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Sunday Morning Talks with Boys and Girls.
A FRIEND IN NEED.
AY attention to little words.
Sometimes they mean a great deal.
On the railway it is very needful to see to the couplings or fastenings whereby the various carriages are linked together. It is quite as necessary when reading the Bible, to notice the words by which the verses are joined together. Sach words are called conjunctions. You will find one in Psalm 50, verse 15, where it says, “And call upon me in the day of trouble : I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
“ And call upon me.” That little word "and" is the link, the coupling, by which the fifteenth verse is joined to the fourteenth. It indicates that both the verses should be read together. When read together their meaning is this—“Offer unto God thanksgiving ; and pay
thy vows unto the Most High : then call upon me in the day of trouble," etc.
If your father were to say to any one of you, “Run this errand, and write that copy, and there will be sixpence for you if you ask for it," he would mean you to ask for the sixpence when you had done the other two things. That is God's meaning, He says we must first be thankful to Him for what he has already done for us; we must then pay our vows to Him, which means that we are to keep the good resolves we have made. If we have promised to be better, so we must be. If we have said we will give our hearts to Him at the beginning of the new year, we must not fail to make that new year's gift to God. I hope some of you have made such a vow, and that you will keep it all your days.
Then when thanks are offered and vows are paid, IGod is ready to make this covenant with us, that if we call upon Him in the day of trouble, He will deliver us. In other words He promises to be a friend in need.
I cannot imagine a more gracious promise than this. If it were made by a king, or by some wealthy and powerful man, it would be looked upon as one of the most generous things he could do. It is one of the kindest things we could wish for at the hands of our heavenly Father.
ESSEX AND THE RING. When the Earl of Essex was in great favour with Queen Elizabeth, it is said that she gave him a ring, saying as she gave it, that if ever he was in trouble, he only needed to send back the ring, and she would
A FRIEND IN NEED.
befriend him. The time came when he fell into trouble. He wronged the Queen, and she signed his death-warrant. But she hoped every hour that he would send back the ring. He tried to send it back. But an enemy got hold of it and kept it from the Queen, and so the unhappy Earl was put to death. This promise is better than a ring, because nobody can take it from us. Nobody can prevent us from having the benefit of it.
I know not how soon you boys and girls may need it. Perhaps some of you will need it this year as you leave school and go for the first time to business. There is no telling what you may have to meet with as you go out to make your way in the world. Even when you do your best you may come under suspicion, and find yourselves in great trouble. But if you make it your main concern to serve God, and pat your trust in Him, you will have no need to fear. God will stand by you.
WESTON AND THE GOLD PIECE. Our American cousins have different coins from ours. They have twenty-dollar gold pieces, which are worth about five of our sovereigns. Some years ago a merchant missed such a piece from the drawer in his office. Suspicion fell upon a young clerk named Weston : he had been seen in the office just before the coin was missed. Moreover he appeared in a new suit of clothes not many days from that time. It was also discovered that he had paid for the clothes with a twenty-dollar gold piece. When the merchant heard that, he called Weston to account, and asked him to make a full confession of his guilt.
As soon as the young man could recover from his amazement, he said that he was innocent of the theft, and that the gold piece with which he had paid the tailor, was a Christmas gift he had received twelve months before. “ From whom ?" asked the merchant. a lady who is now dead, sir.” The merchant looked sceptical. He asked for some proof. The clerk said he knew it was mentioned in a letter, and that letter he would try to find. He went home, entered his room, and then fell on his knees to plead this promise that God would be a friend in need. He then searched his desk, his box, bis drawers. But the letter was nowhere to be found. He knelt again, and poured out his trouble to the Lord whom he had learned to love and serve.
THE PROMISE FULFILLED.
As the young man rose from his knees, his foot caught the corner of an old rug which he had nailed down to the carpet, and there peeping out from the corner of the rug was a bit of writing paper. It was the very letter he wanted. The young man knelt again to glorify God for such a deliverance. He took the letter to his master. The merchant was satisfied and made an apology. Soon afterwards he found the missing coin in the pocket of his own overcoat. By way of compensation for bis unjust suspicions he at once raised the salary of young Weston, who will always remember how he called upon God in the day of trouble and found Him to be a friend in need.
In the Tropics.
BY LADY BRASSEY. The new volume by Lady Brassey, entitled “In the Trades, the Tropics, and the Roaring Forties," is charmingly got up. It tells the story of a two months' voyage to the West Indies and back again in a cheery, delightful, and instructive way. The places seen, the people met, the dangers encountered, the wonders witnessed, and the joys experienced, are all brought before us most vividly. Everything that would lend itself to the artist's pencil was transferred to the sketch book of Mr. Pritchett, and now lives throughout this volume in the highest style of the engraver's art.
AMONG THE CORAL REEFS. Speaking of what she saw in the Bahamas, Lady Brassey refers to the glasses used by spongers, which she describes as "square buckets with a glass bottom to them, which, dipped just beneath the surface of the sea, enable those looking through them to avoid all the surface-lop and agitation, and to see the bottom of the sea as distinctly as possible, thus enabling the diver to pick out all the best pieces of sponge. She then goes on to say, “On this same Coral Reef we had our first peep through the 'magic glasses' as I think I may fairly call them, and you cannot imagine the world of atterly unexpected wonders that were at once revealed to us. What a fairy scene it was ! How clearly we could see the lovely submarine garden; and how short a distance it seemed to be beneath us; how we longed to do what seemed to be perfectly easyto step down into the crystal depths and walk about at our leisure in the realms of Aphrodite: to admire, if not to pluck, the many enchanting things growing in her fair pleasaunce.
"If you can picture to yourself the most beautiful of corals, madrepores, echini, seaweeds, sea-anemones, sea-lilies, and other fascinating mariné objects, growing and flourishing under the sea, with fish darting about among them, like the most gorgeous birds and butterflies conceivable, all in the clearest water, which does not impede the vision in the least, and resting on a bottom of the smoothest white coral sand : if you still farther imagine a magnificent blue sky overhead, and a bright sun shining out of it; even then you will have but a very faint idea of the marvellous beauty of the wonders of the sea on a coral bank in the Bahamas. I had longed for years to behold such a sight, and I found now that the spectacle not only equalled but far surpassed my most sanguine anticipations.
6 6 And here were coral bowers,
“We have been told,” says Miss Cobbe, in an eloquent paper in the Contemporary, that in the event of the fall of religion Life would remain in most particulars and to most people much what it is is at present. It appears to me, on the contrary, that there is actually nothing in life which would be left unchanged after such a catastrophe."
ALLOO! What's this? Who are you?”
and the speaker, a lad about fourteen, who had suddenly ceased whistling, put down the basket he was carrying, and stooped over what had at first appeared to be a bundle of dirty rags.
A groan was the only reply; but the bundle rolled over a little, so that a face could be seen now.
“Jack Green !” exclaimed the lad, “why what's brought you here ?"
“Oh, Will, is it you?” said the bundle; “I'm so hungry and tired—just beat out,"
“But how have you got here?” asked the other, his face full of wondering amazement; “I thought you were fifty miles away-you said it was more than fifty."
So it was, and I've footed it back, Will; I want a place. I want to get work, you know, and I must get it somehow."
“Get work!” exclaimed, Wil; “yes, you look like work;" and a puzzled expression crossed his face, as he looked down at the tatterdemalion figure, so
white and weak. The boys had been companions—scarcely friends, for William Fletcher's mother was a widow, and very careful of her only child; and she did not approve of the boys being together. Jack Green's family was spoken of in the town as “ a bad lot,” and this was enough for Mrs. Fletcher, although she knew of nothing personally against Jack himself.
Will was thinking of his mother as he stood and looked at Jack, wondering how he could help him, for it was clear that he could not be left here in this lonely lane lying on the damp ground.
“Look here, Jack,” he said at last, “I must take this bacon and butter on to the Grange, or else I shall get into a row, but I know a place a little further on where I can get some bread, and I'll be back with it as soon as I can." Will had just remembered that his mother had given him a penny to buy some biscuits for lunch, as he expected to be late for dinner that day, and with this he decided to buy Jack some bread, if he could possibly get it, at any of the cottages near the Grange.
Jack looked up at his friend gratefully. “Oh if you could get me a piece of bread I should be so glad,” he said. “I've only had what I could pick up on the road since I left home."
“But what made you leave homep” asked Will, as he shouldered his basket again.
“Oh the same old game. We're a bad lot, everybody says, and so nobody would give me a chance to do better ; but I thought if I got back here I might pick up a job somehow, but I never thought it ’ud be such a hard pull to get back;" and as he spoke the lad lay back on the grass, so faint and exhausted, that Will was afraid he was going to faint or die, and he put down his basket again, and kneeled down beside him.
AFTER MANY DAYS.
“ Look here, old fellow, I'll do all I can for you," he said in a halffrightened whisper ; "you must'nt peg out yet, you know.”
“No, no, I'll be better soon, Will,” said the boy; "only get me that bread.”
Will needed no further urging. He picked up his basket again, and ran on to the Grange, as fast as his load would let him go, and once relieved of the bacon and butter, he was not long making his way to the cottages, where he begged a woman to let him have a pennyworth of bread, to which she added a mug of skimmed milk, as she thought he wanted the bread for his dinner.
“If I could only carry it in my cap now, it would be just the thing for Jack,” he said, looking wistfully at the milk.
“Don't you want it for yourself then ?" said the woman.
• No, there's a chap up there that has had a long tramp, and I want the bread for him; and he'd like the milk, too, I reckon.”
“Well, I'll lend you a tin dipper to carry it in, if you'll bring it back by and by.”.
“All right; he shall bring it back presently. I know him; he aint a common tramp; so it will be all right;" and with a good thick slice of bread in his basket, and the dipper of milk in his band, Will went back to Jack.
There he lay, just as he had left him; but as Will drew near, and he caught sight of the bread and milk, an eager light shone in his eyes, as he raised him. self on his elbow.
“ Here you are, old fellow," said Will, handing him the bread.
He snatched it from him in his eagerness, and immediately began to devour it.
Will had never seen anything eaten so ravenously, or devoured so quickly.
“You must have been awfully hungry,” he said, as he watched him. He was beginning to feel hungry himself, for he had a healthy boy's keen appetite, and the long walk had sharpened it, but he had no desire to take a morsel of the bread from Jack, for he feared now that there was not half enough for him. He watched him
until the bread was almost finished, and then handing him the milk he said, " Take the dipper back, to the second cottage past the Grange."
Jack nodded. “I'll take it presently,” he said.
"All right, and if you can come on by and by, perhaps I shall see you when I've done work to night-I'm at Mursell's, you know," added Will.
“I'll come, and wait at the old corner,” said Jack ; but he felt glad he was not expected to walk the distance just now, for he was so strangely unwilling, even to lift his head; and when his friend had left him to the quiet and grassy nook in the lane, he stretched himself upon the ground again, thinking that after he had had an hour's rest, he would take the dipper back.
Meanwhile, William Fletcher had hurried to the shop, for it was market morning, and they were always very busy. It was late when he went home to dinner, but although he was very hungry, he ate it in a preoccupied manner, for his thoughts were busy with Jack, and he wondered whether he should teli his mother of his adventure in the lane. The worst of it was, that Mrs. Fletcher although a good Christian woman, was not a very wise one; and in her anxiety for Wii-a lawful anxiety within certain bounds-she was apt to grow suspi. cious; and Will felt very sure that when he told her of his meeting with Jack in the lane, she would at once jump to the conclusion, that he had gone there purposely to meet him-perhaps accuse him of having invited Jack to come back to the town.
“And she'll worry herself and me too, all for nothing," concluded Will, as he made these reflections ; " for of course Jack won't stop here. He'll have to go where nobody knows that he belongs to a bad lot, and I shall tell him to-night that he'd better go on at once, for it won't do to let mother know he's about here, or she'll get fidgetty at once."
How the poor follow was to push further on Will did not know, but the questions he now had to answer, consequent upon his unusual quietness, convinced him that his mother was growing suspicious about something already. She asked about the market, and the shop, and his master, and whether he had been busy; whether he had been out, and whom he had seen in the market