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“Oh! no, far worse than that, poor fellow; may God help him."
He seemed unwilling to speak, but when the room was somewhat cleared of its many inmates, he said, “You see, my lady, the thing is this, we took little thought of yon blessed book, for awhile after you gave it, and we kept on in our wicked courses, till John, poor lad, took ill, and then he began to read, and to talk a deal of what I did not understand, and I thought his brain was turned ; but I took the book myself, and soon I saw it was his heart that was turned not his head. Oh! Blessed be the God and Saviour of us both.
“Well,” said the lady, “that is indeed a matter of thankfulness. I do not understand what distresses you about John."
“ Ah! John, poor lad. You see after we both began to read, the girls there (meaning John's and his own wife) and the lads about began to talk, and his Riverence the priest got hold of it, and just then the stone fell at the quarry and Tim O'Neal was killed, and many more were not much better, myself one of them; and after that his Riverence came up and attacked us both, and said it was a judgment on us for reading the book without his leavefor
'ye see we were from Ireland—and he laid penances on us
, he said, for the saving of our souls, and we did all he told
us, but our souls were not much the better for it, and when he came again we told him so, and he swore at us and said we were heretics, and, that he would not give us absolution, and that if I died I would go to the burnings. But by that time, blessed be God, I had more light in my mind, and I was not afraid, so I told him that it was absolution of God I needed, and if I had that, I cared for no more.' He would have made the house too hot for me if he could he was in such a rage, and wanted me to give up my book, but that's what I would not do, and I just said, “It was not all the priests in Ireland that would get me to give up that blessed book. But you shall,” says he. “But I shall not,' says I, 'for it is God's book, and not yours.' At that he left the honse swearing, and saying he would
bring us to justice, and would tell the laird how we were poachers; and so, my lady, we were, before the Lord in his
: love taught us better; and to be sure he gave information, and they have carried away poor John. They could not take me, for I was badly; and when they ask him about it, he will have to say that it is all true, for you know he cannot now say one word that God may not hear."
The lady felt deeply for this trial of poor John's principles ; but comforted his friend by saying, that if he was indeed a child of God, all things must work together for his good, and that she would pray for him.
“Ah! Prayer is the thing, my lady,” said the man, ʻprayer is the thing for dying sinners. Oh ! pray
for me too, that the Lord may be with me to the end.”
The lady paid several subsequent visits to her dying friend, and on each occasion found him more and more confirmed in the faith. He lived to see delivered from prison, and commence a quiet, sober, and industrious life. He left his precious Bible to John, and with his last breath desired him to love that book above silver or gold “For mind," said he, “mind, for what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?"
I WILL RELY ON JESUS.
In one of the wealthy homes of live a little girl, named Mary. She had parents to educate her, servants to wait upon her, and coaches to ride in. There seemed a many things around this child to make her happy ; but Mary was not pleased and satisfied with those things which please and satisfy other little ones. She knew she often did those things which she ought not to do, and left undone those things which she ought to have done; this filled her heart with fear and trembling. What could save her from God's displeasure ? Where could she flee for refuge.”
Before she could read, she treasured up passages from
the Bible which others had read to her, and went away by herself to ponder them over. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” Mary often heard from the sacred volume. “But I do not love Him," she said to herself; I do not know how to love Him; neither do I love my neighbour as myself. I love my sister best of all. Did erer any body love God with all their heart, and their neighbours as themselves ? Did God really mean so ?”
She was required to be “ Christ's faithful servant and soldier, and fight manfully under his banner.” This amazed her greatly. “I am sure I do not fight, neither do I know what to fight against,” thought she. Mary asked many questions upon these perplexing subjects, but she was bid not to trouble herself upon such matters.
The Bible is not as strict as it seems to be," they said. This eased her for a little while ; but Mary was seeking after her Saviour, and could not be long put off. It was forgotten by Mary's friends, that as children sin, and do often bitterly feel the weight of their ill-desert, they must seek forgiveness and peace through Him“ who was bruised for our transgressions, and by whose stripes we are healed.”
When Mary was nearly seven, a pious servant girl came into the family, who, minding her serious turn, sometimes spoke to her upon those subjects dearest to Mary's heart. As soon as this was known, she was sent away ; but she left some little books behind, which the child hid away and read. Mary said, “If I could only be a Methodist, I should be sure of Salvation.” Thus she thought, until she read the little books; when she found it was not joining any particular people that could save her, but it was believing in Jesus Christ. Still, the way seemed very, very dark. Looking one day over Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, she said “I wish a Papist would come and burn me, then, perhaps, I might be safe ; for it is easier to burn
I than to believe." “O,” she cried, being greatly burdened, “ what can it be to know my sins forgiven, and to have faith in Jesus? If it were to die a martyr, I could do it; or to give away all I have, or, when I grow up to become a servant, that would be easy; but I shall never
know how to believe;" and the little girl was filled with grief and apprehension. Then the words of the hymn,
“Who on Jesus relies, without money or price,
The pearl of forgiveness and holiness buys," came to her mind, and the Holy Spirit opened her eyes to behold, and her heart to embrace its precious truth. “ Rely on Jesus ! I do, I will rely on Jesus.” She cried aloud. “I will trust Him, take Him as my Saviour, and God counts me righteous for what he has done and suffered ; and he has forgiven all my sins for His sake.” Joy and gratitude filled her bosom. Before, every thing seemed easier than to believe ; now, the way of believing seemed easier than anything else. Thus the light of the glorious Gospel broke upon Mary's mind ; and she became a devoted and Christian woman.
Children, are you not sometimes burdened on account of your sins ? It is not resolving to do right, or resolving to pray, or resolving to read your Bible, or wishing or hoping, that will take away the burden ; it is trusting Jesus Christ; he will wash your sins away.