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PARABLES AND SIMILITUDES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
PARABLES AND SIMILITUDES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. XXXIV. THE STRONG MAN BOUND. worked their way farther into the flesh. ARKON was the strong man of the vil
A second time he struggled with all the lage. His feet were fleeter and his sight
fury of passion ; but it was still in vain. was clearer, his aim was more true and
Then the thought flashed through his
careless mind : “ What a fool am I! his strength more enduring, than were
Never before have I been bound in every those of any of his companions. On this account they grew jealous of him, and
limb. Hitherto only one portion of the determined to humble his pride, even if
body has been fettered; and now with they could not work his destruction.
these strong cords all my efforts will be
useless." Arkon, the eagle-eyed," said they, " let us bind each other in sport, and
For hours the villagers mocked the see who can burst his cords most
strong man in his misery. He was not,
like Samson, shorn of his strength ; but easily.” Agreed," ," said Arkon ; “who shall
his strength, nevertheless, was so firmly be bound first ?"
bound by the imprisoning cords that he “I will,” said a weak, but cunning
was utterly powerless. And when at last
he was released from his bonds, he found man. “ You !” said the others, with pre
that the ropes had worked themselves
so far into the flesh that he never had tended scorn. “No; that is useless. You cannot break a slight band, you are
his former strength again. so feeble. Let us bind the strongest
We, like this boastful and careless first : Arkon, we will begin with you.”
man, allow the habits of the world to
bind us as if in sport, thinking we can " Very well,” said Arkon;
burst them and cast them from us shall." Now Arkon did it in subtlety. “They
whenever we please. But only when our
enemies mock us do we find out that we want to humble me,” he thought; “but I will defeat and laugh at them yet. I
are their prisoners, and utterly unable of
ourselves to cast aside the cords of evil have always broken through every bond
and arise free men. that has bound my wrists, and I can easily do so again; I never knew a rope
XXXV. THE SUNLIT MOUNTAINS. that could fasten my ankles, and I don't think it likely theirs will do it. You ONE summer evening an old man, who shall see, O foolish villagers, that I am had long been a teacher of religion, was the strong man still.”
walking beside a lake. Suddenly, as it “Now for the sport,” cried the leaders seemed to him, he saw a chain of dis
" Which part of him shall tant mountains covered with a flush of we bind first?"
amethyst light, that gradually changed "First his arms, and then his legs,” into a violet haze, and then into a darker said the cunning man; “then he will blue. After that the shadows swept neither be able to fight nor to run across the landscape and hid it in the away.
gloom of night. “For ages, almost Arkon submitted, and was bound every day,” thought the old man, “ the hands and arms, feet and legs.
same picture has been painted, only to break the cords, O swifter than the roe be destroyed after it has glowed for a and stronger than the lion !” shouted few moments. But the hills stand firm the people in derision, “and we will and still, in the winter's blast and the own that thou art indeed a mighty summer's glory, unchanging as the ever
lasting ages. With a quiet laugh, as one sure of “How like these mountains," he victory, the prisoner tried; but in vain. whispered to himself, as he mused upon At first he thought the cords were about
are the promises of God, to snap; but, instead of that, they only and the mercy treasured up for the
of the plot.
human race in Him who came to earth as the incamation of the Divine Word ! And how like our changing feelings are the lights and shadows that seem to us to rest upon the chain of hills! Sometimes the mountains are cold in the morning dawn; at other times they glow in the rays of sunset; and then they are swallowed up by the gloom, and become invisible to us. But still they remain from age to age, unchanged by the colour or shade through which we view them."
XXXVI. THE SMOKY CITY. ONE sunny day in spring, two companions, who had long dwelt amid the clear sunshine and fresh breezes of the country, were obliged to go on business to one of our large manufacturing towns. Before they reached it, they had to climb a hill; and from its summit, far below them in the valley, they saw the city, with its warehouses, churches, and busy streets. But what filled one of them with the greatest astonishment was to see the streets filled, as it seemed, with a thin flood of vapour, whilst over the whole town hung a cloud like a canopy of smoke.
Surely there must be a great fire in the city,” said one of the travellers to the other; “if not, where does the smoke come from?"
“ It is always like this,” replied his
companion: “I have often been here before, and invariably found it the same.
“But people can never live in such an atmosphere of fog and smoke. Why, it looks as though the sunshine could scarcely pierce through the vapours to enter the houses."
“ Wait till we get into the town ; and I think you will find that you can not only live in the smoke and mist, but I expect before long to hear you complain of the light and heat.”
He was right. When they walked the streets, they soon forgot the presence of fog and smoke; and, although they often longed for the bright light and pure breezes of the country, they found that it was possible to enjoy existence in the midst of bustle and an impure atmosphere.
In the same way we, looking forward to the future and dreading some cloud of trouble into which we have been compelled to enter, have shuddered and said that it was impossible to live with it around us. But, when the trouble has come, we have found so much mercy and light mingled with the gloom, that we have not only had strength to live, but have even wondered at our former terror. Thus does God mingle mercy with His judgments, and prove that He is immeasurably better to us than all our unbelief.
LESSONS FOR THE LITTLE ONES.
every child in this room has, and so
Proverbs xx. 11. EVERY man, woman, and child has a name, by which one is known from another ; but I am not going to talk to you, dear children, about your names to-day, but about something that each one of you has just as much name, and by which you may easily be known one from another: I mean a character.
That is a very hard word for you to remember, and perhaps you will say, “I have not anything like that.” Yes;
Now listen to me, and I think I shall soon show you that you have either a bad or a good character. Everything must be either good or bad; and I want to help you this morning to find out whether your character is good or bad.
God's Holy Spirit tells us in the verse I read to you that “ even a child is known by his doings;' that means by his character. What we think, or say, or do, is our character. If we think, speak, and do what is right, then our character is good. If we think, speak, cheered by the contrast in her character compared with the others. Ah, I said, dear little Mary does not think of self; she is unselfish.
Now, dear children, do you see each child was “ known by its doings,” had its character ? Let me see, before I close, if you can tell me of any child in the Bible who was “known by its doings,” who had a good character.Timothy (2 Tim. iii. 14, 15); Samuel (1 Sam. ii. 26); Josiah (2 Kings xxii. 2); the Holy Child (Luke ii. 52).
Yes, all of these named were known by their “doings." Will each of you try from to-day, and pray to get a good character? Will you ask the Lord Jesus to make you like Himself by His Holy Spirit; to help you to be true; to make you think, speak, and act in a right way? Then His blessing will rest upon you,
and you will each be known by your “ doings.” You will then possess a good character. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches."
F. B. w.
and do what is wrong, our character is bad. Now you can all think, speak, and act: you can do so in a right or a wrong way; and in this manner will your character be either good or bad. You will be “ known” by it.
I will tell you a story to make this clear to you. One evening, the birthday of my little niece, some children were asked to spend it with her. They came at five o'clock, and were sent into the schoolroom to play. My little niece begged me to join them, as she said
auntie always helped so nicely." I went, not appearing to watch their movements, but anxious to find out the character of each of her companions. For a little while all was quiet; then I saw one little boy, Robert, run off to a corner of the room with a box of soldiers, refusing to play with the rest or to let any one share his pleasure. Ah, I said, Robert is selfish, for he thinks only of himself. I turned and saw another, Tom, knock a valuable toy from the table, which in falling broke and startled the children. He immediately denied having touched it at all. Ah, I said, Tom is untruthful, he is a liar.
Jessie was sitting alone. She was dressed a little better than the others, with a large blue bow in her hair, at which she kept looking in a lookingglass that hung against the wall of the room; she would play no games, saying they were silly.” Ah, I thought, Jessie is vain, she thinks herself better than her companions. Charlie turned from one toy to another; he didn't like this, then he did not like that, until he ended by crying for one thing which he could not have. Ah, I said, Charlie is discontented. Maria pleased me by refusing a thing she wished for, because her mamma had forbidden her to have it. Ah, I said, Maria is certainly obedient.
But I turned to watch an interesting quiet girl, Mary, who, forgetting self altogether, was trying to amuse first one, then another; comforting one who had tears in his eyes because his card house would not stand, and giving up a book in which she was interested to another who wished for it,-and all this in so quiet a manner that I felt quite
THE UNBELIEVING LORD. "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established.”-2 Chron. XX. 20. You all like, my little friends, to hear a story, I think ; listen, and I will tell you a Bible one : but first we must learn a text, “ Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established.” Now say it after me till you have it perfect.
Do you know what " established" means ?-(No, teacher.)
Well, then, it means strong and firm, and not easily upset or hurt. And now for the story. Those of you who have Bibles, and can read them, can find it for yourselves in the seventh chapter of the second of Kings, and read it when you
There was once a dreadful famine in Samaria ; some of you can tell me what a famine is, can't you ?-(When there is nothing to eat.)
Yes, it is when food is very scarce, and when what there is is very bad and poor. God has been so kind to us that He has not sent as a famine in this country for a long time, never since you children have been alive, and we must pray to Him to keep such a dreadful thing from us.
The king that reigned in Samaria at the time of which I am about to speak was called Jehoram. He was not a good king, and as regards the famine I cannot tell you all the dreadful things that happened. A great deal of money, about as much as £10 of our own, was given for an ass's head; and people were so hungry that even the women boiled their own children to eat. (2 Kings vi. 28.) Was not that dreadful? Now the king (who knew that God had sent the famine) went to see the prophet Elisha, who told him that on the next day there would be plenty of food in the city.
I did not tell you how it was there was such a famine. It was because the Syrians were besieging Samaria, that is, they came with a lot of soldiers, and pitched their tents all round the city, and so kept anybody from going in or out of the gates with food. When Elisha said there would be plenty of food next day, one of the lords who was with the king said he did not believe it, for they could not get any unless God made windows in heaven and sent food to them from thence.
It was very wicked of this lord not to believe the prophet, and Elisha said to him, “Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof." The next night four leprous men, thinking they should only starve in the city, made up their minds to go out into the camp of the Syrians, for, they said, “ If they kill us, it will be no worse than dying of hunger, and perhaps they may give us some food.”
You can tell me what leprous men are, can't you ? Leprosy is a disease which covers the skin with a number of scurfy blotches. Well, when these poor men got to the camp of the Syrians, they found them all gone, no one there; but they had left all their clothes, and provisions, and money, and horses. How do you think it was they had all run away ? God made them hear a noise like a great army coming to fight them, and they were
so frightened that they ran away and left everything, even the horses that would have helped them to get away faster if they had thought about the matter.
Let us see if we can find a suitable text here (Prov. xxviii. 1). So the lepers had as much as they wanted to eat and drink, and carried away some money for themselves; and then they thought they had better go and tell the poor people in the city. When the king heard of it, he sent some men to see if it were all true, and to bring the food into the city.
Then he ordered the lord who did not believe there would be plenty the next day to stand in the gate, to see that the people acted fairly, so that the strong ones should not get all they wanted and so deprive the others; but the poor people were so hungry and eager for food, that in their hurry they pushed the man down, and he was trodden on and killed.
So it happened just as Elisha prophesied: there was plenty of food, the unbelieving lord saw it, but did not eat of it, for he died. I daresay when the king told him he should be in the gate and have the distribution of the good things, he was proud of the honour conferred, and thought he should get some food first for himself; but God punished him for his unbelief.
What was your text? Repeat it. You see this unbelieving lord was not established, because he did not believe. Dear children, believe all you read in the Bible, for it is God's word and will come to pass (Matt. xxiv. 35). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts xvi. 31). He died for you, for you are a sinner and " Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. i. 15). You have only to believe this, and to trust in His merits, and God will take you to heaven for Christ's sake.
But you must show that you believe on the Lord Jesus and love Him, by your actions, for “ actions speak louder than words.” If you told me you loved your mother dearly, do you think I would be. lieve you if I knew you were a disobedient rude child ?-(Oh no, teacher.)
And so Jesus says He will not love those who call Him “Lord, Lord,” and do not the things He commands them (Luke vi. 46). Those who believe the Bible must believe Jesus died for them; those who believe He died for them will love Him; and those who love Him will serve Him. Then will they be established; their feet will stand firm on the Rock of Ages. Who is that ?—(Jesus Christ.)
Yes, ask Him to help you to believe on Him.
A PATIENT MAN. No. Ι.
Job i. 21. WHEN I was a very little girl I used to learn a short, easy catechism about some of the people we read of in the Bible; and I remember one question was, Who was Job?" and the answer, “The most patient man under pains and losses." Now, should you not like to hear something about this good, patient man ?-(Yes, teacher.)
Very well, I will tell you about him; and remember, all that is written in the Bible is put there in order that we may learn what God would have us do; so we must try to find out what we are to learn from the history of Job.
He was a great and rich man, " the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job i. 3). He had 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 asses; just think what a number ! And he had seven sons and three daughters, who were grown up, and lived in houses of their own. Job was very fond of them, and used to pray for them when they were feasting in each other's houses ; because he feared that while they were eating and drinking and enjoying themselves, they might forget God and sin against Him: for Job was a good man,
one that feared God and eschewed evil.”
Now tell me, was Job a rich man? What animals did he keep? How many children had he? Right: I am glad you are paying attention.
Wei, God saw fit to let Satan tempt Job; for Satan had said, “ Doth Job fear God for nought ?”-he meant that
Job only served God because He had made him a great and rich man. So God let Satan try him; and one day, while his children were feasting together, å messenger came and told him that some men had come and stolen his oxen and asses and killed his servantsall but this one who came to tell him the news. Shortly afterwards, another servant came and told him that the lightning had killed all his sheep and the servants that were minding them. While he was yet speaking, another came and told him that his enemies had taken away all his camels and killed the servants that were with them.
Poor Job had lost all his riches at once, and in those days people were not so much rich in money and lands as in servants and cattle. You will think it was bad enough for Job to lose all his riches at once ; but, before the last messenger had left off sing, another came with the worst news of all—a great wind had blown down the house of his eldest son, where all his children were feasting, and they were all killed, all lying dead under the ruins of the house.
Oh, what dreadful news for a parent -all his ten children killed at once ; and all Job's riches were gone too ! What do you think he did ? He tore his clothes (this was the way in which people showed their grief in those days) and fell down and worshipped God, and said, “I was born naked, and had nothing when I came into the world ; and now I have nothing more than I had then: but the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
This is what I wish you to learn for a text to-day, that you may remember not to grumble at any trial God sends, or murmur when He sees fit to trouble us. If God takes away our friends, or health, or riches, we must try to say from our hearts, " The Lord gave,” etc.
The Bible tells us that God sends trouble to those He loves quite as much as to wicked people (Heb. xii. 6). And He does it out of love; for when people are in trouble it draws them