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my thoughts flew to some of my old friends, in their various homes, whose stormy voyage was over, who were quietly waiting in the peaceful haven of old age till they should be called to the shore. It is a very sacred time, that restingtime of old age, and should be sacred both to the old themselves and to the young, who have the happy privilege of being with or helping the aged. For, like as the sailor was tossed about in the stormy sea, so, doubtless, all those who reach old age have at some time or other of life experienced the rude buffetings of the winds and waves of trouble and adversity. In those days their minds and energies were given up to battling for life, and they had little leisure to look on to the day of rest. But now that peaceful old age has crept on, and you, old friend, have no longer strength to work, but must sit still and let other and more active limbs work for you, while you are sitting over your knitting, or calmly enjoying the warmth of your little fire, there is many and many an hour of unemployed time which you can fitly use both in looking back and in looking forward. May I help you? It is always a joy to me to have a chat with my old friends, and I want to help you in the best way, by guiding your thoughts to the things “concerning your peace."
First of all, dear aged friends, will you try and look back carefully with me? See what there is to be
sorry past lives, so that now, while there is yet time, you may lay your sins on Jesus, that Lamb slain for you; and have each sin washed away in His precious blood. Believe me, it is better far to search them out now, one by one, than to rest content with the vague thought that “God is merciful.” He is merciful, and praised be His holy name for it! but He is also a just God, and He will judge us for each unrepented sin. Search all out, then; go back in your own mind to early days, and to the manifold temptations of middle life, ask for the help of God's Holy Spirit, and, as each sin rises before you, pray God to forgive it.
Try to take a portion of your life daily, and think it over
for in your
with prayer; first, the earlier years of childhood; call to mind any sins you committed then, untruths you may have told, cowardly actions, dishonest words or deeds; take on one day the first fourteen or fifteen years of your life; another day go on to your youth ; take the period after leaving school, of service, of courtship, and marriage, and, for the sake of your own soul, do not gloss over or make light of the sins revealed to you. Oh, with what a heartfelt cry will you echo the Psalmist's words, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me,” as the dark sins of that thoughtless time rise up. The temptations of those days are dead to you now, but they were none the less real then ; and those long-forgotten sins, in which, perhaps, others were involved, are written in God's book. Perhaps some who shared in sinful pleasures with you are gone already to their account. Oh, what an agonizing thought it is to have caused the fall of another soul! If you feel guilty of this, I know what bitter remorse will stir you, and that right willingly would you bury that guilty sorrowful past; but first tell it out to your listening Lord, tell Him those sins, and implore Him to wash them away in His precious blood. Don't let it be a mere dwelling on the old days, but let it be a vigorous search after the sins ; remember, too, that it is an all-seeing and strict Judge with Whom you have to do, Who has seen not only every action of your life, but also the secret motive that prompted every action, all the many evils that have been in your heart, though they may never have come to the surface for others to see and judge you.
It is a blessed task thus to bring the heavy burden of past sin and lay it on the Lord, bravely to call forth into the daylight of searching and prayer each of those longhidden sins that poison your true peace and hinder you in your heavenward path. Will you not, therefore, resolve to let an earnest heart-searching be the fruit of our communing ? 'Search me, O God, and know my heart. ... See if there be any wicked way in me.”
How to Pray.
HEN I am hardest at work,” said a busy shopman
once, “then my prayers are uttered as when at rest. When I bind up a pound of sugar, my
inward prayer is, 'Lord, bind me up in the bundle of life. As I arrange the candles in the shop, I silently pray, Lord, let my light shine before men.' When I weigh an article, my heart prays, “My God, when I am weighed in the balances, let me not be found wanting !'” and so on.
There was once a God-fearing woman, who, in answer to the question, “ How do you manage to pray to God?” said, “My work doesn't debar me; for as I sweep the house, I am reminded of the filthiness of my heart, and pray to have it cleansed. When I lay the table for meals, I think of the marriage-feast, and pray, 'Lord, prepare a place for me, and cover me with the new robe. While lighting my fire, I pray, “Lord, light and fan the fire of love in my soul.' As the clock strikes, I am reminded that I have one hour the less to live in the world, and am one hour nearer eternity. I remember that it is of God's mercy that the clock of my
life still goes, and I thank Him. Thus I am reminded of my last end, and I thank God I have a good hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and pray, 'Lord, be with me in the dark vale.'”
Such praying souls as these live with God, walk with God, talk with God, and God talks to them, whilst constant streams of blessing in answer to the prayer of faith are poured out upon them daily from the overflowing fountain of Divine fulness.
There may be cases in which it seems a long while before their prayers are answered. But patience must have its perfect work, and faith must be brought into exercise. Often when just ready to give all up, at the very last moment, the Lord comes and answers their prayers, though perhaps in a very different manner from what they expected. When, however, the answer does come, unbelief is put to shame,
and they feelingly rejoice in the faithfulness of Him who has said, “If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
Do we talk to them of their experience? They tell us that “they were living to themselves : self, with its hopes, and promises, and dreams, still had hold of them ; but He
; began to fulfil their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and He sent them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them thrilling anguish ; they had asked to be meek, and He had broken their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and He slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto Him, and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by "as a refiner of silver,' till they should reflect His image; they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He reached it to them it lacerated their hands; they had asked they knew not what, nor how, but He had taken them at their word, and granted them all their petitions."
"Be still, and know that I am God."
He sky was dark with rain-clouds,
The sun went down in tears,
And my life oppressed with cares.
I was weary with inward strife,
And the peace of a sinless life.
A voice seemed to say unto me,
My grace is sufficient for thee.”
Of the trouble I bore so ill,
S. L. P.
HEN thee hast been on thy knees again ! Thee
dost spend half o'thy time prayin' in that barn. Better by half mind thy work !”
“Susan, hasn't it been better for you since I commenced to pray? Don't you fare better for it now? Do I beat or abuse you now? Do I go to the public-house and drink my money away as I used to do ?”
“Never mind. Ye might as well waste time in one way as in another. And I call it a waste o' time to spend so many hours a day prayin'. It's laziness too, anybody can see that. I'd rather have a man as can drink off his pint, and do his day's work after it, than a whining, canting fellow who is always running off to the barn to pray, and so wearing out his knees to save his hands."
“ Wife! I work twelve hours a day now, where I used only to work six. You are unjust to me in saying this, because since I learnt to pray I've studied your comfort in every way. I've tried to keep a comfortable house, and have spent my money upon you and the children instead of squandering it away. Now, for the love you once professed for me, let me worship God in peace.”
To this the wife answered with a sneer, and the patient, praying husband turned away to his work. He had just come out of the old barn, which was his sanctuary, and the dust on his knees told the story of his errand there. It seems almost incredible that any wife should oppose a praying husband. It is unlike a woman to sneer at religion and make a mock at prayer, yet this is what Susan Dunley did. Robert Dunley had been, in time past, a very wicked man; his voice had been loudest on the village green in a fight, or at the public-house in a drunken debauch. His family was small, only two children, therefore they did not at that time know as much want as a larger family would have done. Further, Susan Dunley liked drink herself, and not unfrequently she would accompany her husband to the