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of every-day life, and only too frequently do we meet with the indifference and carelessness which dictate the words, “ It does not matter.” To enumerate half the occasions on which they are used would be impossible, but one or two more may be mentioned. Bodily fatigue is allowed as an excuse for setting aside, or hurrying over, private reading and prayer_“I am tired to-night; it does not matter for once." So with regard to joining in public prayer and praise; a wet day, heat, distance, and other inconveniences, are allowed to interfere with what we, nevertheless, own to be a duty, only we persuade ourselves that on that one occasion "it does not matter to forego the privilege. Yet, not only may that opportunity be the last which shall be offered to us, but we may miss an especial message to our soul; one which might have roused us if careless, encouraged if fearful, or comforted if in sorrow.
Sometimes this saying is heard under the guise of humility: “It does not matter what I do, for I am too insignificant ío have any influence.” “It does not matter what I say, my remarks can have no weight.” But this is a false humility, for there does not exist a person who is utterly without influence over the mind of one or more. Or perhaps some one says with reference to giving a portion of his worldly goods, “I have so little, that it does not matter about my giving anything at all," and thus he loses the commendation which was bestowed on her who, in simple faith, gave the two mites which comprised "all that she had."
No, of nothing that concerns us can we truly say, “ It does not matter," for every event in our lives has a purpose; it is for us to search it out, and to regard nothing as utterly trivial.
“WHETHER, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”—1 Cor. x. 31.
NO. V.-LOVING WORDS.
iss ALICE STANLEY was a lady possessed of a good
fortune, and lived in a large house situated between the churchyard and the Union. She was
of a melancholy temperament, and had a talent for writing poetry, which she used to publish in our local paper; but these pieces were always upon dismal subjects. I never remember anything more cheerful than “ A Poem on the Last Flower in my Garden;" generally even sadder than that—"On the Loss of an Only Child;" “ The Widow's Visit to the Grave of her Husband;" "Blighted Hopes;" “ The Suicide's Farewell to Life.” No one loved the poor creature. When Jennings lost his child, she wrote a pretty poem on the “Decease of an Infant,” but never gave a shilling towards the fund for its burial. When you entered her house you felt a cold chill coming over you, even on the hottest day in August ; the blinds were always kept nearly down. The first thing that attracted your eye upon your entering the parlour was a large water-colour painting of Jephthah and his daughter; a large oil-painting of the Execution of Charles the First; and two portraits, one of her father, who died when she was an infant, and the other of her mother, who had been dead fifteen years. Both these pictures had a curtain of crape hung before them, and this crape was carefully renewed every Christmas. No one loved the poor, selfish, unhappy woman.
About this time the Ivy Cottage was taken by an invalid gentleman and his wife. Alice used to watch them as they passed in the cool of the evening, he leaning upon the arm of his wife ; and she noticed that his walk only extended as far as the little garden gate: one morning she saw the shutters closed ; and then followed a funeral with only one mourner. Alice watched the widow visiting the churchyard, and was interested. She determined to call at Ivy Cottage; perhaps it might furnish the subject for another
When Alice was ushered into the widow's little sitting-room she found no traces of disorder or neglect. A pretty little canary was singing sweetly; the cheerful sun was shining into the room ; there was a bouquet of flowers on the table, and plants in the window, and some needlework on the table. At that moment the widow entered, and greeted Alice kindly, thanking her for calling to see
Alice commenced a speech she had prepared before coming, about the sympathy she felt for her, who, like herself, was bereaved : “This is indeed a vale of tears; and Death, the cruel tyrant, snatches from us those we love."
" Oh no," replied the widow; "no cruel tyrant took my husband from me. God took him. •God is love,' Miss Stanley ; He was love when He gave him, and when He took him not less so."
“Love !" exclaimed Alice; can you talk of love at such a time of cruel bereavement?”
“Yes, God is love !" repeated the widow; "and what greater proof could He give us of His love than in giving His only Son to die on the cross ? His only Son died on the cross for my dear husband's sins, and He washed him in His own blood, and has taken him to be with Him in glory--oh, the love of God !—and in a little while I shall go to be with him for eve His loving Saviour was with him in his sickness, and in passing through the valley of the shadow of death he felt Him with him. Oh, I cannot weep for him; I would not wish him back. I only weep for myself. Oh, Miss Stanley, have you ever thanked God for His love to you? Have you ever thanked Him for the gift of His Son?”
“ No,” replied Alice; “I have never looked up to Him as a God of love." And in that little room the sin of her whole life passed before her-her life of ingratitude and rebellion against God; and after a time she was able to come to God through the Son of His love; and oh, what a change there was in Alice Stanley!—her face, her words, her actions, all partook of the new love in her heart.
The widow left the town; but the precious loving words,
l like good seeds, took root in the heart of Alice, and brought forth the precious fruit of a loving life : redeeming love was the theme she loved to dwell upon; and her love to God was accompanied, as it always is, by love to man. cottage where there was sickness her loving words did as much good as the medicines, so the poor people said, and she pointed many dying eyes to Calvary. When in want or sorrow, the poor always sought her door; and to see her face, with a bright heavenly smile upon it, was like a sermon upon the happiness of loving God. When Miss Stanley died, there was not one relation to follow her to the grave, for she had none, but their want was supplied by spiritual children; and of her might be said, as of Stephen, “ Devout men carried her to her burial, and made great lamentation over her.” When her will was read, it was found that she had bequeathed her money to build a dispensary; and as I passed the neat white stone building I thought of the poor widow, lying in the London churchyard, without a stone to mark where she rests ; but her words will prove an everliving memorial, her loving words are living still.
The Martyrdom of Polycarp.
BY DR. PLUMER.
OHN, who was the beloved disciple, and who wrote
the Gospel and Epistles which bear his name, and the book of Revelation, lived to a great age. He
did much good, and led many to Christ. Among his disciples was Polycarp, who became bishop of the church in Smyrna, and served it long and faithfully. In the year of our Lord 166 this holy man became the victim of persecution, and at the age of ninety-five years he was arrested and brought before the Roman proconsul. When this officer said to him, “ Curse Christ, and I will set you free !" the good old man answered, “ Eighty and six years have I received
only good at His hand. Can I, then, curse my King and Saviour ?"
When the proconsul continued to press him, Polycarp said, “Well, then, if you desire to know who I am, I tell thee freely I am a Christian. If you desire to know what Christianity is, appoint an hour and hear me."
The proconsul, who here showed some tenderness and respect for the old disciple, and who perhaps would have saved him if he could have silenced the clamours of the multitude, said to Polycarp,“ Only persuade the people!" The good old saint replied, “ To you I felt myself bound to render an account, for our religion teaches us to treat with becoming reverence the powers ordained of God, so far as is consistent with our salvation, but as for those without, I consider that they deserve at my hands no defence."
He was right. The best defence to an infuriated rabble would have been beating the air, or casting pearls before swine. To a wild, fanatical mob the gentle words of the gospel would have been useless.
After the governor had in vain threatened him with the wild beasts and the fire, he caused the herald publicly to announce in the circus that Polycarp had confessed himself a Christian. These words contained the sentence of death against him. The people at once cried out, “ This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the enemy of the gods, who has taught so many not to pray to the gods and not to sacrifice !"
As soon as the proconsul had complied with the demand of the populace that Polycarp should be burned alive, Jews and Gentiles hastened with the utmost eagerness to collect the wood from the workshops and other places. The fuel being gathered, it was proposed to fasten him with nails to the pile of wood. But the old saint said, “ Leave me thus, I pray, unfastened! He who has enabled me to abide the fire will give me strength also to remain firm on the stake."
Before the fire was lighted, he thus prayed : “O Lord God