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Because so serious, it demands the more earnest thoughtfulness, and should by no means be put off. It is well to have a lowly opinion of ourselves; but worthy, in the sense of merit, we never can be; and, in the sense of fitness, our worthiness consists in a true feeling of our sinfulness, and a humble reliance on Christ alone for salvation.
4. Probably I might have joined myself to a Christian church long ago, had I not seen so much inconsistency in professors of religion.
Very likely; but their profession was not the cause of their inconsistency. The faults of professors are often unreasonably magnified. All have their failings, but all are not therefore hypocrites. Have you not known some who have adorned their profession? In consistency in others excuses not your inconsistency, if you wish to be deemed a Christian while living in the habitual neglect of an acknowledged duty.
5. Were I a church member, so much more would be looked for in me, duties that I am not equal to; and I fear lest I should bring discredit upon religion, by any misconduct or non-fulfilment of duty, after having made such a profession.
This fear is salutary, so far as it renders us watchful and prayerful; but it is injurious if it keeps us from our duty. "Without me," Christ says, "ye can do nothing." John
xv. 5. To every believer, He also says, "My grace is sufficient for thee." 2 Cor. xii. 9. Grace for the faithful discharge of all Christian duties is to be found in the diligent use of all the appointed means of grace. The more weak we are, or the more exposed to temptation, the more do we need the help thus provided. Nor must we forget that we are equally responsible for our moral conduct, whether we make this public profession or not.
6. But I see around me many whom I regard as true Christians,-some older than I am, and more advanced in knowledge, -who yet are not members of the church; and I do not like to put myself before them.
This is, perhaps, the best excuse that has been offered; but it is not sufficient. We are accountable, not for the conduct of others, but for our own. If others are backward to fulfil their duty, let us do ours, and this may stimulate them. If we keep back, we may, in like manner, hinder those who are younger or less advanced than ourselves.
Reader, are you a Christian? Have you "obtained mercy?" Are you now "looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life?" Jude xxi. Then you lie under a three-fold obligation to take this important step with as little delay as possible.
1. You owe it to your blessed and holy Redeemer. He died for you, and has left it as His dying injunction upon all who would be acknowledged as His disciples-"Take this bread, and eat it: take this wine, and drink ye all of it (Matt. xxvi. 26, 27), as an open avowal of your love to me, and to one another, and in commemoration of my sufferings and death for your salvation." And shall any try to excuse themselves from yielding obedience to such a command?
2. You owe it to the church of Christ. Your fellow-Christians are ready to receive you with a hearty welcome. Continuing to stand without, you discourage and weaken them, and by your example hinder others from joining them. Go forward, and fill up your proper place in
the church; and although it be ever so humble a part that you are able to take therein, you will contribute materially to the strength and joy of the whole body.
3. You owe it to your own soul. On joining a Christian church, you may expect to share more fully in the sympathy, and prayers, and affectionate regard of all the Lord's people, and especially of the society to which you attach yourself. Your decision itself will be a means of strengthening you in pursuing a right course; for you will be able, in reply to every temptation to that which is unbecoming a Christian, to say, "I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot go back." Judges xi. 35. In the Lord's Supper, we have communion with our Lord and with His people, which greatly tends to our establishment in faith, and love, and every grace of the Holy Spirit. And shall we deprive our souls of these advantages?
It is a painful fact, that many persons, generally esteemed to be Christians, and not doubting the Divine authority of this institution, live from year to year in the open neglect of it. Besides the common excuses that have been enumerated, a vague idea seems to exist in the minds of many, that they have not yet attained the needful preparation for so solemn an act. Let such reflect-they ought to be prepared for it, if they are not; and the means are within their reach. To such persons, Matthew Henry very justly and forcibly says, "Is any more required to fit you for this sacrament than is necessary to fit you for heaven? and dare you live a day in that condition in which, if you die, you will be rejected as unmeet for heaven?"
Reader, come at once to a right decision. Declare yourself on the Lord's side. Be a Christian altogether. Throw yourself, heart and soul, with all your talents and all your influence, into the great work to which, as a servant of Christ, you are called; that so you may honour Him in this world, and reign with Him in the world to come.
ALLIGATORS' NESTS. "THESE nests," says Lyell, the geologist, "resemble haycocks. They are four feet high, and five feet in diameter at their basis, being constructed with grass and herbage. First, they deposit their eggs on a floor of mortar, and, having covered this with a stratum of mud and herbage, eight inches thick, lay another set of eggs upon that, and so on to the top, there being commonly from 100 to 200 eggs in a nest. With their tails they then beat down round the nest the dense grass and weeds five feet high, to prevent the approach of unseen enemies. The female watches her eggs till they are hatched by the heat of the sun, and then takes the brood under her own care, defending them, and providing for their subsistence. Dr. Lutzemberg, of New Orleans, told me that he once packed up one of those nests with the eggs in a box, for the Museum of St. Petersburgh, but was recommended, before he closed it, to see that there was no danger of the eggs being hatched on the voyage. On opening one, a young alligator walked out, and was soon followed by the rest, about a hundred, which he fed in his house, where they went up and down stairs, whining and barking, like young puppies."
A TOUCHING HISTORY. WHAT Would I not give if it were possible to take back one hour-one single hour, of my childhood, over whose memory many bitter tears have flowed, and many vain regrets been wasted.
It was years and years ago, yet the scene is fresh before me. We were out under the fragrant blossoming trees. Hattie, her brother Frank, and I-the happiest trio of playmates to be found anywhere.
We little girls had our dolls of course, and so we played visit back and forth, from one apple-tree_to another. And Frank was a dealer in china-ware, principally cups and saucers, under the old oak in the lane, and we bought unheard-of
quantities, at the most extravagant prices. But Frank soon tired, as boys always do, of such quiet amusement, and presently began to make himself merry with our grave sayings, and mock dignity, and finally dared to pronounce "all a sham." It was only in the mischievous overflow of his childish glee, and a sportive answer and a merry laugh would have set all right again.
But I was quick-tempered, and a very hot flush came to my face, and an angry retort to my lips. "Now, Frank Hale!" I said, "you've spoiled all our fun, and I'll never speak to you again as long as I live!"
Alas! for that rash word was kept. But Frank did not mind it! He only broke the blossoms off a low spray, and began to snow-ball us, as he said.
Oh how plainly I see him still! The bright slant sunbeams lit up his fair brow and golden hair, and his blue eyes were brimming with frolic. But the little soft, white missiles roused a wicked and revengeful spirit in my heart, and catching up a stone, I threw it full at Frankie! It struck his forehead, and putting up his hand, his lips quivering with pain, he only looked at me reproachfully, and turned slowly homeward.
Oh! what a guilty, guilty heart was mine. How I longed to run after him, and ask him to come back again and forgive me, but I was too proud. And so I only watched him silently, until he passed out of sight with his hand still pressed to his forehead, and then I went back again to my play. But the charm was broken. Our sweet, shady playground was no longer pleasant, for the happy heart that had enjoyed it so fully, was heavy with shame and
NO SECURITY BUT IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. - Security is nowhere; neither in heaven nor in paradise, much less in the world. In heaven, the angels fell from the Divine pre
sorrow, and the hour seemed long, before Hattie was willing to return home. That night, as 1 lay down to sleep, I could not rest in that sweet peace I was wont to do. The very stars I loved so well seemed like grave, reproving eyes, and so I closed mine fast, but I could not sleep for a long, long time. I resolved to go the very next day to Frankie and ask him to forgive me, and never, no never! be so angry again. But the next day it rained in torrents, and the next, and the next, and the third day my father said at the tea-table, that Mrs. Hale's little Frank was very ill with scarlet-fever. How I prayed that he might not die, that I might go to him and say, "Forgive me!" and throw off this dreadful weight. No one knew how much I suffered, for I could not bear to tell even my dear mother; but as day after day the news came that Frankie was growing worse, it seemed to me that I could not endure it. And then came the solemn tidings,-Frank was dead! Dead! Those blue sorrowful eyes, that still seemed looking upon me, were sealed for ever. The brow I had wounded was cold and pale; those lips were still in death that had not yet spoken forgiveness. And when he was lying in his coffin I saw him, and with an almost breaking heart I saw on that still white forehead a trace yet visible of my passionate deed.
Children, this is a true story. It has cost me a great effort to relate it, for the recollection is very painful still, and yet, if it shall have power to stay one little hand raised like mine in anger, and prevent a like sorrowful memory from embittering another life, I shall not regret that I have written it.
sence; in Paradise, Adam fell from his place of pleasure; in the world, Judas fell from the school of our Saviour.-St. Bernard.
The Fragment Basket.
THERE was once a young shoe-
One night, after his shutters were closed, and he was busy on his bench, a boy passing along put his mouth to the keyhole, and mischievously piped out, "Shoemaker, shoemaker, work by night, and run about all day." "Had a pistol been fired off at my ear," he said, "I Re could not have been more startled. I dropped my work, saying to myself, True, true, but you never shall have that to say of me again.' never forgot it. To me it was as the voice of God, and it has been a word in season throughout my life. I learned from it not to leave till to-morrow the work of to-day, or to be idle when I ought to be working. From that time I turned over a new
ADVICE THROUGH THE KEYHOLE.
GOD LESS CRITICAL THAN MAN.
"My grandfather," says Mr. Orton, "once solicited a very excellent but modest minister to pray in his family when there were several others present; he desired to be excused, alleging that he had not thought of it, and there were so many other ministers present. My grandfather replied, Sir, you are to speak to your Master, and not to them, and my Bible tells me, he is not so critical and censorious as men are.""
THE STARTING-POINT OF VIRTUE.
It is the poor man's Sabbath which is the source of his week-day virtues. The rich may have other sources, but take away the Sabbath from the
poor, and you inflict a general desecration of character upon them. Taste and honour, and a native love of truth, may be sufficient guarantees for the performance of duties to the breaking of which there is no temptation. But they are not enough for the wear and exposure of ordinary life. They make a feeble defence against such temptations as assail and agitate the men who, on the rack of their energies, are struggling for subsistence. With them the relative obligations hold more singly upon the religious; and if the tie of religion, therefore, be cut asunder, the whole of their morality will forthwith go into unhingement. Whatever virtue there is on the humbler levels of society, it holds direct of the Sabbath and of the sanctuary; and when these cease to be venerable, the poor cease to be virtuous. You take away all their worth when you take away the fear of God from before their eyes; and why, then, should we wonder at the result of a very general depravation among them, if before their eyes should be held forth, on the part of their earthly superiors, an utter fearlessness of God? The humbler, it ought not to be expected, will follow the higher classes on the ground of social virtue; for they have other and severer difficulties to combat, and other temptations over which the victory would be greatly more arduous. But the humbler will follow the higher on the ground of irreligion, only they will do it in their own style, and, perhaps, with the more daring and lawless spirit of those who riot in the excesses of newly-felt liberty.-Dr. Chalmers.
PRAYER, like Jonathan's bow, returns not empty. Never was faithful prayer lost at sea. No merchant trades with such certainty as the praying saint. Some prayers, indeed, have a longer voyage than others; but then they return with a richer lading at last.-Gurnall.
I'M GROWING OLD.
THE VOYAGE OF LIFE.
On the lake the storm is blowing,
Fill the crew with wild dismay. Jesus' followers watch each billow, Trembling at the threatening wave; While He sleeps upon His pillow,
They expect a watery grave. "Save us, Master, or we perish," Is their loud, imploring cry; Christ, who loves His own to cherish, Comes to show deliverance nigh. Harmless is the sea's commotion:
When He utters, "Peace, be still," Winds and waves suspend their motion,
Cease, obedient to His will!
Saviour, when life's storms alarm me, Calm my troubled soul to rest; Waves of sorrow ne'er shall harm me, While with thy protection blest.
Still my throbbing heart's emotion,
Bid the storms of sorrow cease; Guide me safe o'er life's dark ocean, To the port of heavenly peace. W. G. M.
THE HEART IS A BELL. YOUR heart is beating day by day; If it could speak, what would it say? The hours of night its pulses tell, Have you, my children, considered well, What means this little, restless heart? It is a little bell, whose tone Is heard by you and God alone: At your soul's door it hangs, and there His Spirit stays with loving care, And rings the bell, and deigns to wait To see if closed remains the gate. He rings and waits. O! then begin At once your prayer: "Lord, enterin." So when its time on earth is past, Your heart will beat no more at last; And when its latest pulse is o'er, 'Twill go and knock at heaven's door; And stand without and patient wait, To see if Christ will ope the gate, And say, "Here endless joys begin, Here, faithful servant, enter in! I was on earth thy cherished guest, And now in heaven I give thee rest. Receive at length thy full rewardEnjoy the blessings of thy Lord." Evening Post.