« PreviousContinue »
We are not told of the many kind things may be tempted in an evil hour to fall into He said, and the many kind deeds He often sin; but another mournful thought also at performed. You may be sure there would times hangs over them that death may early be in or around the town beggars like blind take their loved ones away. Not only did Bartimeus, and rows of lepers stretching out Mary know that the pure and spotless Jesus their hands and crying for help. There could never fall into temptation and never would be little boys and girls who had lost grieve her by wrong-doing, but she knew that their fathers, or who could point to the grave His holy life was shielded from early death, of a dead brother or sister. There would be that He could not be removed from her, mothers weeping bitterly over their children. until the great work was done for which His Is it likely that Jesus, with the love that Father had sent Him into the world. One glowed in His bosom, would look on these dark cloud of a parent's heart was thus absent broken hearts and not try to bind them up? from her dwelling. John in his Gospel says, that there were so In His after life, as we shall come to find, many gracious things Jesus did, and so many He often liked to go to solitary places apart : loving words Jesus spoke, that he supposed especially to the mountains round the Lake “all the world could not contain the books of Tiberias, where, away from everybody, He that would be written about them.” I think prayed to His great and kind Father. He many of these books, had they been written, must often have done the same now. When would liave been taken up with the sayings the day's work was over, He would love to and the doings of these holy years in that go by these little water-courses up to the joyous, peaceful home, where the pure, breezy hills around Nazareth and speak face bright, sinless Saviour lived. Never a hard to face with God. word, never a cold look, never
I have sometimes thought, too, that a thought, never a movement of wayward self- number of striking images which He used in will, or trace of sullen temper, or stormy His teaching in after life, may have been passion : anticipating His mother's wishes, gathered during those quiet years in His Galiwiping away her tears, and telling her of “His lean home. Father, and her father, of His God, and her You remember, for example, one story He God.” I think, as Jesus, tired with the day's tells about a Shepherd going away on the hills, toil, flung Himself on His bed at night to after a wandering sheep ; never resting till sleep, the bright seraphs from heaven must he had recovered it; and “when he had found have liked to come unseen to that couch and it,” he carried it upon his shoulders, and home of love! Nazareth would be like brought it back safe to the fold? Jesus, what Bethel and its dreamer were long, long whether now or in earlier boyhood, may have before, with the ladder on which glorious seen some such shepherd as the daylight was angels went up and down. His own after fading on the hills of Galilee. The fold was prayer, never perfectly fulfilled in the case of low down in the valley, and the flock of any other human being, had its answer in sheep were lying peacefully on their green pasHis own holy life, “Thy will be done on tures. But that shepherd heard a lost sheep earth as it is in heaven."
bleating far up among the rocks. He thought I like to think, too, how happy Mary must of the sharp flints that would cut its feet, and have been to have had such a Son! How the night-winds that would howl around it, glad she would be to minister to Him! Any and the wild beasts that might devour it; so, time He needed to go a little way from home, with his crook in his hand, he was seen to some of the neighbouring towns or ham- mounting from rock to rock, and from hill to lets, to Cana or Nain, Endor or Capernaum, hill; crossing a stream here, and some rough how pleased she would be, as she was seated stones there. He never heeded the darkness in her porch at her distaff, to watch Him of night, nor the howl of the wolf, nor the coming in the distance! How glad to lift sword of the robber. Perhaps early the next the latch of her door and welcome Him in; morning, on some thyme-covered height to to liave the floor of her cottage swept for which the Divine Youth had gone for mediHim; the bath ready for His weary feet; tation and prayer, that shepherd was seen and, perhaps, the cluster of wild flowers from coming down the opposite hill slope, and the great garden of nature He loved so well! calling out to those who were watching him
There was a feeling which must have been from below—“Rejoice with me, for I have quite peculiar to her regarding her divine found my sheep which was lost” (Luke xv. Son. All other mothers have not only the 3-6). sad fear present with them, that their children Or do you remember another story, about a man who“ built his house upon the sand ;" These and similar other scenes; the flash and about another who “built his house of the lightning—the roll of the thunderon the rock”? On an autumn evening, when the bursting of the green buds in springHe was on the slope of one of these hills the woman losing her piece of money, and above the village, Jesus may have seen some with lighted candle sweeping the house till one with spade and axe, plane and saw and she found it—the games of the children in hammer, erecting a cottage for himself. But the open market-place, or by the village the man, thus busy had made choice of a fountain, may possibly now have come at wrong piece of ground. If he had been wise different times before the eyes of the Saviour; he would have cut down some vines that He stored them in His mind and made use were trailing over a hard bit of rock, and of them afterwards in teaching the people. built his house securely there ; but he had This, young reader, has been the descripnever thought of a storm coming on, or rain tion of a bright and happy youth. Yet I canwashing his work away; so he foolishly built not close without telling you that, happy as his house on the loose sand, and made the that home was, Jesus had His trials to bear. house itself of soft clay. All at once the His own kinsmen, His brethren and cousins, clouds gathered over the hills—there was not eemed to be jealous of Him, and some of a rift where blue could be seen in all the sky. the people of the village were rough and The thunder rolled; heavy torrents of rain rude to Him. He is spoken of in the Song fell; and, rushing along the hill slope in of Solomon as “a lily among thorns.” How great wild streams, they carried the sand and true! This beautiful snow-white lily, from moist earth away : the clay house came down, the garden of heaven, grew up in the earthly and was all a ruin. Whereas his neighbour, valley of Nazareth. But wicked people, like who had begun to build at the very same those hard and prickly thorns so often to be time, either raised his new cottage on a seen in Palestine, harsh and cruel friends foundation of big stones, or had dug deep hated Him for His goodness, and spoke untill he came to the solid limestone. When kindly to Him. He would perhaps have felt the same storm broke in the sky, and the it His duty, when He saw them acting unlittle rills swollen into rivulets came foaming justly or dishonestly, or when He heard them down, they did no harm to his house, “for it uttering harsh, or impure, or malicious words, was founded upon a rock” (Mat. vii. 24-27). to raise His protest ;-bravely yet graciously
Or to take another of these nature-pictures. to tell them of their faults-and just beFor many days or weeks in autumn, there cause of the faithfulness of His reproofs they had only been a red flush in the morning would treat Him with unfeeling severity. sky just about sunrise, all the rest of the day Yet I am quite sure of this, that He would or days were wet and misty and gloomy. not pay them back with the same. The But one evening Jesus may have been on thorn might pierce or the clouds might the top of the cliff above Nazareth watching darken, but the lily lost none of its whiteness a beautiful sunset towards the shores of Tyre, or purity. I think I hear Him saying only over the Mediterranean Sea. The sky all one thing in return for all their harshness. It at once broke, and became aglow; the fleecy was the same beautiful utterance which came clouds were tinged with ruby : the very fringe from His lips long after,—“Father, forgive of yellow sand on the seaside seemed of a them, for they know not what they do." fiery colour, as it caught the tint of the sky. With others, however, in Nazareth it was The sun seemed as if he went asteep on a doubtless different. Goodness and gentlepillow of crimson with crimson curtains ness and meekness in the eyes of those whose around him; then, when that sun had set good opinion is worth having are always and the glow had faded, out came clusters attractive. Love begets love in generous of bright stars; and the next morning when natures. “Why does everybody love you?” Jesus awoke, not a dark mist or drizzling was the question put to Philip Doddridge's rain but a golden light was streaming through daughter. The reply was, “Because I love the lattice,—this continuing day after day for everybody.” It must have been so in a higher many weeks together. Might it not be when sense with Jesus. Among the best of His he called to mind afterwards some such pic- companions and fellow-villagers He could ture as this that He said, “When it is even not fail to be a favourite. He “increased in ing, ye say, It will be fair weather; for the favour," we read, not only with God, but sky is red : and in the morning, It will be foul with man. Those who were disposed at weather to-day; for the sky is red and first to be unkind to Him, had their envy lowering ” (Mat. xvi. 2, 3).
and jealousy disarmed as they became more and more familiar with His beautiful character gentleness and meekness, unselfishness and -as they marked His growing intelligence- submission,-might not that true “Lily of His unselfish way–His stainless purity in the Valley” (Sol. Song ii. 1) be said to “inthought, word, and deed. They saw in His crease in favour with God” a God "saw the very countenance, in His eye, and in His light that it was good” at early dawn; but smile, the index of the lofty loving soul He regarded it with a deeper complacency within. So that we may believe that the as it shone "more and more unto the perfect coldness and reserve shown for a time by day." The dayspring of Childhood deepened many towards Him were gradually exchanged into Youth-the tender morning light of for esteem and admiration.
Youth deepened into the full noontide glory This, at all events, we do know, that what- of Manhood, till His holy soul, like His ever was the case with man," He increased countenance, described in after years, was in favour with God” (Luke ii. 52). How, “as the sun shineth in his strength. ” you may ask, if Jesus were the quite Perfect, Thus, then, had the Meek and Lowly Holy, Loving One we have represented Him Jesus lived for thirty years a life of secluto be, could He be said to “grow" or "in- sion and silence, without any signs, by crease” in favour? Is it possible for that miracle or otherwise, of the Divinity which which is perfect to increase in perfection ? was within Him, or of the greatness which You may find an answer that will explain was yet to be revealed. His human body this in the emblem which we have just was the sacred sanctuary in which Deity employed. Some of you may have seen, not dwelt. The silence of these years reminds the common Lily of the Valley, but one of us of what is said of the Temple of Jerusalem, those magnificent plants which the gardener which was a type of Him-“There was regards as the pride of his hothouse, called neither hanımer nor axe nor any tool of iron the Lily of Japan, or the Lily of the Nile. heard in the house while it was in building " When the virgin-white leaves are beginning (1 Kings vi. 7). to open, the natural exclamation is “ How
“ No sound was heard, no pond'rous axes rang, perfectly beautiful!" There is no spot or
Like some tall palm the Heavenly fabric sprang." blemish upon them to mar their early loveli- And yet all the greatness and glory and ness. But day by day, as the petals grow pomp of the world were nothing in real and expand, the singular beauty of the flower interest to what these thirty years had becomes more and more manifest. It is witnessed in that quiet Village of Galilee. viewed with increasing interest. That beauty Rome had risen to the height of her splenwas in one sense“ perfect," when the pure dour. She bore the proud eagle on her new-born bud was resting in its earliest standards. That eagle may be said to have cradle of long green leaves. But what was winged its flight to every region of the globe, the perfection of this bud, compared to that and planted its iron claws on the prostrate of the large massive cup to which it grew nations. But what was that bird of Roman (more delicate than the finest porcelain), conquest and victory compared to the Divine poised on its tall and graceful stem. Jesus Dove of Peace that was nestling, unknown was spoken of as “growing up before God and unheeded, amid the rock-cliffs of Nazaas a tender plant.” This “Plant of Renown” reth? The eagle carried nothing on its was really and truly perfect at His birth as rushing wings but terror and death. The “ the Holy Child Jesus.” But as the lovely Dove from the ark of Heaven was to carry graces of His human nature became more the olive branch to the remotest bounds of manifest day by day,—the white leaves of the earth and to the latest ages of time.
“A BIG SURPRISE."
A Story of Seven Pials.
that tears are very near the surface; her CHAPTER I.
voice, when she spoke, was set in a fretful, OW cross little Maggie felt! how cross quavering key.
So decidedly uncome-at-able was Maggie, were drawn down at the corners; her dark that the baby, seated on the floor opposite, eyes had that dim, wistful look which shows instead of stretching out his arms to approach
her, sucked his thumb, while he gazed at her alleys and courts. Not bright places these discontented face in gloomy silence. There for a home! for not one of the attributes of was no one else to watch Maggie, but to a home-cleanliness, peace, order—do they judge from the baby's expression, which possess. Crumbling and foul are the walls betokened a kind of stolid surprise and dis- of these houses, dark and broken the staircomfort, it was evident that this state of cases, sadly dilapidated and bare of furniture affairs was unusual, and that generally the the rooms and cellars, but alas ! human little girl kept a firm control over her tem- beings swarm here, and in such a place little per. But I must first describe her home, Maggie lived. and then tell her story.
Her address was Tiger Alley, her home an There is a part of London very little attic in one of the worst of its houses. known to respectable people, only seen by It was a burning July day, and the atmosuch people when they pass through it in sphere in Maggie's home was certainly cabs and omnibuses. No person at all neither wholesome nor pleasant. The tiny comfortable or well to do would think of window in the roof only admitted air residing in this part of London, or indeed through one of its broken panes, and very remaining there an instant longer than was hot was the little air that came through this absolutely necessary.
opening The place in question is called Seven Neither was the furniture conducive to Dials, and it is quite one of the lowest parts cheerful thoughts. It consisted of a threeof the great city. From Seven Dials itself
, legged stool, a dirty mattress, a saucepan branch off seven miserable, low streets, each and pot, and a little hard wooden chair, of which again communicates with wretched originally meant for a baby, with a round
rung in front. In this chair, placed under one cared for him as Maggie did, and perthe window, so as to derive what benefit haps he cared for no one like Maggie. He she could from the fresher outside air, sat returned her love in kind, if not in intensity. Maggie. In this chair she had sat almost He returned it, too, in self-sacrific., for when from her birth. She was eight years old Maggie's head ached, or when Maggie now, but, except for the wonderfully intelli- suffered more pain than usual, he could gent expression of her face, she did not look soften his rough voice, he could subdue his more than four. Little Maggie had never noisy tones. At such times he was so nice been outside this room, and had never walked that Maggie thought the pain almost worth in her life. No wonder she looked unhappy, bearing for the sake of his tender looks, and ill, weak, lame, she had never been outside even mother never carried her half as comTiger Alley for eight long years! Who could fortably as Joe. imagine a more wretched fate? But Maggie Yes, certainly, of all Maggie's treasures, was not usually unhappy; except when suffer- Joe was her greatest, dearest, best. When ing pain, she was generally patient, and even she thought of him she never envied the cheerful, and her mother often declared she children who ran about and played, who was worth two of the great hulking strong could peep into the parks and see the trees, ones, to give you back a pleasant word. the green grass, and the flowers ; happy and
Yes, desolate as Maggie looked, she filled healthy as these children were, they none her own little niche in the world; she fulfilled of them possessed her brother, and to give her own duties, and she had her own happi- up Joe she would not have changed with
She had a very loving heart—a heart any of them. too big, and warm, and sensitive for that Í have mentioned Maggie's great treasures, poor little frame; and her heart was not but I must not forget her little one-a empty—it had its treasures.
treasure quite apart and distinct from the Three very great treasures had Maggie, and others, not for an instant to be placed in the one lesser one. First came the baby, who same category, but still holding a decided was left in her care day after day while place of its own in her heart; at the present mother was out charing. Every morning moment, never noticing the baby's disconMrs. Thomas took a long string and, tying tented face, she is drawing it out of a tin box one end round Maggie's chair, she fastened by her side, has tenderly removed from it a the other to the baby's waist. As far as his piece of soiled tissue paper, and now two or tether permitted might the baby go, but no three heavy tears drop from her eyes, and farther, and to take care of him was Maggie's one of them blots this lesser treasure. What duty and pleasure.
is it? A dirty card which has once been Then came mother--poor, tired, and over- trodden under some one's foot. On the card worked mother, who was always so patient is painted, in faded colours, a large white lily; and good to her little lame child, who, how-round the lily the words are printed, “ Conever cross and put out she might be with the sider the lilies of the field.” strong and healthy children, was always Maggie does not know how to read, but gentle and loving to this weak and ailing one. she can repeat every one of these words.
Yes, her mother and the baby were great She can point with her finger to where " contreasures of Maggie's, but I think, well as sider” stands, to where “field" stands, to she loved them, she loved some one else where “lilies” stands. She knows nothing better. I think in her heart of hearts some about them, except that lily means a flower, one else reigned as king. This third and and this faded thing on the card is a picture greatest of all Maggie's treasures was her of a flower. brother Joe. Joe was eleven years old, tall, As her tears drop on the card, the exstout, healthy, rough, with a loud voice, a asperated baby, tired out of sucking his rattling, noisy step, a ringing whistle, a gay thumb, makes a dart at it, and in trying to laugh.
rescue it from his vicious little grasp, the Joe was the sort of boy who everywhere, card gets torn. Poor Maggie! this is the no matter what his surroundings, carries all crowning drop in her cup of sorrows; she before him. He was not a very good boy, sobs bitterly and passionately, and though by no means; but he was so healthy, so the baby, quite penitent now, clambers to joyous, so never-me-care, so entirely regard- her knee, puts his arms about her neck, and less of danger, that he was a favourite with pulls all her dark hair about her face, he his street companions, he was a favourite at cannot, successful as these endearments school, he was a favourite at home; but no usually are, stay her tears.