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Soldiers and servants by Thy grace,
In Thy participating name, But helpless children first,
We pour out sorrows, tremblings, shame, We gather round our Father's board
The empty hope, the failing aim ;
And then we feast on Thee.
Destroyer of our sin.
It is to keep the children's place,
With all its discipline. The treasure worthless in our hands
But sweet be our communion song, Transformed in Thine we see.
The whole contended way along. Thou takest from us what we are,
God gave us Thee, and we are strong How spoiled soe'er it be.
For life to triumph in.
A. L. WARING.
SUNDAY EVENINGS WITH THE CHILDREN.*
BY ALEXANDER MACLEOD, D.D.
I once read a poem, by Mary Howitt, in FIRST EVENING.
which this good thought is put into the lips Opening Hymn : “ Thou Guardian of our Earliest Days." Lesson: Matt. iv. 1–11,17–22. Concluding Hymn : “Jesus,
of a very little child. He was called Willie. tender Shepherd, hear me."
One day Willie's mamma saw him sitting AT
T the beginning of a new year it is very silent in the sunlight, with all the men good to ask, whether there is any thought Noah's ark set out in a row.
and women and the beasts and birds of his
“What are you we can receive into our hearts which will help thinking about, Willie?” said his mamma. us to lead better lives than we lived before.
There is one thought which very few have Willie answering, said :
And likes them to love Him the same;
The great savage beasts and the tame, -
Where I think they are plainest to see,
Who gives so much pleasure to me.
It is good for everybody to try to give God pleasure.
There was a great prophet in the world once, in the days before the ark, who tried
to do this, and who did it all the days of his 2
life. It was the prophet Enoch. At the end of his life, the story of his life told by God Himself was this: "He pleased God." Not
himself, not his friends, but God. I have the best thoughts we can think. It is the tried to see what it was he did that was thought that we have been made, and are pleasure to God, and I find it was this, kept in life, that we should give pleasure to that “ He walked with God." Now you know God.
why it is you walk with some young people It will make a great difference in our lives and not with others. It is because you know when, instead of doing things to please our them and love them, and know that they love selves, or our companions, we do everything you. Enoch knew all that about God. He to please God.
knew that God loved him and he loved to be
in God's presence, and to have God near to • For suggestions as to the way of conducting these little services, see SUNDAY MAGAZINE, P. 57.
him in everything he did. He walked with
God: the very way God did—the way of pleased with Jesus. He began to be pleased truth and right. “ He walked with God;" with Him even when He was a child. It is he had God for his friend, and told Him by said that Jesus, when He was a little boy at prayer all that was in his heart. “He walked Nazareth, grew in favour both with God with God:” he went about with God doing and man.” Could anything better ever be good, helping the helpless and trying to bring said of a child's life? To be in favour with people to God. Every day he would say to God! To have God well pleased with you! himself
, “How can I please God to-day?” That is to be like Jesus Himself. And you And day by day, he kept doing the will of may really be like Jesus in this very thing if God, and walking out and in with God for you do as He did. He set himself so to give his friend.
pleasure to God that it became his meat and But there was a greater than Enoch Who his drink to do God's will. pleased God. You remember this is the very Now I give you this good thought. I ask thing which the voice from heaven said of you to admit it into your hearts. I advise Jesus: “This is my Beloved Son in whom I you to take it for the rule of your lives. Say am well pleased.” And God was very well in your own heart to God, “O my Father,
from this time forth I will try to give pleasure You want to know now you can live this to Thee."
life of pleasing God? In the fairy stories, the young prince or There is one thing we all must have if princess who is setting out in the world al- we would please Him. We must have faith ways meets a kind fairy who gives a cap, or in Himself. “Without faith it is impossible a ring, or a flower, or a ball, which must never to please God.” be let go or lost, and it will be help by the Now as this is the very beginning of the way. But this which I am offering you is a way to please God, I must try to make it better gift than any fairy could give. This plain to you. will be better than wishing-cap or ring, better “To have faith” means, to believe that God than gold or silver. The child who shall say, loves you, that He has sent His Son Jesus to “ I will from this day live to please God," bless you, and that He intends you to come will live a happy, good life. And at the end, up to His home and live with Him for ever, God will tell the same thing about the life of when you have lived your
life that child as He told about Enoch's and Next there are some things which are a Christ's. He will say, “I have been well grief to God—bad things, untruth, hatred, pleased with this child.”
deceit, meanness; these must not be let into
the life. There are other things which give can see homes over wide seas, and the people joy to God; these you should seek from God living in them, and baptisms, and marriages, in your daily prayers. Obedience and love and sick-beds and funerals. By these signs to parents are things which are well pleasing commands come from far countries, and merin His eyes. And He loves to be asked for chants in this land rise and go to the market, faith and truth and goodness of every kind. or the exchange, or the bookstore, or the
But the great secret after this is a very house of a neighbour, and do the biddings of simple one ; a little child can understand it. those who wrote them down. And by these It is letting God please you. Indeed, one signs the secrets of one heart are carried into of the very best ways of giving pleasure to another; and two hearts know the secrets God is just being pleased with the things instead of one. with which God is pleased. And God has set What Paul says in one of his letters Himself to give us pleasure by giving us things is, that Christian people are, in the same to be pleased with. He begins by giving wonderful way, letters of Christ. Christ tells us Christ. He Himself
, as we saw, is well the secrets of his heart by means of them. pleased with Christ. And He says to you And they carry his commands. And those and me, “ Take pleasure in my Son in Whiom who meet with his people and come to know I am well pleased.” And whoever enters into this and is able to be pleased with Jesus, and with his love, and his life, and his death, in that very way begins to give pleasure to God.
To be pleased with Jesus is a child's first step in giving pleasure to God.
Opening Hymn: “One there is above all others." Lesson: Mark v. 1—20. Concluding Hymn : "Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me."
We have often spoken of Paul's letters and Peter's letters, which you know are printed in the Bible ; now let us talk about Christ's letters ; for Paul tells us that Christ does write letters.
Is there anything in the world more wonderful than a letter? When the English missionaries first went to Africa, nothing surprised the black people more than the letters they wrote. “Does the person you write to hear you speak ?" said a chief to one of the missionaries. "No." “Does he see your lips move?" "No." Then he them learn the secrets of the heart of Christ, ranged a long line of his people in a field, and what is taking place in Christ's home in asked the missionary to stand at one end, the heaven. and stood with a second at the other end. Christ has always been a letter writer. He “Now write what I bid you.” The mission- has written his letters on the blue sky and on ary beside him put down the chief's words, the green earth. Summer and winter, springand the bit of paper was passed on by a time and harvest are sentences from one of messenger to the other end. At that end his letters. He wrote ten words once, thouthe missionary standing there read the words sands of years ago, on sheets of stone at to the messenger. The messenger repeated Mount Sinai, and those words are read still them to the chief, and the chief cried out, “It in every part of the earth. He has written is just magic !"
two long letters to men in the Bible : the one And a letter is really a kind of magic. It is called the Old Testament, the other the is only a sheet of paper with some signs on New Testament, and those letters have been it. But it tells what is going on ten, twenty, copied thousands of times and are being a hundred, or a thousand miles away. Through sent to and fro among all the nations of these signs, we, sitting at our breakfast tables, mankind.
But from the beginning He said: “It is stories in the newspapers which went to every not enough for me that I write on the sky heart. A poor actor left Inverness for the and the field, or on leaves of stone, or town of Cromarty, where he was engaged to paper. I want something better still to write play. He had his little girl with him, a child my letter on. I will only be satisfied when of seven or eight. Snow had already begun men allow me to write my letters on their to fall when he set out. But by-and-by a hearts; and when I can lay my heart with all storm arose, and the snow fell so thickly its secrets on the hearts of men and women that all the sky became dark with it, and the and boys and girls, and leave the imprint poor travellers lost their way. In a day or of these secrets there."
two, half way to Cromarty, at a lonely turn So Paul gives that name to the boys and of the road, where there was some shelter, girls and the men and women who have let the two were found buried in the snow, and Christ write the secrets of his heart on theirs. dead. But it was noticed that the child was He calls them epistles of Christ—letters wrapped round with the father's overcoat, written on the fleshy leaves of the heart. And which he had taken from himself to keep her there is nothing better in the world for a boy or girl than to be a letter of this kind The cold was so great that year that for Christ.
many poor people died of it in their very Two or three years ago the people living houses, where they had neither fire nor food. in Paris were surrounded by the German Among those who died was a lonely mother army, and could neither get out themselves in one of our cities. She was found cold nor have anybody coming in. They were dead on the floor of her home, and nearly besieged by that army, and all the while the naked, but beside her was her living child, siege lasted neither bread, nor milk, nor living and warm, well wrapped up in the coals, nor wood, nor horse, nor cow could clothes which the mother had taken from her get in. It was a hard time, and the people own body. suffered for want of food. But there was What were those two: the poor actor who another thing they greatly suffered for want stripped himself of his coat to keep warm his of—and that was news of dear ones in other child: the poor mother who went nearly parts of the world. At last those dear ones naked to keep her baby alive? They were wrote letters on the first page of the Times letters written by Christ and sent out to be newspaper in London. Then a photo read of all, letters written with one of the grapher made a copy of that first page so deepest secrets of His heart. What He wrote small that it was only the size of a penny on those two hearts was sacrifice, pity, love, stamp. Then those tiny pages were tied like God's. Just as those two acted, Christ under the wings of doves (whose feathers would have acted if He had been in their were even stamped like a letter, as you may places. It was even so He did act, when on see in the picture on p. 201) and carried by the cross He died for man. He took His them over the heads of the German army own life and wrapped us round with it, that into Paris. There the photographers made we might not die but live. And He would the tiny papers large again. And in this have every one of us to act to others as He way the people in Paris got letters from the acted towards us. And on our hearts, as on dear ones far away.
the hearts of those two of whom I have told, The Lord Jesus does something like this in He desires to write pity and self-sacrifice, writing His letters on young hearts. He and kindness and love. has a great deal to say: but the hearts of children are too small to receive all his words. So the Lord makes His letter small, so small that it can all be printed on a child's
Opening Hymn: "I'm but a Stranger here.” Lesson : heart. And then as years go on and the John iv. 1–14, Concluding Hymn : “Jesus, tender Shep
herd, hear me body grows tall, the heart grows larger and larger, and the letters grow with the growth There is one very beautiful sentence in the of the heart, and when boys and girls come New Testament which I should like you to to be young men and women they find that think about to-night. The beautiful senthe loving Jesus has written nearly all the tence is, “THINGS WHICH GOD HATH PREBible on their hearts.
PARED." But sometimes it is only a single sentence We are living in a world which is full of He writes. During a very cold winter, between things prepared. The sun, the moon, the twenty and thirty years ago, there were two stars, the sea, and hills and fruitful fields; we
come into the world and find them ready for no father to care for him; and he was about
It is a way God has. He first makes to die in the wilderness. What was she to ready His good things, and then He brings do? She could not carry him, he was a big His children to enjoy them and use them. grown up lad; and she could not be beside
One day a mother and her son were tra- him when she was not able to give him help. velling in an Eastern land. It is quite differ- Poor Hagar! She did the best she could. ent there from what it is in England. In | There was a little clump of brushwood near, this country we have dew and rain and wells and she laid him down there, in the shadow. and rivers, and our rivers never run dry. And she herself drew back a little, and burst But in the East the sun is sometimes so hot into tears; she could not bear to lose her that it dries up the dew and rain and wells boy, or to see him die. and rivers; and the grass is burned up, and But just then, when things were at the the leaves fall from the trees, and there is no worst, she heard a voice. It was the voice water to drink, and people die of thirst. of an angel sent by God. “What aileth
It was Hagar and Ishmael, her son, who thee, Hagar ? ” the voice said ; “ God hath were travelling in that hot land. They had heard the cry of thy child." And suddenly, been sent away from Abraham's tent. The it was as if scales fell from the poor mother's water they had brought with them in their eyes, and she saw there, in that very place,
the thing she most wished to see, a well with water in it. Oh, but her heart was glad and her tears dried up, and she made haste and brought of the water to her boy, and he drank and did not die. Now God did not make that well that day ; the well was there, although Hagar did not see it at first. The well had been there, perhaps, from the beginning of the world. It was prepared by God, and prepared for Hagar and her boy. Just there where it was wanted by these two, God had prepared it, preserved it from being filled up, kept the water in it, all ready, for years and years, till the day when Ishmael should need to drink of it and live.
In the hymn we have just sung, “ I'm but a stranger here,” it is said, “ Earth is a desert drear.” That means, that earth is like a desert to people who lose sight of God in it, or who have great sorrow because those they love are taken away from it by death.
In this very earth God has prepared a well skin bottle was all spent; and the hot sun more wonderful than Hagar's. Jesus was beat upon their heads, and poor Ishmael speaking of this well when He said to the grew sick for want of water, and was near to woman of Samaria, “whosoever drinketh of die. It was a wilderness into which they had the water that I shall give, shall never
There were no roads, nor houses, nor thirst.” Jesus Himself is this well. This is inns in all that waste. And what was worse,
the well in which the water of life springs up they could find no wells with water, no cool —the well which the saints in heaven drink rushing streams, no green pastures, no shady of, out of which God Himself drinks. And trees. There was only the hot earth, with it has been prepared for us, prepared in the blistering rocks and the burned up grass Jesus, into Whom for us the living water has beneath their feet, and above their heads been poured by God. And Jesus, thinking the blazing sun.
of Himself as this well of heaven, calls upon When people are very sad they are often us all to come unto Him and drink. not sure about their way ; tears blind the I read once of a young German student eyes. Hagar was very sad. She loved who found out this well. He was like one in Abraham. He was the father of her boy. a wilderness where he could not find God. His tent had been her home for many years. Like Ishmael, he was dying for thirst, but it It was the only home the boy ever knew. was the sight of God for which he was thirstAnd now she was homeless, and her boy had ing. Day and night his cry was, “Oh, that