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THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT.
T was Christmas eve, and the widow Dale sat alone in
her poor and scantily-furnished apartment, and as the daylight faded away, she let the work fall from her ever-busy fingers, and sat gazing into the decaying
embers with a heart full of sad, sad memories, and very few hopes in the future this side the grave.
A few years since—a happy home, a kind husband,
little children, many cares, but oh, so many joys and hopes! and now a lonely home, a grass-grown grave in a far-off land, and little graves upon the hill-side, and one only of the merry band of children now living, and he—God help the mother of such a son! -he was a careless, drinking young man, who was bringing his mother's grey hairs in sorrow to the grave.
“ Christmas eve,” she said to herself, “ a night on which we all should rejoice; kind wishes are everywhere uttered, and Christmas gifts are distributed by bountiful hands. Oh that I had a Christmas gift for my poor boy ! but, alas !” and she looked around the cheerless apartment, “I have nothing to give him_nothing but my prayers."
“Why not give him your prayers on this Christmas eve ?” a voice seemed to whisper in her ear; "give your prayers, give him your prayers.”
And there, by that desolate hearthstone, she knelt and gave her prayers—long, earnest, pitiful. She wrestled like Jacob in his vision ; she felt she could not let the Divine presence depart without a blessing.
The hours sped on, the church-clock struck midnight, and Christmas chimes pealed forth upon the wintry air, and still she knelt, still she cried unto the Lord.
At length she rose from her knees; all anguish had passed away from her face; she had been with God. His blessing rested upon her, and in low, sweet tones she began to sing the song of the angels : 'Peace on earth, good-will to men. She lighted a candle, and as its faint rays dispelled the darkness in the little room, she found she was not alone. Her son was there, sitting with his head bowed upon the table, while sobs shook his manly frame. The mother approached him gently, and laid her hand upon his shoulder ; he looked up, and through his tear-dimmed eye he gazed into her face—changed, changed indeed—he too had been with his Maker !
“Mother,” said he in very gentle tones, “I have brought you a Christmas gift, the best I could find,” and he put a slip of paper in her hand. It was a solemn pledge, a temperance pledge, that he would abstain from all intoxicating drinks from that day. “ And God helping me, mother, I'll do it. Mr. Graves has been,
oh, so kind to me, and has promised me all the work I can do if I'll stick to the pledge; and we'll be happy, motber. You and I will live together as mother and son should live. O mother, mother!” He fell upon her neck and wept aloud. Then hastily brushing away the tears, he said in a cheery voice :
“But where is my Christmas present, mother? You have said nothing about a gift for me.'
“ All the Christmas gift I had to offer was my prayers, my son, and it seemed a little while ago as if a voice whispered in my ear, Give him your prayers, give your boy your prayers on this Christmas eve ;' and God was very near me to-night, and my prayers were answered. God has indeed been with us. I could not let Him go without a blessing."
Then the son told the mother that this was no sudden change; he had been resolving to begin the New Year a different man, and he thought he would gladden his mother's heart by making a most acceptable gift of the temperance pledge as the commencement of reform. “But, mother," said the penitent son, “after all, my gift seems small compared with yours. If I had not had a Christian mother, she would not have pleaded for me with such importunity at the throne of grace. Mother, mother, the best of all Christmas gifts is a mother's prayers.” BEGIN WITH
THE YOUNG.–There are three ways by which reform may be effected. The first is by the civil magistrate and the laws; the second is by the minister of the Gospel : but the most effectual means is to begin with the young,
and thus eradicate the evil altogether.-ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON.
INSTRUCTION IN HOUSEKEEPING.--The education of the girl as a housekeeper should be begun by the mother early, continued until the marriage of the daughter, and no other duty of the mother nor study of the daughter should interfere with it. This and the school education should go on simultaneously. If anything is to be postponed, let it be music and drawing and philosophy, which, as experience shows, are usually unattended to and unpractised after the “happy event.” The more and higher the education the better. But let us have a real and practical, instead of a sham education.
A WHOLE FAMILY CONVERTED.-A German minister thus writes of the blessed results of a Parents' Prayer meeting at Zurich. After relating the conversion of a child while attending the meeting, he goes on to observe, “On the evening of the following day my own eldest boy found peace in Jesus, and during the week four
my other children. I was absent in Berne; and when, on my return, one after another made known to me the joyful fact that Jesus had indeed taken away their sins and given them new hearts, I assembled my whole family of eleven children together, we read Psalm ciii., and praised God with full hearts.”
FATHER IS COMING!
The father's work is done; For far along the lane
Can see it shining plain.
I've heard him say he loves to mark The wild night-wind is blowing cold, The cheerful firelight through the dark. 'Tis dreary crossing o'er the wold.
I know he's coming by the sign He's crossing o'er the wold apace, That baby's almost wild;
He's stronger than the storm ; See how he laughs,and crows,and stares: He does not feel the cold—not he, God bless the merry child ! His heart it is so warm !
His father's self in face and limb, For father's heart is stout and true, And father's heart is strong in him ! As ever human bosom knew.
Hark! hark! I hear his footsteps nowHe makes all toil, all hardship light; He's through the garden gate.
Would all men were the same! Run, little Bess, and ope the door, So ready to be pleased, so kind,
And do not let him wait! So very slow to blame !
Shout, baby, shout, and clap thy hands, Folks need not be unkind, austere, For father on the threshold stands ! For love hath readier will than fear.
a slave, in Morris County, near Jersey, America, July, 1785. At an early age she was given to Mrs. Wheelock, wife of President Wheelock, of Dartmouth College, to be an attendant on her daughter, who was afterwards the wife of President Allen. She came to Brunswick with President Allen's family in 1820, and remained with them until the death of Mrs. Allen,
from which time she chose to live alone. For the last eighteen years of her life she supported herself oy washing and ironing. In her little house all was neatness and order. All her work seemed to be sanctified by prayer and praise, and to be done cheerfully, heartily, as unto the Saviour whom she loved. However busy, she was always ready to enjoy a season of devotion with her Christian friends who called to see her. She chose to live alone-alone with God, where, as she said, “ there would be no hindrances to prayer and praise at any time; where she could converse with her Saviour all day long." So naturally would she speak to us of the presence of Christ with her, and she was so happy in the consolations she enjoyed in communion with Him, that we could not but feel that Christ was with her, and that her little cottage on the plain was near to heaven.
As a friend passed Phebe's dwelling, and it was beginning to rain, he said to her, "I am afraid you will not get your clothes dry to-day, Phebe.” “That is as the Lord pleases,” she replied.
All was right with her because she resigned her own will to the will of God; hence she seemed to be always peaceful and happy. Everybody knew that Phebe was happy, and that it was religion that made her so. Young persons and children, as well as those older, loved to visit her. At one time a little coloured girl was spending several weeks with Phebe. A gentleman meeting her, said, “Where do you live, little girl ?” “ With Happy Phebe,' was her quick reply. Not long after, a kind neighbour sent her daughter to read to her the little book, “A Trap to catch a Sunbeam.” After hearing it, Phebe said, “That is a beautiful book, but I don't need a trap to catch sunbeams; I find sunbeams everywhere."
Phebe did not severely censure. Fault-finding was not her way of doing good, or being useful in the Church. When harsh remarks about persons were made in her presence, she would say, “We must pray for them;" and this was her custom. Being herself rudely spoken to, and her feelings wounded, Phebe said, “I have a Friend to whom I can go ;” and with no other reply she turned away, and on her knees before God prayed for the individual. The next morning the person came and asked her pardon. How beautifully does this illustrate the passage,
Beloved, avenge not yourselves.” She loved the Scriptures. Near by her, and always on her mind and heart, was her “precious Holy Bible” and her large-print Testament. Phebe had the same Bible that others have, but she found in it a great deal more than is commonly found, as all may observe who have seen her Bible. There the promises and threatenings and warnings too are marked or underscored by her pen or pencil. Phebe's marks beneath or beside a passage, made often with a heavy stroke of her pencil, come to our minds with the force of a commentary, for she was herself a “living epistle,” “known and read” by us all.
Phebe loved to assemble with the congregation for worship, and delighted in the services of the Church of which she was a member, and was never absent except from sickness or necessity.
She was indeed a pillar,-one in whom the minister found support by her constant attendance and prayers, and by her hearty reception and love of the truth. She was the first to be seated in her place. For many years she was seen sitting in one corner of the gallery in our former house of worship on the farthest row of seats, with her head bowed in secret prayer. The best, the most experienced Christians, loved to be with Phebe, because she was a happy Bible Christian, a witness to the truth of God.
Phebe loved to pray. Many times a day would she go to her bedroom, carpeted as for a little sanctuary, and kneel and pray. So much was her soul awake to the interests of Zion, it was no uncommon occurrence for her to arise at midnight and pray. “At midnight I will arise, and give thanks unto Thee,”