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when he says,
wherever it may lead him, will not go very far astray. What our Lord said in respect to doctrine is surely just as applicable to all duty—“If any man will do His will”-if any man's will be to do His will_"the same shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.”
The next scope for this exercise of conscience is in doing what it enjoins. Who does not know that it is one thing to hear the voice of conscience and quite another to obey it? Our Lord clearly assumed the distinction when he said, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.". A very important and indispensable part of the discipline of conscience is to attend at once to its call. Amongst the many things which a soldier has to learn is one which is a very essential part of military discipline. He must rise at the first note of the bugle which summons him from slumber, and address himself at once to the duty of the hour, whether it be of peace or war. The Apostle Paul expresses in respect to himself this spirit of prompt obedience
“When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood :” and that prompt obedience to conscience was the habit of his life. Many a time, it may be, there would be a great conflict in his mind as to what he ought to do; but, once persuaded that a thing was right, we may be certain that there would not be a moment's needless delay between the formation of his conviction and its carrying out into act. To do this is an act of rightful homage to the Lord of conscience.
God Himself implanted it in our moral nature that it might speak to us for Himself; so that when we hear the voice of conscience, enlightened by the Divine Word, it is as though God Himself spoke to us direct from heaven.
Our safety lies in this constant discipline of our conscience. Let its authority be once persistently set aside, let one duty be habitually neglected, let one course of doubtful expediency be pursued, let one single passion be indulged, and our whole moral man is sure to be enfeebled, and the issue may be terrible defeat and shame.
It is the spring of all true nobleness. In no case will there be anything like true nobility of soul where a man disregards the voice of conscience. Those men whom God Himself holds up for our admiration in His Word were all men in whose lives conscience held vigorous and constant rule, and it was that which made them the men they were.
Besides, this discipline of the conscience is the great secret of moral and spiritual power. What was it which gave to the Apostle Paul his power, first over the men of his own time and then over us? “His gifts,” it may be replied, “his education, his apostolic authority.” Yes ; but for all the great purposes of his ministry, for counsel and warning and rebuke, for everything which had to do with the conscience rather than the intellect of his hearers, his ministry would have been powerless unless with a clear conscience he could have said, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.” No man can speak to others with true spiritual power, either from the pulpit, or in the Sunday-school, or in the family, or anywhere else, unless
he has a good conscience. On this point Archbishop Leighton well says: “Wouldest thou be faithful to that work which God hath appointed thee to do in this world for His name ? then make much of a trembling heart and conscience ; for though the Word be the line and rule whereby we must order and govern our actions, yet a trembling heart and tender conscience is of absolute necessity in so doing. A hard heart can do nothing with the Word of Jesus. Keep then thy conscience awake with wrath and grace, with heaven and hell, but let grace and heaven bear sway. Paul made much of a tender conscience, else he had never done what he did, nor suffered what we read of. * And herein,' saith he, do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.' But this could not a stony, benumbed, bribed, deluded, or a muzzled conscience do. Paul was like the nightingale with his breast against the thorn. That his heart might still keep waking, he would accustom himself to meditation of those things which should beget both love and fear, and would be very chary lest he offended his conscience.”
A Highland Flower. If the reader has ever spent a Sabbath afternoon on the side of a Highland hill towards the close of summer, and laid his heart open to all the silent but suggestive influences of the hour, he will never forget it to his dying day. And if the afternoon has been spent in religious worship or meditation, there will linger around the memory of that time a " light that never was on sea or shore.” Such at least is the feeling of one who, while a student, stood on an obscure hill-side, amid a little congregation, and poured out of the fulness of his heart the story of Divine love. The little cottage, situated about the middle of the hill, had proved too small to accommodate the people, and at the suggestion of the young preacher they all adjourned to the open air. With the thatched cottage for a sounding-board, and the glen for a temple, the preacher delivered his message to the congregation seated on the grass before him. His eyes were fixed upon the gilded hills appearing through à glen which ran at right angles to the one at his feet; and it would almost seem as if he saw the Eternal Love enthroned there, and were receiving direct from that presence the message he was delivering.
Be that as it may, he was quite unconscious of one whose eyes were now fixed upon him in surprise, and then turned to drink in the scene with a rapture which transfigured her countenance. It was “Nellie Stewart," the invalid daughter of the occupant of the cottage. And truly it was a scene powerful enough to evoke the sweetest song of poet, or the most consummate skill of artist.
When the service was ended, part of the congregation climbed the hill-side, and sitting down upon the heather began to make the glen resound with stirring hymn and psalm tunes; while the preacher, attracted by some flowers he had never before seen, descended the hill, and began to gather them, and unconsciously form them into a bouquet. While thus engaged, a lad came
plunging down to him, who said that Nellie Stewart sent her compliments, and would the minister be kind enough to go up to the cottage and speak to her? At once he left his flower-gathering, and re-ascended the hill. Entering the cottage, he saw sitting by the peat-fire one whom he felt at once must be "one of the King's daughters.” Seldom, if ever, had the young man seen a more beautiful face. She looked the very picture of health, but the twisted, almost shapeless fingers belied her looks. Going up to her, the preacher bowed, and presented her with the bouquet of wild flowers, and right loyally did he do it. The sunny smile, the depth and splendour which her eyes gathered when she turned them on the flowers, more than rewarded him for the act.
“Thank you very much-I do so love flowers,” she said, as she grasped them in her less helpless hand. And then she repeated, in a voice and with an accent that thrilled him throughout his whole being
“Your voiceless lips, O flowers, are living preachers;
Each cup a pulpit, and each leaf a book ;
In loneliest nook.
Far from the voice of preachers and divines,
Priests, sermons, shrines."
The loving Father is so good to me ; He 'tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,' as you said this afternoon. But you will excuse me if I correct a mistake you made, in common with so many : that is not a quotation from Scripture, but from Sterne, I think.”
“Certainly. Thank you, Miss Stewart; but
"I know what you would say,” she said, with a smile. "You cannot reconcile my surroundings with my speech. I am not at all surprised. I was not always so," she continued, as she lifted up her twisted hands. She let them fall upon her lap slowly and pensively. Her eyes took on a faraway look, and she sat looking out of the window for a long time, yet evidently not thinking of the objects which imaged themselves upon the retina of her eyes, but other and more sacred objects bathed in the mellow light of holy memories.
The student was the first to break the spell which bound her to the past, by asking, in a subdued and tender tone, if it would be too painful for her to give, or too rude for him to ask, an account of how she came to be bound to that arm-chair in that lowly, obscure Highland cottage. In answer to this and other questions he gleaned the following particulars.
Miss Stewart's father, who was a successful farmer in a neighbouring glen, had the good sense to give his children the very best education he could. For this purpose Ellen was sent to one of the first schools in Edinburgh, in which town also she had a brother studying for the ministry. While she was making rapid strides in learning, her father died, which circumstance
necessitated the discontinuance of either her studies or her brother's. This last was not to be thought of for an instant, so she left school, and returned home for a season. But as there was no employment in her native glen which she could engage in, she returned to Edinburgh as governess in a wealthy gentleman's family. Through her brother she was introduced to a student of divinity, who, charmed with her personal appearance, and struck with admiration of her intellectual endowments, proposed to her, and was accepted. All went merry as a marriage-bell until the last year of her betrothed's curriculum. Then gathered down upon her that dark cloud which threatened to blot out all the light of her life, and would have done so, had not her faith been steadfast in Him who “doeth all things well." She believed she would some time see the bright light in the clouds," and now in quietness, obscurity, and pain she was more and more seeing the heavenly side of the cloud lighted up with the splendour of a Divine unerring love.
One April afternoon the lovers resolved to visit a fishing village not very far distant, and there spend the short half-holiday which she was allowed so rarely. Two or three hours were passed most pleasantly in sauntering about the beach, climbing the rocks, and, “lured by the magic breath” of the ocean's song, poured out their hearts in sacred communings. It had been a beautiful afternoon, save for some dark clouds which now and again obscured the sun ; but just as they were about to leave the little nook where they had been cloistered, they became aware that the wind had risen, and the student-who, as the son of a sea-captain, had attained considerable skill in nautical affairs—saw that a squall was imminent. Anxiously his eye scanned the little bay, to see if any boats were in the path of danger. Yes, there was one; but she was weathering the gale beautifully, and making direct for the beach. Scarcely had he communicated this hope to his companion, when he gave a loud scream. The boat had upset, and precipitated the whole of the occupants into the water. “Run to the village, Ellen, and rouse the inhabitants," he cried, with terrible earnestness ; and before she could restrain him, he was dashing into the surge, hatless and coatless, hearing only “the cry of the strong swimmer in his agony,” and seeking only to save from a watery grave.
The student had barely time to land the youngest boy upon the beach, and dash back again, before the shore was filled with the villagers, old and young. The children screamed and yelled, and the women pulled the hair from their heads in handfuls, while a boat was being shoved off by the men for the rescue. Only one man was drowned, but Ellen's lover was carried to the nearest cottage completely exhausted-almost lifeless. side of her betrothed she watched all that night, forgetting in her apprehension the soaking garments she wore. As the morning light came through the little window of that miserable hut, the light of her eyes went out, and for some hours she went groping wildly, blindly in the thick darkness of her great sorrow. God alone knows
elings of two young hearts sundered like se-the one on the crystal sea, the other on the changing earth; the one in the calm,
and the other in the storm of life; and only hearts like Ellen Stewart's hear the whisperings of the Father's love, and see so much of heaven upon the earth.
One visit alone was paid to the grave of her noble lover, and Ellen Stewart went home to her mother's cottage-to sit in that chair, to remember, to think, and to suffer.
When these facts had been communicated to her absorbed listener, he sat for some time unable to speak; for a feeling of unutterable sadness had taken possession of him. “Pardon me,” she said anxiously, “if I have obtruded my sorrows upon you and made you unhappy, but it is such a comfort to unburden one's thoughts to a sympathising ear; and such I took you to be." "Don't mention it,” he said ; “but, poor
Pray dou't call me Poor,” she replied, with a loftiness which awed him, “who have such noble memories and such glorious hopes. Not to speak of heaven and all it contains for me, I would not part with the light of other years' for untold wealth—nay, not for perfect health, which is infinitely better."
Such language hardly tallied with a thatched cottage and a peatfire. But her story came back to his memory with a rush, and he thanked God that he belonged to race capable of such heroism, In haste he had to bid her adieu, for he had several miles to travel that evening ; but before doing so he gave his promise to call on her again whenever opportunity presented. That opportunity has never come, but since then the young man, now a minister, has often found himself going back in thought to the occupant of that humble cottage, and repeating to himself sadly the now hackneyed lines, "Full many a flower,” &c., but he has always checked the thought. No! there is no waste of the precious fragrance of this Highland flower—so lovely, so rare. The great Soul Gardener has planted it for His pleasure, is guarding its fragile life, and in His own good time will transplant it to the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Many a time has the memory of this obscure yet noble sufferer inspired the preacher's breast, and begotten within him the desire that
" In joy and in sorrow, through praise and through blame,
In Thy service bloom and decay-
THERE will not be a tear in heaven-there will not be a sinile in hell; there will be no weeping in the former, and nothing but weeping in the latter.
He that would commune much with God, must commune little with the world. FORBIDDEN pleasures, though loved at first, are loathed at last.
HUMILITY is a grace not merely ornamental but essential-not what may be in the Christian, but what must be.