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you wisely abstain from “casting pearls before swine, or giving that which is holy unto dogs.” Prayer is the sign of moral fitness, -an indication of awakened consciousness,-a proof that the heart, like a ploughed field, is duly prepared for precious seed, and ready to give back a manifold increase ; but, to scatter blessings on one too callous either to crave or appreciate them, is like sowing on the pavement, or dropping gold into a dead man's palm. And what is true of Divine knowledge applies with equal weight to God's goodness. His love is unbounded. You cannot scale its heights, nor fathom its depths, nor measure its length and breadth. No wordy eloquence, no passionate appeals, are required to stir its eternal fountains and draw forth its healing streams. It is a breast of unutterable tenderness and an arm of unfailing succour. But, because “God is love,” it is lame logic to conclude that He must lavish its treasures equally on those who solicit and on those who spurn them. You refuse money to a spendthrift son, not because
you love him less, but because you will not abet him in his wild and ruinous excesses.
Heaven's kindness is not an amiable weakness, blind, impulsive. Its gifts are distributed with unerring discrimination; and such gifts were no kindness to a man whose impiety would turn them into maledictions, pervert them to his own hurt, and so fatten him for speedier slaughter. In short, prayer takes what love offers, and what, without prayer, can never be personally appropriated; and, while God's wisdom and goodness are both limitless, the Divine rule of giving ever remains the same: Ask, and ye shall receive ; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened
Prayer, finally, is assumed to be useless, because of the withholding of God's answer. It can hardly be denied that there is much praying which ends in nothing; which is apparently void and futile, in so far as the attainment of its avowed object is concerned. It falls still-born from the lips, and is buried in the dust of abortive and forgotten things. Instances of this are too amply furnished in the experience even of devout persons, whose supplications sometimes seem a mere talking into vacancy. No answering voice reaches them from the eternal silences; no Hand is stretched forth from the brazen firmament, bringing them the desired boon; life and its surroundings go on in the old maimed sad way, as if mercy-seat and Divine almoner were an illusion and a mockery. What is the use of presenting requests which pass thus unheeded? Why persist in asking for that which never comes ? Would it not be better to have done with this bootless leaning on invisible supports, and to bear in dumb stoicism the ills which cannot be escaped ? Now, to argue after this fashion, is to jump at totally false conclusions. Are we so absolutely faultless on our side, that the only bar to the blessing must needs be traced to Almighty indifference? In our ignorance, do we never covet what, if vouchsafed, would prove an injury rather than a benefit? Shali the beggar, or the benefactor, determine what it is best to impartand how—and when ? While we are yet waiting for it, may not the
answer already be given in another shape, not in the removal of the “ thorn in the flesh, but in the ministry of “sufficient grace”? Like the man in the fable, is there not an indolent proneness to beseech God to do, precisely what He expects us to do, and what He has given us the power of doing ourselves? Have we any warrant for supposing that the Searcher of hearts will honour petitions which are mumbled as from a talking machine, without an element of earnestness, sincerity, penitence, or faith, in them? Too frequently, are we not as children
, who shoot arrows at random and lose them, instead of taking deliberate aim and watching longingly till they have hit the mark? Does delay necessarily mean denial; or does it not rather mean that, though the blessing tarry, it shall not fail when the fitting time for its bestowal has arrived ? In whose name make we our approaches unto God? in the name of our own self-righteousness; or in the name of the appointed Mediator, through whom alone the guilty can find acceptance ? Alas! there are causes enough to account for unanswered prayer, without impugning its efficacy when rightly offered; and, as the angler does not fling away his rod because no fish is caught at once, but quietly sets his bait afresh, and patiently bides his time, --so the man, whose cries to Heaven have brought him as yet no syllable of comfort, should not relinquish his suit in despondency or disgust, but should free it from human blemishes, put into it more fervour and trustfulness, and await with confidence an ultimate response which shall exceed even his brightest hopes.
Instead, therefore, of pleading untenable objections, let the worth of prayer be tried and tested by individual experience. Kneel often at the gate of the temple called Beautiful, where God dispenses His bounties, and sends no seeking soul empty away. Whatever is sunny in life, prayer will glorify; whatever is mournful, it will gladden,-for it "availeth much." Pardon, holiness, peace, immortality,--all the precious fruits of Christ's redemption, it will make your own. And, like the staff wherewith Moses smote the flinty rock, it will open springs in the desert, whose living waters shall refresh and cheer you until earth's struggles are over,
enter into REST. Hull.
teasing; and really, Bessie, it is too “I am sorry for Caspar now, foolish for a little girl as old as you mamma; but really it doesn't make are, to be so afraid of nothing at all.” me like him very much.”
“Oh dear!” cried Bessie, almost “Do you wish to know what will in tears, "if you could only be a make you like him, Bessie ?” little girl again for about five “Why, will anything, mamma?” minutes, mamma, and have a big, asked the little girl, her eyes opened horrid boy spring out at you,”—
wide with surprise. “I think if I were that little girl," “Perhaps so. You can try and interrupted her mother, “I should see, at any rate. It is a way I have walk straight along, and try not to seen tried a good many times, and mind him. Caspar isn't a bad boy it generally turned out very well.” at all, only mischievous, like many Oh, do tell me, please, mamma; other boys. He doesn't wish to make I want to like him, very much.” you really unhappy, dear, I am Bessie's mother took no notice of sure: and if any one told him that it the last part of her speech, but went was unkind, I think he would stop.'
on, “No; he is very cruel,” said “ When you dislike persons for Bessie, decidedly.
“ His eyes are
being unkind to you, or indeed, for so big and black, and he snaps them any other reason, the best plan is to hard at me, and-and-sometimes I be kind to them,-to go out of your almost hate him."
way to do them some kindness. It The last words were said in a will probably make you feel more very low tone, for Bessie knew they gently toward them, and may very were naughty. Her mother answered likely make them kinder to you. gravely,
“Yes, that would be grateful; I “I am sorry to hear you speak so. can understand that,” said Bessie, It is a dreadful thing to hate any- “but not how it can make me like body. Perhaps you won't dislike them any better.” Caspar so much when I tell you “ Well, dear, the best way to something about him.”
understand it is to do it, and then Bessie hung her head and was see what happens afterward. Will silent, and her mother continued,
you try, darling?" Caspar's mother died when he “I don't think I shall have a was quite a little child, and I don't chance," said Bessie, doubtfully. “I think he can remember her at all. don't like to go very near him." She was a good woman, and would " There, we got by his house some have taught Caspar to be gentle and time ago,” said her mother, "and kind. His father is hardly ever at didn't even have a sight of him. home, you know, and so he sees How foolish it would have been to very little of him; and I am afraid go round by the other street ! We that Mrs. Brown, who keeps house should not have gained anything by for them, does not take the care of being cowards.” them she might, and is anything The next morning, Bessie had but kind to them. Since he was nearly reached school in safety, quite little, he has run wild about when she heard from the other side the streets, with hardly any one to of the hedge an unearthly screech, teach him any good. Strong boys which nearly made her hair stand do not know how easily little girls on end. Though she really could are frightened, or how very much not help starting a little, she rethey suffer from fear. If they did, membered her mother's good advice, I am sure most of them would stop and only walked a little faster toward teasing, for it really is very cruel the school-house. Caspar could not sport.'
come near to trouble her in school.
time, for the two children were in ashamed. “I'm sorry, but I thought different classes; and, besides, the you were only trying to bother a teacher was too good and strict to fellow.” let the scholars play teasing tricks Oh, but you must take it," upon each other.
Bessie said, eagerly. “I have had When play-time came, the little all I want, really and truly.” boys and girls took down their Caspar looked for a moment with luncheon-baskets before going out longing eyes on the sandwich, which to play; but Caspar wandered about seemed very much nicer than the the room with his hands in his stale scraps with which Mrs. Brown pockets, whistling.
usually favoured him. Then he shook Eat your lunch quick, Caspar," his head, and turned to go away ; said another boy, “or
but Bessie was too quick for him. have time for that game of ball." She suddenly raised the sandwich
“I shan't keep you waiting long,” to his lips, and he had to put up one replied Caspar. I haven't a scrap
hand to keep it from falling. Then of lunch to-day; so I'm ready she put the pear into his other whenever you are.
hand, and ran away as fast as she "Why, what did you do with it?" could, rather frightened at what she
"Oh," said Caspar, carelessly, had done, to tell the truth, but rather Mrs. Brown got angry with my
glad too. dog this morning, and said he stole Part of the way to and from school some meat off the table; so I couldn't lay through a field, and through this have any lunch. I didn't see why, field ran a brook. This brook was exactly, but it's no matter; I shall just too wide to step or jump over, only have a better appetite for but a plank was laid across it, which dinner, I suppose.”
the children used as a bridge. On Just as he said this, he caught this particular afternoon, Bessie sight of Bessie, who was leaning was a little behind the rest of the over her desk, holding out to him a children, and when she came to the sandwich in one hand and a pear in edge of the brook, all the others had the other. As he looked toward crossed over. But, just as she was her, the timid little girl grew fright- going to follow them, a naughty, ened at her own boldness, and drew rude boy, on the other side, pulled back quickly. Caspar did not
away the plank, and left her with understand her motion, and thought no way of getting across. Fortushe meant to tease him by holding nately, at this very minute, Caspar something out and then taking it happened to turn round, saw poor back. So, running up to her desk, Bessie's plight, and came running he roguishly snatched away the toward her. It did not take long pear, and ran around the room, at to put back the little bridge, though last coming back and holding it just he got pretty well splashed in doing out of her reach, pretending to take so; and then he helped Bessie bites out of it, and saying,
across as carefully as if they had "Don't you wish you could get it?” always been the best of friends. All
“I meant it for you in the first the other children had gone, so place, and the sandwich too,” said they walked along together, neither Bessie, quite offended ; " but I did speaking for a minute or two; but think you'd take 'em politely, and at last Caspar said,-not snatch like a-a-annamul.”
You were good to give me your Caspar dropped the fruit as if it lunch to-day, Bessie. What made had been hot.
you do it? I know I'm rather ugly “I don't want your poor little
to you sometimes, What did make pear,” said he, looking thoroughly | you, any way p”
Bessie was rather confused at make that dreadfullest kind of a this question, and twisted and un- face you did yesterday !” twisted the handle of her bag, before “ Well, you must tell me which she could say: "I thought, may- one, so I can be sure to remember," be—my mother said-you see,”- said Caspar, in whom the torturing and then she got very red in the spirit was not entirely conquered. face; for she was too kind-hearted to "Was it this one ?" tell him about her talk with her But Bessie turned
with such mother, and did not know what else evident horror that he was quite to answer. But Caspar spoke in- penitent, and readily promised never stead,
to do it again : and by the time she • Well; I know why, if you don't. reached home she could tell her It's because you're à jolly, good- mother that she did almost like natured little thing; and I think Caspar. you'd keep house for us a lot better As the plan had turned out so than Ma'am Brown,-give me plenty well on this occasion, Bessie was of cakes, and all that sort of thing. ready to try it on many others, and Well; I won't howl at you over the it succeeded well with everybody, fence any more.
the more so as she never made a don't like it much, do you?”
parade of her good-nature, but was Oh, thank you,” said Bessie, always a modest, humble girl. gratefully ; "and if you'd please not
PICKINGS FROM MY PORTFOLIO.
No. I. I LOVE to think that what seems ditions in which we are able to comto be the mystery of the silence of
We remain here, and are death which envelopes so many subject to the laws of this realm. that we loved on earth, is not really They have gone where they speak a a mystery. Our friends are separated higher language and live in a higher from us because they are lifted sphere. But this silence is not the higher than our faculties can go. silence of vacuity, and this mystery Our child dies. It is the last we is not the mystery of darkness and can see of him here. He is lifted death. Theirs is the glory; ours is so far above us that we cannot the waiting for it. Theirs is the follow him. He was our child; he realization; ours is the hoping for was cradled in our arms; he clam- it. Theirs is the perfection; ours is bered upon our knees. But instantly, the immaturity striving to be ripe. in the twinkling of an eye, God took And when the day comes that we him, and lifted him up into His own shall disappear from these earthly sphere. And we see him not. But scenes, we shall be joined to them it is because we are not yet developed again: not as we were- --for we shall enough. We cannot see things not then be as we were—but as they spiritual with carnal eyes. But they are with God. We shall be like who have walked with us here, who them and Him.-H. W. Beecher. have gone beyond us, and whom we cannot see, are still ours. They are Some good Christians have a great more ours than they ever were be- deal of trouble in this world. The fore. We cannot commune with reason of it is that God is preparing them as we once could, because they them for very great happiness in are infinitely lifted above those con- heaven. Last summer, when in the