Page images


for men are both swift runners and nimble One day, wicked people caught Jesus climbers in lands where there are no ladders Christ and dragged him before a judge, and and where the fields abound in dangers. At tried to get him put to death. Peter was very a safe height in the tree, the terrified man sorry for Jesus, for Jesus and Peter loved one looked back at the lion. There it was at another ; so he went to the place where the the foot of the tree. It had quickly recovered judge was trying Jesus, thinking that he itself after its plunge and pursued the man, would stand by Jesus, and speak up for him, who had not been a second too soon in perhaps hoping to convince the judge that reaching his refuge. But the man knew that Jesus ought not to be killed, and thus help to the lion could not climb, and that though save that dear and beautiful life. But while it was so near, to be safe he only needed to he was there, Peter could see that his hopes stop where he was till morning, when the lion were wrong; he could not save Jesus and was would be sure to go away; for lions don't even in danger of being killed himself; so like the day; they only hunt in the night. Peter got frightened. And just when he was At length the morning broke, the lion re- warming his hands among a lot of cruel men, turned to its lair, and the grateful man came he was asked a question, and in answering down from his perch in the tree to return to that question he told a story, and having told his village home, resolved not again to put one story he told another and then another, off to so late an hour the fetching of his water to keep from being found out and from being from the pool.

thought a story-teller. And Jesus knew that So, you see, the lion“ walks about.” The Peter was telling stories, and He looked at man did not go to the lion's lair—that was Peter, and Peter saw Him look, and was very in the forest, many miles away; the lion very sorry for what he had done; and he came down to the man's water-pool. And cried about it, and wished with all his heart that is one thing in which the adversary of that he had not done it. Poor Peter ! he was men, and, I am sorry to say, the adversary of very, very wretched, until he knew that Jesus little children too is like the lion. He does had forgiven him. not wait for us to come to his house, he takes And after he knew that Jesus in His mercy the trouble to come to ours.

had forgiven him, Peter remembered what And did not you notice how sly the lion one day, just before the sad affair in the judgwas ? When the man went down to the ment hall, Jesus had said to him—“Simon, pool the lion was not standing boldly in the Simon, Satan hath desired to have thee .... road. He was in amongst the beautiful tall but I have prayed for thee." It was in that reeds, craftily lying in wait. There he lay, judgment hall that Satan had thought to had perhaps been lying long, listening, watch- have him. Just as the lion was by that ing, peeping, and keeping quite still, till he African pool, hidden there among its beauticould see his chance to catch something. ful reeds, so the devil, Peter's " adversary,” Well, that is another point in which the was there by that fire in the judgment halladversary of our souls is like a lion. He gets hidden, but there ! behind something. He lies in wait, and But Peter, like the African, had escaped. when we never suspect that he is near, and The devil did not make a story-teller of he is sure of his prey, out he springs. Peter. Peter was ashamed of story-telling,

But the lion is sometimes disappointed. and when he saw how story-telling grieved Did you not feel glad that that lion at the Jesus, he wept about it as though his heart pool missed the man that it sprang at, and would break, and he told the truth ever after. that he got safely home to tell his little Yes, Peter became a very brave man; all his children the story of his wonderful escape ? life he loved to please Jesus, and at last he Yes, the lion was disappointed. And this died for Jesus. is another point in which the devil is like a Now, my dear children, be sure of three lion "seeking whom he may devour," he is things. (1.) Be sure, first, that whenever sometimes disappointed. And that is the you are afraid of telling the truth, or are best point of all—the devil is sometimes afraid of doing right, then you are very near disappointed.

to the long grass and tall reeds where “your Now let me tell you how Peter knew all great adversary” is hiding. When these feelthis to be true. I have told you that it was ings are in your heart the devil is not far Peter who said that the devil was like a lion. away. Be afraid of nothing so much as of I will tell you a story about Peter, and you doing wrong and of grieving Jesus, and you will see for yourselves how Peter knew that are safe from harm. (2.) Be sure, next, what he said was true.

that when you have done any wrong thing,

or have said any word that is not true, you stopped, and turning round barked in Hal

have made Jesus sorry. Tell Jesus all about bert's face. “Go on Shag; get along, dog !” it. Ask Him to forgive you, and when you said Halbert. But Shag moved very reluchave asked Him, believe that He has for- tantly and only a few yards, whining as he given you. (3.) Be sure too, that when you did so. Then he suddenly turned and have yielded to temptation, and have done barked again in a still more excited manner. what you should not, if you are sorry for it, “Go on, Shag; we shall soon be home; get Jesus will be only too glad to hear you say along, dog, do!” said Halbert, now rather so, and to forgive you. No one is so merci- vexed at him. But this time the dog would ful to us as Jesus. That was the way Peter not stir, so Halbert passed him to go on escaped from the great adversary and became alone. Halbert had only taken a step or a brave, good man.

two when he fell over a precipice, which the BENJAMIN WAUGH. deep snow and the darkness had concealed.

Quickly the good dog found a way down the SECOND EVENING.

rock to the spot where his young master Opening hymn : "Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild.” Lesson: lay. Luke xv. 1-24. Concluding hymn : "All Praise to Thee, my As the snow was still falling and the night God, this Night."

was dark, a candle was placed in the window One of the hardest things that children of the shepherd's cottage. The shepherd have to do is—what do you think ?—to try often snuffed it, to make it burn brightly, that to be better. Now I want to talk to you it might be seen by his boy a long way off, about the way to make this hard work easier. to guide him to his home. At length the You know that a carriage-wheel goes round time came at which Halbert was expected to easily when there is oil on it, and a happy arrive. It passed, it had long passed; but thought in the mind makes the soul work Halbert did not come. The sick mother easily. Let us see what the happy thought is. looked pale as she saw the snow fall against

When Paul wanted the Christians at the window panes, and heard the wind Corinth to try to be better people, that they | whistling through the chinks of the door; and might please God, he gave this happy thought her husband tried to comfort her ; but he to help them: “Ye are not your own.And himself began to be anxious too. He what Paul said to them is true of you. So looked through the window, even opened the let us try to understand what it is for people door, and eagerly gazed into the bitter, dark not to be THEIR OWN.

night; but there was not a sign of Halbert. There was once a shepherd's boy, Halbert, After long and painful waiting there was a who lived in a cottage high up among moun- glad sound-Shag's bark was heard. “There tains, far away from any town or village, and they are at last!” said both at once, now very away even from any road. One night Hal- happy again. The door was opened, and bert's mother was taken very ill, and his the dog entered; but, oh! the anguish of the father, the shepherd, got ready to go to the couple! there was no Halbert ! Halbert nearest village to get medicine for her. must be lost! But what was that something “Father,” said the boy, “ I know the sheep round Shag's neck ? It was Halbert's handpath through the glen better than you; let kerchief. Was there something in it? They me go for the doctor. Shag can go with me.” untied it and looked. Yes, there was someThe shepherd, whose name was Malcolm, thing in it—the medicine, which Halbert had consented to the proposal, as Halbert knew safely tied round the dog's neck; so they well the way; for he had often gone it. So were glad to think that Halbert must be Halbert and Shag set off down the mountain alive somewhere, in danger perhaps, but not side; the boy ran and the dog leaped and killed. barked. Snow was falling a little, and the In an instant the old shepherd put on his evening became dark as they went; but the coat and hat, and with the dog as his guide, village was at length reached in safety, the set out into the night to seek his child. The doctor seen, the medicine obtained, and with sick mother, now left to herself, cried bitterly. a glad heart at the thought that his poor Perhaps the poor boy was lost in the snow, mother would now soon be better, Halbert and before he could be found would die of set off for his climb up the mountain path cold. How dreadful! Perhaps her husband home again.

might get lost in the snow too, and die too, Shag seemed rather anxious, and walked and the poor loving woman looked at the a little ahead of Halbert, taking on himself window and listened to the wind. She forthe post of guide. At one place he suddenly got all her pains in her fear for her two dear ones in danger. She was fuller of misery and seek him, perhaps to be lost in the than she had ever been before, and she prayed attempt? Why did poor old Malcolm go out to God to save her boy and her husband into the bitter cold, among the dangers of alive. It was a very fervent prayer that she darkness and snow, in the hope of finding the prayed, lying there, sick, sad, and helpless. boy? Why did he get down that hazardous

Shag knew well what his master wanted, path, thus risking his life. Why did he strip and guided him straight to the spot at the his own warm plaid, and wrap it round bottom of the precipice where poor Halbert Halbert? Why did the mother and father, lay. Getting down the steep path to this whilst he lay in his mother's warm bed, spot was to the shepherd a very difficult and watch so anxiously to see whether he would even a more dangerous work; but the snow awake again? Why all this care, this pain, was not falling at the time, and the moon and this risk? It was all because the poor just showed itself and lighted him, letting boy belonged not to himself, but to his him see ledges where he could put his feet, parents. He was “not his own." and branches that he could take hold of. So, 1. Well, you see what it is not to be your dangerous as it was, the old man did it own, and you see too what a good thing it safely. But arrived there, he could not see was for that poor lost boy not to be his own. his boy. Then he said “Halbert !” but there Now, Jesus teaches us that we do not belong was no reply. Then again, louder, “Hal- to ourselves—we belong to God. We are to bert !” but still, there was no reply. Shag believe that God feels towards us just what a snuffed about and whined, then scratched father and mother feel towards their child; away in a most violent manner, digging a for we are God's children. Each one of us hole in the snow. The old man watched in is God's child, and each one is God's lost silence till he saw the clothes of his son. child. “Lost,” but “not our own.” Since the dog had left him, the falling snow 2. And that is the reason why Jesus came had buried him. Was he dead? Another to save us. Just as that shepherd on the minute and the boy was listed on to his mountain left his warm home, and set out in father's knee. Poor lad, there seemed but little that bitter night with a heart full of love and life in him, but he was not dead; and speedily sorrow, wanting to find his boy, so Jesus left His his cold, wet things, all soaked through with bright home, His home of glory, and came into snow and blood, were stripped off him, and our world to seek and to save us.

The great the shepherd's own warm plaid wrapt round King David was amazed at the goodness of him in their place; then, strapped on his God to the world, and once, when he was so, brave father's shoulders, with much difficulty, he exclaimed, “What is man, that thou art he was carefully carried up the steep path, mindful of him ?” What was Halbert, that and on to his father's house. It was far into they were mindful of him? What! Why, he the night when the house was reached. was their child ! It was all natural, because

With what gratitude and joy would the Halbert was their child. And we are God's sick woman see her child and husband enter children. God feels what Halbert's parents their honie ! But Halbert was in a frozen felt. He must be mindful of us. He cannot sleep. He was warmed in his poor mother's give us up. bed; for ill as she was, she must have her 3. And that is the reason why Jesus prays boy with her to warm. At length he awoke for us now in heaven-we are not our own. from his deathly sleep. His first words were, The father went out to seek, the mother “ Did you get your medicine, mother ?” His stayed at home praying, and expecting, and wounds were at length healed, and, I am glad longing for the lost one's return. Jesus is to say, he became quite well and strong father and mother both in one. He seeks us again.

and He prays for us; He looks for us, He Now, why was that father so anxious about " expects” us, the Bible says; and at last the boy? Why did he put his candle in the He will welcome us home.' " Lord Jesus," window, trim it, look through the window, said dying Stephen, “receive my spirit.” open the door, peer into the dark night, Stephen was then passing through the doors and hour after hour walk about the room of heaven. He was going home. with a troubled face and aching heart? Why 4. This, too, is the

best motive to be good did that mother forget her own bodily pain -we are not our own. Everything that we in her anxiety for the poor lad who did not do that is right pleases God, and everything return, and who, she was afraid, had perished? we do that is wrong grieves Him. He feels Why did she in an agony pray for his rescue, for us as Halbert's parents felt for him. He and at length give up her husband to go feels our sickness as they felt his, and what

[ocr errors]

ever harms us makes Him sad. Sin harms But then this mean, grovelling caterpillar us. A boy whose conduct nobody cared one day had a change. Its time came for for, would be a boy whom nobody owned; leaving this lower kind of life and entering but there is no such boy. Even if he were so another state. And so it went and buried bad that father and mother forsook him, still itself in the ground, or in some other secret, the Lord would take him up. God cares for lonely place, and then very quickly its form us all, for we all belong to Him. Children was altogether changed. But for a while should try to be good because they belong it did not seem a change for the better. It to their parents, to please them; but they had shown signs of life and feeling before, should try too to be good because they and in some cases had been clothed in a very belong to God, to please Him.

magnificent dress, and had, at all events, 5. And so, my dear children, when you been able to move about on its bough. But pray the prayer the Saviour taught, and say, now all this, I say, was changed. Its colours

Our Father which art in heaven,” remember were gone, its activity was gone, its very life that you belong to God, just as Halbert seemed gone. It was wrapped round in a belonged to Malcolm. That is why God kind of shroud, or else was shut up in a seeks you and loves to save you.

hard brown case, and lay in the cold ground BENJAMIN WAUGH. just for all the world like a little corpse in its


But then, after a time, there comes another Opening hymn: “Around the Throne of God in Heaven.”

change. One bright, warm day the hard Lesson : John v: :=15. Concluding hymn : “ All Praise to brown case that looked so hopeless and lifeThee, my God, this Night.”

less, bursts open, and a beautiful, soft, living Let me tell you something about evil creature makes its way out. It is no longer desires. You know what it is to want what a mean, hungry caterpillar, content to stop you should not have, and to wish to do in one place, and to spend its life in eating. what you should not do. It is about want. It has wings now, painted with every colour ings and wishes like these I am going to of the rainbow, and as it fans them up and speak to you. James, the apostle of our down in the sun to dry them, it looks more Lord, says something about such desires. like a splendid, living, moving flower than which we may read for our text : “Every anything else ; and when it mounts up into man is tempted when he is drawn away the air, with its colours all flashing in the sunby his own evil desire. And this evil de- light, or fits from flower to flower to sip a sire, when it conceives, brings forth sin; little honey, it looks one of the very gladand sin, when it is finished, brings forth dest, lightest, and brightest of God's creadeath."

tures; always seeming to live in sunshine, You know, do you not, that God is talk- and always happy. This, dear children, is its ing to us in parables in these days, just as resurrection life. And isn't it a changed one ? much as ever He did? One of the most Why, so far from its being grovelling and striking of all God's many parables is the greedy any longer, it does not even require gay beautiful butterfly, as we call it, bursting food at all now. It does sometimes sip a out of the hard, dry case in which it had lain little honey for enjoyment; but it does not so straight and and still, just like being in a require it.Oh, I do hope that you and I, little coffin. First, you know, it was a cater- dear children, will have a happy resurrection pillar—a greedy, grovelling thing, that divided life ; for this insect is a parable; we shall its time between doing just two things-eating one day be changed too. and sleeping; from beginning to end of this Well, and there is another thing to be part of its life it very likely never moved off noticed in this little insect, which I think the branch on which it was hatched, and is another point in the parable. even slept close to its food, so that as soon Unless you happen to know the nature of as ever it woke it might begin again to eat at the particular caterpillar you find, you cannot once.

at all tell what sort of creature it will be when This was its first life, and answers to the it comes to a butterfly: for of course you life we are living now in this world. “But know that some butterflies are much more what a greedy, low kind of life it is !” perhaps beautiful than others. And just so God tells you say. Yes, and so it is; and so is ours us that those happy souls who go to heaven in this world, even the best of us; it is a will not be all alike; some will be higher and poor, low, mean kind of life, that is, com- more glorious than others. God knows which pared with what our resurrection life will be. will be highest, because He sees our hearts

and knows which are the best. But it can

seen it in its perfect state as a moth. But not be told from the outside show. Just as when the time came for it to make its first the caterpillars which you find often surprise change—to go down into the soil and you when they reach their perfect state, become a chrysalis-instead of doing so it unless you happen to know them. It is not got into a most restless state, hurrying backthe brightest caterpillars that turn out the wards and forwards, and round and round. most beautiful butterflies, you know; some- This went on for many hours; but at last, times it is just the reverse. I could tell you when, after a short absence, I visited it again the names of some most brilliantly coloured to see how it was progressing, it had undercaterpillars that turn out the brownest, gone a change, but it was a change that dullest-looking insects you ever saw; whilst, puzzled me more than ever. There lay the on the contrary, there is a very common, plain, skin of the caterpillar, quite lifeless, and brown caterpillar, that comes out such a lovely nearly empty, and by its side lay a creature creature as few of you can imagine, for I dare nearly as big as the caterpillar had been, but say very few of you have seen it in its perfect such a singular object that I hardly know state, though you know it so well as a cater- how to describe it. It had no particular pillar.

shape, was white and soft, and full of lifeThis, then, I think, is the lesson God the most disgusting, loathsome-looking thing teaches us here from insects : that we must not one can conceive. As I tell you, I could not think we can judge of what a man will be in understand it at all. What had become of the the next world from what we see him now, caterpillar I could not think, and neither for it often happens that there, “the last shall could I imagine how this other strange creabe first and the first last.”

ture had come there ; and so I went off to Well, but what has all this to do with the a friend who understood such things much text? The apostle James says, “Every man, better than I to have it explained. And when he is tempted, is drawn away of his then I found out how common a thing it was own evil desire and enticed. And this evil that had taken place. desire, when it conceives, brings forth sin, God, for the protection of these creatures, and sin, when it is finished, brings forth puts within them something which we call death.” And what has all this got to do instinct, which teaches them what they must with it? We are coming to that now. We do so as to keep themselves safe from their have not got to the end of God's parable enemies. With this one I am speaking of yet.

it is simply to keep itself hidden under There are a very great number, perhaps a the leaves, and to let nothing tempt it out. good deal more than half, do you know, of But even caterpillars do not always do what those poor struggling caterpillars that never God teaches them to do. They see, a little reach their perfect state at all. They never in front of them, a green leaf, brighter, become butterflies. And let me tell you why. and fresher, and sweeter than any that they They are surrounded by a great many enemies can reach whilst remaining under cover, and whilst they are in their lower life as caterpil- so they venture out to it. And then, see lars, and these enemies lose no opportunity of what happens. One of their enemies-a fly pouncing down upon them and destroying that looks very much like a bee-is always them. First there are their human enemies : hovering about and watching for them, never the gardeners keep a sharp look out for them, seems to grow weary; and no sooner does a and destroy many hundreds of them. Then caterpillar show itself than down it pounces, there are the birds, more sharp-eyed still; and pierces a little hole in the skin and and they destroy as many thousands, I dare deposits an egg. It is all done in a second, say, as the gardeners destroy hundreds. And and though the caterpillar seems in pain for there are many other enemies besides. But an instant, it soon goes on eating again, the perhaps the worst of all is a most curious wound heals, and it seems as if no harm will tiny creature, and the way it destroys them come of it. But wait a little. The egg that is most remarkable, and serves well to explain was put under the skin of the caterpillar in my text.

a short time hatches, and becomes a living I shall never forget what a puzzle it was creature within the body of the caterpillar ; to me before I had it explained. It was and then it grows, and grows, and feedsmany years ago, when I was a boy. I had feeds on the caterpillar itself—until at last it one particular caterpillar that I set great store reaches its full size, and is itself ready for its by, and was very anxious to rear, because it change. When this is the case, it kills the was rather a rare one, and I had only once poor caterpillar by living on its vital parts.

« PreviousContinue »