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which Papa was reading out the other evening, and which I could not forget :
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child.
Papa. And yet, my children, this is the way all those who do not love God act towards their Heavenly Father. Can you wonder that He describes it as a loathsome disease ? And one of its most frequent and frightful symptoms is, that men do not suspect they are ill. An inflamed wound is very painful, but if it gets worse, so that the flesh becomes mortified, or dies, the suffering ceases, and no pain is felt. So of some unhappy souls it is declared, “ This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time ... they should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matt. xiii. 15.) But sometimes the smart of sin is felt, and they get anxious for some relief, and yet seek it in the wrong way. Do you remember any text about this ?
Mary. We found one, papa, where it is said of the false prophets, “ They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, 'Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jer. vi. 14.) But what does this mean?
Papa. Why, my child, if any one were to
direct a sin-sick soul to ease its sufferings by choosing the riches, or pleasures, or honours of the world, would these avail ?
Arthur. Oh, no, papa ; as that hymn I learnt from you says
Nothing but thy blood, O Jesus,
Can relieve us from our smart,
Nothing else can cleanse the heart. and poor Christian in the "Pilgrim's Progress” could find no ease from his heavy burden till he came to the Cross.
Mary. And, Arthur, you remember the case of that poor woman who had tried everything in vain before she came to Jesus. May I read it, papa ? “A certain woman which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she heard of Jesus, came in the press bebind, and touched his garment, for she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.” (Mark v. 25-29.)
Lily. And may all come to Him, mamma ? Oh, how I wish He were here now, that I might touch the hem of his garment.
Mamma. You may, Lily, by prayer. He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever ; and as, if you search through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you will find no poor sick man refused, so now He says, “ Him that cometh unto me. I will in no wise cast out.” (John vi. 37.)
Papa. Turn now to Matthew iv. 24.“ They brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy, and He healed them.” What a list of sicknesses ! But all these are diseases of the body or the mind : where does the disease of sin come from ?
Arthur. From the heart, papa ; for Jesus says, (Mark vii. 21.) “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
Papa. Yes, sometimes we see the inner disease breaking out into open transgressions, which, like ulcerous sores, are very repulsive; but heart-sins, though often very attractive, are no less dangerous. A consumptive person often looks lovelier than ever, but may be wasting away as surely as another man under a dreadful cancer. But in all cases it is no skin-disease, no surface-complaint : and this renders any cure, from a mere outward change of conduct, impossible. Children, if, when that tattered and diseased sufferer came to the door the other day, we had clothed him in purple, if we had placed him in a healthy house, and given him healthy companions, would he have been happy ?
Children. O no, Papa, not with all those sores!
Papa. And if you were to clothe a sinner in good works of his own, if you were to shut out from him the snares of evil companions, and the temptations of evil spirits, if you placed him with saints, even in heaven itself, he would still be an unpardoned and unhealed sinner, and therefore, miserable. What then must be do, my children?
Lily. Oh, Papa, he must come to Jesus. I found that verse (Matt. ix. 12, 13), “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Mamma. And how must he address the Saviour ?
Mary. We found a beautiful prayer of David (Psa. xli. 4), “ Lord be merciful unto me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee."
Arthur. And the leper's prayer (Matt. viii. 2), “ Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean,” had an instant answer, “I will, be thou clean.”
Lily. But are no sores too far gone to be cured, mamma?
Mamma. Turn, my child, to Jeremiah xxx., where, at the twelfth verse, it is said, " Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous, there is noneto plead thy cause that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines :" and again at the fifteenth verse, “Thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity." Could there seem a more hopeless case ? But we are very soon taught, that what is impossible with men is possible with God : at the seventeenth verse it is said, “I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord.” Which of you can tell me how God, our heavenly Father, cures this otherwise incurable plague ?
Arthur. “ The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John i. 7.)
Lily. And when the pure white snow was on the ground last week, mamma taught me David's prayer, “ Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Papa. Quite right. Though the Lord Jesus had no touch or taint of sin, we are told, “ He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastise