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There is nothing fanciful in this. It serves, by its presence or abgence, to mark the great distinction existing among those who are called religious persons. An individual who is in serious concern about his own religious interests, and so craving the sympathy of others, soon notices the difference. He sees some professors of Christianity, to whom he would not once think of turning for aid. Not because they have not the requisite knowledge of human nature—not because from narrowness of view they would be likely to confound doubt with unbelief, or immaturity with unregenerateness; but because they have no sympathy with the thing itself which is engaging the anxieties of the inquirer—because they are unspiritual men, men without religious sympathy. He would as soon think of turning to an iceberg for warmth, or to a miser for charity. But he sees others, happily, of a different character-men who “know the heart of a stranger." He is sure that there is no object in the world which interests them more than a person in that state of mind in which he now is. He can expect from them an understanding of his case, a fellow-feeling, encouragement, counsel. It is because they have religious sympathy.

Paul was a fine example of this. We may suppose that his soul was fired with the grandeur of the enterprise he had undertaken of making known the Divine Salvation to the worldthough the sacrifices he made for this should redeem his zeal from all suspicion of insincerity. But this did not hinder his sympathy from glowing most intensely towards individuals. • Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not ?” Not only do his letters to the several churches show his sensitively affectionate regard for them, but his frequent references to individuals are remarkable. His tearful anxiety for the restoration of the single offender at Corinth is a signal instance of the kind. His salutations by name, his messages to his friends—such as, "Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received of the Lord, that thou fulfil it”-show how feelingly alive the noble heart of this good man was to the religious joys and sorrows, the spiritual successes and failures, of all he knew. That was religious sympathy. And we can adduce a higher example than this. He who came to redeem a world never failed in sympathy towards individuals. Indeed, a considerable part of His biography is taken up with exemplifications of this. His patient education of twelve men, among whom He often singled out one, as occasion required—for instance, Peter-His distinct regard for “Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus," are only samples of a much larger whole. Perhaps no case is more in point than that of the young man who came to Him asking—“What must I do that I may inherit eternal life?There was little here to interest a person

of ordinary religious sensibility. It was but one, and he very immature, and not perhaps of much promise. But because his heart beat with a sensitive response to everything concerning the entrance of unhappy men into the kingdom of God, He yearned with tenderness over this man-—“when Jesus saw him, He loved him.” That, again, was religious sympathy.

It will be seen, therefore, what we mean by the sympathy of which we speak—a heart tenderly awake to the religious experience of others. It is, in fact, the transference of sympathy from its more usual sphere, to that in which the immortal interests of men are concerned. We all know what natural sympathy is—it is to be hoped we do. Religious, or spiritual, sympathy is the same thing in that other department from which it derives its distinctive name.

II. Let us consider the importance of possessing this quality.

1. It is very essential to usefulness. For want of it, the richest opportunities are wasted. The disclosure of the thoughts to another is often the crisis of a person's religious history. It is, in any case, a very important means of good. The work of piety may go on silently in the soul for a long while, but in numerous cases it does not reach any great maturity where there is not some communication held with others, who are like-minded, and perhaps more advanced. This may arise from the social constitution of our nature, which is apt to make a subject seem more real and important to us when we speak with others about it; or from the direct assistance, in the shape of advice and stimulus and comfort, which our friends give us. Whatever may be the cause, so it frequently is. Religion shut up in the mind is often like a plant shut in from the light-it may continue to live, but it does not thrive. Yet, possibly, we have allowed many


opportunities to pass by without improvement. There have been those within our sphere-our neighbours, our friends, our relatives the nearest and the dearest, who might naturally look to us for this sympathy-who have actually yearned for it, but have not received it—did not even ask for it, perhaps because they saw we were not the persons to give it. It cannot but be believed that many a mind among us is brought from time to time under the power of serious thoughts—by the word preached, by calamitous events, by the reflections of a silent hour, by the mystic touch of the Divine Spirit. But how few of these impressions appear to yield any solid benefit! Are we not to blame, Christian friends, in this ? If we watched for souls” as we should do, would it be quite so ? Not to say that we might often make opportunities for speaking the seasonable word, do we not even throw away those which are made for us?

It is not, however, to be supposed that vocal communication is essential to the sympathy recommended. This is not always easy to command, even when it appears desirable. English reserve, the habits of modern civilization, a shrinking temperament, the consciousness of wanting tact, the very intimacy of near connection, often interpose a barrier to speech when we would gladly use it. But is there, therefore, no sympathy possible? or is sympathy denied expression! How is it with sympathy in its ordinary sphere ? There is a sympathy which overflows in words“How I love you ! how I feel for you! how desirous I am to help you !” But there is a sympathy too, not only which silence does not invalidate, but whose very expression is silence. The countenance which seems to reflect your every feeling, the quiet considerate act, the multiplication of such acts, the silent forbearance with your weaknesses, are among the signs to you of a sympathy which words would only weaken, if they did not destroy. To break the silence would be to break the spell. So is it here. Blessed is the man who has the right word for every season. One is ready to say, would that all the Lord's servants were in that sense prophets ! But equally

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blessed, and often more so, is he whose concern for another's salvation needs not the aid of words to betoken it-where there is manifest the studied direction of the life towards the spiritual good of those with whom we have to do—where the thing left unsaid, as well as the thing spoken ; the act avoided, as well as the act done ; speech on common subjects, as well as on topics of devoutness, alike testify to a holy and edifying purpose in life. Few are so dull as not to discern such a purpose, and experience often shows the power of this silent sympathy. It has been life to many a household, and many a circle of friendship. Words could add nothing to it; mere words would have been worse than useless.

This sympathy is very necessary in the treatment of those who doubt. Religious inquiry is seldom more interesting than when it assumes the form of religious doubt, and seldom more promising, provided always that it be the doubt of honest and earnest minds. There is some truth in the saying, “ He that never doubted never believed.” Not that doubt ia in itself a good thing. It is a most unhappy state, and a very critical

But it is better than apathy, or that idle assent to the truth which is often dignified with the name of belief; and, when properly dealt with, it often issues in a confidence so strong that nothing afterwards has power to shake it. How are we to deal properly with the doubting ? What is to prevent our treating them with suspicion or harshness—thus crushing the young bud--putting out the feeble spark-hardening what was sincere misgiving into hopeless unbelief ? I know that sound judgment, candour, expansive views of divine truth and human character, may do much to prevent it. But nothing will be so effectual as sympathy with the man him. self—a sympathy whose root is to be found in sympathy with the object which is awakening such profound and perplexed thoughts within him. Let him be to us one who is seeking that object well as we, and then his aberrations and misgivings will awaken not censure but pity, and we shall aim in tender wiedom to show him “ a more excellent way.'

Christian readers, do we not all need more sympathy with those who are seeking the way of life? Does not its absence go far to account for the little fruit borne by so much Christian teaching and so many pious impressions ?

2. Christian sympathy is a test of character. And this in two ways.

For one thing, the pursuit of a common object has a tendency to create in persons a sympathy with each other. We see a philosopher specially drawn towards an intelligent child, in spite of the chasm which divides them : is because they are both seeking one thing, knowledge. Men of various classes and opposite characters combine, under the influence of the same principle. And the higher the object aimed at, the greater is its power to create a sympathetic union. And if we could see a man panting to get nearer to God, struggling to overcome the difficulties in his way, and felt no sympathy with him, we should be giving but t

plain a proof that his object was not ours.

But again, friendship makes us feel an interest in our friend's aims Christianity is friendship with Christ. Define it as we will, it comes essentially to this. However it may seem to begin, this is the form it ultimately


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takes—“Ye are my friends." His great aim is the salvation of men. For this He came into the world ; for this He lived, and toiled, and condescended, and suffered, and died, and still lives. In what sense could we be His friends, if we took no interest in what is so dear to Him ? Even if the question concerned only gratitude to Him as our benefactor, we might be expected to take pleasure in His purposes because they are His.

sake” would surely be reason enough. But when it concerns friendship, i a union both of affection and character—it is manifestly required that

our lives should reflect His life—that the spontaneous aims of both should be the same. Faith in Christ is good-hope in Christ is good--" but if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”

3. This sympathy is an important preparation for heavenly happiness. Heaven is the united home of redeemed men. With what rapture may we suppose a ransomed spirit to recount the tale of his deliverance! But if one should be there who felt no pleasure at the recital, it would be, so far forth, no home to him.

Heaven is the home of men who have aided each other in the work of salvation. The legions of the blessed will celebrate a united conquest--the conflicts they bore, and the victories they won, in company.

Some shall look on their fellows, and see in them their “joy and crown”_" the children whom God has given” them; and they in turn shall be recognized by others as bearing the same relation to them. Clearly, this is no place for the man who does not care for the salvation of others.

Heaven is companionship with angels. But “are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation ? And is there not "joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repenteth”? Need it be asked who they are that could find their happiness in such society?

Heaven is participation with Christ. It is not merely love and adoration of Him as our Saviour. The redeemed share in His experience. Their happiness will flow largely from the same source as His. “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou int othe joy of thy Lord.And what is His joy ?

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." This was His joy on earth, and this His preparation for the joy He has in heaven. He rejoiced then to reveal the Father to the feeble and the struggling, and now He rejoices over them as immortally strong and victorious for ever. And if we are to enter into His joy there, we must begin with the joy of sympathy with the feeble ones here. You may be ready to say, “Surely my joy will flow from the thought that I am myself saved—that all my dismal doubts have been gloriously disappointed; my happiness will be to rest my crown at His feet as my own Redeemer.” As a first impulse, it may well be so. A man just rescued from shipwreck may for the first moment be absorbed with the sensation that he is himself saved; but he would be unworthy of the human name, if he did not quickly look around to see who else was there, and feel that his own deliverance was enhanced by that of the rest. The joy of heaven is “ the joy of our Lord”-joy in looking on the salvation

of others. To the man destitute of the sympathy we have spoken of, this - would be an element in the atmosphere of the place which he could not breathe.

In order to have more sympathy with the salvation of others, let us seek to have a deeper experience of the value of salvation to ourselves; let us think of the necessity of this sympathy, especially to those who may most naturally claim it from us; let us cultivate the spirit of Him in whose character this formed so-conspicuous an element; let us think how He treated Thomas in his unbelief, Peter in his fall, the twelve with their spiritual dulness—how He broke not the bruised reed, and did not quench the smoking flax.

But let none rely too much on the sympathy of others. The sympathy of the whole Church of Christ cannot save him who is not in earnest for himself; nor is he who is left most destitute of man therefore cut off from

“Work out your own salvation; it is God that worketh in you." Guilsborough.




On Friday, August 12th, 1864, about to take. It is certain the three children nine o'clock, two boys, the children of a scrambled over a brush fence into the carpenter near Melbourne, were sent by adjoining paddock, with which they were their mother to fetch some broom. On less familiar. There they gathered wild such an errand they had frequently gone

flowers and cut their broom. Then, probefore a “rise" about a mile from posing to return, but becoming contheir own home. This morning, and for fused, they went in the opposite the first time, their sister was allowed to direction, crossed the further fence accompany them at the earnest solicita- of the paddock, and soon wandered, tion of the elder boy; and to this fact, irretrievably lost, in the vast heath. perhaps, is to be attributed the straying Meantime the parents' fears had been of the children far beyond the place aroused, and father and mother were where the broom was usually found. It is eagerly searching the paddocks in known that the boy had been struck with ever-increasing anxiety and dread. the beauty of some broom and some wild | Tidings of the children being lost soon flowers which he had seen not far distant reached the home station ; men at once on an early day of the week, and it is turned out, and till long after sunset, supposed that he wished to lead his sister indeed till near midnight when the moon that spot, partly to share his pleasure, went down, an unceasing and active and partly to procure for their mother search was kept up. But it was all in better broom than they were accustomed vain. No traces of the children's steps

* This remarkable “story of Providence” is sent to us by a friend (a minister) in Australia. He

says: -"The Church is read in my family over and over; sometimes the numbers are so worn that, like a spelling book, they need to be put under repair.” We thank our friend ourselves for his encouraging testimony; as we are sure our readers will thank him for communicating so interesting and impressive a story. Many readers will be glad hear that the neighbours of the family have raised, as an expression of their admiration of the noble little girl, who is only seven years old, a sum of two hundred pounds.--Ev.

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