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on the children's table which has not called out some grateful feeling; and even concerning the few wedding gifts which have been criticised, we all appreciate the kindness of the givers ; and Ruth would not for a moment think of leaving one of them unacknowledged. And it has struck me what a solemn, practical question it is to ask ourselves, 'How far has the gift of God, who gave up His own Son for us all, made room for Him in each of our hearts ?'
Are we friends to Him who has given us such a costly gift?' If not, it is certain we have not yet accepted it; and we are committing, every moment of our lives, an act of base ingratitude and wounding insult towards our heavenly Father ; not to speak of the infinite loss we ourselves are suffering. ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.' Can we say, on our side, “We who were enemies are reconciled to God by the death of His Son?'
“How strange it seems, yet we know how true, that far from God's gift making room for Him in our estranged hearts, He Himself must make room for His gift, and this He does by the further gift of His Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father ;' whose blessed office it is to show us how poor we are without the Christ of God; how, receiving Him into our hearts by faith, we are made rich towards God.' How confidently we all, in our blindness and deadness of desire concerning the things of God, may plead the promise, your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.'
Many a time since then, when disappointment in earthly things has made me sad, I have called to mind our brother Robert's sermon on the wedding gifts, and have realised the comfort of the Saviour's precious promise, “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you."
Chrissie Mellor's Blotting-case.
A STORY OF GOODNESS AND MERCY FOLLOWING THE OLD
YEAR INTO THE NEW.
OTHER, dear mother, do let me write to Uncle Chris.
The speaker was a bright young girl, whose
fair rounded face and mirthful expression ill accorded with the plaintive tones in which she now besought her mother.
A sad, gentle smile, and half hesitating shake of the head, was Mrs. Mellor's silent reply.
“ But, darling mother, you know I am his pet, and called after him ; and besides, he'll get my letter on New Year's Day, before any cross old feelings have time to turn kind thoughts out of his heart-do let me.
But this time there was no hesitation in Mrs. Mellor's refusal.
“ Chrissie, you know my opinion. We must not do evil that good may come. I have often warned you against doing anything on which you cannot ask God's blessing ; and could you now—come, tell me as an honest girl-could you sit down and write to Uncle Chris, contrary to your father's wish, and then expect the Lord to prosper it ?”
“But, mother, if uncle relents and sends help, then papa would be only too glad I wrote.”
“That has nothing to do with it, my child; there are no ifs between right and wrong.
For wise and just reasons he has forbidden my seeking my brother's assistance ; and I am quite sure your doing so would grieve him. No, dear Chrissie, do not add disobedience to his other trials.”
“ Not for the world. Oh ! mother-not for the world ! I was only planning how I could help pay off poor Charlie's debts, that are weighing you down to the earth, and"
Here Chrissie stopped short, for so bright and sweet a smile broke over her mother's face that, like a sudden flood of sunshine after rain, it dissipated all thoughts of sorrow bending her spirit earthward.
“Ah, I see, you are reading my thoughts, Chrissie ; the effects of trial would indeed be crushing, if they acted so contrary to God's fatherly intentions. When He permits trouble, it is to draw us heavenward in prayer and childlike trust-not to make us bow down like a bulrush. Doesn't my Chrissie know this ?”
Yes, Chrissie knew it quite well; but, like many young Christians (and, for the matter of that, old Christians too), she thought to speed Providence a little by taking her father's pressing care into her own loving hands. She quite knew that to trust the Lord was the believer's grand privilege, but times and due seasons puzzled her. She preferred seeing the end of the Lord at once; the waiting for tomorrow tried her patience. Yes, Chrissie knew it, and knew it so well, that she could only answer her mother by affectionately kissing the dear hand that laid itself impressively on hers, to give force to the simple question.
“Mother, I have something to confess," she exclaimed, with a sudden effort, after a moment's silence.
“ There is your stool, then,” and Mrs. Mellor nodded towards a cushion at her feet, where her young daughter was wont to kneel before her when she had anything special to communicate that required a full look into her mother's face.
In a minute Chrissie was bending on it, then resting both arms on Mrs. Mellor's lap, she fixed her eyes intently towards her, as if prepared to unburden a whole load of conscience.
“Well, mother, it's just this; in case-mind only in case, you
did not object, I have been making notes of a letter to Uncle Chris; telling him all about Charlie's wildness and the way papa is in ; and I have finished off by asking himwill you
be very angry, mother darling ?—to lend me some money till I am of age; then, you know, I come in for my share of grannie's legacy, and then-"
“ We will not have any more and thens,' love; they generally come to grief. You are quite sure you have not sent this or any other letter to your uncle, Chrissie ?” Mrs. Mellor spoke searchingly.
Oh, no, mother; I have not even made a fair copy of this; just see, here is the draft in my blotting-case. Oh, dear! it's stuck in so tight to the blotting paper, I can scarcely loosen it--such thin stuff! I wish I hadn't bought it.”
This parenthesis was to the case, which contained a few leaves of that thin pinky paper whose absorbent power is such as to retain a legible, though reversed, copy of any secret committed to its charge. Reader, beware of such paper.
“Now listen, mother dear, and then I will ar the whole to bits in your presence."
This false copy” was written on the insides of old envelopes; and as Chrissie read it piece by piece, she dropped the scraps into Mrs. Mellor's lap, until she came to the sixth (for, girl-like, it was a lengthy letter), when her mother took it from her hand, saying, as tears filled her eyes : “ Dear, loving Chrissie ! I must read this myself.”
“Do, mammy, if you can pick it out,” cried Chrissie, with the unreserved simplicity of whole-hearted affection ; “but this is the piece that stuck to the blotter ; so it is smudged all over."
However, Mrs. Mellor could read it--and so shall you, my reader, for you will hear of it again : “New Year's Day is God's time, dear uncle, for healing family sores; that is why I have chosen it to make this request. vowed you would never help papa again, he cannot ask you without making you break your vow; but you did not say you would never help Chrissie-did you
u? And if you will send me this sum-it need only be a loan-till I receive grannie's legacy, when
Mrs. Mellor was loth to destroy this little proof of her child's love, yet suffered Chrissie to tear it up with its
fellows; and there the matter appeared to rest, as far as the latter was concerned--but not so with the mother. The trouble at her heart pressed closer than even Chrissie knew. On the one hand there was a “ brother offended”-and does not. Solomon tell us that such an one is harder to be won than.“ a strong city ?” I whilst, on the other, there was a home care that would have been overwhelming, had the Holy Spirit not left on record that sweet promise of Divine grace and power : “ Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee;"'2 which, together with the Saviour's tender invitation, “Come unto Me,” formed at once her. stronghold and comfort in the day of adversity.
: This home care was one that cannot bea gauged by the inexperienced. Only they wlio have smarted from “ money losses." can know what money loss involves; what difficulties, what retrenchments, what pinchings; thank God if positive want be not added! All, or any of these trials, Chrissie's parents would have received with the
" It is the Lord : let Him do what seemeth Him good.”3 But their presenti trial arose from nearer home, and was proportionately harder to meet with Christian fortitude; though grace,“ sufficient” was accorded them from Himi who “giveth more grace." 4 The trial was a large pecuniary responsibility, which the thoughtlessness of their only son had, without any intimation, thrown upon them-large, at least, for persons of limited income.
Charlie was all sorrow and contrition ; but neither of these desirable qualities either atoned for the past delinquencies or assisted in the present emergencies. So, with New Year's Day staring them full in the face, Mr. and Mrs. Mellor were approaching the time when payment was required, without any visible means of meeting it. There was this brother, “ Uncle Chris;" but Charlie was the cause of their unhappy estrangement, and the rash vow-that could not be surmounted. 1 Prov. xviii. 19.
2 Psa. Iv. 22.
I Sam. iii. 18. 2 Cor. xii. 9; James iv. 6.