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should know who their self-appointed Mentors wealth as a trust, and not a right, may proare. What should we think of a divine or a mote the common good. And it seems to statesman who delivered his discourses with me that it is simply a matter of duty on his features hidden under a mask? Anony- the part of the rich to spend the greater mity is the journalist's mask, worn, more- portion of their incomes in bettering the over, not in his own interest but in that of condition of the community which protects his employer. A paper conducted on these them in its enjoyment.” principles would not be likely to pay pecu- “And yet you say you are not a socialist," niarily, the more especially as I should said Cora. neither humiliate myself by asking for ad- “Nor am I, for I would constrain no man. vertisements nor stoop to obtain subscribers The only force I desire to use is the force of by pandering to the classes or flattering the public opinion, and it is public opinion which, masses. But other results would come in turn; Vera being willing, we will try to do our sooner or later the public would appreciate part in educating. honesty of purpose and plainness of speak- “With all my heart, mon ami. It is a ing. And if the enterprise should cost us a noble aim and practical, not like some of few thousands a year what then? The money those splendid yet impossible schemes M. would be better spent than in keeping up Senarclens used to talk about.” a big establishment, and Vera and I can live “All very fine and Quixotic," observed on far less than the interest of our income. Cora, smiling. “But you have not got your And there are other ways in which we could fortune yet. What are you going to do in dispose of money usefully, such as educating the meantime ?” highly and providing for poor children of “Cannot we go to Switzerland for a while ?" exceptional ability, organizing free lectures said Vera ; " the London air seems to suffoon practical subjects, and making an essay cate me. I must see once more the mountain now and then towards the problem of housing and the lake, and bask again in the sunshine
of Canton Vaud si beau. The change would “I approve of all you propose, mon ami,” do us both good, Alfred. And we need not said Vera thoughtfully; "but could we not be idle. You could write articles for the do something more immediate? It will be Day and your new paper, and I would go on a long time before the paper begins to with my picture.” tell, and making experiments about housing “Yes ; let us go. Artful says it may be the
poor will be a rather slow process, will it some little time before the proceedings for not? Could we not hit upon some idea that the recovery of the estate can be completed. would be all our own?"
We will sell this furniture, and give up the “An apt suggestion. Yes; I think I have house-I think we are both pretty well tired an idea. It occurred to me a little while ago. of Park Village East—and betake ourselves When I was among the London poor, I no- to Switzerland until the business is arranged. ticed that they are very badly served by We shall come back stronger for work. And retail traders. Why should we not estab- I should like to see Milnthorpe and Delane. lish stores in some of the poorest districts Perhaps we might find Delane a better place, of London, where the very poor could or do something to enable him to marry buy all they want at a moderate advance Ida von Schmidt. If Cora will go with on first cost?. I would not give anything us as our guest and at our expense, it will --for giving, like borrowing, dulls the edge add greatly to our pleasure.
Won't it, of husbandry; so the scheme would have Vera ?” to be self-supporting, but by doing the “It will, indeed. Do come, Cora dear.” business on an extensive scale, we could “With all my heart. Alfred's proposal is afford to supply genuine articles at much a piece of practical communism of which I lower prices than are paid at present, and so heartily approve. I wish more rich folks place within the reach of the poor the advan- would do likewise, and treat their less fortages of co-operative trading-perhaps, in the tunate friends to continental excursions end, by advancing the necessary capital, of rather oftener than they do at present. Educourse without interest, enable some of them cate public opinion on that point, cousin, and to become their own providers. For of all you will do a good thing. It is a capital helps, self-help is the best. Oh, there are beginning, and you may do the same thing many ways by which those who regard | next year if you are so disposed”
FROM DAWN TO SUNSET.
forth his boundless gratitude for all the FIRST SUNDAY.
goodness and mercy which had followed Read Psalm lxxi.
him “all his day” from lisping childhood to tottering age.
many youth, manhood, and old age, such is the lessons suitable both for the beginning and delightful picture presented in this Psalm. the close of life. The writer, now "old and grey-headed,” It teaches the young that there need not recalls the story of past years. He cannot be any violent break or interruption in remember a time when he did not trust God, their religious history. Many no doubt are and pray to Him. "O God,” he exclaims with brought back by the way of repentance and evident emotion, "Thou hast taught me from conversion to the feet of God after long my youth.” If we may suppose David to have wanderings in the ways of sin. But equally been the author, we can fancy that as he true is it that the highest types of Christian wrote these words there rose up before him character have been found among those who “through the moonlight of the autumnal could say, "O Lord, thou hast been my years,” the dear image of that handmaid of guide from my youth." In lives thus begun, the Lord of whom he speaks in more than continued, and ended, there is a "continuity one of his Psalms, “O Lord, truly I am thy of godliness.” which is peculiarly attractive. servant and the son of thine handmaid ;' Behold the Psalmist, we would say to “Give thy strength unto thy servant and every young person who may chance to save the son of thine handmaid.” Who can read this page. See him bowed under the doubt that with the recollections of his weight of years. Listen to the story of youth there must have been interwoven his mingled experiences of joy and sorrow. many a blessed memory of her who bore Is he now ashamed of his youthful piety? him, one assuredly not the least honoured Does he regret that his heart was in that band of sainted mothers who, in early given to his God and Saviour ? No! their several generations, have been among a thousand times No! is the answer that the greatest benefactors of the world. But is furnished by every line of this Psalm. whoever wrote the Psalm, it is at all events From beginning to end it witnesses to the the precious and imperishable record of a life blessedness of a life early dedicated to God hallowed from “ dawn to sunset,” by sweet and wholly spent in that service, which is trustfulness and piety.
perfect freedom and perfect joy. Happy In the religious history of this man of indeed are they whose lives correspond in God there was no violent break or interrup- any measure to that experience of a lifetion. The whole intervening period between long piety which is here set before us. youth and age is spanned by the word Again, there is a very blessed message ( hitherto” which occurs in the 17th verse. for those whose strength is failing. "Hitherto have I declared thy wondrous The Psalmist was now approaching the works.” Again, by the recurring expression, latest stage of the journey of life. At last “ all the day, “Let my mouth be filled the truth had dawned upon him that he was with thy praise and with thy honour all an old man. In what spirit does he recogthe day;" “My mouth shall show forth nise this fact? With what feelings does he thy righteousness and thy salvation all the anticipate the inevitable close ?
As we day;" “My tongue shall talk of thy right read this hymn of old age - for such it eousness all the day long.” He had his is—one thing cannot fail to strike us. sorrows like other men. Troubles "great Throughout it is pervaded by a cheerful, and sore ” had come upon him. Yet through courageous, happy spirit. It is not a dirge, “all the day” of joy and sorrow, of sun- but a chant of praise. The future, no less shine and storm, God had been with him, than the past, is illumined by God's tender guiding him with strong, but gentle hand, love and mercy. We have the thought, if into green pastures and by still waters. not the language, of the Apostle when he And now as he stands on the “low verge of asked triumphantly, “Who shall separate us life,” anticipating the hour of his departure, from the love of God ? Shall things present, he can find no language too strong to utter I or things to come, or life or death?”
LIGHT AT EVENING TIME.
In particular three great thoughts would At all events, we can now read it in the appear to have sustained this aged saint. brighter light which shines upon our own
First, the remembrance of all God's un- path. How unbearable would be the sense speakable goodness from childhood till that of ever-accumulating infirmities, how dismal hour. Because he could say, “O Lord God, beyond all expression the approach of old thou art my trust from my youth,” he could age without the Christian hope to illumine the add, with a holy confidence which rested on great darkness ! But the faith of Christ crucia life-long experience of the Divine mercy, fied and risen again, "The same yesterday, “Cast me not off in the time of old age, to-day, and for ever,” can make the old age forsake me not when my strength faileth. as it can make the youth of every believer What a reserved fund, so to speak, of trust serene and happy, and when the end comes and hope in regard to the future is theirs it can irradiate even the closing scene with who can thus look back on a long life the brightness of a dawning glory. Let us of humble Christian service! Therein lies not then look too sadly on the passing years. the soothing power and beauty of such a “The autumn has its beauty as well as the Psalm, for instance, as the twenty-third. spring; there is a joy of him that reapeth “Thou hast made me to lie down in green as well as of him that soweth; and while pastures. Thou hast anointed my head with the blade and the ear are for the present oil. Thou hast restored my soul.” This it world, the ripe corn is for the garner of God was which enabled David to say with a in heaven." thankful and happy mind, “Surely goodness
SECOND SUNDAY. and mercy shall follow me all the days of And as there so here also, the
Read Isaiah xl. 27–31, and 2 Cor. iv. 16. Psalmist's anticipation is founded on a retrospect. The God of his youth was with In our last reading we considered the him still. And would be with him alway. possibility, through Divine grace, of a life“ This God is our God for ever and ever." long piety. It may not be inappropriate
Further, he was sustained by the fact that, now to turn our attention to the secret of though old and feeble, his opportunities of that undecaying power by which the true usefulness were not yet ended. "O God, Christian is enabled to go on, often from forsake me not until I have showed thy early childhood to old age, from strength strength to this generation, and thy power even unto strength. Such is the power that to every one that is come. He wished to is inherent in the spiritual life. Sooner or be helpful and serviceable to the last. He later every other form of life must languish felt that he could teach lessons of reverence, and die. This alone has in it
, by reason of patience, humbleness, and piety to the gene- the ever-renewed strength which accompanies ration following, lessons that would be all it, the "promise and potency” of endurance. the weightier because enforced by the expe- He that hath this life shall have it more abunrience of years of dutiful obedience and dantly. When all else, youth itself, shall labour. Very sad and unlovely is old age have passed away it abides in joyous fulness. when it is disfigured by peevishness, nig
In those wonderful verses which occur at gardliness, or vice, but most beautiful and the end of the fortieth chapter of Isaiah attractive when it teaches such lessons as it two pictures are presented, by a few masteralone can teach effectually to a younger strokes, to the mind's eye. One is mangeneration. Let no one say, “My day is hood's prime, youth clothed in its fairest over. I cannot any more be of use to and most charming colours, when all the others.” Every season of life has its own powers of the body and all the faculties opportunities of usefulness; and while we of the mind have reached their naturity, are here we can serve God.
when joy is poured into the heart by every Lastly, he was sustained by the hope avenue of sense, and reason and affection, of final deliverance from all the sorrows emotion and imagination,and troubles of his pilgrimage. “Thou “That time when meadow, grove, and stream, shalt quicken me again, and bring me up Appareled in celestial light, again from the depth of the earth. Thou The glory and the freshness of a dream." shalt increase my greatness, and comfort The other is the picture of nature's me on every side.” Is it fanciful to read decay. Now the glory of the day is fading. the hope of immortality into this language? The evening shadows have begun to fall
. Certainly it appears to point to something The radiance of youth has filed. The debetter than mere temporal deliverance. crepitude of age is creeping on apace. .
To us did seem
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and middle-aged sympathise with the labour and the young men shall utterly fall.” How and sorrow which are the frequent, though sad it is to observe in those nearest and not perhaps invariable accompaniments of dearest to us on earth the fast-accumulating declining years. True, none but He who is tokens of_failing energy and enfeebled the “ Ancient of days " can fully enter into powers! The step, once nimble as the roe, their feelings or fulfil to them His own probecoming shorter and more uncertain year mise, “ And even to your old age I am He; by year. The intellect, once so clear and and even to hoar hairs will I carry you." vigorous, on all whose judgments we could But a younger generation can bear patiently implicitly rely, becoming dim and clouded, with their infirmities, and soothe them by and the strong man is bowed and the in- gentle ministries of helpfulness and affection. evitable hour all too plainly hastening on, Above all they can point them forward and when the “silver cord must be loosed and the upward unto Him in whose life our life golden bowl be broken at the fountain.” This, abideth, ever new and ever strong. For if it is one of the commonest, is assuredly what dearer solace can be imparted to the one of the most painful of our experiences. Christian old and travel-worn than is found “Whither is it gone! the visionary gleam.
in the conviction that, his life being hid Where is it now? the glory and the dream.” with Christ in God, there has been set But for us who believe in Christ, life is upon his brow the seal of an everlasting more than vigour of limb or health of body. youth, so that, albeit he is tottering to the It is more than the enjoyment, however grave's brink he can say, “ Though my heart keen, of the things of time and sense—more, and my flesh fail, God is the strength of even, than immortality. Life is character. my heart and my portion for ever. The It is the growth of the soul in goodness outward man' perisheth. It must perish. and truth, in wisdom, holiness, and love. But what of that? The 'inward man,' my In short it is the possession of God, and very self, is renewed day by day. Though of all things present or to come, in God the gladsome joys of my youth have passed through Christ. Where there is life in that away, the future I know has better things sense, there have we the sure pledge and in store for me than any of which time and earnest of a youth which can never never pass change have robbed me. “O death, where away. Sickness may come, and the glow of is thy sting? O grave, where is now thy health fade from the withered cheek. Disease victory ?” may draw its rough lines o'er the fairest But why is spiritual life thus undecaying? form. Suddenly or by slow degrees the What is the secret of its permanence ?' It is frail tent which is the home of the deathless found in the living communion of the soul spirit may be taken down. But what of with its Father in heaven. “They that wait that? Have we never seen that as the upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” "outward man” perished the “inward man” In particular there are two hindrances was renewed day by day? We have seen which beset spiritual life, from both of it again and again. We have seen the aged which we are delivered by simply waiting believer, in the hour of his departure, upon the Lord in the exercise of a living upheld by an invisible power, which made faith and the humble and diligent use of him more than a conqueror over physical all the means of grace. One is desponweakness. We have seen young sufferers dency. Another is presumption. No doubt manifesting on the bed of languishing a there is much which if viewed alone has a heroism of faith which shone forth all the tendency to cloud and depress the mind. brighter, and diffused a fragrance all the The passing away of youth with all its joys; sweeter, because it was accompanied by the the flight of time, brought home to us in evident tokens of decay. And seeing these these weeks when the sands of the dying things, witnessing this triumph of the spirit year are running low; the sense of failure over the flesh, have we not thanked God which cleaves to us; our broken vows and in our hearts that there is a life over which resolutions these and a thousand other neither time nor change, nor death itself, things may occasion this feeling. But whathas any power, a life which is eternal, as the ever causes of disquietude may overshadow life of Him who is without beginning of us there is no way of escape, no possibility years or end of days ?
of strength ever renewed, and with strength This is a thought that should be especially renewed of fresh courage and hope, save in consolatory to those who are far advanced in waiting upon the Lord from whom cometh the journey of life. Too little do the young our help, our life, our all.
And as from despondency, so too from swaddling clothes and laid in a manger we presumption, there is opened up to us a path behold "God manifest in the flesh. The of escape as we thus wait upon God. “When story of the Holy Nativity, bound about our I am weak,” cries the Apostle “then am I hearts by a thousand gracious memories and strong.” It was not until God had emptied associations, gives us such a sure plede of him of the spirit of presumption that he felt the love of God, “Who spared not His own himself uplifted above the weakness of Son but delivered Him up for us all,” that mental and physical suffering, by a new we are enabled in perfect calmness and in power-Christ's power resting upon him. perfect peace to await the issue of events, And we too must learn the meaning of these being well assured that “though weeping words, “He that glorieth let him glory in may endure for a night, joy cometh in the the Lord,” would we be filled with the joyous morning,” and “if God be for us, who can be sense of an ever-abiding and happy youth. against us?” We too must be taught that when we are It has been said that mankind may be weak then are we strong, not in self but in divided into two classes, those who look God, who giveth power to the faint, and to on the bright side, and those who look them who have no might who increaseth on the dark side of things. Now whatever strength. Then and then only shall we be may be said of our attitude in relation to able to appreciate at its true worth the in- the common incidents and concerns of life, describable charm of such a passage as the it is to be feared that there is a very general one on which we have been meditating, so disposition, even among Christian people, to tender in its recognition of our utter help. look too exclusively on the darker side of lessness and at the same time so hopeful in things. We see pain, suffering, and misery its tone, lifting us far above all discourage on every side, and half incredulously we ask, ment, weakness, and decay, into that clear Is there indeed an all-wise and loving rule and sunlit atmosphere in which our merciful of God upon this earth? Is God our Father? Father in heaven would have His own chil. Does He care for us, His poor helpless children always to dwell. We shall then “run dren struggling through the night? These and not be weary, we shall walk and not questions might prove too strong for faith, faint." At evening time it shall be light. unless we were upheld by the songs
which come to us from Bethlehem's plains—ay, THIRD SUNDAY.
and from the experience of many "a night Read Job xxxv. 10, Luke ii. 8-16, and Acts xvi. 25. of the Lord to be had in remembrance."
Be the darkness which enshrouds us ever so How often in the long history of His great, are there no songs in the night? Church on earth has God given songs in the What is the word of prophecy, that light night! Best and sweetest of all is that song which shineth in a dark place until the day which comes to us at this blessed Christmas dawn? What is the Gospel of pardon and time. Borne through the night of ages it salvation? What are God's promises ? Was falls once more on the listening ear of faith, there ever a night so dark that His faithful softened and hallowed by distance, but un servants could hear no songs? As it is changed in its divine and matchless melody. night which reveals the glory of the starry By night, as they kept watch over their heavens, so too does it often happen that flocks, the shepherds first heard it; and now in the night of weeping mysteries of divine again, in this night-time of the year, when consolation and love are disclosed, which all nature lies dead, and wintry winds sigh otherwise had been unknown. “Never,” and shriek around our dwellings, we hear it has been said, “does the harp of the it as of ol now blending with that tri- human spirit yield such music as when its umphant song of salvation which waxes framework is most shattered and its strings louder and louder as it ever ascends unto most torn. There is a hand which can then God “out of every nation and kindred sweep the heart-strings and wake their and people and tongue.” Sometimes as we highest notes of praise.' look abroad over the face of this sinful and Most of us have known how much more sorrowful world, we feel appalled by the formidable our troubles appear when we darkness and mystery of the night through think of them in the night watches. Cares which we are passing. But as we listen to which fly before the rising sun seem almost the angels' song,
Glory to God in the unbearable when the darkness is about us. highest, on earth peace, good will to men,” Many too have found that there is no we are reassured. In the Babe wrapped in way of escape from the distressing thoughts
SONGS IN THE NIGHT.