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thinking of his mother, who was seriously ill, “I the public ministry of the Word. He gradually felt see,” said he, within himself, “two unquestionable his need of that Saviour who is able to save to the
uttermost all that come unto God by Him, and as a "First, my mother is greatly afflicted in circumstances, poor penitent sinner he joyfully accepted Him as body and mind; and yet I see that she cheerfully his Redeemer and Lord. bears up under all, by the support she derives from In 1773 he went to Queen's College, Oxford, and constantly retiring to her closet and her Bible.
eventually became a clergyman in Leicestershire. He “Secondly, she has a secret spring of comfort of which laboured with intense earnestness and with much I know nothing ; while I, who give an unbounded prayerfulness to arouse the people out of their condition loose to my appetites, and seek pleasure by every of religious insensibility, and he laboured not in vain. means, seldom or never can find it. If, however, Numbers became devout communicants; flourishing there is any secret in religion, why may not I attain congregations were gathered; and, owing to the Divine it as well as my mother? I will immediately seek blessing, his efforts resulted in the conversion of the it of God."
young man whose place he was occupying for a Ho at once rose from his bed, and began to pray. But when he recollected that it was her faith in the Mr. Cecil, at the close of his engagement in Lord Jesus that was the foundation of his mother's Leicestershire, removed to Lewes, in Sussex. Owing peace of mind, he became confused, and ceased. to the dampness of the house in which he lived, he “Now," thought he, “this Christ have I ridiculed; became afflicted with rheumatism in the head, and He stands much in my way, and can form no part of thereby was for some time prevented from preaching. my prayers.”
As he had no private property, his condition was a In utter perplexity he lay down again. When the trying one. But he bore all with an uncomplaining morning came, he felt the need of supplication, and spirit. His great concern was not to get gain, but to began again to pray to the Supreme Being. He was
win souls. not aware that the despised Redeemer was leading him At this period he was the subject of a remarkby a way which he knew not, out of darkness into able providence. He had been to London to receive light, and from the power of Satan to Himself the sixteen pounds, from Queen Anne's Bounty, and was living God.
returning to Lewes. He was to have left London And now he began to reap the inestimable advantage early in the morning, but the farrier who shod his of having been a near witness of the lives of genuine horse detained him until noon, so that he did not Christians. He could clearly distinguish between the
reach East Grinstead Common before nightfall. false and the true, and was conscious that the pretended
As he crossed the common he came up with was an imitation of the real that where the counterfeit a man on horseback who seemed to be so intoxiwas, there must be true coin.
cated as to be in danger of falling from his horse at “It was one of the first things,” he declared, “which every step. Mr. Cecil called to him and warned struck my mind in a profligate state, that in spite of all him of his danger ; but as his words appeared to be the folly, and hypocrisy, and fanaticism which may be without effect, he, with his usual benevolence, rode seen among religious professors, there was a mind after towards the man to save him from injury, when Christ, a holiness, a heavenliness among real Christians. to his surprise the man immediately seized the reins of My first convictions on the subject of religion were
his horse. He knew in a moment that he was in the confirmed from observing that really religious persons hands of a highwayman, and endeavoured to break had some solid happiness among them which I had felt away from his grasp; when his life was threatened if that the vanities of the world could not give.
he repeated the attempt. "I shall never forget standing by the sick-bed of my Three others of the gang rode up, and he was mother. "Are you not afraid to die?' I asked her. placed in their midst. “ Here is an occasion for No! no !' she replied.
faith," thought Mr. Cecil; and the Divine promise “Why does the uncertainty of another state give came into his mind, “Call upon Me in the time of you no concern ?' • Because,' she said, "God has trouble, and I will deliver thee.”
“Fear not: when thou passest through the He silently lifted up his heart to God and entreated waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, His aid. One of the men, who seemed to be the they shall not overflow thee." The remembrance of captain of the gang, preparatory to plundering him, this scene has oftentimes since drawn ardent prayers asked him who he was, and whither he was going. from me that I might die the death of the righteous.” “Nothing needs a lie,” was a principle to which his
The seed which that mother had sown with prayer mind was habituated, and therefore he frankly told and watered with tears began to break through the them who he was, and whither he was going; upon rocky crust with which sin and infidelity had overlaid which the leader said, “Sir, I know you, and have it, and she marked with inexpressible delight and heard you preach at Lewes.” And then turning to his gratitude her son's altered manner, as he now repeatedly companions, he said, “Let the gentleman's horse go: sought her sick chamber to converse with her respecting we wish you good night." Much to his surprise Mr. the salvation of God. He now also began to attend Cecil was allowed to go on his way without injury.
said to me,
person. It was probably an angel that appeared in THE FAITHFUL THREE.
the furnace; and so indeed Nebuchadnezzar seems to READ DANIEL iii.
have believed, for he said, “ Blessed be the God of ELL indeed might the king be Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His astonished ! well might his
angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him.” fury be turned into wonder ! It was an angel who was afterwards sent by God to So greatly enraged had he
save Daniel in the lions' den; it was an angel who been against the men who had
was sent on this errand too. Both were miraculous dared to oppose his proud deliverances, wrought by special means of the same will, that he had given orders kind. that the furnace should be heated But though miraculous, this wonderful deliveranco
seven times more than it was is full of instruction and comfort for the servants of wont to be heated,” that it should, in fact, be made as
God in general. hot as it was possible to make it, and that the mightiest Nothing is too hard for the Lord. What could men in his army should bind the three disobedient seem more hopeless than the case of these men ? How ones, and cast them in.
was it possible for them to be saved ? But there is no He had been obeyed, for his commandment was impossibility with God. This was indeed man's exurgent, and who dared to resist him? The furnace tremity ; but "man's extremity is God's opportunity.” was made “exceeding hot ”; so fierce was the flame, The fury of the king, the might of his soldiers, the that those strong soldiers who had to cast the three fierceness of the flame, were nothing against almighty men in, were scorched to death in the act: and the power. Is it not so still? Is the Lord's arm shortened, faithful three, dressed in their common clothes, bound
that it cannot save ? and helpless, were cast into the midst of the furnace, Deliverance is often delayed till the time for it seems and fell down there. Was it not instant death to past. It was so here. God did not deliver His servants them? Did not the first blast of that tremendous till they were actually in the fire. He might have heat stop their breath for ever? Was not the very changed the king's mind, He might have struck him intensity of the heat an undesigned mercy to them, with death in the midst of his pride, He might have causing their sufferings to be but for a moment ?
smitten those who laid hands on them—He might Falling down thus, could they ever rise again! The have sent deliverance in any way, and at any moment; proud king surely had his desire. His orders were
but it was not till these men "fell down bound into the obeyed, his disobedient subjects were destroyed. Who midst of the burning fiery furnace,” that God interthat saw that sight would venture thenceforth to posed to save them. It is never too late for God to oppose or disobey him ?
save those who trust in Him. He chooses His own But what is it that the king sees? What is it that time and way. He will do all, as is most for their turns the whole current of his thoughts, and makes good and for His glory. him call in haste to his counsellors ? But just now,
God often delivers in most unexpected ways. Who three men bound were cast into the furnace; the king could have thought of such a way as this? Who could looks, and behold ! four men loose are walking in the have imagined an angel of deliverance sent into the midst of the fire. The fire has no power over them,
midst of the furnace? Here is work for faith. If we “they have no hurt.” Three of them he knows; but could see beforehand how deliverance is to come, what who is the fourth ? “ The form of the fourth," he
room would there be for faith? To believe that God cries, “is like the Son of God." Astonished, awe- has a thousand ways which we know not, to wait in struck, convinced of the truth and power of the God prayer and trust for the putting forth of His mighty of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and trembling, power, to be willing not to know how He will work perhaps, at the thought of his own impious and cruel for us, to be content to leave all to Him—this is faith, conduct, he calls them to come forth. They come.
and this is what God calls His servants to. And now the king and his counsellors see that this is The form of the fourth was like a son of God. a mighty deliverance indeed. “They have no hurt;" Doubtless God still sends His angels to minister to us the fire has had no power upon their bodies, not a hair unseen. But we have even a higher blessing than this. of their head is singed, there is no change in their Since the days of these faithful men, the Son of God garments, not even the smell of fire has passed on them. Himself has appeared in human flesh, and gone about They come out as safe as they went in; nay more, among men, has lived, and died, and risen, and they went in bound, they come forth free.
ascended. And when He was going away, He said to But who was the fourth? Was he really “the Son His disciples, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the of God,” the Lord Jesus Christ? We are not to think end of the world.” That promise is ours. Jesus is this. Nebuchadnezzar had no knowledge of the Lord still with us by the Spirit. He comes to us continually Jesus ; and his words do not necessarily mean that this when we seek Him, and ever abides with us. And was He. Their exact meaning is, “The form of the surely we may believe that when we are in trouble, fourth is like a son of God;" that is, like some one sorrow, difficulty, or fear, and especially when we are who is more than man, like an angel, like some heavenly exposed to tribulation or persecution for His sake,
then He will be with us in a peculiar way. And if He be with us, what can hurt us? His presence brings both safety and peace. To know that He is near, to feel His presence in the very midst of the furnace of
remnants of self-righteousness, perhaps, and been re-
with the psalmist, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.”
afliction, and thus to have peace in trouble—this is This was a complete deliverance; not even the smell
the happy portion of the believer. Let no weakness of faith rob us of this blessing.
These men came out from the furnace free, whereas they had been cast in bound; they were reviled and
of fire had passed on them. Even so will God save all believers from a worse fire. This furnace, though heated seven-fold, was not so dreadful as that eternal fire which must be the portion of impenitent sinners.
threatened before, but honoured and promoted after- But he who is washed from guilt in the blood of Jesus wards. Affliction and persecution, endured in the will be perfectly saved from it. Christ's salvation is a strength of God, do not always bring temporal honour; complete salvation. Every stain of guilt is washed but they never fail to bring spiritual good. Many out, and the believer stands fully justified. “Is not precious lessons are learnt in this school. Many a this a brand plucked out of the fire ?” The same Christian comes out of the furnace with a deeper ex- grace is open to all, the same Saviour stands ready perience of the love of God in Christ, a clearer faith, to save all who come to Him. But “who ... shall a freer spirit, a more devoted heart. He has lost dwell with everlasting burnings?” “ Escape for thy some of his bonds in the fire, has cast off some life; look not behind thee!"
A TRUE INCIDENT.
child's strange words, but received none, save an A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM.
equally puzzled look, accompanied by a shake of the
head. Minnie, however, soon explained herself. ERHAPS we have all at some period, or in some
“ You are a good man,
a little child ; nor should the oldest or wisest the Lord, I hope, by the grace of God, I can say that amongst us despise such a lesson, when the Lord I do, most sincerely." Mr. Snell spoke with great Himself took a child and set him in the midst of the reverence, though Minnie's next words provoked a disciples as an example. The following is an interest- smile. ing illustration in point :
“Then if you are good, and have got such immense "Oh dear,” sighed a little girl; "how I wish a real feet, you can do what God tells you very fast; and that good man would come !"
pleases Him, doesn't it?” “And why does my darling child wish a good man This seemed a settled point with Minnie, and she to come ? " naturally asked the mother.
was modestly retreating, when Mr. Snell took her “ Because I do so long
kindly by the hand, say. to be a follower.”
ing, “But you have not “A follower !'
told me what it is that claimed her mother, in
you never could do ?" increased surprise.
“ Not follow in
your “Yes; don't
big footsteps; my boots the sermon, mother dear ?
could never fit into them, I mean a follower of the
though oh, I do so want footsteps.' I want to be
to follow somebody on to one directly a good person
“Bless her pretty heart," Little Minnie had not
cried Mr. Snell, perceiving long to wait, for that very
the drift of her seemingly afternoon Farmer Snell,
strange inquiries. Then, an excellent man, one of
speaking in a softer voice, her father's tenants, was
he said, " Ah, never fear, announced. He was of
little miss; if you want to almost gigantic stature,
follow the Lord Jesus, and his stalwart frame
even in as unworthy a was proportionate in size.
manner as Farmer Snell Poor little Minnie stood
does, you will have to aghast, and both her
tread in better footsteps mother and the visitor
than his. You will have caught the words, “ I'm
to put your little feet right sure I never could,” as
into the marks the Lord the child bent down, as
has left behind; and, if taking the measurement
blessed be His holy name, of his immense feet.
there's ne'er a foot that is “What could you never,
either too small or too my little dear ?” asked the
large for that walking.” farmer, good-temperedly.
But this did not satisfy "I'm sure I never could." “Why, not walk as
Minnie. Nothing would strong as you," said the child, in a faltering voice. do but that she must creep behind this “good man
“And who wants you to, my pretty one ?” he said, he left the house, to try to walk exactly in the prints in a tone of mixed surprise and amusement.
his thick boots stamped on the damp ground. But when But Minnie, instead of replying, looked steadfastly she found she could not keep up with him she burst into his face and said, “I know you are a good man, into tears, and could not be comforted until her mother because I heard father say, “There's good Mr. Snell assured her that if she followed the Lord Jesus with going by.""
her heart she would soon learn of Him how to walk in "And you think good folks oughtn't to have big His holy steps of love, and be very quick to obey and feet, is that it ?" smiled the farmer.
copy Him in meek and lowly conduct. That if she “No, sir; I think if they had not big feet they really wished to do this, or what the Bible calls would soon be tired, and could not go fast enough for “ follow" Him, she must first pray God to send His God.”
Holy Spirit into her soul to lead her straight to Jesus, As well he might, Mr. Snell looked puzzled, and for by nature we are all very far away from Him, and turned to Minnie's mother for an explanation of the we need to be drawn, or brought near, before we can
even attempt to follow Him; and then Minnie looked up with a bright smile and said, “Hadn't I better go at once and ask Him, mother?"
I need not tell you what her mother replied; but just this much you will like to hear, that for full twenty years from that time Minnie has "followed on to know the Lord," and though, perhaps, she has had to bear à cross by the way, she has never flagged, and for this sweetly simple reason—she has not trusted to her own strength or power, but in His who promises that "they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." They shall “go from strength to strength," until their days are over.
Little Minnie's distress had arisen from a sermon to which she had been an attentive listener. “ Followers of them,” was the text, and as the dear child listened, her secret determination was to watch for a “good man," and then straightway to follow him, putting her little feet into his footprints, to ensure keeping the right line till she got right up to Jesus.
Our Lord says, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." It is the unhesitating faith and trust of à little child that enables us to grasp all the precious promises which are held out to those who become “followers of Christ as dear children.” The Lord Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, goes before His flock and leads it on. So all who wish to join this flock must fall into its footmarks, and only follow as the line leads straight to Jesus. And what is the end of this blessed following? What does the Lord Himself say is the end? “That they may be with Me where I am ; that they may behold My glory.” “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous,” but, oh! how different is the “ following on" of those who follow not the Lord Jesus Christ! What does the Bible say of it? “The way of the ungodly shall perish.” “ Whose end is destruction.”
UST as you trust any one. You
trust your partner in business with important things. If a commercial house gives you a note payable three months hence, you expect the pay
ment of that note at the end of three months.
You have per
fect confidence in their word and in their ability. You go home to-day. You expect there will be food on the table. You have confidence in that. Now, I ask you to have the same confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. “You believe I take away your sins ;” and they are all taken away. “ What !” you say,
“ before I pray any more ? before I read my Bible any more? before I cry over my sins any more ?" Yes, this moment. Believe with all your heart, and you are saved. Why, Christ is only waiting to get from you what you give to scores of people every day.
“ What is that ?" Confidence. If you really think that Christ is as trustworthy as they are, then deal with Him as fairly.
“Oh," says some one, in a light way, “I believe that Christ was born in Bethlehem, and I believe that He died on the cross." Do
believe it with your head or your heart? I will illustrate the difference. You are in your own house. In the morning you open a newspaper, and you read how Captain Braveheart on the sea risked his life for the salvation of his passengers. You say: "What a grand fellow he must have been! His family deserves very well of the country.” You fold the newspaper and sit down at the table, and perhaps do not think of that incident again. That is historical faith.
But now you are on the sea, it is night, and you are awakened by the cry of “Fire !” You rush out on the deck. You hear, amid the wringing of the hands and the fainting, the wail : “No hope! We are lost ! We are lost !” The sail puts out its wing of fire, the ropes make a burning ladder in the night heavens, the spirit of wreck hisses in the wave, and on the hurricane deck shakes out its banner of smoke and dark
“Down with the lifeboats !” cries the captain. “ Down with the lifeboats !” People rush into them. The boats are about full. Room only for one more
You are standing on the deck beside the captain. Who shall it be? You or the captain ? The captain says: “You." You jump, and are saved. He stands there, and dies. Now, you believe that Captain Braveheart sacrificed himself for his passengers, but you believe it with love, with tears, with long-continued exclamations, with grief at his loss, and with joy at your deliverance. You believe with all the heart, and believe in regard to yourself,
Hou in whom I move and live,
Lord, I ever come to thee,
Rich supplies, and ever free. Pardon and refreshing grace,
Constant as the minutes roll; Strength to run the Christian race
Peace, the sunshine of the soul. Faith, which all things may endure;
Heavenly mind and holy zeal, Christlike spirit, conscience pure,
Having God's approving seal. Earthly succour for the way,
Kept by Providence and love, Till I reach the world of day,
Till I rest at last above.