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cry becomes its own :-"O God, my soul thirsteth for Thee !"
Then, finally, this soul-thirst is excited by the unworthy views of God that are so frequently offered as infallible truth. In the Mission Report from which I quoted just now, I found the following glimpse of the kind of teaching that is being taken round to the poor :-a homely illustration, but none the less significant. The missionary writes :“I conversed to-day with old J. B. He is full of selfrighteousness. He says he has never done much ill, and has done a great deal of good. He declares also that he loves God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself. I spent some time in trying to awaken in him a sense of sin and shortcoming. He is a very decent and wellbehaved man, but seems totally blind to the spirituality of the Divine law.” Here is “a very decent and well-behaved man” abused for trusting in doing good, loving God, and loving his neighbour as himself !—the very things Jesus taught us to aspire to: but the blundering missionary calls him sinful and blind! Here is his next entry :"Was taken by one who attends my meeting to see an old woman long laid aside by a paralytic stroke. Although thus visited by the Lord, she employs her time reading London Journals. I reasoned with her of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. Tried to impress upon her the necessity of making a better use of her few short days, by turning her attention to literature of a more solid and elevating nature. Gave her an Olive Branch, and promised to supply her with good books if she would promise to put away such novels. She promised to think
of it. On pressing Christ upon her acceptance, found her very well informed regarding the way of life, but little evidence that she was in the way." Here the missionary's view is that this poor old woman's paralysis is the result of the Lord's visitation, and he grudges her the comfort of a novel, and evidently thinks she is going the downward road because she does not take kindly to his tracts ! Three pages on, we find him in a place called “The Old Man's Asylum," and there I read the depressing news that he had spoken to all who were confined to their beds : and what do you think this missionary of the gospel conveyed to all these poor bed-ridden old men? The gospel of eternal punishment in hell! One poor old fellow had strength and sense enough to tell him he did not believe it, but the missionary, who was probably an able-bodied man, grappled with him, and so he records triumphantly“He had no more to say”! Perhaps not, but when this dismal darkener of death-beds left, who shall say with what earnestness that old man cried to himself—'O God I have had enough of this missionary,-my soul thirsteth for Thee!'
This is an illustration from life among the poor, but it represents, better than any quotations from learned discourses could do, the average faith of those who call themselves Christians, by whom God is still believed to be “Our Father," and yet "a consuming fire,"--a God from whom multitudes have turned, out of sheer repugnance,-loyalty to man forbidding them to be loyal to such an evil dream of God. Sorrowfully, I recall the burning words of Professor Clifford in denouncing the
story of the “Fall” through one man's sin, and “Salvation” through another man's murder :-“If this horrible story be true, the noblest thing left for us is to curse God and die.” But I would reverse that: I would say,—It is not true; let us therefore bless God and live. It is a world of boundless mystery and beauty; a world of struggle and of sorrow, too, but of sweet surprises, and mysterious compensations, and endless suggestions of coming good : and, in such a world, trust and hope become us well; for every step we take onward only confirms the glorious affirmation that “the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
THE VOICE FROM THE UNSEEN.
HE story of the life of Elijah is one of the most
thrillingly interesting and instructive narratives in the Old Testament; and the incidents recorded in the 19th chapter of the ist Book of Kings, are among the most striking to be found in that story. The prophet, flying for his life from the fury and hate of Jezebel, is in the wilderness, sitting faint and weary, hungry and thirsty, and out of heart, under a juniper tree. He is sick of life, and full of despair, and, in the bitterness of his soul, he cried to God to let him die,-a poor, disappointed, useless man, no better,” he
fathers.” And then comes the quaint story of the angel, with the miraculous cake baked on the miraculous coals, and the cruse of water at his head,—in the strength of which bread and water, we are told, he went forty days and forty nights. A “quaint" story, I call it; but who of us could laugh at it? If we could, it would not be altogether a matter for congratulation that we had ceased to believe in the angels of the Lord.
Then the prophet came to Horeb, and abode in a cave there; and it was while he was there that the mysterious event happened, the record of which is in the chapter I have named. In the singular but most impressive language of the Bible, we are told that “the word of the Lord came to him," saying “What doest thou here, Elijah?” And poor Elijah, full of his bitter thoughts, and still mourning over what seems his wasted earnestness, replies,—“I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts : for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." What an under-tone of despair and heart-break is there in this ! as though he hurried to pour out his disappointment and complaint to God. But the calm voice simply replies,—“Go forth, and stand upon the mount, before the Lord.” And he went and stood so. And a great wind rushed by, tearing down the jagged rock ; but“ the Lord,” it says, was not in the wind.” And after the wind came “an earthquake,” “ but the Lord was not in the earthquake.” “And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.”. And then, when the furious wind had spent itself, and the earthquake had passed on, and the fire had disappeared, there came "a still small voice.” And Elijah knew that, for he was used to God's gentle ways.
“And it was so, when Elijah heard the voice, that he wrapped his face in his mantle,” and listened reverently; for he knew now that the Spirit of the Lord was seeking him. And the voice said once more, — “What doest thou here, Elijah?” And the sorrowful man, burdened still with his great sorrow, and remembering what a broken life his had been, gave the same reply: “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts : for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life to