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Now was I not justified, taking into consideration my enjoyment and the lamentable condition of the wealthy squire, in thinking that my share in his estate was greater than his own? Oh that we were more alive than we are to the goodness of our Heavenly Father, and more ready to acknowledge the benefits received at his hands!
It is not long since I walked through a picturegallery, rich in the productions of the old masters. I am fond of paintings, and really revelled in them. Among other pictures were some by the wonderworking pencils of Raffaelle, Carracci, and Domenichino, Panini, Poussin, and Parmigiano, Titian, Rubens, Guido, and Leonardo da Vinci. But who was the owner of these costly specimens of art, these happy and surprising efforts of human genius? Alas! one who could derive little or no pleasure from the possession of them, for he was blind. But though he had lost his sight, God had mercifully preserved me from the like affliction. Now, I have a real interest in these paintings, ten times greater than that of their proprietor, because I can visit them again and again with increased pleasure. My property in this picture-gallery, then, may fairly be added to my other possessions.
Often have I said it, and once more will I say it now, that a thankful heart will always have something to be thankful for.
I had lingered two or three hours in the sump
tuous apartments and beautiful pleasure-grounds of a stately castle, before I put the question, “And where is the noble owner of this goodly pile?” The answer was, “He is a fugitive beyond the seas.
Involved in debts from which it will take him years of thrift to extricate himself, he is a banished man, and cannot set his foot on the threshold of his own inheritance.”
The ruined spendthrift left his native land,
Here, then, while its owner was an exile, the castle ministered to my pleasure. I visited its noble hall, its state-rooms, and its armory; I mounted its ramparts and turrets, and roamed over its lawns, swept as they were by the descending branches of towering cedars. For the time being, the edifice was as much mine, for all purposes of enjoyment, as if it had descended to me in a straight line of ancestry from the days of William the Conqueror; and, as I may yet go again and again to that goodly fortress, hardly shall I make a false entry by putting down my facilities of visiting it as an additional item to the sum of my possessions.
I have thus attempted to show that a sunny spirit gilds all things around it, and that content and thankfulness, which are God's gifts, enable us in a thousand ways to get good and to defend ourselves from evil. The castle and the estate of the squire, the park and the picture-gallery, are only specimens of unnumbered instances in which I find myself a gainer. I feel that I have a vested interest in all things that increase my comfort and my pleasure. The busy scenes of the city and ruralities of the country, the beauties of the land and the sublimity of the mighty deep, are all open to me, and all, therefore, form a part of my worldly store. If, then, I put my spiritual mercies to my temporal blessings, not forgetting the Bible, the house of God, a throne of grace, and the hope of glory through the abundant merits and mercy of Jesus Christ, well may I say, with emotions of thankfulness and joy, “I really know not how much I am worth; I cannot tell the amount of my possessions."
Christian reader, if God has given you a measure of content and thankfulness, you may approve my remarks; but if otherwise, I fear you will regard them as fanciful and foolish. Consider, however, , how different the same landscape is when seen on a sunshiny day to what it appears in gloomy weather. Depend upon it, bright as the sun is, and gloriously as he lights up the earth and the heavens, he is not more influential than content and thankfulness are in gilding the gifts of our Heavenly Father. A quick-sightedness to perceive and a grateful heart to feel and acknowledge divine favours, are beyond price. Oh, pray for a grateful heart.
He that sees neither the flowers of earth beneath
his feet, nor the stars of heaven above his head, with joy, is in pitiable case. Open your eye and your heart, or rather ask God to open them, that you may see him as he is, the friend of sinners, and the bountiful bestower of all things; then praise will have its way, breaking forth from the lip in the language of the psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits:" Ps. ciii. 1, 2. “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men:" Ps. cvii. 15.
Take heed to this my closing remark. If once you are enabled rightly to regard every earthly gift as the gift of God, and obtain only a glimpse of the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus, you will neither know how rich you are, nor be able to
even to your own heart, one-half the amount of your possessions
ANTICIPATION OF HEAVEN.
I SEE within a temple bright
The shining ones appear,
And crystal raiment clear;
They seem as when on earth a while,
Except their shining dress;
Of heavenly tenderness.
hands are stretch'd to you.
As yet you may not wing your way
To that eternal zone;
Your duties are not done;
Wait but a while, and you shall soar
To that celestial crowd,