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Heaven is far and Earth is Near. W H EN first the soul, on joyous wings,
VV Mounts up and takes its heavenward way,
Before the shining gates of day;
From its old bondage-house of fear;
For heaven is far and earth is near.
Often we gain some lofty height,
Some mount of God, serene and still, Where shines a pure transfiguring light;
And holy thoughts, like dews distil; And here, we dream, shall be our stay,
We'll build our tabernacles here ; Alas, these visions glide away,
For heaven is far and earth is near !
So Bunyan's pilgrims toiled of old
Up to the mountain-tops of rest, And saw afar the streets of gold,
Saw the bright mansions of the blest ; And from these heights of sweet content,
Where all around was calm and clear, Down to the vales of sense they went,
For heaven is far and earth is near.
“We walk by faith and not by sight,”
And faith is weak and sight is strong;
And wander blindly to the wrong ;
'Mid good and evil, hope and fear ! Christ will not leave thee to be lost,
Though heaven is far and earth is near.
" Keep back, keep back!” HESE words caught my ear as I passed down a street
the other day. They were spoken by a man to his horse. The horse had just been taken out of a
cart, and, with his harness still on, was beginning to walk down a passage, as if towards his stable. But it was the wrong passage; so his master called out to him; and this was what he said : “Keep back, keep back !"
The horse was already in the passage, at least three quarters of him were ; but, hearing these words from his master, he backed himself again into the street, and then quietly followed the man down the next opening. It was all done in a minute; and I saw and heard it, for I had to wait on the footpath while it took place.
It set me thinking as I went on. I thought we might learn a lesson from the words, and from the horse's ready obedience. And I felt a great wish that some who have taken the wrong turn, and are going down the wrong passage in life, might hear and heed such a warning voice.
God has given us His Word, I thought, which bids us “keep back” from every wrong path. And God has also given us the voice of conscience, which from time to time warns us in like manner, unless indeed conscience has become seared and hardened by continued neglect and disobedience.
I thought of some cases in which "keep back” seems the very thing to say.
“Keep back," man, from going into that public-house. You have pushed open the door, you are half in already; but it is the wrong passage. “Keep back, keep back !" Did not your poor wife earnestly beg you to take home your earnings to-day? Are they not wanted for her and your children ? Shall the money go in beer, that ought to buy food and firing and clothes ? Don't you know what will happen, if you go in at that door? “Keep back, keep back !" The horse heard and obeyed. Let the dumb animal teach you a lesson. “Keep back” from that house of ruin.
“Keep back," wife, from those angry and bitter words that are rising to your lips, when your husband comes in late and unsteady, half ashamed and half sulky. You know well enough where he has been ; but never mind, “keep back" those words. They would only make bad worse. " Keep back" your words till you are cool, and can speak kind and gentle and soothing words. That will make your husband yet more ashamed than he is now; but perhaps he will be ashamed in a right way—perhaps you may, thus turn him into a better course.
But, as I went on, I remembered that these very words, “Keep back," are Bible words. I daresay the man who used them thought no more of that than his horse did. Very likely he had often said the words to his horse, for the horse seemed to know the sound, and yet had never once thought of their being Bible words; yet so they are. They come in the 19th Psalm ; the whole passage is this : “Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” The words are a prayer, and a prayer for grace a prayer to be kept from sin.
We cannot keep ourselves from sin ; our own strength is too weak to resist a strong inclination. The Word of God says “ Keep back;" conscience says “Keep back;" a wife's entreaty may say “Keep back;" and the thought of cold. and hungry children may say the same ; yet something else is wanted to make one “ keep back” from what is wrong. We want grace—the help of God, the gift of His Holy Spirit. In vain will a man try to “ keep back” by his own strength. Temptation will be too strong for him in the end; for not only has he evil inclinations within, but there is also a mighty enemy always watching against him, to betray him into the wrong path, and to lead him to sin and ruin.
We must cry to God for help and strength. This prayer against presumptuous sins we may well use against all sin. We may ask Him, and we ought to ask Him, for Jesus Christ's sake, to keep us from sin, to free us from its bondage, to give us His Holy Spirit. For all past sins we should ask for pardon through the blood of Jesus; and for all temptation and need yet to come we should ask for the restraining, strengthening grace of His Spirit.
“The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him : He also will hear their cry, and will save them." Do you call upon Him in truth, with a sincere and earnest desire to be kept back from sin and to be led in
the right way? then God, for His dear Son's sake, will fulfil your desire, and will hear your cry and save you. He can help you, for He is almighty ; He will, for He is “the God of all grace.”
Where is the Difference ?
shop that a quarter of the men had to be paid
a sore trial to him to leave Hillford, for it was his native place, and he did not like to leave home. Besides, Bell and Hawtrey's shop was a good one ; there was not better work done in any shop in the country than there; the masters were kind and reasonable ; George liked the foreman, too; and then there were several of his shopmates with whom he was very friendly, and from whom he was sorry to part. However, there was nothing else for it. He was as nearly breaking down as could be when he received his last week's wages; and I believe, though he was a manly sort of fellow, tears filled his eyes when, having bid good-bye to his father and mother, who had gone with him to the railway station, he took his seat in the corner of a carriage, and the train started on its journey to Manchester.
He did not see it then, but he did many a time afterwards, that the best thing that ever happened to him was his having to leave Hillford.
Bains was some time seeking work in Manchester; and at last he found it. The shop in which he got a situation was not a very large one then, but trade revived, and in the course of a few years it became one of the largest in the town. His employers soon found that he was a clever, steady man, and after four years George became one of their most trusted foremen.
George Bains was not a real Christian when he left Hillford. He had given up attending the Sunday-school