Page images


thumbscrew; this is a nosegay.” And they heard the child's cry, and the father and mother came out, and Claverhouse said, “Ha! it seems that you three have laid your holy heads together determined to die like all the rest of your hypocritical, canting, snivelling crew; rather than give up good Mr. Atkins, pious Mr. Atkins, you would die. I have a telescope with me that will improve your vision,” and he pulled out a pistol. “Now,” he said, "you old pragmatical, lest you should catch cold in this cold morning of Scotland, and for the honor and safety of the king, to say nothing of the glory of God and the good of our souls, I will proceed simply and in the neatest and most expeditious style possible to blow your brains out.” John Brown fell upon his knees and began to pray. "Ah!" said Claverhouse, "look out, if you are going to pray; steer clear of the king, the council, and Richard Cameron." 0! Lord," said John Brown, "since it seems to be thy will that I should leave this world for a world where I can love thee better and serve thee more, I put this poor widow woman and these helpless, fatherless children into thy hands. We have been together in peace a good while, but now we must look forth to a better meeting in heaven, and as for these poor creatures, blindfolded and infatuated, that stand before me, convert them before it be too late, and may they who have sat in judgment in this lonely place on this blessed morning, upon me, a poor, defenceless fellow-creature-may they, in the last judgment find that mercy which they have refused to me, thy most unworthy, but faithful servant. Amen.” He rose up and said, "Isabel, the hour has come of which I spoke to you on the morning when I proposed hand and heart to you; ard

are you willing now, for the love of God, to let me die?” She put her arms around him and said: "The

Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord !” “Stop that snivelling," said Claverhouse. "I have had enough of it. Soldiers, do your work. Take aim! Fire !” and the head of John Brown was scattered on the ground. While the wife was gathering up in her apron the fragments of her husband's head-gathering them up for burial---Claverhouse looked into her face and said, “Now, my good woman, how do you feel now about your bonnie man ?” “Oh!" she said, “I always thought weel of him; he has been very good to me; I had no reason for thinking anything but weei of him, and I think petter of him now." Oh! what a grand thing it will be in the last day to see God pick out his heroes and heroines. Who are those paupers of eternity truaging off from the gates of heaven? Who are they? The Lord Claverhouses and the Herods and those who had sceptres, and crowns, and thrones, but they lived for their own aggrandisement, and they broke the heart of nations. Heroes of earth, but paupers in eternity. I beat the drums of their eternal despair. Woe! woe! woe!

But there is great excitement in heaven. Why those long processions ? Why the booming of that great bell in the tower? It is coronation day in heaven.

Who are those rising on the thrones, with crowns of eternal royalty? They must have been great people on earth, world-renowned people. No. They taught in a ragged school. Taught in a ragged school! Is that all ? That is all. Who are those souls waving sceptres of eternal dominion? Why, they were little children who waited on invalid mothers. That all? That is all. She was called "Little Mary" on earth. She is an empress now. Who are that great multitude on the highest thrones of heaven? Who are they? Why, they fed the

[ocr errors]


hungry, they clothed the naked, they healed the sick, they comforted the heart-broken. They never found any rest until they put their head down on the pillow of the sepulchre. God watched them. God laughed defiance at the enemies who put their heels hard down on these His dear children; and one day the Lord struck His hand so hard on His thigh that the omnipotent sword rattled in the buckler, as He said: "I am their God, and no weapon formed against them shall prosper."

What harm can the world do you when the Lord Almighty with unsheathed sword fights for you.”

I preach this sermon this morning in comfort. Go home to the place just where God has put you to play the hero or the heroine. Do not envy any man his money, or his applause, or his social position. Do not envy any woman her wardrobe, or her exquisite appear

Be the hero or the heroine. If there be no flour in the house, and you do not know where your children are to get bread, listen, and you will hear something tapping against the window-pane. Go to the window and you will find it is the beak of a raven, and open the window, and there will fly in the messenger that fed Elijah. Do you think that the God who grows the cotton of the South will let you freeze for lack of clothes ? Do you think that the God who allowed the disciples on Sunday morning to go into the grain-field, and then take the grain and rub it in their hands and eat-do you think God will let you starve? Did you ever hear the experience of that old man: "I have been young, and now am I old, yet have I never seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging bread ?" Get up out of your discouragement, O! troubled soul, O! sewing woman, 0! man, kicked and cuffed by unjust employers, O! ye who are hard beset in the battle of life and know not

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

which way to turn, O! you bereft one, O! you sick one with complaints you have told to no one, come and get the comfort of this subject. Listen to our great Captain's cheer: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the fruit of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

[ocr errors][merged small]



Then I went up in the night by the brook and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned.-Nehemiah ii: 15.

A dead city is more suggestive than a living citypast Rome than present Rome-ruins rather than newly frescoed cathedral. But the best time to visit a ruin is by moonlight. The Coliseum is far more fascinating to the traveler after sundown than before. You may stand by daylight amid the monastic ruins of Melrose Abbey, and study shafted oriel, and rosetted stone and mullion, but they throw their strongest witchery by moonlight. Some of you remember what the enchanter of Scotland said in the “Lay of the Last Minstrel;"

“Wouldst thou view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight."

Washington Irving describes the Andalusian moonlight upon the Alhambra ruins as amounting to an enchantment. My text presents you Jerusalem in ruins. The tower down. The gates down. The walls down. Everything down. Nehemiah on horseback, by moonlight looking upon the ruins. While he rides, there are some friends on foot going with him, for they do not want the many horses to disturb the suspicions of the people. These people do not know the secret of Nehemiah's heart, but they are going as a sort of body-guard.

« PreviousContinue »