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who will shape the world's moral course at its closing hour, and be swept into that mighty drag-net which will enclose unto perdition.

Yet, even among the daughters of man's city,' grace can, and does, find a remnant. Not unfrequently before had this pilgrim stranger, whom the sun had looked on and blackened, who could speak of the roes and hinds of the field, or of vineyards, or sheepfolds, or of lilies, but knew not the manners of the city, being a stranger to its palaces and its priestly courts -not unfrequently before had this wanderer found herself in the presence of the daughters of Jerusalem. Yet never before had she stood before them as now, in reproach and dishonour, smitten and wounded, and that by the guardians of their city-at a time, too, when she could no longer say that she was with her Lord, or closely following his footsteps. On the contrary, she had to confess that she had wandered from and lost Him; and she even appealed in the excitement of her harassed heart to them, as if they could tell her where to find Him whom her soul loved,-a vain and foolish appeal; for how could they direct her who knew nothing of her Lord or of his ways? Yet such often is the manner of the servants of Christ, when they have wandered | from the practical place into which He seeks to separate his people. Impulsiveness and excitement give birth to great activities; but there is a want of reflectiveness-a want of sobriety of mind. There is an absence of the calm guidance of truth; and if this condition of soul continues, if Christ do not quickly bring back to the place where He feeds his separated flock with his own pure truth, the results are unspeakably sorrowful. What more disastrous than unguided or misguided energy! It is as when soldiers, abandoning their banners and their lawful leaders, rush wildly into the battle-field; or as when a torrent, having no channels prepared for its course, spreads desolation where its waters, rightly guided, would have brought fertility and fruitfulness.

It was, however, otherwise with her whose history we are here considering. Her wandering was not to be prolonged. Her Lord had come and effectually roused her from her evil slumber, and her heart was incapable of rest until she again found herself practically by his side. If she had been content with anything short of this, she would probably have linked herself in some way to the daughters of Jerusalem, and abjectly submitted to their control, and made the keepers of their walls her masters. When the people of Christ are content to remain in practical distance from their Lord, this commonly becomes their condition-a condition of degradation and debasement. With her, however, it was far otherwise. A secret hand was

quickly guiding her back to her place of holy rest, and she was truly willing to follow as it led. Soon, therefore, she ceased from seeking counsel of the daughters of the city, and became to them a testifier and a guide. The praises of Him whom her heart loved were in her lips, and that not feignedly. There was fervour in her recital of his excellences-vigour in her description. It was the utterance of the heart; and although her position was not yet rectified, yet it was being rectified. She was not settling down into a place of practical distance from her Lord. Every thought, every expression, indicated that her soul was bent on recovering the place which she had lost. Her testimony, therefore, was blessed. It took effect upon the souls of those that heard. And they said at last, 'Whither is thy Beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy Beloved turned aside? that we may seek Him with thee.'

These words are indeed notable. If the daughters of Jerusalem had merely said, We will join thee, or help thee in seeking thy Beloved, it might have been nothing more than the expression of a transient feeling which sudden emotion may produce on unstable, fickle hearts. But in that case they would not have used the words, 'O thou fairest among women.' These were indeed strange words to be found in the lips of those who, when they had once before looked on this stranger, had despised her because she had known toil and travail in the vineyard, or at the folds where she had laboured for her Lord, where the sun had scorched her and the storm beaten on her. But now, although she was not only still blackened and worn, but smitten also and wounded, and her heart restless and unhappy, she nevertheless was suddenly addressed, by those who had hitherto contemned her, as the 'fairest among women.' Her blackness had now become comeliness in their sight; her bruises were honourable; her sufferings blessed. The eye of faith was given them. Their estimate of her was changed. They viewed her as she was viewed by Him who had now become their Lord as well as hers; for none but those who have communion of heart with Him can see honour and beauty in those whom man looks on as the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things.' Wherever the heart's estimate is so altered as to judge that to be honour and beauty which before it accounted ignominy and vileness, there must have been a change wrought by the Spirit of the living God. And now grace had accomplished its object. She had been aroused, chastened, taught, and made in sorrow to learn the appointed lesson; yet even in the midst of that sorrow had been so favoured, so blessed, that when she returned to her Lord, she

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returned to Him with increase. Others had been won to discern his excellences, and to seek the place in which He loved to dwell. That place she now descried; that place she again found. 'My beloved,' she said, 'is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.' These spices and these lilies were not found in the city. They were without the gate. There she had before rejoiced in the presence and favour of Him whom her soul loved, and there she rejoiced in Him again,—with increased apprehension of the contrast between the rest of the city, and the joys of the garden,-with increased consciousness of her need of the mercy and grace of his faith

ful hand. Once more we find her able to say, My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feedeth among the lilies.'

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May we learn the lesson. May we fear even to rest in man's city; much more may we dread to be numbered among its watchmen.' Let us go without the gate, acting on man's city, if we can, so as to gather out of it; but showing ourselves to be not of it. If the servants of Christ give themselves over to the world, to subserve its purposes and forward its designs, they hand of the Philistines-his eyes put out-his will find themselves at last like Samson in the Nazarite separation lost-his distinctive strength departed, whilst that which yet remained to him was forced into the service of the stranger-the service of the enemies of the God of Israel.

Sunny Thoughts for Clouded Hours.

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No. I.

THE GOD OF PATIENCE AND CONSOLATION.' N the broad outlines of a great trial, there have always been others who have suffered in a similar way. Do we mourn the loss of a husband or a wife, a father, a mother, a sister, or a friend?-so do others. Have we suddenly been cast down from the heights of affluence to the depths of poverty?-so have others. Are we spending our life in weariness and suffering, lying year after year on the bed of languishing and pain?-so are others also. But if in all great trials there is a measure of similarity, are there not also details of suffering, minute touches of sorrow, which are peculiar to each alone, and which for each, as it were, individualizes the trial? And how much the loneliness these details make us feel, from their being generally so unsuspected by others, adds to the intensity of our grief.

With the outer features of a great sorrow many will sympathize; for the world is not, by any means, so unfeeling or so unkind as some suppose. But when you have tried to tell some of the little things that made the sorrow peculiarly your own, have you never been thrown back into yourself, as it were, by the friend to whom you were speaking interrupting you with words of comfort, which fell powerless on your aching heart, because you felt your friend did not know where the blow was most keenly felt, and therefore the words, which were intended to soothe, did not touch the wound? They took it for granted that they knew all, because they knew what lay near enough to the surface to be easily detected; and because they had not patience to listen to your tale, they utterly failed to comfort.

In thinking over this not long ago, I was greatly struck by the beauty and the comfort of the words, where God is called 'the God of patience and consolation' (Rom. xv. 5). Do we take all the comfort that we might, or rather that we ought, from the thought of God's patience? I never realized the exceeding preciousness of the attribute, as I did when that versc was brought to my remembrance the other day. What matter if others do not know the details of our sorrow,-if they have not time to listen to the weary heart unburdening itself? There is One beside us who will listen; He draws so near that He can hear the faintest whisper. He is so well acquainted with grief,' that He can rightly interpret every sigh, and tear, and groan. He does not speak; He only draws nearer still, and looks at you with such deep, such tender compassion, that you cannot resist telling Him everything, till every drop of your cup of sorrow is poured out before Him.

When that has been done,-in broken whispers, it may be, or in voiceless words,-you know, do you not, the blessed rest of having the God of patience' for your Friend? The having so fully told your sorrow to One who can so well understand it, has already lightened it; and now that you have nothing more to say, and while still gazing up, with the eye of faith, into that wondrous face of love, He reveals himself to you under another aspect-even as the God of consolation.'

With what exquisite tenderness He binds up the broken heart! With what marvellous skill He applies the promises! All images fail to give an idea of what the Lord Jesus is as the God of consolation.' 'As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you' (Isa. xlix. 15).

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Wonderful words! yet a mother may forget, but the God of consolation never. A mother has other duties to perform; she must sometimes leave even a sick child; but the God of consolation' can be always with you,-can watch over you with an interest as undivided as if you alone required his care. He will water you every moment' (Isa. xxvii. 3). Through the long night-watches, when others have lain down to rest, He will be with you; for He neither slumbers nor sleeps' (Ps. cxxi. 4). Fear thou not' (Isa. xli. 10) is his encouraging command; and what a blessed reason He gives for the in- | junction! He does not say, 'Fear not, for you are strong; or, Fear not, for sorrow shall not touch you.' Better far, He says, 'Fear not, for I am with thee.' And no matter how high the waves of sorrow may roll, or how hot the furnace of affliction may burn, when the God of consolation' is with us, no evil can happen to us; for what would be evil without Him, by a wondrous alchemy becomes changed into good with Him. Well and cheerily, then, may we echo the Psalmist's words: 'I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me' (Ps. xxiii. 4).

But when we have thus learned something of what the Lord Jesus can be as the God of patience and consolation,' does He not lead us on a step higher? I think He does; and that we may learn it from Luke x. 34, where we find Him, under the figure of the good Samaritan, pouring oil and wine into the wounds of the man who had fallen amongst thieves. You observe it was oil first,-oil, to soothe, to comfort, to refresh; and then, when that had done its work, wine, wine, the very emblem of joy and gladness: Wine that maketh glad the heart of man' (Ps. civ. 15). Do you feel faint and exhausted from the heavy pressure of your sorrow? then the wine which the Lord will give shall alike cheer and invigorate, for the joy of the Lord is your strength' (Neh. viii. 10).

Have you not experienced the truth of this? Have you not felt the tender consideration, the wonderful wisdom, of the way in which the Lord has dealt with you in sorrow?—not giving joy first, and then consolation, and then patience. Oh, no; for 'He knoweth our frame' (Ps. ciii. 14), and is acquainted with grief' (Isa. liii. 3); but He gives patience first, and then consolation, and then joy.

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But it may be that, to some one who reads these pages, He may have seen it needful, for some wise and loving purpose, which shall be revealed hereafter, to send a sorrow so deep and so lasting, that, though ever making himself known to you as 'the God of patience and consolation,' He rarely holds the cup of joy to your lips. Shall that draught, then, never be yours? Oh, yes, it shall. It shall be yours when all need for patience and consolation has for ever passed away. When the last tear shall have been wiped away by the hand once pierced for you, then you shall drink of the new wine that Jesus has promised, when you sit down with Him in the kingdom of the Father (Matt. xxvi. 29). Then you shall have the fulness of joy, only to be found in the immediate presence of Him, at


whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore' (Ps. xvi. 11).


So once again you are laid upon a bed of sickness,-quite shut out, and that for an indefinite time, from the active work you so dearly loved. I well know how keenly you are feeling the trial, and how, as the loved ones around you set out on their several ways day after day, you long to join them; and because you cannot do so, you feel useless, and, as a necessary consequence, depressed; for your heart's desire is to bring forth much fruit, to the glory of the Father' (John xv. 8).

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Perhaps, if we look somewhat more deeply into the subject, we shall find that, although shut out from what is called active work on your sick-bed, you are not therefore by any means necessarily precluded from bringing forth much fruit.' I am sure you will agree with me that all work is not service; but only that work which God has prepared for you, and gives you to do-that, and that only, is service; and it is when doing that, and that only, that you are doing his pleasure.' And surely all will agree that the object of all work is, or ought to be, the doing God's pleasure, whatever that pleasure may be. In your own household, for instance, you have chosen a particular person to be cook, because you believed her to be especially qualified for that business. You have chosen another to be housemaid, for the same reason; another to be your own maid; and so on. While each of these keeps to her own business, all goes on well; but if the housemaid thought she could do more for you as cook, and meddled in a business she was unfitted for, I think you would not thank her for interfering in your plans, however hard she might have worked. Would you not tell her that you were the best judge of what each of your servants should do; that mere hard work did not constitute service, but only that particular work you had appointed for her; and that only by doing that, whether it was great or small, could she 'do your pleasure;' or, in other words, either serve or please you? And is it not just so in God's household-the church? He 'divideth to every man severally as He will' (1 Cor. xii. 11), and ‘giveth not account of any of his matters' (Job xxxiii. 13). To one He may give the service of being a missionary; to another He may give the power that tells on the masses, as He did to Wesley and Whitfield in olden days; to another, such faith in pleading the promises, that, wherever they go, heaven seems to rain down a blessing. To some, the path on which they are to walk for life seems plainly indicated almost at their first step heavenward; while to others-and they form, I believe, an immense majority-guidance is only given day by day, just as they say, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?' And if, in simple, childlike faith, we asked this question, morning by morning, of our heavenly Father, I believe that not only would our hearts be filled with a peace, and joy, and rest, to which they would otherwise be strangers; but also, that if we were all

day long watching for the answer, and were given grace to do that, and only that, which God would have us do, we should accomplish an amount of service, and bring forth an amount of fruit, that we could neither accomplish nor bear in any other possible way.

Do not for a moment suppose that, if you were strong and well, you could glorify God far more than you can now that his hand has laid this sickness upon you. Think how precious his own glory must be to Him; how continually it is given as a reason for his mighty acts! (See Isa. xlii. 8, xliii. 7, xlviii. 11.) How often is his name or his glory used as the very strongest and most unanswerable plea in urging a request! As we hear Daniel_pleading: O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name' (Dan. ix. 19; see also Josh. vii. 8, 9). You may well, then, trust God to take care of his own glory, and believe that, having infinite wisdom and infinite power, as well as infinite love, He has placed you in the very position, and surrounded you with the very circumstances, where you can best promote his glory.

There is most perfect rest in the full realizing of this blessed truth. And a change of work is not idleness. True, you cannot go out and work; but cannot God bring work to you even in your sick-room? If from your heart you are enabled to give up your own will,-to cease saying, 'I want to do this or that,' and simply to say, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?-you will marvel | at the answers that will come; and is not work doubly precious that comes so direct from God, as all such work must do?

But supposing you are too ill, or too suffering, to be able to do anything for others, except pray for them,-or, it may be, not even to do that, you are not necessarily idle. The tiny child is not idle as she sits on her mother's knee, learning her little verse or hymn, or listening eagerly to 'the sweet story of old.' And you are not idle as you sink down, wearily it may be, but trustfully, on the everlasting arms, and, yielding up your own will for active service, just look up at your Saviour. Ah! is it not thus that you are to grow like Him-thus that you are to be transformed into his image? (2 Cor. iii. 18.) Can any other work so rejoice the heart of God, as that of one of his people growing more and more like Jesus? Does any other work bring Him such glory as this? Can we believe that any fruit is so precious to Him as that which is so emphatically called the fruit of the Spirit, and which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance?' (Gal. v. 22, 23.) And there is not one ingredient, if we may use the expression, in this fruit that may not be borne in sickness and in sorrow.

Do you say, There is no joy for me? Not earthly joy, it may be; but, as the stars shine brightest when the light of day has faded, so, in the hour of deepest sorrow, may not the Christian say, 'Yet-notwithstanding all that has happened, all that may happen-yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my

salvation?' (Hab. iii. 18.) There is no sorrow so great, or so deep, in which God cannot mingle cause for rejoicing. We are not wont, it is true, to sing in the night; but God can, and, if we ask Him, He will, put a new song into our mouth, even praise unto our God' (Ps. xl. 3). And He himself says, Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me' (Ps. 1. 23). But besides joy, think what opportunities of bearing fruit God has placed within your reach, in the exercise of love, peace, gentleness, etc. etc. Oh! seek to bear much of such fruit, that, when you hear the Beloved praying that the north wind and the south may blow upon his garden, that the spices thereof may flow out, you may be able to answer in the words of the Bride, 'Let my Beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits' (Song iv. 16).

But perhaps the greatest comfort a child of God can have, when set apart from active work by sickness, or by other circumstances, is the contemplation of our blessed Saviour's own life on earth. He was only thirty-three years old when He died on the cross; and for thirty years out of the thirty-three, He was what many, in these busy days, would probably call idle. Though his power was as great, and his love as tender as afterwards, yet, during those thirty years, He did not perform one single miracle. He must surely have met many a widow as sorrowful as her of Nain; yet He never laid his hand on the bier, and bade the dead arise. He must have known many a home left desolate, like that at Bethany; but He never put forth his power, and restored the loved one to his home again. Nay, more, souls were perishing around Him, and He did not proclaim himself to be the Saviour of sinners. He could not have loved Jerusalem less dearly then than when He wept over its coming ruin; and yet, for thirty years, He gave no invitation to its inhabitants to repent. How are we to account for this? How, but by the fact that He came from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent Him (John vi. 38); and to do that will, whatever it might be, was his meat and drink' (John iv. 34).

Think for a moment what those long years of waiting must have been to Jesus,-conscious of his power, yet so patiently waiting till his hour was come to manifest it! And then, when the hour came, how unremittingly He did work! The very interruptions, as we would call them, which occurred in his day's work, were not counted as interruptions by Him, but as indications of the Father's will, and therefore as the very best thing He could do at that particular moment.

Dear sufferer, will not the remembrance of those thirty years of our blessed Saviour's life, in which He waited to begin his work, cheer and encourage you, while you too are kept waiting? Think of Him, and follow in his steps. Look at that wonderful promise in Isa. xl. 31: 'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.' Turn back to

the 20th verse, and you will find that the very same words are applied to God himself (not, of course, as a promise, but as a fact): The Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary. Oh, if you do but wait patiently upon God, with what renewed strength will you return to active work when your hour has come, and you hear the joyful summons, 'Go work in my vineyard to-day!' (Matt. xxi. 28.)

But perhaps it may never be the Father's will to call you to active service here. If so, do not fold your hands in despair. Say with Jesus in the garden: O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;' but when you do, fail not to add, as He did, that wonderful nevertheless:''Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done' (Luke xxii. 42). And whatever the answer to that prayer may be, remember that you can never be placed in any position, or in any circumstances, where you may not serve God by 'doing his pleasure." Oh! see to it that you are bearing in abundance the fruit of the Spirit,the fruit that God loves best,-the fruit that thrives and flourishes as well in the night of adversity as in the day of prosperity.

Remember also that this life is only, as it were, our school-time,-the time in which the Great Teacher is training us for the life to come. He trains each child differently; but with all, everything He does has reference to eternity. By this prolonged suffering He may be training you in the only way He could train you for your work in heaven. There is no idleness there: They rest not day and night' (Rev. iv. 8). And again, His servants shall serve Him,'- -serve Him without let or hindrance from sickness or from sorrow, serve Him by doing his pleasure, and his pleasure only, without flaw or imperfection. Yes; there they shall serve Him day and night in his temple' (Rev. vii. 15).


You wonder why it is that, when you ask God for a strictly spiritual blessing, for something that you are quite sure He would wish you to have, for something, in fact, that He has promised to give to those that ask for it,-that He so often delays a long time before He actually gives it.

May it not be, that though the blessing you ask for is in itself good, yet that for you, and in your particular circumstances, something better still may be gained by the delay? God may wait to give you what is good, till, by something being added to it, it becomes better, or the best. Perhaps the following parable will explain my meaning more clearly.

'Mother,' said little Philip one morning, 'this day month you promised to give me half-a-crown to buy a Bible. I know you never forget anything,' he added, as if half ashamed of what he had said; but you told me that I might remind you of it in a month, and it is a month this very day.'

'I thought of it this morning as I was dressing, dear,' replied Mrs. Somerville; I hoped you would remember it. Do you know why I

kept you waiting a whole month, and desired you to remind me of my promise at the end of it?'

'No, mother,' said Philip, 'I do not know; but I am quite sure you had a good reason for it, and that you were not afraid you would forget.'

His mother smiled as she said, 'No, I was not afraid I should forget; and I am very glad you trusted my love enough to be sure I had a good reason for making you wait. A month is a long time for a little boy like you to wait for anything; and I wanted to find out if you were really anxious for the Bible, or that it was only a passing fancy. I knew that, if you really wished for it, you would think of it so often that you would not fail to remember it when the day came round.'

I am sure I thought of it nearly a hundred times a day,' said Philip energetically. I used even to dream about it sometimes; and when I used to get tired of waiting, and wonder why you did not give it to me at once, I used just to think how wise you were, and how much you loved me, and then it did not seem hard. And now I am very glad I had such a long wait, for I am sure I shall enjoy my Bible twice as much as I would have done if you had given it to me at once.'

I am sure you will,' replied his mother; and besides, if I had given it to you the very first moment that you asked for it, you would have missed the lessons of trust and patience that I hope you have learned; and, my boy, you do not know how I rejoice with my whole heart to see you learn such lessons. God grant you may never forget them! Now,' she continued, taking half-a-crown out of her purse, here is the halfcrown that I promised. I will shut it up in my hand, and try if you can get it out.'

A shade of disappointment passed over Philip's face, but it faded away in a moment; for no matter what Mrs. Somerville did, Philip was always sure that it was right; so, kneeling down beside her, he made a violent effort to open her hand.

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'Gently, gently, darling,' said his mother; 'you will never open it that way. Go quietly about it, and you will have a much better chance of success.'

Again he tried, and again he failed. Somewhat disheartened, he glanced up at his mother's face. She was looking so lovingly and encouragingly at him, that he felt she wished him to succeed. This gave him fresh courage. Though so much stronger than he was, he knew she would not use that strength against him, but would only use it to teach him a lesson of perseverance, as she had already taught him one of trust and patience.

Once more he looked up at the loving face, and then tried again to open her hand. Very gently he went to work, trying to squeeze one of his little fingers between hers. She saw that the lesson had been learned. One by one her fingers relaxed, her hand opened, and in joyful triumph Philip held up the half-crown.

Was the mother less happy than the child?

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