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But Mr. Wilmington did not sit1 “I made a fortune out in India, down. He crossed the room to the and it's safe and sound in hard table at which Mr. Mayberry sat cash in good hands--a couple of among a hopeless array of papers. millions. I determined to bring
" There is no use wasting words, my girl up to depend on herself, Mayberry, at a time like this. Did and to learn the value of money you know your son has asked before she had the handling of her Winnie to marry him ? "
fortune. She has no idea she's an Mr. Mayberry's face lighted a heiress—my heiress. Sounds like second, and then the gloom re- a story out of a book, eh, Mayberry? turned. If my son had a fortune Well, will you shake hands on it, at his command, as I thought he and call it a bargain ?" had yesterday at this time, I would Mr. Mayberry took the little say, 'God speed you in your wooing dried-up hand almost reverentially, of Winnie Wilmington. As it is, his voice hoarse and thick with for the girl's sake, I disapprove." emotion. "Wilmington, God will
haven't a pound over reward you for this. May He, & and above, Mayberry?
thousand-fold !" “There will be nothing - less Wilmington winked away a susthan nothing. I don't know that I picious moisture on his eyelashes. really care so much for myself, but " You see it all comes of that Ernest-it is a terrible blow to him dinner, old fellow. You acted like at the very beginning of his career.” a charitable Christian gentleman,
Mr. Wilmington smiled gleefully. and between us we'll make the boy “ Good. Neither do I care for my- and Winnie as happy as they deself, but for Winnie, my little serve, eh ? " Winnie. I tell you what, Mayberry, perhaps you will wonder if I Even Mrs. Mayberry admits that am crazy, but I'll agree to settle a it was a good thing that her husquarter of a million on Winnie the band gave that dinner; and when day she marries your boy. And she expects to see Mrs. Ernest I'll lend you as much more if it'll Mayberry an honoured guest at her be of any use, and I'll start the boy board, she candidly feels that she for himself, if you say so.
Eh?" owes every atom of her splendour Mr. Mayberry looked at him in and luxury to the violet-eyed, charmspeechless bewilderment. Wilming- ing girl who wears her own ton went on;
honours with such sweet grace. STUMBLING-BLOCKS.
OCKS. BY THE REV. T. R. STEVENSON. A Paper read before the Ceylon Christian Alliance.—(Concluded.) IGNORANCE is another stone that needs removing. Forty years ago that eccentric but gifted and pure-minded orator Edward Irving remarked : “ In this Christian country there are perhaps nine-tenths of every class who know nothing at all of the application and advantages of the single truths of revelation, or of revelation as a whole.” This was a strong statement. Whether the illustrious preacher would make it if he were living now we cannot say, but that there is room for similar complaints cannot be doubted. Look at the Ritualism and Rationalism of our age. Do they not bear witness to our want of fidelity in promulgating the truth?
Far be. it from us to affirm that evangelical Churches are responsible for the existence of these evils, but can any one disprove
the assertion when we declare that they are, to a certain extent, responsible for the prevalence of these errors ? Had we done our duty they would not have spread to the extent which they have done. If a gas company leave every other lamp in a street unlit, it is not to blame for the fact that night has come, but it is to blame for the absence of illumination in the places thus neglected.
Ritualism and infidelity would never assume the gigantic proportions which they do if we were more vigorous in diffusing the gospel. We sometimes mourn because our maidens leave the places in which their fathers worshipped, and, fascinated by altar-cloths, crucifixes, incense, prostrations, bowings, intonations, etc., attend what is called " high church." But would there have been as much of this as there is if parents had been more careful to bring up their children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord"? Has not the religious education of not a few been left to the chapter of accidents ? We sigh and groan over our young men who quit “ the old paths" and swear by Darwin, Huxley, and Tyndall. But if in their boyhood and youth they had been trained to study the Bible ; if painstaking efforts had been made to show its meaning; if the wonderful aids now afforded by such scholars as Stanley, Lightfoot, and Farrar, had been brought to bear upon them, would the evil have assumed its present dimensions ?
Only give the Bible fair play, and it will hold its own against all comers. “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.” The misfortune is that it is often denied the said fair play. With many it is a much neglected book. Our young people read other books to its exclusion. Their minds are like apartments. Science knocks at the door of the apartment and it is opened. Literature applies for and gains admission. Art turns the handle and is warmly welcomed. Meanwhile, poor Revelation is kept outside, waiting till last. with volumes of history, travel, adventure, and especially fiction, the attention is so absorbed that the volume of volumes—" the Book of God and the God of books," as Gilfillan calls it—is almost ignored. “No room for Him in the inn" still has a mournful meaning as regards the treatment of Christ by some.
Surely if congregations, and especially the junior portions of them, were more rooted, grounded, settled, thoroughly indoctrinated into the " first principles of the oracles of God”--the simple but glorious truths of the gospel—there would not be the desertions from our ranks that there are. In this matter we may learn a valuable lesson from an episode in the experience of the London Missionary Society. After having established a station in one of the South Sea Islands, its usefulness was menaced in the following way. A Roman Catholic made great efforts to pervert the new converts. In addition to sundry and divers harangues, he exhibited a number of sacred relics. A fragment of the true cross, a nail used in our Lord's execution, and other extraordinary treasures of a similar kind, were displayed. But“ in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird.” The Islanders were not to
be caught by such poor artifices as these. One of them, as the mouth. piece of the others, said to the Papal preacher: "Well, sir, if you are satisfied that those are the true nails and fragments of the true cross, we are satisfied with your satisfaction. As for ourselves, we believe that Christ died for us and that's enough; we don't want anything extra." Mark the words ! “ We don't want anything extra." Yes; let us get men to see that Christ died for them, and then they will be able to dispense with the frippery and trash of superstition; they won't “ want anything extra."
The interests of religion may suffer through INDISCRETION. The serpent is to be our pattern not less than the dove. We must adapt our means to our ends. For example : we often hear complaints touching prayer-meetings. Their attendance is commonly much smaller than it should be. “Only a prayer-meeting" is a phrase which has become proverbial. If, on the Sunday, the minister announces that there will be preaching on the evening of a certain day, he will, generally speaking, have a better congregation than if he had stated that a prayer-meeting would be held. This is not to our credit. If, as Saint Augustine says, “praying is the end of preaching," we must deplore the fact under notice. He who enjoined private devotion also sanctioned social supplication. If He said, “ Thou when thou prayest,” He likewise said, “After this manner pray ye.'
." Of the first Church we read such statements as these : " Many were gathered together praying;” “These all continued with one accord in prayer ; “ And when they had prayed the place was shaken where they were assembled.”
But while we have no apology to offer on behalf of those who habitually absent themselves from these meetings, we would likewise sag. gest an inquiry : Are prayer-meetings always attractive ? Do we make them as interesting as we might? Is there not considerable scope for improvement in some of them? To wit : would it not greatly aid ministers in conducting them if they were not so restricted in their resources ? Only a few can be depended upon to assist in leading the devotions. There are just a certain limited number, and their co-operation is necessitated over and over again. What is the inevitable consequence ? Sameness and repetition-wearisome to the hearer, but almost equally so to the speaker. It would be well for members of our Christian communities to look well to this matter. Let them stir up the gift that is in them, cultivate it, and bring their share sacred fire to the common altar.
Prayer-meetings often suffer through the undue length of prayers. We know a case in which, after the service had just begun, a brother having been asked to pray kept on for such a season that it was felt desirable to follow his "amen ” with the benediction. Of such monopoly who can do other than justly complain? “You first prayed me into a good spirit, and then out of it,” said one to a long-winded suppliant. Long prayers are not synonymous with strong prayers.
Short prayers may be sweet prayers. Precious things often lie in a small compass. Peter did not occupy much time when he cried, " Lord, save me,” but it secured Christ's help. Moreover, prayers sometimes, by a lamentable species of evolution, are changed into preaching. The supplication develops into a sermon. Instead of wants being expressed in plain, straight-forward terms, we are treated to a theological dissertation. Doctrines are substituted for desires. "Father," said a little boy, “ does God know everything ?” "Yes, why do you ask ? " " Because when our minister prays he is so long telling everything, that I thought He didn't know.” The remark was natural, as was also that of the child who inquired of her mother which was the better sermon of the two, the one which the minister preached with his eyes open or the one which he delivered with his eyes shut. Simple and palpable as the observation is, it is too often forgotten that when we preach we speak to man on behalf of God, but when we pray we speak to God on behalf of man. “ In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, I will look up." “ Unto thee," not unto my fellows, "I will look up;" to heaven, not down to earth.
It may be added that effectiveness has often been given to these social gatherings by announcing beforehand some special subject. “If two of you shall agree as touching anything that ye shall ask, it shall be done for you.
A number of scattered sunbeams may give but little : bring them to a focus by means of a lens and they will even create fire. An hour directed to intercession for a special object can hardly fail to be beneficial. The ministry, the school, the Church, the families of the congregation, the "secret disciples ” of the congregation, the unsaved of the congregation-evenings set apart for prayers on behalf of these must be productive of good.
After all, however, the chief thing is for each one to go the prayermeeting in a prayerful spirit. Under the last dispensation, ere a Hebrew presented a sacrifice, he had to make ready. His hands and feet must be washed in the brazen laver, his ordinary dress must be removed and the priestly attire put on. The victim must be examined lest any imperfection should mar the acceptability of the offering, and fire from the sacred altar must be procured. We also should prepare before we present our sacrifice of prayer and praise. If, our entrance into the house of God is preceded by an earnest petition for a blessing, we shall seldom come empty away.
If instead of wending our way to the scene of worship in a carping, critical frame of mind, or a dull, lifeless mood, or an unbelieving, unexpectant spirit, we went asking the help of the Holy Ghost, we should often exclaim with the favoured witnesses of the Transfiguration, "It is good to be here." Towards the end of the last century, a Welsh preacher laboured with immense success. He was pre-eminently a man of prayer. On a certain day he was summoned to preach in a neighbourhood where a farmer lived who was to be his host. The hour for service came. No preacher appeared. The farmer sent a servant to his house to tell him that the congregation
was waiting. The servant went and returned, saying that he had gone to the minister's bedroom door but did not disturb him because he was talking to some one. "Did you hear anything that was said," asked the master. “I heard him say, “I will not come except thou come with me," and he kept begging the other to come.” “That will do," replied the farmer ; "he will come, and the Other will come with him, and great things will be done here to-day.” Yes; the Other is needed, the Other will give us power, the Other will bless our prayers. Our services will be effectual if we first get the quickening influence of the Other.
Our task is done. Much more might, of course, be said, but we forbear. As was observed at the beginning, it would not be hard to mention other hindrances to the extension of Christ's kingdom. We would, however, rather leave with you the few named and asked your impartial consideration of them. To describe the defects and shortcomings of one's fellows is an unwelcome duty. Nevertheless, if it is done in a fraternal spirit and with a good motive, none should resent it. The assassin uses his knife to take, the surgeon to save life. The Spanish fable of the Viper and the Leech is to the point here. The Viper says to the Leech,“ Why do people invite your bite, but shun mine?"
“Because,” says the Leech, “ people receive health from mine, but poison from yours." Nathan's rebuke of David led to profound repentance; and when the servants of Naaman mastered his passion by their brave, wise expostulation, they made him their debtor for life. "Plato, the very boys in the streets laugh at your singing,'' said a friend to the philosopher. “Do they ?” he replied; "then I will have to sing better.” In like manner, be this the outcome of our deliberations—to pray better, to live better, to preach better, to suffer better.
A mournful reflection arises. “ Some of you believe not." To them we would say, Beware of gloating over the foibles and evils of the Church. You are guilty of a still greater evil, namely, rejection of the Saviour. All sins are less than this. It is the cardinal, crowning transgression. Speak not then of their defects who trust Jesus, while you never trust Him at all! " First cast out the beam that is in thine own eye, then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote that is in thy brother's eye." Do not direct your gaze to believers. Fix it on Him in whom they believe.
“Look at religion less as lived than taught;
From its professors have it not, but spell
The alphabet of truth." “What think ye of Christ ? That is the question. The real question is not, What think ye of the Christian ?-What think ye of this sect or that denomination ?-but, " What think ye of Christ ?” You may be spiritually dead. He can give you life. Ask Him, and He will impart it. Seek Him, and this shall be your biography : “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.”