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"My mother and younger brothers and sisters were much alarmed, especially when there was the sound of a crash, as if part of the house were giving way; indeed, the crash was so loud that I determined to venture out into the yard to see what had happened. Lighting a lantern, I cautiously stepped out of the house, and began to look about me, but could see nothing that could have occasioned the noise; and as I found the water too deep to allow me to get as far as the bridge, I was obliged to return unsatisfied.
"Never mind,' said my father, 'we shall know what it is when the morning comes.'
"By-and-by there was a glimmering of light in the east, and before long we were able to see the extent of the flood. What a sight it was! The little island on which the house stood was entirely covered with water, and many acres on the opposite side of the mill were quite inundated.
"Anxious as we were to see whether any damage had been done to the mill, my father would not go out, or allow me to go, until we had held family worship. It was our custom on Sunday mornings always to sing a psalm or hymn before our father read from God's Word, and that morning he chose Watts's paraphrase on the seventh Psalm, beginning thus:
'My trust is in my heavenly Friend,
After singing this Psalm, and reading a chapter from the Bible, our father spoke of the love of God to His people, and tried to calm our fears by saying that we were in God's hands, and that nothing could harm us unless it were His will, and pointing out that we, as children, ought to feel as assured as Paul did when he said, 'We know that all things work together for good to them that love God-to them who are the called according to His purpose.'
"After our worship was concluded, my father and I went to look after the mill, but found to our dismay that the
is this: Do you believe that there is any use in a man praying to God for what he wants? Do you think the Infinite Being is influenced by a man's prayer? If He's as good as you make Him out to be, why, He'll give us what we want without going begging for it. I may as well be plain, and tell you, sir, at once, that I believe prayer is all humbug. God doesn't want to be humbugged by my prayers."
After expressing a hope that he would use becoming words when speaking of God, and not such as were full of irreverence and impiety, I answered, "I say at once, then, that I believe that God is pleased with prayer; that it is of use praying to God for what we want; and that God is influenced by prayer; and I am prepared to give you my reasons for this belief."
"I should like to hear your reasons, certainly," said Bexson. "I hope they will be worth your breath and my attention; but mark me, sir, I want reasons without the Bible, for you and I may think differently about some things in that book, and prayer, perhaps, may be one of them."
"One thing," I said, we are agreed upon, which will allow us to speak on this subject, and that is, we both believe in the existence of a supreme intelligent Being, who made us, and may, to say the least, take interest in the concerns of His creatures."
"Very well, He may; but no Bible reasons, remember," said Bexson, sharply.
"As you object to my referring to the Bible on this subject, I must, instead of saying God is pleased with the prayers of His creatures, only say, He may be pleased with them. First, then, since God made us, He stands to us in the same relation, to say no more, as we do to our children; that is, He is our Father. Let me ask you, as a father yourself, whether your children ever ask you for anything they desire ?"
"Oh, yes, certainly," said Bexson, adding laughingly; "oftener than I like at times."
“I need not tell you of all the hours that passed before we were able to leave the house. We were detained prisoners until Tuesday, when the water had so far subsided that we were able to raise our boat, and my father and I rowed the rest of the family across the flooded meadows to our nearest neighbour's house, where they took refuge until our own house was again fit for them to enter.
“We were thankful to find that no damage had been done either to the house or mill; and in a week's time we were settled down to our usual work and mode of living, my father praising God for having spared us from what had seemed imminent calamity, and I asking myself why God had permitted us to suffer what we had.
"Little did I then know that the flood on that Sunday night had been the means of saving us from what might have been far more disastrous to us. But this was found
afterwards to be the case.
“A year had passed away since the incidents I have related took place, a year of suffering for many, for, although the prosperity of the country was slowly returning, much distress still prevailed. During this time my father had exerted himself in doing good among the suffering families in the neighbourhood, and had gained for himself the gratitude of many a poor man and woman for his timely help.
"It was when he was on one of these errands of mercy that my father met with a poor man, a stranger to the parish, who was very ill, and to all appearances not likely to live. While speaking to him of his eternal interests (for he never gave temporal relief without trying to impart some spiritual instruction too) the man seemed much affected, and thinking as he did that he was fast approaching death, he tried to relieve his burdened mind by telling my father of some of his past sins, and among them he confessed that on the very Sunday night that we had been flooded in, he, with a number of others, had planned to attack our mill, and not only had they meant to take away the corn, but, because my father was what some of them called a saint,
hand, as my children see mine, and I'll believe that He gives in answer to prayer. And then, sir, I object to you sticking into what you say a few passages of Scripture on the subject of prayer. But go on as you have been, and I'll hear what more you have to say."
"We are not speaking now," I continued, "of seeing the hand which gives, but whether, considering the relation God bears to us as Father, it is likely He is pleased with His children's prayers. You know as well as myself, of course, that it cannot make a gift the less real because we do not see the hand which bestows it. Does not many a child receive presents from a father from home? The hand itself is not seen, but the gift is as real as if it were so, nor does the child dream of questioning its reality, because it cannot see the giver. And should it be so that the father and child had never seen each other, still the toy would be as really a toy, as though the father had brought it home himself. Did you yourself, or, if not yourself, have you never known or heard of a person receiving a gift from some unseen hand? And has there ever been a person so foolish as to disbelieve in the reality of what he has received, because he has not seen the giver? I cannot expect to see God's hand any more than the person of God, for we are distinctly told that no man can see God and live; but the fact of God hearing and answering prayer is no less certain for that, if we are to believe men who are worthy of belief on this matter."
Thanking Bexson for listening to me so far as he had, I thus appealed to him, "I should like to ask you one other question, and that is, Why do you and I feel a degree of satisfaction, and even pleasure, at our children making known to us their desires, wants and troubles ?"
Bexson said rather warmly, "If you are like me, sir, you get more of those wants and troubles than you care about hearing. If I had a good big purse and plenty in it, I might be a little more disposed to give an ear to their wants
1 Exod. xxxiii. 20.
and maiden, re-introduced after so long a separation, and under circumstances so different.
Their well-sustained correspondence had kept events and character familiar to both; there was not much to learn concerning tastes, habits, and occupations, but the surprising thing was the alteration in personal appearance, for which each was unprepared, and Walter and Margaret would gladly have dwindled, for a while at least, if they could, into the Watty and Maggie of former days. But soon only joy and thankfulness prevailed, and the departing mother's prayer was gratefully and tenderly remembered by the happy orphans. Walter was invited to spend a little time with Maggie in the Home, where she had become a favourite and favoured teacher among children rescued as she had been, and during that time sought to interest her for David, whom it was his desire to leave under some friendly guardianship when he should have returned to England.
"Shall you always stay in England?" she summoned courage to ask.
"Shall you always stay here?" was the rejoinder. Questions not easily solved at once.
"I must return to my duties in London, Maggie, at least for a time. Gratitude to kind friends there claims my best services in the position they have given me."
"The dear ladies who commenced this Home for orphans have been so kind to me, Walter. I love the place, too, as the only home I have ever known, and the superintendent of it has been the tenderest of mothers to me."
"Well, we shall never forget such goodness, Maggie, while we both give our first best thanks to God. He will tell us what we should do, for we are His children, you know. Now I want you to do something for me, will you, Maggie? Look often after poor David, who is going to work on your premises here. Your lady has promised to employ him. Help him to be steady and industrious, to study his Bible, and to follow the Lord Jesus. Will you do this until—until-I come back again ?"