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by the unlooked-for difficulties, they were obliged to return. The spell of darkness was broken, and Cowper, returning to the house, according to this account, sat down and wrote:
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform ;
And rides upon the storm.
Of never-failing skill,
And works His sovereign will.
The clouds ye so much dread
In blessings on your head.
But trust Him for His grace ;
He hides a smiling face.
Unfolding every hour :
But sweet will be the flower.
And scan His work in vain ;
And He will make it plain." Whatever may have been the precise circumstances of the writing of this hymn, it could only have been written by one who had walked in the shadows of affliction, and had seen the matchless mercy
of a delivering Lord. Indeed, Cowper himself relates that at one time in his mental distress he ordered a man to drive him to Tower Wharf, intending to throw himself into the river Thames, but on finding the wharf pre-occupied he abandoned his fearful purpose.
As the flower exhales its sweetest fragrance when crushed or trodden in the dust, so from the bruised spirit of this gentle poet, in the midst of infirmity, affliction, and distress, gushed forth such hallowed songs as these :
"'Tis my happiness below,
Not to live without the cross,
Sanctifying every loss."
Oh my people faint and few;
Fair abodes I build for you."
and last and most precious of the whole :
“ There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins ;
Lose all their guilty stains.” Such are the sweet uses of sorrow and affliction; and we may well hesitate before we murmur at the shadowy path which we are called to tread, and calmly inquire, Is not this chastening of the Lord for our profit, that we may be made partakers of His holiness ? Will it mot in the end yield some peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby? Is it not designed to lead the wayward Wanderer to consider his ways and his needs, and to inquire, “ Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?” (Job xxv. 10.).
UNCLE JOHN'S GIFT. UNCLE John and I had been to quiet humour that always makes his Wednesday evening prayer-meeting companions listen. We passed a together. The minister was out of farmhouse, and Uncle John şaid, town. Two of the deacons were “I promised to go in here on busiabsent. Only a few brethren were ness a few minutes.” There was there, and these mostly the quiet quite a collection of the neighbouring ones. The sisters of course were all farmers gathered for some business present, they usually are, but being purposes. Business over, they began silent partners, were not counted talking of the poor crops, the teramong the active workers in the rible drought, and the grasshoppers.
“Never saw anything like it," Now, Uncle John never says any
“I didn't get a quarter of thing in meeting; but to-night we a crop of hay. The cows will all have were so hard up for somebody to to starve, or be killed afore spring.” occupy the time, that Deacon Smith “Don't see what we shall do for called on brother Brown (that is corn,
.” said another. pray. Brother hoppers have spoiled mine, what the Brown, with a jump and a frightened drought let grow." look, jerked out,“ Be excused.”
each bemoaned his lot. Uncle Walking home in the moonlight, John was eloquent on the loss of We got to talking about it somehow, oats, peas, beans and barley, hay and and I asked Uucle John why he potatoes.
Didn't see what poor never said anything in prayer-meet- farmers were going to do. It did ing.
seem a terrible shame to sit and see Can't, Thomas, can't,” he said. the grasshoppers take the bread out
of the children's mouths. For his “Haven't you one talent ?" part he was all discouraged, and he "No; not one. Couldn't say a
couldn't help thinking it was too word. Wish I could. Wish I could bad; and thus Uncle John croaked do
something for God, but I've no the loudest and longest of any, and talent."
seemed to find fault with the dealings I wondered, but said no more.
I of his Master. wondered, for Uncle John is one of As we walked homeward, I said, the best talkers I know of,-full of "Uncle, may I say a word or two?"
Uncle John) to
"No gift that way.'
Certainly, child,” he answered. Certainly. Just as many as you like. Out with it."
“ Well; it seems to me, Uncle John, you have a pretty good gift at talking.”
“Pooh, Thomas, I know what you mean; but meeting is one thing and neighbours is another. I can talk fast enough there. I reckon folks think too fast, sometimes, but I can't get at it in the meetinghouse."
“But, Uncle John, it seems to me you had a nice chance of speaking in meeting at Farmer Jones's.'
“ How so?”
“Didn't you say, coming down, you wished you could do something for the Master? It seems to me this time of scarcity and drought and trouble is a good opportunity for God's children to speak a word for their Father. When others are all finding fault with Him and His way of doing, couldn't His children
show that they love and trust Him, believe He is doing just right, and knows what is best for them?”
“Yes, yes, it does look so,” said Uncle John.
“If others could see that you loved and trusted God, in spite of drought and grasshoppers and no crops, wouldn't it be as good a speech as you could say for Him ?”
" True, Thomas, true. It looks as though God's children ought to stand up for Him. I suppose I should have spoken if I heard any one talking about my earthly father
I should have taken his part. Yes; I guess I did lose a good chance of speaking in meeting there. Thank you, Thomas, I'll remember it, and try to speak next time. If your old uncle can't speak in the meeting-house, he'll begin at the neighbours and the shop and the street and such places. Perhaps there will be less trouble then about the meeting-house.”
DAVID DOING, AND DAVID SUFFERING.
BY THE REV. T. R. STEVENSON.
“ So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone."-1 Sam. xvii. 50. “And he cast stones at David."-2 Sam. xvi. 6.
SOME names are very suitable. Their owners are like them. The one answers to the other. Open the Bible, and proofs of this crowd upon you. Old and New Testament alike afford them. Paul means
little ;” and how little in his own esteem was that apostle: “less than the least of the saints.” Matthew signifies “the gift of God;" and this the publican became when he imparted to us his Gospel. He who was called Nabal, was such. Solomon, denotes "peace;” and “ he had peace on all sides round about him." Goliath, being interpreted, is
a heap;" an apt description of the blustering heathen." He was simply “a heap" of flesh and blood, the incarnation of brute force. On the other hand, David is synonymous with“ beloved." “ Beloved indeed he was ;
“ beloved of God," the “ man after” God's “heart." “Beloved" of man, too, for who of us does not love him ? Even the Lord of David was not ashamed to call Himself David's Son.
In the two verses before us, David appears in different aspects. A stone is thrown by him; and stones are thrown at him. Let us look at
him on both occasions, and we shall find that more than ever have we reason to call him the “ beloved.”
I. ACTION; OR, A STONE THROWN BY DAVID.
Few deeds are better known. It is a universal favourite with children. Almost as much may be said of adults. Each of us is familiar with the brave shepherd lad's attack, and its victorious issue. Nor is this to be wondered at. The whole transaction has features which commend it to our careful study.
Here was accustomed action. David was no stranger to the weapon which he employed. For years the sling had been his mode of defence. Amusement and duty had alike made him an adept in its use. He had again and again protected his flock with it. Habit thus rendered him accurate in aim and steady of arm. His private life had gradually been preparing him for this great public encounter. The havoc which he wrought among wild beasts fitted him for successful combat with the giant.
How impressive is the lesson thus taught! The ordinary pursuits of our experience, faithfully and ably accomplished, qualify us for something higher and better. The small is a prelude to the great. What does science tell us ? That those laws which govern the mighty things of creation also control the minute. The earth is a globe, for the same reason that a dewdrop is. It is flattened at the poles, for the same reason that a mass of clay whirled rapidly round will become of a similar shape. The sun and the earth mutually are attracted to their respective masses, for the same reason that two rose-leaves that have fallen into a summer lake are drawn together. A planet goes round its sun, for the same reason that a stone thrown from a boy's hand falls in a curve to the ground. In like manner the glorious truths which have strengthened the heroes of the Church to do and to suffer so much, are equally adapted to our ordinary pursuits. If by faith Noah built the ark and Abraham emigrated, Moses abandoned his brilliant prospects and Samson vanquished the foes of Israel, by a similar trust in God we may overcome our temptations and obey the Divine commands. The shop or the study, the palace or the playground, may thus become the scene of a rehearsal,-a rehearsal of the song of Moses and of the Lamb in a higher, better world. Never let us speak of our position as insignificant. It is our own fault if it is. We can, if we will, make it the prelude to a glorious eternity. Do not let us be too impatient if our occupations are obscure and unrenowned. Never mind. Fill them with loyalty to your Father in heaven, suffuse them with grateful love to the Redeemer who has rescued you, and they shall all tend to make you meet for partaking of “the inheritance of the saints in light.” Here was wise action.
A very great mistake has, we submit, been commonly fallen into touching the celebrated duel. It is spoken of as an example of the Divine choice of inappropriate means, or, at any rate, means but partially adapted to secure the end in view. Nothing but thoughtlessCHURCH. [FEBRUARY 1, 1872. ness could ever have originated such an opinion. A small amount of reflection is sufficient to show that the plan adopted was the most suitable that can be imagined. To quote from a certain writer : “ The sling was among the most ancient and useful instruments of war, and extraordinary skill was sometimes acquired in its use. But in the present case, with an opponent so lofty in stature and so powerful in arm, with one of nearly twice the common size, and having therefore far more than twice the common chances in his favour, it was an important matter to make the issue of the combat independent of equality of strength and magnitude in the combatants. It was just because the sling and stone were not the weapons of Goliath that they were best fitted to David's purpose. They could be used at a distance from the enemy; they made his superior resources of no avail; they virtually reduced him to the dimensions and conditions of an ordinary man; they did more,—they rendered his extraordinary size a dis. advantage; the larger he was, the better for a mark. In any case, the sling and stone would have been fearful arms as used by David ; in the present case, they were preferable to any other that he could have wielded."
As David fought for God, so should we. Prudence must accompany zeal. Earnestness without wisdom will be but partially successful. To wit: in our endeavours to save our fellow-creatures, never be it forgotten that God has put in our hands one main, prominent fact with which to work. We refer to the death of Christ. As the manifestation of Divine love, and the atonement for human sin, it is the appointed means of touching the heart and reforming the life. In comparison with it, all other instrumentalities are weak. Nothing affects men so soon. In the whole course of the world's history the story has not been told which awakens such profound interest. We give an example: the pictures of Christ. What is their character? Observe them, and you will see. Most of them are connected with His sufferings. They refer to His death. For one painting or engraving of Jesus teaching or Jesus working miracles, Jesus baptized or Jesus ascending, you meet with ten or a score of Jesus dying. Christ agonizing in Gethsemane, bearing the cross, nailed to the cross, expiring on the cross,—these are the popular representations of the Saviour. Yes; mankind knows well enough what reaches deepest and extends farthest in spiritual influence. If we would rouse men from indifference, and lead them to love and serve God, we must, looking for the Holy Ghost's blessing, preach Christ and Him crucified. A living author describes graphically the adventures of some travellers in South America. In the course of their wanderings they explored an immense forest as large as all Europe. While they met with curious plants and strange animals that interested them much, and although they observed manifold wonders above, below, and around, they came one day upon an object which awakened especial attention. It was a wooden cross bearing this inscription: “The arm of God.” Beautiful and true! That is precisely what the