« VorigeDoorgaan »
the mist of thought and imagination came suggestions and whispers and voices. which made us cry to our Father for relief from the torments of the adversary? We are compelled to battle with the prince of the powers of the air, with many and incessant forms of temptation, and in the conflict we require, and I think we receive, as the saints of old did, actual assistance from those who are always sent to "minister unto them who shall be heirs of salvation.”
Often, too, in those hours of poignant anguish when the solid ground quakes under our feet, as our best beloved are taken from us, may it not be that some of those who ever stand waiting to carry consolation where it is needed cross our thresholds and uplift our fainting heads? Sometimes, too, in lesser moments, when the indiscreet or angry word is hushed before it reaches our lips; often in our times of temptation, when we are almost ready to yield but are suddenly and strongly helped to resist, so that we feel as if re-enforcements had reached the field; again, in our life with our little children, where we need so much tact and wisdom and gentleness, may we not thank God for the coming of his angels?
"I was about to do thus," said a friend, describing an occasion which might have been disastrous but was saved by prompt action, "when all at once I was aware of a strong inward compulsion, as of a hand holding me back. I obeyed the invisible touch, and I have been grateful ever since."
We are ourselves supernatural beings, living in tents of clay, but aware of powers which transcend space and time, and conscious of an immortality caught from the divine nature which enfolds us and to which we belong. For, beloved,
though it doth not yet appear what we shall be, yet now are we the sons of God. In the calm of our quiet resting on our Heavenly Father, let us take whatever he gives us, confident that among other hallowed gifts is the ministration of his angelic host.
Just here is room for another and very practical thought, pertinent to every one, and quite readily applicable to those who do not fully enjoy, in literalness, the benediction of belief in God's ever coming and going angel servants. Faber crystallizes it in half a stanza:
We are not angels but we may
No one is denied the privilege of engaging, so far as man or woman may, in work befitting the angels. To enlighten those who are ignorant, to sympathize with the joyful or the sorrowing, to share a brother's load, to strew flowers where else would be barrenness, to speak words of love and kindness everywhere, this is to do the work of the angels, and this may be your lot and mine.
Beginning the Day Well.
More unhappiness is caused by fits of the blues than by any other single occasion in our daily life. People rise from their beds not feeling quite well, or quite rested and they give way to impatience. We have no right to inflict our bad weather on other people. There is always blue sky somewhere, and our Father is watching over us, and we must be brave and cheery.
Breakfast is the foundation-stone of the day's edifice. In a family where this is a cheerful meal, with everybody at the table promptly, the work of the house gets a good start, nothing falls into arrears, and the mother and maids are not all day struggling to make up a lost half hour which eluded them in the early morning.
On the other hand, there are people who simply cannot eat an early breakfast with the least relish. They are not hungry in the morning. Delicate children, old people, nervous invalids are not able to eat until appetite has been whetted by waiting, and if they are compelled by an iron system to rise before they have finished their sleep, to dress and appear at the table at a fixed hour, they are made uncomfortable and their day is not well begun. One hardly knows what to say about this much-mooted breakfast question. For some weeks I have been staying in a well-ordered family where the breakfast bell rings at half-past six, and the household, a large one, is promptly at the table. This is necessary when several of the gentlemen must catch a train, and ride thirty miles to reach their business in town. After a little, the early breakfast, even to one accustomed to the leisurely ways of a home where early rising is not obligatory, and nobody is pressed or hurried in the morning, becomes a pleasant experience, particularly as it gives one hours for reading or writing or driving or walking, a splendid long morning, which brings one to move with an agreeable sense of "something accomplished, something done."
But the breakfast question should not be arbitrarily settled. It is an easy matter, where people are not obliged to go out, and prefer to have their morning nap unbroken, to save their breakfast until they are ready for it, and if they are sensible persons, they will not feel it a hardship to wait on themselves. A cereal can be set back on the range, an egg is easily boiled, coffee can be freshly made with very little trouble, and, as a rule, the late comer does not wish for the hearty breakfast of chops, steak, potatoes, etc., which the business man may require as a basis for his day's work, or the growing boy, with his phenomenal capacity in the matter of food, may find quite appropriate before he goes to school. Breakfast ethics, however, should be maintained on a high plane. If ever we are to repress irritability, to be gentle, sweet and perfectly courteous, we must be so in the
morning. The mother's mood is repeated in the children. The father's cheerfulness sets the melody of the day. More and more I am learning to believe that the sin of sins in home life is crossness. We have no right to inflict our moods on other people; no right to indulge our temperTM expressions of fretfulness, no right to be cross or difficult. If it ever comes over us that we are growing uneven and hard to live with, and perhaps unreasonable and crotchetty, let us guard the door at that point. We must be amiable if we would be Christian.
On the tombstone of a mother, in a New England graveyard, there is this inscription following name and date: "She was so pleasant." Could there be a lovelier epitaph?
Tranquillity Under Trials.
Amid all our perturbations and agitations the old promise holds good in the experience of those who live daily by the word of our God, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." Many are the temptations which come to us from without and from within to discount the promises and to take with reservations of our own the literal words of the Lord as given us in the Bible. But when we have the gift of the childlike heart, the utter unquestioning confidence of the little ones at our knees, we do not ask doubtingly or explain anything by human reason; we simply reach out the hand and take the bounty offered, and the name of that bounty is perfect peace. "My peace," said our dear Lord, "I give unto you. giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, afraid."
Not as the world neither let it be
One of the commonest causes of lack of peace in this world is insufficiency of income. The householder whose expenses, without fault of his own, have increased, while his salary or his profits have lessened in the same proportion, finds the cup at his lips very bitter, and is apt to think scornfully of those who can be acquiescent in such a state of affairs. Often he not only works harder and retrenches more, which is all right, but also frets and worries and wears himself out, which is all wrong. The gift of perfect peace is not intended by the Lord to accompany only riches and ease and plenty. It is meant for the woman with a houseful of small children to support, for the man who is growing old and infirm, for the citizen whose taxes are a weary burden, for the farmer with the menace of the mortgage that may be foreclosed. In every circumstance, in every conjunction of adverse conditions, there is one rule: Pray without ceasing, do your very best and wait God's leadings in perfect peace. With the sea before them and the Egyptians at their back the word of the Almighty Jehovah to Moses was, "Say unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." God is always strong enough
to supplement our weakness, and "when He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?"
Another very natural provocation to restless anxiety is in our proper ambition and thoughtful forecast for otildren. Many a Christian lies awake at night wearily meditating the future of sons and daughters for whom he would give his life, so dearly he loves them. How will they turn out, what provision can he make for them, will they marry to advantage, or wreck their prospects by some undesirable connection, will their choice of a profession be wise, will this be, or shall that occur, and the parent grows wan and ages early in a solicitude which actually incapacitates him for enjoying the chlidren while he has them under his care. I have seen the mother of a lovely little boy of five greatly disturbed over his probable career at college, certainly a dozen years off. We all know how deep the grief and sorrow may be over a false step made by a child, not a criminal step, but simply an error of judgment. In every such case, if the right relation be maintained between the Master above and the disciple below, there will be a cessation of strife and fear and a realization of peace. "Thy peace shall be like
Living with the uncongenial is another fruitful occasion of annoyance and querulous unrest. Shall serenity be ours when we dwell in the house with a kinswoman or a neighbor whose "ways" are incessantly irritating, whose point. of view is as opposite to ours as pole to pole, whose presence ruffles us, and whose contrariness (it is always hers, not ever ours) is something beyond description? Yes, if we take the daily discipline as our Father's gift we shall find sweetness in the most thorny rose, and day by day peace will be our portion.
So, too, in sorrow. "There should be no greater comfort to Christian persons than to be made like unto Christ, by suffering patiently adversities, troubles and sicknesses. For He himself went not up to joy, but first He suffered pain; He entered not into His glory before He was crucified. So truly our way to eternal joy is to suffer here with Christ."
If this be our creed, can we ever fail to have peace?
When obstacles and trials seem
Like prison walls to be,
I do the little I can do,
And leave the rest to thee.
'Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you."