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the Sunday-school, and rapidly secured the affection and attention of his boys.
Having in the meantime grown acquainted with a young woman, who although poor in this world's goods, was rich in faith, the acquaintance ripened into love, and in due time they were married. A reconciliation was effected with his friends, and his sisters rejoiced with him over the happy change.
E. R. P.
Our Father's Promise.
Exodus iii. 12.
ERTAINLY I will be with you!"
That promise is ours to-day,
Given to each of God's children,
To guide and to cheer on their way;
So we go on our journey rejoicing,
And give thanks with full hearts while we pray.
66 Certainly I will be with you!"
"Certainly I will be with you!"
With us in joy or in sorrow,
In the midst of the battle of life;
Ever speaking sweet words to the weary,
Oh! we praise Thee, most merciful Father!
OT long since I met with the following remarkable narrative:- "At Gilberton, a town about three miles from Shenandoah, in the heart of the Mahanoy coal-field, Pennsylvania, a house was swallowed up on Michaelmas day. The house stood over the outcrop of a vein; and when the coal was taken away, there was nothing left for its support but a crust of not many feet of earth. A heavy rain loosened the earth, and on that day the inmates of the house happened to notice their little garden patch sinking into the depths below. They had just time to snatch their nearest movables and run for their lives, before the house began to rock, and then fell over, and disappeared roof foremost in the abyss, followed by an avalanche of rock and earth, which quickly buried it. Had the accident happened at night, some, if not all, of the family must certainly have perished. The strangest part of the story is that the inmates were wellinformed as to the position of their house; knew that it was liable to sink at any moment, and yet continued to live in it apparently regardless of consequences."
We wonder, as we read, of the infatuation of people who would persist in living in a house which was only supported by a few feet of earth, which might at any moment crumble away and let it fall, in utter ruin, into the yawning abyss beneath; and yet this conduct, which seems so strangely unreasonable, is not without a parallel. How many are there whose hopes for time and eternity are resting on a foundation even more insecure than that to which the inmates of the ill-fated house in Gilberton so incautiously trusted! How many are there who, instead of building upon the firm and well-set rock, have no better foundation than the shifting and treacherous sand!
One of the most striking parables of our Lord, that with which He brings to a conclusion His Sermon on the Mount, sets before us, in vivid contrast, the wise builder who looked well to the foundation, and the foolish and incautious
builder who had no regard to what his house rested on. "Whosoever," saith Christ, "heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell and great was the fall of it." Here, then, we have two men representing two large classes, the wise and foolish builders: those who build on a good foundation, and those who build on a bad: those who spend their labour in erecting a house upon the sand, and those who build upon. the firm-set and irremovable rock. The buildings themselves may look very much alike, and, for a season, appear equally strong and reliable, but there is a day of trial, wherein the difference between them shall be made manifest. The test in each case is the same. The rains descend, the floods come, the winds blow, but the results are different; in the one case the house stands-for it is builded on a rock; and in the other case it falls, and great is the fall thereof.
A man builds a house with direct reference to protection against wind and weather, the descending rain, the sweeping flood; and he is a foolish builder who only erects a fineweather house, which stands when there is no great need of shelter, but which in that day when he shall look for a covert from the tempest, shall fall with a great fall.
This idea Christ applies to man's religious life, and reminds His auditors of the folly of attempting to satisfy themselves with any form of religion which, being foundationless, shall fail of protecting them in that day when defence will be most urgently needed. Having the certain prospect of this day of decisive trial, it is important, it is 1 Matt. vii. 24-27.
necessary, that we should look well, not only to the character of the house we are building, but also to the foundation on which our superstructure rests.
Is our house so founded on a rock, on the rock, that in the day of swift-descending rain, and the flood of rushing desolation, it shall stand unmoved? We can only safely build on one foundation. Should not this thought lead us to examine very carefully as to the character of the foundation on which we are building, lest the day of trial coming suddenly upon us, the worthlessness of our building, and the insufficiency of its foundation become evident by the failure of the one, and the irremediable ruin of the other?
In the verses preceding the parable of the wise and foolish builders, our Saviour refers to several false foundations, resting on which, men seek to satisfy themselves that they have sufficiently provided against that day of storm and tempest of which they have a vague foreboding.
He refers to a merely vain and empty profession of religion. "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." Religion does not consist in a mere profession; in merely crying, "Lord, Lord." And yet this is the sandy foundation upon which many thousands are vainly building. But, however inviting it may seem, this is a foundation the worthlessness of which shall sooner or later be made to appear.
He refers to the foundation of mere activity in His service; "Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." The idea seems to be that of urging deeds done in Christ's name, as a plea for-as the meritorious ground of-admission to Christ's kingdom. Had they been done in His spirit, as well as in His name, such a plea would never have been urged.
The spirit of self-righteousness is hard to overcome.
Man clings to the notion that he can work his own way to heaven; do something toward saving himself. How many are there who are building on this foundation! And yet the very idea is not only inconsistent with, it is actually opposed to the gospel, which is not of works, but altogether of grace, lest any man should boast. Let us not think, however, that there is no room for works of righteousness under the gospel: there is; but we must regard them in the true light; we must assign them their proper place. We perform them not that we might be saved, but because we are saved.
The other false foundation of which our Saviour speaks is that of a merely intellectual acquaintance with the doctrines of Christ; a hearing of the word which is not associated with or followed by a doing of the word. During the whole period of our Saviour's personal ministry, He was followed by great multitudes, many of whom gladly listened to Him, and who, within certain limits, appreciated what He said, but did not receive the truths which Christ proclaimed as principles by which they were to live. They did not look to, or confide in, Christ as a Saviour. So still there are many who regularly listen to the words of Christ with attention, and a certain measure of understanding, but who stop there; who never seem to go beyond that point: they are hearers only. It is a good thing for a man to be a hearer of the word, because he must be a hearer before he can be a doer. He must hear the word before he can receive it, before he can believe in it. But it is a sad thing for a man to remain a hearer only; hearing instructions which he never attends to; having the way of life pointed out, and yet never setting foot thereon. And how many are there of this class! How many who rest contented with merely hearing the word, as though their acquaintance with their duty would be accepted as a valid excuse for their habitual neglect of it. So important is this matter that we are more than once enjoined by our Master to take heed how we hear.