Be only watchful for a week, nay for the next twelve hours after you rise from this night's rest, and you shall find the birds, the rocks, and the thorns. The peculiar expression of the parable requiring attention now, is that the fowls devoured the seed—the words of the kingdom are made to sustain unclean life (you will remember the passage in the book of Revelation, “ Babylon is become ... the cage of every unclean and hateful bird”). The Saviour declares this to be the work of the wicked one; but the hearer, the ground, is of himself fruitful in nothing but sin. This does not refer simply to the act of memory. There is something deeper in the expression. Satan is never 80 successful as when his temptation is composed of scraps of truth; exhortations to love are made to lead to compromise ; exhortations to faithfulness are sown broadcast by the Saviour, and a black cormorant digests them into acts of cruelty. Indeed, every truth from God, every office appointed by Him, every sacrament has been made to foster sin and extend rebellion. Satan has agents sufficient to turn every truth into falsehood, and nothing can sustain our hope in Christ but entire consecration to the word of God. Christ obeyed it; faced the world and conquered it; met the tempter and overcame him; and thus became an example to His conflicting disciples. “It is written,” the order of heaven is our law. A remarkable work was written some centuries ago by Father Paul, of Venice, and he was assassinated upon the bridge of Venice, for the offence of writing it. That book is a treasure now, not for its elegance, but because it shows the gross results to which perverted truth has led a Church in which nearly every word of God has been turned into food for avarice and spiritual defilement. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

The Rocks. These rocks, with superficial soil spread over them, represent emotional minds in which the truth springs up quickly, but where it never lasts—like the seed which has no depth of root. Of the excited multitude who heard these words, many were found to admire and were loud in praise ; but they were unable to sustain their service, they were excited but not subdued. Progenitors of a hard-hearted generation, they could praise and crucify the Lord Himself in the passionate vicissitude of one single day. It is well to receive the truth with gladness, but it must be wrought into the heart to bring before it the fruit our Lord desires. But the Saviour describes another kind of obstacle.

TE THORNS. Where these grow, they choke the word how deeply soever its roots have entered the soil. The blade of corn struggling for life and fruitfulness in a thorn-brake is thus invested with unspeakable interest. When living in the country, I have often paused to contemplate it. It seemed so full of admonitory instruction! like a truth that comes from heaven into a heart crowded with earthly cares, it is choked Through the baser overgrowth. It strives to use the sunlight, but its strength is wasted by the effort-the thorns have choked the word. It was there, it was rooted, and it grew, but it bare no fruit, it ran

up to nothing but chaff and straw. Our Lord extends His admoni tion thus to the most popular of obstacles to His reign. The desire for riches, worldly advancement, and follies which few wil justify but which many cherish, is here described and condemned They are often pursued as virtues, and will be, perhaps, while ta world stands as it is ; but with them the heart will never ripen inti fruitfulness, and hence the line of demarcation between the world and His disciples is thus defined. Judged by the highest possible authority it is declared, “ Ye cannot serve God and mammon ;” and therefore, 1 worldly cares be indulged, the fruitfulness of God's word will fail.

But we have next a soil described by its susceptibility. It is cle that in the kingdom of grace, though God may overstep His ordinal workings, He does not compromise them ; He violates no law of n ture or providence. It is known that everywhere and through 4 time any given truth will secure the most legitimate results where is most fully received, and where nothing is allowed to diminisa 1 influence. All eminence in life is thus attained. The man of busine succeeds in this manner: he gives himself to it, and nothing is allowg to interpose he is engaged. The man of science gains eminence the simple devotion of himself to his object. The hero advances heroism by the same mode of culture, and, may I add ?-sin ripe into monstrosities in the same manner; and seeing that habits th form, grow, and increase, the man will not be guiltless who is fruitle under the communications of Divine truth. Further, by this convi ing fact the Saviour reveals the riches of redeeming grace. Eve word is an exposition of saving grace. Grace which brings the wo into contact with each heart-with every peculiarity of defilement al danger, dissolves the heart of stone, breaks up the fallow ground, al roots up all its thorns. No ground is good till grace has made it niti use ;- but this grace works in conformity with the kingdom of God w has revealed it. God who proclaims the word, prepares the heart 1 its reception, and He will foster the heart in which the word has be received. If a soul find a seedtime in which the word of grace is a cepted-planted-it shall reap a harvest with a fruitfulness of thirt sixty, or perhaps a hundred-fold. The action of faith is thus mal palpable as its encouragement. A believing man receives every wo of the kingdom as the ground receives the seed; and the wbo force of nature is given to its nouriture; but the earth alone w never reach the harvest; the influence of heaven is indispensab Rain or dew, sunlight, the summer heat and the maturing autumn, 1 influences which the husbandman cannot command or create, but th are indispensable to the result. So with the human soul, God holds His hands the influence essential to success. Let Him in, and He w secure your salvation. Hence the beauty of that expression, He and your souls shall live.” The great thing to which mercy is ev leading us, is the response to God's word and nouriture in our hear The importance of this is never seen as it is on the deathbed of mere professor, when affliction loosens the ties of earth, and the ree upon which he leaned break and wound his hands. He has nothing to take into the presence of the King but violated edicts, abused privileges, despised precepts, and what comes in the future we cannot tell ; but here we have fearful examples of the results of neglected truth. "Let us therefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envies, and all evil speakings, as new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby.”

INTO THE SUNSHINE. *IWISH father would come home," “I must confess," replied aunt said little Richard.

Phebe, “that I think a little wholeThe voice that said this had a some discipline of the kind you troubled tone, and the face that speak of would be not out of place. looked up was sad.

If you were my child, I am very "Your father will be very angry," sure you wouldn't escape.” said aunt Phebe, who was sitting “I'm not your child; I don't want in a room with a book in her hand. to be: father's good, and loves me.” The boy raised himself from the sofa, “If your father is so good, and where he had been lying in tears for loves you so well, you must be a very half an hour, and with a touch of ungrateful or a very inconsiderate indignation in his voice, answered, boy. His goodness don't seem to

"He'll be sorry, not angry. Father have helped you much." never gets angry.”

“Hush, will you !” ejaculated the • For a few moments the aunt looked boy, excited to anger by this unkindat the boy half curiously, and let ness of speech. ler eyes fall again upon the book that “Phebe!” It was the boy's motras in her hand. The boy laid him- ther who spoke now, for the first self down on the sofa again, and hid time. In an undertone, she added, himself from sight.

“You are wrong. Richard is suffer"That's father, now!” He started | ing quite enough, and you are doing up, after the lapse of ten minutes, as him harm rather than good.” the sound of a bell reached his ears, Again the bell rang, and again the and went to the room door. He | boy left the sofa, and went to the stood there for a little, and then | sitting-room door. came slowly back, saying with a dis “It's father!” and he went glidappointed air, “ It isn't father. I ing down stairs. wonder what keeps him so late. Oh, “Ah, Richard !” was the kindly I wish he would come!”

greeting, as Mr. Gordon took the "You seem anxious to get deeper hand of the boy; “but what's the into trouble," remarked the aunt, matter, my son? You don't look who had only been in the house for happy." a week, and who was neither very * Won't you come in here?” And amiable nor very sympathising to Richard drew his father into the wards children. The boy's fault had library. Mr. Gordon sat down, still provoked her, and she considered holding Richard's hand. him a fit subject for punishment. I “You are in trouble, my son.

“I believe, Aunt Phebe, that you What has happened ?”. would like to see me whipped," said The eyes of Richard filled with ve boy a little warmly; “but you tears as he looked into his father's won't

| face. He tried to answer, but his hojet ilir 19.51. **1941 in Inte rto My smiled and put his Sant ot

(im Wirt' tur ne riasely around his bay. Mrs. 153 v it Viti in ugnenr*

V r inn hrev upon her sister a look is wat Drast matutia, run wat tan tvumine, but it was inheected. 18! Hi, I Do Whir mut I think Richard was a very s, ka All # "Ale tabros tik waer, men boy." Aurgi so'm aKawarama na waune « We have semtleri aII that, Phebe," posuti copathi ly * Uran

I wis the mid but firm answer of Mr. * my first true muy son * was foron: "and it is one of our rules at 411 4*, AXSA YMCA,

to get into the sunshine as quickly as possible."

Phebe was rebuked, while Richard * W may ball in them, once I looked grateful, and it may be, a

little triumphant; for his aunt had Wray *** Harys te were husky | borne down upon him rather too hard ha babae

for a bor's patience to endure. A lilula, whosle Mr. Gordon cat, con. Into the sunshine as quickly as welling himself, and collecting his possible! Oh, is not that the better d u ced thewights. Then he said, philosophy for our homes? Is it

bekifully. " What is done, Richard, | not true Christian philosophy? It Can't be helped. Put the broken | ig selfishness that grows angry and Inibushway, You have had trouble repels because a fault has been com

kung about it, I can see and re- || mitted. Let us get the offender joof enough for your thoughtless into the sunshine as quickly as possiIuse I shall not add a word to ble, so that true thought and right interest your pain,"

feelings may grow vigorous in its " () father!" And the boy threw warmth. We return anger, not that his arms about his father's neck. anger may act as a wholesome disci+ You are so kind, so good!”

pline, but because we are unwilling Vivo minutes later, and Richard | to forgive. Ah, if we were always entored the sitting-room with his right with ourselves, we would often Tischer Aunt l'hebe looked up for be right with our children. two wbudowod facex, but did not see

"Speak kindly, speak kindly! ye know choin. She was puzzled.

not the power "That was very unfortunate," Of a kind and gentle word, she said, a little while after Mr.

As its tones in a sad and weary hour, Gordon came iu. "was such an

By the troubled heart are heard. exquisito work of art. It is hope

“ Speak kindly, then, kindly: there's noloanly ruined,"

thing lost

By gentle words; to the heart and ear Richard way loaning against his Of the sad lonely, they're dear, how dear father, when his aunt said this. Mr. 1 And they nothing cost.”

MEMORIAL CARDS. Don the reader inquire why we had not rather selected for ou thome the amouncement of births or marriages than the gloomy one of memor'de curls ? Our reply is, Because “it is better to go to the hound of mourning than to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all won, and the living will lay it to heart." Merry may be the peal which runga vut the udings of the natal or the nuptial day, but it is well to consider these must be succeeded by the funeral knell. It is

moreover affecting to observe how in a few years these mementoes accumulate;

"Friend after friend departs,

Who has not lost a friend ?
There is no union here on earth,

But here must have an end.”
Would it not be profitable sometimes to give an hour's meditation to
these sorrowful memorials? We have such before us now.

Here is one announcing the loss of an infant child. A very common event, you say. True ; but not less painful. And it may have been an only child: around the little darling the dearest of the parents' earthly hopes and joys were entwined; but death, with a relentless hand, hath torn them asunder, and scattered them to the winds. The memorial card announces to us the bereavement, but cannot reveal the mental anguish of “the voice which was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they were not." But we need not go back thousands of years for examples of parental bereavement. Some Rachel's eye perusing this may now be wet with tears for the loss of a beloved one; is it so ? then let those tears be wiped away by the Saviour's loving hand, and that bleeding heart be healed by the soothing words of Him, who, gently taking your child from your arms into His own, is still saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Another of these mementoes, with its mournful symbols of the funereal urn and weeping willow, conveys the tidings of the departure of a young Christian, aged twenty-three years, with the motto, “ Though dead, he yet speaketh.” And truly he does. Pale consumption had for several of these last years marked him for its victim, with its accustomed alternations of hopes and fears. Some to cheer him would intimate that he had youth on his side. Alas! how delusive, when this form of mortal ailment makes youth its special prey. The warmer clime, the sea-side breezes, only imparted hopes to be withered. But there came the good Physician to that youthful sufferer, saying, “Son, give me thine heart," while the accompanying Spirit of grace induced & willing surrender; and from that time no desire was cherished for recovery; the better land was in view ; and though Jordan rolled between, its waves were so calm, and they so reflected the beams of the Sun of righteousness, that when the appointed time came, the young pilgrim was ready to pass over and enter into the joy of his Lord.

Before me also I see a memorial of more sombre and deeper fringe than usual: it tells of the sudden death of a beloved wife and mother, leaving a numerous family to mourn the greatest loss that can be sustained on earth. And what Christian reader will not sympathise with that husband's sobs, and those motherless children's cries? Yet the lamp of revelation illumines that pious mother's grave, and the voice of Christianity declares how “ blessed are they who die in the Lord.” Truly the sudden death of those we so dearly cherish, and whose

[ocr errors]
« 上一页继续 »