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THE OUTCAST RECLAIMED. ALEXANDER STEPHEN was the son of poor but honest parents, who dwelt in a rural district in the north of Scotland. When a child his mother stored his memory with the precious truths of the gospel, and offered up many a prayer that he might be spared to live and die in the Lord. He was obedient in childhood, but wayward in youth. Bold and impetuous in disposition, he was always in trouble, and yet was seldom pleased but when leading a riot, or directing his boisterous companions in their follies and wickedness.
The quiet of a country parish was not an atmosphere which Alexander would bear when he reached his teens. He had heard of the sea and of ships; he had been told of battles and of “glory;" and his ardent spirit would no longer brook a shepherd's lonely life. To the grief of his parents, the lad left home and went to sea. For a time he was in the merchant service; but, being impressed, he gladly entered the British Navy. Here, for a time, he was appalled by the wickedness of the service; but ere long he became wicked himself.
“ The ship,” he used to say,
was a hell upon earth, and I was one of her fiends.” This was the truth. For forty long years he was tossed about from ship to ship, and during all the dangers to which he had been exposed, the battles in which he was engaged, and the sufferings which he experienced, God was not in all his thoughts. Drunkenness and insubordination were his chief crimes; and for these he had been flogged until, as we have said, his back was literally furrowed with stripes! At length he abandoned the sea, and returned to the north of Scotland. His native home was now desolate, as his relations were dead. He settled in a seaport town, and tried to eke out existence by chance employment. He was soon reduced to abject want, and had to be relieved from the parish funds. He now rented a miserable hovel, in a poor locality; here he made broom besoms, and hawked them when able to go about. When in the country, he was the
THE OUTCAST RECLAIMED.
terror of one or two pious females, on whose paternal estate he gathered broom; for, though age and infirmity had broken his spirits, he was still a fearful blasphemer, and could scarcely speak without taking the Lord's name in vain.
But there was mercy and grace even for this outcast. In the room adjoining his wretched dwelling, the gospel was one Sunday evening faithfully and affectionately proclaimed. Alexander and a dozen more poor persons were present; they listened attentively to the message of salvation, and, for the most part, returned on the following Sunday to hear it again. Week by week, “ to the poor the gospel was preached” here, until a small congregation was gathered, and a mission chapel built. In this little Bethel, Alexander was a constant hearer, and for a time he seemed to listen with a sort of stolid indifference; but by-and-by he became attentive, and ere long fruits of the Spirit" showed themselves in his life. Every one who knew Alexander was surprised at the change which had come over him; but he was studiously reserved, and would not readily disclose the secret workings of his heart.
One evening Alexander was absent when his name was called as a subscriber of a penny a week for a Bible. The minister concluded that he must be ill, and, on inquiry, he found that he had been struck with paralysis, and now lay on his death-bed. The limbs were dead already, but the faculties of reason were unimpaired. Thus helpless, he was questioned earnestly and affectionately about the state of his soul ; and then appeared the true value of a mother's teaching, and the all-conquering power of God's word. “I have been a great sipner, a terrible sinner," said the old man, as he fixed his eyes on the minister; “ but Christ is a great Saviour, and he cleanseth from all sin," “ How have you come to know the blessed truth ?” he was asked. “I was taught it by my mother when a boy,” he replied ; adding, “for forty years all that I had learned when a boy was forgotten, but when I heard you preach in our little chapel it all HARD FACTS FOR SLUGGARDS AND SLEEPERS. 47
came up again in my mind.” And then he expressed, in language of the most correct and intelligent character, his confidence in the love of God, the mercy of God, and the freeness and fullness of his grace. We saw him day by day, as he lay on his poor and lonely bed; heard him recount days that were gone, and carried his dying message to the congregation to " believe in Christ,' after which he soon fell asleep in Jesus, an "outcast reclaimed.”—[Taken from a valuable little book, called “ Qựr Moral Wastes,” by the Rev. J. H. Wilson.]
GOD COUNTS. A BROTHER and sister were playing in the dining-room, when their mother set a basket of cakes on the tea-table and went out.
“How nice they look !" said the boy, reaching to take one. His sister earnestly objected, and even drew back his hand, repeating that it was against their mother's direction.
“She did not count them,” said he.
So he withdrew from the temptation, and sitting down, seemed to meditate. “You are right,” replied he, looking at her with a cheerful, yet serious air, “God does count. For the Bible says, that 'the hairs of our head are all numbered.' HARD FACTS FOR SLUGGARDS AND
SLEEPERS. The difference between rising every morning at six o'clock and at eight, amounts, in forty years, to 29,390 hours, which is equal to three years, one hundred and twentyone days, and sixteen hours, which are equal to eight hours a-day for exactly ten years ; so that rising daily at six instead of eight will be the same as if ten years were added to our lives, in which we may command eight hours daily for business, cultiyation, or pleasure.
À SHORT race, a rough pilgrimage, a dangerous voyage, a fierce combat, a hard day's work; and then a glorious prize, a happy end, a good home, a complete victory, and an eternal reward : fear not, the end crowns the whole.
It is not man's free-will, but God's free grace, which makes one man differ from another in goodness.
All the afflictions of a saint are neither too numerous nor too sharp.
A good deal of rust requires a good file.
THE JUVENILE REPORTER. The Reporter, thinking he had a little time to spare, was amusing himself with his portfolio, and rummaging in a curious old letter bag, until all of a sudden he was startled to find that February was a very short month-that his young friend the “Messenger” was about to start, so that all he could do was to bid him good bye, and wish him a prosperous journey. But his friends shall not loose anything by this, as he hopes to treat them to a few treasures from his letter bag in next number.
Question. March 6 Feast of Taber-XVI.-Joshua xxiv. 12-14. Joshua xxiv. 1-28.
13 First Fruits and XVII. & XVIII.-Judges vi. Deut. xxvi.
20 Day of Atone. XIX.-1 Samuel xv. 24-26.
271 The Sabhath. ILVII.-1 Kings viii. 27-30. Exod. xvi.
6 THERE'S NO FEAR OF ME.'?
(BY OLD ALLAN GRAY.) How do you know? Have you taken out a life assurance against the evils and dangers of the world ? God only could grant you that, and he never did give one to any being on earth. His advice is, “let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
James Duncan's friends often warned him against the company he kept, and told him of the evils resulting from late hours ; but he turned away his head with a sneer, and said, “Don't you trouble ; there's no fear of me." But there was fear, and danger too. His companions led him