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to her pretty much what I had previously said to her husband, asking her how it was that they could suffer the shop to keep them away from all those things we have so much need to attend to as sinners. The woman (who was more intelligent than her husband) was much impressed by what I said, but, in my weak faith, I did not at all expect to hear, in reply, the words which I did. “You are right, sir," she said, her eyes swimming with tears, “I feel that it is very wrong. I have never really felt comfortable in doing it. Ever since I have kept open shop of a Sunday, I have never felt able to pray for my children, as I once did, and, God helping us, we won't keep it open any longer.” And, turning to her husband, she said, “It's all come of my having that bit o' brass.'”
My heart was full of gratitude to God for having thus blessed
my feeble and reluctant endeavour, and after I had made a cowardly though vain attempt to shun my duty. I said a few words to them, telling them that it was faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” And having thus pointed to “ the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” we all knelt down in that little room, and in prayer I commended that household to God. I then took my departure. As I was passing through the shop, a young girl came in to purchase something. She was told that she was to say to her father, that he could not have it till Monday, “as this gentleman,” the woman said, pointing to me, “had shown her that it was wrong to keep open shop on Sundays, and she did not mean to do so any
The next Sunday night that dark, dirty street was dirty as before, and darker, for no light gleamed from the window of that little shop. They who, from a sense of duty, closed their shop, found in keeping the commandments of God a more rich and satisfying reward than the wages of unrighteousness which they were led to forego.
This little narrative may be read by some who are in the habit of neglecting the Lord's day. You are not quite satisfied in doing so. Your conscience troubles you at times. You feel that what you gain is very little. But your neighbours keep open their shops, and they might get your trade if you were to close yours; your customers might forsake you on week-days if they cannot get what they want on Sundays. All this may or may not happen ;
but remember what Christ says, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” How will your sabbath-breaking appear; how will those excuses with which you now seek to justify it appear, when you are stretched upon a dying bed, when you stand, as one day you must stand, before the bar of God ? Remember that though you have long sinned against him, Christ is willing to receive you. And in serving Christ you serve a Master who will suffer you to incur no real loss; we have his own declaration to rest on- -“ Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."
This simple story may encourage some, who have not hitherto done so, to speak a word for Christ. If spoken, who knows to what extent he may bless it? We often associate with our duties imaginary difficulties. We approach them with trembling hesitancy, as the woman of old drew near to the sepulchre, saying, Who shall roll us away the stone ?” And, lo! when we come to the place there is the stone rolled away, and one of God's angels sitting on it. Why should we shrink from attempting any work for Christ? for we know that he who calls us to the work will qualify us for it, and that we, the weakest of us, can do all things if only Christ strengthen us.
Let us then be “stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord ; forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
THE SHEPHERD'S CROOK.
ET me see! let me, let me !" screamed seven or
eight young voices at once, scrambling into the great bay window of a large house in the
country, and pressing as many noses against the glass, in eager haste to catch a glimpse of the contents of a car which had just driven up to the hall door of a school for little boys. Bag and basket, cloak and umbrella were handed out, and then a young lady followed, and stood watching the descent of her boxes from the top.
At last she entered the house, the carriage drove away, and the little boys attempted to resume their plays. But the new arrival was of too much importance to them to be dismissed from their minds.
“I saw her face,” said one; "she's got pretty curls in her bonnet.”
“So did I, and I thought she looked kind."
“She isn't old,” said another; “ perhaps she will play with us sometimes.”
“ We shall see her at tea. Let's ask her to come and look at our gardens, and then we can soon see if we shall like her.”
“Why, how shall we know by that?"
"Oh, don't you know Miss A- couldn't tell a lupin from a lettuce, nor a rose from a cabbage.”
"Oh, for shame, Arthur, you are exaggerating. ever heard of anybody with eyes not knowing a rose from a cabbage ?"
Well, she didn't care about our gardens one bit; and when I gave her my pretty rose, she stuck it in her belt, and let it rub to death against the desks and slates until it was all gone. I almost cried to see it.”
“She couldn't play at ball; she never caught it," put in a tiny fellow on Arthur's side.
The “tea bell” announced a speedy introduction, and the young group, all eagerness and expectation, stood in the presence of the new teacher. There she was, this object of curiosity, fear, and hope. She was young and very fair, with rosy cheeks, soft grey eyes, a smiling mouth, with the usual complement of pearly teeth, and long light-brown curls.
"Miss Crooke, my dears,” said the lady of the house, as the little boys came up to the tea-table.
It was almost too much, and had they dared, they would gladly have rushed out again to indulge in a burst of laughter in the hall. Such a name !
But Miss Crooke rose, and came forward, shook hands with them all, smiled, and said she hoped they would soon be good friends. And then the attack on the bread and butter began.
To set her young party at their ease, Mrs. Bquested them after tea to show Miss Crooke the schoolroom and garden and gymnasium; and, finding their new teacher kindly interested in all they said, some of the
young gentlemen grew bolder, and ventured on several pointed questions.
" What made you come to teach us?” said one.
“My mother and Mrs. B- wished me to do so," she replied. "Didn't you wish it yourself ?"
No, not at first when they asked me.” “ Were you afraid of us?" said a little rogue, saucily holding up his head, and rising on tip-toe, to be as tall as he could.
“Not exactly," replied she, smiling, “I was afraid of myself.”
“ Afraid of yourself! how funny !"
“ Afraid lest I should not be able to do you good; but now
I think and hope I shall.”
“I prayed to God to show me my duty, and where I should go to do it. I had to go out and earn my own living, and if I am Christ's servant, I am not to choose my home or my work, but to take, that which he gives me. Everything so happened that coming here was his will. Here is my work, I am come to do it, and nobody ever works for the Lord Jesus without having a reward some
“What sort of reward will you get? Won't Mrs. Bpay you?”
Oh, yes, but that is not reward, that is the honest return for work honestly done. She did not buy me; and if she should not like me, or I should not like to stay, our engagement will be at an end.”
“Then what do you mean by reward ?” “I mean this. I was bought by a good, kind Master, who has a right to everything I can do for him, and I have no right to any payment from him in return. It is not only my duty, but my pleasure to serve him, and a high honour to be taken into his service. But he chooses that all who serve him for love, out of gratitude for his great love to them, shall have a reward in token of his approval.”
“ But we have no slaves here. How came he to buy
“ Because I was by nature owned by a wicked one, who wanted to make me like himself; so the Lord Jesus, God's Son from heaven, bought me with his own life, suffering and dying instead of me: and don't you think it should be
the delight of my heart to show how I love him, and desire to please him?"
Some were silent, some returned a feeble "yes,” with an impression that Miss Crooke's case might not be a peculiar one, and that the same good Master might have similar claims on the love and obedience of certain little boys.
“But what reward will you get?" presently said one.
“A crown,” she replied. “ You see I am ambitious; I want the best that has been promised to them that are • faithful unto death ;' and with the crown before me, I want to carry the crosses of life with a cheerful heart and a willing hand."
Certainly she was a different sort of person from Miss A—this Miss Crooke, and talked strangely; yet the young listeners could not help being interested.
“ I'm afraid you have made me talk about myself too much," said she, “but as I am come to live among you,
I ought to give an account of myself to anybody whom it may concern ; and so much depends on you in
efforts to obtain
ту crown.” “On us ?-on us ?-how can that be?" they exclaimed.
Why, in this way; you can make it hard and difficult for me to do my work; you can try my patience, and vex my temper, and take away my pleasant hope to do you good, and make me unhappy; or you can make my work smooth and sweet, save me from disappointment and vexation, cheer me with hope that I am useful, and make me very, very happy.”
“So we will; indeed we will."
“ Then you are my dear young brothers, and I will be your loving sister, and we will all strive for our crowns together-shall we ?"
All assented, with a strange feeling of respect and affection for their new leader; and soon after enough of notice had been bestowed upon the little gardeners, and the favourite flowers, the bell rang to call them in to evening prayer.
"Now let us all go in," said Miss Crooke,“ remembering especially that we are · bought with a price,' the blood of our dear Lord Jesus, and are bound by love and honour, as well as duty, to 'glorify God in our bodies and spirits which are
his.' “I like her; don't you ?” began the boys, as soon as they had opportunity for a private discussion.