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THE LITTLE IRISH SWEEP. Some years ago an effort was made to collect all the chimney-sweepers in the city of Dublin, for the purpose of education. Among others came a little fellow, who was asked if he knew his letters. "O yes," was the reply. Do ""O yes," you spell ?" was again the answer. "Do you read?" "O yes." "And what book did you learn from?" "O, I never had a book in my life, Sir." "And who was your schoolmaster?"
"O, I never was at school."—Here was a singular case; a boy could read and spell without a book or a master. But what was the fact? Why another little sweep, a little older than himself, had taught him to read by showing him the letters over the shop doors which they passed as they went through the city. His teacher, then, was a little sweep like himself, and his book the signboards on the houses. What may be done by trying?
'Tis thus that man to man behaves, Witness the planter and his slaves. 'Tis thus that state oppresses state, And infant freedom meets its fate: Let plundered pagans hold their tongue, For nations civilized are strong.
THE REAPER AND THE FLOWERS.
THERE is a Reaper whose name is Death,
And with his sickle keen
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath, And the flowers that grow between.
"Shall I have nought that is fair," saith he:
"Have nought but the bearded grain? Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me,
I will give them all back again." He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves; It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.
"My Lord hath need of the flowerets gay,"
The Reaper said, and smiled: "Dear tokens of the earth are they, Where He was once a child.
They shall all bloom in fields of light,
Transplanted by my care,
And saints upon their garments white These sacred blossoms wear.'
And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love; But she knew she would find them all
In the fields of light above.
Oh, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
THE HUMBLE PENITENT.
"He that humbleth himself shall be exalted."-LUKE xviii. 14.
THIS precious promise was made by the Saviour to encourage us to cultivate penitence for our sins. This duty was neglected by the proud Pharisee, but it was attended to by the penitent Publican. He was humbled for his many and great sins in the conscious presence of a holy God. "And the Publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." Heaven is the glorious dwelling-place of the Holy One, the scene of His special manifestation to His friends. The Psalmist says, and says truly for our comfort, "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there." This is a cheering thought to the godly man in the prospect of his removal from this world. He then ascends from earth to heaven, and lives for ever in the presence, favour, and service of his God. The Gospel encourages us to lift up our eyes to heaven, and contemplate the eternal glory which awaits us. But the Publican was so sensible of his sinfulness in the sight of God, that he did not look up into heaven as if he were worthy to enter there, or to look into the face of that glorious Being against whom he had sinned, but he prayed for mercy in the most humble manner, as one unworthy of the least favour. His conscious guilt led him to approach the throne of grace in the deepest prostration of spirit, and to cast himself as a guilty culprit at the footstool of his injured Sovereign. He felt himself such a great sinner that he could not look God full in the face like an innocent being. He saw his sins, he was troubled on their account, and freely confessed them to God. Yet he encourages hope in the Divine mercy. The Great Teacher shows that his hope was well founded. He trusted in the mercy of God, and His mercy, through Christ, forgave his sins, restored him to favour, exalted him to heaven. "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." The Saviour speaks with authority, and His words show the excellence of His character and teaching,
and they ought to confirm our faith in His Divine mission. He taught the sinfulness and misery of pride; and the duty and importance of humility. His words ought to be seriously pondered, and they ought to lead us to cultivate that state of mind which we know from the Scriptures is pleasing to God. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." These memorable words teach us that the truly penitent humble themselves before God on account of sin. They think of their sins, their number, their aggravations, and the evils they inflict upon themselves and others. They think of their sinful thoughts, sinful motives, sinful affections, words, and actions, and are humbled under a sense of their guilt. They think of their sins in the sanctuary, in the family, in the world, in the closet, and even at the table of their Lord, and they cry, "Unclean, unclean!" They think of their sins with a serious mind, they think of them often, and with great searchings of heart; the result is, contrition, humility, cries for mercy. The humble think of God, His glorious perfections, His just laws, and His claims to supreme regard, and the sight of God, and of themselves, humbles them in the Divine presence. They see their sins in the light of God's Word, in the wounds of Jesus, in the fears of a guilty conscience. The penitent are humble before God. This is seen in their self-renunciation, dependence upon Christ, patience in affliction, charity towards others, supplications for mercy, and in their pleas at the throne of grace. What was the plea of the Publican? His good works? No, but God's mercy. He felt he deserved punishment, but he hoped in the mercy of his Sovereign.
"He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." This precious promise shows that God will exalt all who cherish godly sorrow for sin. He is the true source of exaltation. He is able to exalt the humble, for He knows them all; He has infinite resources, and His Son has satisfied the claims of His justice. And His mercy disposes Him to exalt the humble. Now in what way are the humble exalted? They are exalted by the reformation of their character. When they truly repent of sin, they hate the accursed thing, and hating it, they forsake it. When the Sabbath-breaker is humbled for his sin, he reforms, and keeps holy the Lord's day. When the liar is humbled for his sin, he reforms, and henceforth speaks the truth. When the swearer is humbled for his sin, he reforms, and lives in the fear of God. Repentance is a change of mind, and this inward moral change leads to a change
of conduct. Sinful habits are abandoned, sin is mortified, and Christian holiness adorns the character. Humiliation for sin leads us to cultivate purity of heart and life, and thus promotes our exaltation. What dignity is equal to that which arises from Christian holiness? Obedience to the will of God? Assimila tion to the moral image of Christ? The humble are exalted by their relationship to God. They are His adopted children. They are His friends. They are in covenant with Him. They may cry, "Abba, Father." They are the children of the supreme Monarch, the King of kings, the Lord of all. He will be a Father unto them for ever. They are exalted by the joys of His salvation, living in communion with Him, and by being employed in His service. They are exalted in the esteem of the righteous, by their admission into an eternal Paradise, and by their interest in vast promises. The Great Teacher says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." They will be exalted when they leave this world. "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." They will be exalted at the last day, when their bodies shall be raised from their graves, and made like to the glorious body of Christ. They will be exalted in the presence of angels, in the presence of the redeemed, and in the presence of the Saviour for ever. The exaltation of the humble penitent is sure, for it is promised by Him who cannot lie. The Great Teacher is the true witness. Then how wise to cultivate self-knowledge, sincere repentance, true humiliation of soul before God. The lower you sink in self-abasement before the Eternal on account of your sins, the higher you will rise in spiritual excellence and in meetness for glory. This humiliation must begin here. The Publican is now exalted. The Spirit will help us to cultivate this humility. 'He giveth more grace."
"ESTABLISH THOU THE WORK OF OUR HANDS UPON US."
fellow-traveller, as we pass along, be your humbler aim and mine, amid our other works, to set up way-marks, from our own experience: instructing the ignorant, and warning the incautious, by every means in our power. These will be the most durable monuments; for
"THE work of our hands!" Behold in what stupendous undertakings do those engage, who are but passing travellers in the wilderness. How do they labour and toil, to establish the works of their hands! But, while the spirit of the Babelbuilders still animates them, let it,
they are erected with materials which shall not decay. Let us not then substitute "brick for stone, and slime for mortar." Our hands, the servants of the head and heart, may perform much good: nevertheless, it depends on the secret motives by which the heart was influenced, to determine whether the works they perform shall be established in that day when every man's work will be tried, of what kind it is. It behoves us, therefore, to be solicitous, that ours shall not be added to the conflagration of a blazing world.
Traveller, permit the important question-What are the works already performed by you during the various stages of your journey; especially, for instance, during the past year? So recent a period must be fresh in your memory. Was nothing during that fleeting term done, or said, which, so far from wishing it to be established, you would wish it to be unsaid-undone? Even with reference to the past week, or day, could you conscientiously offer up this petition on behalf of all your actions? Have you, indeed, walked in the ways of His commandments with a perfect heart? Can you appeal to those around you -those who have had the best opportunities of observing your conduct-those whose happiness is most affected by it? Can they cordially unite in the petition, that your works may be established?
What works, what spiritual works have you performed? Can you wish the style of petitioning the court of heaven which you adopted yesterday, to be established as your customary mode of performing that
solemn duty? What benefit do you derive from public ordinances? Are the feelings with which you return to the world, such as your conscience approves such as you hope He will approve, to whom the appeal should be made?
What further progress have you made in your spiritual course? Have you gained no ground; conquered no enemies; surmounted no difficulties? You know that "the path of the just is as a shining light, shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day." Should your path be thus luminous, go on your way and prosper; if otherwise, make a pause, and consider your ways, and whither they lead, lest He establish your works, by suffering a careless, worldly frame to degenerate into a fixed habit which shall finally lead to destruction.
What are your plans of operation for the future? Are you of those who act but from the impulse of the present moment, without any settled plan at all? This will not do, even in your earthly concerns; for our temporal interests can never be established, unless we "guide our affairs with discretion;" much less may those all-important concerns, on which our eternal well-being depends, be thus managed at random, and left to hazard.
If they occupy no portion of your time or thoughts, permit the question, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" Behold, the night is fast approaching, "when no man can work." Oh, bestir yourself; for verily this is an important timean eventful day! Do you inquire, what, of all days, is this day-of all