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joy them a little longer, if only until to-morrow.' And he started up to chase again the butterfly, which, as before, eluded his eager grasp.
A youth sat in a narrow chamber, poring over halfdefaced and antique volumes; and, from time to time, tracing in hasty characters, on a paper which lay beside him, “ thoughts that breathed,' in “words that burned.” He had tasted of the tree of knowledge, and the guileless heart of his childhood, which, easily satisfied with simple pleasures, had desired nothing beyond the enjoyment of the present moment, was become tainted by ambition. Love of learning and the desire for fame, excited him to continue his labours, till the old clock which stood near him in one corner of the room, struck the hour of midnight; and in its solemn sound, a voice of grave, yet gentle reproof, seemed to speak to him; "Wherefore spendest thou thy labour," it said, “ for that which satisfieth not ? What reward wilt thou gain for all thy works, when thy life shall have been spent in their accomplishment?”
“A glorious renown!” replied the student. “A name that shall live for ever.”
“ Think not,” returned the voice, “to win for thyself immortality ; a few short years, and thy name shall no more be known among thy brethren. “Awake from thy vain dreams, and strive to win that honour which cometh from above."
“Not yet, not yet," answered the youth, “not while my task is uncompleted; I would live in the memories of men, and when I have made there a home for my name, I will seek honour from God, and the immortality of heaven.” And again he continued to labour, not for the good of his fellows, but for the evanescent fame, the fleeting glory of popular applause.
A man in the prime of life, stood counting, o'er his gains, and reckoning how by extortion and injustice, as well as by fair dealing, more might be added to the glittering heap which lay before him; and for which he
had, like Esau, sold his birthright. Joy sparkled in his eyes, as he told again and again his piles of wealth, and weighed with scrupulous exactness each shining piece. He had seen how groundless had been the hopes of his youth, and now he strove to command by the power
of gold, the outward deference of those, who, while they bowed before the favoured priest of mammon, inwardly despised the idol's abject slave, As the follower of the tyrant god viewed the price for which were bartered his ardent hopes for this world's renown, and his desires for happiness in a future life—desires, which though often postponed, had never yet been wholly cast aside—the unseen monitor, whose voice he had before disregarded, again addressed him in warning tones; “Oh, blind and foolish thou who heapest up riches, knowing not who shall gather them, cease thy profitless, sinful extortions; grind no longer the faces of the poor, nor defraud the labourer of his hire, that thy garners may be more amply filled with the fruits of thine iniquity. Lay not up for thyself upon earth treasures which perchance thou never mayest enjoy ; but lay up treasure in heaven, where thieves cannot steal, or moth destroy it, and seek there thine home, where nought can harm thee, and all is changeless as the unchanging One."
Nay, but I cannot—" “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own ul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?"
" At a more convenient season then, I will consider the matter, but not yet. When I have enough of this world's goods, I may think of what concerns my future state; but there is time sufficient, I cannot do so now."
And in the haunts of gain, the contemner of his soul's inestimable value wasted the precious time granted for the all-important purpose of preparing for eternity.
To-morrow-time looked for, hoped for, dreaded ; yet never arriving; for when the earth, after the hours of darkness, again beholds the orb of light, to-day is come, and to-morrow is still anticipated.
But there are those for whom there can be no earthly morrow, whose expected future is the long bright day, or the long dark night of eternity. Such was he who, woe-worn and bowed down by the weight of many years, lay stretched upon a miserable pallet, in a ruinous cabin; through the shattered roof and broken walls of which, the rain poured down in heavy showers, and the winter wind howled fitfully. Bitter recollections of the past floated through his mind; how youth and talents and wealth had once been his; and how the precious gifts, so long misused, had been taken from him--and there, bereft of all that he had valued, he lay a poor despised sufferer, lower than the meanest of God's creatures. His was a common lot. His riches had increased, his heart had been set upon them; they had taken to themselves wings and had flown away, while nothing remained to cheer him for their loss.
The voice so often stifled, again fell upon his ear, sternly rebuking him for the sins which had separated him from his God; yet, offering still one last hope. Even now, at the eleventh hour, the door of
is not closed. Let the wicked forsake his way and turn to the Lord, and He will abundantly pardon him; for He is agracious God, full of longsuffering and plenteous in mercy; forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Repent, repent even now. “I will not. Can He who has robbed me of
all be gracious; can He, who has laid on me trials too heavy to bear, so that my life is a burdensome to me, can He be merciful ? I will not seek Him. Let me brood in silence over sorrows which none can relieve, which none can understand.” And the gnawing pangs of memory aggravated his present sufferings.
Yet still the voice cried, “Repent, repent; to-day while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts.” But that which had been the promise of his childhood, and bis youth, the postponed agreement with his conscience through his riper years, he had now no will nor power to perform.
Yet, as the voice still urged him to seek for what he had so long refused, he soothed himself with the thought that, to-morrow, or whenever health, strength, and this world's treasures again should be his, then he would in earnest turn from his sinful and unprofitable ways, and strive to ensure a calm and peaceful end to troubled existence. Like the false prophet of old, though he had lived in enmity against his Maker, and refused to humble himself beneath the afflicting rod, his cry was, “ Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.”
Day again brought to thousands its portion of cares and pleasures, of happiness and misery; and to the sinner—who still deferred to a time, which, for him could never be, that repentance, for which but a few sands remained in the hourglass of life-it brought no relief. The first ray of morning light beheld the fearful struggle between the angel of death and the agonized spirit, which still clung to its wretched home, and ere the morrow was fully come, he lay a corpse, breathless and inanimate. On his convulsed and pallid features the tokens of the last dread conflict were distinctly visible, teaching the solemn and important lesson,"“ Work while it is called to-day, for the night cometh when no man can work; and boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”
SWEET Charity! the fairest of the Graces,
Like the clear sunshine every mist dispelling,
Lowly art thou, and gentle, and forbearing ;
Sweet Charity! we see thee everywhere;
As one who joyously the harvest reapeth,