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doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it?."
VIII. STORIES ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE CHURCH CATECHISM.
THE PROPHET'S WICKED SERVANT. It is very common for people, young as well as old
, to think they are stronger than they really are, and to fancy they shall never fall into the sins they read or hear of, as committed by others. But they forget that they perhaps have never been tempted in the same way, that if they were, they too might fall. A person who is naturally of a hasty temper, may for a time seem mild and gentle, till he is provoked, and then his true disposition is seen, and he gives way to violent anger. So a person who would abhor the thought of lying, may, by sudden fear, be tempted to say an untruth, to avoid some danger; just as Peter, who fancied himself so full of love and zeal for his Master, that he never could deny Him, yet when the time came that his life was in danger from following Him, he not only kept aloof from Him, but even swore that he did not know Him! So it was with Hazael ; he fancied it would be impossible for him to commit the crimes which the prophet foretold he would, but the very next day he fulfilled the prophecy. by murdering his master, and beginning a course of cruelty and bloodshedding, which lasted all his life. (See 2 Kings viii. 15.)
Well might our Lord, when his disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, instruct them to say, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, or, as it may be also rendered, from the evil one, from all sin and
1 Isaiah i. 16.
wickedness, from our ghostly enemy, and from everlasting death.
Let us now turn to the story of Gehazi, who by what we may learn from other chapters, was once a good and faithful servant; otherwise, his master, who was a man of God, would never have chosen him to be his servant. Perhaps if he had been told of the sins he afterwards committed, he would have said, it was impossible for him to be so wicked. But he had not been tried. His master lived in a simple, lowly dwelling, without any treasures of gold or silver to tempt him to be dishonest. But Gebazi was naturally covetous. Naaman came laden with costly gifts to bestow upon the prophet who had, by the power of God, cured him of his leprosy. No sooner did Gehazi see the gold, and silver, and rich garments, than he longed to possess them. Thus we see that the words of St. James are most true;
every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” The gold and jewels were no temptation to Elisha, because his heart was set on better things, his heart was right with God; but to Gehazi they were a temptation, and he gave way to it. As he could not get them in a lawful manner, he tried to obtain them by lying and deceit. He ran after Naaman with a story which he had himself invented, telling him that two young men being unexpectedly come to visit his master, his master had sent him to ask him to give them a talent of silver, and two changes of raiment. Here were two deliberate falsehoods ; two grievous sins against the God of truth; two proofs of the presence of him who is the father of lies. Naaman, who could never suspect the servant of a holy man of being guilty of such gross fraud, readily and cheerfully gave him more than he asked, and seemed happy to be able to repay in this manner part of his debt of gratitude to the prophet. Gehazi, after carefully concealing his treasures, went in to wait upon his master, whose first question proved another occasion of sin to the guilty man. • Whence comest thou, Gehazi?" Ashamed to own what he had done, well knowing how grieved and angry the prophet must feel when made acquainted with his baseness, he answered, “ Thy servant went no whither.” Whether the prophet had actually seen him from the tower where they dwelt, or whether the power of God was given him for a time to read his servant's thoughts, we know not; but certain is it, from Elisha's answer, that he was fully aware of all that had passed: “Went not my heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee?" Fearful was the punishment which the prophet then denounced upon him, “The leprosy of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever.”
Should not this story be to us a warning against giving way to temptation, even for a moment? Should it not lead us to think of St. Paul's words : "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall ?” And, blessed be God! we are not left in our own weakness to struggle against Satan. We have One mightier than he to fight with us and for us, in whose strength we may withstand all the fiery darts of the wicked one. He will save and defend us in all dangers, ghostly and bodily. He who seeth that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves, will keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls. To Him must we fervently pray, whenever we feel the rising of a sinful thought or desire; and we know that He who prayed for Peter, that his faith might not fail, ever liveth to make intercession for us; that “no temptation will take us, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it!.
L. S. R.
A few years ago, when incendiary fires were unhappily frequent in the county of Huntingdon, a knot of men were assembled together, in one of its villages, near the public-house, whose looks did not show that their conversation, although earnest, was of a very pleasant character. They wore an appearance of dissatisfaction, and from the frequent mention of a particular name, it appeared that a rich person in the neighbouring hamlet was regarded by them with no friendly feelings. The only cause of their dislike to this gentleman appeared to be, that he was rich. It was not said that he refused to employ the labourers, or to give charity to the needy: but he was reputed to be exceedingly rich. This excited their jealousy, and the wicked passion of envy always leads to hatred, so that they became disposed cordially to hate him, because he was rich. One only of the persons engaged in conversation together began to feel that they were in the wrong. He had previously had a few words of conversation with his spiritual pastor, the clergyman of the place; and that gentleman had taken a very convincing line of argument with him, which, without having the appearance of a scolding, was calculated to do him more good than a scolding would probably have done in the present state of his feelings. The clergyman had quietly asked him, “ And do you think, John, that there is so much harm done by some men being rich amongst us?” John could only give the envious man's reply; and his adviser then proceeded to reason with him in this way. “Now you know that I myself am not very rich; but if I was, how do you think it could harm you? If I had plenty of money, this is what I should most likely do; and most other rich people do just the same.
11 Cor. x. 13.
I should want one of
you men to manage my garden, to keep it very neat and clean. This would employ one at least, perhaps more than one, and would therefore feed as many families. Then I should next thing keep a horse; and I should want another man to groom it and drive it. This would give occupation to another of you. Then I should want to build myself a nice house; and that would give employment and good wages for a year at least to a good many masons, and carpenters, and slaters. And so on : the more money I had, the more I should want of the comforts which money can buy, and every one of them would put so much money into the pockets of the poor. Now suppose a rich man who lives now in our parish, was to choose to go away from it, and live somewhere
else, taking all his money with him. How many of you men would be thrown out of employment, and then you would be badly off indeed? Think of that before you feel so ill-disposed towards the rich.” Well, this man was among the labourers who were assembled talking together before the public-house. They were talking of dreadful deeds. They were talking of fire, the most terrific element which one man can set against his neighbour. There was evidently a wicked intention in many of their minds, to employ it to wreak their unmerited and cowardly vengeance upon the man who was richer than themselves. The conversation of the clergyman had not been in vain. John came forward, and urged them very strongly not to think about it. He related how he was himself convinced of his error in wishing to level the rich, and ended by earnestly exclaiming, “All I say to you is, don't burn."
DEADLY NIGHTSHADE. To the Editor of the Cottager's Monthly Visitor. SIR, - I think it may be useful to lay before your readers the sad accident which has lately occurred in Maria Parker's family, that it may serve as a warning to those who live in towns, and are therefore not acquainted with the many wild berries that ornament our hedges in the country. The accounts of this accident have been published from time to time in the newspaper, but I think the case will be better understood if read together in one narrative. I am, Sir, your obedient humble servant,
E. A. I was spending some weeks this summer in the neighbourhood of Dorking, and enjoyed many pleasant rambles over the commons and through the woods that lie on every side of this town. In the early part of the summer I gathered the wild roses and woodbines, and returned with nosegays that might be compared with those gathered in our cultivated gardens. There are many rare and curious plants to be found in this part of the country--the bee-orchis--the soapwort-and the