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that lieth in wickedness!” Oh, how often did such a prayer as this burst from her heart! Though the only language by which it was expressed was the silent trickling down of her tears, yet God heard that voice. (Psalm lvi. 8.) He did not, however, seem to hear the voice of this widow's weeping; for her son only grew more settled in his worldly course, and showed less attention to the feelings of his poor mother.
The mother had a tender heart-loving by nature, softened by grace. She could not bear the continual agony of hopeless alarm for the eternal condition of one so dear to her. Affliction, while it ripened her spirit, had undermined her strength of mind and body, and this heavy burthen broke it at last. She pined even while she prayed-her heart declined. Andrew was sorry, for he soon found his mother's illness very inconvenient and expensive too. A heart that gives itself to worldly pleasures empties itself of the feelings of its best affections, and settles into a mass of selfishness. Andrew's heart had well nigh come to this. His mother was long in her bed, and day after day he expected to find her dying or dead, when he came from his work. He grew accustomed to the thought, and even began to wonder that it was so long put off. The poor mother, on the other hand, was longing and watching for his life, in the true sense of living. She managed to get her bed's head so placed in her little chamber, that as she lay, she could look through the door into the opposite room, and just include the mantel-shelf in the range of her view. She took care to instruct the woman who was now hired to attend to the house, in what way to sweep her son's chamber, and never to touch the mantel-shelf. She would have the door placed open when her son was gone to work; and as she looked across, it was quite plain that the Bible was as dusty as ever ;-—it had never been touched. It withered her heart afresh every morning; but she failed not to put up her prayer.
Andrew was very fond of music, and was a great man amongst all the club bands in the neighbourhood. There happened to be a great fair held, about twenty miles from Oxford, where several young men were engaged, and Andrew was invited to join the party. To be sure his mother was very ill indeed—even dying—but she would live, no doubt, till he returned. Not to distress his mother, he did not bid her good-bye when he set out. The indulgence in his worldly amusements had deadened all the feeling which would have made him think much of such a neglect; and it led him to think so much of the musical party, that it seemed to be of the greatest importance to be there.
He had not been gone many hours before his poor mother's trial of heart was over. She had been left by the attendant woman after breakfast, rather better, apparently. The doors were placed open as usual, and the woman went to wash for her own family. When she returned she found but a corpse—the spirit
had left the poor painful clay—the eyes were turned towards the dusty Bible, but they were glazed and lifeless—the broken heart beat no more. The mother had passed through the furnace, purified seven times in the fire ; she was safely waiting for the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The neighbours showed great feeling ;-everything was done in proper order—the coffin made—the funeral prepared; and very likely they felt that it would only be what Andrew deserved, if he had the shame of finding that, when he returned, strangers had shown more respect for his mother than he had, in leaving her in her dying state to seek his own pleasure.
Three days passed; and the funeral was to take place in the evening when Andrew arrived. It struck a blow at his heart to find that his mother was dead, and about to be buried. He prepared himself for the funeral, and followed the coffin to the grave; the earth was committed to the earth, ashes to ashes. There were still no signs of feeling in him-he said nothing. He looked into the grave when the service was over ;—the neighbours did so also; there seemed no difference; and a stranger could not have said which was the orphan.
Andrew walked home; and upon entering the house, he went straight to his bedroom. He sat down on his bedside, and remained some time in the same bewildered and benumbed state of feeling. At length his eyes fell upon the Bible on the mantel-shelf, which had lain so long untouched. Its dusty condition brought to his mind the thought how completely it had been neglected ; and then came the recollection of his mother's birthday gift, and birthday advice, and birthday blessing; and then his promise to read it every day rushed into his mind; and then its thick coat of dust, which proved that the promise had been broken every day, spoke to his conscience at last, to raise up an agony of shame,-it burst the chains that had bound up his feeling, and produced a flood of tears, heartfelt and bitter.
After waiting for some time, Andrew walked to the shelf, took up the dusty Bible, and opened it for the first time since he had received it, with such marks of tender affection, from his departed mother. The pages divided at the third chapter of John's Gospel, and the part that caught his eye was the 16th verse. He read that and the two following verses. They were “the sword of the Spirit,” with the sharp blade of which his heart was pierced effectually. His mother's prayers had been heard from the beginning, even while she was speaking : the waiting for God's own good time was to try her. God's own good time did not arrive till she was ripened; and being ready, was gathered into His garner.
The circumstances here recorded are true. The “ Dusty Bible” is no imagined incident, and is one illustration out of thousands, which show the dealings of God in bringing His people out of the world, and in training them for heaven. Christian
mothers ! do not grow weary, nor faint in your mind; but lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. It is heart-breaking to watch a worldly child; but cease not to say, “ though God slay me yet will I trust Him.” Continue in faithful and earnest prayer, and in God's own good time the answer will
"ENTER INTO THY CLOSET."
BY MRS. M. E. SANGSTER.
ECRET prayer is enjoined upon us by our Saviour as a duty, and as a precious privilege. “Enter into thy closet, and shut to thy door,” He tells us.
He Himself was wont to go alone to desert places, to solemn crypts of the
rock, to the shadows of Gethsemane, to spend hour after hour in communion with God. If the Sinless thus found prayer a necessity, how should the sinful, the burdened, the wayward turn to it, in their hours of sadness and anxiety! If the great Teacher prayed, shall the dicsiples forget prayer? And yet, how often we abridge our hours of secret devotion. How many are the minutes we give to our homes, our friends, to domestic cares, to study, to society ! how few and far between are the minutes we spend in our closets, alone with God! Yet no Christian can be happy, can be at peace, can make any real progress in the way, who does not often have communion with God.
Christ's most eminent followers have usually been those who loved to pray. Of Susannah, mother of the Wesleys, who flashed like light upon the cold, inert religious life in England, we read that she not only prayed much, but was in the habit of taking each of her many children one by one alone, and praying with and for them. “On such an evening,” she says in effect, “I had much serious talk with Jackey.” Jackey was John Wesley, the reformer, for he merits that grand title as fully as does Luther or Calvin.
Payson, whose success in Portland was so wonderful, whose whole career was a blessing from God, was often in prayer. Judson gave himself often to fasting and to the joy of secret prayer. Chalmers wrestled with God. The sainted McCheyne found rest and great joy and strength in hours of prayer.
Can we, realising the immense importance of our work, ask too often for aid from above ? “Ask and ye shall receive,” is a promise that bears the sign manual of the King. Let us pray believing. Let us pray from full hearts. Let us expect to be heard when we importune the Father who loves to bestow good gifts upon His children.
“ There is a place where Jesus sheds
The oil of gladness on our heads ;
you probably know that it brings distant objects near,
and that it shows many wonders in the heavens which cannot be seen without its help. What appears to be a
mere cloud of light is found to be a cluster of stars, too distant and too numerous to be distinctly visible. In many parts of the firmament where nothing is to be seen by the naked eye, the telescope reveals thousands of stars shining gloriously.
I wisl tell you how the telescope came to be invented. A Dutch spectacle-maker invented an instrument which made distant objects appear nearer than they really were. Having heard of this, a clever and thoughtful man named Galileo, who was fond of observing the stars, applied his mind to consider how such an effect could be produced, and so planned and constructed the telescope, or farseeing instrument. So, like most other great inventions, it was the work of more than one mind.
The spectacle-maker, probably, little thought, when he made his far-seeing instrument, what a glorious gift he was bestowing on his fellow-creatures. Some of the poorest and weakest among men, have been the greatest benefactors of the world, simply by taking each duty as it came, and stirring up the gift within them to do it well. If the spectacle-maker had been told that he was destined to make some wonderful discovery which would enable men to learn more than they had yet learned of the wonders of the universe, it is probable that he would have left his trade, his own proper business, and striving to do great things, would have accomplished nothing.
The telescope having been made, you may imagine the great anxiety which every one felt to look through it. It was several weeks before Galileo could get time to use it, as he wished, quietly and alone. When at length he was able to do so, he turned the telescope towards Jupiter, and was much surprised to see three small stars near it, which could not have been seen by the alone. Two of these were to the east, and the other to the west of Jupiter. He was very much surprised the next evening, to find, on looking through the telescope again, that the two had moved round to the other side, so that all three were now on the west side. After six days, a fourth star came in view. After carefully observing their movements for a long time, Galileo became convinced that these four little stars were moons, revolving round Jupiter, and following him, just as our moon moves round and follows the earth.
You will, perhaps, hardly credit the fact, that a certain professor of philosophy at Padua, not only denied the truth of Galileo's statement, and spent much time in reasoning against it, but actually refused to look through the telescope, lest he should be convinced against his will! Yet this is perfectly true.
I was thinking about these things one day, when suddenly it came into my mind that a far-seeing instrument, like a telescope, was in my own possession, and that if I used it with the same thoughtful care that Galileo did, it would reveal to me many beautiful and wonderful things. Is not the Bible like a telescope, bringing within view a far-off world? And are there not stupid people now, who, like the professor, will not look into it lest it should convince them of truths which they do not wish to believe? Are there not many who look at it with half-closed eyes, and minds
and minds pre-occupied with other things, unable, because not caring, to learn ? Which of us has ever opened his Bible with the same trembling eagerness, the same reverent awe and thrilling hope, with which Galileo opened his telescope ?
We may be sure that he did not go to it with a pre-occupied mind, he did not look through it as a matter of form. His was no careless survey, first of one part, then of another of those glorious heavens which were spread out before him, in all their rich magnifi
He confined himself to one part at a time. He strove, with a reverent mind, to search out truth. I cannot doubt that he prayed earnestly that the Spirit of God would guide him in his inquiries, and enlighten his understanding.
In the same way, let us open our Bible, let us study it alone, and never without prayer (Ps. cxix. 18). Let us search the Scriptures to find out the will of God; and if we do this diligently with faith and hope, greater wonders will be revealed to us than could have entered into the heart of man to conceive (1 Cor ii. 9. 10). “What lights will all around us rise !” Lights not only in heaven above, but on the earth beneath, till our path is as a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Prov. iv. 18).
AFTERWARDS, Ow, the sowing and the weep Now, the long and toilsome duty, ing,
Stone by stone to carve and bring;
Of the palace of the King.
Now, the tuning and the tension, Now the pruning, sharp, unsparing, Wailing minors, discord strong;
Scattered blossom, bleeding shoot ; Afterward, the grand ascension
Blind, faint, groping in the sea; Wounded heart, unequal strife ;
Afterward, the triumph given,
And the victor's crown of life.
Unexplained and tedious now;
And the Master's “ Enter thou !" F. R. Havergal.