« ElőzőTovább »
immortal souls. It will lead you, like him, to sympathize in all the sorrows of the children of affliction, and to find such sweet pleasures as he did “in wiping away the orphan's tears, and making the widow's heart to sing for joy.” It will lead you, when meeting with unjust and unkind reproaches, or irritating insinuations, like him to receive them with ineek silence, or to reply to them with the “ soft answer which turneth away wrath."
It will lead you, like him, when wounded by the want of sympathy in your sorrows on the part of those friends in whom you have trusted, and to whom you have looked for comfort in your hour of affliction, to invent some extenuating excuse for their unkindness, and to say, “ The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Oh! such a temper as this will make you blessed in yourself, and a blessing to all around you. Breathing yourself in the atmosphere of love, you will diffuse that atmosphere wherever you go. Your presence will have a tranquillizing and a gladdening influence in whatever circle of society you move. Many a mistake which has alienated friends will you rectify, many a family breach repair. And when you see friends reconciled, and families reunited, through the blessing of the God of peace on your mediation, you will understand what the Prince of peace meant when he said, “ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Christian reader, will you not strive to realize all the beauty and blessedness of such a character as this ? Oh, then, be much in the contemplation of the Saviour's. Study it carefully; watch its every movement; gaze with intense scrutiny on its every feature. Follow him from place to place; mark his deportment in every situation ; strive to catch, as it were, the expression of his countenance, the very tone of his voice. Often view him in those scenes where all the tenderness of his character is displayed; folding the infant in his arms; weeping over his beloved Jerusalem, or at the grave of Lazarus; comforting the widow of Nain; domesticated with the family of Bethany; pouring out his soul even when the hour of his agony was just at hand, in words of comfort and prayer for support, for those very disciples, who in the moment he was thus engaged, he knew would all forsake him in his deep distress. Picture him turning and looking on Peter with that overpowering look of reproachful love; or in the garden of Gethsemane, suggesting a merciful excuse for his disciples' sleep ; or sending that message of love, “ Tell my brethren, tell Peter;" or asking that apostle, who had thrice denied him, the heart-touching question, “ Lovest thou me ?" or parting from his beloved disciples in the act of blessing them. Who can think of all this, and forbear to join in the exclamation of the pious Doddridge, " Compassionate Saviour, who would not love thee?”. Think, too, of the test he gave by which all men were to know his disciples, “ By this, if ye have love one to another:” and how beautifully it was displayed in the primitive church, when even the heathens were constrained admiringly to cry out, “ Behold how these Christians love one another !”.
Read over and over his prayer for unity, among all that love him, as revealed in the 17th chapter of St. John. Remember when that prayer was offered up, and let the gospel and epistle of the beloved disciple be frequently perused. Study the 13th chapter 1st Corinthians ; study it in your closet; study it on your knees, till the very spirit of it is infused into your soul, and all your feelings, and words and actions are fully impregnated with that charity, that Divine love, without which all other gifts and graces, however splendid and dazzling in the eyes of men, in the sight of God are nothing worth.
Rev. Hugh White, “Gospel Promotive of True Happiness."
THE LITTLE ITALIAN. An English lady had stopped at a hotel in Naples, that large and noisy city of Italy, situated on the beautiful bay which bears its name, on the opposite side of which rises up mount Vesuvius, the ever-burning mountain. It was a lovely scene that was there presented at that early hour of the morning, when the brilliant sun, not yet come forth in its full strength, threw its softer beams upon the sparkling waters.
While occupied in gazing at the beautiful prospect, a soft voice and light step interrupted the lady's meditations, and a little girl, of about nine years old, who had knocked at the outer door without being heard, gently entered the room, with a small basket on her arm, and bidding the lady good morning in the Italian language, told her that she had brought her back some linen she had given to be washed. The lady smiled at the child as she took the clothes, and gave her a little piece of money for herself.
Instead of retiring in silence, as a little English girl would
probably have done, the Italian child stood and gazed upon the English lady, whose light-coloured hair and eyes, being so different from those seen in the girl's own country, appeared to fill her with wonder and interest.
“ The lady is beautiful!” she said at last, with a look of innocent admiration ; “ beautiful hair! beautiful eyes !”.
“My child," said the English lady, smiling kindly at her, ' my hair and eyes are not beautiful in England.”
“Oh! they are beautiful in Naples," cried the child, but directly changing the expression of her face, her own dark eyes assumed a more earnest and anxious look, as she asked in her sweet native voice and manner, “ Is the lady a foreigner ?” “ Yes; I am English," was the answer.
English,” said the Italian child, and cast down her eyes, which seemed to speak without words, so plainly did they express each changing sentiment of her young mind. There was a silence, and the lady had moved away,
when she heard the gentle, earnest voice again : the little Italian girl stood beside her with eyes raised in deep interest to her face, and bending forward with a natural and expressive movement, said, in a tone that showed anxiety for the reply, “ Does the signora * believe in God, the great God," she added, with a light motion of the hands towards the fair scene beyond the windows, “ the great God who made all things ?” and her little fingers fluttered upwards towards the bright
“ Does the signora believe in the great God ?" The lady was surprised, and even affected at such a question, and at the deep earnestness of the young speaker.
“ Yes, my child,” she replied, " I do believe in God.”
“Oh! that is good,” cried the child; “the lady is English, but she believes in God !"
She was silent for a moment, as if in reflection, but yet did not seem to be satisfied. She drew nearer to the English lady, and with her little hands joined together and pressed upon her breast, and her expressive eyes fastened in deep earnestness on her face, she asked again,
“ But the good Saviour Jesus Christ; oh! he is good; he is the Redeemer of our souls; does the lady believe in the good Saviour?"
With a tear almost springing to her eye, the lady answered, "Yes, dear child, I do believe in the good Saviour Jesus Christ; he is good ; he died for us ; his blood cleanses from all sin."
* Lady. The Italians always address people in the third person.
“Oh! yes, he is good,” cried the little girl; "the lady believes in the good Saviour.”
Again there was a silence, and the Italian girl continued to gaze upon the English lady, and seemed puzzled by some thoughts which she could not clear up to herself.
The lady, too, surprised and pleased by the interest which the little stranger showed in her, was occupied in endeavouring to trace its source.
The child spoke again, and this time in a still more doubtful voice, as if she had been thinking, and had at last almost found out what it was which the English stranger might not believe in. “But the holy mother” (la santa madre), said she, in a more trembling manner, “does the lady believe in her?”
“My child,” said the lady, “ you mean without doubt the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, the virgin Mary. You ask me, do I believe in her ? Yes, I believe that such a blessed woman lived, and that God chose her to be the mother of our blessed Saviour's human nature; and the Bible tells us that she was thus "highly favoured among women,' and that is nearly all we are told about her; but I believe that she is now with God, and with her Saviour, and with all those whom he has redeemed from sin and suffering."
“ And the lady goes to church, and prays to the blessed virgin ?” said the child, with anxious eagerness.
“I go to church, dear child," said the lady,“ but I do not pray to the blessed virgin ; for the virgin Mary was a woman like myself, though a better and holier one; but I do not pray to her, for we are told to pray to God through Jesus Christ only, and we are told to ask pardon of our offences through Him only, and we are told that God gave us one Saviour only, and that Saviour was his well-beloved Son ; and Christ told his disciples that whatsoever they asked of God in his name should be given to them ; so that there is no use in praying to any one but to God who made us, and to Christ who died for us; for if Christ loved us well enough to die for us, he will hear us, and pity us, and forgive us, and save us, when we cry to him to do so; and if God loved us well enough to give his dearly-beloved Son to die for us, he will accept us, and receive us for his sake alone, and for the good of the creatures he formed, and would not have to perish. Therefore I do not pray to the blessed virgin, nor to any other saint, but only ask God, for Christ's sake, to pardon me, and to instruct me, and to lead me in the way I should go.”
The child looked very thoughtful; after a little she said, “ The lady does not pray to the holy mother, but she believes in God, she believes in the good Saviour, she goes to the church, and prays to the great God, and to the good Saviour ; will she never pray to the holy mother?”
“ No, dear child, for the mother of our Lord was a mere mortal woman, like ourselves, and if I should pray to her I should make her equal to God, who alone is the hearer and answerer of prayer; and if I made her equal to God, and to Christ, who is one with God, I should break the first of the commandments, which declares, “ Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.'
The Italian child listened in silence, then suddenly seizing the English lady's hand, she pressed it to her lips, saying only, “ The signora is good ;” and she went away.
The English lady thought much of her afterwards. How unusual the interest which that little stranger took in her spiritual state! She had heard evidently that England was a nation of heretics; she believed, like many other devout and ignorant people in Roman Catholic countries, that Protestants had no faith in God, or in Christ, and were no better than infidels. Thus arose her concern and anxiety to know that lady's belief; and how sweetly, how tenderly was it expressed ! how little of self appeared ! while the dear child, never 'saying one word of what she believed, of what she had been taught, or of what she did, showed so earnest and affectionate an interest in the religious condition of a stranger!
Poor little girl ! brought up in a land of superstition and bigotry, she is taught to believe in many things which God's word does not authorize. Yet may we not learn a lesson from her, of deep concern for superstitious Romanists, unbelieving Jews, and ignorant idolaters.
Perhaps this remembrance of the little Italian girl may not be useless to some more favoured English child.
THE PRAISE OF MEN. Those who bimd up their happiness in the applause of men, expose themselves to a perpetual uneasiness.
It becomes the followers of Christ to content themselves with the pleasure of doing good, though they be denied the praise of it. - M. Henry.