« AnteriorContinuar »
lem by the Romans, about forty years after the death of Christ; but it was then destroyed, and to this day the Jews remain without a temple, altar, or sacrifice. The glory is departed.]
We have in type an answer to the Query respecting the salvation of infant children, but the press of matter compels us to reserve it for the next month.
MISCELLANEOUS ARTICLES, ANECDOTES, &c.
JOHN STRONG, THE BOASTER; OR, THE PROUD HUMBLED.
[From "Half Hours with Old Humphrey," an interesting Volume, published by the Religious Tract Society.]
Ax interesting tale will oftentimes impress the mind more profitably than a very severe, though very eloquent exhortation. This being the case, listen to my narrative of John Strong, the Boaster.
Now wha dare meddle wi' me?" said John Strong, repeating a line of an old ballad, as he sat on his own chair, in a saucy attitude, with a jug before him. "Wha dare meddle wi' me?" said he, half in jest, half in earnest, talking to his companion and admirer, William Wallis, the tailor.
"Why, a man would look twice at you before he handled you, or tried to talk you down," said Wallis. "You are strong in name and strong in nature, John. At all events, I am not the man to meddle with you in the way of quarrelling."
I fancy, not, William; you are too fond of sound bones to cross one of my sort," said John, saucily; "but make no mocks at my name; I will not allow it, Mr. Billy Button, and so I tell you."
"No offence, no offence, John; I meant no mischief," said the tailor', taking no notice of the nick-name John had just given him; for he well knew the quarrelsome nature of the man with whom he was talking. It was, as they say, a word and a blow with Strong; and one of John's blows, as the tailor knew very well, was no light matter.
"Well, well, take another glass of ale, William, and do not talk so fast. One cannot put in a word edgeways where you are," said John, who always treated those he liked with the best in his house; and that was
the reason why the tailor went often to see him, and bore with his snubbings and saucy ways.
William Wallis was a stooping, mean sort of fellow, after all, and would have agreed with any one, if they had given him good eating and drinking while they talked to him. He was a fine-weather friend, who would have forsaken his comrades on a rainy day, and turned his back on old acquaintances when they were poor and down-hearted. Frankness and upright dealing are a credit to a man; but he to whom the "bread of deceit is sweet, his mouth shall be filled with gravel."
You cannot call me an old man, William," said John; "look at my arm! Is it like the arm of an old man? I shall be forty next June, and I say a man at forty is in his prime." "To be sure he is," answered the wheedling William.
The miller's man, you know, who is but five and twenty, called me an old fellow, and said I must not think to crow over youngsters as I had done."
He! he he! so he did," said William, affecting to giggle," but it might have been a manslaughter business, if his friends had not taken him away; you did pummel him handsomely.'
"Wife! Mary! I say, bestir yourself a little, and bring us the porkpie out of the pantry," shouted John, in great good humour; “ Mr. Wallis may like to eat a bit of something with his beer. He shall make me a coat at midsummer, for there is not a better tailor in the parish, and I say it, whose word stands for some
thing, for folks dare not contradict me!"
Strong's wife, a mild, good-temtempered, healthy-looking woman, spread a white cloth upon a table, and placed plates, knives, and forks, and a large pork-pie before the wheelwright and the tailor, and John went on with his boasting while William was occupied in eating.
"The miller had a narrow escape, as you say, Mr. Wallis. Old, indeed! He will not call me old again in a hurry. I have stopped his chattering, for he knows what to expect if he crosses me. Then there was Phips, the wrestler, he challenged me last Whitsuntide at the club, but when we met at Simpson's green, did not I give him a fair back fall for all his tricks and trippings? Why the man was not himself again for the whole day."
"I have heard say that you did," said the tailor, thoughtlessly, eating heartily at the pork-pie, which took up his attention so much, that for a moment he quite forgot to try to please the wheelwright.
"Heard say! do you doubt it?" shouted Strong, in a rage. "What do you mean by 'heard say,' Master William?"
The tailor turned pale, put away his knife and fork, and tried to soften down the wheelwright. "I mean," said he, "that I did not see it done, because you know I was not on the spot, Mr. Strong; but as for doubting it, that would be foolish indeed, when the whole parish knows that you flung the wrestler."
"And I shall be after flinging you too, if I have any more of your 'heard says,' Master Tailor," said Strong, threateningly; "but, however, as you do not doubt the matter, there is no harm done. There is not a man in the parish that dare meddle with me. Look at that mastiff, Master William," said Strong, pointing to a large dog that came just then into the kitchen; "folks say Towzer's fierce and surly, and, to be sure, he has bitten a few folks that teased him; now, some have threatened to shoot that dog; some say they will poison him or cleave his head; but let them touch
a hair of him, only let them do it; I should like to see them, that is all. 'Love me, love my dog,' you know. I can take care of Towzer."
"To be sure you can," said the coaxing tailor; no one will touch Towzer when you are in sight; they know better than to get into trouble for the sake of a dog."
"For the sake of a dog!" said Strong, "what do you mean by that, Master Tailor? The dog is worth his weight in gold. Do not speak slightly of my dog, for I shall not allow it.'
"Well, it is a fine animal, to be sure," said William, "but I do not know much about dogs, Mr. Strong."
No; you know more about geese than dogs, Master Tailor," replied Strong; "but still you may believe me when I say that Towzer is worth his weight in gold."
"No doubt of it," said the tailor, again taking up his knife and fork, and cutting a fresh piece from the pork-pie.
"Well, well, you are a sensible man," said Strong, "taking you altogether, though foolish at times; and we think alike on most things. Now, where will you find a working man's cottage so well stocked as mine, Mr. William ? Look at that Bible with the tea-caddy on it, why it is as big as a church Bible, and cost me a pretty penny; but my wife had set her heart upon having it. Look at the two sides of bacon over our heads, dangling from the ceiling ; and did you ever see a finer ham than that hanging in the corner? Our cellar's small, but there are two good barrels of ale in it; and there is a leg of mutton and a round of beef in the pantry, where that porkpie came from, Master Tailor."
"I always said," replied William, talking with his mouth filled with pie-crust, "I always said, that those would never starve that lived with Mr. Strong."
"I should think not," said the wheelwright, "for when that bacon is gone I can hang up more."
"To be sure you can, and fill your barrels again when empty," said the tailor, drinking a glass of ale off at a draught.
"To be sure I can," said Strong, vauntingly, "and help to empty them; for I can drink down any man in the parish, and get up neither sick nor sorry, to a good day's work next morning."
A proud, boasting fellow was Strong, the wheelwright, as the reader has been told. He possessed great strength, he had a comfortable cottage, and he obtained a great deal of money for a working man, and these things were his pride. He trusted in his strength as though he thought it would never fail him, and was puffed up with his gains, little thinking that money makes itself wings, and that health and strength often suddenly pass away. Foolish man! money may be ours to-day, and belong to others to-morrow; it may be stolen: we may lose it, or be wronged out of it. If, then, our pleasures lie in having money, it may be taken away in an unlookedfor hour; for no one can be sure of keeping his money. And as for health and strength, which are worth more to us than money, we may lose them in a day, ay, in a moment! It ought to be the language of every heart, "Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity."
John Strong, puffed up with pride, continued to go on in the same way for a time, disliked by most people in the village, and only friendly with those who agreed with him for what they could get from him, like fawning William, the tailor: but a cloud was coming over him.
Strong was not one of those who hardened themselves against God, but he was carried away by the foolish pride of a vain-glorious heart. He took credit for his health and strength, as if they depended on himself. Though he received those gifts from God, he gave not God the glory.
How many are there in the world who, hour after hour, and year after year, partake of unnumbered mercies
altogether regardless of the Almighty hand that bestowed them! How many are there who make a boast of what ought to fill their hearts with thankfulness and their mouths with praise! O that men would humble themselves, and give God the glory! "O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm cvii. 8.)
John Strong had health, but health could not protect him from accident. John Strong had strength, but strength could not defend him from broken bones. He was called
on to take off the wheel of a heavily laden cart; but the instrument called the "jack," with which he had lifted up the body of the cart, suddenly slipped, and down came the cart upon the unhappy wheelwright. His thigh was broken, and besides this, he was otherwise injured: maimed, and in sad agony, he was carried into his cottage.
Stout-hearted John Strong struggled hard against low spirits, even when made to possess days and nights of weariness and pain. Agony, restlessness, and impatience quickened his pulse and fevered his tongue, till his great strength gave way, and he became weak as an infant.
While lying helpless on his bed, one day, he heard some one running up the stairs, and his wife burst into the room, holding her apron up to her eyes, and sobbing as though her heart would break.
"What is the matter, Mary?" said the wheelwright. Tell me, I say, directly, who has crossed you?"
"O John, John!" said the weeping woman, "there is Towzer lying dead in the lane. They have cleaved his head. It is the black-heartedness of the man that vexes me. The wheedling fellow always had the best in our house when he looked in."
"Who has done it? Was it the miller's man?" shouted John, giving way to sudden passion. "Was it the wrestler I threw at Simpson's green? Was it
"It was William Wallis, the tailor," said the sobbing woman.
"The dog had hold of one of his children's clothes, and would not loose; so Wallis struck him on the head with a hammer."
"Did you tell him how I would serve him out for it?" cried Strong.
"Yes, John, I did," answered his wife," and the saucy fellow laughed in my face, and said you were crippled for life, and could never hurt him."
"We will see about that," said John, for a moment forgetting his afflictions. "My clothes, Mary! my clothes!" and he sat upright in bed, but directly fell back again through weakness. The wheelwright's proud heart then gave a groan. He had kept up till then, but Wallis's behaviour struck him down; he turned his aching head on his pillow, and cried like a child. It was the first time Mary, who loved her husband, with all his faults, had seen tears in his eyes, and the sight cut her to the heart. "Never mind the tailor," said she, "I wish I had not told you, John; I was foolish in speaking about it till you had got strong again."
"You did right to tell me, Mary," said John, mildly. Do not keep things from me, and use me like a baby; I will not stand it. Now, leave me in quiet a bit, and then I can think about the matter."
Mary left the room directly, for John was one who would not be crossed. When alone, he tossed and rolled about on his pillow, muttering bitter threats against ungrateful William Wallis, and thinking how he would serve him when he got upon his legs. But the wheelwright's passion did not last long. He grew quieter, and began to think he might, perhaps, grow worse, and never leave his chamber till they carried him away in his coffin.
"Look at my arm, Mary!" said John Strong one day to his wife, as he lay on his sick bed, half wasted away. "Would any one believe that this stick of an arm ever mastered the miller's man, and grappled with Phips, the wrestler, laying him
No, that they
would not. I am but the shadow of what I was." What John Strong
said was true enough; but his proud, boasting spirit was to be brought down too. His heart was to be bumbled, as well as his frame wasted. "I think, Mary, that I shall die; but I am not fit to die."
Sometimes it pleases God to take a man and shake him with the terrors of eternity, so that he cries out aloud, in the bitter agony of his soul, for the rocks to hide him, and the mountains to cover him from the wrath of the Almighty; and sometimes he allows the gracious promises of his holy word to descend gently as the dews of heaven on his heart, so that by degrees his soul is led to magnify the Lord, and his spirit to rejoice in God his Saviour. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost are enjoyed by him, without having to pass through those fears that many endure. was in a gentle way, by little and little, that John Strong was brought to be an altered man.
A working man in health, who has a pork-pie, a leg of mutton, a round of beef, a ham, two sides of bacon, and two barrels of ale in his house, may feel independent; but in sickness, with these comforts gone, and with no gains, he is altogether in a dif ferent case. Like Sampson of old, John was shorn of his strength, and found himself to be, indeed, as weak as another man.
There were a few Christian people, who, in John Strong's heavy afflic tion, took occasion to show him kindness. They now and then called in to know how he went on, and took him little comforts and niceties, while some rendered him more substantial kindness, till, by degrees, they were regarded by John as friends. Then, too, followed in its turn Christian conversation, till at last, Mary, by her husband's desire, was seated at his bed side with the big Bible in her lap. When Mary went for the Bible, she felt ashamed to find it so dusty. Willingly would she have read it every day from the first hour it came into the cottage, but her husband gave her no encouragement. The day ought not to pass without the word of God being.
read, by those who possess the treasure, in every habitation. Husbands and wives should attend to this, and help one another on the way to heaven. "Search the Scriptures," (John v. 39); and, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." (Col. iii. 16.)
John was always as proud of his big Bible as of his ale barrels; but the time drew near when he was to understand its value; to be taught by it that he was a sinner, and led by it to Him who died upon the cross, the only Saviour.
At first little more was done with the Bible than turning over the leaves and talking about the pictures; but better things were to follow. A verse or two, and then a chapter was read, and the soft voice of his wife Mary fell sweetly on the listening ears of John Strong, as she pronounced the words, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa. liii. 6.) The calls of the good minister became more frequent; John was led
pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit; his conscience was stricken, his heart affected, his eyes opened, and he became a changed man; till, at last, the fear of death and eternal woe was swallowed up in the bright hope of everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Yes, John Strong was an altered man. The Holy Spirit changed the lion to a lamb. His coarse manner, his brutal boldness, and his proud boasting, all disappeared. There
was not to be found in the parish where he lived a kinder husband, a meeker man, a dearer lover of his Bible, nor a humbler follower of the Redeemer, than John Strong. Low as he had been brought down, he was raised from his bed of sickness, and prospered as a master wheelwright, never boasting of his prosperity, but giving God the glory for all that he enjoyed. Though he was again blessed with his former strength, his heart was changed; he never again fought with the miller's man, wrestled with Phips, or felt any desire to avenge himself on Wallis, the tailor.
THE PATERNAL FUND.-A LETTER TO THE EDITOR.
DEAR SIR,-Many of our friends wonder how it is that the yearly collection and the paternal fund have become so embarrassed. A feeling akin to panic has taken possession of some of them in relation to these funds. They appear to think there must be some quicksand in the basis on which these funds rest, which, while it has swallowed up the offerings which the generosity of the Connexion has heretofore provided, is, nevertheless, as insatiable as ever. I have myself been frequently told, when applying for subscriptions to these funds, that, if we were assisted out of our difficulties this year, we should become involved again the next. The men of business in the Connexion are too much disposed to sneer at our Connexional management of these and other funds. They can say to this man, "Come, and he cometh;" and to another, "Go, and he goeth;" and their habits and tastes induce them to expect the
same exactness and order in Connexional management as they can easily secure in their own business affairs. The inference at which they arrive is, that constantly recurring debts prove either the incapacity of the Conference to manage its financial affairs, or that these Connexional funds rest upon an unsound and insufficient foundation. All agree that something is wrong in the principle or in the distribution of these funds. The income is, and has been for years, inadequate to meet the claims upon them. Both the yearly collection and the paternal fund are in debt; and the debt on the latter fund, at least, promises to be greater at the next Conference than it was at the last.
Under these circumstances great anxiety prevails, and many remedies are suggested. Some would cut the knot which they cannot untie, and secure a clear balance sheet by paying to all claimants just what we