Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

is wise to note the causes of failure and to How much, too, might be said about doubtremedy them, vigilant in his guard against ful means of doing good things-of raising easily besetting sins, resolute in avoiding money to build churches, of employing excircumstances, companionships, books, amuse- pedients to fill them when built, of the aims ments, the practical influence of which is to and methods of preachers, of the support dull the moral sense, throw the watchman of of evangelistic and benevolent agencies, of the soul off his guard, give the tempter his methods for reclaiming men from vices! The opportunity and temptation its power. Aend does not sanctify the means. The science wise man will regulate circumstance, give ad- of good doing is as much as the zeal for it. vantage to influences of good. “Lead us not It demands an intuitive conscience, a pure into temptation” will be not his daily prayer feeling, an instinctive delicacy. only, but his daily striving.

Simple unto that which is evil.” This also relates to moral feeling; sensitiveness

to good has necessarily for its negative THIRD SUNDAY.

obtuseness to evil. A keen sympathy with Read Matt. x. 16–42; Phil. iv.

the one implies dull apprehension of the “Wise unto that which is good." I other. “Simple ;" that is, unmixed with it; must think that this includes expertness as artless, unskilled; inapt as well as ignorant. well as feeling and striving. Many people It is a great grace to be ignorant of evil in are good and earnest without being wise. every sense of familiar understanding-I There are awkward, blundering, repellent know that it is evil, and I know no more ways of goodness that hinder its due influ- concerning it. We cannot know evil without ence. How utterly destitute of the sense of suffering from our knowledge ; without infitness, of occasion, of facilitating method, of jury to our moral sense; defilement of our predisposing feeling, of tact, some men are ! moral atmosphere. There are things that Their goodness irritates you, provokes resent are “not so much as to be named amongst ment; it is hard, conceited, unpitying; it us, as becometh saints,” of which we are makes no allowance for other circumstances, “ashamed even to speak.” Evil is a poison ; for other temperaments. It is a pride of once imbibed it inflicts permanent injury goodness hurtful to itself as well as to others. upon our moral constitution. Some kinds One could almost wish, and perhaps it might of knowledge are intrinsically a curse. Probe the best thing that could happen to it, fane, profligate ideas cannot be discharged that it might, as Peter did, fall under some from our thoughts or excluded from the great temptation. Nothing can

Nothing can cure the imagination, however resentfully the heart Pharisaism of some people's goodness but a may repel them. It is not that a man shameful failure. Such men's goodness lacks lacks sincerity, guilelessness, pure sympamodesty, self-distrust, graciousness. It is thies; it is that unclean images have enself-satisfied and intolerant. "Considering tered his imagination and will not be exor

. thyself lest thou also be tempted.”

cised. Even in our worship what evil ow awkward, again, some really good thoughts will sometimes come, like the illhumble people are in their ways! With omened birds that "came down upon the eager, almost agonising desire, they fail in carcases” of Abraham's sacrifice, and which discernment, adaptation, tact. They do the he had to drive away ! right thing in the wrong way, or at the wrong Of course it means unpractised in evil

, intime; they blurt out their good sayings in nocent of all its habits, simply earnest in reawkward, untimely speech ; they proffer their pelling every form of it. “Evil shall not good doings at unfavourable seasons or in have dominion over you ;” not looking with adverse conditions. Nothing is more offensive desire upon evil things, and wishing that to good men, or more provocative of ridicule they were lawful; not parleying with the and resentment in bad ones, than the cant of tempter, and debating with moral casuistry religious phrases, the ritual of conventional whether the apple really be a good to make speech, the indiscriminateness of religious one wise.” Dallying with the evil suggestion; requirement; as if fidelity to Christ consisted hesitating whether we may or may not ; in unctuous phrases about Him. A man walking as near as we may on the carnal " wise unto that which is good ” will intui- side of the narrow way—this is not to be tively speak his "word in season," insinuate “simple unto that which is evil;" it is to be or suggest his rebuke, or teaching, or appeal, casuistical ; to harbour traitorous lust in the so as to predispose to assent before passion very citadel of the soul. A man falls on the or prejudice discovers what is meant. side towards which he leans.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Unequivocalness, straightforwardness, en-devil.” We all know the thousand little tireness, are characteristic of the man who is things that help or hinder holiness-tempers, “simple unto that which is evil.” In the lusts, casual feelings, incidental doings. We domain of neutral things—things which can all know that to strive against evil checks and scarcely be classed as either good or evil- weakens evil

, strengthens the power of good, the simple-hearted man will always give the creates habit—"we cease to do evil, learn to doubt to the virtuous side. He will keep as do well.” The discipline of life re-acts far from evil as possible ; "avoid the very powerfully upon the temper and strength appearance of evil.”

of life. Can too great moral importance be at- We may also culture incitements to goodtached to simple, unequivocal speech ; the ness-impulses, inducements. “I have set absence of ambiguity, casuistry, double mean- God always before me," keeping the thought ings, suggestions of what we do not exactly of God prominent and dominating. Men do intend, then meanly evading the responsi- not easily sin when they think of God; in bility of our suggestion ?

all sin there is somewhat of atheism, God “Simple unto that which is evil”-inca- is either denied or forgotten. We may do pable, therefore, of base, mean suspicions of much to fill life with the sense of God, His other men ; thinking evil, imputing mean mo- pure moral beauty, His loving fatherhood. tives, the absence of noble generosity and We may make ourselves familiar with faith. Mean souls always suspect meanness large and lofty spiritual ideas, with ideal in others. Half of our vile suspicions, our conceptions, with notable examples of holibase detraction of others, is simply the re-ness, such as we find in the Bible. What a flection, the refraction, of our own bad mighty moral effect upon character the hearts. Noble natures are incapable of mean thoughtful reading of such a book has ! suspicions; they are ‘simple unto that We may utilise the public worship of which is evil ” because evil has no place in God, in which the loftiest spiritual thoughts themselves.

and feelings and things are solicited. It speaks ill for the spiritual tone of a man's

heart, when God's house becomes to him a FOURTH SUNDAY,

matter of indifference, when it has ceased to

be a passionate desire. How mightily the So that it is a quality, a temper of life that things of worship help goodness when sought is meant. To be attained, therefore, only for their teaching and impulse ! by the general culture of life. It cannot How can a man grow to spiritual strength be realised by a mere ritual of things, by a and refinement when he is indifferent about mere sentiment, by mere wishes and resolu- things that most conduce to them, when he tions, only by a practical cultivation of sanc- permits himself to drift into profane comtity, refinement, elevation in feeling. A panionship and converse, to read impure ritual homage to goodness, a smirking literature, to saturate mind, imagination, ignoring of evil, prudery, sanctimoniousness and heart with foul ideas! Only a resolute are offensive and unreal. Only the intrinsic eschewing of things that are evil, an asquality of a man's nature can realise this siduous following of things that are good, temper. Innocence cannot be simulated; can make a man wise. you cannot be holy by rubric. You must And this in the spirit of prayerful depenbegin with the sympathies and qualities of dence for that divine influence which alone your heart itself, seek the “renewing of the can quicken life, which alone can vitalise Holy Spirit day by day;" "the end of the all ministries to life, which by making a pure commandment is, love out of a pure heart, and tender atmosphere around us " builds and a good conscience and faith unfeigned ; up the being that we are."

“ Create in me the end of all “ means of grace" is grace a clean heart

, O God, and renew a right itself.

spirit within me." The discipline of life will do much-a What a grandeur there is in Christianity! watchful restraint, so that no evil feeling is How radical its method of dealing with permitted to embody itself in action, so that human ills, how potent its agencies, how no doing or association shall minister to evil transcendent its issues! How blessed human feeling. We cannot become good by merely life would be were its processes wrought wishing to be good; strenuous battle must out, its ideal realised; were be waged against the evil within and the unto that which is good and simple unto evil without, “ the world, the flesh, and the that which is evil!"

Read Col. iii.; 1 Thess. v. 14-28.


[ocr errors]


" wise





PERHAPS, if she had had but time to think of it, there was nobody by whom she would rather have been found in a situation so painful and humiliating, since it was fated that she should be discovered at all. Ned Blane, to her mind, was wise, tender, discreet, and brave-and that is not a combination of characteristics at all to be looked for in every young man who may by chance surprise a woman in distress; and he was an old friend into the bargain. She shrank from him, however, in a new distress so acute that for the instant the pain of it killed the old one, and she seemed almost to recover possession of herself.

"It is nothing," she said. "Go away, Mr. Blane. Leave me. Pray do. I am going home."

At the first sound of her voice he knew her, and the tone seemed to enter his heart like a knife. He discerned a tragedy at once, but his mind outran the facts-distancing them by so much that he found Hackett guilty of a score of villainies before she had spoken her last word.

"Nothing!" he said, in a voice of real anguish. "Oh yes, dear, there is much the matter. Tell me. Can I help you?"

In all her life she had never heard the voice of a heart in pain until that moment. She had heard the voice of little sorrows often enough, but here she was in touch with something terrible. The voice shook her from head to foot with an instant revelation. "Nothing," she said, breathing unevenly and trembling. "I am not very well, and I am foolish. Oh, pray go away, Mr. Blane. Let me go home alone. I am better. It is all over now."

"Let me see you home," he answered, in a voice suddenly dry and commonplace. "I won't distress you by talking. Take my

[ocr errors]


She yielded, and walked by his side through the darkness, with a sob catching her breath now and again. There was enough in the encounter to fill both minds. As for the girl, she knew now what she had merely guessed before. The guess had never concerned her greatly. And suddenly she blushed hotly in the dark, and withdrew her hand from his arm so swiftly that the motion startled


him. He had called her "dear." What right had he to speak to her in such a way? What

right had she-a married woman-to take the arm of a man who addressed her in such terms?

"I will go home alone, if you please, Mr. Blane," she said. The defensive feminine instinct was uppermost now, and made her altogether mistress of herself again.

"As you please," he said, as coldly as he had spoken last. "Your wish is my law." There was not a touch of gallantry in the tone. Nothing, indeed, could have been further away from it, but she misliked the words, and slipped away with a chill "Good night," and a "Thank you" murmured with halfturned head when she was a dozen paces from him. He stood stock-still until her figure was just melting into the darkness, and then walked after her, accommodating his pace to hers, and merely keeping her in sight-a moving shadow. When they left the grassy path, and came upon the road of hard-beaten cinder which marked the beginning of the town, she could hear his footsteps at a distance behind her, and knew that he was following. She was warm with indignation against him now, and the unlucky word rankled woundingly. Blane, for his part, was unconscious of having used it.

The new disturbance in Mary Hackett's mind was so much less poignant than the old that it came as a sort of relief from it. It would not have been altogether wonderful if there had been an underlying sense of complacency in it. The sorrow with which a woman regards the sufferings of her hopeless lover-even when she believes in them and can partly understand them—is not all sorrow. If she had cared for the man-if she had had even a remote fear of being in love with him-the case would have been very different. But, being free of any shadow of that sort, she was free also to find any little ray of comfort there might be in the fact that a brave man cared for her. And so, in the human, self-contradictory way, which is all the more marked when the humanity is feminine, she was angry with Ned Blane for being in love with her, and a little comforted thereby at the same time, though vaguely.

To reach home was to go back to all the shames and miseries which had haunted her


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

throughout the day. The man in possession “All right, my lad," he said. “You stick

” was in the hall when she entered, and was to the kitchen.' smoking a meditative pipe there as he walked “Will,” said his wife, when Abram had reup and down,

tired, "you won't have people here to“I know the gaffer to be a smoker, ma'am,” night?” She laid a timid hand upon his he said, touching his bald forehead in token arm, and looked up at him appealingly. of respect, "and so I thought you'd tek no “Why not?” he asked, staring at her in an offence if I took a pu two here. The affected astonishment. “I must. They'll be night's close, and it's a bit stuffy in the here in five minutes, my dear, and you must kitchen.”

get a bit of supper ready." “You may smoke here if you like," she “There is nothing in the house," she answered in a choked voice, and escaped up answered miserably. “It is too late to send stairs.

out, and I am ashamed to send to the tradesIt was beginning to grow late to her fancy, people already.” that is to say, it was nearing ten o'clock- He stood gnawing at his moustache for a but she resigned herself to a further waiting minute, and bent his eyebrows as he stared of two or three hours for her husband's re- gloomily at the floor. turn. She heard his step on the path and “Oh! I'll put that all right,” he said, rehis key at the latch with a heart which beat covering himself, and turning with his usual half in relief and half in fear. It was some- jaunty swagger. “I shan't be away more thing, though not much, to have him back so than ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, early; but the news with which she had to and you'll tell the fellows to wait. I'm going receive him seemed as shameful to tell as it down to the Chase Arms, and I'll get the had been to suffer.

landlord to send something up." “Mary,” called the jolly, rollicking voice “Will,” she broke out sobbing, "where is from the foot of the stairs, "where are you?” all this to end? You entertain your friends Then there was an exclamation, and “Hillo! when we haven't even bread to eat ourselves what do you do here?”

that we can pay for honestly. Her place was by her husband's side. If “Look here, Polly,” said Hackett, turning her sense of duty could not carry her so far upon her with an expression which had first now, how had it led her to the altar? But surprised her on her wedding-day, and had she moved reluctantly, and came upon the since then grown familiar, “my business pair pale as a ghost, and with eyes red and is my business. Leave me to it and mind swollen with crying. Hackett was reading your own. And don't take that tone with the document Abram had presented to him me, for I can't stand it, and I'm not going to by the light of a lamp which stood upon the try.” little hall table, and he had thrust his felt She dropped her hands with a gesture of hat on one side to clutch a disorderly hand- despairing resignation, and turned away. ful of curls.

Mr. Hackett was a great deal too desirous “Will !” she said, laying a hand upon his of his own good opinion to permit the disshoulder. He turned with a grimace in- cussion to close in this manner.

When a tended to make light of the thing, and went man is indubitably in the right, and is proback to his reading.

foundly conscious that there is nothing in his “Old Lowther, is it?” said he, half to him-career for which he can blame himself, he self. "He promised to wait, the villain. naturally likes to say so. Well, who sups with the Lowther should “I won't have those airs,” said he therehave a long spoon, and mine’s of the shortest. fore, “any more than I'll have that tone." I'm afraid he'll get the best of it. Look Miserable as she was she found strength here !”_he addressed himself to Abram- enough for a dash of disdain at this. The "you keep dark. I've got two or three gen- scorn in her eyes was weary and sad enough, tlemen coming to supper and to take a hand but it was none the less real on that account. at cards. I don't want you in the way. You “And I won't be looked at in that

way, either," understand ?”

he went on, in a tone more frankly wrathful “Right you are, governor,” responded than he had ever used before to her. “Don't Abram. “ I'm willing to make things agree- you try that sort of air on me, my lady, or able. You can have the plate in if you like, you'll find it won't pay, I can assure you. If so long as I see it come out again.”

you think I married in order to have a perHackett laughed at this, though rather petual wet blanket in the house, you're very comfortlessly.

much mistaken, let me tell you. And here's

[ocr errors]



[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »