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Still further: the lilies of the field are indebted for their growth to the care of the Father above. Because they are in the field, men heed them not, and render them no service; at least none beyond that which they give to "the grass which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven." No tender human hand loosens the soil about their roots. No watchful human observer notes their changes, and with skilful care plucks off the dead leaves, waters the thirsty plant, shields the opening flower from the fierce sun, or the fiercer frost. "Consider how they grow;" with no toil bestowed on them by man; with no toil of their own, even, "for they neither toil nor spin." How, then, do they become what they are? "God clothes them." God watches over their growth. He sends His rain, His sun, His sweet and delicate air; and hence their life. It is His providence which shields them; His wisdom which has put within them the conditions needful for laying hold upon the elements of sustenance around. They grow because God has given them the materials out of which the stalk and flower are built up, and the power to turn those materials to serviceable account. If you will only look at our own wild flowers in England, the same things will be found as true of them as of these Jewish "lilies of
Nor have we far to seek the broad lesson which this is intended to enforce. Christ used the lilies to show the distrustful men who listened to Him, and who now read His words, that if God cared for the lily, how much more would God care for them. But following upon the same line of thought on which we have previously travelled, we may see how certainly true this also is of the nobler life of the soul. God gives His people the conditions out of which that life can
be built up. He gives them the
providences which mark and define their career; the daily cares and daily duties; the soil of truth; the dews of His Spirit, the Sun of Righteousness. God also implants in the life He gives the power of appropriating these conditions. But it would be a strange abuse of this beautiful argument from the field lilies, if men were to say, "God cares for the lilies; they toil not, they spin not-neither will we." How would this grieve the heart of the Son of the Blessed. Brethren, let us not thus seek to pervert Christ's precious words. He is rebuking the over-anxiety and over-working of those who listened, and still listen; not their common care and their daily toil. It is excess of that which in itself is good on which Christ frowns. This worry to be rich; to leave enough for our children-what is it but to think that the same Providence which has watched over us will one day suddenly cease? This perpetual "learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth," what is it but wasting the hours and opportunities out of which should come our life? This fear that something will overtake ussome temptation, or calamity, or doubt-and we shall have no power to resist what is it but constant forgetfulness of the message, "Sufficient unto the day, is the day's care?" Why take anxious thought of the morrow? Let the day's work be done in the day; and to-morrow, if it bring its own burdens, will also bring the strength to bear them.
God works in these field lilies according to the laws which He Himself put within them: and thus God also works in the soul of every one that believeth. There is no new organization made for us: nor is any needed. But let us not lose sight of this " sure truth" that when we have cared for ourselves, and for our spiritual life, up to the very utmost point, we have
still to look up to God. Like the husbandman, we cast in the seed, and wait. Our truest growth comes by God's care of us after we have done our part. But if we do not do our part, it is not faith, it is presumption to expect that God will do His. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
Lastly, the lilies not only have God's care, but He has distinguished them by their pre-eminent beauty.
Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these." The beauty of the field lilies was an unrivalled beauty. The lily of the field was conspicuous, says one, from its remarkably showy colours. A second tells us how quickly its excellency arrested the eye of the traveller. A third also speaks of it as most stately and striking. Not that less brilliant flowers are deficient, in God's judgment, or lack His favour; but the beauty of the lilies is such as specially to mark them out among all the flowers of the field. God fashions one flower to honour, conspicuous and patent. He assigns another flower less eminence, but does not on that account pass it by in the gifts of His providence. He has a right to do this; and to do this without giving any other reason than that it is "His good pleasure."
Very manifold are the thoughts which all this suggests. Think only of two. It is with men, as with flowers-God distinguishes some, and others occupy positions of less eminence. One is largely gifted, and stands conspicuously above his brethren. Another has less illustrious but still as certainly honourable gifts; for "to every man is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ." If there are Pauls, and Johns, and Peters, there are apostles of whom nothing more is recorded than their
names. To use the words of the first" in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some without honour." But the great thing is, that every man should purge himself, that he may be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work. The reason, however, why one vessel is of gold and the other is of clay-this rests alone with the Master himself.
But, observe, to return to the parable of the lilies-their beauty, if pre-eminent, was not something put on. It was something which grew from within outward. It was a silent beauty, growing by the internal law of their own God-given nature. And this stands true of the beauty of the soul, that which wins the smile of God. It grows from the vital force within. It is the outburst in flower of the inner life.
Such, then, is the marvellous grace of our Father in heaven. We are His offspring, "begotten again ;" fed, shielded, and adorned by Him. He rejoices in all His works. He
accepts us in the Beloved." Our beauty, is the beauty of the only Fair, the only Good, the only True"the beauty of the Lord our God."
See, then, that no sin mars it; that no unkindly frost robs it of its fragrance, whether that frost be born of selfishness, of ease, or love of this present. world. Never think that you can grow in grace, and so grow in holy beauty, if you despise the conditions of growth. Let the rain, which comes in copious showers from above, nourish your root. Let the breath of every wind give strength and vigour to your hold of that truth in which you are "grounded and settled." And evermore turn heavenward your soul, that the Sun of Righteousness may draw you upward to Himself.
A MOTHER'S REWARD.
A GENTLEMAN was once visiting a cottage where the mother of the family was a true and earnest Christian. During the conversation, he remarked how happy she must be to see every one of her children (and there were eight of them) so early brought to the Saviour's feet, and following Him so closely in their daily lives; and he inquired whether she had adopted any peculiar method in their religious instruction. The poor woman replied that she had only done what every Christian mother ought to do; but on her visitor pressing her still further, she continued with much humility:
"I think I may say I never fed my infant children without praying
in my heart that God would give me grace to nourish them as inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. Whilst I was dressing them in the morning, I used to beseech my heavenly Father to clothe them with the robe of Christ's righteousness; when I prepared their meals, I asked God to feed their souls with the true bread from heaven, and to give them to drink of that living water which springeth up unto life everlasting; when I took them to the Lord's house, I prayed to Him to sanctify them, and make them temples of the Holy Ghost; when they left my side for school, I followed them with my eyes, praying that their lives might be like the path of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day; and in the evening, when the hour of
rest arrived, I used in silence to ask their heavenly Father to bless them, and keep them safely in His everlasting arms."
And truly this mother was rewarded for her patient waiting upon God-richly and fully rewarded. O that more mothers would remember the infinite and awful influence they possess for weal or woe!
The following touching incident illustrates the depth of early impressions :
Since the prevailing Indian troubles commenced in the United States an Indian camp was captured, together with a number of prisoners, including squaws, and some half dozen white captives, boys and girls, from five to twelve years of age. Word was sent throughout the country, inviting those who had lost children to come to the camp and identify, if possible, their children; as none of them could give any account of who their parents were, or where they were taken from, so young were they when taken captives by the Indians. Numbers went to the camp-many more than there were children-and of course many of them returned with heavy hearts as being unable to find their lost ones.
Among the number who went hundreds of miles to the camp, was a mother who had lost two children
-a boy and a girl, one three and the other five years old-years ago. Efforts were made to persuade her not to go, as so long a time had elapsed, it was certain she could not identify her children, even if they stood before her. But she could not rest; she must go, and go she did. On arriving at the encampment she found the captives ranged in line for inspection. She looked at them first from a distance, her heart bounding in her bosom. But she did not see in the group that bore the slightest her children; at least she saw nothing resemblance to her baby boy and girl as they looked when playing about her door step. She drew nearer, and peeped deep into the eyes of each, who only returned her look with a stony yet anxious gazethey, too, hoping to see something in her that would tell them she was their mother. She looked long and steadily at them, as her heart began
to sink and grow heavy in her bosom. At last, with tears and sobs, she withdrew, and when some paces off she stopped and turned about quickly, as, apparently, a thought had occurred to her. Drying her eyes, she broke forth in a sweet hymn she had been wont to sing to her children as a lullaby. Scarcely had a line been uttered when two captives-a boy and a girl-rushed from the line, exclaiming, "Mamma! mamma!" The mother went home perfectly satisfied she had found her long lost children.
A Christian mother in Prussia had a son, who, fearing he should be conscripted for the army, left his home and came to New York. As he was parting from his mother, she gave him a Bible and a prayer-book, both of which he threw overboard on reaching the vessel, that he might no longer be restrained by any religious influences. Finding no employment in New York, as he was unable to speak the English language, he shipped as one of the crew of a whaler, bound for the Western Islands. Here he was taken sick, and arrangements were made to return him on a certain vessel, but he was unable to be moved. Subsequently he arrived in Boston, and found that the ship in which he intended to sail had never reached port; and it is supposed that all on board perished. This circumstance impressed him with the thought that God had saved him for some special purpose. A chemist found that he was an educated man, gave him employment, and he has since become Christian, and written home to his mother to tell her the joyful news.
A mother's prayers are often thought of in the hour of temptation, and are the means of preservation.
A youth of eighteen or nineteen years sat at an open window, a look of painful perplexity in his face, caused, apparently, by a letter he
held in his hand. After sitting thus for some minutes, he muttered to himself, "Yes, I must go; if I don't, Brown and Smith will be laughing at me, and calling me righteous overmuch. And, after all, there's no great harm in it, for I'll go to church in the morning, and its only to be a sail down the river, and spend the day in the country." Still, he pressed his hand on his forehead for an instant, then rising hastily, he said, "There is no use bothering about it-I must go."
As he rose, his eye lighted on the setting sun, and as he did so, his whole expression changed. A sweet yet half-sad look played on his face; his thoughts were elsewhere-another scene was before his eyes. The dark street had disappeared, and in its stead a neat country cottage had risen. In thought he was there. Once more he saw the hills that rose near that cottage home; once more the blue waters of the distant lake glistened before him; once more he sat in the cottage garden with his widowed mother, and watched the setting sun.
Once more that mother's words sounded in his ears, "John, don't forget your God, and he'll not forget you. Remember His Sabbath-day to keep it holy.' Though sinners entice thee to break it, consent thou not. Oh, when you are tempted to do wrong, don't forget to pray! Never let the sun go down on a prayerless day. May the God of the fatherless guide you may the Lord Jesus be your Saviour!"
Yes, six months had passed since he had heard these words, and yet they seemed to sound in his ears. Tears filled his eyes; and, rising, he folded his hands and knelt in prayer; then, taking up his pen, he wrote thus: "Thanks, Brown, for your invitation; but I cannot accept it. My duty to God is to obey His commands; and He hath said, ' Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.' Spending the day in idle pleasure is
not doing this; and I wish you would think over the subject and not go yourself."
How great is the influence of a pious mother's words! How wonderful the answers to her earnest prayers.
Some gentlemen passing through the beautiful village of Renton, in the Vale of Leven, Dumbartonshire, about nine o'clock at night, some time ago, had their attention directed to a dark object in the church-yard. On going in to ascertain what it was, they found a boy of tender years lying flat on his face, and apparently sound asleep over a recently-made grave. Thinking this not to be a very safe bed for him, they shook him up, and asked him how he came to be there. He said he was afraid to go home, as his sister, with whom he resided, had threatened to beat him. "And where does your sister live" asked one of the party. "In Dumbarton," was the answer. "In Dumbarton-nearly four miles off! and how came you to wander so far away from home?" "I just cam," sobbed the poor little fellow, "because my mither's grave was here." His mother had been buried there a short time before, and his seeking refuge at her grave in his sorrow was a beautiful touch of nature in a child who could scarcely have yet
learned to realize the true character of that separation which knows of no reunion on earth. Thither had he instinctively wandered to sob out his sorrows, and to moisten with tears the grave of one who had hitherto been his natural protector, for he had evidently cried himself to sleep.
Mothers! Your influence is indeed mighty. See that it is an influence for good. You have the promise, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it." And you have another promise, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." These two promises are the praying mother's precious dowry. God will give you the wisdom to do the training, if you seek it; and He will bless your labour when it is executed. When God gave you your precious ones, He virtually said, Take these children, and bring them up for Me. Labour to do this without ceasing, and as in His sight, and sooner or later, in His own way, He will make His promise good. Your words, prayers, and labours, shall live in your children's hearts long after you have been gathered to your rest. Devonport.
REVELATIONS OF LIFE IN LONDON.
VERY strange scenes are witnessed
Who would think of bird catching, with nets, in the streets of the metropolis ? Hampstead Heath, Clapham Common, or Epping Forest, would seem suitable places; but the streets of the West end would ap
pear the last spots in the world. where such sport, or rather trade, could be pursued. Yet so it is. Not far from Cavendish Square is a cab-stand, where lots of oats are scattered on the pavement, and early on summer mornings the little chirping, hopping, impudent sparrows come to breakfast on them; and, equally early, the fowler comes with