By S.B. Shaw
"THE BRIDAL WINE-CUP."
"Pledge with wine! Pledge with wine!" cried the young and thoughtless Harry. "Pledge with wine!" ran through the bridal party.
The beautiful bride grew pale. She pressed her hands together, and the leaves of her bridal wreath trembled on her brow; her breath came quicker, and her heart beat more wildly.
"Yes, Marian, lay aside your scruples for this once," said the Judge, in a low tone; "the company expects it. Do not so seriously infringe upon the rules of etiquette. In your own home, do as you please, but in mine, for this once, please me."
Every eye was turned toward the bridal pair. Marian's principles were well known. Harry had been a convivialist, but of late his friends had noticed the change in his manner, and a difference in his habits.
Pouring a brimming cup, they held it with tempting smiles toward her. She was very pale, though now more composed. Smiling, she accepted the crystal tempter and raised it to her lips. But scarcely had she done so, when very hand was arrested by her piercing exclamation of, "Oh, how terrible!"
"What is it?" cried one and all, thronging together; for she had slowly carried the glass at arm's length, and was regarding it as if it were some hideous object.
"Wait," she said, "wait, and I will tell you. I see," she added, pointing her jeweled fingers at the sparkling liquid, "a sight that beggars all description; and yet, listen, I will paint it for you if I can. It is a lovely spot; tall mountains, crowned with verdure, rise in awful sublimity around; a river runs through, and bright flowers grow to the water's edge. There is a thick, warm mist that the sun seeks vainly to pierce.
"Trees, lofty and beautiful, wave to the motion of the breeze, and in their midst lies a manly form -- but his cheeks, how deathly! His eyes, how wildly they glare around him, with the fitful fires of fever! One friend stands beside him; I should say kneels, for see, he is pillowing that poor head upon his breast.
"Genius in ruins, on that high and holy looking brow. Why should death mark it, and he so young? Look, how he throws back the damp curls. See him clasp his hands. How he clutches at the form of his companion, imploring to be saved. Oh, hear him call piteously his father's name. See him twine his fingers together, as he shrieks for his sister, the twin of his soul, weeping for him in a distant native land. See! His arms are lifted to heaven. How wildly he prays for mercy. But fever rushes through his veins. The friend beside him is weeping. Awe-stricken, the dark men move silently away, and leave the living and the dying together."
There was a hush in that princely parlor, broken only by what seemed a sob from some manly bosom. The bride stood yet upright, with quivering lips, and tears streaming down her pallid cheeks. Her arm had lost its tension, and the glass with its contents came slowly toward the range of her vision. She spoke again. Every lip was mute; her voice was low, faint, yet distinct. Still she fixed her sorrowful glance upon the wine-cup.
"It is evening now; the great white moon is coming up, and her beams fall gently on his forehead. He moves not; his eyes are rolling hi their sockets, and are the piercing glances. In vain his friend whispers the names of father and sister. No soft hand and no gentle touch blesses or soothes him. His head shrinks back. One convulsive shudder, and he is dead."
A groan ran through the assembly. So vivid was her description, so unearthly her look, so inspiring her manner, that what she described seemed actually to have taken place then and there. They noticed also that the bridegroom had hid his face, and was weeping.
"Dead! " she repeated again, her lips quivering faster, as if her heart were broken; "and then they scooped him a grave, and then, without a shroud, they lay him down in the damp reeky earth; the only son of a proud father, the idolized brother of a fond sister; and he sleeps today in that distant country, with no stone to mark the spot.
"There he lies, my father's son, my own twin brother -- a victim of this deadly poison! "Father!" she exclaimed, turning suddenly, while the tears rolled down her cheeks, "father, shall I drink the poison now?"
The form of the Judge was convulsed with agony. He raised not his head, but in a smothered voice he faltered: "No, my child, no!"
She lifted the glittering goblet, and letting it fall suddenly to the floor, it was dashed to pieces. Many a tearful eye watched her movements, and instantaneously every glass was transferred to the marble table. Then, as she looked at the fragments of crystal, she turned to the company, saying: "Let no friend of mine who loves me, hereafter tempt me to peril my soul with wine or any other poisonous venom. Not firmer are the everlasting hills (God helping me) than my resolve never to touch or taste the terrible poison. And he to whom I have given my hand, who watched over my brother's dying form in that land of gold, will sustain me in my resolve. Will you not, my husband?"
His glistening eye, his sad, sweet smile was the answer.
The Judge had left the room; but when he returned, and, with a more subdued manner, took part in the entertainment of the bridal guests, none could fail to see that he, too, had determined to banish the enemy, and at once, from that princely home.
Reader, this is no fiction. I was there, and heard the words which I have penned, as nearly as I can recollect them. This bride, her husband, and her brother, who died in the gold regions of California, were schoolmates of mine. Those who were present at the wedding of my associates never forgot the impression so solemnly made, and all from that hour forsook the social glass. -- Selected.
A MOTHER'S FAITH - THE LIFE OF BEATE PAULUS.
In a sketch of the life of Beate Paulus, the wife of a German minister who lived on the borders of the Black Forest, are several incidents which illustrate the power of living faith, and the providence of a prayer-hearing God.
Though destitute of wealth, she much desired to educate her children; and five of her six boys were placed in school, while she struggled, and prayed, and toiled, not only in the house, but out of doors, to provide for their necessities.
"On one occasion," writes one of her children, "shortly before harvest, the fields stood thick with corn, and our mother had already calculated that their produce would suffice to meet all claims for the year. She was standing at the window casting the matter over in her mind, with great satisfaction, when her attention was suddenly caught by some heavy, black clouds with white borders, drifting at a great rate across the summer sky. 'It is a hail-storm!' she exclaimed, in dismay; and quickly throwing up the window, she leaned out. Her eyes rested upon a frightful mass of wild storm-clouds, covering the western horizon, and approaching with rapid fury.
"O God!" she cried, "there comes an awful tempest, and what is to become of my corn?" The black masses rolled nearer and nearer, while the ominous rushing movement that precedes a storm, began to rock the sultry air, and the dreaded hailstones fell with violence. Half beside herself with anxiety about those fields, lying at the eastern end of the valley, she now lifted her hands heavenward, and wringing them in terror, cried: "Dear Father in heaven, what art thou doing? Thou knowest I cannot manage to pay for my boys at school, without the produce of those fields! Oh! Turn Thy hand, and do not let the hail blast my hopes!"
Scarcely, however, had these words crossed her lips, when she started, for it seemed as if a voice had whispered in her ear:
"Is my arm shortened that it cannot help thee in other ways?" Abashed, she shrank into a quiet corner, and there entreated God to forgive her want of faith. In the meantime the storm passed. And now various neighbors hurried in, proclaiming that the whole valley lay thickly covered with hailstones, down to the very edge of the parsonage fields, but the latter had been quite spared. The storm had reached their border, and then suddenly taking another direction into the next valley. Moreover, that the whole village was in amazement, declaring that God had wrought a miracle for the sake of our mother whom he loved. She listened, silently adoring the goodness of the Lord, and vowing that henceforth her confidence should be only in Him."
At another time she found herself unable to pay the expenses of the children's schooling; and the repeated demands for money were rendered more grievous by the reproaches of her husband, who charged her with attempting impossibilities, and told her that her self-will would involve them in disgrace. She, however, professed her unwavering confidence that the Lord would soon interpose for their relief, while his answer was: "We shall see; time will show."
In the midst of these trying circumstances, as her husband was one day sitting in his study, absorbed in meditation, the postman brought three letters from different towns where the boys were at school, each declaring that unless the dues were promptly settled, the lads would be dismissed. The father read the letters with growing excitement, and spreading them out upon the table before his wife as she entered the room, exclaimed: "There, look at them, and pay our with your faith! I have no money, nor can I tell where to look for any."
"Seizing the papers, she rapidly glanced through them, with a very grave face, but then answered firmly: "It is all right; the business shall be settled. For He who says: "The gold and silver are mine," will find it an easy thing to provide these sums." Saying which she hastily left the room.
"Our father readily supposed she intended making her way to a certain rich friend who had helped us before. He was mistaken, for this time her steps turned in a different direction. We had in the parsonage an upper loft, shut off by a trap-door from the lower one, and over this door it was that she now knelt down, and began to deal with Him in whose strength she had undertaken the work of her children's education. She spread before Him those letters from the study-table, and told him of her husband's half-scoffing taunt. She also reminded Him how her life had been redeemed from the very gates of death, for the children's sake, and then declared that she could not believe that He meant to forsake her at this juncture; she was willing to be the second whom He might forsake, but she was determined not to be the first.
"In the meanwhile, her husband waited down stairs, and night came on; but she did not appear. Supper was ready, and yet she stayed in the loft. Then the eldest girl, her namesake Beate, ran up to call her; but the answer was: "Take your supper without me; it is not time for me to eat." Late in the evening, the little messenger was again dispatched, but returned with the reply: "Go to bed; the time has not come for me to rest." A third time, at breakfast next morning, the girl called her mother. "Leave me alone," she said, "I do not need breakfast; when I am ready I shall come." Thus the hours sped on; and downstairs her husband and children began to feel frightened, not daring, however, to disturb her any more. At last the door opened, and she entered, her face beaming with a wonderful light. The little daughter thought that something extraordinary must have happened; and running to her mother with open arms, asked eagerly: "What is it? Did an angel from heaven bring the money?" "No, my child" was the smiling answer; "but now I am sure that it will come." She had hardly spoken, when a maid in peasant costume entered, saying: "The master of the Linden Inn sends to ask whether the Frau Pastorin can spare time to see him?" "Ah, I know what he wants," answered our mother. "My best regards, and I will come at once." Whereupon she started, and mine host, looking out of his window, saw her from afar, and came forward to welcome her with the words: "O madame, how glad I am you have come!" Then leading her into his back parlor, he said: "I cannot tell how it is, but the whole of this last night I could not sleep for thinking of you. For some time I have had several hundred gulden lying in that chest, and all night long I was haunted by the thought that you needed this money, and that I ought to give it to you. If that be the case, there it is -- take it; and do not trouble about repaying me. Should you be able to make it up again, well and good; if not, never mind." On this my mother said: 'Yes, I do most certainly need it, my kind friend; for all last night I too was awake, crying to God for help. Yesterday there came three letters, telling us that all our boys would be dismissed unless the money for their board is cleared at once.
"Is it really so?" exclaimed the inn-keeper, who was a noble-hearted and Christian man. "How strange and wonderful! Now I am doubly glad I asked you to come! Then opening the chest, he produced three weighty packets, and handed them to her with a prayer that God's blessing might rest upon the gift. She accepted it with the simple Christian words: "May God make good to you this service of Christian sympathy; for you have acted as the steward of One who has promised not even to leave the giving of a cup of water unrewarded."
"Husband and children were eagerly awaiting her home; and those three dismal letters still lay open on the table, when the mother, who had quitted that study in such deep emotion the day before, stepped up to her husband, radiant with joy. On each letter she laid a roll of money, and then cried: 'Look, there it is! And now believe that faith in God is no empty madness!" -- Wonders of Prayer.
DYING WORDS OF MISS MARY WILLARD.
This devoted young lady was the sister of the well-known Frances E. Willard. She left this vale of tears June 8th, 1862. The record of her life is fully given in "Nineteen Beautiful Years." We copy the following from "Glimpses of Fifty Years," her sister's autobiography. -- Editor.
On the last day of her life, she was lying with her head in father's lap, and she asked to have the Bible read. He said: "Where shall I read?" She told him: "Oh, where it makes Christ seem beautiful!" He read a psalm. She said: "Please read where it says, Christ was sorry for sick folks. "Father read about the healing of the daughter of Jairus." She liked it, but when he had finished, her plaintive voice cried out: "Please read where it says he is sorry now."
After awhile she added: "We believe that God loves us better than our mothers; yet, mother would have liked me to get well, and God doesn't seem to care. He doesn't seem to see fit to make me well - yet He knows what is right."
In the night she was worse. She wanted everything still; kept moving her hands in a soothing, caressing way, and muttering: "So quiet, so quiet, no noise, so quiet!" At 4 o'clock, on the morning of the 8th of June (Sabbath morning), we became greatly alarmed, and for the first time father and I decided that she could not get well. I went at his suggestion for Mrs. Bannister and Mary. Father said to our Mary, for the first time coming directly to the subject of her danger: "My child, if God should think it best to take you to Himself, should you be afraid to go?" She looked quickly at him, with rather a pitiful face; she seemed to consider a moment, and then said, in her low, mournful tone: "I thought I should like to get well, for I am young; but if God wants me to go, I shouldn't be much afraid, but should say: "Take me, God."
We asked if there was anything we could do for her. "Pray," she said, "pray thankful prayers." Mother asked her if she saw Christ, if he was near her. "Yes, I see him," she said; "but He is not very near; I wish he would come nearer."
I asked her if we should pray; she said: "Yes;" and I prayed aloud, that Christ would come close to her, that she might see and feel him plainly; that since she had tried to love and obey Him, He would come right to her now in her great need. She clasped her hands together, and said, so joyfully: "He's come, He's come! He holds me by the hand. He died for me; He died for all this family-father, mother, Oliver, Frank," (and Mary Bannister says she added,) "my dear sister." "I'll have Him all to myself," she said; and then seemed to remember and added: "I'll have Him, and everybody may have him, too-there is enough for everybody. He is talking to me. He says: 'She tried to be good, but she wandered; but I will save her;'" and added: "I see Him on the cross; He died for the thief; He didn't die for good people, but for bad people; He died for me." I said: "I want to ask you to forgive me for all my unkind actions to you, for everything bad I ever did to you." She answered very earnestly: "Oh! I do, but you never did anything bad; you were always good." Mother asked her if she did not want to leave a message for Oliver. "Don't you think he will be with us in heaven?" she said; "of course, he is working for God. Tell him to be good, and to make people good;" and when I asked for a message for her Sunday-school class, she said: "Tell them to be good;" and then added, with great earnestness: "Tell everybody to be good."
Almost at the last she said, with a bright smile on her face: "Oh! I'm getting more faith!" Mother questioned: "My darling, you will meet us, won't you, at the Beautiful Gate?" "Oh, yes! And you will all come; and, father, Christ wants you right off!"
She moved her hand convulsively, and said: "I've got Christ -- He's right here! "Then she said to me: "Oh, I'm in great misery; " and then: "Dear God, take me quick!" She held out her hands and said: Take me quick, God; take me on this side," turning toward the right. She lay still, bolstered up by pillows; I asked her if she knew me, and she repeated my name. Father asked her often if Christ was still near her; she would nod, but did not speak.
She seemed troubled; after a few moments, father bent over her, and slowly and with difficulty, she told him of her dread of being buried alive; and he promised her over and over again that she should not be. Then she gave some little directions about preparing her bed, as she said: "For those who lay me out;" showing her perfect consciousness. She never spoke again, but opened her eyes and looked at us with such intentness; the pupils so wide, the iris so blue. I never saw such soul in human eyes before. She groaned a little, then, and for some time, she did not move. Her eyes closed slowly, her face grew white. Father said: "Lord Jesus, receive her spirit; Lord, we give her back to Thee. She was a precious treasure; we give her back to Thee." Mrs. Bannister closed Mary's eyes. Father and mother went into the sitting-room, and cried aloud. I leaned on the railing at the foot of the bed, and looked at my sister -- my sister Mary, and knew that she was dead -- knew that she was alive! Everything was far off; I was benumbed, and am but waking to the tingling agony.
A CYCLONE OF POWER AND GLORY IN ANSWER TO PRAYER.
At a convention of Christian workers, held in April, 1882, we witnessed a spiritual cyclone. Forty or fifty ministers and laymen of different denominations had come together, for prayer and counsel, concerning the most important doctrines of the Christian church. Great differences of opinion were expressed, and the controversy became so sharp that some seemed offended, and the spiritual influence of the meeting sadly hindered. In fact, the powers of darkness threatened to come in like a flood, and overthrow the good that had already been done.
But some there were in that little company who knew the mighty power of prayer, and in that hour of need went on their faces before God with strong crying and tears. The Spirit interceded with groanings that could not be uttered, and soon an indescribable sacredness came over the meeting.
A sister, who is in general opposed to what are termed outward manifestations, was so pressed in spirit that she began to groan aloud, and then to exclaim: "The Lord shall have His way! the Lord shall have His way! The Lord shall have His way!" Others began to weep. Then a minister, who had come to the meeting strongly opposed to the views set forth by the leading workers, jumped to his feet, and shouted the praise of God, and began to tell of the mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost he had received. And sooner than we can write it, a veritable cyclone of God's power and glory swept over the place, carrying everything before it. Stubborn hearts yielded, and, in a very few moments of time, many were saved and filled with the Spirit.
Of this convention and closing service, a minister, who is now a presiding elder in the United Brethren Church, says "The interest increased steadily from first to last, closing in a tornado of Divine power. None who were present last evening can ever forget how, at the first shout of victory, nearly all of the congregation rushed out of the house, only to return and gaze in speechless wonder, as souls being brought under conviction for sin, cried for pardon, or shouted their praises at being brought from nature's darkness to God's marvelous light. Others, groaning under the conviction for holiness, wrestled until the carnal mind was cast out; when some leaped for joy, and others were laid prostrate under the weight of glory. Eternity alone can tell the blessed results of that closing service."
God does not thus reveal himself to the children of men for naught, and already thousands have been influenced for good as a result of that Pentecostal outpouring of His Spirit. -- Editor.
ONLY A TALLOW DIP
The following was related in an evangelistic meeting: A woman who had been bedridden for years, lived near the railroad track, a long way from any other house. Near by was a deep gully over which the railroad passed on a new, substantial iron bridge, as was supposed. There was a terrible wind one night. This poor woman, as was often the case, was alone. All at once she heard a fearful crash; she felt sure it was the bridge. She looked at the clock. In ten minutes the through passenger train would be along. What should she do? Her son was away from home. Praying earnestly to God for help, she took the only light in the house, a tallow candle, and began to crawl (for she could not walk) toward the railroad track. How she ever got there she never knew. The track reached, she could hear the roar of the coming train. She prayed this prayer: "O God, help me to light this candle, and keep it burning until the engineer sees it; and make him see it." God heard her prayer. The candle was lighted, there was a lull; just then she waved the candle-would the engineer see it? She heard a grating sound, she knew the brakes were set. She lost consciousness then, but the train came to a stand -still a few feet from the yawning chasm. Hundreds of lives were saved. This weak, sick woman did what she could; God used what she had. He will use what you have for the saving of men, if you will do your part. -- Union Gospel News.
O Christian! If that poor woman felt so deeply the need, and made so great an effort, to save the passengers on that train from physical death, how ought you to feel, and what effort ought you to make, in order to rescue the multitudes about you that are hurrying on to eternal ruin, unconscious of their danger and ready to perish, unless some one, who has the light and knowledge, goes to their rescue?
A MANIFESTATION OF PARENTAL LOVE.
There are some who reject Christianity because it seems to them incredible that God would have taken so much trouble, as the New Testament represents him to have done, for the salvation of creatures so infinitely beneath Him as we are. They forget that the New Testament teaches also that God is our Father. That being true, I declare to you that it is not surprising that God made such sacrifice to save us. Even a man will not permit a child to perish -- any child, it need not be his own without putting forth mighty effort to save it.
One fact is worth a dozen arguments; and I will therefore ask you to listen to a humble man, as he relates an incident in his otherwise uneventful life. For a little while imagine yourself to be seated around the table of an American boardinghouse, where the inmates are spending an hour or two in the evening relating the more remarkable events that have occurred to them; imagine that you are listening to one of the guests there, instead of to me.
My name is Anthony Hunt. I am a drover, and I live many miles away upon the western prairie. There wasn't a house in sight when we moved there, my wife and I and now we haven't many neighbors, though those we have are good men.
One day about ten years ago, I went away from home to sell some fifty head of cattle --fine creatures as ever I saw. I was to buy some groceries and dry goods before I came back and, above all, a doll for our youngest child, Dolly (she never had a shop doll of her own, only the rag-babies her mother made her). Dolly could talk of nothing else, and went down to the very gate to call after me to "buy a big one."
Nobody but a parent can understand how my mind was on that toy, and how, when the cattle were sold, the first thing I started off to buy was Dolly's doll. I found a large one, with eyes that would open and shut when you pulled a wire, and had it wrapped up in paper, and tucked it under my arm while I had the parcels of calico, and delaine, and tea, and sugar put up. It might have been more prudent to have stayed until the morning, but I felt anxious to get back, and eager to hear Dolly's prattle about the doll she was so eagerly expecting.
I mounted a steady-going old horse of mine and, pretty well loaded, started for home. Night set in before I was a mile from town, and settled down dark as pitch while I was in the midst of the wildest bit of road I know of. I could have felt my way through, I remembered it so well, and it was almost like doing that when the storm that had been brewing broke, and the rain fell in torrents. I was five, or may be six miles from home, too. I rode on as fast as I could; but suddenly I heard a little cry, like a child's voice. I stopped short and listened. I heard it again; I called, and it answered me. I couldn't see a thing; all was dark as pitch. I got down and felt about in the grass; called again, and again was answered. Then I began to wonder. I'm not timid; but I was known to be a drover, and to have money about me. I thought it might be a trap to catch me, and there to rob and murder me. I am not superstitious -- not very -- but how could a real child be out on the prairie in such a night at such an hour? It might be more than human. The bit of coward that hides itself in most men showed itself to me then, and I was half inclined to run away. But once more I heard that piteous cry, and, said I: "If any man's child is hereabouts, Anthony Hunt is not the man to let it lie here and die."
I searched again. At last I bethought me of a hollow under the hill, and groped that way. Sure enough, I found a little dripping thing, that moaned and sobbed as I took it in my arms. I called my horse, and he came to me, and I mounted, and tucked the little soaked thing under my coat as best I could, promising to take it home to mamma.
It seemed tired to death, and soon cried itself to sleep against my bosom. It had slept there over an hour when I saw my own windows. There were lights in them, and I sup-posed my wife had lit them for my sake; but when I got into the dooryard, I saw something was the matter, and stood still with dead fear of heart five minutes before I could lift the latch. At last I did it, and saw the room full of neighbors, and my wife amid them weeping. When she saw me she hid her face.
"Oh, don't tell him," she said; "it will kill him."
"What is it, neighbors?" I cried.
And one said: "Nothing now, I hope. What's that in your arms?"
"A poor lost child," said I. "I found it on the road. "Take it, will you? I've turned faint." And I lifted the sleeping thing, and saw the face of my own child, my little Dolly. It was my darling, and no other, that I had picked up on the drenched road. My little child had wandered out to meet papa and the doll, while her mother was at work, and for her they were lamenting as for one dead.
I thanked God on my knees before them all.
It is not much of a story, neighbors; but I think of it often in the nights, and wonder how I could bear to live now, if I had not stopped when I heard the cry for help upon the road the little baby-cry, hardly louder than a squirrel's chirp.
Is God less pitiful than man? Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Did you notice the last sentence in that man's story? "It is not much of a story, neighbors; but I think of it often in the nights, and wonder how I could bear to live now if I had not stopped when I heard that cry for help upon the road -- that little baby cry, hardly louder than a squirrel's chirp."
To me that sentence explains the whole story of redemption. That man's love for his child was such that life would have been intolerable to him had he failed to save her.
Sinner! God the Father listened to the cry for help, the piteous wail of misery that ascended to Him from His lost children; and he sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost.
For, be it remembered, He knew not merely that certain children were perishing, but that they were His children. -- Homiletic Cyclopedia.
"THERE'S THE LORD'S ANSWER."
Many years ago, when in my country charge, I returned one afternoon from a funeral, fatigued with the day's work. After a long ride, I had accompanied the mourners to the churchyard. As I neared my stable door, I felt a strange prompting to visit a poor widow, who, with her invalid daughter, lived in a lonely cottage in an outlying part of the parish. My natural reluctance to make another visit was overcome by a feeling I could not resist, and I turned my horse's head toward the cottage. I was thinking only of the poor widow's spiritual needs; but when I reached her little house, I was struck with its look of unwanted barreness and poverty. After putting a little money into her hand, I began to inquire into their circumstances and found that. their supplies had been utterly exhausted since the night before. I asked them what they had done. "I just spread it before the Lord!" "Did you tell your case to any friend?" "Oh no, sir; naebody kens but Himself and me! I kent He would not forget; but I didna ken hoo. He wad help me, till I seen you come riding over the brae, and then I said: "There's the Lord's answer! '" Many a time has the recollection of this incident encouraged me to trust in the loving care of my heavenly Father. -- New Testament Anecdotes.