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“ weak points," never fortified the weak place,-nay, rather it is used as an excuse for sin; and being a solemn fact, might have been pleaded against human responsibility, had not Divine wisdom met the case in a way that for ever silences the objector, and enables the weakest believer to say, in happy experience of its truth, “ When I am weak, then am I strong." Paul found out his weakness; perhaps his “thorn in the
was no physical affliction, for many, even without Christianity, have nobly borné up under bodily suffering and privation; but there is only one power which, under the abasing conviction of utter worthlessness and helplessness, can cheer the troubled heart, and fortify it against assault, with the strong bold assurance, My grace is sufficient for thee.” Favour undeserved, help in time of need, strength according to the day,--are, in other words, the substance of that assurance, and when accepted, trusted, tested, form a more effectual rampart against temptation than the strength in which man stood at his creation. “Most gladly, therefore," cries the rejoicing apostle, “will I rather glory in mine infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me; . . for when I am weak, then am I strong." "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
The same grace that bore Paul so triumphantly over the stormy scenes of his eventful life “is sufficient" for believers now, and every day they prove it so; but there is no other source of strength. Where good resolutions, human opinion, educational restraints, enlightened judgment, all break down before the inroads of temptation, the grace and Spirit of the Lord alone can set up a standard against it. Let none wonder, then, that the first call to sinners must ever be, “ Come, come to God by Jesus Christ, in whom are treasured all supplies for pardon, peace, and holiness, consistency of life before men, and conscience void of offence before God."
The difference in the estimate and treatment of “ weak points” by God's children and the children of the world is very remarkable, and with the first breath of the new life it begins.
“ Are you sure you can have a character for sobriety ?" was asked of one seeking employment.
“No, sir, I cannot; it is the reason I have been out of employment so long."
“ Then how dare you apply to me? Do you think I want drunken workmen ?"
No, sir, but I cannot tell you a lie; the same principle that now makes me shun the drink, forbids me to deceive
“ Ah then, intemperance is your weak point, I suppose, and
you think you can abstain from it. I am sorry to say it is a matter in which I dare not trust to good resolutions."
Sir, I have made no resolution but this, that, God keeping me, I will keep close to his blessed Son, who died to make a way for such as me, and in him I have promise of grace to help in time of need.”
“ Hold fast there, then, and you will keep your place. I am willing to try you.”
The master was surprised and pleased. He had his weak point, too, and knew the remedy. No man ever remained a drunkard who kept close to Jesus Christ.
The village before-mentioned was not without its witness of the strength of weak points when trust in God, and mistrust of self, doubles the guard.
A very provoking report concerning herself reached Mrs. Pearson's ears; she instantly laid it at the door of her neighbour, Mrs. Banks, and rushed full of fury to tax her with it.
Mrs. Banks was washing, and looked surprised when her angry accuser burst in with her charge. She did not speak, she did not look even aggravation or defiance; but perhaps a tear gathered as she gently replied, as soon as Mrs. Pearson afforded her an opportunity
“I am very sorry, Mrs. Pearson, that I have often before given you cause to say such things; but I do assure ́you that I have not now spoken one unkind or disrespectful word of you or yours, and, if you'll only believe it, I never shall
any more. “Oh, very fine! Who believes such cant? Not I, indeed !" and the poor angry vixen poured forth a volume of insolence and abuse, concluding with a bitter denunciation of hypocrites and liars; then, suddenly recollecting that Mrs. Banks had not uttered a word in retaliation or reproach, but stood with a face of distress, pressing her hands hard together, she turned round and saw a crowd of neighbours at her back, come in expectation of a scene never
before left to her own individual part, and feeling dreadfully mortified, she hurried home, talking loudly to cover her retreat, and banged her door in all their faces.
When she was gone, Mrs. Banks dashed the soapsuds from her arms, and rushed upstairs to her bedroom.
“ It is true, it is true!" she murmured to herself, “ He can strengthen even me to hold my tongue;" and, amidst tears and prayers, she thanked God for the help he had granted her, not to render railing for railing, but meekly and silently to stand the assault against one of the weak points in her character. The peace that passeth understanding softly breathed over her agitated spirit, and a feeling of self-respect, both lawful and pleasant, supplied the place of former humiliation and remorse. She had lately been drawn to the cross of Christ, and learned to love him who was meek and lowly in heart; and, having taken his yoke upon her, it had become her first desire to serve and honour him in deed and in truth. She had sometimes presumed to think herself religious before ; but it was little more than a formal profession, which had failed to arm her against sin, though it was just enough to make her uncomfortable when conscience reproached her for it.
Many people have no further knowledge of religion than that they are uncomfortable when they do wrong. They have fears enough to keep them from being openly wicked, but they have not faith, nor freedom, nor light enough to make them eminent Christians, and delight for Christ's sake to do right. True religion has no half-way house for peace; all or nothing is the simple fact. Straight into the bosom of a loving Father by the way he has appointed, faith in Jesus Christ, is true religion; and nothing else will stand ; nothing less is peace.
Life is full of illustrations, for those who will observe them, of the power of Divine grace to meet every
human need. It is as if God had surveyed the weak points in his people's character, to provide them with a defence which shall make them “more than conquerors” through all their conflicts. There is not an avenue to the heart unprovided for, nor a position in life forgotten; complete and wise are all warnings, and firm all the principles that dictate Christian conduct. There is a whisper to the mother to control, without diminishing the warmth of her affections; there is a voice to the youth from ways of pleasantness and paths of peace, to keep him from the paths
of destruction; there is a shield for manhood from pride and covetousness and worldliness, a guard for vanity, a check to selfishness, and, in short, a whole armour of God,” in which every believer may “stand fast.” But it is “the armour of God," and is to be had from no other source. Whoever would wear it must come to him for it; and who came ever went unarmed away. Without it, weak points are all betrayed, and, sooner or later, defeat and disgrace ensue. No believer was ever overcome while fighting in it; but if he forget it, venture out before the enemy without it, he never returns unscathed. And, while nothing can exceed the world's condescending allowance for the weaknesses of its own devotees, let it but get knowledge of a Christian's weak point-let but the faintest breath of suspicion arise that there is such a thing, -and lo! what a clamour, what assumed astonishment, what contemptuous pity, what cruel reproaches, what a handle for unbelief against the truth of God!
Then, since the world pays Christians the high compliment of expecting them to be perfect, let us admit that it is no more than our Lord has commanded. therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect;" and, guarding our weak points under the defence of Almighty strength, give no cause to the enemy to blaspheme, and acquit ourselves as “good soldiers of Jesus Christ;" for 6 when’
" then” “strong."
To plead weakness in excuse, is to ignore responsibility, and let out the fact that it is too much trouble to control oneself. To deplore weakness as a plea for help, is to obtain strength that cannot be overcome, but is “the victory that overcometh.”
6 Be ye
KITTY CARROLL; OR, “TO THE UTTERMOST.”
“ To the still wrestling of the lonely heart
He doth impart
The virtue of his midnight agony." BEAUTIFUL is it to see the self-denying kindness of poor people one towards another, in times of sickness sorrow. They often set a bright and blessed example before those who are placed in more favourable circumstances, which it would be well if they tried to copy;
66 Bear ye
exemplifying the Scripture injunction,
one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” When Mary next returned to Kitty, she found her quite calm, with a sort of smile upon her pale, worn face. quiet steady voice, she asked where the children were, and why they did not come to bed ? When Mary told her that they were coming up presently to say “good night,” and that then they were to sleep down stairs, as she intended to stay with her, in case she should want anything, Kitty made no objection, only saying, “ I'm giving you a world of trouble ; but you will have your reward.” It was a sad, sad sight to Mary, when Kitty Carroll folded Charley in her arms and pressed him closely to her bosom. The little fellow playfully hugged his mother round the neck, and kissed her trembling lips, calling her "mammy," and begging her to get well; whilst Nelly stood by, her dark eyes fixed in wonder on her mother's face. Mary never forgot that parting; she never spoke of it, even years after, without weeping; she always said that to her dying day she should remember Kitty Carroll's last look at the children, as Nelly, with Charley in her arms, left the room. Mary held the candle at the door to light them out, and then went down the stairs to see them safe with Jim. Kitty raised herself in the bed and watched them as far as she could see; and when Mary came back, she found her still sitting up, her eyes straining out into the darkness, outside the garret. As Mrs. Edmonds entered, she lay back and closed her eyes; but Mary could see that a great struggle was going on in that poor woman's breast, and she could feel it too for she had been a mother. When Kitty, after a long silence, spoke, it was in a low sad voice : she said
Neighbour, I've taken my last look of those poor children on earth; but I know you'll teach them to love me, and to love the Lord who has been so good to me and them; and now will you ask your master to come and read out of the blessed book about Him who won't send away poor sinners like I am, but has mercy on them, and says to them, Go in peace.”
Mary promised she would fetch Jim as soon as she had made Kitty's bed and got her comfortable ; but it was a long hard task, for Kitty was nearly helpless, and Mary such a little body that it was with difficulty she could move the sick woman. Finished however it was, and