lored the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Every other act of giving is eclipsed by the glory of this “ Unspeakable gift;" and in the light of it we welcome as sound and irrefragible the conclusion of the apostle, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things ?” And this most prominent feature of the Divine character is made still more manifest in the life of His well-beloved Son. It was His highest joy to give-to give salvation to the lost, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, agility to the lame, pardon to sinners, joy to mourners, and life to the dead. To the thirsty He promises to give “ to drink of the fountains of the water of life freely;" to the weary He offers to give rest; to His disciples He said, “ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” But these priceless gifts are not the sum of His giving; He loved us and gave Himself for us ; and it is in the refulgent light of the Cross we must read the meaning of these important words, “the God that giveth,” or “the giving God.”

And still further to encourage us to ask, there is pointed out the manner of His giving, “ He gives to all simply and without upbraiding," without reproaching us, or casting anything in our teeth. He rejoices in the gratitude His gifts awaken, and justly demands our praises, but He gives because of the joy He has in giving. See, He does not withhold His rain from falling upon the evil, nor does He withdraw the shining of His sun from the unjust, and it was when men were ungodly that Christ made the great atonement for sin. Nor in coming before God shall we be reproached on account of our unworthiness. The Father did not tell the prodigal son when he returned that he had been a disreputable fellow, a disgrace to himself and his family, and that he ought to be for evermore an outcast; he did not even refer to his riotous and sinful life, to his ingratitude and disobedience, nor did he allow his son to do so—"But when he was a good way off, his father saw him, and bad compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." Great gifts may be robbed of much of their worth by the manner in which they are bestowed, and small gifts may be made almost invaluable by the donor.

“ He that works me good with unmoved face,

Does it but half, he chills me while he aids :

My benefactor, not my brother-man." But God gives not so ; He gives as a father to his child, simply and without upbraiding.

Shall we not then make known our requests unto God? Shall we not come boldly to the throne of grace? And if any of us lack Wisdom, if we want guidance in any of our perplexities, light in our darkness, if we desire to profit by the experience of life, and to come into a closer fellowship with Christ, let us ask of God, and if we ask In faith, nothing wavering, as we are warranted to do, " it shall be given us."

But this supplication for wisdom is not that which we generally make in trial. Our cry is rather for the removal of the sorrow, fo deliverance from our afflictions. So did the Apostle of the gentiles a first pray. Yea, thrice he sought the Lord that the thorn in the fles! might depart from him. But God said, “My grace is sufficient fo thee," and then “he gloried in his infirmities." And as we grow i grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, w shall increasingly pray for patience to endure and wisdom to improve th day of adversity. Yet nevertheless, the day may come when the burde may be so heavy and the flesh so weak, and when affliction shall be s severe and the spirit so disquieted, that we shall be constrained to bow a did“ the Man of sorrows" in Gethsemane, and pray with strong crying and tears, “ If it be possible, let this cup pass from me;" but then i proportion as His spirit has been inwrought in us by the Holy Ghos we shall add, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”—confident that He wi supply the strength we require and the wisdom too, yea“ all we nee according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Let us then trus in the Lord, and lean not to our own understanding. Let us acknow ledge Him in all our ways, and He will direct our path. Wisdon profitable to direct, will be vouchsafed unto us. Let us seek daily t be guided by His counsel, and to be held by our right hand, an afterwards He will receive us to glory; and what we know not now w shall clearly apprehend then, and for ever“know even as we ar known.”


HOW MR. STRINGENT BECAME LIBERAL. MR. STRINGENT was sixty years old I grew up and were scattered abroad - very old, I should have called him, and I have nothing to say abou when I was a child. He was “brought them, except that they were all keel up” in a thrifty economical way. to gain this world. I am to speal His father was a small, snug farmer; of the youngest son, Simon, whi but, as his wants were but few, he took “the old place," that is, th was called “well to do in the world,” | farm, agreeing to pay off his brother which, I suppose, means, “well to do and sisters their shares as fast as h for this world.” His children re could earn it. ceived a fair education, and were And now Simon, in his youth, wa always among the best scholars. No married, and settled at “Graig' better cows and no better sheep Valley,” as the farm was called. H were owned in those parts than those had to support himself and his youn owned by old Mr. Stringent. His family, and yearly to pay a gooi maxim was, “ to keep what you have round sum towards his debt. Earl got, and get all that you can get." and late he toiled. Carefully an This maxim he inculcated most faith anxiously he saved everything possi fully into the minds of his children. ble. His expenses were the lowes In process of time old Stringent died, possible; everything went to "th and, fortunately, such men carry debt." And if there was anythin nothing with them. The children / which Şimon dreaded more thai another, it was a call for charity, or, doing nothing else all his life. He as he termed it, “the everlasting tried to satisfy himself that “Charity contribution-box;” the announce begins at home;" and conscience told ment that “a collection would be him that he wanted it to stop there made next Sabbath” would inva also. When he read his Bible, he riably make him unwell and unable seemed as if he was always stumbling to attend chapel. Indeed, so delicate upon such texts as, “ Freely ye have was his constitution, that once in a received, freely give.” One day he while, when he had been caught, he sat a long time motionless, trying to was sure to have the nose-bleed, convince himself that he had not and be compelled to go out before received much. “Why, what little the box reached him. But years I have, I earned myself by hard passed on, and his habits grew | labour. Pray, what have I restrong, and his debts grew feeble, ceived ?” and then conscience would until, at the end of fifteen years, he begin her whispers: “ Why, Simon had paid off every debt, and owned a Stringent, you received a good conlarge farm, free from nearly every stitution-you were never sick a day incumbrance.

in all your life!” But now a new chapter in his life “That's true.” was to be experienced. There was " And you received a shrewd mind; an outpouring of the Holy Spirit you know how to manage and make upon the people. Very many sang money. And you have received a the new song. Very many rejoiced great deal of sunshine, and a great in the hope of life eternal. Several many rains on your farm, and a great of the children of Simon were among increase of your cattle and flocks; and the new-born children of light. you have received a large, healthy Simon was the last to become in family, no deaths in it; and you have terested. He was the last to feel received many years of life already, his sins; and he struggled and re and hope for more; and you have sisted a long, long time, before he received the Sabbath and its blessyielded to the demands and condi ings; and you have, as you hope, tions of Christ. Then he was very received the pardon of your sins, and slow to take up the crosses, as they a hope of life eternal through God's lay in his path. He was afraid to own" Son. Received! Why, you commit himself. He was slow to have received everything: it has been erect the altar of prayer in his house. nothing but receiving, and now you He was slow to confess Christ before must freely give!" the world. But he battled all these O Simon ? how hard you breathe! difficulties and overcame them, be How the perspiration stands on your cause he really had Christian princi brow! Had he been dreaming, or ple in his soul. But now he met a had the Spirit of God been teaching difficulty which seemed insurmount him ? able, unexpected, and very trying. The very next day Simon, or, as He found that now his brethren and he was now called, Mr. Stringent, his Bible took it for granted that he heard a loud and tender appeal from would be liberal. How could he, the missionary field. And now a who had never given away a shilling collection was to be made-not in a year, be expected to give tens and the chapel, where every man could even hundreds ? How hard to under dodge, or conceal his parsimony, but stand the Christian fact—that “none by an open subscription, black and of us liveth to himself”! He tried white. The collector was to come to convince himself that a man's first round at once. Then it was that the duty is to provide for his family; and dialogue which is said to have taken conscience told him that he had been place between Mr. Stringent and the

devil, occurred.

“How much must I give ?” said | potatoes; and if hay is light, the Stringent.

price is certainly heavy; and your As little as you can and be re workmen never earned as much as spectable," said the devil.

they do this year; and the ship“I am very far from being rich," timber which had been growing long said Stringent.

before you were born, has brought “You are the richest man in the an enormous price." church,” said conscience.

I shall put down fifty pounds!”! “Suppose I give five pounds." “O Mr. Stringent! Mr. Stringent! “Fully enough,” said the tempter. you are nearly crazy—to throw away

“Freely ye have received, freely money so! Why, sir, with that sum give,” said conscience.

you could buy two young cows, or “Remember your great family, ten first-rate " their schooling, and clothing, and “Get out-get out, you tempter the new furniture, and the new | of my soul! I shall put down one carriage which you need,” said the hundred pounds, this time, and if tempter.

you don't let me alone, I declare I “I shall put down ten pounds," will double it !” said Stringent.

And Mr. Stringent did put it down; “You are beside yourself! Why, and he felt so much better, and grew they will expect you to do in like so strong, under it, that it was well proportion for everything hereafter. understood between him and the There's no end to these calls,” said deyil, ever after, that if he was the tempter.

tempted he would double his chari“I shall put down twenty pounds," ties. And so well did he abide by said Stringent.

it, that he became one of the most “ Yes, but do consider," said the liberal men in the community. And tempter; “you know your taxes are when he went round to collect for awful this year; and you know your charities, as he often did, the most oats are very light, and they sell by liberal man always being the best weight and not by the bushel, as collector, and when his brethren they once did, and the drought has would make excuses, he would shake injured your grass, and your fruit his head and say, “I only wish you will be next to nothing."

could have such dialogues with the “ Yes,” said conscience, “but your devil as I have had ! " corn is magnificent, and so are your


BY THE REV. JOHN cox. THESE TWO words What, again ! " are often used as an exclamation by one person with regard to another, and they are still more frequently used by conscience in most persons' own bosoms. In the first case, they are often the language of reproof and impatience. For instance, a little child gets into some kind of trouble, or a larger child does some act of mischief; and, in either case, the perplexed and impatient mother calls out, “What, again!” Or, the father helps an improvident or spendthrift son, and hopes better things respecting him for the future but new claims come upon him, and almost despondingly he cries out

"What, again!” These things go on in human society and relationships ; some occurrences are real vexations, and ought not to have been done; but many are small matters which can hardly be avoided, and which should be expected amidst the wear and tear of life. We should look on these things as part of our discipline, as trials of patience, and should watch against being ruffled and distracted by them.

But who has not felt humbled in his own eyes by the use which con. science has made of these two words? How many husbands and fathers, who have much natural kindheartedness, are slaves of excess, or lovers of conviviality, rather than heads of a happy house! Vows have been made; resolutions have been formed and kept for a while: but a stronger temptation than usual has presented itself; another fall has followed; and unutterable misery is felt within as the loud whisper hisses through the chambers of conscience,“ What, again!The passionate wife and mother is an easy prey to the tempter, who uses her to make home miserable, and turns it into a school of all strife. She reads a tract on the sins of the tongue, on the evil of bad temper; resolves to be kind and gentle : but a little thing throws her off the balance, and amidst the raging tempest of passion, a voice is heard saying, “ What, again!” Such persons, and all others who act wrongly in various relationships and circumstances, would do well to bear two things in mind. First, that if these upbraidings of conscience are not heeded, the monitor will in time become dumb, while the passions will grow stronger and stronger, until those under their terrible influence will become the very pests of society. A second thing is, that conscience alone will always be found powerless. When conscience remonstrates, the soul should seek help from above, casting itself upon the mercy of God in Christ for pardon ; and seeking the power of the Holy Spirit to obtain the victory over evil.

It was in connection with the last view that these two words especially struck the mind of the writer. This is a point which, if attended to and realized, will save the soul from the tyranny of sinful habits, and produce an opposite course of conduct. The first thing with regard to holiness and happiness is to have our sins forgiven. Every person will be the slave of sin in some form or other, who is not forgiven of God. This is God's infallible method to make miserable sinners happy and holy. A free-grace pardon brings everything blessed in its train. God has clearly revealed this in His word ; and He has provided the means whereby He can honourably pardon, and really sanctify, the sinful soul. He has said over and over again that He is ready to forgive." He has told His worst enemies what they must do in order to obtain forgiveness, and also what blessed results will follow in time and eternity, When they are forgiven. This subject God presses on man's attention with much tenderness, earnestness, and sincerity.

Many persons who hear all this have as yet no good reason to conclude that God has forgiven them. In fact, they have never yet been I real earnest about it, have never really sought the forgiveness of

« 上一页继续 »