« PoprzedniaDalej »
her little shop, the comforts of her habitation ; told him of some of her children being at work, and bringing in a little weekly help ; of others being at school, and making fine progress in their learning, and reading the blessed Bible to cheer her evening hours. With tears in her eyes, she exclaimed, “O sir, it was not always so, nor ever would have been so but for your goodness. May we never cease to praise the Lord for his benefits, or to pray that the best of blessings may rest on you : God can reward you, though we cannot.'
The other case was that of a wanderer reclaimed by the power of Divine grace from his sinful ways -rescued from the sinful and ruinous pleasures of the world, and brought to experience, even in the exercise of penitence, the beginning of that peace and pleasantness which belong to the ways of wisdom. He showed, too, that religion is not only a personal but a relative blessing, and displayed its influence in his endeavours to promote the welfare and happiness of an amiable wife and interesting family, whom he had long neglected, and rendered miserable by his vices. My uncle's was a visit of kind encouragement. The wife made no allusion to the change : but the silent expression of tenderness and happiness seemed to be gradually chasing away from her countenance the deep traces of anxiety and distress. The husband looked at her with fond admiration, bordering upon reverence ; and on her leaving the room, spoke to my uncle of her unwearied patience and gentleness, and the uniform consistency of her deportment, which had been the means of winning him over to give a hearing to the gospel—that gospel which he humbly trusted had been made the power of God to his
salvation. He spoke of the domestic happiness he now enjoyed, and said, “It was not always so; but the grace of God has made the difference, and
Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrain'd to be!
Bind my wandering heart to thee.'”
Frank's remark on the phrase, “It was not always so,” led my uncle to give us such particulars in the character and history of the several parties as he thought illustrative of the several dispositions with which they uttered the expression. He closed by saying, “One uses the expression in the language of sinful repining and unjust reproach. The foolishness of man perverteth his way ; and his heart fretteth against the Lord,' Prov. xix. 3. The Christian in prosperity uses it with humble gratitude ; like Jacob of old, 'I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant ; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan ; and now I am become two bands,'” Gen. xxxii. 10.
The Christian in bereavement and privation can say, “ It was not always so; but it is right that it should be so now.” “Even so, Father : for so it seemed good in thy sight," Matt. xi. 26. “Not my will, but thine, be done,” Luke xxii. 42. The humble penitent looks “unto the rock whence he was hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence he was digged,” Isa. li. l; and with adoring gratitude exclaims, “ Who maketh me thus to differ from my former self, and what have I that I did not receive ?” The Christian, in whatever circumstances he may be placed, can say, “ It was not
always so; I am not what I was: I was a rebel against God, a slave to sin and Satan. Still I am not what I ought to be : how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be : for I abhor that which is evil, and would cleave to that which is good. I am not yet what I hope to be. It will not be always so. Soon I shall put off mortality, and with mortality all imperfection. Nevertheless, ' by the grace of God I am what I am,'” 1 Cor.
* See a well-known anecdote of the late Rev. J. Newton.Anecdotes. Christian Graces.
“ HOPE HUMBLY, BUT HOPE ALWAYS.”
My uncle had a pretty little marine villa on the coast of Suffolk, where he generally spent a few weeks in the course of the summer, accompanied by some members of his family, or other friends. One year my parents occupied it a considerable time, for the benefit of my mother's health.
In consequence of their absence from home, it was arranged that I should not go thither for the holidays, but spend them with my uncle, and accompany him and Frank to the coast, to visit my parents. The scene was rather new to us, and we very much enjoyed it. Bathing, swimming, sailing, and geologizing, agreeably varied our holiday occupations : but there was nothing that interested us more than the ship-building, which is carried on to a great extent on the banks of the river Orwell. The day after our arrival, my good uncle, having business at the town, took us with him. It was a delightful drive along the coast, enlivened as usual by his pertinent remarks and interesting anecdotes. Our first call was at an office on the wharf. While my uncle was conversing with the principals of the concern, (two brothers,) Frank engaged my attention to a number of plans
by which the room was surrounded, of vessels of various sizes and descriptions, and in different stages of completion. My cousin understood something about these matters; but they were new to me, and not quite so interesting as he seemed to think they ought to be. The fact was, that these plans, aided even by Frank's explanations, failed to convey to my mind a perfectly intelligible idea. I did not clearly understand the uses of the several parts described, still less the technical phrases by which they were expressed. It was far otherwise when I saw the real thing; there was no lack of interest then. After the gentlemen had been some time in conversation, my uncle, pointing to one of the drawings, inquired how that fine vessel was proceeding. "It is nearly completed, replied one of the partners : “the launch is fixed for the first Tuesday in August. It is to us a season of feverish anxiety : but I assure you, sir, a sentiment with which you took leave of us last year has often sustained us in the course of our undertaking, and we still recur to it in prospect of the launch. You said to us at parting, ‘Hope humbly, but hope always.'
“Well,” replied my uncle, “it is a just sentiment; and if it prove to have been a word fitly spoken, and suitable to your peculiar feelings, it is matter of satisfaction and thankfulness. too apt to utter unmeaning expressions, or such as are not worth remembering.'
True,” rejoined Mr. Fowler, “and too apt to forget what ought to be treasured up; but it is well when a just sentiment is thus lodged in the mind, and affords seasonable instruction and succour; and such has been the case with your sen