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W.-I fear you think too much of your garden.
C.-Well, it is possible I may, this is one of the human weaknesses to which flesh is heir; but let us hear the account you promised to give me of yourself first, before you tell me of another, I want to know if you did not have a feeling of pride and glory when listening to the exciting band of music, and at the same time gazed upon the vast expanse of water which rolls around our native isle, the pier, the beautiful human beings assembled, and, I may add, the soft, silvery moon at night, the far stretching sands, the lofty cliffs, and marked how far the sea was allowed to come, even to the very doors of some, as it were, but not permitted to go further, because God has said it.
W.-I can't say I felt any particular pride or glory, I certainly enjoyed it very much.
C.—Then for want of reflection or thought you lost a very great treat, I can assure you, because you do not see those things every day. When I was there, I looked at everything as belonging to my God; I gloried, I wept tears of joy, I felt proud of my God, and said within myself, he who is my father and my friend is the maker of all I see. How great and glorious is his name. I thought of the millennium; I fancied if every soul present possessed similar feelings to those which I then enjoyed, they would never, never grow weary or fatigued, either with the object on which they gazed, or of the feeling which the sight produced, that then their voices with one accord, would join and sing to the praise and glory of him, their glorious maker, who, (while they remembered him not, perhaps,) was beholding them with love and pity. Now tell us what you enjoyed.
W.-I enjoyed my meals for one thing.
C. And that one thing was a proof of the possession of a good appetite, after fasting so long in your sickness, it is not every one has the blessing of a good appetite, even so as to be thankful for it; but your mind, tell me what feasts of soul you had, that, I assure you, will interest me the most.
W.-I will; the first thing was the scenery along the railroad, for I did not like to go by water, as the wind was very high the day I started. C.—I know what you were afraid of; but, if you please, go
W.-Well, as I beheld the vast expanse of cultivated land, I thought within myself, that the earth altogether was but God's garden, and if we could behold all at one view, as he does, how we should admire and wonder; I thought of the multitude of cattle on the earth as I beheld vast numbers; I thought of the plan of travelling, and the rate I was going at,
while I scarcely felt the movement, which put me in mind of the velocity of the earth's motion; these and many more such thoughts lifted up my soul in adoration to him who in his power and wisdom made the whole by his word; and then I began to doubt whether he noticed such an atom as myself, amidst the whole, which caused me great anxiety ; and I inwardly prayed to him to look down upon me and give me assurance that he was my God, and that I was his child.
C.-Ah! That is food to my soul. The whole view is before the eyes of my mind; but I see another garden, the trees of God's right hand planting, which he takes great care of, and waters night and day.
W.-The trees of which garden clap their hands for joy. Speaking of men as trees, I think it à beautiful idea ; for, how many are ornamental as well as fruitful!
a good tree bringeth forth good fruit."
C.-We might look at the whole of mankind as a garden where flowers and weeds grow together; in which there is a greenhouse of choice exotic plants representing the church of God, foreign to this world, and requiring the exercise of peculiar care on the part of the gardener.
W.-True; for some are very tender indeed. I think a camillia rose represents a bold, good Christian.
C.-Do you mean the flower itself or the plant?
W.–The plant, of course; for the flower in a sense is but the fruit. In China it becomes a lofty tree, bearing hundreds of wax-like flowers; and they do say much of the tea is made from that species of plant. In this country even a single flower is expensive.
C.-I am aware of it. I often think it a good representation of a person whose conduct I have long and greatly admired; one whom God has dealt bountifully with, giving him a humble, grateful, and liberal heart, so that he is made able and willing to pay thousands of pounds to the cause of Christianity. He has built many churches and schools, and hundreds of children now living are educated solely at his expense; it cheers my heart to pray, that when the Lord has done with him as an ambassador or servant, he may die without pain like the flower, rejoicing in Christ his friend.
W.–Why really you are growing quite eloquent as well as figurative. Your subject is excellent, and your heart, I perceive, grows warm with it as you proceed.
C.-And should it not do so ? The man of whom I speak is a rare specimen of his species.
W.-I call such a man wise, because he is enabled to SEE the good he does. There are some men who will not part
with money to support a good cause until they are made to do so by death. I think no honour is due to the
any man who does it with a view of leaving a good name to the coming generations, when he can make no further use of it to his own self-gratification.
C.-You are quite right. Such a man is more like a rushlight than a tree. Show up the man who is more like the camellia plant, which is both noble and ornamental all the year round, and in the winter season, the more resplendent. Such a one is an ever-green.
“ His leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.—Psalm i. 3. Speaking of God's handywork, such are as scarce as gold in the pocket of a poor man,—but I am digressing; have the kindness to tell me about the soldier—was he a natural or a spiritual soldier ? Did he fight the cause of God or of his country?
C.-Indeed! that is something rare; how did you get acquainted ?
W.- After I had travelled about for a few days, had gone to Margate and other places, I put up at an hotel near the pier at Ramsgate, and at the same place I met this good man. I had seen him before in his carriage with his wife and family (a son and two daughters), and often admired them as they rode along.
C.-Admired the daughters, I suppose?
W.-Not so much as the happy faces of the old gentleman and his son. The father was a fine-looking man with grey hair, and but one arm; and the son as noble-looking a man as you would wish to see.
C.—But the ladies; you admired them, of course ?.
W.-They were very good-looking, certainly; but the proud, disdainful looks they gave me were sufficient to remove all my good thoughts of them.
C.-I am sorry to hear that; did you have a chat, then, with the old gentleman ?
W.-Indeed I did, and with the son, too. I saw them on the pier one evening without the ladies; and as I walked close to them, I heard the father speaking of God's majesty and power, to his son, and after a short time I got into conversation with them. The old gentleman soon became as familiar as an old friend. I perceive, Sir, he observed, you are a soldier! I looked at him with surprise, but assured him he was mistaken; but he would have it I
was, pleasing smile lighted up his intelligent countenance. I now perceived he meant a spiritual soldier. Our conversation at once became free and open; and after speaking a great deal
on what you just said about the sea, and its going so far and no further, and many interesting things, we returned to the hotel; and my two new friends, as I felt happy to call them, came into my room. The elder one told me of his fighting at the battle of Waterloo; he seemed to be in his glory while relating narrow escapes, and how he lost his arm, praising the Duke of Wellington and all the officers and men. The conversation lasted the whole of that evening. The next evening was occupied entirely on spiritual subjects. When he spoke of his experience he stated he had been in bondage twenty years, that he went through the Red Sea, was at Mount Sinai, was led backwards and forwards in the wilderness, eating manna and drinking water from the rock, for above twenty-six years more; then he went through Jordan into Canaan, and has been fighting ever since with the Hivites, Hittites, Jebusites, and such a number of ites as I can't remember, and said he thought he should still have to fight, as the Canaanite was still in the land. The toughest battles, he observed, were against himself and his own household; "but there will be a time,” he continued, while joy brightened up his eyes, “when Christians will not have the name of soldiers, for then spiritual and carnal warfare will be done away, and although it will not be in my time,” he added, “I believe the Church triumphant in heaven will be allowed to behold the Church militant on earth in all its glory, and to echo the
of praise to the dear Redeemer." He explained to me how great the resemblance was between the natural and spiritual soldier, commencing with the raw recruit, on the first joining a Christian Church, joining head-quarters, and being approved of by the commanding officer, putting on regimentals, appointing him to a company, drilling him and joining him to a battalion; and then he explained the different calls of the drum, and the mode of mounting guard, and expatiated largely on the sentinel and deserter. I shall never forget him when he was speaking of the poor deserter. We were all three in tears at one time, and the old gentleman could not go on; at last he said, “Ah! my dear Saviour does truly love me; for he always sought me out when I deserted, and instead of flogging, when he found me, he laid me on his shoulder and rejoiced.” Then he mentioned about the court martial, or trial of the deserter, the hospital, the death, and being buried with military honours, and all through the different degrees, quoting Scripture, and clearly explaining the resemblance. I wish you had been there, you would have been delighted. Oh that I was able to explain it as he did. Why, what is the matter with you? Hold up your head and be a soldier.
C.-Ah! my friend, you don't know my feelings.
C.—I was thanking God, not only that I was a soldier, but that we have such bold soldiers, and I wish they were more numerous. Oh! how I love such men. There seems an overflowing of the soul, as it were, going out after them, which feeling alone I consider one of the best proofs I can possess that Christ has chosen me to be a soldier ; all these meltings of the heart are foretastes of heaven, and designed to cheer us on our journey. Oh! how many proofs we have of God's existence and favour towards us. W.- I will now, if you please, give you some information of
If ever true love existed between men, it was between that father and son. They gloried in hearing each other converse on spiritual things. The father, when speaking to me of him one day, said he was a bold soldier, and that he gloried in those things which became a soldier,-honour, honesty, uprightness, and purity; and not only did he teach by precept, but by example. He observed that he was a great treasure to him; for God had made him exactly as he would wish him to be. The tears would run down the good old father's furrowed cheek, for joy, when speaking of this only son, so dear to him.
C.-Did this young man follow any business?
W.-I omitted telling you he was a minister. Oh! how surprised I was when he told me.
C.-Why should you be surprised ?
W.--Because he was dressed in light trousers, coloured waistcoat and cravat, and a white hat!
C.-You make me laugh. He had on a black coat, of course?
C.--The rest of his uniform, it seems, he did not choose to wear; probably because it was very warm weather? W.-It was very warm.
But to what uniform do you allude?
C.-I don't mean a white or black gown or holy drab, but the uniform of the undertaker; a complete black suit, with white cravat.
W.- I hope you are not laughing at dress?
C.–Of course not; I was laughing at my own thoughts. I was fancying that man often felt himself to be according as he dressed.
W. I don't think there are such fools.
C.Then you and I differ on that point. How often a very rich man will dress as a poor man, and then fancy he is poor, and, I do believe, often feel poor? Cannot a man be