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SOUTHEY. SCARCELY remembering in the excitement of the moment that they were strangers to each other, Herbert hastily arose, and, in return for the courteous bow with which Mr. Harland greeted him when he became aware that he was not alone, warmly grasped his hand. Then, conscious of the surprise this would occasion, he asked, “ Can you spare a few moments to listen to my reason for thus meeting you rather as a friend than a stranger ? " “Most willingly,” replied Mr. Harland, pleasantly.
“ Perhaps you mistook me for an acquaintance,--to whom I may possibly bear some resemblance,-as I do not think I have ever had the pleasure of seeing you before.”
"I have the advantage in this respect,” rejoined Herbert, with a smile ; “ for I have both seen you and heard you preach."
“ Is it so ? May I ask where ? "
“At the village church of P. Do you remember preaching there some months ago ?
Perfectly,” said Mr. Harland, after a moment's reflection. “The subject of my sermon was
Joy !” exclaimed Herbert, with kindling eyes,—" Joy unspeakable, and full of glory."
Mr. Harland quickly advanced a step nearer, laid his hand on the young man's arm, and, after gazing earnestly into his handsome, intelligent countenance, he inquired, very gently, “ Was it of this you desired to speak ? "
“Yes ; I wished most heartily to thank you for your appeal on that occasion, and to tell you how deeply I am indebted to you.”
He paused, but continued, presently, in a low, suppressed voice, “I had lived until then in utter forgetfulness of God, and without bestowing a single serious thought upon the concerns of my soul.”
“And now ? ” asked Mr. Harland, eagerly:
“Now,” he answered, with grave simplicity; “I trust I know something of the blessedness of those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered,-something of that love which is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost.”
“ The Lord's name be praised !” exclaimed the other, in a tone of tremulous delight. “Shall we,” he added, reverently lifting his hat _“shall we pray together ?”
Side by side they knelt upon the margin of that peaceful lake, while Mr. Harland poured forth his grateful thanks that another soul had been delivered from the bondage of sin—another wanderer brought into the fold; and lovingly he supplicated, on Herbert's
behalf, that he might be kept by the power of God, be strengthened to resist every temptation, and vanquish every foe, until the battle of life should be over, the victory gained, and the crown received.
No words were spoken for some minutes after they rose from their knees, but at length Mr. Harland remarked somewhat abruptly, “A noble work lies before you, my friend. Are you prepared to devote yourself body and soul to the service of Christ ? "
“ I am,” replied Herbert, in a voice of serious determination. Only tell me how I can serve Him.”
“Ah!” rejoined Mr. Harland, while a soft smile illumined his countenance. “ Saul's prayer must be yours,— Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do ?' and if you are really in earnest, you may depend upon receiving an answer. Christ has work for each one of us in His vineyard—work just suited to our peculiar capabilities ; and we know for our encouragement that the humblest effort to advance His kingdom, the simplest action performed from love to Him, will be accepted, as well as the greatest. A word spoken-a prayer breathed-an insult borne with patience and meekness-an injury repaid by kindness—a cross cheerfully taken up and carried without a murmur,-all these will meet with His gracious approval. Only do what you can, and, whether it be much or little, He will bless your endeavours. There are, alas ! too many,” he continued sadly, “even amongst those who profess to be the followers of Jesus, whose affections are so closely entwined around the things of earth, that their lives are necessarily unfruitful, and their spiritual sloth and self-indulgence increase day by day, until there is positively nothing to distinguish them from the people of the world. Against following the example of such, I would most urgently warn you ; for Christ and the world ever have been, and ever must be, antagonistic, and His own emphatic words regarding His disciples are, They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. If, therefore, you would make progress in the Divine life, and glorify God by bringing forth much fruit—if you would desire to be conformed to the image of your Lord and Master, following in His footsteps, and being the means of leading sinners to His cross,-live, I beseech you, above the world. You will be undoubtedly assailed by it again and again, in some form or another, but manfully resist its every overture. Let neither its deceptive charms, its fleeting pleasures, nor its hollow promises ensnare you, nor its warnings, threatenings, and frowns intimidate you. It's friendship is more to be dreaded than its hatred, and has proved the ruin of thousands."
“I think I comprehend you,” said Herbert, in whose mind a new train of thought had been awakened by Mr. Harland's words ; " and, God being my helper, I will endeavour to follow your counsel.”
" Then you will assuredly succeed,” rejoined his companion. " True, you may often be discouraged, may encounter numerous obstacles, and have to fight many battles with enemies strong and powerful, both from within and without; yet, at the last, Christ, who has Himself overcome the world, will give you the victory also. Let this glorious hope animate your heart at all times, and sustain and strengthen you, should you be called upon to endure persecution because of your religion.”
Perhaps Herbert's face expressed something like surprise at this word; for Mr. Harland, after observing him intently for a moment, went on,—“. All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,' said the Apostle Paul ; and it is so to this day. How many, even in our own highly favoured country, are there who daily pass through much tribulation, suffer much persecution, for Christ's sake! A thousand slights wound their gentle spirits, a thousand taunting words sink deep into their bleeding hearts. The arrows of sarcasm are unsparingly showered on them : suffering far keener than any which could be inflicted on the body is allotted to them ; their best and holiest actions are mercilessly exposed to ridicule and contempt, and, perhaps, the motives which actuated them called in question. And,” he murmured in a soft, sad voice, “ often—too often -a man's foes are those of his own household—those for whom he would cheerfully lay down his life.”
He paused, and remained with his eyes fixed upon some distant object, apparently quite unconscious of Herbert's presence. The latter felt his sympathies strongly drawn towards him, and, lightly touching his arm, he said feelingly, “ You, too, have suffered.”
Mr. Harland started. “ Pardon my abstraction,” he answered, returning Herbert's look of respectful tenderness with one of equal friendliness. “Yes, my friend, from you I will not disguise the fact: I have suffered deeply-intensely.”
“ I was sure of it,” exclaimed Herbert. “I knew that
“But I was not thinking of myself when I spoke as I did,” added the good man, quickly, a beautiful smile lighting up his countenance; “it would be strange, indeed, if I were to dwell on my griefs,-1, who have such unspeakable glories in prospect,-glories which will be mine almost immediately; for, while your race is only just begun, mine is nearly over. A few short months at most, and I shall have passed through the swellings of Jordan, and entered the pilgrim's rest. You look surprised and grieved, my dear sir ; but to me this knowledge affords nothing but unmingled pleasure. My only wish in the matter is, that if it be God's will, I may be permitted to work for Him to the very end. I can do little now in the way of preaching: but even in this foreign land opportunities are sometimes granted me for speaking a word in season. And where I am not admitted, these”--taking a bundle of tracts and small books from his pocket, written in the French, German, and Italian languages“ find an entrance. And who knows what may be accomplished by such silent, yet withal eloquent messengers ? "
“But is there no hope of your recovery ? ” inquired Herbert, with a face of grave concern.“ May you not be mistaken in supposing
“I know what you would say,” he replied, “and thank you most sincerely for taking such a kind interest in my welfare ; but I dare not deceive you; this will, in all human probability, be our last interview on earth; for to-morrow I must hasten farther south, and you and your friends are, you say, on the point of returning to England.”
He was about to say more, when a sudden shout of boisterous laughter startled them both, and warned them that they would soon be disturbed ; and glad, perhaps, to end a conversation which was, he saw, becoming very painful to Herbert, Mr. Harland fervently pressed his hand, and murmured gently, but with deep solemnity, * And now, my brother, I bid you God-speed! Run with patience the race set before you-looking unto Jesus. And may He bless, preserve, and keep you, now and for ever. Amen."
Thus they parted; and Herbert, with a sorrowful heart, went to join his companions who were in search of him, while Mr. Harland pursued his way in an opposite direction.
The two never met again ; but Herbert had long cause to remember with gratitude their one interview.
Mr. Harland's words were still fresh in his memory, when he at length arrived at Mertonsville, where, as we have already seen, he received a loving welcome from his parents, which could not, however, prevent his feeling somev at agitated when he reflected upon what might be the probable consequence of his announcing the change which had taken place in him during his absence from them.
CHRIST OR THE WORLD,
Like warmth to impart,
Anon. The next morning rose brightly upon the inmates of Mertonsville Park. Herbert Seymour was early astir; and as he looked from his window upon the variegated landscape, and beheld the glorious sunlight shining upon the sparkling river, and heard the soft, low sigh of the fresh morning breeze amongst the luxuriant foliage of the trees, he fancied his home had never yet appeared half so lovely; for now he could view each blooming flower which shed its fragrance around, point to the glittering sunshine making the dewdrops twinkle like so many diamonds, gaze upon the shadowy mountains, and say, “I see iny Father's hand in all, -each object proclaims His love!
The extreme loveliness of the morning tempted him to take a short ramble through the grounds before breakfast."
He had not proceeded far, when, coming in sight of the conservatories, it suddenly occurred to him to examine a favourite exotic plant, in the culture of which he had formerly taken an interest; but finding all the doors locked, he rapidly walked towards the gardener's cottage in order to procure the keys. Just as he approached the pretty flowercovered porch, and was about to knock, he heard the gardener's voice as if engaged in reading aloud.
Not wishing to disturb him, he softly drew nearer, when through the open window the words fell with perfect clearness on his ear, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust."
A glad smile shone on Herbert's face as he drank in these beautiful words of holy writ: he almost felt as if a special messenger had been despatched from the bright realms of glory to cheer and refresh his soul just when he needed encouragement.
After the conclusion of the psalm there was a pause, and then the same voice was raised in prayer. Few and simple were the words uttered, for George Lisburn was a plain, untutored man, who by untiring industry and perseverance qualified himself for the situation he had now held for upwards of thirty years as a confidential and valued servant in Mr. Seymour's family. No studied language or thrilling eloquence was his ; yet as he poured forth his fervent petitions with childlike confidence and faith, as if from the depths of a heart overflowing with love to God, Herbert could not refrain from softly exclaiming, “ Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.”
When the prayer was ended, he tapped lightly at the door, which was immediately opened by Lisburn himself, who gazed at him with mingled surprise and pleasure; and on learning the purpose for which he had come, he at once accompanied him to the conservatories.