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'A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU.'
It was a fine New Year's morning when this pleasant greeting took place. In honour of the occasion, Bob had put on his bonnet, variegated with cairngorm and feathers. Omitting his great coat, as it was not very cold, he sallied forth in great glee, his Bible under his arm. Putting a hymn book into the left pocket of his jacket, and having nothing extra on but the scarf round his neck, Johnnie sauntered away in good time, hoping to meet Bob. And meet they did, and exchanged hearty greetings, and looked like friends, as they really were. Just as they stood before the entrance to the church, holding each other by the hand, and looking into each other's faces, the Strathvale minister was about to cross over from the manse, to make the last arrangements for the morning service. His quick eye saw the two boys; the picture photographed itself in his mind, and he said to himself, An artist might make something of this, it may even help me to some thoughts for my address to-day.' After Bob and Johnnie, who were the first arrivals, the rest of the village children came trooping up the hill in twos and threes. It was a new thing, this New Year Service for children, and as the distribution of rewards for good attendance was to be given at the dismissal, there was a great muster. Bye and bye the centre area of the church was filled with bright young faces. When the New Year hymn was being read by the minister, all were very attentive; but when he came to the last stanza,—
'Soon life's lamp, that now burns brightly, Flicker shall, and fade away,'
his voice quivered with emotion, and every
heart in the little assembly was hushed and solemnised. When the hymn had been sung, prayer was offered in very few and simple words. At the close of the prayer, old Rabbie Young whispered across his pew to another village patriarch, ‘A fine bairn's prayer;' and the patriarch, who was wiping his eyes at the moment, said, Grand, Rabbie, grand! what's guid for the young is guid for the auld.'
Opening the Bible, the minister read, TO THE TWELVE TRIBES THAT ARE SCATTERED ABROAD GREETING. My text is that one word, "greeting." His sermon began as follows: Crossing over to the church this morning, I saw two boys shaking hands with each other. I have no doubt they were wishing each other a happy New Year. I trust they were doing it not merely with their hands and lips, but with their hearts also. This was their New Year greeting. They were wishing each other well. Wishing each other well is the meaning of the word in the text.'
At the close of the first paragraph, Bob's eye caught Johnnie's, and a twinkle of light, brighter than any that the cairngorm flashed out in the morning sun, irradiated the two faces. Turning once
more to the minister, they settled themselves to listen attentively.
'One of the greetings in the New Testament is, "Peace be with you." This is the Salaam in the east at the present day. When an Arab meets another, he does not say, "Good day to you;" he says, "Peace be to you." This was the greeting of Jesus to His disciples. You remember that after His resurrection, when He appeared to them, He said, "Peace be unto you." This is His greeting to you, my children. Like Himself, His greeting is the same yesterday, to-day, and for He does not merely wish the peace, He bestows the peace as well. Not as the world gives does He give. The world can only wish it to you. Jesus can give it."
At the close of the second paragraph, there was a little disturbance in a back seat. After the minister had acted the Salaam, to give the children a better idea
'A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU.'
of it, little Tom Finn kept bringing his hand up to his brow, majestically waving his hand, and then making a low bow. The elder sister, however, got her eye on Tom, and putting her arm round him, prevented him salaaming any more.
'My greeting to you this morning is,' continued the minister, a good New Year to you all. I don't say a happy New Year, but I say a good New Year. There is something better than happiness, it is goodness. And if you strive for the goodness first, the happiness will come of itself. So I wish you all a good New Year; a year of good thoughts in your heart about God, about the Saviour, about your souls; a year of good desires that you may wish to be good, and grow like Christ; a year of good work in the school, that you may learn much of what is contained in the Bible, and have it stored in your memories and in your hearts; a year of good conduct in the family and in society, so that your parents shall be pleased with you, and your friends have no cause to be ashamed of you; a year in which you may receive much good, health and food, clothes and friends; a year in which you shall get the chief good. And what is the chief good? It is to have an interest in Christ, to know Him as your own and only Saviour, to trust Him, to love Him, to serve Him.'
Jimmy Green thought the minister must be referring to him in the part about good conduct. For his uncle had told him he was a disgrace to them all, for having broken a pane of glass in the school window. Feeling his cheeks get a little warm, he drew his hand over his face.
'There are greetings and there are partings,' continued the minister. 'Goodbye is one. Good-bye means, God be with you. Think of that when you say, Good-bye. It is a prayer for your friend; and the prayer is that God may be with him. Good-bye I say to you, my children of Strathvale; you are going away into this New Year, may God be with you. Some of you are going away into the city, God be with you, to keep. you from temptation. One of you is going to sea;
God be with him, to keep him from danger. Some of you may this year be appointed to die, God be with you to cheer you, and to take you to Himself.'
Here the minister looked over his little flock. And as he said, "The young may die,' he turned to where the two village patriarchs were sitting, and added, "but the old must.' But if aged Simeon has his arms round the Saviour, he can say, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. God be with the young, God be with the old. To one and all, good-bye.
Here the two old men were much affected. They bowed their heads on the book board. In their hearts they were trying to say, 'Lord, now let Thy servants depart in peace. If it is to be this year, let it be in peace.'
'There's another parting word-Farewell. The two boys at the church gate were shaking each other by the hand. A time will come when they are shaking each other by the hand for the last time. Then it will be farewell. Fare ye well. May you all fare well. May you fare well for this world, and be good and prosperous. May you fare well for the next world, and have a good hope through Christ. May you fare well in every journey in time, whether by land or by water. And in the last journey, in the valley and shadow of death, may you still fare well.
"Au revoir." That is a French parting word, and it means to meet again. We are about to part to-day, but it is "au revoir," we are to meet again. We hope often to meet together during this new year.
But some were with us last New Year's day who are not here to-day. Little Willie Stewart is not here, and Nellie Hart is not here. They are gone; we shall see them no more on earth. it is "au revoir;" we shall meet again. Love the Saviour Nellie loved. Say
"Just as I am, without one plea,"
as Willie said it, that is, from the heart; and then, beyond all separations, it will be "au revoir," to meet again.'
There were two families in mourning.
HOME LESSONS ON THE OLD PATHS.
IS any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God? No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.
Mamma, what is the meaning of No mere man? asked Charley, when he had read these words.
Read the answer, leaving out the word mere, (which means such and nothing more), and perhaps you will understand it better.'
Charley read, No man since the fall, &c., adding, That is quite plain, mamma; but why is it No mere man in the catechism?'
Because there is one person who lived and died in this world without ever breaking any of the commandments either in thought, in word, or in deed.'
'That was Jesus,' said little Alice. "Yes; the man Christ Jesus kept all God's commandments perfectly. He alone did no sin. But is He a mere man? Charley.'
mere man means.
6 Jesus is God. I know now what No It is no one but Jesus.' "That is exactly what it means. Jesus is man, but not a mere man. He is something more. He is both God and man in one person. If we wish to know what it is to keep the commandments perfectly, we must study the life of Jesus and listen to His words. Read John viii. 29.'
"And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.”’
"You know the first spoken words of Jesus which are written in the Bible?'
That was when His parents found Him in the temple with the doctors.'
I have found the place, mamma,' said Charley. 666 And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business." Luke ii. 49.
Long before Jesus was born at Bethlehem, it was written of Him in the Psalms, "I delight to do Thy will: yea, Thy law is
within My heart." Jesus spent all His life in doing His Father's will. You remember what He said to His disciples when He was by the well at Sychar, and they asked Him to eat?'
He said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of," Charley replied.
'And,' Nelly added, when they wondered if any one had brought Him meat, Jesus said, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work."
' And when His work was nearly finished, and in His agony He prayed, "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me," what did He add?'
He added, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
Jesus was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; and His was sinless obedience, such as no mere man since the fall ever rendered. Alice knows what the fall means.'
'When Eve took the fruit in the garden, and gave it to Adam and he ate it too, that was the fall,' said little Alice.
'Our first parents were created in the image of God, holy like Jesus. Before the fall they were able to keep the commandments perfectly; but by their disobedience they, and all their descendants, lost the image of God, and became unable to keep His holy law. Instead of keeping the commandments perfectly, what do we all
We daily break them in thought, word, and deed.'
'But, mamma, good people keep God's commandments. It is the wicked people who break them every day,' said Charley.
'The Lord's people love His commandments, and keep them carefully. They do not despise or neglect them like the wicked; but they cannot keep them perfectly, and are conscious in their hearts that they daily break them in thought, word, and deed. You remember what David, the man after God's own heart, said of the number of his transgressions. Psa. xl. 12.'
"For innumerable evils have compassed me about; mine iniquities have taken hold
set God's holy law before his eyes, and compared himself with it, he exclaimed, "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" Three ways of breaking God's commandment are mentioned in the answer. Name them, Charley.'
'It says in thought, word, and deed.' 'But how can we break God's commandments in thought?'
'When we were learning the commandments, you told us that we only obeyed them when we did what they commanded from the heart; that to wish to do what they forbad was to break them.'
Yes; the law of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. If we would keep God's commandments we must watch our thoughts as well as our words and actions. Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, and these produce evil words and evil deeds. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
'But, mamma, the new heart the Holy Spirit gives is not wicked, surely?' said little Alice.
'No, dear; whatever comes from God is good, only good; but the new heart, or the new life, is put within us, beside the old sinful heart, which remains with us as long as we are in this world. This is what makes the Christian's life a constant warfare. His work is to resist the old sinful nature, and to nourish and strengthen the new life.'
'Surely we have not got two hearts, mamma?'
'Not two hearts, but two principles within us. Every one of us has a desperately wicked nature, and we need the grace of God to subdue the sin that dwells there, and make us like Jesus.
A man who had been converted from heathenism by the preaching of a missionary was, after a time, greatly distressed by his
CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
own evil heart. He found that sinful thoughts would come into his mind, notwithstanding all his efforts to keep them away, and he knew not what to do. day, when conversing with the missionary, he said to him, "I feel that I have got two hearts; one heart loves God and loves His commandments, but the other heart loves the old wicked ways, and is always trying to make me do what is bad."
Is not this very like Paul's experience in Rom. vii. 22-25?'
SABBATH EVENING FIRESIDE BIBLE CLASS CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
JAN. 2.-Genesis iii. 15.
Who is the seed of the woman? Gal. iv. 4.
special conflict between Christ and Satan? Mat. iv. 1. John xiv. 30. Col. ii. 14, 15.
Who was conqueror in the conflict? Acts ii. 24. Psa. lxviii. 18.
Was the conflict accompanied with pain to the victor? Mat. xxvi. 38. John xix. 28. Did the victor recover from the wound received
in the conflict? John xx. 20. Rev. i. 18. Is the wound inflicted on Satan's power a death wound? Heb. ii. 14. 1 John iii. 8. Rev. xx. 10.
How does Christ triumph over Satan in his people? Rom. xvi. 10. Eph. vi. 11. 1 Pet. v. 8, 9.
JAN. 9.-Genesis ix. 25, 26; xii. 1.3. With which of Noah's sons is the promised blessing connected? Gen. ix. 26.
To what branch of the Semitic race was the Deliverer next promised? Gen. xii. 3. Where does the Saviour confirm this? John iv. 22.
How is the blessing brought about? Gal. iii. 13. Acts iii. 26.
Where is the seed of the woman called the seed of Abraham? Heb. ii. 16.
Is the blessing in Abraham's seed confined to the Jews? Psa. lxxii. 17. Gal. iii. 8, 9. Eph. iii. 6.
What is the parting command of Christ? Mark xvi. 15.
Should we help in sending the Gospel to those who do not know it? Acts x. 13-15.
JAN. 16.-Genesis xlix. 8.10. With which of Jacob's sons is the Promised Deliverer connected? Gen. xlix. 10. Point out the link in the chain of Christ's descent from Judah? Luke iii. 33, 31. What is He called in the book of Revelation? Rev. v. 5.
Are there any other references? Heb. vii. 14. Who was king of the Jews when Jesus was born? Mat. ii. 1.
What effect had the tidings of Christ's death on Herod? Mat. ii. 3.
Did he need to tremble if he had a proper right to the throne? [He was an Idumean. The sceptre had departed.] What does Shiloh mean?
Is Christ the true Peaceful One? Luke ii. 14. John xiv. 27; xx. 19-21. Col. 1. 20.
To whom shall all nations be gathered? Mat. xxviii. 19; xxv. 31, 32. Rev. vii. 9.
JAN. 23.-Numbers xxiv. 15.19.
What is the Star associated with in this Messianic prophesy? Num. xxiv. 17.
To whom did the Star of which Balaam prophesied appear? Mat. ii. 2.
What promise is made to all who seek Christ in the Word? 2 Pet. i. 19.
Where does the Saviour appropriate to Himself this figure? Rev. xxii. 16.
In what other places of Scripture is the Sceptre connected with Christ? Heb. i. 8.
To whom are royal power and dignity ascribed? Luke i. 32, 33. John xii. 12, 13. Rev. xix. 16. What enemies shall Christ subdue? 1 Cor. xv. 24-26.
What effect should this have upon us? Psa. ii. 12.
JAN. 30.-Deuteronomy xviii. 15.18. With whom is the promised Deliverer_connected by way of resemblance? Deut. xviii. 15-18.
Where is this passage quoted in the New Testament as fulfilled in Christ? Acts iii. 22-26; vii. 37.
What other passages refer back to it? John i. 45; v. 45-47; vi. 14. Luke xxiv. 44.
In what manner did God make His will known to Moses? Exod. xxxiii. 11.
Is Christ a prophet like Moses, in the directness with which He spake? John i. 18; iii. 31, 32; viii. 26; xv. 15.
In what respect is Christ superior to Moses ? Heb. iii, 5, 6.
Where are Moses and Christ named together
for the last time in Scripture? Rev. xv. 3. What lesson should we draw from Christ's excellence as a prophet? John vi. 68.
A. G. F.