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in his character the seeds of those follies which had now ripened into fruit. Even in his boyhood he was weak to resist temptation, reluctant to say No, to tempters, and fond of that glitter and frivolity which strands many a fair young life. These things boded ill for Edward Foster's future; but the teacher watched and prayed over him, as one that must give an account, one that must meet his scholars at the judgment-bar of the Most High.
Thus time went on, until Foster grew up to young manhood. Of a restless, roving disposition, he had rejected the idea of settling in England, and had unceasingly importuned his friends to supply him with the means to emigrate to Australia. At last they did so, though with a protest, for, with the young man's habits and tendencies, the future bore no promise in it for him. True, he had, up till that time, been preserved from gross outward faults; he had steered along fairly, but, away from home and the restraining influence of his parents, there was reason to fear that he would speedily grow worse.
Foster went away, and reached Melbourne in due time. His first two or three letters were filled with all bright pictures. He had found employment, friends, amusements and excitement, and life seemed to be full of pleasure. Afterward, his home-ties grew more dim to him, his newly-found engagements more enticing, for he wrote only seldom, and then very hurriedly and briefly. Finally, as he grew more unsteady, and mingled more freely in dissipation, he ceased to write at all, only too conscious that this conduct would not bear the scrutiny of home. So his friends could only follow him with their tears and prayers, leaving him to the watchful mercy of God. More time rolled on, and Foster became known among the habitués of the publichouses, theatres, and gambling-saloons of Melbourne as a reckless, spendthrift young fellow, who would revel in extravagance and reckless indulgence at one time, while at another he would toil and work just as eagerly and recklessly, undergoing great hardships in the process of securing funds sufficient to purchase a few days' drunken and gambling enjoyment. As long as his funds lasted, he was a constant visitor at the theatres; and here it was that the Spirit of God met with him. It came about in this way.
At one of the lowest theatres in Melbourne, the proprietor, in order to increase his gains, announced that he would, on a certain night distribute prizes to all those who would, on the spur of the moment, solve certain riddles, then and there to be propounded. The bait took, and on the night in question, an immense number thronged the theatre. Among the crowd was Edward Foster, full of eager curiosity as to the riddles and prizes, and resolved to try to gain one, for he had frequently been complimented on his ability in solving conundrums. As this part of the evening's programme drew on, he gathered up his courage ---for dissipation had shaken his nervous system-and made one or two unsuccessful trials. The hardest conundrum was reserved until the last, when a gold watch was offered to whoever should solve it. As it was propounded, Foster thought of a passage which he had learnt at the Sundayschool, in the far-off days of his boyhood, and, singular to say, gave it at once as the answer. It is a remarkable fact, that the passage in question, one from the Book of Proverbs, was deemed by those who were the judges to be the best solution; and to Foster the gold watch was immediately awarded, amid the applause of the onlookers. No sooner, however, had the prize been secured, than Foster became the prey of reproach and remorse. His conscience stirred within him, as he recollected that he had dared to profane God's Word, by using it for such a purpose, and in such a place. How it all rose up before him : the old-time Sundayschool, his faithful teacher, his praying-parents' home! and, hurrying to his cold and cheerless lodgings, he gave vent to his feelings. His horror of soul was great ; he looked with loathing upon his success in winning the prize, while he remembered too, with a feeling of despair, that he had dimpled cheek; but when she had left the room, he turned to his wife, and said: “! Except ye become as little children’; how true that is of some of these beautiful truths of our Christian faith! This dear child seeks a Sabbath blessing, and then expects to find one.
How much nearer should we be to the blessings our God 'designs to give,' if, after the Sabbath seeking, we set ourselves as determinedly as she does to Monday finding ? And what a richer measure of blessing would, as she says, run down over our week.:)
Dear, happy little Martha! The Lord often reveals these hidden things to the babes of His family; but all childlike spirits may come into His secret, for is it not with them that fear Him with that true “reverence and godly fear,” of which the Bible speaks ; and does not that secret impart to us this wondrous fact, “God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” p2
The Bible in the Home.
in Germany, I was overtaken by a violent thunder.
given to me by one of the cottagers. Although I was anxious to get forward on my journey, and the delay caused me no little inconvenience, I can never regret, or consider as wasted, the hour or two that I spent with my entertainer.
An open Bible on the table led me to speak of religion, and the
in which the man listened to what I said, and the joyful look that overspread his face when he spoke of the Word of God as being the one great comfort and solace of his life, made me think that although he belonged to the poor of this world,” yet he was rich in faith, and one of the “heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love Him.”
1 Psa. xxv. 14.
2 Heb. xi, 6.
So interested was I with his conversation, and by his modest and pious manner, that I ventured to ask him to give me a slight sketch of his history, and to tell me how he was brought from the bonds of infidelity, by which he had said he was once bound, to the “glorious liberty of the children of God.” This request he complied with, and in a few words I repeat his simple tale.
When quite a young man his mind had become tainted by infidel principles, and he looked upon the Bible as a cunningly.devised fable, unworthy of belief, and fit only to be treated with scorn by one so wise as he then considered himself.
He worked hard at his trade, prospered, and married ; and the children who gathered around his board became the delight of his life. When the eldest son began to attend school, a Bible was there provided for him. But the parents regarded it more in the light of a useful school-book than as the inspired Word of God. The father was, nevertheless, greatly interested in the eagerness and the delight with which the boy read to himself chapter after chapter every day. He not only read, but frequently asked his parents to explain difficult passages, or to allow him to read to them portions that interested him most; but he was usually put off by some such evasive answers as “ Not now-another
Then it was that the little fellow would say, Father, if you
have no time to look and read, you can at least listen, and I will read it to you so often that you can remember it all.” The parent did not want to hear; but he could not refuse his little one, and as he afterwards confessed, he remembered much in spite of himself. Up to this time he had been a prosperous man, and remarkably free from trials, but now came darker days. Disease entered his family; his wife died, and one by one his much-loved children were taken from him by death.
He was now left alone in the world; yet, although sad
and solitary, he maintained his courage, and continued to live the hard-working and thrifty life he had always led. For a time prosperity seemed again to smile upon him, when, alas! a fire, which broke out on his premises, in a few hours reduced to ashes nearly all he possessed. He was now poor indeed, having neither worldly goods nor the consolations of religion to help him to bear his losses with resignation.
As yet he did not recognise the chastening hand of God in his troubles, but looked upon his afflictions as the result of chance or fate. With commendable spirit he once more set to work to retrieve as well as he could his shattered fortunes.
It was at this period of his life that what were to him strange thoughts entered into his mind; words that his child had read out of his Bible came back to him; and although he would gladly have dismissed them from his thoughts, he was unable to drive them away. The sweet voice of his little son seemed often to ring in his ear, repeating a gospel invitation, or speaking some warning to the unbeliever; passages of Scripture that had long been forgotten forced themselves upon his memory, and caused him great uneasiness.
Little did he then think that God's gracious spirit was working in his soul, and with all his might tried to rid himself of the uncomfortable thoughts that agitated his mind.
For a time he succeeded in quieting the voice of conscience, and quenching the work of the Spirit; and once more he imagined himself happy and contented; but God in His great mercy did not leave him long to enjoy this state of false security. He sent one of His servants to rouse him from it, to point out his danger and a way of escape.
Whilst sitting one day at his work he was surprised by a visit from a travelling Bible-seller, who tried to induce him to purchase one of his volumes, at the same time speaking of the importance of religion, of the fearful state