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shall not have much to answer for.” Absorbed in these calculations, the farmer slowly wended his way, and the sermon was thought of no more.
“ Not a bad sermon that,” said Dr. Bowles to a friend, as they walked along together. " But do you not think our minister is too monotonous in his tone? His sermon was well prepared, the words judiciously chosen, the subject well divided, and the illustrations ingenious; but, after all, it was spoiled by his bad delivery. It is a pity but some one would give him a hint to take more pains in this particular; a few lessons in elocution would do him a world of service. Talking of elocution, what a fine delivery that minister had who came down here the other day! That is the style for me; I shall never forget how distinctly he read the Scriptures. And then, in his sermon, how judiciously he altered his voice as occasion required. Now he was all pathos and tenderness, now all fire and energy; now he entreated and persuaded in a manner the most irresistible, now he warned and threatened with a look and tone that impressed even the most inattentive. I have nothing to say against his doctrine; and as to his private life, every one knows he is a good man ; but his manner of delivery certainly admits of great improvement.” The doctor's companion fully coincided in these sentiments; and other topics of conversation arising, the sermon was quickly forgotten.
“Ah," said old James the shepherd thoughtfully to himself, as he walked with tottering steps through the churchyard,
' that was a good sermon, and God grant that I may be the better for it. There is far too much of pride and vanity in all of us, in the poor as well as the rich, in old as well as
But whatever there may be in others, let me search out the depths of selfishness and pride in my own heart, humble myself before God, and earnestly endeavour, by his blessing, to put away all that is evil and attain to all that is good. Here is a profitable subject for meditation, and I will bid all other thoughts depart awhile that I may give my attention to it. I will watch in the ensuing week the state of my heart with increased vigilance; I will try to hush every feeling of pride and ambition, and humbly endeavour that nothing in my thoughts or my conduct shall be in opposition to God's holy will. May God forgive me that in time past I have fallen so far short of my duty, and dishonoured that gospel in which I believe, and grieved that God in whom I trust. Well for us, even the best of us, is it that we are
not to be justified by our works, but that there is a Saviour who can cleanse us from our sins, through whom we may have forgiveness of the past, strength for the future, peace of conscience on earth, and a crown of glory in heaven. To his mercy and grace I commit myself, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit I will endeavour to think deeply of these things to-day, so that the sacred hours of this sabbath may help me to discharge better my duties to God and man during the week, and fit me better for the great sabbath of eternity.”
Happy old James ! He listened not to the truth with an eye to other people, but to the improvement of his own heart. He heard not with " itching ears,” with a disposition to criticise the manner and style of the speaker, but with the solemn feeling becoming one who has listened to the message of God. He heard, not to go away with a jest and a sneer, but with a deep and abiding reverence for that truth which he felt was able to guide and support him in this world and prepare him for another, and which was worthy of the most serious and earnest attention he could bestow upon it. He heard not to forget and to plunge immediately into the calculations and cares of the world ; but he retired from the hearing of God's will to think, and examine, and pray, so that he might add to the privilege and responsibility of the hearer the blessedness of the doer. Happy old James ! no wonder that while many profited but little from the sermon, and very few so much as they might have done, he advanced from strength to strength, from grace to grace; the truth to which he gave such earnest attention, cheered, guided, and blessed him; the light of God's countenance shone upon his path; and a well-grounded hope of glory, through the merits of Jesus Christ, filled his heart with joy unspeakable. S. S. J.
THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE. No man ever dreamed so instructively, and to so good a purpose perhaps, as Bunyan. There is something in the nature of dreams, which though few profess to believe in them, yet seems so related to the spirit-land, that they excite interest and awaken attention. The dreams of Bunyan have led multitudes to reflection, and to seek their final home in heaven. Whatever is illustrative of our duty, and helps to inspire confidence in God, and faith in the sure promises of his word, is of abiding interest. If the following dream shall lead any one to enter on a new life, by entering the narrow way, and
crossing the invisible bridge, the dream will not have been told in vain. It is related by the Rev. Mr. Baker, in a volume just published.
“A man dreamed once that he was going along in the broad road, and Satan was dragging him down to hell. Alarmed, he cried for help, and suddenly one appeared in a lovely form and said, “Follow me!' Immediately Satan vanished ; and in his dream the man thought he followed the heavenly one in a strait and narrow way, until he came to a river, where he saw no bridge. Pointing in a certain direction, the angel said, “Pass over that bridge. “I see no bridge,' said the man. "Yes, there is a bridge, and you must pass over it, for there is no other, and heaven is beyond.' Looking more narrowly, the dreamer saw what appeared to be a hair extending from one bank of the river to the other bank. • Pass over on that,' said the angel. Oh, how can I?' said the man; it is too slender, and cannot sustain me.' It will sustain you. I am from above; I lie not, and I give you my word it will sustain you. And now, whilst the man was trembling, and afraid to venture, he thought that Satan again seized upon him to drag him down to hell. Urged by necessity, he put his foot upon the bridge, slender as it appeared, and found it solid plank—a substantial bridge, and he went over safely, and entered shouting into the heavenly world. .
“Now the awakened sinner, under Divine influences, is brought, so to speak, to the bank of the river. Heaven is beyond. He asks how he can reach that happy world. He is told he must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he shall be saved ; but this promise is not enough; it appears only as the hair extended from one bank of the river to the other bank. The sinner trembles and doubts; but this is the bridge which must take him over, and there is no other. And slender as the bridge of Divine promise may appear to the eyes of his weak faith, only let him venture upon it, and he shall know that it is strong enough to sustain millions."
A WORM AT THE ROOT. The gardener is intensely busy. How amused you would have been to hear him go on yesterday over “ a worm at the root.” | He began rooting up a sickly looking tulip; I was for his giving over ; but “ for certain,” said he,“ there is something here:” at length, not finding anything, he pulled off a bit of the brown shell around the bulb, and still seeing nothing, as
he pushed it about in his hand, he said, “ If we had but a microscope, we should see many." He had scarcely said so, when a piece which I had taken for a fibre began to move, and we discovered that it was a living wire worm, not thicker than a hair. “Well D-" I said, this is a lesson indeed! what a sure but unseen enemy may be at the root; what need to have our hearts thoroughly searched through!” “Ay, but we have a better chance, as one may say, than these poor things, for they cannot help themselves like.
If the worm comes, they must go.” 6 But I think we are pretty much like them, for our help stands in our head gardener and husbandman, who sees dangers and enemies that we have no idea of, and no power against. Now with all your care you cannot see all the worms, but there is not one of our enemies hid from the Lord's sight. As to I should say, unless there is something decidedly favourable, the acquaintance had far better be dropped than kept up. The mixed multitude from Egypt were they who always led the Israelites into sin, and the sooner they are shaken off, the happier and safer it is for Israel. We may think to do them good, and win them over; but our God, who sees the end from the beginning, has so clearly and solemnly pointed out our path of duty and safety on this head, that when we step out of it we do it at our peril, and return stripped and wounded to the camp of Israel. Few truths can be more plainly set forth in Scripture than this, and almost every pilgrim has set up some beacon to warn those who come after, though, alas! with too many, they will only learn by bitter experience."
PITIFULNESS. “ BE pitiful.” The roots of plants are hidden under ground, so that they are not seen; but they appear in their branches, and flowers, and fruits, which argue there is a root and life in them; thus the graces of the Spirit planted in the soul, though themselves invisible, yet discover their being and life in the .track of a Christian's life, his words and actions, and the frame of his carriage. Thus faith shows that it lives, as the apostle James teacheth at large, Jas. ii. 14, etc. And thus love is a grace of so active a nature, that it is still working, and yet never weary.
“ Your labour of love,” says the apostle, Heb. vi. 10; it labours, but delight makes the hardest labour sweet and easy. And so proper is action to it, that all action is null without it, 1 Cor. xiii. 1—3. Yea, it knits faith and action together; it is the link that unites them. “ Faith worketh,” but it is, as the apostle teaches us, “ by love," Gal. v. 6. So then, where this root is, these fruits will spring from it, and discover it-pity and courtesy
These are of a larger extent, in their full sphere, than the preceding graces : for, from a general love due to all, they act towards all, to men, or humanity, in the general; and this not from a bare natural tenderness, which softer complexions may have, nor from a prudent moral consideration of their own possible falling under the like or greater calamities ; but out of obedience to God, who requires this mercifulness in all his children, and cannot own them for his, unless in this they resemble him. And it is indeed an evidence of a truly Christian mind, to have much of this pity to the miseries of all, being rightly principled, and acting after a pious and Christian manner towards the sick and poor, of what condition soever; yea, pitying most the spiritual misery of ungodly men, their hardness of heart, and unbelief, and earnestly, wishing their conversion; not repining at the long-suffering of God, as if thou wouldst have the bridge cut because thou art over, as St. Augustine speaks, but longing rather to see that “ longsuffering and goodness of God lead them to repentance," Rom. ii. 4, being grieved to see men ruining themselves, and diligently working their own destruction, “ going in any way of wickedness," as Solomon speaks of one particularly," as an ox to the slaughter, or a fool to the correction of the stocks,” Prov. vii. 22. Certainly, the ungodly man is an object of the highest pity.
But there is a special debt of this pity to those whom we love as brethren in our Lord Jesus ; they are most closely linked to us by a peculiar fraternal love. Their sufferings and calamities will move the bowels that have Christian affection within them. Nor is it an empty, helpless pity, but carries with it the real communication of our help to our utmost power. Not only bowels that are moved themselves with pity, but that move the hand to succour; for by this word, the natural affection of parents, and of the more tender parent, the mother, is expressed, who do not idly behold and bemoan their children being sick or distressed, but provide all possible help; their bowels are not only stirred, but dilated and enlarged towards them.
And if our feeling bowels and helping hand are due to all, and particularly to the godly, and we ought to pay this debt