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Readings for the Young

By S. S.

No. VII.

Perhaps my young friends think that in writing for them, I should be at least amusing, if not instructive; but my object is, to cause them to think, by briefly calling their attention to such principles as should be the true guides of their conduct on their first entering upon the journey of life.

My theme to-day shall be “Rectitude,” but we will not take its dictionary meaning, but call it the effect of faith in, and obedience to, the revealed will of God.

Nowhere in the history of man do we find this quality so truly exemplified as in the life of Abraham. Moses was a servant of the Lord, “faithful in all his house.” But twice in the mission of Moses had he lacked the full faith which is accounted righteousness. Abraham, however, though leaving no record of that unattainable intellectual power, with which Moses was imbued, leaves no record either that his character was for one moment less acceptable to God during this long pilgrimage, than it was at the time he first obeyed the voice of his Maker. The friend of God! his pious mind forbade him to do aught in disparagement of that character. There he stood in that fertile land, a tall majestic oak—alone! no seedling had sprung from his root: no flower had bloomed on his boughs! But God said, and it was! a beautiful sapling had sprung into existence, a young soul saw the light of day.

How the smiling infant entwined itself around the heart of the no longer childless old man. Day by day it grew in innocence and beauty. Infancy is past, and the fond parents feel no longer that when they cease to exist, their name <<347>>will be forgotten. The true heir will now inherit their wealth, will inherit that good before which wealth sinks into insignificance, the blessings of the Most High God. But a change passes over the brow of that noble man. Sorrow beams in those mild eyes, but determination sits triumphant on that unfurrowed brow. His son, the child of his old age, is demanded  by the King of kings, and without even a secret murmur, he prepares to surrender the chief jewel of his heart. And “faith, exemplified by obedience,” was again deemed righteousness by the Lord of Hosts.

And what does faith like this teach us? No such sacrifices as this are we now called upon to make, but to fear God and do justly. To search through the inner chambers of the mind, and see that the motives which guide our actions, are pure and just. To enter the secret cells of our hearts, and banish envy and bitterness, and malice therefrom. To act justly to our neighbour, to plead his cause fearlessly and truly, though it might militate against our own interest. To beware how we let passion and prejudice sway our judgment, that we may not secretly smite a brother, whilst our lips utter nothing but love,  and principle, and the public good: for who knoweth but that the pit which we have dug for another may not gape wide for our own destruction?

But as these evil tendencies are rooted out, new visitants enter:—Faith and its attendant Hope. The mind is serener, and the heart is at rest. We feel God no longer as an oppressive Master. but as a wise and loving Friend, whose behests are but the rules by which happiness is attainable, and whose prohibitions were designed to preserve intact the purity and holiness of our natures. Thorns and thistles no longer impede our course, but our way lies through green pastures and sweet-smelling flowers, guided by the music of falling waters: and as the streams of time rush into the ocean of eternity, so seek our spirits the reward of a life well spent.