« PreviousContinue »
CHAPTER I.-THE VALUE OF THE WORD OF GOD.
IT was little Harriet Benson's eighth birthday. She received several presents from her friends on this occasion, and one of them, who was at a distance, sent No. 199. JULY, 1861.
her a shilling's worth of stamps, with a request that her mother would change them for her, and purchase any book of that price she thought proper, at the Bible and tract shop of the town where she lived. This shop stood in a street where Harriet often walked, and gazed on the little books and pretty cards that adorned the windows. Some of them were like what she already had, for she could read quite well, and began to feel that it was time for her to think of some better employment than play.
She had saved her pocket-money towards buying herself a Bible, and now her mother decided that her new shilling would just make up three shillings and sixpence, which would pay for one with marginal references. This would be useful at the day-school, where she was taught; for her governess, Miss Stone, was in the habit of giving out to the scholars a question written on paper, which was to be studied by them every Sunday, during the hours of public worship, and answered by some texts of Scripture, which they were to write out, and bring to school with them on Monday mornings. This was not very easy to the younger ones, but they were allowed sometimes to ask the help of their friends, and Harriet thought she should like to try among her companions, who were all older than herself. I need not say that there were still better reasons for choosing a Bible; that is the Book, the best Book, the Scriptures, which Christ commands us to search (John v. 39), and which are able to make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. iii. 15), and should be daily meditated upon, as the food of our souls: telling us of Him who is the true bread which
came from heaven, that giveth life unto the world (John vi).
So the new Bible was bought; and though Harriet knew not the full value of her treasure, she was very much pleased with it, and took it to school and showed it to her playfellows. Some of them had laughed at her for never spending her money upon toys, and others wasted every penny they received in sweetmeats, which were soon gone without any one being the better for them; but all now agreed she had done right, and perhaps Harriet would have felt a little proud if she had not been reminded that she knew very little of her new book, and that it was useless to have one until she understood something of its contents. This made her anxious to learn. Those who have a teachable spirit are not apt to think themselves better than others, which is unbecoming in all, but especially in the young, who are most in need of help. Harriet had a Testament before-for in these days one with good print may be bought for fourpence-and she had learned some of it by heart, especially the first Epistle of John. She looked there for her answer to the question which was given out at school the next Saturday. The question was this: "What is the state of the world without the word of God P"
It was not only once a week that the Bible was read at Miss Stone's school. Besides the weekly subject for the children, she read a portion daily aloud to them, and explained to them, with the help of other books, any allusions to Eastern scenes and customs, and any words which they might not at first understand. Those, therefore, who were under her care
some time, made great progress in this as well as in other learning of a temporal nature. Still she felt she could not give them the one thing needful, the teaching of God the Holy Spirit, and therefore her instructions always began and ended with prayer for a blessing upon all their studies, that they might be trained in the right way, and never depart from it. Monday morning came, and Harriet again appeared with her new book, which she had used at the house of God the day before, and found the morning text— Psalm cxix. 130. She had never before noticed that beautiful psalm, which she now observed was longer than the whole of the first Epistle of John, and she thought she should like to have that for a lesson at some future time. She did not fully understand the explanation given of the verse, that "light" is the Scripture emblem of knowledge, holiness, and truth, but several of her companions did, and spoke of the sermon when the time came for their Bible lesson.
When Miss Stone repeated the question, “What is the state of the world without the word of God ?" Ellen, the eldest of her scholars, replied by turning to Psalm lxxiv. 20: "The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."
Miss S. This refers to the heathen lands, which you know are shaded dark in the missionary map of the world, to contrast them with those on which the gospel light has dawned. There was another verse you heard quoted yesterday morning.
Anna. "The darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee." (Isaiah lx. 2.)
Miss Stone then referred to some of the cruel practices of the heathen nations, of which so many instances have been lately given in India and other parts of the East. She asked: "Why were the Jews different from other nations ?"
Charlotte. Because they had the Bible.
Miss S. Look at Psalm cxlvii. 19, 20: " He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation : and as for his judgments, they have not known them." There is a great deal like that in Deut. iv. And yet how apt they were to mingle with the heathen and learn their works. For this reason they were punished by the captivity in Babylon, after which they never, as a nation, worshipped idols. Have any of you found texts about idolatry?
Several of the elder girls referred to Deut. xii. 30, 31, Isaiah xl. 18-20, and xliv. 10-20. The latter verses, as their teacher said, belonged to a passage that seemed intended exactly to correct the religion of the Persians, whose prince, Cyrus, is mentioned by name. Another then read Jer. vii. 18, and x. 11. The last verse, Miss Stone observed, was written in the Chaldee or Babylonian language, in the old Hebrew Bibles, as if to show that the word of God should be spoken to all in their own language. She then asked for some references from the New Testament.
Mary turned to the latter part of Romans i. and added, "That was the chapter to which a good man used to refer, when his schoolboys had lessons from the books of the heathen writers. He would say: 'Let us see how the word of God speaks of these things.'"