poor | us your hope.” heathen, know about them too!”
“He would not send us the GosThe missionary drew from his pel!” rose from a thousand voices. pocket a letter, and read:
"And we are lost!” they bel"Sad as the alternative is, there is lowed. no avoiding it. You must return at “Lost! Lost! Lost !" shrieked the once. The burthen is too great for multitude. the church to sustain. One of the “SIXPENCE A WEEK!” was yelled richest men in the neighbourhood in wild confusion. “SIXPENCE A gives only-SIXPENCE A WEEK!” WEEK !” and the tumultuous host
Mr. Simer heard a confused, indis rushed upon Mr. Simer, pulling him, tinct noise apparently at a distance. beating, bruising, with merciless By degrees it waxed louder and fury, shouting incessantly, “Sixlouder. There was thundering, there PENCE A WEEK !” was shouting, there was shrieking, Mr. Simer awoke. there was laughing, there was curs o Pa!" shouted his little son ing, there was the sound of the tramp Charley, “you promised to give me of innumerable feet-louder, nearer, Sixpence a week for learning the more hideous, until it became deaf catechism, and I want it now! 1 ening. But Mr. Simer saw nothing. have been pulling you, and pushing All was dark as Egypt, A flash of and shaking you, to wake you up, lightning, followed by a terrific clap this good while!” of thunder, revealed for an instanta Mr. Simer started up, rubbed his vast assemblage of hideous objects eyes, and looking around him in of every conceivable form and fea utter amazement, he saw his little ture. Suddenly he saw, in a black | rosy-cheeked boy standing before cloud above him, in letters of vivid him, repeating his demand most light, his own name-SIMER. Slowly vociferously. they moved, and changing their “Not now, my dear,” said Mr. places he read “ Remis.” Then Simer; “go back to your mother, again they formed anew, and a most and I will be with you in a few torrific shriek rent the air as he read moments. Leave me now, my boy." "Mersi," It was followed by an ! The child obeyed, and Mr. Simer was once mora alone. Was it all a I prayed. Mr. Simer rose from his dream ? He paced the room in silence. | knees and changed his resolution. A new light opened upon him. What Mr. Simer actually did give, I His income was thousands. He do not know; but from the large was about to give God Sixpence a amount which annually thereafter week—the same sum he paid his poured into the missionary treasury little child for learning the cate from the parish to which Mr. Simer chism. Mr. Simer pondered his belonged, I must conclude that he dream. Mr. Simer knelt down and gave more than ŞIXPENCE A WEEK! |
BY THE REV. T. R. STEVENSON.
“Simon, sleepest thou ? »–Mark xiv. 37. THE circumstances connected with these words are too well known to require any extended explanation. Christ made this inquiry. He was agonizing in Gethsemane. The mysterious soul-trouble was upon him. Dark clouds which, ere long, thickened into utter blackness, were gathering around him. Notwithstanding, He could not forget His disciples. Love like His was too unselfish to allow sorrow to obliterate the memory of others' needs. Therefore, He returns to His disciples, gazes at them, and, as He beholds Peter, says significantly, “Simon, sleepest thou ? " Let us look at the condition here described, and the question asked.
I. The Condition described. Simon is a representative man. Many resemble him. Not a few religious professors may see in him their own portrait. Had he beheld Christ? So have we ;“ we have seen the Lord." Had he been with Christ ? So have we; “I am with you alway." Had he been called by Christ? So have we ;“I have chosen you and ordained you.” Had he a new name given him by Christ ? So have we; “I have called you friends.” Would that the analogy ended here! In too many instances it does not. There is another and painful parallel. Simon was asleep when he ought to have been awake; he slumbered when he should have watched. Thus is it with some disciples now. Let us glance more closely at this.
1. Sleep is a natural condition. It would be possible speedily to mention manifold habits which are acquired. We voluntarily allow them to take possession of us. But it is not so with sleep. It is “ Nature's sweet restorer.” In like manner, indifference to the spiritual is not an artificial thing. It requires no learning. We begin the world with evil tendencies. We start in life with corrupt inclinations. Human depravity is not a doctrine, but a fact. Speculate about it as you will, there it is.
“By nature the children of wrath," is the verdict both of reason and revelation. How easy does it seem to do wrong! how hard to do right! The one requires no great effort-it is but drifting. The other demands vigorous endeavour-it is rowing against wind and tide. Leave a field alone, and it will bring forth weeds, briers, and thorns, but not corn,
To get that you must work, and work diligently. Well may the Bible represent holiness as “ascending the hill of the Lord,” and sin as "going down to the pit." Clinbing a hill taxes our strength, falling down does not. A better illustration of this sad truth can hardly be found than in the well-known hatred which men have of heartily forgiving each other. A generous foe is rare. “Revenge is sweet.” “ To no kind of begging are people so averse as to begging pardon ; " so said Charles Julius Hare, and 80 says experience. But what a mournful proof that there is something essentially and radically wrong within !
2. Sleep is an inactive condition. The limbs rest. Many of the physical organs and functions repose. Even the mind shares the respite from toil. Though certain faculties may be exercised, others are always passive during slumber. In this sense not a few sleep morally. How much latent power there is in the church! None can fully compare the forces that lie idle there. Who of us does not know this ? Alas! inactive disciples are not far to seek. A Greek historian stigmatised his native city by writing of it in these words :-“While Athens was building temples, Sparta was waging war, my countrymen were doing nothing." Nor is it otherwise with some of the household of faith ; while others are erecting the glorious Temple of the world's salvation, and doing brave battle with Satan, they are doing nothing. Evidence of this may be found in the following consideration-more good is not done because more good is not attempted. Sterile land testifies of indolence. God honours industry with success. The early church, the church of the Reformers, and the church of Wesley, were prosperous because they were active. Let Christian men and women be faithful in preaching, faithful, too, in living, and sinners will be saved.
3. Sleep is an insecure condition. It renders us helpless. At no other time are we so defenceless. “While men slept the enemy sowed tares.” Delilah cut off Samson's locks, and Jael slew Sisera when he was slumbering. Thieves, assassins, and fire do their deadliest deeds when we are thus unconscious. Nor is it otherwise as regards religion. Indolence is perilous. Work of almost any kind is beneficial. The meanest employment is better than no employment at all. In every department of life idleness leads to wickedness and misery. Children with nothing to do will soon be in mischief. Grown-up children are not different. Well wrote Elizabeth Barrett Browning :
“Get leave to work
Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get.”