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Grace, mercy, kindness past,
Come to thy God at last.
Come to thy God in time,
Long did the rescued pilot tell,
Come to thy God in time,
MARTIN'S ROSE. It was a warm autumnal evening ; Mrs. Milton, seated on her garden chair, superintended the transplanting of some choice plants, and her little daughter Minna played beside her, and now and then tried, in her childish fashion, to help the gardener with his work.
“ That will do for to-night, Martin,” said Mrs. Milton, “it does not matter about finishing the roses this evening; you are too ill to remain any longer at work; to-morrow they can be planted.” “I wish, mamma,” said Minna,
“ I had a rose of my
Mrs. Milton made no reply; she was reckoning the roses of various kinds, and did not hear her little girl's wish.
“If you please, ma'am," said Martin, “I would rather finish them at once. It
last job for you.”
“I hope not,” replied Mrs. Milton, with whom the old man was a great favourite, for she had known him from the time when, like her own Minna, she played in the garden of her childhood's home. Martin had been an excellent gardener, and an honest and industrious man. He was more : Martin Dale was a humble and consistent Christian, and now his work on earth was well nigh ended, and he was looking forward for the welcome summons to come up higher.
The old gardener had no children now living; but his wife, many years younger than himself, had nursed the only daughter and infant son of Mrs. Milton, lately become a widow; and around these little ones the heart of the old servant clung with the freshness and vigour of youth. Minna in particular was his pet. Her daily airings were taken in the grounds where he usually worked, and her childlike prattle enlivened the labour, or rather the voluntary employment of the old gardener; for Martin Dale had long suffered from a painful and fatal disorder, and been repeatedly urged by his kind mistress to lay aside his labours, and live on the sum which she would continue as a pension to her faithful servant. But Martin said he had lived amongst these beautiful plants and flowers, and the care of them beguiled much of weariness and pain; so he occasionally planted and watered, with his young mistress by his side, often teaching the little girl in her early springtime to “ look from these works of God up to himself.”
"Do you feel worse this evening, Martin ? ” contiuned Mrs. Milton, after a pause. “If so, you must not work any longer."
“I do, ma'am, feel a great change coming over me,” he replied. " I believe I cannot finish putting all these roses into the ground; but will you give me leave to plant one here for Miss Minna ? It will be a sort of keepsake for her when I am gone."
“Do so, Martin,” replied his mistress, whose eyes filled with tears as the old man alluded thus calmly to his departure.
“O, Martin, are you going to plant a rose for me-for
myself; and may I pull the flowers when they come on it; and what is a keepsake ; and where are you going, Martin; will you be long away?"
“ Yes, Miss Minna, I am going to plant a nice rose for you, a pretty white moss rose; and it will be a rose that you will keep for my sake. My darling, you love old Martin, don't you?”
“ Yes, Martin, I love you, and mamma, and nurse, and dear pretty baby. I like white roses best.”
6 Well Miss Minna, my last work will be to plant a white rose for you, before I go away."
“ And when will you come back, Martin ?”
“Never!” said the old man, solemnly. Minna's tears began to flow.
Martin's task was soon ended. He took the seat which Mrs. Milton had left a little before; for she guessed that he would try to imprint a lesson on the mind of her child, and she knew he would feel more at ease if she were away.
He took Minna's small hand in his and drew her close to his side. “I am going away, Miss Minna’s to a new home, where I hope and pray you will one day come too. Mamma has often told you about heaven, where your papa went last year.
He is there; he is not ill now, nor in pain; God has made him well and happy. And Jesus is there, the blessed Saviour who came down to earth to die on the cross for you, and if you believe on him, and love him and serve him here, he will take you also to live with him in glory."
“ And must I be ill, like you and papa, Martin, before I go away? I don't like to be ill."
"I cannot tell you that, darling; most people are very ill before they are called to that happy home, but some go away suddenly, or perhaps the Lord Jesus may come for them himself, and take them away without sickness or death.
But I want you to remember always that you cannot live here for ever; and when you go away from this world, you must go either to heaven, to be happy there with Jesus, or that other place of pain, and sin, and torment, called hell. You are but a little child, Miss Minna;
but little children can love that blessed Saviour who loves
and I want you to love Him, that you may be happy on earth and in heaven. Now look at your own pretty rose-tree. I don't think you will ever forgot old Martin, but I want you to think of all I have said to you this evening; and I want you to pray to God to teach you to love and serve Him. Will you remember this? In a short time, I ist, I shall be with Jesus; but whenever you gather roses off your tree, do not forget that “the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand for ever',
Mrs. Milton joined them as he was speaking the last few words. She took Minna by the hand, and after desiring Martin to return home, she entered the house.
Minna's tea-time was passed in unusual silence; and on kneeling to say her evening prayer, she begged her mamma to tell her how to ask God to make her love Him a great deal more and a great deal better, that she might go to Him and to papa, and Martin ; “ and you too, mamma, she added, “and Freddy, we must all be together, you know.”
"May the Lord grant it!” was the earnest prayer breathed softly from Mrs. Milton's heart.
A month later, little Minna went with her mother to the little neighbouring churchyard, where the body of the old Christian gardener had been laid the day before, in sure and certain hope of a joyful resurrection.
Twelve years after, as the soft genial sun of an autumn evening again shone upon the same lovely garden, Mrs. Milton was seated on the rustic chair, and Minna, no longer the playful child, but a tall and slight girl,' sat beside her ; but the rose on her cheek concealed a deadly canker, and the worm of consumption fed at the root of what beholders pronounced a very lovely flower. The dark chestnut of Mrs. Milton's hair was mixed with silver, and the traces of sorrow were very visible on her worn cheek: her arm was round the waist of her beloved child, whose head rested on her mother's shoulder.
“Mamma,” said Minna, suddenly, “ do you remember an
evening like this, when I was a very little child, that old Martin Dale planted this beautiful white moss rose for me? I think it was a very little while before his death.”
“I remember it well, my child. My heart went with his prayer that night, that you might early know Him, who is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”
“Well, dear mamma, that little occurrence I feel to have been the means, under God, of creating within my heart a desire to know Him as my Father and my Friend. When you were ill and went with Aunt Grace to Italy and left me at school, it seemed after a time as if I had forgotten to care for home, or nurse, or to remember old Martin. Even you, mamma, I thought of with less concern than when we parted; for at school we had so much to engage the mind and banish reflection or thoughts of home. First, you know, I had been a sad idler, and so had to work hard to keep a respectable standing amongst the girls much younger than I. It was French, drawing, music, nearly every hour in the day, at least for the first year or two. Then I went with some of the elder girls and Mrs. Campbell to see an exhibition of wax flowers, made by a celebrated artist : amongst them was my favourite white moss rose, my own first flower. O, how vividly it brought my dear home, old Martin, and you, dear mamma, to my memory! It seemed as if my heart would break when I felt how far removed from all I was now. Then the words which he repeated that night all flowed back freshly and clearly to my memory. That night my heart told me I had not found peace in the Lord Jesus, and then I prayed0, how earnestly—that He would lead me by his Spirit to himself, guide me while on earth with his counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory. That prayer, I trust, He heard and answered. I must soon leave you, my precious mother, but you will not be comfortless; and in a little while we shall meet again. Dear mamma, you must not sorrow as mothers who have no hope.”
“ I thank God I do not, my Minna,” replied her weeping mother. “ Had you been spared, wealth and much of what is attractive would have been yours. This the world values,