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with a hand on our heads, “It is the Lord's will.' Sir, she has been dead nearly thirty years, but I hear her voice now, as if I were a boy again." The old man paused, almost in a listening attitude, that he might recall the tones which had been so long silent.
"I went to sea, and forgot my mother. I plunged into all kinds of dissipation on shore, and was amongst the most profane on board ship. I had promised to write home from every port at which we touched, but I never did so; and if ever a thought of home occurred to me it was so saddening that I immediately checked it in revelry the most wanton. I was the prodigal in the far country, sir, turning my back on my home, and quenching all remembrance of it in riotous living. Thus five or six years passed away, during all which time, partly through shame and partly through a rebellious, proud spirit, I never once wrote or visited home.
“We were homeward bound from New York, when there came on board a young gentleman whom I feared to face ; he was the minister of the little town in which I had been brought up, and he was my mother's friend. He had not been on deck an hour before I saw that he had recognised me, though years had passed since I had met him. I shunned him most studiously, for I feared to hear news from home; he saw my purpose, and made no attempt at recognition. One moonlight night, when it was my watch on deck, I felt in a more softened frame of mind than usual, and allowed my thoughts to steal homewards. I saw my mother in her humble cottage, with my two sisters at her feet, thinking of and praying for the wayward and ungrateful boy who had inflicted such unmerited suffering upon them. A sigh escaped me, and at that moment a hand was gently laid upon my shoulder as these words were uttered : ' Peter, I fear you have broken your poor mother's heart; I do not expect to see her alive when I get back to England; but
of course that can be a matter of little consequence.' " What do you mean, sir ?' I asked angrily.
“I'mean that I left her on a sick bed, mourning not only your unkindness, but
6. But what?' I asked, with a shiver.
“The death of your two little sisters when you left them, but fine-grown young women when they died.'
« « Dead, dead !' was all that I could say.
** Yes,' said the minister, sadly; and all that your mother said when she felt herself thus left childless—for she never believed that had you been alive you would so soon have forgotten her-all that she said was: “It is the Lord's will." Then she took to her bed, and I do not expect to see her alive again.'
“I fell senseless to the deck, as one who had been struck by lightning. For two or three days subsequently, in every moment of consciousness, my mother's minister, and, as in my case he proved to be, God's minister likewise, was by my hammock's side reading, talking, praying, and reviving old associations, which made me weep as I never thought to weep again. He brought my great sin to my remembrance, but only to console me by pointing me to the Lamb of God who taketh away all sin. He instructed me, as if I were child again, in the first principles of the Gospel, and by the Holy Spirit blessing his endeavours I saw myself lost without Christ, but safe in His merits if I accepted Him as my Saviour. What I should have been but for a more solemn teaching I know not; but I was no sooner able to do my work again than we were plunged into the most imminent danger. After a day marked by unusual calm there camé a night of dreadful tempest. Our captain was one of the best and bravest men who ever sailed the seas, and all that man could do to save the ship he did, but all in vain. She had not been well built, and the storm told upon her. The water poured in, and although every man on board worked incessantly at the pumps, she rapidly filled. Ah, sir, you do not know how men feel at such times; it is then that they cry unto the Lord as they never cried before.
Seeing that all our efforts were useless, the captain ordered the boats to be lowered, and with some difficulty all on board got into them. In my boat was the minister who had so affectionately watched me in my illness, and now he did his best to keep our courage up by stimulating us to put our trust in God. I saw before me a man who, because he loved God and felt that God loved him, had no fear of death, and I longed to have the faith animating me which supported him. “You know, Peter,' he would occasionally say, what your good mother would tell you if she were here : “ It is the Lord's will;" therefore let us be patient, and submit to it.'
“For three nights and two days we were driven by the sea and tossed, and no sail appeared in sight. The few provisions we were able in our hurry to throw into the boat had been exhausted, and we were not only famishing through hunger, but becoming maddened by thirst. One man in his delirium leaped overboard. It was a dreadful time; but it was one in which I felt an unusual calm. I felt that I had obtained mercy through the blood of the Lamb, and a peace which I had never enjoyed before took possession of my soul. Others, too, I have reason to believe, through the good minister's exhortations, fled for refuge to the hope set before them in the Gospel. Sir, we were saved, and in a day or two I was not only in my dear mother's cottage, but holding her in my arms, as my bitter tears fell upon her face. She lived three years after this, during which time I never went to sea, but supported her by what work I could get on shore. During those three years she was dying daily ; but her one daily text was, “It is the Lord's will, my boy; it is the Lord's will. When she died I went to sea again, and for about thirty years experienced all the dangers of a seaman's life ; but I had a faith now which I never possessed before, and could bear hunger, thirst, and shipwreck without a murmur.
Five years ago my owners gave me a small pension, and I came back to this little town in which I was born. 'Almost every one
knows my story, and I think it may have done something to encourage them to seek after the Lord.”
As the old seaman finished his narrative I could not help reflecting upon the power of the Gospel to change the most rebellious hearts, and to bring the wildest prodigals to themselves. Reader, the Gospel which sent Peter Last not only home to his mother to crave her forgiveness, but first of all to his Father in heaven to say, penitently, “ Father, I have sinned against Thee,” has still the same wonderworking power. Jesus is still the same mighty Saviour to save you from your sins. They may be very grievous, very numerous, and in your own sight unpardonable ; but go to Him in persistence and faith, and you will find that He is able to save unto the uttermost. Open the long-closed Bible; bend the knee that has long been unbent in prayer; cry to Him for mercy and for help, and you will find to your exceeding joy that with Him there is forgiveness, that He may be feared, and with Him is plenteous redemption.
Old Jasper's Eagle.
Hummed among the sedge,
Leaning o'er the hatch
With its roof of thatch.
Jasper kept an eagle
In a shattered shed :
How he hung his head !
From his kingly eye ;
That the bird would die.
“Listen, Jasper, listen,
Liberty is sweet ;
Light, and summer heat.
Let him face the sun,
Glow till day is done."
Pity filled his bosom
For the noble bird ; Jasper's pining captive
All his pulses stirred : He unbarred the wicket,
Shouting in his glee, As the chain he severed,
" Eagle, thou art free !"
But the kingly creature,
In its native grace,
In that gloomy place,
And a sun-shaft fell
In the narrow cell.
Then his eyes he opened,
Then he raised his head, All his feathers fluttered,
He his wings outspread; Up into the glory,
Higher still and higher Towered the kingly eagle
In a blaze of fire.
Jasper watched, and whispered,
“How am I like thee, Till the loving Spirit
Sets the captive free; Till the Sun of Mercy
Gilds me from above, And I leave the shadows
For the hills of love."