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meet him-("Oh the haste that mercy makes; the sinner makes no half that speed !'')—and clasps him with a glad embrace.“ Bring fort the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand and shoe on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us ea and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was los and is found.” Now in all this, Jesus lets us see how God receives th returning sinner. He does not tell in the parable of the sacrifice offered for sin, nor of the Gospel that calls the sinner to return, nor o the Holy Spirit who inclines him to return; simply exhibits God' receiving love. When a sinful man, moved by the blessed Spirit, an under a true sense of his sin and apprehension of the mercy of Go in Christ, arises and goes to the heavenly Father, it is ever thus : h is not only received, but welcomed, with the love and gladness of th Heart of God. The guilty past is forgiven; his sin is removed as fa as the east is from the west; he is accepted in the Beloved, and mad the righteousness of God in Him; is made an heir of God and a join heir with Christ.
According to another class of representations, the mercy of th Father, as seen in Jesus, is mercy with a listening ear. When the poo and the needy cried to Jesus, He heard them. If He delayed awhil it was that He might prepare their hearts, and give a larger blessing A heathen woman once came to Him for healing to her daughte For a time Jesus is silent to her; seems as if He heard her not answers her not a word. The disciples at length beseech Him to gran her request and send her away; "for she crieth after us.” Jesus tell them, “ I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then comes the woman and worships Him, saying, “Lord, help me. He answers, “It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast itt the dogs.” “Truth, Lord,” she replies, “yet the dogs eat of th crumbs which fall from their masters' table." And Jesus exclaims “O woman, great is thy faith ; be it unto thee even as thou wilt. Indeed, He has been hearing her from the first, though He seemed to be deaf; and now He gives her the whole desire of her heart. Yes, He heard and answered even unspoken prayers. When Martha met Him near her brother's grave, and said to Him, "Lord, if Thou hads been here my brother had not died ; but I know that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee,” He knew what lay deer in her heart, and granted the request which her lips dared not frame into speech: “ Thy brother," He said, “ shall rise again.” In all this Jesus reveals the mercy of the Father: it is mercy with a listening ear. I say listening rather than merely open ; for His ear is bowed dowr to hear-ready to catch the first faint whisper of desire. I tried, wher speaking of God as the Ever-near and the All-knowing, and again when speaking of His power, to show what encouragement we have to pray to Him; and now I return to the subject. It is a marvellous privilege for creatures and sinners to be allowed “ to speak to God," to draw His attention specially to our desires, to repeat and urge them, to rest in the hope of an answer. Jesus shows that the Divine Mercy
gives this privilege. He does not indeed seek to make the subject plain to our comprehension. Perhaps it cannot be made plain to us. Perhaps to human comprehension the questions can never be answered, Is not God unchangeable; and where then is room for prayer? Is not God infinitely wise and righteous; and ought He then to make a difference at the entreaty of man? Is it not presumption to ask the Supreme Governor to alter His course of procedure for us? Are not cause and effect indissolubly chained together; and how can the breath of human lips sever them? To natural reason, these and like inquiries present insurmountable difficulty. The difficulty does not indeed lie where it has often been placed. The difficulty is not how God can answer prayer without setting aside the laws of nature. He can use the laws of nature, without loosening the ties that bind cause and effect together. Man can do so; and why not God? Now Jesus did not seek to clear away the difficulties which surround the subject; but, as a matter of fact, he answered prayer, and taught us to think of the Divine mercy as mercy with a listening ear.
I think one cannot study the record without coming to the conclusion that no true prayers are left unnoticed or unanswered. When a child asks something of his father, which would not be good to give, the father answers, No, my dear child; if I were to do what you ask, it would hurt you; and I love you too well for that. But No is an answer as well as Yes. And No in the right place is as kind and loving an answer 28 Yes ; and probably there are few parents but would have shown more love to their children by saying No oftener than they have done. Eren so with God. He sometimes answers our prayers by saying No; and His No to His child is as loving a word as His Yes, and as real an answer. The thing of which Jesus assures us is, that God really does answer true prayer.
Once more: the Divine mercy, revealed in Jesus, is mercy with an arm Kready to save. How ready, is shown in the story of the Pharisee and the publican. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a representative of the righteousness of the nation, the other of its unrighteousness ; "a Brahmin and Pariah.” The righteous man stood and prayed thus “ with himself” (more conscious, it would seem, of his own presence than of God's): “God, I thank Thee I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican : I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” I make no remark about this harangue, except that it wants everything that prayer should have. But the poor publican stands afar off, feeling that his sin has removed him and set him at a distance. In deepest shame, he will not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven. He cannot look God in the face.“ O my God,” his attitude says, “I am ashamed and blush to lift up mine eyes to Thee, My God. Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I cannot look up.” He smites upon his breast,* like a man in inward pain, as much as to say, “ My soul is full of troubles, and my life draweth nigh to the grave.” And he cries
* The right place, Ubi dolor, ibi manus, as Bengel says.
out, “ God be merciful to me the sinner!” God, show me mercy through the blood of the Sacrifice. “I tell you,” the Lord Jesus says “this man went down to his house justified.” The mercy came at once God did not say to him, There must be some delay : you must wait till you learn somewhat more of the terrors of the law, and the misery of a soul estranged from God; and after that you may obtain absolution. Not so. But one look of trust at the slain Sacrifice, one short, sharp, eager cry for mercy—and he goes down to his house “justified.” The Pharisee went back as he came; for God cannot deal with the proud; the rich He sends empty away ;-the poor publican gets all he needed. Thus the mercy whose attitude Jesus reveals, is mercy with an arm ready to save.
And that arm 'is the arm of Omnipotence. There are none whom “ the clasps of hell” have so “firmly grasped ” but He is able to deliver them. He never failed any that looked to Him. He never put a case past Him as hopeless. He is mighty, yea, almighty, to save.
In one of the storms which swept our coasts a few winters ago, a ship was wrecked little more than a stone's cast from safety. A great crowd of people gathered to the place, and lined the shore, as twilight darkened into night. They could hear-or fancied they heard—the cries of the sailors and others on board, mingling with the sounds of the tempest. In the crowd was a young boy, some ten or twelve years of age. He lingered till terror drove him home. When he lay down that night, he could not sleep for many hours. At length he sank into that strange condition, between sleep and waking, in which one cannot distinguish the real from the imaginary; and thought that he was out on the ocean in a little boat. He felt it struck and tossed by the waves, and expected every moment to be engulfed. Just when he thought himself ready to perish, he saw, bending over him, a shadowy face, with a look of calmness and strength and unutterable love, and it seemed by-and-by as if shadowy arms were stretched out and embraced him; and he sank into a deep, sweet slumber that lasted till morning. Ah, it is no dream for one who trusts in God! The tempest rages ; but with the eye of faith I see the face of God, and around me are the everlasting arms.
OVERCOMING EVIL WITH GOOD. WILLIAM SAVERY, an eminent mi. , advertisement appeared in the counnister among the Quakers, was a try newspaper. tanner by trade. One night a quan “Whosoever stole a quantity of tity of hides were stolen from his hides on the fifth of this month, is tannery, and he had reason to believe hereby informed that the owner has that the thief was a quarrelsome, a sincere wish to be his friend. If drunken neighbour, called John poverty tempted him to this false Smith. Next week the following step, the owner will keep the whole
transaction secret, and will gladly | to go down hill, everybody gives me put him in the way of obtaining a kick. You are the first man that money by means more likely to bring has ever offered me a helping hand. him peace of mind.”
My wife is sickly, and my children This singular advertisement at | starving. You have sent them tracted considerable attention; but many a meal. God bless you! but the culprit alone knew who had yet I stole the hides. But I tell made the kind offer. When he read you the truth when I say it is the it, his heart melted within him, and first time I was ever a thief.” he was filled with sorrow for what "Let it be the last, my friend," he had done. A few nights after replied William Savery. “ The wards, as the tanner's family were secret lies between ourselves. Thou about retiring to rest, they heard a art still young, and it is in thy timid knock, and when the door was power to make up for lost time. open, there stood John Smith, with Promise me that thou wilt not drink a load of hides on his shoulders. any intoxicating liquor for a year, Without looking up, he said: “I and I will employ thee to-morrow have brought these back, Mr. Savery; on good wages. Doubtless thou where shail I put them pa
wilt find it hard to abstain at "Wait till I can get a lantern, and first; but keep up a brave heart for I will go to the barn with thee,” he the sake of thy wife and children, replied; "then perhaps thou wilt and it will soon become easy. When Come in, and tell me how this hap thou hast need of coffee, tell Mary, pened. We will see what can be and she will give it thee." done for thee.”
The poor fellow tried to eat and 1. As soon as they were gone out, drink, but the food seemed to choke his wife prepared some hot coffee, him. After vainly trying to compose and placed pies and meat on the his feelings, he bowed his head on table. When they returned from the table, and wept like a child. the barn, she said, “Neighbour After a while he ate and drank, and Smith, I thought some hot supper his host parted with him for the would be good for thee.”
night with the friendly words, " Try He turned his back towards her to do well, John, and thou wilt aland did not speak. After leaning a. ways find a friend in me.” John gainst the fireplace in silence a few entered into his employ the next moments, he said in a choked voice, day, and remained with him many "It is the first time I ever stole any. years, a sober, honest, and steady thing, and I have felt very bad about 1 man. The secret of the theft was
I am sure I didn't once think kept between them; but after John's that I should ever come to what I death, William Savery sometimes am. But I took to drinking, and told the story, to prove that evil then to quarrelling. Since I began | might be overcome with good.
"WE SPEND OUR YEARS AS A TALE THAT IS TOLD.”
A MEDITATION FOR THE END OF THE YEAR. Who that goes into the garden to-day, would ever fancy that summer had been there ? In midsummer, what covering of the earth, what abundance of leaves, what fragrance of blossoms, what tangled masses of pendulous vines! All is growth, luxuriance, ever-sprouting vari.
eties—the passing away of short-lived things covered by the fres growth of new kinds !
A sound comes from the north! It is the voice of winter! In on night his nimble legions come, and the sickling frost cuts down sum mer to the ground. In a few weeks decay is over; freezing succeed frost, and summer is wiped away, with all its colours, its sights, it sounds; and sad winds mourn over the playgrounds of flowers.
When, in winter, we remember the summer, its glories seem like dream; it is no longer a fact, but a thing imagined. But when hig winds walk abroad in the winter, and drive all men from the field and the house is populous, the family is gathered, and the nigh having grown long by robbing the day at both ends, morning an evening, of many hours, the household cheer themselves with industi and study. And at evening, all gather to their various tasks: ti father to his books, the mother to her children's treasures, the eld children to their school tasks, while the rosy child, with curled pat climbs the nurse's knee, and she drones to him the long story, a hu dred times old, and yet falling fresh as new upon the story-greedy eat of childhood. He laughs, he weeps; he sighs, he shudders; he glow and expands, or shrinks and cowers, till the tale is done ; then, sittin for a while upon the stool by the mother's foot, the child grows al stracted, gazing into the pictured embers, seeing all manner of fantast figures and changing forms upon the opening and shutting face coals and the plastic ashes, till the eye sinks and the head nods, an the drooping little sleeper is borne off safe to bed.
In the morning, he wakes and hungers. The night is forgotten. vague remembrance rests with him of the sweet excitement of th night. But the day clears off these fancies ; they grow more and mor dim; they lie in the mind as films of spider-web float with long threa glistening in the summer air.
And thus, saith the Psalmist, we spend our days “as a tale that told.” Years, with all their vast variety of incident, are remembere vaguely—they are thin and dreamy! The present glows and ever burns with intensity. But it is quenched when a few days are past Days come in with form and sound and motion, like the coming in o crested waves. Like them, they break upon the shore of the present they cover it with a million evanescent gems; they dissolve and for out in undertow, and are lost again in the black depths ; while new days, like new waves, foam, sparkle, and break, as did they!
One by one come to us days and years. Coming, they have indi viduality. But receding from us, they lose all separateness, and th past is one undistinguishable whole.
Who can analyse and separate the years of his childhood ? Fron birth till one is four or five, the unripe brain receives few impression that last. It is all blank. As in a printed book, at either end are bound up many blank leaves, without print or writing on them ; so is human life, at either end, begun and ended with blank years, preserving no record, leaving no mark.