Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

it down as a certain rule, that sinful possessions turn out
in the end to be sorrowful companions.
“Like the crackling of thorns that just blaze and expire,

Such pleasures can satisfy never ;
They give only a spark, and then all becomes dark,
The blackness of darkness for ever.”

for I see

A Call on a Mother. I am quite pleased in having called just now, that your little girl is reading the Bible, and I know you try to explain it to her. May all the precious promises it contains be her portion.

There are many lovely sights, but there are few so lovely as a little child reading the Bible. It is beautiful to see a bee sucking the honey out of a fragrant flower, but it is far more beautiful to see a little child reading the Bible. It is beautiful to see a little bird sitting upon a lonely tree, and to hear it singing a sweet song, but it is far more beautiful to see and hear a little child reading the Bible.

It is beautiful to gaze on the innocent lamb as he frolics with his fleecy companions, up and down the hilly field in the sunshine, but a far more beautiful spectacle than that of the busy bee, the singing bird, or the sporting lamb, is the sight of a little child reading the Bible.

now

THE PIOUS COTTAGER. A COUNTRY clergyman has favoured us with the following communication :- “ The fact which I am about to state (and one fact is worth fifty arguments) occurred upwards of a year ago; but it will not be less interesting on that account, nor will it be less interesting because connected with the history of a humble cottager, simply for this reason, that even to the

poor the gospel is ' principally 'preached;' from the wise and prudent of this world the mysteries of the gospel are hid, and daily experience confirms the assertion of the apostle, that not many wise, not many noble, are called ' to a saving knowledge of the gospel

, 1 Cor. i. 26. The parish to which I allude, which I have lately been compelled to leave from ill health, is situated on the turnpike-road, and contains altogether about 2,000 inhabitants, or upwards. Numbers of these, as may well be imagined, are

66

still walking in darkness, strangers to their God, strangers to their Redeemer, strangers to the transforming power of the gospel, and too much in love with sin and the world to renounce either the one or the other. Indeed, the character of the parish generally, especially amongst the lower classes, it is not to be denied, is spiritually dark. There are, however, some cheering exceptions: there are some blessed instances where the gospel has been felt to be the power of God unto salvation; and these are as lights shining in a dark place, as cities set upon a hill. The individual of whom I am about to speak is one of these, concerning whom I could relate many anecdotes of a highly interesting nature, did I not feel that they would occupy too much time and space. I intend, then, to confine myself to one fact connected with the operations of the Religious Tract Society, which, ever since it took place, has always struck me as being a complete refutation of the assertions of those who say, that the dispersion of tracts is attended with little or no spiritual benefit.

It was the daily employment of this poor humble labourer to work on the turnpike-road which passed through the parish. He had his measured mile to keep in order; and in order it was indeed kept. About a quarter of a mile from the sphere of his labour stood his neat little cottage, surrounded by a garden, interspersed with holly and fruit trees, of which the situation was most retired and inviting, suited, in every respect, to inspire serious and devotional feelings: it was a secluded little valley, an insulated spot among the surrounding fields. It was impossible to look down upon it from the gently-rising hills around without remarking its picturesque seclusion, and stamping it on the imagination as the abode of piety and peace. On entering the garden, which was by a wicket-gate at either extremity, one could not help being struck by the neatness and order in which every thing was to be found. The little sheds of his own constructing, his tools, the stack of wood, the heap of manure, the well-stocked ground, all indicated that he was not slothful in business, but could find time, besides his daily labour on the turnpike-road, to keep his own garden in neatness, productiveness, and order. And on entering the humble cottage, the same industry and regularity were visible. The comfortable meal, the well-scoured floor, the home-made loaf, the heartfelt thanksgiving, would have convinced the most careless that God blesseth the habitation of the just, and that godliness has the promise even of the life that now is. His wife was an industrious, cleanly woman; and his two daughters, one of whom was very much afflicted, were always to be seen engaged in some useful and laudable employment. I loved to visit that blessed dwelling, that abode of domestic

serenity. There was a mingled expression of seriousness and cheerfulness throughout the circle, which was very delightful; their words were words of peace, contentment, and resignation. I always had a hearty welcome; and, what was most cheering to me, the inmates, without an exception, listened to the glad tidings of salvation with the most lively interest. They loved to hear of the Saviour; their hearts burned within them at the mention of his dying love; they loved to spread their Bible open before me, that I might expound to them the way of God more perfectly.

“ Now, the turnpike-road, of which I have before spoken, ran between my dwelling and theirs, about a quarter of a mile from each; consequently, on going to visit them, (which I did very frequently, not only because I loved their society, but because one of the daughters was constantly ill,) I had to cross the turnpike-road. One day as I was doing so, on my accustomed pastoral visit, I met the man as usual at his post, leaning on his large road-scraper, with a piece of paper in his hand, which he was examining with the most earnest attention. Being so employed, he did not see me till I had got up close by him, when, on perceiving that it was a little tract, I said, I am extremely glad to find that, amid your worldly employment, you can find some moments in the day to meditate on another world: and I am glad, also, that

you do not leave home without a little spiritual food in your pocket.' 'O sir,' exclaimed he, 'I cannot tell you what joy I have felt in reading this little bit of paper. I did not bring it with me, sir. I picked it up about half an hour ago on the road; and I have read and read it again, till my heart leaps for joy. It has the very words upon it that my weary soul has been wanting. And this is not the first time, sir, that I have picked up such pieces of paper. Indeed, sir,' he added, “ I firmly believe that, on the top of the coaches, there are some good religious gentlemen, who think of us poor ignorant folks in the country, and so, when they leave London, they put a lot of these papers into their pockets, and let them drop whenever they think they will fall into hands that will value them. Frequently, sir, during the years I have worked on this road, has my mind been almost overwhelmed with my spiritual trials; my sins have oppressed me; my Saviour has seemed to have withdrawn from me; and I have had burdens upon my soul, which have almost weighed me to the dust on which I stand: but then I have picked up a little tract, which has dispelled all my fears, and filled me again with joy and peace in believing. On saying these words, he pulled out several more from his pocket, and then said, “All these, sir, I have found on my mile of road, and they are too precious to me to part with again. May God

[ocr errors]

bless the good gentlemen that scattered them as bread upon the waters ! they are now found after many days.'

Although these may not be the exact words of this pious old man, for several months have elapsed since he uttered them, yet they are as near as I can recollect them : at all events, they faithfully contain the sentiments which he communicated to me. On leaving him to pursue my way to his cottage and his suffering daughter, I could not but lift up my heart to heaven in wonder and praise :-wonder, that so simple and unlikely a means as the dropping a tract on the high road should have been employed by God to sustain the drooping faith of one of his poor humble servants; praise, that he should have put it into the hearts of his people to establish the Society from which this soul-reviving tract emanated, and that he should have inclined the heart of one of his people, unknown to me, to second my ministerial labours by instructing one of my flock. I think this little history unanswerably shows, notwithstanding the objections of many to the distribution of tracts, that they are productive of incalculable benefit to all classes, especially the poor, and have been instrumental, by God's grace, in cheering the drooping soul of many a pilgrim, and sending him on his way and his work rejoicing:

“ Under the impression that the above facts, connected with the humble history of a pious cottager and his family, will not be unacceptable to your readers, and may induce others to follow the example of the good gentlemen' on the top of the coach, I have ventured to put them upon paper, and to forward them to you."

A MAN OVERBOARD. LAST night occurred one of those distinctly marked mercies of a particular superintending Providence which, though, perhaps, happening almost daily within view of those who might watch the hand of the Lord, in order " to tell of his greatness,” yet pass away unheeded, or are coldly regarded as the chances of the hour. Oh how lamentably have those senseless phrases, “chance” and “nature,” succeeded in obscuring the clear constant apprehension and view of our gracious and ever present God, from the mind, and eye of his confused and misled creatures.

The day had closed in with a dense gloomy mist and occasional small rain, through which the wind blew in strong gusts that gave rise to a heavy swell of more than ordinary force; and about midnight all things wore a still more lowering aspect. The ship was then dashing before the gale under reduced canvass at considerably above six knots, and the wind increasingly gusty, cold, and, from time to time, sweeping before its blast sheets of scud and mist; the swell rolled fast and high, and not a star was in the heavens to pierce through the gloom that hung around on every side. All was quiet, and none but the watch were on the damp and lonely deck, when suddenly a faint cry came from the bows, which, repeated and gathering strength as it came astern, and bursting in the appalling cry, “A man overboard," “M'Kinnon overboard,” aroused every sleeper; the mate and men hurried aft, the captain rushed on deck; but alas ! even when there, how much had to be done The ship had to be hove to, lights had to be procured, the tacklings, so nicely and securely bound up for the voyage, had to be unloosed before even the boat could be got ready for lowering; oars, stowed away in a distant quarter, had to be looked for and brought astern; and even when all was ready, O cast, cast your eyes with me over the ship's quarter, and see what yet has to be effected. The boat, swinging to and fro, full fifteen feet above the water, by a single hook at each end, with five courageous men in her, has to be lowered down into a sea swelling and rolling underneath in waves twenty times her size, and threatening, as soon as she touches it, to dash her against the huge mass of the ship into a thousand shatters : then, as it were, comes the climax of fear; for, when so floated, instantly must she be disengaged from the hooks, and sheered off so as to be cleared away from the ship, whose enormous bulk is now impending over her; now thrown aloft by the waves, and anon coming down as if to precipitate the little shell into the dark abyss of waters. Consider all this, and you will be impelled to exclaim, “How vain is the help of man !". Psa. Ix. 11.

The ship was hove to, lights and oars were got, S— and E-, the matcs, and three other brave and generous spirits, were swinging fearfully in the boat at the davits, the falls were ready, and at last the boat was lowered into the indistinctly seen and rushing ocean; but, with respect to the poor boy cast far upon the waters on such a dismal night, what a terribly protracted time had passed away! quick even as the movements had really been, his case appeared utterly hopeless. Now, God be praised, the boat is safely disengaged and sheered off, and then she is darkly seen in the haze floating away ; now mounted on the top of some billow, and now half buried in the hollow of the wave: “His cry was heard west-nor’-west,” called out the helmsman, pull away, broad off the quarter;".

he quarter;" "pull;" "pull more a-head;" was vociferated by the captain from the rails; and as the tones of probable direction, (alas! not sure; for who

« PoprzedniaDalej »