Part 3 out of 4
worms bore small round holes through the solid timbers of our ships.
One day Mr. Brunel visited a ship-yard. An old ship was on the
dry-dock getting repaired. A quantity of worm-eaten timber had been
taken out from her sides. He picked up one of these pieces of timber,
and saw a worm at work, boring its way through. If he had been a
proud man, he might have thrown the timber aside, and said--"Get away
you poor little worm. I am a great master builder. You can't teach me
anything." And if he had done so that famous tunnel under the Thames
would probably never have been built. But Mr. Brunel had learned the
lesson of humility. He was willing to learn from anything that God
had made, however insignificant it might be. So he sat down and
watched the worm at its work. He studied carefully the form of the
hole it was boring. The thought occurred to him how strong a tunnel
would be, that was made in the shape of this hole! And when he was
asked whether it would be possible to build a tunnel under the
Thames, he said he thought it could be done. He undertook to build
it. He succeeded in the work. But, in accomplishing the great
undertaking that little ship-worm was his teacher.
And now, if any of my young friends who may read this book should
ever visit London, and go to see the great tunnel, as they gaze in
wonder at it, let them remember Sir I. Brunel, and that little
ship-worm; and then, let them say to themselves: "This mighty tunnel
is an illustration of the truth that humility helps to make us
"George Washington and His Humility." Here is a story connected with
the great and good Washington--"the Father of his country," which
illustrates very well this part of our subject.
During the war of the American Revolution, the commander of a little
squad of soldiers was superintending their operations as they were
trying to raise a heavy piece of timber to the top of some military
works which they were engaged in repairing. It was hard work to get
the timber up, and so the commander, who was a proud man and thought
himself of great importance, kept calling out to them from time to
time, "Push away, boys! There she goes! Heave ho!"
While this was going on, an officer on horseback, but not in military
dress, rode by. He asked the commander why he did not take hold, and
give the men a little help. He looked at the stranger in great
astonishment, and then, with all the pride of an emperor, said:
"Sir, I'd have you know that I am a corporal!"
"You are--are you?" replied the officer, "I was not aware of that,"
and then taking off his hat, and making a low bow, said, "I ask your
pardon Mr. Corporal."
After this he got off his horse, and throwing aside his coat, he took
hold and helped the men at their work till they got the timber into
its place. By this time the perspiration stood in drops upon his
forehead. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his brow. Then
turning to the commander he said:
"Mr. Corporal, when you have another such job on hand, and have not
men enough to do it, send for your Commander-in-chief, and I will
come and help you again."
It was General Washington who did and said this. The Corporal was
thunderstruck! The great Washington, though honored above all men on
the continent, was humble enough to put his hand and shoulder to the
timber, that he might help the humblest of his soldiers, who were
struggling for the defence of their country, to bear the burdens
appointed to them.
This is an excellent illustration of the truth we are now
considering. And certainly we should all try to learn the lesson of
humility which Jesus taught, when we see how it helps to make us
_And then there is one other reason why we should learn this lesson,
and that is because of the_--BLESSING--_that attends it_.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in her noble song about the birth of her
wonderful Son, said that God "filleth the hungry with good things,
and sendeth the rich empty away." By the "_hungry"_ she meant the
_humble_ and by the "_rich"_ the _proud_. And the "good things" with
which God fills them mean the blessings He bestows on the humble. Our
Saviour taught the same truth when he said, "he that humbleth himself
shall be exalted." Luke xiv: 11. Being exalted here means being
honored and blessed. These passages teach very clearly the truth of
which we are now speaking. They show us that we must learn the lesson
of humility if we hope to have God's blessing rest upon us. And it is
not more true that two and two make four, than it is that God's
blessing _does_ attend and follow those who learn the lesson of
How many illustrations of this truth we find in the Bible! Moses had
learned the lesson of humility before God sent him on his great
mission, which has given him a name and a place among the most
famous men of the world.
Gideon had learned the lesson of humility before God made choice of
him to be the deliverer of his people Israel from the hands of their
enemies; and then, for years to be their honored ruler. John the
Baptist was so humble that he said of himself that he was not worthy
to stoop down and unloose the latchet of our Saviour's shoe; and yet
Jesus said of him that he was one of the greatest men that ever had
The apostle Paul was so humble that he considered himself "less than
the least of all saints," and "the chief of sinners;" and yet God
honored and blessed him till he became the most famous and useful of
all the apostles.
If we turn from the Bible, and look out into the world around us, we
may compare proud people to the tops of the mountains; these are bare
and barren, and of little use to the world. We may compare humble
people to the plains and valleys. These are fertile and beautiful,
and are the greatest blessing to the world, in the abundance of
grain, and fruit, and other good things which they yield.
And then, if we take notice of what is occurring in the scenes of
daily life, we shall meet with incidents continually which furnish
us with illustrations of the part of our subject now before us, that
God crowns the humble with his blessing. Let us look at one or two of
"The Little Loaf." In a certain part of Germany, some years ago, a
famine was prevailing, and many of the people were suffering from
hunger. A kind-hearted rich man sent for twenty of the poorest
children in the village where he lived, to come to his house. As they
stood on the porch of his house, he came out to them bringing a large
basket in his hand. He set it down before him and said: "Children, in
this basket there is bread for you all. Take a loaf, each of you, and
come back every day at this hour, till it shall please God to send us
Then he left the children to themselves and went into the house, but
watched them through the window. The hungry children seized the
basket, quarreled and struggled for the bread, because each of them
wished to get the best and largest loaf. Then they went away without
ever thanking the good gentleman for his kindness.
But one little girl, named Gretchen, poorly but neatly dressed,
remained, humbly standing by, till the rest were gone. Then she took
the last loaf left in the basket, the smallest of the lot. She looked
up to the window where the gentleman stood; smiled at him; threw him
a kiss, and made a low curtsey in token of her gratitude, and then
went quickly home.
The next day the other children were just as ill-behaved as they had
been before, and the timid humble Gretchen received a loaf this time
not more than half the size of the one she had on the previous day.
But when she came home, and her poor sick mother cut the loaf open, a
number of new silver pieces of money, fell rattling and shining out
Her mother was frightened, and said, "Take the money back at once to
the good gentleman; for it must certainly have dropped into the dough
by accident. Be quick Gretchen! be quick!"
But when the little girl came to the good man and gave him her
mother's message, he kindly said, "No, no, my child, it was no
mistake. I had the silver pieces put into the smallest loaf as a
reward for you. Continue to be as humble, peaceable, self-denying,
and grateful as you have now shown yourself to be. A little girl who
is humble enough to take the smallest loaf rather than quarrel for
the larger ones, will be sure to receive greater blessings from God
than if she had silver pieces of money baked in every loaf of bread
she ate. Go home now, and greet your good mother very kindly for me."
Here we see how God's blessing attends the humble.
"Humility Proving a Blessing." Some time ago a young man went into
the office of one of the largest dry-goods houses in New York and
asked for a situation. He was told to call again another day.
Going down Broadway that same afternoon, when opposite the Astor
House, he saw an old apple woman, in trying to cross the street,
struck by an omnibus, knocked down, and her basket of apples sent
scattering into the gutter.
The young man stepped out of the crowd, helped the old woman to her
feet, put her apples into her basket, and went on his way, without
thinking of it.
Now a proud man would never have thought of doing such a thing as
that. But this young man had learned the lesson of humility, and did
not hesitate a moment to do this kind act.
When he called again to see about the situation, he was asked what
wages he expected.
He stated what he thought would be right. His proposal was accepted.
The situation was given him, and he went to work.
About a year afterwards, his employer took him aside one day,
reminded him of the incident about the old apple woman; told him he
was passing at the time, and saw it; and that it was this
circumstance which induced him to offer the vacant situation to him,
in preference to a hundred others who were applying for it.
Here we see what a blessing this young man's humility proved to him!
And thus we see that there are five good reasons why we should learn
the lesson of humility. These are the _command_ of Christ; the
_example_ of Christ; the _comfort_ that humility gives; the
_usefulness_ to which it leads; and the _blessing_ that attends it.
The first verse of the hymn we often sing contains a very suitable
prayer to offer when we think of the lesson of humility we have now
"Lord forever at thy side
Let my place and portion be;
Strip me of the robe of pride
Clothe me with humility."
CHRIST AND THE LITTLE CHILDREN
If, when Jesus was here on earth, he had shown a great interest in
kings, and princes, in rich, and wise, and great men, it would not
have been surprising; because he was a king and a prince, himself; he
was richer than the richest, and wiser than the wisest, and greater
than the greatest. But he did not do this. He took no particular
notice of them; but he showed the greatest possible interest in
children. When mothers brought their little ones to him, the
disciples wanted to keep them away. They thought, no doubt, that he
was too busy to take any notice of them. But they were mistaken. He
was very busy indeed. He had many lessons to teach. He had sermons to
preach; and sick people to heal; and blind eyes to open; and deaf
ears to unstop; and lame men to make whole; and dead men to raise to
life again. He had all his Father's will to make known to men; and
all his Father's commandments to keep. He had to suffer, and to die
for the sins of the world; that he might "open the kingdom of heaven
to all believers." He was the busiest man that ever lived. Nobody
ever had so much to do as he had. And yet, he was not too busy to
attend to the little children. He had time to give to them. So he
rebuked his disciples for trying to keep the children away from him.
He told the mothers to bring them near. They did so. And then, one by
one, "he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them and
blessed them." And when he had done this, as though that were not
enough, he spoke those precious, glorious, golden words:--"_Suffer
the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such
is the kingdom of heaven_," "verily I say unto you, whosoever shall
not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter
These things are told us by three of the evangelists. St. Matthew
mentions them in chapter xix: 13-15. St. Mark x: 13-16, and St. Luke
On another occasion, when he was in the temple, the children sang
hosannas to him as the son of David. The chief priests and scribes
were greatly displeased, when they heard it, and "said unto him,
hearest thou what these say? and Jesus said unto them, yea: have ye
never read, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast
perfected praise?" Matt, xxi: 15, 16. Here he quoted from the Old
Testament (Ps. viii: 2) to prove to them from their own scriptures,
that God loves little children, and delights to have them engage in
his service, and sing his praises.
And there was one other occasion on which Jesus spoke about the
children, and showed his interest in them. This was after his
resurrection. We read about it in St. John xxi: 15-18. He met his
disciples, one day, on the shore of the sea of Galilee. Peter, who
had shamefully denied his Master on the night in which he was
betrayed was present with them. Jesus said to him, as if to remind
him of his great sin, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" "Yea,
Lord, thou knowest that I love thee," said the penitent disciple.
"Feed my lambs," was his Master's reply. Here again, how beautifully
Jesus showed his great love for the little ones of his flock!
From these different passages, we see clearly how dear little
children are to the heart of our blessed Saviour! He is the only
great Teacher who ever showed such an interest in children. And the
religion of Jesus is the only religion which teaches its followers to
love and care for the little ones. The worshipers of the idol Moloch,
mentioned in the Bible, used to offer their children as
burnt-sacrifices to their cruel god. Mahometans look upon their women
and children as inferior beings. The Hindoos neglect their infants,
and leave them exposed on the banks of the Ganges, or throw them into
the river to be devoured by the hungry crocodiles. In the city of
Pekin many infants are thrown out into the streets every night.
Sometimes they are killed by the fall. Sometimes they are only half
killed, and linger, moaning in their agony, till the morning. Then
the police go around, and pick them up, and throw them all together
into a hole and bury them.
In Africa, the children are sometimes buried alive; and sometimes
left out in the fields or forests for the wild beasts to devour them.
In the South Sea Islands three-fourths of all the children born used
to be killed. Sometimes they would strangle their babies. Sometimes
they would leave them, where oxen and cattle would tread on them, and
trample them to death; while, at other times, they would break all
their joints, beginning with their fingers and toes, and then go on
to their wrists, and elbows, and shoulders. How dreadful it is to
think of such practices! And when we turn from these scenes of
heart-rending cruelty and think of the gracious Saviour,--the "gentle
Jesus, meek and mild," stretching forth his arms in loving
tenderness, and uttering the sweet words,--"Suffer the little
children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the
kingdom of God,"--what a wonderful contrast it makes!
And when we think of all that Jesus did and said to show his interest
in children, we may well ask ourselves such questions as these,--Why
was it so? What did he do it for? And when we come to look carefully
into this part of the life of Christ, we can see four great things in
it; and these are the reasons why Jesus did and said so much about
_In the first place we see_--GREAT LOVE--_in the interest Christ
manifested towards the young_.
It was the same love which brought him down from heaven, and made him
willing to become a little child himself; the same love which made
him willing to live in poverty--and suffer the dreadful death upon
the cross that led him to show such interest in the little ones. But
if he had not told us himself how he feels on this subject, we could
not have been sure of it. Children might well have said, when they
heard about the love of Christ, "Yes, we have no doubt that Jesus
does love grown up people, men and women in general. We believe this
because the Bible tells us so; but how do we know that he loves us
children?" If he had not told us so himself, we could not have been
sure of it. But we know it now. And when we hear, or read of the love
of Christ, we may be sure that it takes the children in.
During a famine in Germany, a family became so poor that they were in
danger of starving. The father proposed that one of the children
should be sold, and food provided for those that remained. At last
the mother consented; but then the question arose which one of the
four should be selected. The eldest, their first-born, could not be
spared; the second looked like the mother, the third was like his
father, and they could not give either of them up; and then the
youngest--why, he was their pet, their darling, how could they give
_him_ up? So they concluded that they would all perish together,
rather than part with one of their little ones. When those children
knew of this, they might very well feel sure that their parents loved
them. But Jesus did more than this for us, he was willing to die upon
the cross, and he did so die, that "not one of his little ones should
"Being Loved Back Again." Little Alice Lee sat in her rocking chair.
She was clasping a beautiful wax doll to her bosom, and singing sweet
lullabies to it. But every little while she looked wistfully at her
mother. She was busy writing, and had told Alice to keep as quiet as
possible till she got through.
It seemed a long time to Alice; but after awhile her mother laid down
her pen, and pushed aside her papers, and said:--"Now I am through
for to-day, Alice, and you can make as much noise as you please."
In a moment Alice laid down her doll, and running to her mother,
threw her arms round her neck, and nestled sweetly in her loving
"I'm so glad," said Alice, "I wanted to love you so much, mamma."
"Did you, darling?" and the mother clasped the little one tenderly in
her arms. "I am very glad that my little girl loves me;" replied her
mother, "but I thought you were not very lonely while I was writing;
you and dollie seemed to be having a good time together."
"Yes, we had, mamma; but I always get tired of loving dollie after
"Do you, dear? Tell me why?"
"O, because she never loves me back again."
"And is _that_ why you love me?"
"That is _one why_, mamma; but not the first one, or the best one."
"And what is the first, and best?"
"Why, mamma, can't you guess?" and the little girl's blue eyes grew
very bright, as they gazed earnestly into her mother's face. "It's
because you loved me when I was too little to love you back; _that's_
why I love you so."
And what a reason this is why we should love Jesus! He loved us when
we were too little to love him back. The Bible says--"We love him
because _he first_ loved us." He loved us before we knew him, or had
ever heard of him. He loved us before we were born. Before the world
was made Jesus thought of you and me, and loved us. This is what he
means when he says:--"I _have loved thee with an everlasting love."_
Jer. xxxi: 3. This means a love that never had a beginning, and that
will never have an end. This is very wonderful. And when we think of
it, we may well sing out our thankfulness in the words of the hymn:
"I am glad that our Father in heaven
Tells of his love in the Book he has given;
Wonderful things in the Bible I see;
This is the sweetest, that Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves--_even me_"
And when we think of all the kind words and actions of Jesus, by
which he showed his interest in little children, the first thing that
we see in them is--great love.
_Now, let us take another look at this part of our Saviour's life,
and the second thing that we see in it is_--GREAT WISDOM.
It is wise to take care of the children and try to bring them to
Jesus when young, _because then they are easily controlled_.
Suppose we plant an acorn in a corner of our garden. After awhile a
green shoot springs out from it. We go to look at it when it is about
a foot high. We find it getting crooked; but with the gentlest touch
of thumb and finger, we can straighten it out. We wish it to lean in
a particular direction. We give it a slight touch, and it leans just
that way. Afterwards we conclude to have it lean in the opposite
direction. Another slight touch, and it takes that direction. It is
true, as the poet says, "Just as the twig is bent, the tree's
inclined." But, suppose we let it grow for twenty or thirty years,
and then come back to it. It is now a great oak tree. There is an
ugly twist in its trunk. We try to straighten it out; but in vain. No
power on earth can do that now. You can cut it down; or saw it up; or
break it into splinters; but you cannot straighten it.
Suppose, that you and I should go to one of the highest summits of
the Rocky Mountains. In a certain place there, we should find two
little fountains springing up near each other. With the end of a
finger we might trace the course in which either of those little
springs should flow. We could lead one down the eastern side of the
mountains, and the other down the western side. It would be very easy
to control them then. But suppose now we travel down the side of the
mountain till we reach the plain, at its base. Now see, yonder is a
great river, rolling on its mighty flood of waters. That is what the
little spring has grown to. It is too late to control it now. The
time for controlling it was up yonder near the spring.
It is easy to control the spring; it is very hard to control the
river. Jesus wished to control the spring when he directed us to
bring the children to him. And in this he showed his wisdom.
It is wise to take an interest in children, and bring them early to
Jesus--_because they have great influence in the world_.
Who can tell the influence that children are exerting in the world?
We have an illustration of this in the words that were once spoken by
Themistocles, the celebrated Grecian governor and general. He had a
little boy, of whom his mother was very fond and over whom the child
had very great influence. His father pointed to him, one day, and
said to a friend, "Look at that child; he has more power than all
Greece. For the city of Athens rules Greece; I rule Athens; that
child's mother rules me, and he rules his mother."
I feel sure our Saviour must have felt very much as some one has
done, who writes in this way about
THE GOOD THAT CHILDREN DO.
"A dreary place would be this earth
Were there no little people in it;
The song of life would lose its mirth
Were there no children to begin it;
"No little forms, like buds to grow,
And make the admiring heart surrender;
No little hands, on breast and brow,
To keep the thrilling love-chords tender.
"No babe within our arms to leap,
No little feet towards slumber tending;
No little knee in prayer to bend,
Our loving lips the sweet words lending.
"Life's song indeed would lose its charm,
Were there no babies to begin it;
A doleful place this world would be,
Were there no little people in it."
And if children have so great an influence in the world it was wise
in Jesus to desire to have them brought early to him that they might
learn to use that influence in the best possible way.
And then it was wise in Jesus to desire this, again, _because
bringing children to him prevents great trouble, and secures great
We are all familiar with Dr. Watts' sweet hymn, which says:
"'Twill save us from a thousand snares
To mind religion young."
Here is a striking illustration of this truth in the history of:
"One Neglected Child." A good many years ago, in one of the upper
counties of New York, there was a little girl named Margaret. She
was not brought to Christ, but was turned out on the world to do as
she pleased. She grew up to be perhaps the wickedest woman in that
part of the country. She had a large family of children, who became
about as wicked as herself; her descendants have been a plague and a
curse to that county ever since. The records of that county show that
two hundred of her descendants have been criminals. In a single
generation of her descendants there were twenty children. Three of
these died in infancy. Of the remaining seventeen, who lived to grow
up, nine were sent to the state prison for great crimes; while all
the others were found, from time to time, in the jails, the
penitentiaries, or the almshouses. Nearly all the descendants of this
woman were idiots, or drunkards, or paupers, or bad people, of the
very worst character. That one neglected child thus cost the county
in which she lived hundreds of thousands of dollars, besides the
untold evil that followed from the bad examples of her descendants.
How different the result would have been if this poor child had been
brought to Jesus and made a Christian when she was young!
"The Result of Early Choice." Here is a short story of two boys, of
the choice they made when young, and the different results that
followed from that choice.
A minister of the gospel was preaching on one occasion to the
convicts in the state prison of Connecticut. As he rose in the desk
and looked around on the congregation, he saw a man there whose face
seemed familiar to him. When the service was over he went to this
man's cell, to have some conversation with him.
"I remember you very well, sir," said the prisoner. "We were boys in
the same neighborhood; we went to the same school; sat beside each
other on the same bench, and then my prospects were as bright as
yours. But, at the age of fourteen, you made choice of the service of
God, and became a Christian. I refused to come to Christ, but made
choice of the world and sin. And now, you are a happy and honored
minister of the gospel, while I am a wretched outcast. I have served
ten years in this penitentiary and am to be a prisoner here for
Jesus knew what blessings would follow to those who were early
brought to him, and we see that there was great wisdom in the words
that he spake when he said--"Suffer the little children to come unto
_In the next place there was_--GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT--_in what Jesus
did and said about children_.
If a company of boys or girls should try to get into the presence of
a monarch, some great king, or emperor, they would find it a pretty
hard thing to do. At the door of the palace they would meet with
soldiers or servants, the guards of the queen or king. They would say
to the children--"what do you want here?" And if the children should
say, "Please sir, we wish to go into the palace and see the queen,"
the answer would be: "Go away; go away. The queen is too busy. She
has no time to attend to little folks like you." And the children
would have to go away without getting to see the queen.
But, Jesus is a greater king than any who ever sat upon an earthly
throne. He has more to do than all the kings and queens in the world
put together. And yet he never gave orders to the angels, or to any
of his servants to keep the children away from him. On his great
throne in yonder heavens he says still, what he said when he was on
earth--"Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them
not." And he says this on purpose to encourage the children to come
to him. And the thought that Jesus loves them and feels an interest
in them has encouraged multitudes of little ones to seek him and
serve him. Here are some illustrations of this:
"Learning to Love Jesus." "A little girl came to me one day," said a
minister of the gospel, and said, "'Please sir, may I speak to you a
minute?' I saw that she was in some trouble; so I took her kindly by
the hand, and said, 'Certainly, my child. What do you wish to say?'
"'Please, sir,' said she, as her lip quivered and tears filled her
eyes, 'it's a dreadful thing; but I don't love Jesus.'
"'And are you not going to love him?' I asked.
"'I don't know; but please sir, I want you to tell me how.' She spoke
sadly, as if it was something she never could do.
"'Well,' I said, 'St. John, who loved our Lord almost more than any
one else ever did, says that "we love him because he first loved us."
Now if you go home to-night, saying in your heart, "_Jesus loves
me_," I think that to-morrow you will be able to say--"I love
"She looked up through her tears, and repeated the words very softly,
'Jesus loves me.' She began to think about it on her way home, as
well as to say it. She thought about his life, about his death on the
cross, and about his sweet words to the little ones, and she began to
feel it too.
"The next evening she came to see me again; and, putting both her
hands in mine, with a bright happy face, she said:
"'Oh! please sir, I love Jesus now; for I know he does love me so!'"
Here was a little one encouraged to come to Jesus by thinking of the
interest he feels in children.
"Doesn't He Love to Save?" A mother had just tucked her little boy in
bed, and had received his good-night kisses. She lingered awhile, at
his bedside, to speak to him about Jesus, and to see if he was
feeling right toward him. He was a good, obedient boy, but that day
he had done something that grieved his mother. He had expressed his
sorrow for it, and asked his mother's forgiveness. As she stooped
down for the last kiss, he said--"Is it all settled, mother?"
"Yes, my child," she said, "it's all settled with me; but have you
settled it all with Jesus?" "Yes, mother: I've asked him to forgive
me: and I believe him when he says he will; for _doesn't he love to
help and save children_?" "He does, my child, he does," said his
mother, as she gazed on his happy little face, lighted up with the
joy of that gospel, so often hidden from the wise and prudent, but
revealed to babes.
Here we see how this little fellow was encouraged to seek Jesus from
the assurance that he feels an interest in children, and loves to
help and bless them.
"Love Leads to Love." A little boy named Charley stood at the window
with his mother one morning, watching the robins as they enjoyed
their morning meal of cherries from the tree near their house.
"Mother," said Charley, "How the birdies all love father."
"They do," said his mother, "but what do you suppose is the reason
that the birdies love your father?"
This question seemed to set Charley to thinking. He did not answer at
first, but presently he said, "Why mother all the creatures seem to
love father. My dog is almost as glad to see him as to see me. Pussy,
you know, always comes to him, and seems to know exactly what he is
saying. Even the old cow follows him around the meadow, and the other
day I saw her licking his hand, just as a dog would. I think it must
be because father loves them. You know he will often get up and give
pussy something to eat; and he pulls carrots for the cow, and pats
her; and somehow I think his voice never sounds so sweet as when he
is talking to these dumb creatures."
"I think his voice is very pleasant when he is talking to his little
boy," said his mother.
Charley smiled, and said, "That's so, mother. Father loves me, and I
love him dearly. But he loves the birdies too I am sure. He whistles
to them every morning when they are eating their cherries, and they
don't seem a bit afraid of him, although he is near enough to catch
them. Mother I wish everything loved me as they do father."
"Do as father does, Charley, and they will. Love all things and be
kind to them. Don't kick the dog, or speak roughly to him. Don't pull
pussy's tail, nor chase the hens, nor try to frighten the cow. Never
throw stones at the birds. Never hurt nor tease anything. Speak
gently and lovingly to them and they will love you, and everybody
that knows you will love you too."
Now Charley's father, in acting as he did, was trying to make all the
dumb creatures about him know that he was their friend; that he loved
them, and had nothing but kindness in his heart towards them. In
this way he encouraged them to come to him, and not be afraid of him.
And this is just the way in which Jesus was acting when he did and
said so much to show his interest in children. He wants them all to
understand that he is their friend; that he loves them, and wants
them to come to him and love and serve him. And so every child who
hears or reads about Jesus may feel encouraged to say:
"Once in his arms the Saviour took
Young children just like me,
And blessed them with his voice and look
As kind as kind could be.
"And though to heaven the Lord hath gone,
And seems so far away,
He hath a smile for every one
That doth his voice obey.
"I'd rather be the least of them
That he will bless and own,
Than wear a royal diadem,
And sit upon a throne."
And so we may well say that in what Jesus did and said about the
children there is great encouragement.
_And then there are_--GREAT LESSONS--_too, in this part of the life
There are two lessons taught us here. One is about _the work we are
to do for Jesus here on earth_. When Jesus said to Peter, "Lovest
thou me? Feed my lambs," he meant to teach him, and you, and me, and
all his people everywhere, the best way in which we can show our love
to him. The lambs of Christ here spoken of mean little children,
wherever they are found. And to feed these lambs is to teach them
about Jesus. When we are trying to bring the young to Jesus and
teaching them to love and serve him, then we are doing the work that
is most pleasing to him:--the work that he most loves to have his
people do. It was thinking about this that first led me to begin the
work of preaching regularly to the young. And this is the lesson that
Jesus would have all his people learn when he says to each of
them:--"Lovest thou me? Feed my lambs."
"The Angel in the Stone." Many years ago there was a celebrated
artist who lived in Italy, whose name was Michael Angelo. He was a
great painter, and a great sculptor, or a worker in marble. He loved
to see beautiful figures chiseled out of marble, and he had great
power and skill in chiseling out such figures. One day, as he was
walking with some friends through the city of Florence, he saw a
block of marble lying neglected in a yard, half covered with dust and
rubbish. He stopped to examine that block of marble. That day
happened to be a great holiday in Florence and the artist had his
best suit of clothes on; but not caring for this he threw off his
coat, and went to work to clear away the rubbish from that marble.
His friends were surprised. They said to him:--"Come on, let's go;
what's the use of wasting your time on that good-for-nothing lump of
"O, there's an angel in this stone," said he, "and I must get it
He bought that block; had it removed to his studio, and then went to
work with his mallet and his chisel, and never rested till out of
that rough, unshapen mass of stone he made a beautiful marble angel.
Now, every child born into our world is like such a block of marble.
The only difference is that children are living stones--marble that
will last forever. And when we bring our children to Jesus, and by
his help teach them to love and serve him, we are doing for them just
what Michael Angelo was doing for his block of marble--we are getting
the angels out of the stones. And this is what Jesus loves to have us
"How to Get the Angels Out." A Christian mother, whose children had
all been early taught to love and serve Jesus, was asked the secret
of her success in bringing up her children. This was her
answer:--"While my children were infants on my lap, as I washed them
day by day, I raised my heart to God that he would wash them in that
blood which cleanseth from all sin; as I clothed them in the morning,
I asked my heavenly Father to clothe them with the robe of Christ's
righteousness; as I provided them food I prayed that God would feed
their souls with the bread of heaven, and give them to drink of the
water of life. When I prepared them for the house of God I pleaded
that their bodies might be made fit temples for the Holy Ghost to
dwell in. When they left me daily for the week-day school, I followed
their youthful footsteps with the prayer that their path through life
might be like that of the just, which shineth more and more unto the
perfect day. And night after night, as I committed them to rest, the
silent breathing of my soul has been, that their heavenly Father
would take them under his tender care and fold them in his loving,
Let Christian mothers follow this example and they will not fail to
bring the angel out from every block of living marble that God has
"The Best Time for Doing This." A faithful minister of Christ had a
dear only daughter. She had been a thoughtful praying child. When
only twelve years old she had joined her father's church. She now lay
on her dying bed. "As I sat by her bedside," says her father, "among
the things she said which I shall never forget were these:--'Father
you know I joined the church when I was young--very young. Some of
our friends thought that I was too young. But, oh! how I wish I could
tell everybody what a comfort it is to me now to think of it.' Then
reaching out her hand--the fingers were already cold--and grasping
mine, she said with great earnestness:--'Father, you are at work for
the young. Do all you can for them while they are young. It's the
best time--the best time. Oh! I see it now as I never did before. It
is the best time--while they are young--the younger the better. Do
all you can for them while they are very young.' And then she fell
asleep in Jesus."
This is the lesson about the work we are to do for him on earth, that
Jesus taught in what he said concerning the children.
But when we think of those sweet words of Jesus--"Of such is the
kingdom of heaven," we are _taught a lesson about the company we
shall meet there_. We learn from what our blessed Lord says on this
subject that he saves all the little ones who die before they are
accountable for their actions. And we know that of all the persons
born into our world more than half of them die before they reach this
age. And this makes it very certain that more than half the company
of heaven will be made up of little children. This is a very sweet
thought to those who have lost little ones; and to those who love
And some people think that when young children die and go to heaven,
they will not grow up to be men and women, but will always remain
children. The Rev. Mr. Bickersteth, of England, in speaking of a
father meeting his little ones in heaven, who died years before he
did, represents him as meeting them there, just of the same age and
size as they were when they died. And then he expresses his own
thought on this subject in a single line:
"A babe in glory, is a babe forever."
But God has not said anything on this subject in the Bible. And when
he himself has not spoken on such a point as this, it is impossible
for us to say certainly which way it will be. But when we get to
heaven and find just how it is, we shall all agree that God's way is
the best way.
And then Jesus shows us plainly _what our character must be if we
hope to go to heaven and join the happy company there_.
These are the words he spake on this subject; "Verily I say unto you,
whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he
shall not enter therein." Mark x: 15. Jesus refers here to some of
the best things that we find marking the character of a good child.
Such a child is gentle, and loving, and kind; and this must be our
character, if we hope to enter heaven. Such a child is willing to be
taught:--believes all that his parent or teacher tells him; and does
everything that he is told to do; and such must our character be if
we hope to enter heaven.
And so when we come to study out this part of our Saviour's life, and
think of all that he did and said to show his interest in children,
we see these four great things in it: viz., great love; great wisdom;
great encouragement; and great lessons.
I know not how to express in a better way the feelings which should
be in the heart of everyone, young or old, on thinking of this great
subject, than in the words of one who has thus sweetly written:
"Lamb of God! I look to Thee,
Thou shalt my example be;
Thou art gentle, meek and mild;
Thou wast once a little child.
"Fain I would be as Thou art,
Give me thy obedient heart:
Thou art pitiful, and kind;
Let me have thy loving mind.
"Let me above all fulfill
God my heavenly Father's will;
Never his good Spirit grieve,
Only to his glory live.
"Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb!
In thy gracious hands I am;
Make me, Saviour, what Thou art;
Live thyself within my heart.
"I shall then show forth thy praise;
Serve thee all my happy days;
Then the world shall always see
Christ, the Holy Child in me."
This was one of the most surprising scenes in the life of our blessed
Lord. It forms a great contrast to the other events mentioned in his
history. He "came to visit us in great humility." When we read how he
was born in a stable, and cradled in a manger; how he had "not where
to lay his head;" when we read of the lowliness, and poverty, and
suffering that marked his course, day by day, we come naturally to
think of him as "the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." And
though, when we remember how he healed the sick, and cast out devils,
and raised the dead to life again; how he walked upon the waters, and
controlled the stormy winds and waves with his simple word, he seems
wonderful in his power and majesty; yet there is nothing, in all his
earthly life, that leads us to think so highly of him, as this scene
of the Transfiguration, of which we are now to speak.
The account of this event is given us by three of the evangelists. We
find it described by St. Matt, xvii: 1-13. St. Mark ix: 2-13. St.
Luke ix: 28-29.
A short time before this took place, Jesus had told his disciples how
he was to go up to Jerusalem, to suffer many things, to be put to
death, be buried, and be raised again on the third day. St. Matt,
xvi: 21. He also told them of the self-denial, which all who became
his disciples would be required to exercise. This was very different
from what they were expecting and must have been very discouraging to
them. They did not yet understand that their Master had come into the
world to suffer and to die. Instead of this, their minds were filled
with the idea that the object of his coming was to establish an
earthly kingdom and to reign in glory. And, for themselves, they were
expecting that they would share his glory and reign as princes with
him. And so they must have been greatly troubled by his words. To
encourage and comfort them, therefore, he told them that, before they
died, some of them should "see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
And then, some days after this, he took three of his disciples, the
favored John and James and Peter, and went up with them "into a
mountain, apart by themselves, and was transfigured before them." We
are not told what mountain it was that was thus honored. Mount Tabor,
near Nazareth, on the borders of the Plain of Esdraelon, has long
been regarded as the favored spot. But, in our day, many persons
think that it was not on the top of Tabor, but on one of the summits
of Mount Hermon, where this wonderful event took place. One of the
principal objections to supposing that Tabor was the place is, that
in those days there was a large fortress on the top of this mountain,
and this, they think, would interfere with the privacy that would be
desired on such an occasion. But, for myself, I still incline to
think that Tabor was the mountain chosen. I went to the top of this
mountain, when in Palestine. And though there is a large convent
there now, yet the summit of Tabor covers a wide space of ground. And
outside of the walls of the convent, and even out of sight of its
walls, I saw a number of retired, shady places that would be
particularly suitable for such a scene as this.
But, it is impossible to decide positively which was the Mount of
Transfiguration. And it is not a matter of much consequence. Those
who think it was Hermon are at liberty to think so; and those who
think it was Tabor, have a right to their opinion, for none can prove
that they are mistaken in thinking so.
And when we come to consider this great event in the life of our
Saviour, there are _two_ things to speak of in connection with it;
these are the _wonders_ we see in it; and the _lessons_ we may learn
from it. Or, to express it more briefly--The Transfiguration--its
wonders, and its lessons.
There are three wonders to be spoken of, and three lessons to be
learned from this subject.
_The first wonder is_--THE WONDERFUL CHANGE--that took place in the
appearance of our Lord on this occasion.
Jesus went up the mountain with his disciples. It was probably at the
close of one of his busy days that he did this. It would seem from
St. Luke's account,--chap. ix: 32--that Peter and his companions were
weary with the day's work, and soon fell asleep. But, while they were
sleeping, Jesus was praying. And it was while he was engaged in
prayer that the Transfiguration took place. St. Luke tells us it
was--"_as he prayed_."
Let us notice now, what the different evangelists tell us about this
change. St. Matthew says--"He was transfigured before them: and his
face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light."
St. Mark says, "His raiment became exceeding white as snow, so as no
fuller"--one who cleans, or whitens cloth--"on earth can white them."
St. Luke says--"As he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was
altered, and his raiment was white and glistening."
These are the different accounts we have of this surprising scene. If
the disciples had been awake when this marvellous change began to
take place, we cannot for a moment suppose that they would have gone
to sleep while the heavens must have seemed to be opening above them
and this blaze of glory was shining around them. They were, no doubt,
asleep when the transfiguration began. And, as we know that the
taking of an ordinary light into the room where persons are asleep
will often awaken them, it is not surprising that the disciples
should have been aroused from their slumber by the flood of light and
glory that was beaming round their Master then. How surprised they
must have been when they opened their eyes on that scene! They would
never forget it as long as they lived. It was more than half a
century after this when St. John wrote his gospel; and it was, no
doubt, to this scene that he referred when he said, in speaking of
Jesus;--"_we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of
the Father_" St. John i: 14. And, not long before his death, St.
Peter thus refers to it:--"We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For
he received from God the Father, honor and glory, when there came
such a voice from the excellent glory, saying, This is my beloved Son
in whom I am well pleased." II. Pet. i: 16, 17.
One object for which this wonderful transfiguration of our Lord took
place was, no doubt, to give to the disciples then, and to the
followers of Jesus in all coming time, an idea of what his glory now
is in heaven, and of what it will be when he shall come again in his
kingdom. He had told his disciples about his sufferings and death,
and the shame and dishonor connected with them; and here, as if to
counterbalance that, he wished to give them a glimpse of the glory
that is to shine around him forever.
How wonderful it must have seemed to the astonished disciples! When
they had last looked on their Master, before going to sleep, they had
seen him as "the man of sorrows," in his plain everyday dress, such
as they themselves wore: but, when they looked on him again, as they
awoke from their sleep, they saw his face shining as the sun, and his
raiment dazzling in its snowy whiteness.
To what may we compare this wonderful change? Suppose you have before
you the bulbous root of the lily plant. You look at it carefully, but
there is nothing attractive about it. How rough and unsightly it
appears! You close your eyes upon it for a brief space. You open them
again. But what a change has taken place! That plain-homely looking
bulb has disappeared, and in its place there stands before you the
lily plant. It has reached its mature growth. Its flower is fully
developed and blooming in all its matchless beauty! What a marvellous
change that would be! And yet it would be but a feeble illustration
of the more wonderful change that took place in our Saviour at his
Here is another illustration. Suppose we are looking at the western
sky, towards the close of day. Great masses of dark clouds are
covering all that part of the heavens. They are but common clouds.
There is nothing attractive or interesting about them. We do not care
to take a second look at them. We turn from them for a little while,
and then look at them again. In the meantime, the setting sun has
thrown his glorious beams upon them. How changed they now appear! All
that was commonplace and unattractive about them is gone. How they
glow and sparkle! Gold, and purple, and all the colors of the rainbow
are blending, how beautifully there! Are these the same dull clouds
that we looked upon a few moments before? Yes; but they have been
transfigured. A wonderful change has come over them. And here we have
an illustration of our Lord's transfiguration. The first wonder about
this incident in his life is the wonderful change which took place in
his appearance then.
_The second wonder about the transfiguration is_--THE WONDERFUL
COMPANY--_that appeared with our Saviour then_.
At the close of his temptation in the wilderness, Jesus had some
wonderful company too, but it was different from what he had now.
_Then_, we are told that "_angels came, and ministered unto him_."
And in the garden of Gethsemane, when he was sinking to the earth,
overcome by the terrible agony through which he was passing, he had
more company of the same kind; for we read that--"_there appeared
unto him an angel from heaven strengthening him."_ St. Luke xxii: 43.
But it was not the company of angels that waited on him at the time
of his Transfiguration. No: but we read that, "there appeared unto
him Moses, and Elias," or Elijah. And if we ask why did not the
angels come to him now, as they did on other occasions? Why did these
distinguished persons, of the Old Testament history, come from heaven
to visit him in place of the angels? It is easy enough to answer
these questions. This transfiguration of Christ took place, as he
himself tells us, in order to give his disciples a view of the glory
that will attend him when he shall come in his kingdom. When he shall
appear, on that occasion, all his people will come with him. Those
who shall have died before he comes will be raised from the dead and
come with him, in their glorious resurrection bodies. And those who
shall be living when he comes will, as St. Paul tells us,--"_be
changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye_"--I. Cor. xv: 52,
53--and have beautiful, glorified bodies, like the bodies of those
who have been raised from the dead. And both these classes of
Christ's people were represented by the distinguished persons who
formed the company that appeared with Jesus at the Transfiguration.
Moses had been in heaven nearly fifteen hundred years when this scene
took place. He had died, as other men do, and had been buried. It is
supposed by many wise and good men that his body had been raised from
the dead, that he might appear in it on this occasion. And thus Moses
represented all the dead in Christ, who will be raised to life again
at his coming. Elijah had been in heaven for almost a thousand years.
He had never died, and never lain in the grave. He was translated.
This means that he was taken up to heaven without dying. But St. Paul
tells us that bodies of flesh and blood, like ours, cannot enter
heaven. I. Cor. xv: 50. They must be changed, and made fit for that
blessed place. And so, we know, that as Elijah went up to heaven, in
his chariot of fire, the same wonderful change must have passed over
his body which we have seen will take place with those of Christ's
people who shall be living on the earth when he comes again.
Jesus was transfigured that we might know how he himself will appear
when he comes in his kingdom. And Moses and Elias "appeared with him
in glory," to show us how the people of Christ will appear when they
enter with him into his kingdom. And this was a good reason why these
very persons, and not the angels, should have formed the company that
came to visit our Saviour on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was
wonderful company indeed that waited on Jesus then. But, it was a
wonderful occasion. None like it had ever occurred before; none like
it has ever occurred since; and none like it will ever occur again
till Jesus shall come in the glory of his heavenly kingdom. The
second wonder of the Transfiguration was the wonderful company.
_The third wonder connected with this great event was_--THE WONDERFUL
CONVERSATION--_that took place between Jesus and his visitors_.
All the three evangelists, who tell of the Transfiguration, speak of
this conversation. St. Matthew and St. Mark merely state the fact
that Moses and Elias "were talking with Jesus;" but they do not tell
us the subject of the conversation, or what it was about which they
talked. But St. Luke supplies what they leave out. He says, "_they
spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem_" This
means that they talked about the death upon the cross which he was to
suffer. And when we remember that these great and good men had just
come down from heaven, where God, the loving Father of Jesus dwells,
and where all the holy angels are; and that this was the only time
when they were to be present with Jesus, and have an opportunity of
talking with him, during all his life on earth, we may wonder why
they did not choose some more pleasant subject of conversation. And
yet they did not make a mistake. God the Father had sent them from
heaven to meet his beloved Son on this occasion. And, no doubt, he
had told them what subject they were to talk about, and what they
were to say to Jesus, on that subject. And then they knew very well
how Jesus felt about this matter. And painful as the death upon the
cross would be, they knew it was the nearest of all things to the
heart of Jesus. It was the will of his Father that he should die on
the cross, and it was the delight of his heart--the very joy of his
soul to do his Father's will. And here we learn the unspeakable
importance of the death of Christ. The apostle Paul was showing his
sense of its importance when he said, "God forbid that I should
glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus." Gal. vi: 14. He puts the
word "_cross_" of Christ, for the death of Christ, but it means the
Some one has compared the cross of Christ to a key of gold, that
opens the gate of heaven to us, if we believe in Jesus; but if we
refuse to hear and obey the words of Jesus, it becomes a key of iron,
and opens the gate of destruction before us.
"The Power of the Cross." A heathen ruler had heard the story of the
cross and desired to know its power. When he was sick and near his
end, he told his servants to make him a large wooden cross, and lay
it down in his chamber. When this was done, he said--"Take me now and
lay me on the cross, and let me die there." As he lay there dying he
looked in faith to the blood of Christ, that was shed upon the cross,
and said--_"It lifts me up: it lifts me. Jesus saves me!_" and thus
he died. It was not that wooden cross that saved him; but the death
of Christ, on the cross to which he was nailed--the death of which
Moses and Elias talked with him, that saved this heathen man. They
knew what a blessing his death would be to the world, and _this_ was
why they talked about this death. Here is one of Bonar's beautiful
hymns which speaks sweetly of the blessedness and comfort to be found
in the cross of Christ.
"Oppressed with noonday's scorching heat,
To this dear cross I flee;
And in its shelter take my seat;
No _shade_ like this to me!
"Beneath this cross clear waters burst;
A fountain sparkling free;
And here I quench my desert thirst,
No _spring_ like this to me.
"A stranger here, I pitch my tent
Beneath this spreading tree;
Here shall my pilgrim life be spent,
No _home_ like this to me!
"For burdened ones a resting place
Beside this cross I see;
Here, I cast off my weariness;
No _rest_ like this for me!"
Moses and Elias understood how the blessing of the world was to flow
out from that death upon the cross which Jesus was to suffer; and so,
we need not wonder that during the short visit which they made to
Jesus, amidst the glory of his Transfiguration, the subject, above
all others, about which they desired to talk with him--was his death
upon the cross,--"his decease, which he should accomplish at
These are the three great wonders of the Transfiguration--the
wonderful change--the wonderful company--and the wonderful
And this brings us to the second part of our subject, which is--_the
three lessons_ taught by the Transfiguration.
_The first of these is_--THE LESSON OF HOPE.
One thing for which the Transfiguration took place was to show us
what we may hope to be hereafter, if we are the servants of Christ.
We are told how Jesus appeared on this occasion. His glory is
described. The brightness and glory that shone around him exceeded
that of the noonday sun. But there is no particular description given
Moses and Elias. We are not told how they looked. It is only said of
them that--"they appeared in _glory_." St Luke ix: 31. I suppose the
meaning of this is that they shared in the glory which Jesus himself
had when he was transfigured. Their raiment was as white as his; and
the same brightness and beauty beamed forth from their faces which
made his so glorious. They shared their Master's glory. And, if we
are loving, and serving Jesus, this is what we may hope to share
with him hereafter. This is what we are taught to pray for in the
beautiful Collect for the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany. These are
the words of that prayer: "O God, whose blessed Son was manifested
that he might make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life;
Grant us, we beseech thee, that having this hope, we may purify
ourselves, even as he is pure; that when he shall appear again, with
power and great glory, _we may be made like unto him in his eternal
and glorious kingdom;_ where, with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy
Ghost, he liveth and reigneth, ever One God, world without end.
And it is right to offer such a prayer as this, because the Bible
teaches us to hope for this great glory. How well a hope like this
may be called "_a hope that maketh not ashamed_," Rom. v: 5; "_a good
hope through grace_," II. Thess. ii: 16; "that _blessed hope_," Tit.
ii: 13; "_a lively hope_," I. Peter i: 3. And how well it may be
spoken of as "_a helmet_"--to cover the head in the day of battle;
and as "an anchor" to keep the soul calm and steadfast when the
storms of life are bursting upon it! Moses and Elias appeared with
Jesus at his Transfiguration, and shared his glory on purpose to
teach us this lesson of hope, and to show us what we shall be
hereafter. We shall be as glorious as Jesus was on the Mount of
Transfiguration! This seems something too great and too good to be
true. But no matter how great, or how good it is--_it is true_. Jesus
taught this lesson of hope when he said--speaking of the time when he
shall come in his kingdom, "_Then shall the righteous shine forth as
the sun in the kingdom of their Father_," St. Matt, xiii: 43. He
taught us the same lesson, in his prayer to his Father, when he said,
speaking of all his people, "_And the glory which thou gavest me, I
have given them_," St. John xvii: 21. And the apostle John taught us
the same lesson, when he said,--"We know that when he shall appear
_we shall be like him_," I. John iii: 2. These sweet passages make
this lesson of hope very sure. And this is just the way in which we
are made sure about other things we have not seen.
"How we Know There is a Heaven." A Sunday-school teacher was talking
to one of her scholars about heaven and the glory we shall have when
we reach that blessed place. He was a bright boy, about nine or ten
years old, named Charlie. After listening to her for awhile, he said:
"But you have never been there, Miss D., and how do you know there
really is any such place?"
"Charlie," said the teacher, "you have never been to London; how do
you know there is such a city?"
"O, I know that very well," said Charlie, "because my father is
there; and he has sent me a letter, telling me all about it."
"And God, my Father, is in the heavenly city," said Miss D., "and he
has sent me a letter, telling me about the glory of heaven, and about
the way to get there. The Bible is God's letter."
"Yes, I see," said Charlie, after thinking awhile, "there must be a
heaven, if you have got such a nice long letter from there."
The lesson of hope is the first lesson taught us by the
_The next lesson taught us here is_--THE LESSON
The great event of the Transfiguration took place in our Saviour's
life for _this_ reason, among others, that we might learn from it
_how we are to think of Christ_. While the disciples were gazing on
the glory of that scene, and on the distinguished visitors who were
there, there came a cloud and overshadowed them. This cloud, we may
suppose, was like a curtain round Moses and Elias, hiding them from
the view of the disciples. And, as Jesus in his glory was left alone
for them to gaze upon, there came a voice from the overshadowing
cloud, saying--"_This is my beloved Son; in whom I am well
pleased_." This was the voice of God, the Father. It spoke out on
this occasion to teach the disciples then, and you and me now, and
all God's people in every age, what to think about Christ. God, the
Father, tells us here what he thinks about him; and we must learn to
think of him in the same way. His will, his command is that "_all men
should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father_," St. John v: 3.
Moses and Elias were great men in their day. They appeared on this
occasion to add to the honor of Christ. And then they disappeared, as
if to show that they were nothing in comparison with him. He is the
greatest and the best of all beings. He must be first. Prophets and
priests, and kings, and angels even, are as nothing to him. We must
love him--and honor him above all others. The words of the hymn we so
often sing, show us how God would have us think and feel towards him:
"All hail the power of Jesus' name
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown him Lord of all.
"Let every kindred, every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To him all majesty ascribe,
And crown him Lord of all."
"How Christ Should be Honored." There is a story told of the Emperor
Theodosius the Great which illustrates very well how we should honor
Christ. There were at that time two great parties in the church. One
of these believed and taught the divinity of Christ--or that he is
equal to God the Father. The other party, called Arians, believed and
taught that Christ was not divine; and that he was not to be honored
and worshiped as God. The Emperor Theodosius favored this latter
party. When his son, Arcadius, was about sixteen years old, his
father determined to make him a sharer of his throne, and passed a
law that his son should receive the same respect and honor that were
due to himself. And, in connection with this event, an incident
occurred which led the emperor to see how wrong the view was which he
held respecting the character of Christ, and to give it up. When
Arcadius was proclaimed the partner of his father in the empire, the
officers of the government, and other prominent persons, called on
the emperor in his palace, to congratulate him on the occasion, and
to pay their respects to his son.
Among those who thus came, was a celebrated bishop of the church. He
was very decided in the views he held about the real divinity of
Christ, and very much opposed to all who denied this divinity.
Coming into the presence of the emperor, the bishop paid his respects
to him, in the most polite and proper manner. Then he was about to
retire from the palace, without taking any special notice of the
emperor's son. This made the father angry. He said to the bishop, "Do
you take no notice of my son? Have you not heard that I have made him
a partner with myself in the government of the empire?"
The good old bishop made no reply to this, but going to Arcadius, he
laid his hand on his head, saying, as he did so--"The Lord bless
thee, my son!" and was again turning to retire.
Even this did not satisfy the emperor, who asked, in a tone of
surprise and displeasure, "Is _this_ all the respect you pay to a
prince whom I have made equal in dignity with myself?"
With great warmth the bishop answered--"Does your majesty resent so
highly my apparent neglect of your son, because I do not treat him
with equal honor to yourself? What, then, must the _Eternal God_--the
King of heaven--think of you, who refuse to render to his only
begotten Son, the honor and the worship that he claims for him?"
This had such an effect upon the emperor that he changed his views on
this subject, and ever afterwards took part with those who
acknowledged the divinity of Christ, and honored the Son, even as
they honored the Father.
And so we see that the second lesson taught by the Transfiguration
was the _lesson of instruction_. We must learn to think of Christ as
the Father in heaven thinks of him.
_And then there is_--A LESSON OF DUTY--_that comes to us from this
We are taught this lesson by the last two words that were spoken, by
the voice which the apostles heard from the cloud that overshadowed
them. These are the words:--"_Hear Him."_ "This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased: _Hear Him_." This is God's command to every
one of us. To hear Jesus, means to listen attentively to what he has
to say, and to do it. And what does Jesus say to us? He says many
things. But the most important thing he has to say to the young, is
what we find in St. Matt, vi: 33: "_Seek ye_ FIRST _the kingdom of
God_." This means that we must give our hearts to Jesus, and serve
him while we are young. We must do this _first_,--before we do
anything else. We cannot hear or obey Jesus in anything, till we hear
and obey him in this. And there are three good reasons why we should
We should "hear him" because there is _safety_ in it. We are exposed
to dangers every day, and nothing will so help to keep us safe in the
midst of these dangers as hearing Jesus, and doing what he tells us
to do. Here is an illustration of what I mean.
"Life in the Midst of Danger." There was an alarm of fire one day,
near one of our large public schools. The children in the school were
greatly frightened. They screamed, and left their places, and began
to rush to the windows and stairs. The stairway leading to the door
was soon choked up; and although the fire never reached the
school-house, many of the children had their limbs broken and were
bruised and wounded in other ways.
But there was one little girl who remained quietly in her seat
during all this excitement. When the alarm was over, and the wounded
children had been taken home, and order was restored in the school,
the teacher asked this little girl why she sat still in her seat, and
did not rush towards the door, as the other girls had done.
"My father is a fireman," she said, "and he has always told me that
if ever there was a cry of fire when I was in school, I must remain
quiet in my seat, for that was the safest way. I was dreadfully
frightened; but I knew that what father had told me was best; and so
I sat still, while the others were running to the door." This little
girl _heard_ her father. She minded him. She did what he told her to
do, and she found safety in doing so. And if we "_hear him_" of whom
the voice from the Mount of Transfiguration speaks to us--we shall
find safety from many a danger.
We ought to learn this lesson of duty, and "hear him," because there
is _success_ in it.
In old times, when the racers were running in the public games, if a
man wished to be successful in the race, it was necessary for him to
fix his eye on the prize, at the end of the race-course, and keep it
fixed there till he reached the end. No one could have any success in
racing who did not do this.
Here is an incident about some boys at play that illustrates the
point now before us.
"How to Walk Straight." A light snow had fallen in a certain village,
and some of the village boys met to make the best use they could of
the new fallen snow. It was too dry for snowballing, and was not deep
enough for coasting; so they thought they would improve the occasion
by playing at making tracks in the snow.
There was a large meadow near by, with a grand old oak tree standing
in the centre of it. The boys gathered round the tree, and stood, on
opposite sides, each one with his back against the tree. At a given
signal they were to start, and walk to the fence opposite to each of
them; and then return to the tree, and see which had made the
The signal was given. They started. They reached the fence, and
returned to the tree. "Now, boys, who has made the straightest
track?" said one of the boys, named James Allison.
"Henry Armstrong's is the only one that is straight at all," said
"I don't see how we all contrived to go so crooked, when the meadow
is so smooth, and there is nothing to turn us out of the way," said
one of the boys.
And then, looking to their successful companion, they said--"Tell us,
Harry, how you managed to make so straight a track?"
Now mark what Harry said:--"I fixed my eye on yonder tall pine tree
on the other side of the fence towards which I was to walk, and never
looked away from it till I reached the fence."
The other boys were walking without any particular aim in view. No
wonder that their walk was crooked. After the apostle Paul became a
Christian, he made one of the straightest tracks through this world
to heaven that ever was made. And he made it in just the same way in
which Harry Armstrong made his straight track through that meadow. We
have seen what Harry said of his track through the snow; now see what
St. Paul says of the way in which he made his straight track through
this world to heaven. _This_ is what he says:
"One thing I do; forgetting those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the
mark, for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus,"
Phil, iii 13,14. This was just what the racer used to do in the
ancient games, when he fixed his eye on the prize and pressed right
forward till he reached it. And it was just what Harry Armstrong did
in his play. He fixed his eye on the big pine tree and never turned
to the right hand or to the left till he reached it. The apostle Paul
fixed his eye on Jesus, and made a straight track through the world
till he reached the glorious heaven where Jesus dwells. And, in doing
this, the great apostle was only practising the lesson of duty taught
by the voice that speaks from the Transfiguration scene. "_Hear
him_," said that voice. And if you and I listen to it, and obey it,
as St. Paul did, it will lead us to follow him as he followed Christ;
and then we shall make a straight path through this world to heaven,
as he did in his Christian course. There is success in doing this.
And then there is--_profit_--in learning this lesson, as well as
safety and success.
David says, when speaking of God's commands, "In keeping of them
there is _great reward,"_ Ps. xix: 11. This is true of all God's
commands; and it is especially true of the command we are now
Samuel obeyed this command, and it made him a blessing and an honor
to the nation of Israel. David obeyed it, and it made him one of the
greatest and most successful kings. Daniel obeyed it, and it covered
him with honor, and made him a blessing to his own nation, and to the
church of Christ in every age.
"The Reward of Obedience." Here is an Eastern story which illustrates
this point of our subject. The story says there was once an enchanted
hill. On the top of this hill a great treasure was hidden. This
treasure was put there to be the reward of any one who should reach
the top of the hill without looking behind him. The command and the
promise given to every young person who set out to climb that hill,
were--do not look behind you, and that treasure shall be yours. But
there was a threat added to the command and promise. The threat was,
if you look behind, you will be turned into a stone. Many young
persons started, to try and gain the prize. But the way to the top of
the hill led them through beautiful groves, which covered the side of
the hill. In these groves were birds singing sweetly, and sounds of
music were heard, and melodious voices inviting those who passed by
to stop and rest awhile. One after another of those who set out for
the prize at the top of the hill would stop, and look round to see
where the voices came from; and immediately they were turned into
stones. "Hence," says the story, "in a little while the hillside was
covered with stones, into which those had been turned who neglected
the command given them when they started."
Of course there never was such a hill as this. But the story gives us
a good illustration. Our life may well be compared to such a hill.
The treasure, on the top of it, represents the reward that awaits us
in heaven, if we serve God faithfully. The songs, and the voices,
from the groves, on the hillside, represent the temptations that
surround us in our daily paths. The lesson of duty that comes to us
from the Transfiguration scene--"Hear him"--is the only thing that
can preserve us from these temptations. If we hear Jesus when he says
to us--"follow me;" if we give him our hearts and walk in his way, he
will carry us through all temptations; he will bring us safely to the
top of the hill; and the reward laid up there will be ours. Let us
learn this lesson of duty, because there is safety in it; there is
success in it; there is profit in it.
And so we have spoken of two things in connection with the
Transfiguration; these are the wonders that attended it, and the
lessons taught by it. The wonders are three--the wonderful
change--the wonderful company--and the wonderful conversation; and
the lessons are three--the lesson of hope--the lesson of
instruction--and the lesson of duty.
In leaving this subject, let us lift up our hearts to Jesus, and say,
in the beautiful language of the Te Deum:
"Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death
Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God,
In the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants
Whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy saints,
In glory everlasting. Amen."
THE LESSONS FROM OLIVET
Our last chapter was on the Transfiguration. The next will be on The
Last Supper. Between these two events in our Saviour's life, how many
interesting incidents took place! How many important sayings that
fell from his gracious lips during this period are written for our
instruction by the four evangelists! There is, for instance, the
beautiful lesson about what it is on which the value of our gifts
depend. He taught this lesson when he saw the rich casting their
gifts into the treasury. Among them came "a certain poor widow,
casting in two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that
this poor widow hath cast in more than they all;--for she of her
penury hath cast in all the living she had," Luke xxi: 1-4. But, from
among all these, we have only room for one chapter. A dozen, or
twenty chapters would be needed on this part of the life of Christ.
Where there are so many that might be taken, it has been very
difficult to decide which is the best. In deciding this matter, I do
not think we could do better than join the company of the three
favored disciples, Peter, John, and James, and go, in thought with
them, as they followed their Master from his last visit to the temple
in Jerusalem, up to the top of the Mount of Olives. There Jesus took
his seat, and his disciples sat around him, anxious to ask him some
questions about what he had said to them in the temple. We read in
St. Mark xiii: 1-2, that as he was going out of the temple the
disciples called his attention to the beauty of that sacred building
and the great size and splendor of some of the stones that were in
it. Then Jesus pointed to that great building, and told them that the
time was coming when it would be destroyed, and "there should not be
left one stone upon another that should not be thrown down." This
filled the minds of the disciples with surprise and wonder. They
supposed that their temple would last as long as the world stood.
They thought that it was the end of the world of which Jesus was
speaking; and they were very anxious that he should tell them
something more about it. And so, as soon as they were seated around
him, on the Mount of Olives, they said, "Tell us, when shall these
things be? and what shall be the sign, when all these things shall be
fulfilled?" St. Mark xii: 4.
And now, we may imagine ourselves sitting with Jesus and his
disciples on the Mount of Olives. As we look down we see the city of
Jerusalem spread out beneath our feet. We see its walls, and its
palaces. And there, just before us, outshining everything in its
beauty, is that sacred temple, that was "forty and six years in
building." Its white marble walls, its golden spires, and pinnacles,
are sparkling in the beams of the sun, as they shine upon them. No
wonder the Jews were so proud of it! It was a glorious building.
But now Jesus is beginning to speak. Let us listen to what he says.
The lessons that he taught on the Mount of Olives run all through the
twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of St. Matthew. In the first
of these chapters, Jesus gave them a sign, by which those who learn
to understand what he here says, might know when his second coming is
to take place. These are some of the lessons from Olivet. I should
like, very much, to stop and talk about them. But this cannot be
now. We pass over to the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew. In this
chapter we have three of our Saviour's parables. These are very
solemn and instructive. They all refer to the judgment that must take
place when Jesus shall come into our world again. The second of these
parables is the one we are now to consider. It is called--"The
Parable of the Talents." We find it in St. Matt, xxv: 14-30. And _the
lessons from Olivet_, which we are now to try and learn, are all
drawn from the words of our Saviour, contained in the verses just
This, then, is our present subject--_The Lessons from Olivet_. And
there _four_ lessons, in this part of our Saviour's discourse, of
which we are now to speak. _The first is--the lesson about the
Master. The second--the lesson about the servants. The third is--the
lesson about the talents; and the fourth, the lesson about the
_The lesson about_--THE MASTER--_is the first thing of which we are
In the 14th verse of this 25th chapter of St. Matthew, Jesus speaks
of himself as--"a man travelling into a far country,"--and of his
people as--"his own servants." In the 19th verse he speaks of himself
as "the lord of those servants, coming back, after a long time, to
reckon with them."
In St. Luke xix: 11-27 we have another of our Saviour's parables,
very similar to the one now before us. There, he speaks of himself as
"a _nobleman_ who went into a far country to receive for himself a
kingdom, and to return." This language was borrowed from a custom
that prevailed in those days. The headquarters of the government of
the world then was in the city of Rome. The kings and rulers of
different countries received their appointments to the offices they
held from the Roman Emperor. Archelaus, the son of Herod, succeeded
his father as king of Judea. But, it was necessary for him to go to
Rome and get permission from the emperor to hold and exercise that
office. He had done this, not very long before our Saviour applied to
himself the words we are now considering. This was a fact well known.
And this is the illustration which Jesus here uses in reference to
himself. He is the Head--the Prince--the Lord--the Master of all
things in his church. He spoke of himself to his disciples as their
"Lord and Master," St. John xiii: 14. He tells us that he has gone to
heaven, as Archelaus went to Rome, "to receive for himself a kingdom
and to return." He said he would be absent "a long time," verse 19.
And this is true. He has been absent more than eighteen hundred
years. He said he would "return," or come again. And so he will. It
is just as certain that he will come again as it is that he went
away. And he will come, not in figure, or in spirit, but in person,
as he went. Remember what the angels said about this to his
disciples, at the time of his departure. "Ye men of Galilee, why
stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken from
you into heaven, shall _so come, in like manner_ as ye have seen him
go into heaven," Acts i: 11. He said he would return, and so he will.
But, in the meantime, he would have us remember that he is still our
Lord and Master. No master ever had such a right to be Lord and Ruler
as he has. God the Father has appointed him to be "Head over all
things to his church," Ephes. i: 22. He is our Master, because he
_made_ us. This is what no other ever did for his servants. He is our
Master because he _preserves_ us. We cannot keep ourselves for a
single moment, but he keeps us all the time,--by night, and by day.
And he is our Master because, when we had sold ourselves into sin,
and were appointed unto death, _he redeemed us_. He bought us with
the price of his own precious blood. He made our hands to work for
him; and our feet to walk in his ways. He made our hearts to love
him;--our minds to think about him; our eyes to see the beauty of his
wondrous works, our ears to listen to his gracious words, and our
lips and tongues to be employed in speaking and singing his praises.
We cannot be our own masters. "I am my own master!"--said a young
man, proudly, to a friend who was trying to persuade him from doing a
wrong thing; "I am my own master!"
"That's impossible," said his friend. "You can not be master of
yourself, unless you are master of everything within, and everything
around you. Look within. There is your conscience to keep clear, and
your heart to make pure, your temper to govern, your will to control,
and your judgment to instruct. And then look without. There are
storms, and seasons; accidents, and dangers; a world full of evil men
and evil spirits. What can you do with these? And yet, if you don't
master them, they'll master you."
"That's so," said the young man.
"Now, I don't undertake any such thing," said his friend. "I am sure
I should fail, if I did. Saul, the first king of Israel, wanted to be
his own master, and failed. So did Herod. So did Judas. No man can be
his own master. 'One is your Master, even Christ,' says the apostle.
I work under his direction. He is my regulator, and when he is Master
all goes right. Think of these words,--'_He is your Master even
Christ_.' If we put ourselves under his leadership we shall surely
win at last."
And as we cannot be our own master, if we refuse to take Christ as
our Ruler, there is nothing left for us but to have Satan as our
master. These are the only two masters we can have. We must make our
choice between them. If Jesus is not our Master, Satan must be. If
Jesus is our Master here, he will share his glory with us hereafter.
If we serve Satan here, we must share his punishment hereafter. This
is one of the solemn lessons that Jesus taught on Olivet. He is
speaking of the day of judgment. He represents himself as on the
judgment-seat. Two great companies are before him. On his right hand
are those who took him for their Master. To them he says--"Come, ye
blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you,
from the foundation of the world," St. Matt, xxv: 34.
On his left are those who took Satan for their master. The awful
words he speaks to them are:--"Depart from, ye cursed, into
everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." St. Matt.
This is our first lesson from Olivet--the lesson about the Master.
_The second lesson from Olivet is the lesson about_--THE SERVANTS.
We are told that before this nobleman went away to the far country,
he called to him "his own servants." The nobleman here spoken of
means Jesus, our blessed Master. And now the question is--who are
meant by "his own servants?" He has three kinds of servants. The
first kind is made up of those who serve him _ignorantly_. This takes
in all those things that have no knowledge or understanding. There,
for instance are the sun,--the moon,--the stars,--the mountains,--the
hills,--the plains,--the valleys,--the rivers,--the seas,--the wind
that blows,--the rains that descend,--and the dews that distil; these
all serve God, without knowing it. He made them to serve him, and
they do it; but they do it ignorantly. "His kingdom _ruleth over
all_," and it makes all these things his servants. They do exactly
what they were made for, but they do it ignorantly.
And there is another class of our Lord's creatures who serve him
_unwillingly_. This is a very large class. It takes in all the wicked
men, and the wicked spirits who are to be found anywhere. They do not
wish to serve God, and yet, in spite of themselves, they are obliged
to do it. We see this illustrated, when we think of the way in which
the crucifixion of our blessed Saviour was brought about. Satan
stirred up the Jews to take Jesus and put him to death. God allowed
them to do it. They did it of their own choice--as freely, and as
voluntarily, as they ever did anything in their lives. They did it
because they hated him, and wished to get him out of their way. So
they nailed him to the cross in their malice and their rage. This was
the very thing God had determined should be done, that he might save
and bless the world. He allowed Satan, and the Jews, to do just what
their wicked hearts prompted them to do; and then he overruled it for
good. And, in this way, as David says, he "makes the wrath of man to
praise him, and the remainder of it he restrains." And thus we see
how evil men, and evil spirits, are God's servants _unwillingly_.
But then, there is another class of persons who serve God
_willingly_. This takes in all those who know and love him. He speaks
of them, in this parable as "_his own_ servants." When they find out
what he has done for them, the thought of it fills their hearts with
love; and then they desire to serve him, and do all he tells them to
do, in order to show their love to him. And this is what Jesus means
when he says--"Take my yoke upon you; for my yoke is easy, and my
burden is light," When we really love a person, anything that we can
do for that person is easy and pleasant to us. And so it is the great
love for Jesus, that his people have, which makes his yoke easy, and
his burden light to them.
"How to Become a Willing Servant to Jesus." A little boy came to his
grandmother one day, and asked her how he could become a Christian.
She answered very simply, "Ask Jesus to give you a new heart, _and
believe he does it when you ask him_."
"Is that all?" said the little fellow joyfully; "oh! that is easy
enough." So he went to his room, and kneeling beside his bed, asked
Jesus to give him a new heart. He believed that the dear Saviour,
who loves little children, did hear and answer his prayer. And he
left his room with a happy heart, for he felt sure that he was now
one of Christ's own loving children, and willing servants. And this
is the way in which we must take the yoke of Jesus upon us, and
become his willing servants. And then in everything that we do we can
be serving him. As St. Paul says--"whether we eat or drink, or
whatsoever we do, we can do all to the glory of God."
A good man once said "that if God should send two angels down from
heaven, and should tell one of them to sit on a throne and rule a
kingdom, and the other to sweep the streets of a city, the latter
would feel that he was serving God as acceptably in handling his
broom as his brother angel was in holding his sceptre. And this is
true. We see the same illustrated in the fable of:
"The Stream and the Mill." "I notice," said the stream to the mill,
"that you grind beans as well and as cheerfully as you do the finest
wheat." "Certainly," said the mill; "what am I here for but to grind?
and so long as I work, what does it signify to me what the work is?
My business is to serve my master, and I am not a whit more useful
when I turn out the finest flour than when I turn out the coarsest
meal. My honor is, not in doing fine work, but in doing any thing
that is given me to do in the best way that I can." That is true. And
this is just the way in which Jesus wishes us to serve him when he
says to "_his own_ servants," "Occupy till I come." This means serve
me, in everything, as you would do if you saw me standing by your
"How to Serve God." Willie's mother let him go with his little sister
into the street to play. She told them not to go off the street on
which their house stood. Willie was a little fellow, and lisped very
much in talking; but he was brave, and he was obedient. Presently his
sister asked him to go into another street; but he refused. "Mamma
thaid no," was Willie's answer. "The thaid we muthn't do off thith
threet," said Willie in his lisping way. "Only just a little way
round the corner," said his teasing sister. "Mamma'll never know it."
"But I thall know it my own thelf; and I don't want to know any thuch
a mean thing; and I won't!" And Willie straightened himself, and
stood up like a man. That was brave and beautiful in Willie. And that
is the way in which we should try to serve our heavenly Master.
"How a Boy May Serve God." A gentleman met a little boy wheeling his
baby brother in a child's carriage. "My little man," said the
gentleman, "what are you doing to serve God?" The little fellow
stopped a moment, and then, looking up into the gentleman's face, he
said:--"Why, you see, Sir, I'm trying to make baby happy, so that he
won't worry mamma who is sick." That was a noble answer. In trying to
amuse his baby brother, and to relieve his poor sick mother, that
little boy was serving God as truly and as acceptably as the angel
Gabriel does when he wings his way, on a mission of mercy, to some
far off world.
And this is the lesson about the servants that comes to us from
_The lesson about_--THE TALENTS--_is the third lesson that comes to
us from Olivet_.
This parable tells us that before the Master went away, he "called
his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. Unto one he gave
five talents, to another two, to another one; to every man according
to his several ability." verses 14, 15, In St. Luke's account of the
parable, what the master gave to his servants is spoken of as
_pounds_, and each servant is said to have received one pound. These
talents or pounds both mean the same thing. They denote something
with which we can do good, and make ourselves useful. And it is
plain, from both these parables, that the Master gave at least _one_
talent, or one pound, to each of his servants. None of them were left
without some portion of their Master's goods. And the lesson from
Olivet which comes to us here is that every one of us has a talent,
or a pound, that our Master Jesus, has given us, and which he expects
us to use for him. And the most important thing for us is to find out
what our talents are, and how we can best use them, so as to be ready
to give a good account of them when our Master comes to reckon with
A TALENT FOR EACH.
"God entrusts to all
Talents few or many;
None so young and small
That they have not any.
"Little drops of rain
Bring the springing flowers;
And I may attain
Much by little powers.
"Every little mite,
Every little measure,
Helps to spread the light,
Helps to swell the treasure.
"God will surely ask,
Ere I enter heaven,
Have I done the task
Which to me was given?"
"One Talent Improved." One day, amidst the crowded streets of London,
a poor little newsboy had both his legs broken by a dray passing over
them. He was laid away, in one of the beds of a hospital, to die. On
the next cot to him was another little fellow, of the same class, who
had been picked up, sick with the fever which comes from hunger and
want. The latter boy crept close up to his poor suffering companion
"Bobby, did you ever hear about Jesus?"
"No, I never heard of him."
"Bobby, I went to the mission-school once; and they told us that
Jesus would take us up to heaven when we die, if we axed him; and
we'd never have any more hunger or pain."
"But I couldn't ax such a great gentleman as he is to do anything for
me. He wouldn't stop to speak to a poor boy like me."
"But hell do all that for you Bobby, if you ax him."
"But how can I ax him, if I don't know where he lives? and how could
I get: there when both my legs is broke?"
"Bobby, they told us, at the mission-school, as how Jesus passes by.
The teacher said he goes around. How do you know but what he might
come round to this hospital this very night? You'd know him if you
was to see him."
"But I can't keep my eyes open. My legs feels awful bad. Doctor says
"Bobby, hold up yer hand, and he'll know what you want, when he
passes by." They got the hand up; but it dropped. They tried it
again, and it slowly fell back. Three times they got up the little
hand, only to let it fall. Bursting into tears he said, "I give it
"Bobby," said his tender-hearted companion, "lend me yer hand. Put
your elbow on my piller: I can do without it." So the hand was
propped up. And when they came in the morning, the boy lay dead; but
his hand was still held up for Jesus. And don't you think that he
heard and answered the silent but eloquent appeal which it made to
him for his pardon and grace, and salvation, to that poor dying boy?
I do, I do.
Bobby's friend had been once to the mission-school. He had but a
single talent; but, he made good use of it when he employed it to
lead that wounded, suffering, dying boy to Jesus.
"Good Friends." "I wish I had some good friends, to help me on in
life!" cried lazy Dennis, with a yawn.
"Good friends," said his master, "why you've got ten; how many do you
"I'm sure I've not half so many; and those I have are too poor to
"Count your fingers, my boy," said the master.
Dennis looked down on his big, strong hands. "Count thumbs and all,"
added the master.
"I have; there are ten," said the lad.
"Then never say you have not ten good friends, able to help you on in
life. Try what those true friends can do, before you go grumbling and
fretting because you have none to help you."
Now, suppose that we put the word talents, for the word friends, in
this little story. Then, we may each of us hold our two hands before
us, and say "here are ten talents, which God has given me to use for
him. Let me try and do all the good I can with these ten talents."
THE BEST THAT I CAN.
"'I cannot do much,' said a little star,
'To make the dark world bright;
My silvery beams can not struggle far
Through the folding gloom of night;
But I'm only a part of God's great plan,
And I'll cheerfully do the best I can.'
"A child went merrily forth to play,
But a thought, like a silver thread,
Kept winding in and out, all day,
Through the happy golden head.
Mother said,--'Darling, do all you can;
For you are a part of God's great plan.'
"So he helped a younger child along,
When the road was rough to the feet,
And she sung from her heart a little song
That we all thought passing sweet;
And her father, a weary, toil-worn man,
Said, 'I, too, will do the best I can.'"
"A Noble Boy." "Not long ago," said a Christian lady, "I saw a boy do
something that made me glad for a week. Indeed it fills my heart with
tenderness and good feeling whenever I think about it. But let me
tell you what it was.
"As I was walking along a crowded street I saw an old blind man
walking on without any one to lead him. He went very slowly, feeling
his way with his cane.
"'He's walking straight to the highest part of the curb-stone,' said
I to myself. 'And it's very high too. I wonder if some one won't help
him and start him in the right direction.'
"Just then, a boy, about fourteen years old, who was playing near by,
ran up to the old man and gently putting his hand through the man's
arm, said:--'Allow me, my friend, to lead you across the street.' By
this time there were three or four others watching the boy. He not
only helped the old man over one crossing, but led him over another
to the lower side of the street. Then he ran back to his play.
"Now this boy thought he had only done an act of kindness to that old
man. But just see how much farther than that the use of his one
talent went. The three boys with whom he was playing, and who had
watched his kind act, were happier and better for it, and felt that
they must be more careful to do little kindnesses to those about
"The three or four persons who stopped to watch the boy turned away
with a tender smile upon their faces, ready to follow the good
example of that noble boy. I am sure that I felt more gentle and
loving towards every one, from what I saw that boy do.
"And then, another one that was made happy was the boy himself. For,
it is impossible for us to do a kind act, or to make any one else
happy, without feeling better and happier ourselves. To _be_ good and
to _do_ good, is the way to be happy. This is our mission here in
this world. Whatever talents our Master has given us, he intends that
we should use them in this way."
"Tiny's Work for God." Two little girls, Leila and Tiny, were
sitting, one summer day, under the tree which grew beside their home.
Both children had been quiet for a little while, when suddenly Tiny
raised her blue eyes and said, "I _am_ so happy, Leila. I do love the
flowers, and the birdies, and you, and everybody so much." Then she
added, in a whisper, "And I love God, who made us all so happy.
Sister, I wish I could do something for him."
"Mother says if we love him, that is what he likes best of all," said
"Yes, but I do want to _do_ something for him--something that would
give me trouble. Can't you think of anything?"
Leila thought a little, and said, "Perhaps you could print a text
for the flowers mother sends every week to the sick people in the
hospital. They are so glad to have the flowers, and then the text
might help them think about our Father in heaven."
"Oh! thank you, sister, that will be so nice! I will write--'Suffer
the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.'"
But Tiny was only a little over four years old, and it was hard for
her to hold a pen, but she managed to print two letters every day
till the text was finished. Then she went alone to her room, and
laying the text on a chair, she kneeled down beside it, and
said--"Heavenly Father, I have done this for you: please take it from
Tiny, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen." And God heard the prayer, for
he always listens when children truly pray.
So Tiny's text was sent up to London, and a lady put a very pretty
flower into the card and took it to the hospital. She stopped beside
a bed where a little boy was lying. His face was almost as white as
the pillow on which he lay, and his dark eyes were filled with tears.
"Is the pain very bad to-day, Willie?"
"Yes, miss; its dreadful-like. But it's not so much the pain as I
mind. I'm used to that, yer know. Father beat me every day a'most,
when he was drunk. But the doctor says I'm too ill for 'im to 'ave
any 'opes for me, and I'm mighty afeard to die."
"If you had a friend who loved you, and you were well, would you be
afraid to go and stay with him, Willie?"