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have chosen as the guide of our conduct, leads us to deny ourselves that we may benefit others, and to take the liveliest interest in all that relates to their happiness.
And we are not to retrace our steps as years increase. We are not to be peevish, discontented, or unreasonable, because we are old, or getting old.
This is certainly not our creed, and, God helping us, it shall never be our practice. As we advance in life we should be more considerate, more kind, more like Christ, not less so; and if we abide in him, and his words abide in us, there can be no doubt that we shall thus grow in grace. The stream of
. Christian affection will become deeper, not shallower; the flame of unselfish love will burn more brightly instead of almost going out.
Oh how delightful is the sight of an aged believer, richly imbued with the loving and unselfish spirit of his Master! How refreshing is it in this dreary world to rest awhile beneath some venerable palm-tree, which spreads out its cooling branches as if the only object of its existence were to bless the passer-by! How cheering is it, amidst the selfish and dissatisfied throng around us, to meet with those who can smile through their own tears upon the happy and the gifted!
An aged servant of the Lord had survived all her near relatives; the last beloved object of her tender affections, of her constant recollection, was laid in the grave. Her life had been the scene of many sorrows, and there was but little sunshine to cheer the evening of her life. One day, as lonely and blind she sat by the fire-side in her little parlour, a friend who called to see her, found her-doing what? murmuring over her desolate situation, and complaining that she was uncared-for and forgotten? no, but rejoicing in the happiness of others. A family whom she had known and loved in early life, was to be gladdened on that day by the return of a long-absent member; and, through its dull and silent hours, her lips were often unclosed to express her delight at the thoughts of their meeting; her prayers that they might be blessed. “Were this my case,” thought the listener, “I should have been repining that others had the comfort of tender relatives and loving friends, while I was left alone in the world, looking for none whose approach could console and gladden my solitary existence.” The latter feeling is the emotion of the natural heart, the former of the Christian spirit.
THE UNCHANGING FRIEND.
The evening was calm and pleasant, enlivened by a gentle breeze and the rays of the declining sun.
At the door of a low cottage, sat an old man. His hair was white, his form was bent, and his dim eyes were fixed on the richly tinted clouds. Was he admiring the simple grandeur
. of an evening sky ? I think not. His features wore a sad and troubled expression, as if his mind were occupied by thoughts which had but little connexion with the objects around him. And so indeed it was. He was thinking of the uncertain and unsatisfying nature of earthly friendship; he was musing over a painful proof which he had that day received of the ingratitude and unkindness of one whom he had loved and cherished in years gone by.
“It is trying, very trying,” he said, “to be thus deceived and injured by an early friend. It is not an enemy that has done this, but it was my companion, and familiar friend. He was the last person from whom I should have expected such treatment; I always reposed the
most perfect confidence in him. Ob, what is friendship? It is like a slender reed, which when leaned upon, often pierces us through with
many sorrows. The old man's feelings had been sadly wounded, and his mind was much disturbed. But perhaps just then the serene aspect of nature soothed him, or perhaps bright memories of loved and faithful ones reproached him for his indiscriminate censure, for he added in a more cheerful tone, “Not that all friends prove false and changeable. Oh no! I have known and shared too much of the warm and unselfish and continued affection of others, to believe that friendship is nothing but a name. In prosperity and in adversity, I have found that there are true friends. I have loved, and I
, have been loved; I have trusted, and I have been confided in. Life would indeed have been dreary without the sympathy and communion of friends—especially of Christian friends.
“And yet, at the best, earthly friendships are very imperfect. Liable to little mistakes—to partial interruptions; or, if unvarying in their character, incapable of entering into all our feelings, or of responding to all our emotions. And how slight is the tenure by which they are held! A few weeks, a few days, nay, a few hours, and the most loved of our circle may be removed from us. Death severs the closest
and the fondest ties. In yonder churchyard lie the remains of those who were once my dearest companions. Many gathered round me in early life, and set out with me on the pilgrimage to the celestial city; but now, I am left alone: the grave has divided us—at least for a little while.
Ah, in the last half of that sentence, there was a cheering truth involved, and the old man felt its sweet influence steal over him.
“For a little while !-yes, we shall meet again. They will not return to me, but I shall go to them. I sorrow not as others without hope, for I know that those who sleep in Jesus God will bring with him, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. In this world of partings, how delightful is the assurance of a speedy and lasting re-union with all those dear friends who have departed in the true faith of Christ.”
Like the sunshine bursting through a dark cloud, this bright anticipation almost dispelled the old man's sadness; and it was succeeded by a thought so full of consolation and joy, that he speedily forgot the unpleasant circumstance which had lately agitated his feelings.
“Yet it is still more delightful to remember that I have an ever living, an almighty Friend. The best earthly friends may change or die, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. He will n
He will never leave me, he will