Изображения страниц
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Well, you know what a great fall of snow we had last week, and one snowy night a gentleman found her in a heap of snow-quite alone."

66 Have you found her parents or friends ?"

"No: we know nothing about her, and she does not seem able to tell us where she lived."

So there she was-a homeless child in the midst of three millions of people.

Young women who do not know London are often exposed to great dangers. Having crossed some of the Squares at late hours, and resolved upon taking a near cut home, I turned down a street near St. Pancras Church, and suddenly came upon a young woman weeping bitterly. Some people were watching her, but none interfered in any way. In fact, your true Londoner is very shy at noticing distressed young women, especially at night. They are SO familiar with imposture, dodges, and false accusations, that they do not fly to the rescue of every distressed damsel. However, I do not allow myself to fear danger in such matters, and I therefore went to her and said:

"What is the matter ?"

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

as well as you can, and I will try to take you there."

She thought for a moment, and then told me the sort of locality she had her lodgings in, and recognizing it, I told her I knew where it was, and would take her to her residence. We had a mile to go, and when we arrived at the door she was profuse in her thanks. Here, however, I would say, take care when you act the Good Samaritan in this way. You may be led into a trap, and repent of your kindness. To young women who do lose themselves at night I would offer this advice,Stand still until the policeman comes along, and get him to direct you; or, what may be better, ask him to place you in a cab, and to take its number before you start off; then if "cabby" does not treat you well it will be easy to punish him. Besides, if he knows his number is taken, he will behave well, and convey you home all right.

[ocr errors]

A grim and dreadful interest used to surround Newgate Gaol the night before a public execution-the more so as this was generally a Sunday night. As an open-air preacher to the crowd assembled to witness the awful end of murderers, I had, more than once, to go and survey the ground and people on the night previous to the execution. This re vealed to me many shocking scenes of depravity. Drunken men, scolding women, swearing, obscene boys and girls, hideous old hags, fierce and hungry thieves, stolid policemen, and little lost children, were there in hundreds, and the noise was like that of a fair.

This was in Christian England on a Sabbath night.


Up came a butcher's man thick, greasy, hoarse-voiced wretch -who said:

"Want a window, sir; want a window. You can have that window," pointing to one in a house, "for a guinea; and that one,' pointing to another, "for half a

guinea. You can go in now, sir, and have what you like to eat and drink, and a pack o' cards to 'muse yourself with till the execution."

I did not accept the offer, but passed on my way through the crowd of brutal idlers, and so home to snatch a little sleep before going forth in the morning to preach the everlasting gospel to the mob assembled in front of the scaffold.

In visiting the poor I have often been out very late, and witnessed aspects of society, domestic misery, and savage violence, enough to make the strongest man shudder.

"Will you go, sir," said one to me, at ten o'clock one night, "to visit a family in distress ?"

"By all means: I will go now." Off we went, down streets, round corners, and round more corners, until at length we came to a door surrounded by a lot of people indulging in gossip. They parted to let us pass up stairs, and up stairs we went. It was pitch dark. Up, up we went. No light of any kind could be seen, nor was any sound heard other than the dull noise of our footsteps. At length we stood. on the attic landing, and my guide took hold of my hand and led me into the room. I could see nothing. "Mrs. Jones, are you at home ?" said my guide.

"Yes," replied a voice.

There was a rustle in a corner-a footstep-and then the dusky form of a woman stood near me.

"Have you no candle," I said.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

No, sir, I have not.' "Take this sixpence," said I to my guide, "and buy one, and bring it here."

Off he went, stumbling down the dark stairs, and I was left alone in the attic with the woman, who told me how her husband had been ill; how the landlord had taken their furniture; how he had tried to force them out of the room by removing the windows, and leaving them exposed to the cold winds of frosty

winter; how he had taken away the door; and, finally, how she and her four children had been sleeping on the floor when we came in.

It was even so. When the candle was lighted, I saw that all the furniture had been removed, there was no door, and some old carpeting hung where the windows had been. Four children were asleep on the floor, and in their midst was a place for the poor mother.

Such scenes abound in London, even when millions of money are being spent upon strong drink, tobacco, dainty dinners, splendid balls, and opera singers. "Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this ?"

There are, alas! many miserable, sinful women in London whose hearts and lives are alike defiled. Still many of them are profoundly penitent, and anxious to resume a purer and happier existence. Once, at midnight, I found myself with eight of them; and thinking that perhaps I could best affect them by reminding them of home, mother, and brighter days, I said:

"Did any of you ever go to a Sunday school ?"

All of them had!

"You can sing, then, I know. Now what shall we sing ?" One said:

"Come let us join our cheerful songs." Another said:

"There is a fountain filled with blood." And a third said:


"We sing of the realms of the blest." As they spoke I looked at their poor, painted, haggard faces, and felt nearly choked with emotion. was singing the Lord's song in a strange land indeed. Well: we sung all the hymns; but, Oh! my dear reader, may you never see the tears I did.

Still, as I said, many are anxious to reform. But then, alas! they often seek in vain for a way of escape. One of them sat for twenty

four hours at the door of a Home" in the hope that she might enter in and be saved. She wept and pleaded


The door could not be opened; there were no empty beds, no funds to save a soul from death.

At last

she went away in despair; and as she passed into darkness, she covered her poor face with her hands, and cried aloud, saying:

"God! God! there is no door open to us but hell's."

And so she vanished in the dark, dark night.


THE Scriptures prove themselves in manifold ways to be a divine echo of the human heart as well as a unique revelation of the will of God. Jehovah often interprets, better than we can ourselves, the thoughts, yearnings, and hopes which sway our souls, and His voice finds a response from the profounder depths of our spiritual nature more readily than any other we are privileged to hear. Not only is this the case with the truths He communicates to us, but even in the mode and degree in which some of those truths enter into the structure of the Bible there is a striking resemblance to, in fact an almost perfect transcript of, the experience of men.

The conception of the immortality of the soul crops up in the field of inspiration as it does in that of every day life, now so abruptly as to compel every traveller's gaze, and now so unobtru sively that only practiced and sympathetic eyes can discover it. As the idea is not always, perhaps only occasionally, strongly felt by men, so it is not luminously present on every page of Scripture. But as the shadows of eternity are ever falling on the common scenes of daily duty and daily care, so athwart the pages of God's word there are glimmerings of the light of the unseen world. Doubtless some portions of the book and the life do not immediately betray the presence of the powers of the world to come, but it would be extremely hazardous to declare that their influences are absolutely absent from any page of the former or fragment of the latter. For as men living in the very centres of worldliness, in an atmosphere saturated with time and sense, often catch glimpses of eternity, so there may be

seen ensigns and symbols of the invisible world in the biographies of Haman and Mordecai, the scepticism of Ecclesiastes, and the whirlwind of doubts that rushes through the book of Job. The imperious instinct of immortality which persists in asserting that our individual existence is not closed when the curtain falls on the stage of our earthly activity, long ages since urged the Hebrew to a similar anticipation in the wilderness, gave him a joyful song in Zion's temple, and an unfailing solace by the waters of Babylon. Natural religion has always intimated a coming day of retribution. The children of a "locust-eaten past" have ever looked forward to the rich harvest of an allcompensating future. The logic of the conscience has generally conducted men to the belief in a time when the discords of sin will be hushed in the harmonious music of a regenerated world. Suffering and wronged man has learned to project his being into another and rectifying state, and in his dying hours has been sustained by a vivid faith in brighter and never-ending scenes. The descendants of Abraham enjoyed all the results of such a training, and possessed in addition the special revelation of God.

Hence on the pages of Hebrew literature man is seen fervently desiring the eternal. His soul thirsts for the living, the everliving God. Oppressed with a sense of weakness and weariness, vexed with the vanity of life's intensest struggles, and threatened with the speedy and irresistible approach of death, he seeks a refuge that can never be invaded, a home that outlives all generations, and a portion that continues to satisfy when heart and flesh shall have failed for ever.

Everywhere the Old Testament reveals the immortal God. He is the same, and His years change not. His being abides unaffected amid exhaustless vicissitude. He is the Lord Jehovah in whom there is everlasting strength. His counsel stands fast for ever and ever, and the thoughts of His heart to all generations. His laws know no change. Made with an infinite foresight, they embrace the necessary adaptations to all the varieties of human circumstance, and the exigencies of different ages and climes. On the solid rock of His eternal truth men anchor in safety and are never moved. On His infinite purity they confidingly gaze, for its glory can never be dimmed. From His power they constantly draw, for it is as inexhaustible as it is gentle and tender. In the midst of His mercies they dwell full of peace and hope, giving thanks with a glad heart because His mercy endureth for ever. The God of the Hebrew is always the Eternal and Almighty Leader of His people.

But the idea of God's eternity generates in the atmosphere of inspiration, and as by a natural law the conception of man's illimitable future. Because He lives we shall live also, is an axiom to the Christian consciousness. The notion, not the fact, of our enduring existence springs in a nature like ours out of the knowledge of His immortality. There is a heaven for us because there is a God, and we have a personal subjective eternity of being because there is a personal, real, and eternal Deity. The roots of all life are in God, and man soon learns to see his own immortality clearly when he has seen God's. The book, therefore, that discovers to us the "I am that I am," will scarcely be barren concerning the future of men.

Nor is it. The creation of Adam in the divine image is the audible whisper of this fundamental fact of man's spiritual nature, and though the first sin defaces, it does not completely efface the stamp of eternity impressed on bis brow. The victory of Abel's faith was not eclipsed by his cruel death, but forthwith proclaimed by pæans of angels in a cloudless land. Enoch walked with God and was not. But why? Because death had seized him with relentless grasp? Because

the grave held him with tightening grip? No: God took him to be with himself. Abram, cheered by promise, eagerly looked for a city whose foundations were firmer than Zion's, and whose builder was God. Job, cast down, but not destroyed, bravely battled with hosts of objections, taunts, and insinuations, marshalled by his friends, and victoriously sung of his faith in the everlasting Redeemer who could not fail him in the latter day. Moses, reared in the lap of Egyptian plenty, dowered with the riches of Egyptian learning, flushed with the bright hopes of an Egyptian Crown, boldly casts all aside, preferring the care and society of the people of God because he has respect, not to the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, but to the recompense of an enduring reward. Elijah ascends to heaven, not as a death-vanquished captive, but as a living victor in a firechariot of triumph. David drew abundant comfort from the well of expectation, and sung at once of his Lord's ascent from the grave, and his own satisfaction in conscious resemblance to God after death. Daniel taught the captive Jews that "the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever." The fact still lives in the book of Wisdom. Jesus met with it amongst the current conceptions of His day, brought it to the light of His life and illuminated it, carried it to its stable throne by His resurrection; and since then it has ruled almost without intermission the faith of the Christian church, and given an unprecedented dignity and value to man all over the world.

To say, then, that this fundamental fact of man's spiritual nature is not taught in the Old Testament, is to commit two mistakes. It confounds, in the most glaring way, the definitions of a creed with the declarations of truth, and dogmatic representation of a belief with its existence in and dominion over the soul. It forgets that truths which powerfully affect the springs of human action, colouring thought, controlling emotion and directing will, often fail to put themselves obtrusively forward in the noisy talk of the senate, the market, and the street. Read the more ancient Scrip.

ture in the light of every-day experience, and it will be seen that as Nature nowhere formulates her laws, but incessantly obeys them, moving along with

an almost unbroken quiet, so the revelations of God and man in Scripture are all cast in the mould of the idea of Eternity. J. CLIFFORD.



IMAGINE that you are living about 2900 years ago, and walking in a beautiful region where corn-fields and meadows stretch away on every side. You enter a village and meet coming out of it a country boy who is going before a flock of sheep, leading them to the uplands, where they may browse at pleasure. He has what is not usual in that hot climate-a ruddy cheek, telling of fresh air, exercise, and temperance; his eye is clear and openjust the window out of which a truthful soul would love to look; his step is firm and free, as if inspired by strength and courage; and as you pass him he gives you the usual greeting, "Peace!" with a sweetly sounding voice that makes it doubly grateful-so much has tone to do with the satisfaction produced by courteous words. Who is he? you ask yourselves as you pass on; and though he is dressed as a peasant lad, you are sure he is a very pleasant one, and would like to know something of his history; and you are soon informed. A villager approaches, and to your inquiry he replies, “Oh, he! Why that is the youngest son of Farmer Jesse, who lives over there: a large farmer, too, having many sheep, and several grown up sons to help him; but this youngest is the favourite with the neighbours. He is a lad worth knowing so good, so cheerful, so kind, so bold !" You wonder what bold thing that youngster can have done, and smile at the friendly praise. But, in his turn, the villager pities your ignorance, and wonders in his heart, though he is too well bred to say so, where you can have lived not to have heard that story of which all the country-side has rung a little while ago. "Bold!-why yes, when as he was watching his sheep one night a lion and a bear rushed on them and carried off two of the finest of the flock; and he, noble lad! instead of running down to alarm the village,


pursued and killed them both, and saved the torn and bleeding sheep. How he did it he never could explain. He said it was as if, while he pursued the beasts, he was carried forward by a hand he could not see, and was able to strike with a force which the cruel creatures could not stand." "Did that make him proud?" "Oh, no; he never had been proud, but he seemed to get more gentle afterwards, as if he felt that God had done it all. The very sheep are fond of him, and the lambs never skip so merrily as when he plays to them upon his pipe." "Is he a musician?" And, indeed, he is; yet how he learnt no one knows. It appeared to come to him like nature, as the colour to the grass, and the sweet smell to the flowers after the early rains." "And does he love societyto mix and talk with the people of the village ?" Not so much of that; he is happiest, he says, when he is alone with his sheep, and when he can think as he is piping; and some do say that he has made little songs that are fit to be sung by the priests themselves, they are so lively and so good." "Are not his parents and brothers proud of him?" "His brothers do not take very kindly to him, for they are so much older, and look down upon him; but-bless you!-that doesn't disturb him; he is always willing to oblige them; and his father, it is thought, didn't know his worth though he loves him much. But his mother doated on him as her youngest, and from her he learned all he knows-and that is more than many Levites-of the history of our people.' "And what is it thought he will become when he grows to be a man?" "Who can say? but people whisper that if he had been as old as Saul, Samuel might have been sent to make him king instead of the son of Kish. But who knows what's to be? God will do what seemeth Him good."

And is this all a dream or fancy

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »