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meaning to, from believing they have no talents to increase ; they think, ‘had I been blessed with as many talents as so-andso it would have been different, I should have had something to work with then, and I would have worked hard, but, as it is, what can I do?' Now this he said was very wrong. He said no single being is placed in the world without some talent to increase, some work, peculiarly his own work, and no one else's. We ought to read this word “talent' as standing for a great deal more than at first
And then he said a great deal about different things that were • talents entrusted to us to be multiplied. But most of all he spoke about the talent or 'gift,' I think he said, called life; the first we each and all of us possess ; the best, richest, and highest, he said, of all God's gifts. Now, Jessie, dear, if life is a 'talent,' there's one you have."
“Oh! but, Sarah, I can't help having life, without that I should not be; I can't go and hide away my life! A child would never think of digging a hole in the earth and putting itself in; at least I'm sure I never should; it would be worse than being shut up in a dark closet.”
“ No, Jessie, it's not likely you would. But there is another way of burying the gift of life' besides putting our bodies in the earth—so the minister said. It is letting ourselves go on from day to day “just as we always went;' standing still, as it were, not caring to grow a little more good and a little less naughty every day ; till at last we become like a stagnant pool, he said, so thick with noisome weeds and slime, that not one spot of the bright pure water can be seen to reflect the sun: it is quite hidden, if not altogether lost. If we let ourselves become like this, instead of striving to
purer each day, and not only doing less and less
wrong, but more and more right,—then, he said, are we not burying our talent' of life? Oh! I wish I could make it all as clear as he did. He said our lives must not be like a blighted tree, never growing, always the same unsightly useless thing, or, if any change comes to it, putting out a blighted leaf, or a sour and withered fruit, like an evil act, doing no good but much harm in the world ;—such a tree is only fit to be cut down and destroyed, and such a life would merit like treatment. But if, instead, we strive to use all our powers to their very utmost, and grow in every
grow better and
direction as does the healthy tree, our good deeds will be like the leaves and fruit making the tree more beautiful and useful, and their results will increase and multiply as the ripe seeds do, a thousand fold, and none can tell where or when the good they do shall cease ; joys and sorrows, he said, will come to us as the sun and rain upon the tree, making it grow more strong and fruitful each day. If our life become like unto this, then we may hope one day to hear the blessing, 'Well done thou good and faithful servant' uttered to ourselves. It was a beautiful sermon, Jessie, do you understand my telling of it, dear?”
“ Yes, I think I do. But are not some trees made wrong. Some always blighted ?”
“ Trees may be always blighted, but seed would not spring up if blighted; it is when something goes wrong after, that the young plant gets blighted and injured for life. And so it is with children, the minister said ; he does not believe they are ever bom wicked.”
“ But, Sarah, mother thinks I can't be good ; am quite good-for-nothing! Do you think I ought to be good, might grow good and clever if I try very, very hard ?”
“ Jessie, dear, I don't think you very bad now," Sarah said, sadly. Poor little Jessie's mother was a bad woman; possibly it was her influence had blighted the child's life, if blighted it was, as Sarah could not help feeling. “And I am quite sure, if you once believe you are good-for-something, you will soon become good for a great deal. The minister said we ought to remember that if God thought us worth making, the life that he has given us must of itself be worth living for, and surely the one work of striving to double in value this life, this gift,' is sufficient, if not more than sufficient, for each one of us. To use the one talent, life, aright is enough, without longing for more. He believes that most people err more or less by thinking as you do, Jessie.
• If I were but as clever as so-and-so, how much more would I do, how much better would I be!' instead of quietly and bravely resolving to do our utmost with what we have. Get out of your head, Jessie, dear, the thought that you have no gifts,----can be of no use or good in the world, and believe instead that God has given you an exceeding great and precious gift, which you are to strive to make still more beauti
ful and precious against the time He requires it back again. Let each of us pray God to help us so to use this great talent,' life, that He may one day find in it an 'acceptable offering.''
THE CHILD'S PRAYER.
Leading on the steps of day,
On a man who sleeping lay.
Turned and rose with sullen air,
Thoughts of anguish and despair.
Spent in vanity and sin,-
Dark without and dark within.
Grows a paly floweret wild,
Love for one, -his only child.
And his brow, so dark before,
Slowly by her chamber door.
Talking to the empty air !"
Pleading earnestly in prayer.
Would His choicest blessings shed,
On her earthly father's head.
With a sudden mist of tears,
Is there One above who hears ?"
Like the voice of angel sent;
Rose and to his father went.
For his life, all vain and wild,
Happy man and happy child !
B. A. J.
RACHEL FODEN: A TALE OF THE PLAGUE.
(IN TWO CHAPTER 8.)
CHAPTER I. It was the early spring of 1665. The first buds, that had been hailed as heralds of summer, were nipped and blackened, and seemed to many a worn and weary heart like emblems of its own blighted hopes. The afternoon was cold and dismal, and Rachel Foden drew her shawl closely around her, as she walked restlessly about the small room allotted to her at her uncle's house. At last she laid her head despondingly on her arms and burst into tears,—tears, which she dashed half angrily away, as though ashamed of their cause.
Occasional sounds of mirth came from below where there was a wedding feast, for Rachel's uncle, though bordering on seventy years of age, had just taken a new wife. His gentle niece had hitherto borne his querulous temper with an angel's patience, and had loved him as all love those whom their care daily blesses. She had exacted nothing; but still she knew that she had been all in all to him, and now that his happiness was to depend on another, Rachel understood, for the first time, how nearly she was alone in the world ; and almost felt herself a useless atom in God's great universe. She looked dreamily into the street, envying the busy passers. At length she remembered the guests below, and raised the sash, that the wind, cold though it was, might banish all traces of sorrow from her cheek, before she rejoined the wedding-company. She did not know how long and anxiously one from among the guests had watched and waited for her, or she would have been less startled on opening her door to see their ġoung neighbour, Daniel Grove. A long and tender interview followed. The secret of both hearts was disclosed, and when they parted that evening they had plighted their troth to one another. There was a deep gush of hope and happiness through Rachel's soul, which made earth seem no more a place for gloomy thoughts.
The spring passed on; the leaves burst forth into life, and every bird that sang seemed to Rachel rejoicing and praising like herself. Happy in themselves, the lovers took little heed of the great pestilence which was desolating parts of the metropolis. It came, however, nearer and nearer to their home; and Rachel's uncle resolved to follow the example of thousands—to gather up his possessions and leave London. To her it seemed little else than a pleasant journey, for would not Daniel bear them company ?
She had not seen him for several days, and when he came, there was something so sad and serious in his whole manner that she gazed at him silently and anxiously. He kissed her tenderly, and his lip quivered when he blessed her. Recovering himself he said, almost gaily, “I see packing trunks about, is our good uncle going?” “Yes.” “And you?” “I am going; and so must you," she answered merrily. “Rachel,” He replied carnestly, “ four days ago business took me to a narrow court leading out of IIolborn, when an awful scene awaited me. The only sounds I heard were fearful shrieks of agony,
and as I passed, an attic window was thrown open, and woman, mad with pain, dashed herself on to the
pavement at my feet. No one was there to help or hold her, no one with her but four little children, who rushed down stairs and threw themselves on the body, moaning for their mother. And, Rachel, it is the same with hundreds, they perish for want of human help. In those children's voices, love, there came a message to me to do my share, if my Rachel will spare me for the task.”
How closely she clung to him ; how she drank in the love that beamed from those moist, calm, carnest eyes! “I will, I will,” she murmured faintly, after a long pause of anxious self-conflict, “and you, you will give me up to the same holy work.” Oh, no," he answered hurriedly, "not that; do not ask that." 66 What?" she replied, in a low, tender voice, “ do you think I love you less than you love me?' “God forbid, my dearest,” he replied, “ but it is no work for such as thee; there will be days and nights to spend with the raving and the dying, there will be fearful things to see and hear.” “I know it, I know it all, love; but it is the duty of mankind to help one another, and we will dedicate ourselves together. If it be God's will, He will preserve us both ; but, if not, let us pray that He may call us both together.”
Now life was changed again for Rachel, the bright sunbeam was darkened by the thunder cloud; yet she felt that buoyancy and hopefulness which the first resolve on selfsacrifice always gives. It is afterwards, when we grow