DAILY STRENGTH FOR DAILY NEEDS
By Mary Wilder Tileston
Selected by the Editor of "Joy and Strength for the Pilgrim's Day," "Quiet Hours," etc.
"As thy days, so shall thy strength be"
This little book of brief selections in prose and verse, with accompanying texts of Scripture, is intended for a daily companion and counsellor. These words of the goodly fellowship of wise and holy men of many times, it is hoped may help to strengthen the reader to perform the duties and to bear the burdens of each day with cheerfulness and courage.
MARY WILDER TILESTON.
They go from strength to strength.—PS. lxxxiv. 7.
First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.—MARK. iv. 28.
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
O. W. HOLMES.
High hearts are never long without hearing some new call, some distant clarion of God, even in their dreams; and soon they are observed to break up the camp of ease, and start on some fresh march of faithful service. And, looking higher still, we find those who never wait till their moral work accumulates, and who reward resolution with no rest; with whom, therefore, the alternation is instantaneous and constant; who do the good only to see the better, and see the better only to achieve it; who are too meek for transport, too faithful for remorse, too earnest for repose; whose worship is action, and whose action ceaseless aspiration.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.—PS. cxxi. 8.
Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.—PS. xc. 1.
With grateful hearts the past we own; The future, all to us unknown, We to Thy guardian care commit, And peaceful leave before Thy feet.
We are like to Him with whom there is no past or future, with whom a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, when we do our work in the great present, leaving both past and future to Him to whom they are ever present, and fearing nothing, because He is in our future as much as He is in our past, as much as, and far more than we can feel Him to be, in our present. Partakers thus of the divine nature, resting in that perfect All-in-all in whom our nature is eternal too, we walk without fear, full of hope and courage and strength to do His will, waiting for the endless good which He is always giving as fast as He can get us able to take it in.
As thy days, so shall thy strength be.—DEUT. xxxiii. 25.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.—MATT. vi. 34.
Oh, ask not thou, How shall I bear The burden of to-morrow? Sufficient for to-day, its care, Its evil and its sorrow; God imparteth by the way Strength sufficient for the day.
J. E. SAXBY.
He that hath so many causes of joy, and so great, is very much in love with sorrow and peevishness, who loses all these pleasures, and chooses to sit down upon his little handful of thorns. Enjoy the blessings of this day, if God sends them; and the evils of it bear patiently and sweetly: for this day only is ours, we are dead to yesterday, and we are not yet born to the morrow. But if we look abroad, and bring into one day's thoughts the evil of many, certain and uncertain, what will be and what will never be, our load will be as intolerable as it is unreasonable.
If we sin, we are Thine, knowing Thy power: but—we will not sin, knowing that we are counted Thine. For to know Thee is perfect righteousness: yea, to know Thy power is the root of immortality.—WISDOM OF SOLOMON xv. 2, 3.
Oh, empty us of self, the world, and sin, And then in all Thy fulness enter in; Take full possession, Lord, and let each thought Into obedience unto Thee be brought; Thine is the power, and Thine the will, that we Be wholly sanctified, O Lord, to Thee.
C. E. J.
Take steadily some one sin, which seems to stand out before thee, to root it out, by God's grace, and every fibre of it. Purpose strongly, by the grace and strength of God, wholly to sacrifice this sin or sinful inclination to the love of God, to spare it not, until thou leave of it none remaining, neither root nor branch.
Fix, by God's help, not only to root out this sin, but to set thyself to gain, by that same help, the opposite grace. If thou art tempted to be angry, try hard, by God's grace, to be very meek; if to be proud, seek to be very humble.
E. B. PUSEY.
That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.—EPH. v. 27.
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house.—I PETER ii. 5.
One holy Church of God appears Through every age and race, Unwasted by the lapse of years, Unchanged by changing place.
A temple there has been upon earth, a spiritual Temple, made up of living stones; a Temple, as I may say, composed of souls; a Temple with God for its light, and Christ for the high priest; with wings of angels for its arches, with saints and teachers for its pillars, and with worshippers for its pavement. Wherever there is faith and love, this Temple is.
J. H. NEWMAN.
To whatever worlds He carries our souls when they shall pass out of these imprisoning bodies, in those worlds these souls of ours shall find themselves part of the same great Temple; for it belongs not to this earth alone. There can be no end of the universe where God is, to which that growing Temple does not reach,—the Temple of a creation to be wrought at last into a perfect utterance of God by a perfect obedience to God.
In all ages entering into holy souls, she [Wisdom] maketh them friends of God, and prophets.—WISDOM OF SOLOMON vii. 27.
Meanwhile with every son and saint of Thine Along the glorious line, Sitting by turns beneath Thy sacred feet We 'll hold communion sweet, Know them by look and voice, and thank them all For helping us in thrall, For words of hope, and bright examples given To shew through moonless skies that there is light in heaven.
If we cannot live at once and alone with Him, we may at least live with those who have lived with Him; and find, in our admiring love for their purity, their truth, their goodness, an intercession with His pity on our behalf. To study the lives, to meditate the sorrows, to commune with the thoughts, of the great and holy men and women of this rich world, is a sacred discipline, which deserves at least to rank as the forecourt of the temple of true worship, and may train the tastes, ere we pass the very gate, of heaven. We forfeit the chief source of dignity and sweetness in life, next to the direct communion with God, if we do not seek converse with the greater minds that have left their vestiges on the world.
Do not think it wasted time to submit yourself to any influence which may bring upon you any noble feeling.
The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.—EPH. i. 19.
The lives which seem so poor, so low, The hearts which are so cramped and dull, The baffled hopes, the impulse slow, Thou takest, touchest all, and lo! They blossom to the beautiful.
A root set in the finest soil, in the best climate, and blessed with all that sun and air and rain can do for it, is not in so sure a way of its growth to perfection, as every man may be, whose spirit aspires after all that which God is ready and infinitely desirous to give him. For the sun meets not the springing bud that stretches towards him with half that certainty, as God, the source of all good, communicates Himself to the soul that longs to partake of Him.
If we stand in the openings of the present moment, with all the length and breadth of our faculties unselfishly adjusted to what it reveals, we are in the best condition to receive what God is always ready to communicate.
T. C. UPHAM.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men.—GAL. vi. 10.
Let brotherly love continue.—HEB. xiii. 1.
I Ask Thee for a thoughtful love, Through constant watching wise, To meet the glad with joyful smiles, And to wipe the weeping eyes, And a heart at leisure from itself, To soothe and sympathize.
A. L. WARING.
Surely none are so full of cares, or so poor in gifts, that to them also, waiting patiently and trustfully on God for His daily commands, He will not give direct ministry for Him, increasing according to their strength and their desire. There is so much to be set right in the world, there are so many to be led and helped and comforted, that we must continually come in contact with such in our daily life. Let us only take care, that, by the glance being turned inward, or strained onward, or lost in vacant reverie, we do not miss our turn of service, and pass by those to whom we might have been sent on an errand straight from God.
Look up and not down; look forward and not back; look out and not in; and lend a hand.
EDWARD E. HALE.
And in every work that be began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.—2 CHRON. xxxi. 21.
What, shall we do, that we might work the works of God?—JOHN vi. 28.
Give me within the work which calls to-day, To see Thy finger gently beckoning on; So struggle grows to freedom, work to play, And toils begun from Thee to Thee are done.
J. F. CLARKE.
God is a kind Father. He sets us all in the places where He wishes us to be employed; and that employment is truly "our Father's business." He chooses work for every creature which will be delightful to them, if they do it simply and humbly. He gives us always strength enough, and sense enough, for what He wants us to do; if we either tire ourselves or puzzle ourselves, it is our own fault. And we may always be sure, whatever we are doing, that we cannot be pleasing Him, if we are not happy ourselves.
Because Thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee.—PS. lxiii. 3.
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.—LUKE xvii. 33.
O Lord! my best desires fulfil, And help me to resign Life, health, and comfort, to Thy will, And make Thy pleasure mine.
What do our heavy hearts prove but that other things are sweeter to us than His will, that we have not attained to the full mastery of our true freedom, the full perception of its power, that our sonship is yet but faintly realized, and its blessedness not yet proved and known? Our consent would turn all our trials into obedience. By consenting we make them our own, and offer them with ourselves again to Him.
H. E. MANNING.
Nothing is intolerable that is necessary. Now God hath bound thy trouble upon thee, with a design to try thee, and with purposes to reward and crown thee. These cords thou canst not break; and therefore lie thou down gently, and suffer the hand of God to do what He please.
I will be glad, and rejoice in Thy mercy: for Thou hast considered my trouble; Thou hast known my soul in adversities.—PS. xxxi. 7.
Nay, all by Thee is ordered, chosen, planned; Each drop that fills my daily cup Thy hand Prescribes, for ills none else can understand: All, all is known to Thee.
A. L. NEWTON.
God knows us through and through. Not the most secret thought, which we most hide from ourselves, is hidden from Him. As then we come to know ourselves through and through, we come to see ourselves more as God sees us, and then we catch some little glimpse of His designs with us, how each ordering of His Providence, each check to our desires, each failure of our hopes, is just fitted for us, and for something in our own spiritual state, which others know not of, and which, till then, we knew not. Until we come to this knowledge, we must take all in faith, believing, though we know not, the goodness of God towards us. As we know ourselves, we, thus far, know God.
E. B. PUSEY.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.—PS. xix. 14.
The thoughts that in our hearts keep place, Lord, make a holy, heavenly throng, And steep in innocence and grace The issue of each guarded tongue.
T. H. GILL.
There is another kind of silence to be cultivated, besides that of the tongue as regards others. I mean silence as regards one's self,—restraining the imagination, not permitting it to dwell overmuch on what we have heard or said, not indulging in the phantasmagoria of picture-thoughts, whether of the past or future. Be sure that you have made no small progress in the spiritual life, when you can control your imagination, so as to fix it on the duty and occupation actually existing, to the exclusion of the crowd of thoughts which are perpetually sweeping across the mind. No doubt, you cannot prevent those thoughts from arising, but you can prevent yourself from dwelling on them; you can put them aside, you can check the self-complacency, or irritation, or earthly longings which feed them, and by the practice of such control of your thoughts you will attain that spirit of inward silence which draws the soul into a close intercourse with God.
JEAN N. GROU.
Speak not evil one of another, brethren.—JAMES iv. 11.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.—EPH. iv. 31.
If aught good thou canst not say Of thy brother, foe, or friend, Take thou, then, the silent way, Lest in word thou shouldst offend.
If there is any person to whom you feel dislike, that is the person of whom you ought never to speak.
To recognize with delight all high and generous and beautiful actions; to find a joy even in seeing the good qualities of your bitterest opponents, and to admire those qualities even in those with whom you have least sympathy, this is the only spirit which can heal the love of slander and of calumny.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
Thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.—2 SAM. xv. 15.
I love to think that God appoints My portion day by day; Events of life are in His hand, And I would only say, Appoint them in Thine own good time, And in Thine own best way.
A. L. WARING.
If we are really, and always, and equally ready to do whatsoever the King appoints, all the trials and vexations arising from any change in His appointments, great or small, simply do not exist. If He appoints me to work there, shall I lament that I am not to work here? If He appoints me to wait in-doors to-day, am I to be annoyed because I am not to work out-of-doors? If I meant to write His messages this morning, shall I grumble because He sends interrupting visitors, rich or poor, to whom I am to speak them, or "show kindness" for His sake, or at least obey His command, "Be courteous?" If all my members are really at His disposal, why should I be put out if to-day's appointment is some simple work for my hands or errands for my feet, instead of some seemingly more important doing of head or tongue?
F. R. HAVERGAL.
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.—I THESS. iv. 3.
Between us and Thyself remove Whatever hindrances may be, That so our inmost heart may prove A holy temple, meet for Thee.
LATIN MSS. OF 15TH CENTURY.
Bear, in the presence of God, to know thyself. Then seek to know for what God sent thee into the world; how thou hast fulfilled it; art thou yet what God willed thee to be; what yet lacketh unto thee; what is God's will for thee now; what thing thou mayest now do, by His grace, to obtain His favor, and approve thyself unto Him. Say to Him, "Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God," and He will say unto thy soul, "Fear not; I am thy salvation." He will speak peace unto thy soul; He will set thee in the way; He will bear thee above things of sense, and praise of man, and things which perish in thy grasp, and give thee, if but afar off, some glimpse of His own, unfading, unsetting, unperishing brightness and bliss and love.
E. B. PUSEY.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.—2 THESS. ii. 16, 17.
When sorrow all our heart would ask, We need not shun our daily task, And hide ourselves for calm; The herbs we seek to heal our woe Familiar by our pathway grow, Our common air is balm.
Oh, when we turn away from some duty or some fellow-creature, saying that our hearts are too sick and sore with some great yearning of our own, we may often sever the line on which a divine message was coming to us. We shut out the man, and we shut out the angel who had sent him on to open the door. There is a plan working in our lives; and if we keep our hearts quiet and our eyes open, it all works together; and, if we don't, it all rights together, and goes on fighting till it comes right, somehow, somewhere.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings.—I PETER iv. 12, 13.
We take with solemn thankfulness Our burden up, nor ask it less, And count it joy that even we May suffer, serve, or wait for Thee, Whose will be done!
J. G. WHITTIER.
Receive every inward and outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, temptation, darkness, and desolation, with both thy hands, as a true opportunity and blessed occasion of dying to self, and entering into a fuller fellowship with thy self-denying, suffering Saviour. Look at no inward or outward trouble in any other view; reject every other thought about it; and then every kind of trial and distress will become the blessed day of thy prosperity. That state is best, which exerciseth the highest faith in, and fullest resignation to God.
Thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee.—DEUT. XXVI. 11.
Rejoice evermore. In everything give thanks.—I THESS. v. 16, 18.
Grave on thy heart each past "red-letter day"! Forget not all the sunshine of the way By which the Lord hath led thee; answered prayers, And joys unasked, strange blessings, lifted cares, Grand promise-echoes! Thus thy life shall be One record of His love and faithfulness to thee.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
Gratitude consists in a watchful, minute attention to the particulars of our state, and to the multitude of God's gifts, taken one by one. It fills us with a consciousness that God loves and cares for us, even to the least event and smallest need of life. It is a blessed thought, that from our childhood God has been laying His fatherly hands upon us, and always in benediction; that even the strokes of His hands are blessings, and among the chiefest we have ever received. When this feeling is awakened, the heart beats with a pulse of thankfulness. Every gift has its return of praise. It awakens an unceasing daily converse with our Father,—He speaking to us by the descent of blessings, we to Him by the ascent of thanksgiving. And all our whole life is thereby drawn under the light of His countenance, and is filled with a gladness, serenity, and peace which only thankful hearts can know.
H. E. MANNING.
Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.—PS. cv. 3.
The joy of the Lord is your strength.—NEH. viii. 10.
Be Thou my Sun, my selfishness destroy, Thy atmosphere of Love be all my joy; Thy Presence be my sunshine ever bright, My soul the little mote that lives but in Thy light.
I do not know when I have had happier times in my soul, than when I have been sitting at work, with nothing before me but a candle and a white cloth, and hearing no sound but that of my own breath, with God in my soul and heaven in my eye... I rejoice in being exactly what I am,—a creature capable of loving God, and who, as long as God lives, must be happy. I get up and look for a while out of the window, and gaze at the moon and stars, the work of an Almighty hand. I think of the grandeur of the universe, and then sit down, and think myself one of the happiest beings in it.
A POOR METHODIST WOMAN, 18TH CENTURY.
The Lord taketh pleasure In His people: He will beautify the meek with salvation.—PS. cxlix. 4.
Long listening to Thy words, My voice shall catch Thy tone, And, locked in Thine, my hand shall grow All loving like Thy own.
It is not in words explicable, with what divine lines and lights the exercise of godliness and charity will mould and gild the hardest and coldest countenance, neither to what darkness their departure will consign the loveliest. For there is not any virtue the exercise of which, even momentarily, will not impress a new fairness upon the features; neither on them only, but on the whole body the moral and intellectual faculties have operation, for all the movements and gestures, however slight, are different in their modes according to the mind that governs them—and on the gentleness and decision of right feeling follows grace of actions, and, through continuance of this, grace of form.
There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.
R. W. EMERSON.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.—ISA. xl. 30, 31.
Lord, with what courage and delight I do each thing, When Thy least breath sustains my wing! I shine and move Like those above, And, with much gladness Quitting sadness, Make me fair days of every night.
Man, by living wholly in submission to the Divine Influence, becomes surrounded with, and creates for himself, internal pleasures infinitely greater than any he can otherwise attain to—a state of heavenly Beatitude.
J. P. GREAVES.
By persisting in a habit of self-denial, we shall, beyond what I can express, increase the inward powers of the mind, and shall produce that cheerfulness and greatness of spirit as will fit us for all good purposes; and shall not have lost pleasure, but changed it; the soul being then filled with its own intrinsic pleasures.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.—HOSEA vi. 3.
And, as the path of duty is made plain, May grace be given that I may walk therein, Not like the hireling, for his selfish gain, With backward glances and reluctant tread, Making a merit of his coward dread,— But, cheerful, in the light around me thrown, Walking as one to pleasant service led; Doing God's will as if it were my own, Yet trusting not in mine, but in His strength alone!
J. G. WHITTIER.
It is by doing our duty that we learn to do it. So long as men dispute whether or no a thing is their duty, they get never the nearer. Let them set ever so weakly about doing it, and the face of things alters. They find in themselves strength which they knew not of. Difficulties which it seemed to them they could not get over, disappear. For He accompanies it with the influences of His blessed Spirit, and each performance opens our minds for larger influxes of His grace, and places them in communion with Him.
E. B. PUSEY.
That which is called considering what is our duty in a particular case, is very often nothing but endeavoring to explain it away.
If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday; and the Lord shall guide thee continually.—ISA. lviii. 10, 11.
If thou hast Yesterday thy duty done, And thereby cleared firm footing for To-day, Whatever clouds make dark To-morrow's sun, Thou shall not miss thy solitary way.
J. W. VON GOETHE.
O Lord, who art our Guide even unto death, grant us, I pray Thee, grace to follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. In little daily duties to which Thou callest us, bow down our wills to simple obedience, patience under pain or provocation, strict truthfulness of word and manner, humility, kindness; in great acts of duty or perfection, if Thou shouldest call us to them, uplift us to self-sacrifice, heroic courage, laying down of life for Thy truth's sake, or for a brother. Amen.
C. G. ROSSETTI.
I will bless the Lord, who bath given me counsel.—PS. xvi. 7.
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.—ROM. xii. 11.
Mine be the reverent, listening love That waits all day on Thee, With the service of a watchful heart Which no one else can see.
A. L. WARING.
Nothing is small or great in God's sight; whatever He wills becomes great to us, however seemingly trifling, and if once the voice of conscience tells us that He requires anything of us, we have no right to measure its importance. On the other hand, whatever He would not have us do, however important we may think it, is as nought to us.
How do you know what you may lose by neglecting this duty, which you think so trifling, or the blessing which its faithful performance may bring? Be sure that if you do your very best in that which is laid upon you daily, you will not be left without sufficient help when some weightier occasion arises. Give yourself to Him, trust Him, fix your eye upon Him, listen to His voice, and then go on bravely and cheerfully.
JEAN NICOLAS GROU.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.—JOHN xiii. 17.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.—JAMES iv. 17.
We cannot kindle when we will The fire that in the heart resides, The spirit bloweth and is still, In mystery our soul abides: But tasks in hours of insight willed Can be through hours of gloom fulfilled.
Hurt not your conscience with any known sin.
Deep-rooted customs, though wrong, are not easily altered; but it is the duty of all to be firm in that which they certainly know is right for them.
He often acts unjustly who does not do a certain thing; not only he who does a certain thing.
Every duty we omit obscures some truth we should have known.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His—ways past finding out!—ROM. xi. 33.
It doth not yet appear what we shall be.—I JOHN iii. 2.
No star is ever lost we once have seen, We always may be what we might have been. Since Good, though only thought, has life and breath, God's life—can always be redeemed from death; And evil, in its nature, is decay, And any hour can blot it all away; The hopes that lost in some far distance seem, May be the truer life, and this the dream.
A. A. PROCTER.
St. Bernard has said: "Man, if thou desirest a noble and holy life, and unceasingly prayest to God for it, if thou continue constant in this thy desire, it will be granted unto thee without fail, even if only in the day or hour of thy death; and if God should not give it to thee then, thou shalt find it in Him in eternity: of this be assured." Therefore do not relinquish your desire, though it be not fulfilled immediately, or though ye may swerve from your aspirations, or even forget them for a time.... The love and aspiration which once really existed live forever before God, and in Him ye shall find the fruit thereof; that is, to all eternity it shall be better for you than if you had never felt them.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.—ISA. lvii. 15.
Without an end or bound Thy life lies all outspread in light; Our lives feel Thy life all around, Making our weakness strong, our darkness bright; Yet is it neither wilderness nor sea, But the calm gladness of a full eternity.
F. W. FABER.
O truth who art Eternity! And Love who art Truth! And Eternity who art Love! Thou art my God, to Thee do I sigh night and day. When I first knew Thee, Thou liftedst me up, that I might see there was somewhat for me to see, and that I was not yet such as to see. And Thou streaming forth Thy beams of light upon me most strongly, didst beat back the weakness of my sight, and I trembled with love and awe: and I perceived myself to be far off from Thee in the region of unlikeness.
O fear the Lord, ye His saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him—PS. xxxiv. 9.
Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing.—PS. cxlv. 16.
What Thou shalt to-day provide, Let me as a child receive; What to-morrow may betide, Calmly to Thy wisdom leave. 'Tis enough that Thou wilt care; Why should I the burden bear?
Have we found that anxiety about possible consequences increased the clearness of our judgment, made us wiser and braver in meeting the present, and arming ourselves for the future? If we had prayed for this day's bread, and left the next to itself, if we had not huddled our days together, not allotting to each its appointed task, but ever deferring that to the future, and drawing upon the future for its own troubles, which must be met when they come whether we have anticipated them or not, we should have found a simplicity and honesty in our lives, a capacity for work, an enjoyment in it, to which we are now, for the most part, strangers.
F. D. MAURICE.
I the Lord will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.—ISA. xli. 13.
Show Thy marvellous loving-kindness, O Thou that savest by Thy right hand them which put their trust in Thee.—PS. xvii. 7.
Take Thy hand, and fears grow still; Behold Thy face, and doubts remove; Who would not yield his wavering will To perfect Truth and boundless Love?
Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto,—do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and, when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms. Do not look forward to what may happen to-morrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you to-day, will take care of you to-morrow, and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.—PS. cxxxix. 9, 10.
I cannot lose Thee! Still in Thee abiding, The end is clear, how wide soe'er I roam; The Hand that holds the worlds my steps is guiding, And I must rest at last in Thee, my home.
How can we come to perceive this direct leading of God? By a careful looking at home, and abiding; within the gates of thy own soul. Therefore, let a man be at home in his own heart, and cease from his restless chase of and search after outward things. If he is thus at home while on earth, he will surely come to see what there is to do at home,—what God commands him inwardly without means, and also outwardly by the help of means; and then let him surrender himself, and follow God along whatever path his loving Lord thinks fit to lead him: whether it be to contemplation or action, to usefulness or enjoyment; whether in sorrow or in joy, let him follow on. And if God do not give him thus to feel His hand in all things, let him still simply yield himself up, and go without, for God's sake, out of love, and still press forward.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.—PROV. iii. 6.
He leadeth me.—PS. xxiii. 2.
In "pastures green"? Not always; sometimes He Who knoweth best, in kindness leadeth me In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.
So, whether on the hill-tops high and fair I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.
HENRY H. BARRY.
The Shepherd knows what pastures are best for his sheep, and they must not question nor doubt, but trustingly follow Him. Perhaps He sees that the best pastures for some of us are to be found in the midst of opposition or of earthly trials. If He leads you there, you may be sure they are green for you, and you will grow and be made strong by feeding there. Perhaps He sees that the best waters for you to walk beside will be raging waves of trouble and sorrow. If this should be the case, He will make them still waters for you, and you must go and lie down beside them, and let them have all their blessed influences upon you.
H. W. SMITH.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus.—ROM. xv. 5.
Let patience have her perfect work.—JAMES i. 4.
Make me patient, kind, and gentle, Day by day; Teach me how to live more nearly As I pray.
The exercise of patience involves a continual practice of the presence of God; for we may be come upon at any moment for an almost heroic display of good temper, and it is a short road to unselfishness, for nothing is left to self; all that seems to belong most intimately to self, to be self's private property, such as time, home, and rest, are invaded by these continual trials of patience. The family is full of such opportunities.
F. W. FABER.
Only as we know what it is to cherish love when sore at some unkindness, to overmaster ourselves when under provocation, to preserve gentleness during trial and unmerited wrong,—only then can we know in any degree the "manner of spirit" that was in Christ.
T. T. CARTER.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.—I THESS. v. 14.
The little worries which we meet each day May lie as stumbling-blocks across our way, Or we may make them stepping-stones to be Of grace, O Lord, to Thee.
A. E. HAMILITON.
We must be continually sacrificing our own wills, as opportunity serves, to the will of others; bearing, without notice, sights and sounds that annoy us; setting about this or that task, when we had far rather be doing something very different; persevering in it, often, when we are thoroughly tired of it; keeping company for duty's sake, when it would be a great joy to us to be by ourselves; besides all the trifling untoward accidents of life; bodily pain and weakness long continued, and perplexing us often when it does not amount to illness; losing what we value, missing what we desire; disappointment in other persons, wilfulness, unkindness, ingratitude, folly, in cases where we least expect it.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—PS. cxxxix. 23, 24.
Save us from the evil tongue, From the heart that thinketh wrong, From the sins, whate'er they be, That divide the soul from Thee.
Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Dye it then with a continuous series of such thoughts as these: for instance, that where a man can live, there he can also live well. But he must live in a palace: well, then, he can also live well in a palace.
Who is there that sets himself to the task of steadily watching his thoughts for the space of one hour, with the view of preserving his mind in a simple, humble, healthful condition, but will speedily discern in the multiform, self-reflecting, self-admiring emotions, which, like locusts, are ready to "eat up every green thing in his land," a state as much opposed to simplicity and humility as night is to day?
M. A. KELTY.
If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.—JAMES iii. 2
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.—PS. cxli. 3.
What! never speak one evil word, Or rash, or idle, or unkind! Oh, how shall I, most gracious Lord, This mark of true perfection find?
When we remember our temptations to give quick indulgence to disappointment or irritation or unsympathizing weariness, and how hard a thing it is from day to day to meet our fellow-men, our neighbors, or even our own households, in all moods, in all discordances between the world without us and the frames within, in all states of health, of solicitude, of preoccupation, and show no signs of impatience, ungentleness, or unobservant self-absorption,—with only kindly feeling finding expression, and ungenial feeling at least inwardly imprisoned;—we shall be ready to acknowledge that the man who has thus attained is master of himself, and in the graciousness of his power is fashioned upon the style of a Perfect Man.
J. H. THOM.
Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.—PS. cvi. 3.
Thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear: because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away.—JOB xi. 15, 16.
In the bitter waves of woe, Beaten and tossed about By the sullen winds that blow From the desolate shores of doubt, Where the anchors that faith has cast Are dragging in the gale, I am quietly holding fast To the things that cannot fail.
In the darkest hour through which a human soul can pass, whatever else is doubtful, this at least is certain. If there be no God and no future state, yet even then, it is better to be generous than selfish, better to be chaste than licentious, better to be true than false, better to be brave than to be a coward. Blessed beyond all earthly blessedness is the man who, in the tempestuous darkness of the soul, has dared to hold fast to these venerable landmarks. Thrice blessed is he, who, when all is drear and cheerless within and without, when his teachers terrify him, and his friends shrink from him, has obstinately clung to moral good. Thrice blessed, because his night shall pass into clear, bright day.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.—PROV. xxix. 25.
I will cry unto God most high; unto God, that performeth all things for me.—PS. lvii. 2.
Only thy restless heart keep still, And wait in cheerful hope; content To take whate'er His gracious will, His all-discerning love hath sent; Nor doubt our inmost wants are known To Him who chose us for His own.
God has brought us into this time; He, and not ourselves or some dark demon. If we are not fit to cope with that which He has prepared for us, we should have been utterly unfit for any condition that we imagine for ourselves. In this time we are to live and wrestle, and in no other. Let us humbly, tremblingly, manfully look at it, and we shall not wish that the sun could go back its ten degrees, or that we could go back with it. If easy times are departed, it is that the difficult times may make us more in earnest; that they may teach us not to depend upon ourselves. If easy belief is impossible, it is that we may learn what belief is, and in whom it is to be placed.
F. D. MAURICE.
Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.—JER. vii. 23.
And oft, when in my heart was heard Thy timely mandate, I deferred The task, in smoother walks to stray; But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.
Pray Him to give you what Scripture calls "an honest and good heart," or "a perfect heart;" and, without waiting, begin at once to obey Him with the best heart you have. Any obedience is better than none. You have to seek His face; obedience is the only way of seeing Him. All your duties are obediences. To do what He bids is to obey Him, and to obey Him is to approach Him. Every act of obedience is an approach—an approach to Him who is not far off, though He seems so, but close behind this visible screen of things which hides Him from us.
J. H. NEWMAN.
As soon as we lay ourselves entirely at His feet, we have enough light given us to guide our own steps; as the foot-soldier, who hears nothing of the councils that determine the course of the great battle he is in, hears plainly enough the word of command which he must himself obey.
He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.—PS. xxiii. 2, 3.
He leads me where the waters glide, The waters soft and still, And homeward He will gently guide My wandering heart and will.
Out of obedience and devotion arises an habitual faith, which makes Him, though unseen, a part of all our life. He will guide us in a sure path, though it be a rough one: though shadows hang upon it, yet He will be with us. He will bring us home at last. Through much trial it may be, and weariness, in much fear and fainting of heart, in much sadness and loneliness, in griefs that the world never knows, and under burdens that the nearest never suspect. Yet He will suffice for all. By His eye or by His voice He will guide us, if we be docile and gentle; by His staff and by His rod, if we wander or are wilful: any how, and by all means, He will bring us to His rest.
H. E. MANNING.
I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.—MATT. xxv. 25.
Time was, I shrank from what was right, From fear of what was wrong; I would not brave the sacred fight, Because the foe was strong.
But now I cast that finer sense And sorer shame aside; Such dread of sin was indolence, Such aim at heaven was pride.
J. H. NEWMAN.
If he falls into some error, he does not fret over it, but rising up with a humble spirit, he goes on his way anew rejoicing. Were he to fall a hundred times in the day, he would not despair,—he would rather cry out lovingly to God, appealing to His tender pity. The really devout man has a horror of evil, but he has a still greater love of that which is good; he is more set on doing what is right, than avoiding what is wrong. Generous, large-hearted, he is not afraid of danger in serving God, and would rather run the risk of doing His will imperfectly than not strive to serve Him lest he fail in the attempt.
JEAN NICOLAS GROU.
We have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.—ISA. xxv. 9.
Blest are the humble souls that wait With sweet submission to His will; Harmonious all their passions move, And in the midst of storms are still.
Do not be discouraged at your faults; bear with yourself in correcting them, as you would with your neighbor. Lay aside this ardor of mind, which exhausts your body, and leads you to commit errors. Accustom yourself gradually to carry prayer into all your daily occupations. Speak, move, work, in peace, as if you were in prayer, as indeed you ought to be. Do everything without excitement, by the spirit of grace. As soon as you perceive your natural impetuosity gliding in, retire quietly within, where is the kingdom of God. Listen to the leadings of grace, then say and do nothing but what the Holy Spirit shall put in your heart. You will find that you will become more tranquil, that your words will be fewer and more effectual, and that, with less effort, you will accomplish more good.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.—JOHN xvii. 4.
She hath done what she could.—MARK xiv. 8.
He who God's will has borne and done, And his own restless longings stilled, What else he does, or has foregone, His mission he has well fulfilled.
FROM THE GERMAN.
Cheered by the presence of God, I will do at each moment, without anxiety, according to the strength which He shall give me, the work that His Providence assigns me. I will leave the rest without concern; it is not my affair. I ought to consider the duty to which I am called each day, as the work that God has given me to do, and to apply myself to it in a manner worthy of His glory, that is to say, with exactness and in peace. I must neglect nothing; I must be violent about nothing.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
It is thy duty oftentimes to do what thou wouldst not; thy duty, too, to leave undone what thou wouldst do.
THOMAS A KEMPIS.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits.—PS. lxviii. 19.
Nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.—I TIM. vi. 17.
Source of my life's refreshing springs, Whose presence in my heart sustains me, Thy love ordains me pleasant things, Thy mercy orders all that pains me.
A. L. WARING.
And to be true, and speak my soul, when I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies, either in general to mankind, or in particular to myself; and whether out of the prejudice of my affection, or an inverting and partial conceit of His mercies, I know not; but those which others term crosses, afflictions, judgments, misfortunes, to me who inquire farther into them than their visible effects, they both appear, and in event have ever proved, the secret and dissembled favors of His affection.
SIR T. BROWNE.
Let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him.—2 SAM. xv. 26.
To have, each day, the thing I wish, Lord, that seems best to me; But not to have the thing I wish, Lord, that seems best to Thee. Most truly, then, Thy will is done, When mine, O Lord, is crossed; It is good to see my plans o'erthrown, My ways in Thine all lost.
O Lord, Thou knowest what is best for us; let this or that be done, as Thou shalt please. Give what Thou wilt, and how much Thou wilt, and when Thou wilt. Deal with me as Thou thinkest good. Set me where Thou wilt, and deal with me in all things just as Thou wilt. Behold, I am Thy servant, prepared for all things: for I desire not to live unto myself, but unto Thee; and oh, that I could do it worthily and perfectly!
THOMAS A KEMPIS.
Dare to look up to God, and say, "Make use of me for the future as Thou wilt. I am of the same mind; I am one with Thee. I refuse nothing which seems good to Thee. Lead me whither Thou wilt, clothe me in whatever dress Thou wilt. Is it Thy will that I should be in a public or a private condition, dwell here, or be banished, be poor or rich? Under all these circumstances, I will testify unto Thee before men."
I would have you without carefulness.—I COR. vii. 32.
O Lord, how happy should we be If we could cast our care on Thee, If we from self could rest; And feel at heart that One above, In perfect wisdom, perfect love, Is working for the best.
Cast all thy care on God. See that all thy cares be such as thou canst cast on God, and then hold none back. Never brood over thyself; never stop short in thyself; but cast thy whole self, even this very care which distresseth thee, upon God. Be not anxious about little things, if thou wouldst learn to trust God with thine all. Act upon faith in little things; commit thy daily cares and anxieties to Him; and He will strengthen thy faith for any greater trials. Rather, give thy whole self into God's hands, and so trust Him to take care of thee in all lesser things, as being His, for His own sake, whose thou art.
E. B. PUSEY.
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well.—JAMES ii. 8.
Come, children, let us go! We travel hand in hand; Each in his brother finds his joy In this wild stranger land. The strong be quick to raise The weaker when they fall; Let love and peace and patience bloom In ready help for all.
It is a sad weakness in us, after all, that the thought of a man's death hallows him anew to us; as if life were not sacred too,—as if it were comparatively a light thing to fail in love and reverence to the brother who has to climb the whole toilsome steep with us, and all our tears and tenderness were due to the one who is spared that hard journey.
Would we codify the laws that should reign in households, and whose daily transgression annoys and mortifies us, and degrades our household life,—we must learn to adorn every day with sacrifices. Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices. Temperance, courage, love, are made up of the same jewels. Listen to every prompting of honor.
R. W. EMERSON.
Serve Him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind.—I CHRON. xxviii. 9.
And if some things I do not ask, In my cup of blessing be, I would have my spirit filled the more With grateful love to Thee,— More careful,—not to serve Thee much, But to please Thee perfectly.
A. L. WARING.
Little things come daily, hourly, within our reach, and they are not less calculated to set forward our growth in holiness, than are the greater occasions which occur but rarely. Moreover, fidelity in trifles, and an earnest seeking to please God in little matters, is a test of real devotion and love. Let your aim be to please our dear Lord perfectly in little things, and to attain a spirit of childlike simplicity and dependence. In proportion as self-love and self-confidence are weakened, and our will bowed to that of God, so will hindrances disappear, the internal troubles and contests which harassed the soul vanish, and it will be filled with peace and tranquillity.
JEAN NICOLAS GROU.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [or "trials"], knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.—JAMES i. 2, 3.
For patience, when the rough winds blow! For patience, when our hopes are fading,— When visible things all backward go, And nowhere seems the power of aiding! God still enfolds thee with His viewless hand, And leads thee surely to the Fatherland.
N. L. FROTHINGHAM, from the German.
We have need of patience with ourselves and with others; with those below, and those above us, and with our own equals; with those who love us and those who love us not; for the greatest things and for the least; against sudden inroads of trouble, and under our daily burdens; disappointments as to the weather, or the breaking of the heart; in the weariness of the body, or the wearing of the soul; in our own failure of duty, or others' failure toward us; in every-day wants, or in the aching of sickness or the decay of age; in disappointment, bereavement, losses, injuries, reproaches; in heaviness of the heart; or its sickness amid delayed hopes. In all these things, from childhood's little troubles to the martyr's sufferings, patience is the grace of God, whereby we endure evil for the love of God.
E. B. PUSEY.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes.—PS. cxix. 71.
But though He cause grief yet will He have compassion, according to the multitude of His mercies.—LAM. iii. 32.
And yet these days of dreariness are sent us from above; They do not come in anger, but in faithfulness and love; They come to teach us lessons which bright ones could not yield, And to leave us blest and thankful when their purpose is fulfilled.
Heed not distressing thoughts when they rise ever so strongly in thee; nay, though they have entered thee, fear them not, but be still awhile, not believing in the power which thou feelest they have over thee, and it will fall on a sudden. It is good for thy spirit, and greatly to thy advantage, to be much and variously exercised by the Lord. Thou dost not know what the Lord hath already done, and what He is yet doing for thee therein.
Why should I start at the plough of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows on my soul? I know He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop.
My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work.—JOHN iv. 34.
I am glad to think I am not bound to make the world go right; But only to discover and to do, With cheerful heart, the work that God appoints. I will trust in Him, That He can hold His own; and I will take His will, above the work He sendeth me, To be my chiefest good.
Don't object that your duties are so insignificant; they are to be reckoned of infinite significance, and alone important to you. Were it but the more perfect regulation of your apartments, the sorting-away of your clothes and trinkets, the arranging of your papers,—"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might," and all thy worth and constancy. Much more, if your duties are of evidently higher, wider scope; if you have brothers, sisters, a father, a mother, weigh earnestly what claim does lie upon you, on behalf of each, and consider it as the one thing needful, to pay them more and more honestly and nobly what you owe. What matter how miserable one is, if one can do that? That is the sure and steady disconnection and extinction of whatsoever miseries one has in this world.
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way.—ROM. xiv. 13.
Them that were entering in, ye hindered.—LUKE xi. 52.
My mind was ruffled with small cares to-day, And I said pettish words, and did not keep Long-suffering patience well, and now how deep My trouble for this sin! in vain I weep For foolish words I never can unsay.
H. S. SUTTON.
A vexation arises, and our expressions of impatience hinder others from taking it patiently. Disappointment, ailment, or even weather depresses us; and our look or tone of depression hinders others from maintaining a cheerful and thankful spirit. We say an unkind thing, and another is hindered in learning the holy lesson of charity that thinketh no evil. We say a provoking thing, and our sister or brother is hindered in that day's effort to be meek. How sadly, too, we may hinder without word or act! For wrong feeling is more infectious than wrong doing; especially the various phases of ill temper,—gloominess, touchiness, discontent, irritability,—do we not know how catching these are?
F. R. HAVERGAL.
If ye then, being evil, know bow to give good gifts unto your children, bow much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good gifts to them that ask Him?—MATT. vii. 11.
For His great love has compassed Our nature, and our need We know not; but He knoweth, And He will bless indeed. Therefore, O heavenly Father, Give what is best to me; And take the wants unanswered, As offerings made to Thee.
Whatsoever we ask which is not for our good, He will keep it back from us. And surely in this there is no less of love than in the granting what we desire as we ought. Will not the same love which prompts you to give a good, prompt you to keep back an evil, thing? If, in our blindness, not knowing what to ask, we pray for things which would turn in our hands to sorrow and death, will not our Father, out of His very love, deny us? How awful would be our lot, if our wishes should straightway pass into realities; if we were endowed with a power to bring about all that we desire; if the inclinations of our will were followed by fulfilment of our hasty wishes, and sudden longings were always granted. One day we shall bless Him, not more for what He has granted than for what He has denied.
H. E. MANNING.
Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.—PHIL. iv. 6.
We tell Thee of our care, Of the sore burden, pressing day by day, And in the light and pity of Thy face, The burden melts away.
We breathe our secret wish, The importunate longing which no man may see; We ask it humbly, or, more restful still, We leave it all to Thee.
That prayer which does not succeed in moderating our wish, in changing the passionate desire into still submission, the anxious, tumultuous expectation into silent surrender, is no true prayer, and proves that we have not the spirit of true prayer. That life is most holy in which there is least of petition and desire, and most of waiting upon God; that in which petition most often passes into thanksgiving. Pray till prayer makes you forget your own wish, and leave it or merge it in God's will. The Divine wisdom has given us prayer, not as a means whereby to obtain the good things of earth, but as a means whereby we learn to do without them; not as a means whereby we escape evil, but as a means whereby we become strong to meet it.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
Let the Lord do that which is good in His sight.—I CHRON. xix. 13.
Let Thy mercy O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee.—PS. XXXIII. 22.
I cannot feel That all is well, when darkening clouds conceal The shining sun; But then, I know He lives and loves; and say, since it is so, Thy will be done.
S. G. BROWNING.
No felt evil or defect becomes divine until it is inevitable; and only when resistence to it is exhausted and hope has fled, does surrender cease to be premature. The hardness of our task lies here; that we have to strive against the grievous things of life, while hope remains, as if they were evil; and then, when the stroke has fallen, to accept them from the hand of God, and doubt not they are good. But to the loving, trusting heart, all things are possible; and even this instant change, from overstrained will to sorrowful repose, from fullest resistance to complete surrender is realized without convulsion.
These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.—JOHN xvi. 33.
O Thou, the primal fount of life and peace, Who shedd'st Thy breathing quiet all around, In me command that pain and conflict cease, And turn to music every jarring sound.
Accustom yourself to unreasonableness and injustice. Abide in peace in the presence of God, who sees all these evils more clearly than you do, and who permits them. Be content with doing with calmness the little which depends upon yourself, and let all else be to you as if it were not.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
It is rare when injustice, or slights patiently borne, do not leave the heart at the close of the day filled with marvellous joy and peace.
But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.—ISA. xliii. I.
Thou art as much His care as if beside Nor man nor angel lived in heaven or earth; Thus sunbeams pour alike their glorious tide, To light up worlds, or wake an insect's mirth.
God beholds thee individually, whoever thou art. "He calls thee by thy name." He sees thee, and understands thee. He knows what is in thee, all thy own peculiar feelings and thoughts, thy dispositions and likings, thy strength and thy weakness. He views thee in thy day of rejoicing and thy day of sorrow. He sympathizes in thy hopes and in thy temptations; He interests himself in all thy anxieties and thy remembrances, in all the risings and fallings of thy spirit. He compasses thee round, and bears thee in His arms; He takes thee up and sets thee down. Thou dost not love thyself better than He loves thee. Thou canst not shrink from pain more than He dislikes thy bearing it, and if He puts it on thee, it is as thou wilt put it on thyself, if thou art wise, for a greater good afterwards.
J. H. NEWMAN.
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.—PS. cxlv. 18.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.—PS. xxxiv. 4.
Be Thou, O Rock of Ages, nigh! So shall each murmuring thought be gone; And grief and fear and care shall fly, As clouds before the mid-day sun.
Take courage, and turn your troubles, which are without remedy, into material for spiritual progress. Often turn to our Lord, who is watching you, poor frail little being as you are, amid your labors and distractions. He sends you help, and blesses your affliction. This thought should enable you to bear your troubles patiently and gently, for love of Him who only allows you to be tried for your own good. Raise your heart continually to God, seek His aid, and let the foundation stone of your consolation be your happiness in being His. All vexations and annoyances will be comparatively unimportant while you know that you have such a Friend, such a Stay, such a Refuge. May God be ever in your heart.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.—PS. xxxvii. 3.
Build a little fence of trust Around to-day; Fill the space with loving work, And therein stay; Look not through the sheltering bars Upon to-morrow, God will help thee bear what comes, Of joy or sorrow.
MARY FRANVES BUTTS.
Let us bow our souls and say, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord!" Let us lift up our hearts and ask, "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" Then light from the opened heaven shall stream on our daily task, revealing the grains of gold, where yesterday all seemed dust; a hand shall sustain us and our daily burden, so that, smiling at yesterday's fears, we shall say, "This is easy, this is light;" every "lion in the way," as we come up to it, shall be seen chained, and leave open the gates of the Palace Beautiful; and to us, even to us, feeble and fluctuating as we are, ministries shall be assigned, and through our hands blessings shall be conveyed in which the spirits of just men made perfect might delight.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.—I JOHN iv. 7.
So to the calmly gathered thought The innermost of life is taught, The mystery dimly understood, That love of God is love of good; That to be saved is only this,— Salvation from our selfishness.
J. G. Whittler.
The Spirit of Love, wherever it is, is its own blessing and happiness, because it is the truth and reality of God in the soul; and therefore is in the same joy of life, and is the same good to itself everywhere and on every occasion. Would you know the blessing of all blessings? It is this God of Love dwelling in your soul, and killing every root of bitterness, which is the pain and torment of every earthly, selfish love. For all wants are satisfied, all disorders of nature are removed, no life is any longer a burden, every day is a day of peace, everything you meet becomes a help to you, because everything you see or do is all done in the sweet, gentle element of Love.
Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings.—MAL. iv. 2.
O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me.—PS. xliii. 3.
Open our eyes, thou Sun of life and gladness, That we may see that glorious world of Thine! It shines for us in vain, while drooping sadness Enfolds us here like mist; come, Power benign, Touch our chilled hearts with vernal smile, Our wintry course do Thou beguile, Nor by the wayside ruins let us mourn, Who have th' eternal towers for our appointed bourn.
Because all those scattered rays of beauty and loveliness which we behold spread up and down over all the world, are only the emanations of that inexhausted light which is above; therefore should we love them all in that, and climb up always by those sunbeams unto the eternal Father of lights: we should look upon Him, and take from Him the pattern of our lives, and always eying Him, should, as Hierocles speaks, "polish and shape our souls into the clearest resemblance of Him;" and in all our behavior in this world (that great temple of His) deport ourselves decently and reverently, with that humility, meekness, and modesty that becomes His house.
DR. JOHN SMITH.
Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.—MATT. vi. 25.
One there lives whose guardian eye Guides our earthly destiny; One there lives, who, Lord of all, Keeps His children lest they fall; Pass we, then, in love and praise, Trusting Him through all our days, Free from doubt and faithless sorrow,— God provideth for the morrow.
It has been well said that no man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when to-morrow's burden is added to the burden of to-day that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourselves so, my friends. If you find yourselves so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God's. He begs you to leave the future to Him, and mind the present.
Cast thy burdens upon the Lord,—hand it over, heave it upon Him,—and He shall sustain thee; shall bear both, if thou trust Him with both, both thee and thy burden: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.—HEB. xiii. 16.
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.—I JOHN iii. 11.
Be useful where thou livest, that they may Both want and wish thy pleasing presence still. ...Find out men's wants and will, And meet them there. All worldly joys go less To the one joy of doing kindnesses.
Let the weakest, let the humblest remember, that in his daily course he can, if he will, shed around him almost a heaven. Kindly words, sympathizing attentions, watchfulness against wounding men's sensitiveness,—these cost very little, but they are priceless in their value. Are they not almost the staple of our daily happiness? From hour to hour, from moment to moment, we are supported, blest, by small kindnesses.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
Small kindnesses, small courtesies, small considerations, habitually practised in our social intercourse, give a greater charm to the character than the display of great talents and accomplishments.
M. A. KELTY.
I made haste, and delayed not to keep Thy commandments.—PS. cxix. 60.
Ye know not what shall be on the morrow.—JAMES iv. 14.
Never delay To do the duty which the hour brings, Whether it be in great or smaller things; For who doth know What he shall do the coming day?
It is quite impossible that an idle, floating spirit can ever look up with clear eye to God; spreading its miserable anarchy before the symmetry of the creative Mind; in the midst of a disorderly being, that has neither centre nor circumference, kneeling beneath the glorious sky, that everywhere has both; and for a life that is all failure, turning to the Lord of the silent stars, of whose punctual thought it is, that "not one faileth." The heavens, with their everlasting faithfulness, look down on no sadder contradiction, than the sluggard and the slattern in their prayers.
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, and their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace.—WISDOM OF SOLOMON iii. 1-3.
But souls that of His own good life partake, He loves as His own self; dear as His eye They are to Him: He 'll never them forsake: When they shall die, then God Himself shall die; They live, they live in blest eternity.
Though every good man is not so logically subtile as to be able by fit mediums to demonstrate his own immortality, yet he sees it in a higher light: his soul, being purged and enlightened by true sanctity, is more capable of those divine irradiations, whereby it feels itself in conjunction with God. It knows that God will never forsake His own life which He hath quickened in it; He will never deny those ardent desires of a blissful fruition of Himself, which the lively sense of His own goodness hath excited within it: those breathings and gaspings after an eternal participation of Him are but the energy of His own breath within us; if He had had any mind to destroy it, He would never have shown it such things as He hath done.
DR. JOHN SMITH.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.—I JOHN iii. 3.
Now, Lord, what wait I for? On Thee alone My hope is all rested,— Lord, seal me Thine own! Only Thine own to be, Only to live to Thee. Thine, with each day begun, Thine, with each set of sun, Thine, till my work is done.
Now, believe me, God hides some ideal in every human soul. At some time in our life we feel a trembling, fearful longing to do some good thing. Life finds its noblest spring of excellence in this hidden impulse to do our best. There is a time when we are not content to be such merchants or doctors or lawyers as we see on the dead level or below it. The woman longs to glorify her womanhood as sister, wife, or mother. Here is God,—God standing silently at the door all day long,—God whispering to the soul, that to be pure and true is to succeed in life, and whatever we get short of that will burn up like stubble, though the whole world try to save it.
The shadow of a great rock in a weary land.—ISA. xxxii. 2.
In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.—ISA. xxx. 15.
O Shadow in a sultry land! We gather to Thy breast, Whose love, enfolding like the night, Brings quietude and rest, Glimpse of the fairer life to be, In foretaste here possessed.
C. M. PACKARD.
Strive to see God in all things without exception, and-acquiesce in His will with absolute submission. Do everything for God, uniting yourself to Him by a mere upward glance, or by the overflowing of your heart towards Him. Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inward peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. Commend all to God, and then lie still and be at rest in His bosom. Whatever happens, abide steadfast in a determination to cling simply to God, trusting to His eternal love for you; and if you find that you have wandered forth from this shelter, recall your heart quietly and simply. Maintain a holy simplicity of mind, and do not smother yourself with a host of cares, wishes, or longings, under any pretext.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.—I COR. xii. 6.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.—ISA. xlv. 7.
"All is of God that is, and is to be; And God is good." Let this suffice us still, Resting in childlike trust upon His will, Who moves to His great ends, unthwarted by the ill.
J. G. WHITTIER.
This, then, is of faith, that everything, the very least, or what seems to us great, every change of the seasons, everything which touches us in mind, body, or estate, whether brought about through this outward senseless nature, or by the will of man, good or bad, is overruled to each of us by the all-holy and all-loving will of God. Whatever befalls us, however it befalls us, we must receive as the will of God. If it befalls us through man's negligence, or ill-will, or anger, still it is, in every the least circumstance, to us the will of God. For if the least thing could happen to us without God's permission, it would be something out of God's control. God's providence or His love would not be what they are. Almighty God Himself would not be the same God; not the God whom we believe, adore, and love.
E. B. PUSEY.
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.—2 TIM. ii. 15.
And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.—GAL. vi. 9.
The task Thy wisdom hath assigned, Oh, let me cheerfully fulfil; In all my works Thy presence find, And prove Thine acceptable will.
"What is my next duty? What is the thing that lies nearest to me?" "That belongs to your every-day history. No one can answer that question but yourself. Your next duty is just to determine what your next duty is. Is there nothing you neglect? Is there nothing you know you ought not to do? You would know your duty, if you thought in earnest about it, and were not ambitious of great things." "Ah, then," responded she, "I suppose it is something very commonplace, which will make life more dreary than ever. That cannot help me." "It will, if it be as dreary as reading the newspapers to an old deaf aunt. It will soon lead you to something more. Your duty will begin to comfort you at once, but will at length open the unknown fountain of life in your heart."
Thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.—DEUT. xii. 18.
Be ye thankful.—COL. iii. 15.
Thou that hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, a grateful heart. Not thankful when it pleaseth me, As if thy blessings had spare days; But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.
If any one would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and all perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing. Could you, therefore, work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit; for it heals with a word speaking, and turns all that it touches into happiness.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.—ISA. xliii. 2.
I am with thee to deliver thee.—JER. i. 8.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
Turn it as thou wilt, thou must give thyself to suffer what is appointed thee. But if we did that, God would bear us up at all times in all our sorrows and troubles, and God would lay His shoulder under our burdens, and help us to bear them. For if, with a cheerful courage, we submitted ourselves to God, no suffering would be unbearable.
Learn to be as the angel, who could descend among the miseries of Bethesda without losing his heavenly purity or his perfect happiness. Gain healing from troubled waters. Make up your mind to the prospect of sustaining a certain measure of pain and trouble in your passage through life. By the blessing of God this will prepare you for it; it will make you thoughtful and resigned without interfering with your cheerfulness.
J. H. NEWMAN.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.—PS. lv. 22.
Now our wants and burdens leaving To His care who cares for all, Cease we fearing, cease we grieving, At His touch our burdens fall.
The circumstances of her life she could not alter, but she took them to the Lord, and handed them over into His management; and then she believed that He took it, and she left all the responsibility and the worry and anxiety with Him. As often as the anxieties returned she took them back; and the result was that, although the circumstances remained unchanged, her soul was kept in perfect peace in the midst of them. And the secret she found so effectual in her outward affairs, she found to be still more effectual in her inward ones, which were in truth even more utterly unmanageable. She abandoned her whole self to the Lord, with all that she was and all that she had; and, believing that He took that which she had committed to Him, she ceased to fret and worry, and her life became all sunshine in the gladness of belonging to Him. H. W. SMITH.
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.—NUM. vi. 24-26.
O Love, how cheering is Thy ray! All pain before Thy presence flies; Care, anguish, sorrow, melt away, Where'er Thy healing beams arise. O Father, nothing may I see, Nothing desire, or seek, but Thee.
There is a faith in God, and a clear perception of His will and designs, and providence, and glory, which gives to its possessor a confidence and patience and sweet composure, under every varied and troubling aspect of events, such as no man can realize who has not felt its influences in his own heart. There is a communion with God, in which the soul feels the presence of the unseen One, in the profound depths of its being, with a vivid distinctness and a holy reverence, such as no words can describe. There is a state of union with God, I do not say often reached, yet it has been attained in this world, in which all the past and present and future seem reconciled, and eternity is won and enjoyed; and God and man, earth and heaven, with all their mysteries, are apprehended in truth as they lie in the mind of the Infinite.
SAMUEL D. ROBBINS.
He that abideth in me, and I in him, bringeth forth much fruit.—JOHN xv. 5.
Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.—PS. xc. 17.
As some rare perfume in a vase of clay Pervades it with a fragrance not its own, So, when Thou dwellest in a mortal soul, All Heaven's own sweetness seems around it thrown.
H. B. STOWE.
Some glances of real beauty may be seen in their faces, who dwell in true meekness. There is a harmony in the sound of that voice to which Divine love gives utterance, and some appearance of right order in their temper and conduct whose passions are regulated.
I believe that no Divine truth can truly dwell in any heart, without an external testimony in manner, bearing, and appearance, that must reach the witness within the heart of the beholder, and bear an unmistakable, though silent, evidence to the eternal principle from which it emanates.
M. A. SCHIMMELPENNINCK.
I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt hear me, O God: incline Thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.—PS. xvii. 6.
Ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us.—PS. lxii. 8.
Whate'er the care which breaks thy rest, Whate'er the wish that swells thy breast; Spread before God that wish, that care, And change anxiety to prayer.
Trouble and perplexity drive us to prayer, and prayer driveth away trouble and perplexity.
Whatsoever it is that presses thee, go tell thy Father; put over the matter into His hand, and so thou shalt be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yea, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God.
Hear me, O Lord. for Thy loving-kindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies.—PS. lxix. 16.
Let, I pray Thee, Thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Thy word unto Thy servant.—PS. cxix. 76.
Love divine has seen and counted Every tear it caused to fall; And the storm which Love appointed Was its choicest gift of all.
O that thou couldst dwell in the knowledge and sense of this! even, that the Lord beholds thy sufferings with an eye of pity; and is able, not only to uphold thee under them, but also to do thee good by them. Therefore, grieve not at thy lot, be not discontented, look not out at the hardness of thy condition; but, when the storm and matters of vexation are sharp, look up to Him who can give meekness and patience, can lift up thy head over all, and cause thy life to grow, and be a gainer by all. If the Lord God help thee proportionably to thy condition of affliction and distress, thou wilt have no cause to complain, but to bless His name.
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.—I COR. x. 31.
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not unto men.—EPH. vi. 7.
A Servant, with this clause, Makes drudgery divine: Who sweeps a room, as for Thy laws, Makes that and th' action fine.
Surely the truth must be, that whatsoever in our daily life is lawful and right for us to be engaged in, is in itself a part of our obedience to God; a part, that is, of our very religion. Whensoever we hear people complaining of obstructions and hindrances put by the duties of life in the way of devoting themselves to God, we may be sure they are under some false view or other. They do not look upon their daily work as the task God has set them, and as obedience due to Him. We may go farther; and say, not only that the duties of life, be they never so toilsome and distracting, are no obstructions to a life of any degree of inward holiness; but that they are even direct means, when rightly used, to promote our sanctification.
H. E. MANNING.
Where hast thou gleaned to-day?—RUTH ii. 19.
What have I learnt where'er I've been, From all I've heard, from all I've seen? What know I more that's worth the knowing? What have I done that's worth the doing? What have I sought that I should shun? What duties have I left undone?
All of this world will soon have passed away. But God will remain, and thou, whatever thou hast become, good or bad. Thy deeds now are the seed-corn of eternity. Each single act, in each several day, good or bad, is a portion of that seed. Each day adds some line, making thee more or less like Him, more or less capable of His love.
E. B. PUSEY.
There is something very solemn in the thought that that part of our work which we have left undone may first be revealed to us at the end of a life filled up, as we had fondly hoped, with useful and necessary employments.
SARAH W. STEPHEN.
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.—I PETER iii. 8.
Make us of one heart and mind; Courteous, pitiful, and kind; Lowly, meek, in thought and word, Altogether like our Lord.
A little thought will show you how vastly your own happiness depends on the way other people bear themselves toward you. The looks and tones at your breakfast-table, the conduct of your fellow-workers or employers, the faithful or unreliable men you deal with, what people say to you on the street, the way your cook and housemaid do their work, the letters you get, the friends or foes you meet,—these things make up very much of the pleasure or misery of your day. Turn the idea around, and remember that just so much are you adding to the pleasure or the misery of other people's days. And this is the half of the matter which you can control. Whether any particular day shall bring to you more of happiness or of suffering is largely beyond your power to determine. Whether each day of your life shall give happiness or suffering rests with yourself.
GEORGE S. MERRIAM.
Showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.—TITUS ii. 10.
If on our daily course our mind Be set to hallow all we find, New treasures still, of countless price, God will provide for sacrifice.
If content and thankfulness, if the patient bearing of evil, be duties to God, they are the duties of every day, and in every circumstance of our life. If we are to follow Christ, it must be in our common way of spending every day.
He who is faithful over a few things is a lord of cities. It does not matter whether you preach in Westminster Abbey, or teach a ragged class, so you be faithful. The faithfulness is all.
I would have you invoke God often through the day, asking Him to kindle a love for your vocation within you, and saying with St. Paul, "'Lord, what wouldst Thou have me to do?' Wouldst Thou have me serve Thee in the lowest ministries of Thy house? too happy if I may but serve Thee anyhow." And when any special thing is repugnant to you, ask "Wouldst Thou have me do it? Then, unworthy though I be, I will do it gladly."
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.—MATT. iv. 10.
Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart.—PS. cxix. 2.
The comfort of a mind at rest From every care Thou hast not blest; A heart from all the world set free, To worship and to wait on Thee.
A. L. WARING.
Resign every forbidden joy; restrain every wish that is not referred to His will; banish all eager desires, all anxiety. Desire only the will of God; seek Him alone, and you will find peace.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
"I've been a great deal happier since I have given up thinking about what is easy and pleasant, and being discontented because I couldn't have my own will. Our life is determined for us; and it makes the mind very free when we give up wishing, and only think of bearing what is laid upon us, and doing what is given us to do."
Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.—MATT. vi. 32.
All as God wills, who wisely heeds To give or to withhold; And knoweth more of all my needs Than all my prayers have told.
J. G. WHITTIER.
Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of Thee; Thou only knowest what I need; Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself. O Father! give to Thy child that which he himself knows not how to ask. I dare not ask either for crosses or consolations; I simply present myself before Thee; I open my heart to Thee. Behold my needs which I know not myself; see, and do according to Thy tender mercy. Smite, or heal; depress me, or raise me up; I adore all Thy purposes without knowing them; I am silent; I offer myself in sacrifice; I yield myself to Thee; I would have no other desire than to accomplish Thy will. Teach me to pray; pray Thyself in me.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little.—ECCLESIASTICUS xix. I.
One finger's-breadth at hand will mar A world of light in heaven afar, A mote eclipse a glorious star, An eyelid hide the sky.
A single sin, however apparently trifling, however hidden in some obscure corner of our consciousness,—a sin which we do not intend to renounce,—is enough to render real prayer impracticable. A course of action not wholly upright and honorable, feelings not entirely kind and loving, habits not spotlessly chaste and temperate,—any of these are impassable obstacles. If we know of a kind act which we might, but do not intend to, perform,—if we be aware that our moral health requires the abandonment of some pleasure which yet we do not intend to abandon, here is cause enough for the loss of all spiritual power.
F. P. COBBE.
It is astonishing how soon the whole conscience begins to unravel, if a single stitch drops; one little sin indulged makes a hole you could put your head through.
Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest.—3 JOHN 5.
And this also we wish, even your perfection.—2 COR. xiii. 9.
In all the little things of life, Thyself, Lord, may I see; In little and in great alike Reveal Thy love to me.
So shall my undivided life To Thee, my God, be given; And all this earthly course below Be one dear path to heaven.
In order to mould thee into entire conformity to His will, He must have thee pliable in His hands, and this pliability is more quickly reached by yielding in the little things than even by the greater. Thy one great desire is to follow Him fully; canst thou not say then a continual "yes" to all His sweet commands, whether small or great, and trust Him to lead thee by the shortest road to thy fullest blessedness?
H. W. SMITH.
With meekness, humility, and diligence, apply yourself to the duties of your condition. They are the seemingly little things which make no noise that do the business.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.—PS. iv. 8.
He giveth His beloved sleep.—PS. cxxvii. 2.
He guides our feet, He guards our way, His morning smiles bless all the day; He spreads the evening veil, and keeps The silent hours while Israel sleeps.
We sleep in peace in the arms of God, when we yield ourselves up to His providence, in a delightful consciousness of His tender mercies; no more restless uncertainties, no more anxious desires, no more impatience at the place we are in; for it is God who has put us there, and who holds us in His arms. Can we be unsafe where He has placed us?
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
One evening when Luther saw a little bird perched on a tree, to roost there for the night, he said, "This little bird has had its supper, and now it is getting ready to go to sleep here, quite secure and content, never troubling itself what its food will be, or where its lodging on the morrow. Like David, it 'abides under the shadow of the Almighty.' It sits on its little twig content, and lets God take care."
I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people.—PS. lxxxv. 8.
There is a voice, "a still, small voice" of love, Heard from above; But not amidst the din of earthly sounds, Which here confounds; By those withdrawn apart it best is heard, And peace, sweet peace, breathes in each gentle word.
He speaketh, but it is with us to hearken or no. It is much, yea, it is everything, not to turn away the ear, to be willing to hearken, not to drown His voice. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." It is a secret, hushed voice, a gentle intercourse of heart to heart, a still, small voice, whispering to the inner ear. How should we hear it, if we fill our ears and our hearts with the din of this world, its empty tumult, its excitement, its fretting vanities, or cares, or passions, or anxieties, or show, or rivalries, and its whirl of emptinesses?
E. B. PUSEY.
Are they not all ministering spirits?—HEB. i. 14
May I reach That purest heaven, be to other souls The cup of strength in some great agony, Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love, Be the sweet presence of a good diffused, And in diffusion ever more intense! So shall I join the choir invisible Whose music is the gladness of the world.
Certainly, in our own little sphere it is not the most active people to whom we owe the most. Among the common people whom we know, it is not necessarily those who are busiest, not those who, meteor-like, are ever on the rush after some visible charge and work. It is the lives, like the stars, which simply pour down on us the calm light of their bright and faithful being, up to which we look and out of which we gather the deepest calm and courage. It seems to me that there is reassurance here for many of us who seem to have no chance for active usefulness. We can do nothing for our fellow-men. But still it is good to know that we can be something for them; to know (and this we may know surely) that no man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle, pure, and good, without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.—I JOHN iv. 12.
And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.—I JOHN iii. 24.
Abide in me; o'ershadow by Thy love Each half-formed purpose and dark thought of sin; Quench, ere it rise, each selfish, low desire, And keep my soul as Thine, calm and divine.
H. B. STOWE.
The Spirit of Love must work the works, and speak the tones, of Love. It cannot exist and give no sign, or a false sign. It cannot be a spirit of Love, and mantle into irritable and selfish impatience. It cannot be a spirit of Love, and at the same time make self the prominent object. It cannot rejoice to lend itself to the happiness of others, and at the same time be seeking its own. It cannot be generous, and envious. It cannot be sympathizing, and unseemly; self-forgetful, and vain-glorious. It cannot delight in the rectitude and purity of other hearts, as the spiritual elements of their peace, and yet unnecessarily suspect them.
J. H. THOM.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God.—EPH. v. 20.
For blessings of the fruitful season, For work and rest, for friends and home, For the great gifts of thought and reason,— To praise and bless Thee, Lord, we come.
Yes, and for weeping and for wailing, For bitter hail and blighting frost, For high hopes on the low earth trailing, For sweet joys missed, for pure aims crossed.
Notwithstanding all that I have suffered, notwithstanding all the pain and weariness and anxiety and sorrow that necessarily enter into life, and the inward errings that are worse than all, I would end my record with a devout thanksgiving to the great Author of my being. For more and more am I unwilling to make my gratitude to Him what is commonly called "a thanksgiving for mercies,"—for any benefits or blessings that are peculiar to myself, or my friends, or indeed to any man. Instead of this, I would have it to be gratitude for all that belongs to my life and being,—for joy and sorrow, for health and sickness, for success and disappointment, for virtue and for temptation, for life and death; because I believe that all is meant for good.
There shall no evil befall thee.—PS. xci. 10.
Whoso hearkeneth unto Me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.—PROV. i. 33.
I ask not, "Take away this weight of care;" No, for that love I pray that all can bear, And for the faith that whatsoe'er befall Must needs be good, and for my profit prove, Since from my Father's heart most rich in love, And from His bounteous hands it cometh all.
C. J. P. SPITTA.
Be like the promontory, against which the waves continually break; but it stands firm, and tames the fury of the water around it. Unhappy am I, because this has happened to me? Not so, but happy am I, though this has happened to me, because I continue free from pain, neither crushed by the present, nor fearing the future. Will then this which has happened prevent thee from being just, magnanimous, temperate, prudent, secure against inconsiderate opinions and falsehood? Remember, too, on every occasion which leads thee to vexation to apply this principle: that this is not a misfortune, but that to bear it nobly is good fortune.
Thou shall guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.—PS. lxxiii. 24.
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.—HEB. iv. 9.
Guide us through life; and when at last We enter into rest, Thy tender arms around us cast, And fold us to Thy breast.
H. F. LYTE.
Go forth to meet the solemnities and to conquer the trials of existence, believing in a Shepherd of your souls. Then faith in Him will support you in duty, and duty firmly done will strengthen faith; till at last, when all is over here, and the noise and strife of the earthly battle fades upon your dying ear, and you hear, instead thereof, the deep and musical sound of the ocean of eternity, and see the lights of heaven shining on its waters still and fair in their radiant rest, your faith will raise the song of conquest, and in its retrospect of the life which has ended, and its forward glance upon the life to come, take up the poetic inspiration of the Hebrew king, "Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."