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for some one. She looked at the string of carriages in the road, and then in the faces of the foot-passengers as they went by, but let them all pass till Mr. Dallas came, when, after a moment's glance, she ran up to him and said, "Take me over, please."
He readily complied with her request, and, when safe on the other side, the little creature at once set off merrily towards her home, to the amusement of her good-natured protector, who, when telling the story in after-years, was accustomed to say that the trust and confidence reposed in him by that tiny child were the most flattering marks of respect a stranger ever paid him.
"A simple tale, truly !" you will say. It is so; and the lesson it may teach us is simple also, and yet withal so difficult that most of us experience careful days and sleepless nights, weep bitter tears and suffer cruel heartaches, because we fail to learn and practise its wisdom. It is a simple truth that God can and will take care of those who put themselves under His protection; and yet how few of us have so mastered that truth as to be free from undue anxiety in the time of trial because our trust is in Him! We stand dismayed when difficulties obstruct our path, like timid passengers at a street-crossing. We wait for a favourable moment to pass on our way, and when it comes our courage fails, and the chance is lost; or we make a false start, rush into danger, and have to retrace our steps and begin over again. We tremble and hesitate, we look to the right hand and the left in sore perplexity, and all the time there is a trusty Guide, a willing Helper, ready to lead us on in safety, when, distrusting our own powers, we shall look up to Him and say, "Oh, take me over this trouble!"
There is but one cure for an over-anxious and timorous spirit, and that is a conscious belief that some one more wise and powerful than ourselves takes an interest in our case, and may be trusted to help and deliver us at the right time, and in the best way. If we can but realise the
existence of such a friend our anxiety may cease, and, one by one, the obstacles that bar our progress will be smoothed; and step by step we shall be led unhurt through all. We read in Scripture of many tried hearts that fainted and were discouraged because of the hardships they had to encounter, and the enemies that harassed and threatened them; but, thank God, we do not read of one that cried unto Him in its distress and was not helped, that looked unto Him in its heaviness and was not lightened.
The children of Israel fleeing from the host of Pharaoh, and stopped in their flight by the waters of the Red Sea; Jacob shrinking from the meeting with his justly offended brother; Hezekiah taunted and menaced by the messengers of the Assyrian king—are all instances of weakness committing itself to the protection of a higher Power, and finding safety in so doing. Like frightened children seeking a hand to hold and lead them, these brave men, being overcome by the pressure of exceeding danger, cried unto Him who is mighty to save, and each and all of them experienced deliverance. Dear reader, whatever be the trial that grieves and perplexes you, only put the matter into God's hand; say unto Him, "Oh, take me safely over," and you shall find that where your own strength and courage fail, God's wisdom and power do but begin. It may be that the way you should go appears plainly marked out, but insurmountable difficulties arise to prevent you from treading it. It may be, on the other hand, that you cannot even see the path before you, and the conflicting advice of friends who would guide, and of foes who would mislead, distrust of your own judgment, and equal want of confidence in the directions of your counsellors, all combine to bewilder you still more. There is but one help for it all. Learn the child's wisdom, offer the child's prayer, and you shall soon hear a voice saying, "Fear not, for I am with thee," and shall feel a strong hand taking you safely on where human guidance could not avail.
In humble dependence on God, do your own part; but do
it looking to Him for direction at every step of the way. You may have to wait long before the time to go forward arrives, for God never hurries, because He sees the end from the beginning, and knows certainly when it is right to press onward, and when it is better to stand and wait. In His good time aid will come, and the sad, despairing cry, "I am oppressed, undertake for me," will be turned into the song of praise, "My heart trusted in Thee, and I am helped."
Take me over! Yes, in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, and every adversity that can befall us, that brief appeal will bring succour and comfort. Only yield yourself into God's keeping, and safe in His care, who is there that can harm you?
Take me over! Ah, that cry will aid us when we pass through the lonely valley of the shadow of death, and there wrestle single-handed with the last enemy that shall be destroyed. We must all die alone-yet not alone if we die trusting in Him who has helped us hitherto. If we have truly resigned ourselves body and soul into God's charge, then "whether we live or die we are the Lord's," and doubt not that He will be mindful of His own. We "know in whom we have believed," and may well be "persuaded that He will keep that which we have committed unto Him against that day." Awful and mysterious is the passage "through the grave and gate of death," by which we must pass to our glorious resurrection; but the Guide who has led us through all the perplexities of life will not desert us in this our deepest need. He will respond to our dying prayer, "Oh, take me over this last and sorest danger !" And with His hand to support us we may peacefully say, even with our last gasp, "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."
"When comes the hour of failing breath,
When all my mind is darkened o'er,
"I Never was One to Talk!"
OR, THOUGHTS ON CHRISTIAN INTERCOURSE.
ELL, it's all very fine for people that have got nothing else to do to come preaching to such folks as like to listen; but I've no time on my
hands, I can tell you! And it's my opinion that every one knows their own mind best upon those matters; and as to myself, I never was one to talk !"
Mrs. Parkins uttered the last words with a peculiar intonation of voice, and catching up some implement of household industry that lay near her, was hurrying away, when her neighbour gently detained her. In returning home after her day's work, Mrs. Chester had called to inquire for a sick child of Mrs. Parkins', and when taking leave had sought to speak a few words concerning the things that belong to our everlasting peace.
Kind and unobtrusive those words had been, but she was grieved to see that her friend was offended.
"Forgive me, neighbour," she said, earnestly; "I do not wish to hinder you in anything you want to be about; only tell me, why should we never speak of our Father's love, our kind Heavenly Father, and of the concerns of our neverdying souls? We like to talk of our dear husbands and our children, and of our earthly joys and sorrows; why should we not sometimes speak of the things of God and of eternity?"
"Our husbands and children! what's they got to do with it, I wonder? You don't make your point clear, my good woman. All I say's this. I don't like your prating and preaching people, and the less I sees of 'em, the better I'm pleased! I like people that act, Mrs. Chester; that act, I say! Folk that are honest and sober, and 'll do a good turn to a neighbour; and that's what I call religion!"
It did not occur to Mrs. Parkins, at that moment, that her words very exactly described the character of the quiet Christian who stood beside her, neither did Mrs. Parkins stay to ask herself whether she belonged to that worthy class of persons she so much admired; but with a heightened colour, and in a higher key, she continued, "Yes! that's what I call religion, and nothing else! But other folks may go their own way, and cant as they please, for me; we each know our own mind; and as for myself, I never was one to talk!"
Yet Mrs. Parkins had a remarkably voluble tongue upon all subjects that concerned her but that of deepest moment; a tongue, moreover, whose volubility, not always checked by a strict regard to truth, or tempered with kindliness, had sometimes led her into sad trouble, and occasioned injury never to be repaired to some of her neighbours.
How was it then that she never spoke of the things that accompany salvation ?" Simply because she felt no interest in them.
"Well, good-bye, then," said Mrs. Chester, with kind playfulness of manner, though with a chill feeling at her heart that constrained her to lift up at that moment a silent prayer to her Heavenly Father, both for her neighbour and herself; "you shall not 'talk' now, and I will act' by going away, for may-be you want to be with Jemmy; so good-bye, and God bless you ;" and so saying Mrs. Chester turned away, while her neighbour shut the cottage door after her, a little ashamed of her own uncalled-for vehemence, yet still muttering to herself her favourite phrase, “I never was one to talk!"