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THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN. WAS some few years ago (writes Mr. Maguire) sojourning at a very beautiful and much frequented English watering-place. I met with an earnest Cliristian tradesman of the town whose labours in the cause
of religion are many and great. Although his occupation was not in selling books, yet he had, in a prominent place in his shop-window, an assortment of Bibles with an illuminated
card containing this announcement: “ Luther's Sword Sold Here!" With one of these “swords” that Christian soldier, whom I shall here call by the name of Mr. Carr, fought and won the following battle :
A band or “troupe” of young men, with hands and faces blackened, and dressed in very grotesque costumes, arranged themselves before this gentleman's door one day for an exhibition of their peculiar “performances. These people used to be called “ Ethiopian Serenaders.” After they had sung some comic and some plaintive melodies, with their own peculiar accompaniments of gestures and grimaces, one of the party, a tall and interesting young man, who had the look of one who was beneath his proper station, stepped up to the door, tambourine in hand, to ask for a few “ dropping pennies” of the people. Mr. Carr, taking one of the Bibles out of his window, thus addressed the youth,
“See here, young man, I will give you a shilling, and this Book besides, if you will read a portion of it among your comrades there, and in the hearing of the bystanders.”
“ Here's a shilling for an easy job !” he chuckled out to his mates. “I'm going to give you a public reading !”
Mr. Carr opened at the fifteenth chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, and pointing to the eleventh verse, requested the young man to commence reading at that verse.
“Now, Jem, speak up,” said one of the party, “and earn your shilling like a man !”
Jem took the Book, and read : “And he said, A certain man had two sons : and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living."
There was something in the voice of the reader, as well as in the strangeness of the circumstances, that lulled all to silence; while an air of seriousness took possession of the youth, and still further commanded the rapt attention of the crowd.
He read on: “And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.”
“That's thee, Jem !” ejaculated one of his comrades. “It's just like what you told me of yourself and your father."
The reader continued: “ And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land ; and he began to be in want."
“Why, that's thee again, Jem !” said the voice. “Go on!”
“ And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him."
“That's like us all,” said the voice, once more interrupting ; " we're all beggars : and might be better than we are ! let's hear what came of it."
Go on ;
And the young man read on, and as he read his voice trembled : “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father.”
At this point he fairly broke down, and could read no more. All were impressed and moved. The whole reality of the past rose up to view; and in the clear story of the gospel, a ray of hope dawned upon him for the future. His father,—his father's house, --and his mother too; and the plenty and the love ever bestowed upon him there; and the hired servants, all having enough; and then himself, his father's son ; and his present state, his companionships, his habits, his sins, his poverty, his outcast condition,--all these came climbing like an invading force of thoughts and reflections into the citadel of his mind, and fairly overcame him.
That day,--that scene,--proved the turning-point of that young prodigal's life. He sought the advice of the Christian friend who had thus providentially interposed for his deliverance. Communications were made to his parents, which resulted in a long-lost and dearly-loved child returning to the familiar earthly home, and still better, in his return to his Heavenly Father!
“ Yes, there is One who will not chide nor scoff,
But beckons us to homes of heavenly bliss;
And flies to meet him with a Father's kiss !"
UR clothing should be neat and clean,
It then looks well whenever seen;
To show the character around.
GOD'S OPPORTUNITY. DMIRAL Sir Thomas Williams, the founder of the Royal Naval Female School for the education of naval officers' daughters, was in command of a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. His course brought them within sight of the Island of Ascension, at that time uninhabited, and never visited by any ship except for the purpose of collecting turtles, which abound on the
coast. The island is barely seen on the horizon ; but as Sir Thomas looked at it, he was seized with an unaccountable desire to steer towards it. He felt how strange such a wish would appear to his crew, and tried to disregard it; but in vain! the desire of the straightforward and excellent commander became more and more urgent; and seeing that they were fast leaving the island behind them, he told his lieutenant to prepare to“ put about ship," and steer for Ascension. His lieutenant ventured respectfully to represent to Sir Thomas that changing their course would greatly delay them; that just at that moment the men were going to their dinner; that, at least, some delay might be allowed. But these arguments seemed to increase the captain's anxiety, and he gave the word of command which is never resisted. He saw in the countenances of his officers an expression of wonder and even blame, as strong as is ever shown on an order from the captain ; but he was obeyed, and the ship was steered towards the uninteresting little island.
All eyes and spy-glasses were immediately fixed upon it, and soon something was perceived on the shore.
“It is white—it is a flag-it must be a signal!” were the cries which at intervals broke from the excited crew.
When they neared the shore a painful spectacle met their view. They found that sixteen men, wrecked on that coast many days before, and suffering the extremity of hunger, had set up a signal, though almost without hope of relief. The shipwrecked men were taken on board, and the voyage completed.
What a proof we have in this of the power of the Divine arm to save when all hope seems to have vanished ! and what an encouragement it should be for us always to pray and not to faint !
That was a beautiful reply which a pious woman made in the days of persecution, to the cruel judge, who seemed to take pleasure in contemplating the sufferings in store for her. She had been arrested for attending the house of God, and the judge vindictively said that he was very glad at last to have her in his power, and that he would now send her to prison.
“God will supply all my need," the prisoner meekly answered. “But how will you be fed ? ” retorted the judge, with a sneer.
“If it be my heavenly Father's pleasure," she answered, “I shall be fed from
And verily, such was the case; for the judge's wife being present at the examination, was so struck with the prisoner's firmness, that she took care constantly to send her food from her table, and comfortably supplied her during the whole time of her imprisonment. Nor was this all; the judge's wife was so impressed with the value of that faith which could thus give calmness and confidence under such circumstances of trial, that it led to her acceptance of the Gospel, and to her rejoicing in the liberty with which Christ makes His people free.
Instances like these,—and they might readily be multiplied, should tend to strengthen our faith in the Divine promises.
MOTHERS, SPEAK LOW! KNOW some houses, well-built and handsomely furnished, where it is not pleasant to be even a visitor. Sharp, angry tones resound through them from morning to night, and the influence is as contagious as measles, and as much to be dreaded in the household. The child
ren catch it, and it lasts for life,-an incurable disease ! A friend has such a neighbour within hearing of her house when doors and windows are open, and even Poll Parrot caught the tune, and delights in screaming, until she has been sent into the country to improve her habits. Children catch cross tones much more quickly than parrots, and in their case it is a much more mischievous habit. When mother sets the example, you will scarcely hear a pleasant word among the children in their plays with each other. Yet the discipline of such a family is always weak and irregular. The children expect just so much scolding before they do anything they are bid ; while in many a home, where the low, firm tone of the mother, or the decided look in her steady eye, is law, they never think of disobedience, either in or out of her sight. O mother! it is worth a great deal to cultivate that “excellent thing in a woman, a low, sweet voice. If you are ever so much tired by the mischievous or wilful pranks of the little ones, speak low. It will be a great help to you to even try to be patient and cheerful, if you cannot succeed. Anger makes you wretched, and your children also. Impatient, angry tones never did the heart good, but plenty of evil. Read what Solomon says of them, and remember he wrote with an inspired pen (Prov. xxi. 9, 19; xxv. 24 ; xxvii. 15). For your own as well as your
children's sake, learn to speak low. They will remember the lesson when your head is under the willows. So, too, will they remember a harsh, angry tone. Which legacy will you leave to your children?
Speak gently! it is better far
To rule by love than fear ;
The good we might do here.