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our labour in God's fear, nor, I think, on any week if we neglect our first consecration of it.”
Why, aunty, you certainly do not think writing a letter and seeing a friend breaking the sabbath ?”
“ That depends, as far as the writing is in the question, upon why it is done.
A letter of Christian counsel, or one upon which hung an issue of life and death certainly would come within our Saviour's law of the sabbath ; but I do not consider that pages filled with the trifling chit-chat of most young girls' correspondence, or with business of the week, would. The same rule applies to Sunday calls; and I know that your mother's course has not only exerted a beneficial influence
upon those of her own friends whose principle in this respect was less firm, but has led many young persons to think seriously about these matters. Mrs. Joyce thanked her, in my presence, for refusing Fred's call, and added that he had told her of it himself, saying that if all Christians were as consistent as Mrs. Douglas, young men would have more respect for religion.”
“ I am sure I do not want to do anything wrong,” said Ellen, regretfully, as she thought how careless her conduct had often been. “I only took it for granted that older people were stricter than they need be, and there was no harm done. There always seems so much better chance for doing things on Sunday, when there's no study and sewing, and I can have my time to myself.”
“Just the point, Ellen. It's not your time, it is God's, and when you use it for unnecessary, secular purposes, you are in fact robbing Him of that which he has positively commanded shall be kept holy for his service. Could you once experience the unspeakable blessedness of putting behind you for one day all the employments of the week, no matter how pleasant in themselves; or, what is more blissful still, of leaving all its perplexities and anxieties for that brief period of rest, you would consider the thought of them an intrusion to be dreaded. A dear friend, whose life is filled with trial, lately wrote to me in regard to her sabbath joy, 'I forget my
burden and my pain for one brief day. All my griefs and cares are mercifully removed from me at the threshold of the Sunday-school-always.'"
“I never saw it so before, aunty,” said Ellen, tearfully ; "it must be beautiful to have such a love for God's day as that I will try to realise it."
“Let me give you this for a motto, from a quaint old Puritan divine," said her aunt, who had been turning over the leaves of a book she held. “Hem the sabbath well, and it will not ravel out all the week.'"
Gracious and Faithful.
** Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a "lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.”—Psa. lxii. 8, 9.
spirit looks to God alone;
My rock and refuge is his throne ;
Once has his awful voice declared,
*For sovereign Power reigns not alone;
T was the evening of a long life with William Red
ford, and he was spending it as one does a calm and holy sabbath after a week of toil and care.
He had outlived all the associations of his early youth and manhood, and after years of mingled storm and sunshine, of personal and relative trials, had arrived at a mellow and venerable old age. He could tell of stirring scenes in the past, of wars and conflict, of struggles and changes, of religious revivals and faithful ministers, whose steadfast faith and godly zeal had been effectual in breaking up the lethargy and formalisin of years. But chiefly in taking a review of the past it was his joy to recognise God's goodness to himself, and the sustaining grace which he had found sufficient for his entire pilgrimage.
The portraits of his departed wife, and of two daughters, who had soon followed her into the better country, silently looked down upon him from the walls of his dining-room ; and so fondly did he cherish their memories, and so firmly did he believe in the communion of saints, that he sometimes spoke to them as if they were still occupying their accustomed places in his home. At such times he would say, as tenderly and softly as a mother's speech to her waking infant, “A little while-only a little while—and the meeting will come which shall not have the faintest thought of separation associated with it! I know that my Redeemer liveth, and therefore all the days of my appointed time will I wait until my change come.”
The life of an aged man is not marked by much that is novel in the shape of incident, and the life of my old friend was no exception to the rule. He had ample means to secure his declining years from want, and he lived in a comfortable house, to which there was a large and sunny garden attached. It was his habit—it had been such for more than fifty years—to devote a large portion of morning and evening to the devout study of the word of God, and to
secret prayer. It was a spiritual treat of no ordinary character to be in his company after these seasons of communion with God. Even though he did not speak a word, the calm radiance of his countenance and the gentleness of his manner told of what he had been engaged in, and that He who seeth in secret was thus rewarding him openly.
His garden, in which every living thing reminded him of the presence and nearness of “Him in whom we live and move and have our being," was a delight ever new, ever refreshing. He would ramble among his well-kept flowerbeds, or, more frequently, sit still in a well-sheltered arbour, watching the changing hues of the shifting clouds, and the shadows that flickered over the landscape, or listening with rapt attention to the bright music of the birds, whom no gun had ever been allowed to startle in their leafy bowers, no plunderer to disturb in their quiet nests. He had his favourites among the birds, and knew their notes well, and sometimes in the midst of a conversation would pause
“Do you hear in what a capital voice my blackbird, or my thrush, is this morning, sir?" If on any day about noon, when the day was well aired and the sun shining, it was a visitor's good fortune to find him in this retreat, he might be sure of hearing something wise and good, pure and elevating. His mental faculties, although he was fast nearing four-score years, were remarkably clear; but clearer still was his experience of the Saviour's love, which had given the grace and simplicity of childhood to his hoary hairs. He had the glory of age and scarcely any of its weakness and infirmities; but while he talked in a way that a child could understand, his simple words revealed depths of spiritual experience which showed how thorough, progressive, and harmonious his religious life had been. It had been like the shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day; it had been first the blade, then the ear,
; and now had ripened into the full corn in the ear.
He was evidently one who had nothing to do but to die and be gathered like a shock of corn fully ripe into the