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In the Dark.
SINCE I've committed all I have
And am and hope to be,
Who loves and cares for me,-
Why yield to fear or doubt,
In ways past finding out ?
Have I not wearied Him with prayers
That He my steps would guide ;
And when I wandered, chide ?
To trust Him though He slay,-
As in the brightest day?
And now, because the path is strange
And difficult and dim,
To follow after Him?
His goodness dare dispute ?
My trembling lips are mute !
Behold my way is still with Thee,
Though dark it be, or light;
If Thou depart 'tis night.
Are held, I cannot see;
CAROLINE A. Mason.
One day with the Lord is better than a thousand years without Him ; and yet He gives me thousands of years, a whole eternity, to enjoy Him. I would not lose one day of such pleasure for a thousand years of sin. To be with Him is heaven. Without Him, heaven cannot be.
PRAISE is joy in the bloom.
Tķe Christian Law of Giving. Two truths in particular need to be more distinctly proclaimed, and more fearlessly reiterated by all preachers of the Cross and teachers of the people.
One is that only a part of what is in any man's keeping under the name of a "possession” is really his own, whether to hoard for himself, or to spend for any selfish satisfaction. Revelation, from first to last, discloses the contrary doctrine. No practical idea is more thoroughly rooted and interwoven in the whole groundwork and texture of the Christian religion than that all that the Creator of men allows us to have while we are here, to take care of, belongs to Him, and that a certain proportion of it is to be regularly rendered back to Him for Divine uses. We can in no way nullify this fundamental law of the kingdom of love. We shall not go to the bottom of our difficulties or our duties till the secular illusion which invests the word
property "is dispelled. In the Christian vocabulary ownership is nothing but stewardship. The word “giving,” too, by logical sequence, as literally applied to offerings to God, perpetually misleads. In relation to a fellow-man, what I part with may be a gift; in relation to my Maker and Father it is no gift at all, it is more like the interest on a loan, it is rather a small sign of indebtedness, for an unreckoned and unreckonable bounty. Power to get wealth, the calculating faculty, physical capacity, time, opportunity, natural materials, are all the Creator's, loaned and withdrawn at His will.
“ Of thine own have we given Thee,” for of our own we have literally nothing to give. So long as these terms are emptied of their Christian meaning men will continue to disown their duty, refusing alms altogether, or making a merit of self-interested bestowments and a parade of insignificant enterprises, and will reckon as a reserved right the polite apology of having “nothing to spare," which the Bible calls by the plain and awful name of a
robbery of God.”
Another sophism is that Christians are somehow fulfilling the obligation of almsgiving when they are only paying the costs of their parochial establishments. It has lately been said to me repeatedly, “Our congregation is doing less than we should like to do for missions or for the poor, because the pastor and people have so much to do at home. We are building a new church ; we have an old debt; the minister's salary is in arrears ; we want an organ; we want a Sunday-school library. Excuse us till these things are finished.' The idea appears to be that all our expenditures for religion are to be reckoned on the credit side of Heaven's account with us. Heaven be merciful to that impiousness ! Every pound that you yield for the appointments, conveniences, adornments of your parish church, which is your own household, or the maintenance of its services, is just as much a matter of interested outlay for a full equivalent as any other provision you make for the life of yourself and your children.
Build the grand roof half way to the sky, or only look on and boast while others build, in either case the question of charity is not touched. Few 'popular fallacies” have done more mischief than the maxim that “Charity begins at home.” Avaricious people quote it, not intending that charity shall begin anywhere. Honesty, kindness, economy, thrift, and some other virtues, start, no doubt, in the home circle. Charity very rarely begins there, because, till we pass beyond that bound, the realm of voluntary and self-sacrificing bounty is not reached. Up to that point we have been at best only “providing for our own," doing what if we leave undone, an Apostle says, we are worse than infidels. Almighty justice and Almighty love can give us no receipts for our parochial decencies. God needs none of them; we need them, and He is gracious enough to lend us the ability to produce them. But if you were liberal enough to give half your goods for them, or faithless enough to provide none of them, 80 making yourself and your household heathen, your obligation to offer in other ways of your substance to Him to whom the silver and the gold belong would stand just as it stood before, and stands everywhere.
She hath done what she could.” A SHORT time since, we laid before our readers a few thoughts on the murmur of Judas Iscariot respecting the “waste of the ointment” which Mary of Bethany poured on the head and the feet of the Lord Jesus in the house of Simon the leper. We now recur to the narrative, that we may call attention to another point in it—the kind and generous commendation which the Lord pronounced on the act of self-denying love which Mary had just performed, “She hath done what she could.”
The Lord Jesus Christ calls us not only to the enjoyment of His salvation, but to a life-long service; and He expects us, in rendering that service, to do what we can.
He has a right to our service—a right, because He gave us, as our Creator, “life and breath and all things;" and a further and a stronger right, because He died for us on the cross. Because He so died for us, “the Lord also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." It is His right, then, that, like Saul of Tarsus, on the way to Damascus, we should each one of us ask, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"
But when Mary took that box of ointment and anointed her Lord "against the day of His burying," we may well believe that there was in her mind scarcely any thought whatever of duty and right. That was absorbed and lost in the deep, self-renouncing love with which her heart was filled. No one had ever shown to her and her household such kindness, and bestowed upon them such priceless blessings as Christ.
He had been their frequent guest, and it had been her joy to sit at His feet whilst He poured in upon her soul the light of everlasting life; and when there had fallen upon their home the dark shadow of death, He had gone to them, and stood by the grave of Lazarus, and restored him to life again. The recollection of all this filled her with a love which, whilst it prompted that act of devoted service, would have impelled her, had it been required, to sacrifice even life itself.
How much is there of this same spirit—the spirit of love overmastering and superseding the mere thought of duty and right—in the lives of God's best servants ! Those words of the apostle have, beyond all doubt, found a glad response from millions of gratified hearts. “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God;" “ Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ;" "The love of Christ constraineth us."
Of this we may be certain, that no man will ever do his utmost and his best for Christ, except under the influence of His love. If we have no love to Christ, we shall be well content to do nothing; and if our love be cold and feeble, we shall ask how little will serve, and we shall do that little grudgingly: but if His love be really in us as a pervading, quickening power, as the field of service spreads itself before us, we shall ask, “How much can I do that I may promote His praise ?”
Is it not so in respect to mere human relations ? Does a mother, whose heart is full of deep, tender love for her children, often ask what she ought to do for them? Is not her inquiry rather this, “How much can I do ?” How many of us are what we are to-day because loving parents, who long since went to their rest, did for us what they could !
Let this, then, be proof of our love to Christ that we do for Him our best-our best in work, in influence, in the consecration of substance, by prayer. Which of us is there who can say “I have worked for Christ as vigorously as I could; I have exerted all the influence I could; I have given as much as I could; I have prayed as earnestly as I could ?
We have each of us his own sphere of work. Every man's powers are limited, and it is never wise for us to spread our energies over so wide a field and to attempt so many things, that of all we undertake we can do nothing well. Still it is possible for a man to confine himself to one little narrow department of work, who, without lessening the efficiency of what he is doing there, might render good service in other departments where the labourers are few. The Old Testament prophecy says, “Blessed are they that sow beside all rs." Are we, by so sowing, doing what we can?
you tried ?
Nor is that the only question. Are we doing the work we have undertaken with our might? On which of us is the Lord Jesus Christ now looking down with approval and saying, “He is a good and faithful servant; he is doing for Me all he can ”? What a power inconceivably beyond what it is would the Church of God be if every member of it were doing his utmost for Christ !
It is quite possible some reader will say, “ But it is so little I can do that it is scarcely worth my attempting anything." Perhaps that estimate of yourself is a right one. It may be little—very little—that
— you can do. Your powers may be as feeble and your opportunities as few as you think they are. Well, all that is required of you all that the Lord Himself asks at your hand—is that you do what you can. It is often said in respect to particular forms of service which people are asked to undertake, “ It is of no use ; I have no gift that way." Have
Did you ever seek the gift? or, conscious that you have it in only a small degree, did you ever resolve to cultivate it, to see how much greater it might become ? Do you not know that power grows with exercise, and that it never grows without ?
Nor can we tell how powerful and extensive may be the influence of a comparatively feeble service. Whilst the writer was revolving the subject of these pages, it occurred to him to walk along the banks of the river by which the city where he lives is almost encircled. As he did so, a stone was thrown into the middle of the stream by the hand of a child, and he stood with some interest to mark the result. Ripple after ripple, in widening circles, made their way to the sides of the river, till at length the last of them reached the shore-an emblem, it struck him at once, falling in with the current of his thoughts, of all influence, and not least of the influence we may exert for what is right and good. It may, indeed, be but little that we can do—like the small stone thrown into the water by the hand of a child ; still what we do and say, if faithfully and wisely done, may suggest some thought, or implant some principle, which will be a life-long power in the heart to which we speak; and the soul we so influer.ce may in its turn be a blessing to others, and they to others again, and so the succession may continue, and the results may be enduring as eternity.
In every case where Christ's servants do what they can, He approves and rewards them. He sees the service we render, and He estimates it according to our abilities and opportunities. He knows our work. Few else may know it; indeed it may be known to no one in the amount of toil and self-sacrifice which it involves; but He sees it, and He estimates it at its true worth. Yet let this be distinctly understood, that His apprec'ation of our service depends, not on the actual amount of the service,