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had she been smitten. It was at a | made her mother uneasy, that late hour, on a bitter cold evening, | her child should live so; but the that she emerged from the atmo- thought had never crossed her mind, sphere of an over-heated room, and that she might also die thus. She the sudden blast of the night went | had looked forward to a time when through her like the chillness of death. | her daughter should become sobered The work was done in a moment by years, and prepared for the adopthe next morning found her burning | tion of more serious views and purwith fever and delirium. Of course poses. She expected that then, by the physician came and went; but the grace of God, an acceptable time daily, as he felt her pulse, his brow and day of salvation would come. grew troubled, his inquiries and She had not thought of this unexdirections more minute,-and he pected call—this coming of the Son lingered longer at the bedside, and of man while she was not aware. cast anxious glances round the room, Who can say how she now hung over and listened with hurried eagerness her child, as hour after hour passed, to every detail of symptoms, and, and no healing or favourable change when questioned, seemed thoughtful appeared! She thought not now of and abstracted.
the beauty of those eyes that gazed “Doctor," said the father one vacantly on hers,—of the curls that morning, as the physician stood in a fell wildly around the fair face, tossed fixed, despondent attitude, gazing by the restlessness of disease,- of the on his patient, “ do you apprehend loveliness, the graces, the accomplishdanger in the case ?”
ments that had been her pride, her "There are appearances I do not idolatry; she thought of but one thing at all like,” said the physician, with —the soul. Her child was dying ! a heavy sigh, "we must do what we was immortal !-was unprepared! can.”
“Oh, tell me what I can say to “Surely, surely,” said the mother, her!” she said to a Christian friend “ you do not think it possible that who stood by; “I am afraid to say this disease can "and here her anything,-I am afraid not to say voice failed.
anything!” “Unless some change in symptoms * My child, my dearest, do you speedily occurs, I can give but very know that you are very ill ?" she little encouragement," replied the inquired, as she bent over her physician. “I have done all I can daughter. there is no hope now but in God.” The large blue eyes of her daughter
How impossible it seems to the were raised, and she looked at her untried in affliction, that death can mother with a listless languid gaze, touch what they love best! The idea and answered passively, “ Am I?" of losing this idolised daughter had “Would you not like to have Mr. never really crossed Mrs. Seldon's L- come in, and talk and pray mind, and it entered it now with a with you, Isabella ?”. deadening and overwhelming force; "Wait till I am a little better," but, alas for her, that was not all! | said the girl, turning her eyes away She knew, she felt, that if there was vacantly, and putting her hand to any truth in the religion she pro- | her forehead; “ my head is so confessed, her child was unprepared to fused now, I can't think," and as she die. She knew by her own and ofte spoke, a mortal paleness passed like repeated confessions, that she did the shadow of death over her face. not love, and did not mean to And was the whole work of life, obey, the obligations of religion, the whole work for which Christian and that she did prefer the world education was designed, to be begun to her Saviour. It had sometimes and finished in such an hour ?
WISDOM IN OUR TRIALS.
BY THE REV. T. FOSTON. "When ye fall into divers temptations ... if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."-JAMES i. 2, 5.
In the time of severe affliction and “divers temptations” or trials, our first need is that which James, the Lord's brother, puts first; namely, patience to endure them bravely; a strong faith which will keep us from bowing before them in fear and dismay, but will help us to meet them with a calm and holy joy ;-a strong faith by which we may perceive that these sorrows or calamities are not intended to work ill or evil for us, but good, pure and absolute good ;—a strong faith based upon the conviction that they are necessary to discipline and chasten us, to bring us nearer God, and to prepare us for the joys and companionships of the higher world. To invigorate and purify this faith, trial is as necessary as fire for the refining of silver; and as it works in us we shall be advancing towards a complete transformation after the Divine image, while its perfect work will be to make us, through the infinite mercy of God,“ perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
The truth of all this we may admit and admire theoretically ; but if our knowledge were real, vital, true, then the day of adversity would not be so dark and dreary to us as it is sometimes ; we should not hang down our heads so low in temporal distress, but we should continue to rejoice in the Lord; we should not sink into disquietude and despondency of spirit, but should exult in God as our refuge and strength; we should “glory in tribulation," and "count it all joy when we fell into divers trials,"
Now another need which we shall deeply feel at such times will be wisdom to guide us aright in thought and action. Our ignorance will be a great grief to us, and we shall be moved by a strong desire that some Divine light may be thrown upon these mysterious vicissitudes of life. A patient submission may be striven after, but we cannot but be concerned to know what we shall do, what step we must take. The knowledge that God makes" all things work together for good to them who love Him, to the called according to His purpose" will not relieve us from all solicitude about the course we ought to adopt, nor is it intended to do so; but, on the contrary, confidence in God's goodness will effectually destroy all carelessness and indifference, will lead us to solemnly consider our way, to distrust our own understanding, and to pray more earnestly, “Send out Thy light and Thy truth, let them lead
Those of us who have at any time been cast into the furnace of affliction, and who has not ?-can, without any difficulty, perceive the close connection there is between the words now under consideration and the verses which immediately precede. We feel the necessity of an increase of faith, and the want of wisdom also. How is this want to be met? “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to al liberally, and without upbraiding." The truth which underlies thi passage is this, that in the time of divers trials, wisdom is especially required, and then there is pointed out the method by which this need should be met.
I. In the time of divers trials we especially need wisdom. When oui minds are distressed by sorrows, and our spirits are harassed by tempt. ations and doubts, we shall be in great danger of thinking wrongly about our condition and circumstances. We may be ready to ask, What profit have I in serving God? Of what benefit is my religion to me? How am I helped or blessed by trusting in the Lord? We shall be tempted to compare our lot with that of irreligious and godless men. They have apparently less sorrow, less anxiety, more happiness, more peace. All such reflections arise from our shortsightedness and imperfect knowledge, for if we fully comprehended their estate, and "understood their latter end,” we should not “envy the prosperity of the wicked.” We should see the falsity of our reasonings and the folly of our conclusions. A higher wisdom would bring contentment with whatever our Father provides. By its light we should discover multiplied evidences of His love and tenderness toward us. Our murmurings and complaints would be hushed, and we should with joy confess, “He hath done all things well”-better indeed than we could ask or think. If a heavenly light were thrown upon those very things which appear to be most against us, with a grateful surprise we should learn that they were for us—and how much do we need this light!
But closely associated with wrong thinking is wrong action. In this time of divers temptations, the danger of stumbling and falling will be increased. Then we must beware of desperate steps. Men under the pressure of outward circumstances, are often guilty of acts which ordinarily they would never commit. Men who are wont to be calm will frequently be rash then, the careful may become careless, and those who are usually sober in their judgments reckless. Thus we find that when times are hard, and there is a scarcity of employment, there is generally a large increase in the number of criminal offences; not only are the workhouses fuller, the gaols are fuller also. A man will feel a stronger temptation to steal bread when he is famishing and his children are starving, than when his home is well provided for. A tradesman will be more strongly inclined to adopt low tricks of cunning, to cheat, to practise dishonesty, when his business is falling off than when it is prosperous ; and a merchant will be more likely to embark in gambling speculations and ruinous enterprises when he is on the brink of bankruptcy, than when by a just and fair traffic his wealth is being multiplied. We are always in danger of taking false steps, but the danger is increased when difficulties and perplexities hem us in on every side. The hand which may be able to manage the helm when the sea is calm, and only a light and gentle breeze is blowing, and the day is bright and cheerful, may be altogether unequal to guide it when the storm comes sweeping along, darkening the heavens and lashing the ocean into fury
and raising mighty billows which toss the frail bark about like a child's toy, and bewildering cries of agony and despair come from the affrighted voyagers. The officer who may be able to drill troops in the time of peace, may be unfit to marshal the forces on the day of battle ; his courage may fail and his voice falter when he hears the rattling sound of the first few rounds that are fired, and so he may lose the victory which a valiant hero might have achieved. And shall we, whose feeble judgments have been many times wrong in the quieter seasons of life, and who have gone astray oftentimes when the way has been made plain before our face, trust in ourselves in the stormy periods and fiercest conflicts of life? If our wisdom has failed more or less every day to prevent us wandering, shall we not especially require a higher guidance in the graver complications and perplexities we have continually to encounter? It is not in us to direct our steps. Another must establish our goings, or our footsteps will slip, and we shall fall irrecoverably except by the grace of God.
Now if we are unable to think rightly in our times of trial, and the danger of acting wrongly is so much increased, we must without the ministration of Divine help be altogether unequal to using these trials profitably. For the sanctification of them we need heavenly wisdom. Because we may endure a trial it does not follow that we are the better for it. Trials may be the “savour of death unto death,” and are 80 perhaps as frequently as they are the “savour of life unto life.” As riches, or learning, or position may be either blessings or curses to a man—and this according to the use made of them, so with our trials. We may be greatly tried, and be no holier, no purer, no more spiritually-minded. Not all who have suffered “great tribulation" are before the throne of God. More than this is necessary for a participation in the blessings God has prepared for those who love Him. All these “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." It is a question whether there is any more difficult lesson in our Christian life than to know how to use our trials. We have more than simply to bend to them as the branch may to the wind. Endurance is not the only thing—norindeed the chief thing, forwe may endure them, and our strength be spent for nought. The important, the all-important point is, to know how to be improved by them, how to be sanctified by them, how the holy purposes of our Father who is in heaven, who does not afflict willingly, may be fulfilled by them. But, “ who is sufficient for these things ?” What do we understand about them? What is our wisdom here? Is it more than a feeble taper which instead of elearing away the darkness, like God's sun when it rises in the heavens, only serves to make it more visible and impenetrable? We must seek more light. An increase of wisdom is a necessity for our well being. “We are but of yesterday, and know nothing.” The light that is in us seems to be only darkness, and how great is this darkness ! How shall this deep and urgent and daily need of ours be met-this need, the nature of which is made more clear to us in the time of trial ? " If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”
II. This our felt need of wisdom should lead us to make suppli. cation before God the source of wisdom. We say felt need ; if any of you LACK wisdom, let him ask of God. This conscious sense of need is necessary for any earnest and true prayer. Doubtless most of us have at times asked God for things we have not really wanted, we have done it thoughtlessly. If God were to answer some of our prayers how surprised we should be. We have more than occa sionally used the mighty petitions and the great and noble confessions of such men as Moses, David, Isaiah, and Paul, but have we been more than parrot-like repeating them? What have we understood of their exceeding breadth and fulness? What have we experienced of their surpassing richness ? Can we in truth say, “ As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God ? ” or, “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning, 1 say more than they that watch for the morning”? The fervency and the largeness of our petitions in reality depend upon our sense of need Only they who know they lack wisdom will seek it devoutly; and it all our prayers were the expressions of strong and passionate desires and came from waiting hearts confessing want, who could estimate the blessings which would be showered upon us ? But oh, there is so much mere formal asking, reading of prayers, saying of prayers, and making of prayers, and comparatively perhaps little true prayer after all; at least, there is little received in comparison with God's great promises, and many do go empty away.
For our encouragement to ask, God is emphatically set forth as the “God who giveth.” He is the Giving God, always giving and delighting to give. He who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person, says, “ It is more blessed to give than to receive." He gives, “ His tender mercies are over all His works.” He gives, “He satisfies the needs of every living thing." He gives to the flower its loveliness and fragrancy. He feeds the fowls of the air, though they toil not, nor reap, nor gather into barns. His compassions fail not toward us. He gives us day by day our daily bread. Indeed, what have we that is not His gift? To Him we are indebted for life, health, light, food, intellectual powers, and the affections of our hearts. Pause for a moment, and reflect on what God is giving this day through. out the universe He has formed. Could we see how much He is bestowing upon this world and all other worlds, how much He is granting to the sons of men, how much He is conferring on the redeemed in glory, what favours He is showing to the angelic hosts, verily we should confess before Him, “Thou art the God that giveth." And if there could pass before our minds a vision of all He has given from the beginning until now, of all the benefits He has freely dispensed since the creation of the heavens and the earth, of all His compassions and tender mercies, we could never think or speak of the Most High except emphatically as “the giving God," merciful and gracious beyond expression. And there is one gift which above all others reveals to us His delight in blessing the needy, and this is thus set forth, “God so