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Good Words for Children.
By the Rev Norman MacLeod, D.D.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.”—1 Cor. xiii. 11.


My dear Children,—You are never to die, but to live for ever, and ever! You will live a year, and, when that is done, another year, and so on and on for thousands and thousands of years. If but one of the grains of sand on the sea-shore was counted each year, yet, long after every grain was counted, you would still be alive. You are to live its long as God lives—that is, for ever.

I know what you are thinking about. You are thinking of death, and wondering why I say such si strange thing as that you are never to die. For, 1hough you have lived a very short time, yet you have often seen burials, and heard of people dying, and have perhaps known some one in your own Louse who used to be with you every day, but whom you never see now, nor ever hear; and you know, too, that you will never see them more in the Louse, because they are dead. And, perhaps, you remember some little brother or sister who used to play with you, and whom you loved very much, but who became unwell, and got worse and worse; and then every one looked sad; and by and by you were told that they were dead; and you saw them taken away, but never more come back. Remembering all this, you ask, Am I not to die some time? and thus no doubt you sometimes think of death, though of course you do not like to do so—for death itself is not good. I one day saw a little bird in a cage, and it was very happy singing its songs, and picking its food, and drinking out of its cup. Next day I wont to pay it a visit and to hear it sing—but the cage was lying all broken on the floor, and no bird was there! I never saw the bird again. Was it dead? No! It fled away through the blue sky on a beautiful sunny day, and some people heard it singing as it used to do, near a clear stream of water, among trees and flowers. When your little brother or sister died, it was only the cage that was broken and buried, but the spirit that used to speak to you, and love you, and be happy with you, was never touched, or broken or buried; never! — but it went to Jesus Christ, and there it is living, and thinking, and singing, quite cheerful and happy; and getting far wiser, and learning far more there than you can do here, because it lives in a better place, where there is no sickness and no sin, and where everything is beautiful and good, and every one is kind and joyful.

Now, it may be, you will live for a long, long time in this world, and not leave it till you are old with grey hairs. This, however, is just as God pleases; and God always pleases to do what is best for you, because His name is Love, and so you should be always pleased with whatever He does. But remember, Death, when it comes, touches only the cage, not the bird. It is the body, not yourself, that dies. You yourself will never for one moment be away from Jesus, but always be as close to Him as those babes were whom He clasped to His heart and blessed when He was on earth.

My dear children, is it not good and kind in God to make us in order to live with Himself for ever? He made all the trees and plants on the face of the earth, but He did not breathe into them His own life; they did not, therefore, become living souls, and so they shall all perish. God made all the fish of the sea, all the birds of the air, and all the beasts of the field, but neither did He make them living souls, nor say to them “live for ever,” and therefore, they also perish. God made all the great world, the mountains, rivers, and seas ; and He made the sun, the moon, the thousands of stars that shine in the sky, but He never said to them “live for ever,” and so, too, they must pass away. The earth is very old; the mountains are just the same as they were in the days of Adam; you can walk in the Holy Land just in the same places where Abraham, and Moses, and David, and Jesus, walked: and long after our bodies die, the hills we see will remain the same, and the rivers will roll the same, and the sea will flow and ebb the same ; yet these old, old hills, and rivers, and seas, must one day depart and “no place be found for them!” But you, my dear children, will live long, long after them—for as I have told you, you will live for ever! Has not God, then, loved you far more than the birds, or fish, or beasts, or mountains, or the whole world? Has He not loved you when He made you so great, breathed into you the breath of life, and said to each of you, “I wish this child to live for ever?” And now you ought to love God as your own Father, for He surely did not make you that you should be frightened for Him, and try to forget Him, sin against Him, and make Him angry with you ! No, no ! God, as it were, says to you :—“love me, my child, and be good and happy.” Remember then you are never to die, but to live for ever, and I wish you to be good, so that you may be happy while you live for ever, and not be wicked and therefore miserable. Pray in this way to God:—

“My Father, Thou hast made me to live for ever with Thyself. I thank Thee for Thy kindness to me. Forgive all my sins. Teach me to know Thee, and help me to love Thee my Father now, that so I may be good and happy. Deliver me from evil Hear me for the sake of Jesus Christ my Saviour, who died for me. Amen.”


My dear Children,—I have told you that you are never to die, but to have endless life. I wish to teach you now how you may have endless joy.

Of course you wish yourselves to have joy, and all who love you wish this also for you. Your good friends and relations wish it, and are glad when you are glad. The good angels wish it, for they all rejoice when they see even one sinner—and every one is a sinner—come back to God. Your own Saviour Jesus Christ wishes you to rejoice; for did He not leave heaven and come here to enable you to do so? Did He not become a little child, and live for thirty years in the world to teach you how to be good? And did He not die for your sins, and rise again and live for ever to make you like Himself? And is He not always seeing you and thinking about you every day, and all to make you good? And God, your own Father, loves you; and does a father not wish to make his own children good and glad?

How very glad everything is in God’s world ! The woods in spring are a great concert of singing birds, busy building their nests and singing their songs. The air is full of larks that hymn like angels in the clouds. Bees hum over the meadows, and visit with a song every flower; and the flowers open their hearts, and give all their sweets to them, and then the bees return with joy to their hives, ready to start off at early morning singing again to their work. The waves dance in the sunbeams, and the streams go singing and dancing to the sea, and the fish leap and play in the water. The lambs sport and run races on the hill sides. The flowers have on gay clothes, and look so beautiful and glad, as the breeze plays with them and whispers to them. Even in winter, when the snow drifts, and the wind is cold, and the woods bare, and everything is asleep and resting till spring, the robin-redbreast and other birds are kept alive day and night. Even the little flies and gnats do not die, but appear again in summer. If you walk by the sea, too, you will observe a great number of birds that swim, and dive, and fly about happy, in spite of cold, and rain, and storm! Now God loves you far more than these, for He never called them His children, nor made them to be with Himself and to love Himself; and so God, who makes them so glad, surely wishes you to be far more glad? And does He not give you all your mercies and enjoyments everyday? For there is not one day in which you do not laugh, and sing, and play. But He wishes to give you such joy as you never yet had, and to give it to you as long as you live! “The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.”

But how are you to be happy? That is the question ! I wonder what answer you are inclined to give to it. Shall I guess? It is this, I think: “We would be quite happy if we had our own way, and could do just whatever we pleased! Oh! if there was no one to find fault with us, and if we were never meddled with, but could go where we pleased, and do what we pleased, and get all we liked just by wishing it! Yes; to have our own will in everything, that would make us glad?” Have I not guessed well? Are not these your thoughts?

Now I do not blame you very much, my dear children, for thinking this. It is natural for you to do so, because even a child’s heart has sin and folly in it, and you are perhaps too young to know how mistaken you are; and you are too young also to know how many people have tried the way of self will and self-pleasing to be happy, and have never been so after all. But I will tell you an old story, which perhaps you never heard before.

There lived a little gold fish in a globe of water, and a little canary in a cage. One day the fish heard the bird sing, and it said, “Oh, how happy would I be, if I could only have my own will, and get out of this cold water, and be in a cage, and sing like that bird! But here I must live, and swim round and round this narrow globe of water; what a pity I cannot do as I please I” Soon after, upon a very hot day in summer, the canary saw the gold-fish swimming about in the water, and looking so clean, and bright, and cool. “Oh,” said the canary, “how happy would I be if I could only have my own way, and get out of this nasty cage, and, in this hot weather, swim about in that pure and cool water where the fish is ; what a pity I cannot do as I please ! ” There was a very wise and good spirit present, and he wished to teach them how ignorant and foolish they were; and so he said to the bird, “Believe me, my dear little bird, it would not make you happy to have your own will in this. Do God’s will, and stay where He. has put you, and sing your song, and be happy, just as He wishes you to be.” “ But I wish,” said the bird, “ to have my own way, and to go to the water. I don’t believe what you tell me.” Then the good spirit said to the little gold fish, “Believe me, my dear little fish, you would not be happy if you had your own will in this, and if you were in the cage. Stay where your Maker has put you, and swim about in the pure water as He wishes you.” “But I wish,” said the fish, “to be in the cage, and I don’t believe what you tell me.” So the good spirit sighed, and he said, “Oh, I wish you believed me, and did your Maker’s will and not your own ; but I will give you your own way, and you will learn, perhaps, by sorrow and pain, who is right, and who loves you best.” So he put the fish into the cage, and the bird into the water ! Oh, what misery there was ’ The bird was almost drowned, and the fish was almost choked, till they both cried in despair to the good spirit to help them, and promised they would always believe what he said, and never after this think they were sure to be happy by having their own way, or by doing their own will.

Now, my dear children, you are just as foolish as the little bird or the little fish, if you think you are sure to be glad by just getting your own way and doing your own will, without ever thinking whether your way is right, and your will is wise and good.

I have not yet told you where the right road is, but only of a wrong road to gladness, which is very broad and full of people. In the meantime, say to God,—

“My Father, I thank Thee for creating me to rejoice with Thee, and with Jesus Christ, and with all the good people in the universe. I bless Thee for all the mercies Thou hast already given me in this world,—for my health, my food and raiment, my friends and relations, and all I enjoy every day.

But, oh! my Father, help me, and teach me how to be truly happy now and for ever and ever. Leave me not in ignorance, lest I should be so foolish and wicked as to seek happiness in my own way and not in Thy way, and by doing my own will, and not Thine. Hear me, for the sake of Thy Son, who always did Thy will, even unto death. Amen. ”


My dear Children,—What I now wish you to know is, how you may be glad as long as you live.

Perhaps you say, “Oh! that is just what we Śwish to know about, for if -we are glad all the days of our life, and until we die, what more can we look for? ” But I did not say that I was going to teach how to be happy only till you died; for have you forgotten that you are never to die, but to live for ever and ever? And if so, it would be a very little matter to you to be happy only for the few minutes you are to live here, unless you had such happiness as would remain with you as long as you live elsewhere. If you were about to take a long voyage of many months across the ocean, it would be of little use to have food in store which would last for a few days only. Now, this is one reason why you need something more than what so many people think would be quite enough to make them happy—such as plenty of money, with grand houses, beautiful lands, servants, carriages, and amusements, all the year round. Suppose you had all this, and that you were as happy as these things could make you, what could they do for you when you went away from the world on your long voyage, to live somewhere else, and had to leave every one of these things behind you, never more to see them? Read a story about this in the Gospel of St. Luke, 12th chapter, verses 16 to 21; and along with this read also what Christ says in the Gospel of St. Matthew, 16th chapter and 26th verse.

It is natural for you, my dear children, to think that riches can make you glad, for you see so many people anxious to obtain them. Remember, I do not say that being rich, or wishing to be rich, is wrong; because riches are a gift from God, and so are houses and lands, and these, with all other beautiful things, are often given as a reward for industry, patience, honesty, and self denial, which are pleasing to God. Who, therefore, would not like to have riches ! But what I say is this, that if you had nothing more; if, for example, you were not good, and did not care for God, or love Him, but were proud, vain, and selfish, all the world could not make you good—you -would have no Peace in your hearts. I am sure, my dear children, if you were afraid of your parents, or if you thought that they were angry with you, because you were doing what was wrong, you could not have peace, even though some one gave you money, or tried to amuse you; indeed, it would be a poor sign of you if you could! Or, if you were away from your parents, and did not know where to find them, would you be glad? I am sure not! I saw a little child the other day, that had lost its way in the street, and was taken to a strange house until its parents were found. Oh, how that child mourned! I thought its little heart would break. One gave it sweet things to quiet it, and another some pence, others showed it beautiful pictures, but it always cried the more, "My mother, my mother, Oh! I want my mother!” And just in the same way you cannot, my dear children, have peace without God, even if you tried it. He loves you so much, that He has made your hearts so, that you cannot be at peace unless you are at peace with Him, and unless you know and love Him as your own Father in heaven, because He alone is worth loving with all your heart, soul, and strength, for ever and ever ! And if you did not love Him, but were frightened of Him, and tried to forget Him, because you were afraid, then I am sure all the gold and silver in the world could not make you happy I The Bible contains many stories of people who thus tried to find peace without God, but who found they could not do so, any more than their eyes could be satisfied with having money put on them, but the light kept from them. You can read for yourselves about a man who was one of the most powerful kings and richest merchants that ever lived; who had all the world could give him, but who found that all this, without love to God, his Father, was but “vanity and vexation of spirit." Read Ecclesiastes, 2nd chapter, from verse 4 to end of verse 11. There is another far more dreadful story than this, of a rich man who cared only for himself, and had no love to his God or to his neighbour. He had a kind of happiness, yet you will see, when you read the story, that it did not last; and, not only so, but even while it lasted, it could no more fill up his heart, than a candle can fill the world with light without the sun. Read in St. Luke, 16th chapter, from verse 19 to verse 31. And now, my dear children, what do I wish you to learn from all this ? It is this, that to be truly glad now, and to continue to be glad for ever, is to love God as your Father, to trust Him, and do His will. If you are afraid of past sins, remember Jesus Christ died for your sins, and that God will at once forgive you for Christ’s sake, if you sincerely wish to give them up and obey Him ; and if you fear the evil in your hearts, God will give you His Holy Spirit to enable you to obey Him.

I have a great deal to say to you about this in other papers. But think about what has been already said ; and remember, that while God gives you all the good you have, your health of body, and cheerful mind, your sports and amusements, with merry hearts to enjoy them, dear companions, friends, relations, parents—everything, in short, except what is bad, and what would therefore make you miserable—that He also gives you what is more than all this, more than all the world,—He gives you himself in love, and to love!—and says: “Come, my children, and speak to me, and love me with all your hearts, for I am your Father, and love you, and give you all things richly to enjoy, and wish to make you happy as long as you live.” Therefore, speak to Him in prayer, and say:

“My Father! Thou hast made me, and preserved me, and redeemed me from sin and Satan, through the death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, my Saviour. Thou hast given me all my mercies, and, best of all, Thou hast given me Thyself, that I might know, love, and serve Thee, with gladness, now and for ever! Oh ! my Father, forgive me for having so often forgotten Thee, and kept thee out of my heart as if Thou didst not love me. Forgive me that I do not know Thee better, and love Thee more. Help me, my Father, through the Holy Spirit of love, to think of Thee oftener than I have done, to feel more grateful to Thee for all I enjoy, and never to do anything displeasing to Thee, my Maker, Preserver, Redeemer, my ever present and ever loving Father ! Hear me, for Christ’s sake. Amen.”


My dear Children,—God wishes you to love Him, because “God is love,” and your Father, and He made you to be like Himself, and redeemed you by the death of His Son for himself, and that you might enjoy himself for ever.

Think of this—God is your Father!

God made all things. He made this great world, with its wide and deep seas, which the swiftest ships take months to sail over,—with high mountains, on whose tops no human foot has ever trodden,—and islands and countries far away, many of which no human eye has ever yet seen. God has made the heavens;—the sun which is so large that thousands of worlds as large as ours, moulded into one, would not equal it in size,—and all the countless stars, so great that hundreds you see, like diamonds sparkling in the sky, are each much bigger than this world. “Who can understand all his mighty works? No one can do so. They are past finding out. But you can understand enough about God himself to know, dear children, that He, the great Creator, is your Father.

God not only made, but also preserves all living things. Had you been born in the time of Adam and Eve, and had you lived on earth until now, and been every day travelling over it, you would know but very few of the millions of people in it. Yet God knows every person everywhere! He knows at this moment what all the angels and saints in Heaven, and Satan, the wicked one, and all his followers, are thinking about, and what is in your heart and the heart of every child in the world. He remembers, too, every word that any boy or girl ever spoke long ago in the streets of Nineveh, Babylon, or Jerusalem. He is also at this moment seeing and looking after the people in Africa, India, America, in every city and village, and those who are wandering among the ice mountains near the North Pole, or sailing over the distant ocean. He thus knows every one in the whole world, as well as all who have left the world since it was made. In Him they all live, move, and have their being. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for us.” But it is true, and should make you glad, that God sees you, and knows you, and thinks of you, as if you were alone with himself in the world, for this God is your Father.

God not only sees and preserves human beings who can love Him, but He is so great and good that He takes care of all creatures, great and small. If any of us were to get a few birds and fish, and a very few other animals of different Ipnds to feed and preserve, we would find how difficult it was to do this. But God, every day and hour, for thousands of years, feeds all the fish, big and little, in all the lakes, and rivers, and oceans of the world,— all the countless millions of beasts that roam over the earth, in burning deserts, dark forests, wild mountains, or among frost and snow,—all the endless flocks of birds that live on sea or land,—all the insects that creep or fly,—all the creatures which are so small that thousands can live and move about in a spoonful of water. Yes ! God sees and preserves them all! And this God is your Father, and says to you: “Behold the birds of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them; are ye not much better than they?” Now, dear children, when you go out and look at the world, and see the green fields covered with plants and beautiful flowers, all kept so fresh and clean with God’s rain, which the clouds draw from the ocean and pour down upon them as they need it, and all kept alive and warm by the sun,—or when you observe the lovely picture of woods, streams, lakes, mountains, seas, with the sky overhead, blue by day or full of stars at night,—when you watch the numbers of living things that you see everywhere, all so healthy and happy, or the living persons, old and young, that are moving about, whom God wishes to love and enjoy Himself for ever, say to yourselves: “My Father made all these persons, creatures, and things, and He sees us all, knows us all, and loves us all.”Should not this thought make you happy, and draw out your hearts to God, the Father Almighty, “maker of the heavens and of the earth?” Read what the King David said of this God, how much he admired His works, and how happy he was in His presence (Psalms 104 and 139.)

But I dare say you have felt afraid of God, and did not like, therefore, to think of Him as David did. Perhaps I know why you were afraid. Was it because you felt somehow that you had not been caring for Him, or trying to please Him, but only thinking about yourselves, and trying to please yourselves, as if God was not your Maker, Master, or Father ? Was it not because you knew that you had done many things that were wrong—that you had not always spoken the truth, or obeyed your parents, and had been often selfish and self-willed? If so, nothing can be so bad as not to love God, for He is the best of all, and most glorious and most worthy to be loved of all. I do not wonder that when you thought how wicked it was not to love God, that you said, as it were in your hearts: “I am sure God is angry with me, and I fear He will punish me, and it makes me unhappy when I think of Him.” And perhaps you tried at last not to think of Him. Oh! what hard thoughts these were against God, your own Father ! What if He did not think of you ? What if He had not cared for you? How good, then, He must be, when, in spite of all our sins, He is still our Father! For though God is angry with sin, and hates every kind of disobedience, yet He has, as I have told you, provided pardon for you through His Son. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die : yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”

Perhaps you say, “It is quite true that we have been often afraid of God, though we said with our lips, ‘Our Father which art in heaven,’ for we felt we had siuned against Him. But we would like to know Him better, so as to love Him more: tell us how that may be. How can we know Him?” Your question is just like the one put by Philip: “Show us the Father and it suficeth us that is, let us see our Father’s face that we may know and love Him".

Now, dear children, God has spoken to us, and has revealed himself to us in many more ways than you can yet fully understand; but all I would remind you of at present is this, that Jesus Christ, of whom you have heard and read, and who is your brother and Saviour, is one with God; and Jesus came to the world to show to us our Father. Remember, then, when you read of the words Jesus spoke, and read of the things He did, say to yourselves: “Now all this was just God my Father speaking to me, and -working before my eyes.” Yes, dear children! The love of Jesus is just the same as the love of God. When Jesus says, “Come to me,” God also says it. When Jesus takes up little children into His arms and blesses them, you see in this the tenderness and goodness of God. And, therefore, -when you know and love Jesus, you see and love God; for “He and the Father are one.”

Never forget that it is this same blessed Redeemer who died for all your sins, and suffered on the cross for you, that your sins might be pardoned through His blood, and a new heart given to you by His Spirit.

Say, then:

“Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth, I adore Thee as my Father! Thou art everywhere present,' and Thou seest and knowest me Thy child. ‘Thou preservest man and beast,’ and Thou preserves! me, and in Thee I live, move, and have my being. Father! I am ashamed to think how I have forgotten Thee, and been a self-willed and ungrateful child. I thank Thee for Thy patience, and for sending Thy Son into the world to teach me to know Thee, and to die for all our sins. God, my Father, forgive me for Christ’s sake, and give me Thy Spirit, and enable me to be obedient and loving to Thee as was Jesus Christ, Thy wellbeloved Son, my Saviour and my brother! Amen.”


My dear Children,—God our Father loves us, and wishes us to trust Him. Now I will explain to you what is meant by trusting God.

Once upon a time a house took fire, in the old town of Edinburgh. All the people escaped. But, somehow or other, a family in the second floor did not awake until the flames almost entered their room. The father and mother seized their children and rushed down-stairs with them to the street; but, just as they reached it, they discovered that their little boy, Willy, had been left behind, for the father thought he was with his mother, and the mother that he was saved by the father; and so, amidst the noise, confusion, and terror, the poor Ixjy was left alone in the burning house. The moment he was missed, his father ran back through tire and smoke to save his child. But, alas ! the wooden stair was burning—indeed, most of it was already burnt—so that it was impossible to reach the floor where little Willy was left. But, just as his father returned in agony to the street, the boy was seen standing at one of the windows, weeping bitterly, and evidently in great fear. Not a moment was to be lost. Yet what could be done ? There was no ladder near—in a few minutes the flames would reach the child. The father shouted to him to leap down, and he would try to save him. Little Willy was afraid to take so terrible a leap ; but the fire was raging through the building, sending out long red tongues of flame, clouds of smoke, and millions of sparks up to the sky ; and no wonder Willy was terrified, as he heard the roaring and crackling around him, and, looking down, saw every face in the large crowd gazing up to him ! He knew, however, that there was no hope if he remained where he was. “Jump, my boy, and trust me ! ” cried the father, with tears. In a moment something white was seen, like a flake of snow, falling from the window. Not a word was spoken by the crowd, every one held his breath, and many, I daresay, prayed that God would preserve the child who had sprung from the window in obedience to his father’s command, and trusting to his father’s power and love ! His trust was not put to shame, for he was received in his arms, and clasped to his bosom; and while the crowd gave a loud cheer, the father thanked God that his little Willy was safe! You see how Willy trusted his father.

Now, dear children, you cannot help trusting some one or other every day of your lives. When, for example^ you lose your road, and ask some person to direct you, and you follow his direct tions, then you trust that person as a guide. When you sail in a vessel, and perhaps take a long voyage across the ocean, you are obliged to trust entirely to others, day and night, for safety, and for reaching your destination. When in sickness, you ask the physician to find out your complaint, and to give you the best remedies for curing it, if you believe what he says, and take the medicines which he gives, then you trust him. When you go to school, you trust the teacher, that he is able to instruct you, every day and hour. You trust your friends who love you, and, above all, you trust your father and mother, who must love you best of all, to take care of you, feed you, clothe you, guide you, choose for you, and to do you all the good in their power. Do you not understand now what is meant by trusting a person?

Now, to trust God, is just to have confidence in Him, as little Willy had in his father, and, as we all have in a guide, to direct us on our journey—in a captain of a ship, to bring us safely on our voyage —in a physician, to heal us in our sickness—and in our dear friends and parents, to help us in everything; only we must trust God better than we can do them, and I shall tell you why.

First of all, God loves us much more than any one on earth can do. Although a father and mother may love us with all their heart, yet their heart is not so great in love as is the heart of our Father in heaven. . ..

Secondly, Those whom we trust on earth, though they may wish to help us, may not be able to do so. For example, when we need their aid, they may be far away, and not able to give it. But God is always with us day and night, as the Psalmist says, “Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine uprising; thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path, and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, 0 Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Thirdly, Friends may be with us, without the jjoujer to assist us. Willy’s father might not have been able to have caught hold of his boy, nor the guide we spoke of to direct us in our journey, nor the captain in our voyage; and the physician may neither know our complaint, nor be able to cure it. But it is not so with God. lie has all power, and docs whatever He pleases; and if we trust Him, it will please Him always to do whatever is best for us, in order to make us good and happy. Trust Him, therefore, for mercy to forgive you all your sins, and for His Holy Spirit to help you to do His will. Trust Him for wisdom to guide you every day; for love to comfort you, provide for you, give you peace, and to make you love Himself, and every one about you. If you do so, you will know more and more the older you get how true it is what the prophet says, “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose soul is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Theeand then you will have the .joy of being able to say in your old age, “ 0 Lord! thou hast been my trust from my youth f” Therefore say to Him now:

“My Father! I am weak and helpless; I cannot take care of myself; I know not what may take place in a single hour. But Thou seest me, and Thou knowest all I speak, think, and do. Thou art able to help me always, and to bless me in everything. Thou lovest me; therefore, my God, I put my trust in Thee, and I am sure that I shall never be put to shame. Save me, guide me, heal me, and enable me always to love, trust, and obey Thee, as Thine own child, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen. ”

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child,


My dear Children,—I have already explained to you what is meant by trusting God; and tried to make you feel how right and how blessed it is thus to place your confidence in the truth, the wisdom, the power, the grace and love of the glorious God who made us, who preserves us, who gives us every good thing, who so loves us that He gave his Son to die for us, and who, in one word, is Our Father in heaven, to whom we belong, and with whom we hope to live for ever and ever.

All who know God trust Him; but those who do not know God trust in themselves, in their own evil wills and their own evil ways, and try to be happy -without God.

We read in the Bible of men who in every difficulty and trial trusted God; and we see how strong, and peaceful, and safe they were when they did so, but how everything went wrong with them, how they got into confusion and misery, when they did not trust Him.

Let me give you a few examples of this faith in God.

Noah trusted God when he was warned by Him of coming danger, and was commanded to prepare the means for his own safety. The coming danger was the Flood, which was to destroy the wicked world, and the only means of escape was the Ark. Now such a thing as a flood had never occurred; but Noah believed God, and therefore built the large ark year after year upon the dry land, and so he was saved, while those who did not believe God's word were lost. “By faith,” says the apostle, “Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.”

Thus let us be assured that God will save all who trust and obey Him. Let us now fly for refuge to Jesus Christ, the only ark of safety, as destruction may come in a moment to those who are so wicked as to disbelieve God, as if He was not in earnest and did not mean to do what He threatens.

Abraham trusted God, who promised to give the land of Canaan to his descendants, through one of whom (Jesus Christ) all the families of the earth would be blest. When God told this to Abraham he was wandering about as a stranger in that very land, yet he never doubted God’s promise. He had no son at the time, yet he believed God’s promise to give him one. Then came a great trial of his faith when God commanded him to offer up his dear son—his only son—as a sacrifice ! But Abraham never murmured—never objected—nor delayed a single day to obey God. And why? because he loved and trusted God, and was glad to yield up everything to Him who was his Maker, his Preserver, his Father. He did not know how God would deliver him or his boy, or how He could keep his promise. He knew only God himself and his will, and so, like a little child, he obeyed his Heavenly Father. Isaac, too, obeyed in the same spirit of trust his earthly father when he was bound by him to the altar. Their faith was not put to shame! You have read the beautiful history in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis : read it again. “By faith,” says the apostle, ‘ ‘ Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac : and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure,”

Now, dear children, always trust God that He will keep every promise made to those who believe and do His will. When you know what is right, that is, what is God’s will, do it. You may think it at the time very hard, very difficult, and that it would be far better and happier to be selfish and disobedient. But trust God, and be sure that in the end you will see His way to be the happy way, because the right w’ay. He will give you strength to do your duty, great peace in doing it, and greater peace when it is done. Make no excuses for disobedience, for there never can, by any possibility, be a good excuse for sinning.

Barnabses trusted God’s power, and wisdom, and goodness, in circumstances which severely tested his faith. For he gave up all the riches and splendour of Egypt, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. And “seeing Him who is invisible,” he braved all the wrath of Pharaoh, and marched to the Red Sea, not seeing how God could deliver him and the thousands of Israel; but God made a path through the waters. And Moses for forty years trusted God in the howling wilderness, when the people themselves so lost their faith that they "could not enter into the Promised Land“ because of unbelief. It was this Moses who centuries afterwards appeared with Christ in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.

The God who guided and delivered Moses out of all his troubles will guide and deliver every boy and girl who will not be turned away from duty by fear of what other people may say or do, nor of difficulties which come before them; but will “go forward” in the right path, trusting in the Lord their God for help in their time of need. They who thus live now, will in the end be glorified with Christ and His faithful servants.

Job trusted God in the midst of the sorest afflictions ever endured by man. When he was in the enjoyment of every earthly blessing, possessed of immense wealth, and surrounded by a large and happy family of sons and daughters, he did not depend on these for his true happiness, but on his God. Satan, the wicked one, alleged that Job did not care for God himself, but only for the good things which God bestowed. So the Lord was pleased to take from him his earthly riches and his dear family, and to visit him with a loathsome disease ; so that all was lost to him except God. And did Job then lose his trust in God, and think that God was no longer his father and friend? No! The old saint held fast his confidence in the darkness as well as in the light, in adversity as well as in prosperity, and said, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord!” “Though he slay me, yet will I put my trust in him!”

And thus, dear children, it may be the will of your Father to send you sickness and poverty, to deprive you of those you love most on earth, and leave you very lonely in the world; but the God whom Job trusted is still your God, and you must trust Him as Job did, and believe that He loves you and can never forget you, but will in his own way and in his own time provide for you and comfort you. “You have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.”

David trusted God when, a young lad, be went to fight the giant Goliath. It was not from any trust in his own courage or skill that he did this, but from simple faith in the help of God. Hear his noble words: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand ; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.”

When you feel, dear children, that you ought to do something which is difficult, perhaps to resist temptation, or to overcome a bad habit, never be cast down by the thought of your own weakness and the strength of sin. “If God is for you,” — and He is for you when you are for what is right, — it is enough! “Greater is he who is for you than all who are against you.” “He will perfect his strength in your weakness.” “My grace,” he says, “is sufficient for you!”

Once more. Daniel trusted God when he was threatened with death if he prayed to God. Daniel had been carried captive to Babylon, and when young and in a strange land he had showed even then iu many ways his love and obedience to the God of his fathers. But when he became the greatest man next to the king, and when upwards of eighty years of age, some envious and wicked people deceived the king and got a law passed by which Daniel should be cast into the den of lions if he prayed to his God. Yet Daniel prayed as he used to do. There was no one to stand by and defend him but his God. He had no church to go to in that idolatrous land; and few, if any, good people to pray with him. If he did what was right, there was no friend or companion to cheer him, while enemies watched him, and resolved to take away his life in a cruel way, unless he became a base idolater like themselves. Now Daniel did not say, “I will not be singular, but do as other people do;” or “I will worship God in secret, but not confess him before the world;” or “I will pretend to be an idolater, as the custom of the country is, but in my heart I will believe in God;” or “since they will put me to death, it is a good excuse for my not praying.” No! He, the old man, the prime minister of the country, was no mean coward or hypocrite. He trusted God and did what was right, though it should cost him his life to do this ! And so he was cast into the den of hungry lions.

The foolish king was grieved indeed, but even he could not save him out of the hands of his lords and princes. “Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.” And when Daniel was cast into the den, “ Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him : and his sleep went from him.” But the king somehow believed that God would save his servant, and so we read that he “rose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, 0 Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou seiwest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, 0 king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me ; and also before thee, 0 king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.”

What a sin and shame it would be if you, my dear children, were afraid or ashamed to do what is right; to pray to God, for example, because none of your companions do this, or because they may ridicule you, or annoy you ! Learn to trust the God whom Daniel trusted, alike in his youth and old age, and He will bless you and make you a blessing. Have a holy loving fear for God, and you will never have a cowardly fear for man. It is the good man alone who can have peace amidst lions. I think it very likely that you know all those true stories I have told you, as well as many others, in the Old Testament, of good men who trusted God. You will read them again for yourselves in the Bible, and I hope they will strengthen you to be “followers of God as dear children.” But I will tell you another which, perhaps, may have escaped your notice.


My dear Children,—Once on a time a great army of the powerful and warlike Chaldeans invaded Judea and besieged Jerusalem. God let them do this, for all classes in the country had become veiy wicked. There were no people in the world who had received so many blessings as the Jews, and the greatest blessing of all was, that they had been long instructed in the knowledge of the only living and true God. They ought, therefore, to have been better than all the nations of the earth—to have been an example to them in their conduct—thus making all countries see how truly prosperous, united, and happy a nation is which serves God, and in which justice, truth, mercy and love reign. But, instead of this, the nation became worse than other nations. The kings, princes, and rich men became oppressors of the poor. They made slaves of their brethren, and indulged in every passion, as if there was no God to see and judge them, and no difference between right and wrong. The poor also were as w’icked in their own way. The very priests were as bad as the rest. God was forgotten, and his laws despised by all; while selfishness, cruelty, injustice, and sin of every kind filled the land- Stiff God was not willing that they should perish, but rather that they should turn from their wickedness and live. So He raised up holy men, Prophets,' to rebuke, warn, and beseech them. Among these Prophets was Jeremiah. He possessed neither riches nor power from man; he had few or no friends on earth, but was all alone, his heart breaking on account of the sins of his country and the terrible punishments which he saw gathering like a storm in a dark thunder-cloud, ready to burst over the land and, as with a flood, to sweep the people away. He preached in vain. They did not believe what he told them in the name of the Lord, but hated and rejected him and his message of truth and peace, and were determined to have their own way, and care neither for God nor man, but for themselves only.

And so they at length put their only true friend, this one God-fearing man, Jeremiah, in prison, until year after year he suffered so much in body and soul, that the wonder is he did not die. But lie was willing to suffer for the good of his sinful countrymen, because he loved them and loved his God, with whom he was a fellow-worker in seeking to save sinners. There were false prophets, too, who contradicted Jeremiah, and said that he lied when he prophesied to the king and the princes that God would send an army to destroy the city and take all the people as captives to a foreign land. Those who loved wickedness liked the false prophets, who flattered them and assured them that there -was nothing to fear because of their sins; and, of course, they treated Jeremiah as an enemy, because he told them the truth, in order to save them from evil and its certain punishment. At last the great army of the Chaldeans entered the country like a swarm of locusts, spreading over every hill, and filling the valleys with horse and foot, war-chariots, archers and lancers without number, led by the king himself and all his famous generals. Town after town was taken, until they gathered round Jerusalem, and the watchmen on the walls could see nothing else than soldiers everywhere, round about the city and far away, as if every blade of grass had grown up into an enemy. Then, when Jeremiah the prophet, in the name of the Lord, told the men in power what to do, and showed how alone they could escape with , their lives, they hated him the more, and at last put him into the worst prison in the city. It was a sort of deep pit, like a well or a coal pit, with wet mud at the bottom, without light and hardly any air in that sultry climate. They gave him little food, as the city itself was almost famished, and they would not have cared had the prophet died of starvation. There he was, the noblest, truest, and most affectionate man in Israel, down at the bottom of that horrible pit!

What can he do now? He can pray, he can pour out his heart before Him who is everywhere present, and from whom nothing in the universe can separate a loving child. And so like a greater sufferer still, “being in agony he prayed the more earnestly.” “I called upon thy name, 0 Lord, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thy ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, fear not.”

But is there no one in that city who thinks of the prophet? No one who will try to help him ? No one who sees and feels the grievous wrong done to a man so unselfish and holy? Yes! there is one, and one only. Who is he? Is it the king, who should have done justice? or one of the princes, who should have been truly noble? or one of the priests, who should have been a lover of truth and a lover of God? or one of the people who has from infancy been instructed in the ways of righteousness? Shame upon the country! It is none of these. The only man who has the principle, the courage, the love, to trust God and do the right, is a stranger, an alien, a negro servant, Ebed-mdech, the Ethiopian. So we read that “when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebed-melech went forth out of the king’s house, and spake to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.” That negro servant was more royal than the king, more noble than the princes, more holy than the priests! The Lord, who had said to the prophet “fear not,” blessed the petition of the negro. And so the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, “Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die. So Ebed-melech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.”

I must bring my story to a close. God sends one last message to the rebellious city. He tells them all the desolation and destruction that are impending over it. There is not one word more of hope or of mercy, nor one message of peace. Yes, there is one! God in heaven, who sees and knows every man, and is acquainted with all our ways — to whom no one, however weak and despised, is lost in the crowd—sees one person in Jerusalem whom he singles out, and to whom he sends a special message of peace and protection. But that man was not the king, nor any of the princes, nor any of the priests: for them there is no favour, but misery, desolation and woe. The man He loves is the good and brave negro! And so God, through Jeremiah, sent to him, and to him only, this gracious message from liis throne of justice and mercy in heaven:—“Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord; and thou shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in saith the Lord.” And now, my dear children, pray to God, saying thus "0 God, our Father! help us by Thy grace to choose Thy ways and not our own ; to believe Thy threats against evil doers, and to trust Thy guidance and protection when we seek to do well. Help us to trust Thee in the midst of sorrows, and to do our duty amidst temptations and difficulties, and rather die than forsake Thee, or follow the devices and desires of our own evil hearts. Help us by Thy Holy Spirit for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who always trusted Thee, and died for our sins, to save our souls, and make us Thy children. Amen.


My dear Children,—To trust Jesus Christ is the same thing as to trust God, for He and the Father are one.

There was nothing which Jesus wished more, nothing which pleased Him more, than the trust or confidence of every one in Himself, for every good and every blessing.

It was unbelief, or want of trust, which made Him wonder, made Him angry, made Him weep ! How often did He rebuke his disciples for want of faith? and express His delight when any one had such confidence in His good will and power as to cast themselves with every burthen upon Him, and ask from Him whatever they needed, and whatever He could give.

Without this trust in Him they could not possibly receive any good from Him. Trust was like opening a door to receive Him as a friend into the heart, or opening the eye to receive Him as light into the soul. But unbelief was like shutting the door and the eye, and keeping out the friend and the light. Let me remind you, then, dear children, of one or two examples, out of many recorded in the Gospels, of trust in Jesus.

You recollect, I dare say, how mothers once brought their children to Jesus Christ that He might bless them. Well, some of the people about Him, who did not know or understand how good He was, thought that He was either too great a person, or had too much to do in preaching to men and women, and in working miracles, to care about children, and so they told those mothers not to trouble Him. But when He heard them speaking in this way, He was “sore displeased,” and commanded the children to be brought to Him, and He took them into His arms, and blessed them ! Thus you see how those mothers trusted their children into the hands of Christ, and trusted His love to bless them. And you see, too, how the children themselves were not afraid of Jesus, but went to Him, and looked up to His face, and felt His arms about them, and heard Him speak, and were as safe and peaceful as when in their mother’s bosom! And had you been among those children, surely you would not have run away from the Saviour? or have refused to go to Him and receive His blessing? And I am sure you understand how you could have spoken to Him if you were alone with Him, and told Him all your little griefs and cares, and asked Him to bless not only yourselves but your parents, your brothers, sisters, and companions; and asked Him, too, to pardon your sins, and give you a new heart to love and serve Him. Now this, if you did it, would be trusting Christ, and He would listen to all you had to say, and the more you trusted Him, and loved Him. the more pleased He would be, and the more He would love you. But I am sure also that you would not dare to have asked Jesus to allow you to lie, or to be greedy, selfish, idle, or unkind! You could never have looked in His face without feeling that he never would be your friend if you wished to be bad, but only if you wished to be good. Now “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” He commands the young to come to Him now as well as then, and to trust Him now for all good. Dear children, go to Him, and speak to Him! He, who was himself a child, will hear you.

I will tell you another story of faith. When J Jesus came down from the Mount on which He was transfigured, and where Moses and Elijah appeared with Him in glory, a crowd of people met Him. There was evidently something or other about which they were arguing and disputing; and when Jesus inquired what it was, He was told that a man had brought there a boy of his, who was very ill, in order to be healed; that he had asked the disciples of Christ to heal him, but they could not; and that this had given rise to a dispute with the Pharisees. Jesus told them to bring the boy to Him. They did so ; and He asked the father how long he had been unwell ? The father said, since he -was a child; and then he gave a very sad account of the mysterious disease which had seized the boy, at one time casting him into the fire and at another into the water; so that now his strength was quite worn out, and he was pining away. And then the poor father said to Jesus, “If Thou canst do anything for us, help us!” Don’t you think you see the man’s anxious looks as he pleads for the poor pale-faced, weak, suffering boy beside him ! If that boy was your own brother, and that man your own father, would you not feel for them both as you heard the prayer to Jesus, “If Thou canst do anything for us, help us?”

But why did the father say to Jesus “if thou canst?” Was it not certain that He could ? Yes ; but that was just what the man did not believe. In other -words, he had not full trust or confidence in Christ. His thoughts were, “maybe He can help us, but maybe not. If, therefore, my boy is not healed, it is because Jesus cannot or -will not heal him!” Ah! you are quite wrong, poor man ! You don’t know Jesus, or you never would think so. Depend upon it, if He does not help you it must be your own fault, and not his. It cannot be because He is unable or unwilling to give, but because you have no faith in Him, and will not trust Him and receive the blessing. In your own heart of unbelief, not in Christ’s heart of love, is your difficulty and hindrance! And this is the lesson which Jesus taught the man; for he said to him, “If thou canst believe! all things are possible to him who believeth!” “If thou canst believe!" The afflicted but doubting father had said to Jesus, “If thou canst help!" But Jesus said to him. “If thou canst believe!." That was a very different thing. And so, my dear children, remember that what separates us from good is not in Jesus but in ourselves. When we arc tempted to say, “If thou canst help,” let us hear Him saying, “1 can help thee, but canst thou trust me?”

And now came a great struggle in the father’s breast. He could not bring himself quite to trust Jesus to heal his boy; far less could he refuse all trust and go back with the sufferer to his home. And thus trust was drawing him to Jesus, while distrust was drawing him away. At last he burst into tears, and said, “Lord, I believe!”—but no sooner did he utter the words than he prayed, “help my unbelief!” — It was enough. Jesus heard his prayer, and healed his boy; and as they both went home that night together, where perhaps mother and sisters and brothers were anxiously -waiting for them, oh ! how happy was the journey and how happy the meeting! But what would you think of them, if they forgot Jesus, and if they did not love Him, or trust Him any more, not even for the eternal life of their souls which He had come into the world to obtain for them as sinners by His death, and which he would give more willingly than bodily health, because it was infinitely better!

Let this story, my dear children, strengthen your faith in Jesus, as able and willing to save you from all evil, and say to Him, “Lord Jesus, I trust Thee as my only Saviour! Forgive me all my trespasses, and enable me to do Thy will. I know Thou canst do all things for me. I believe—but help my unbelief, and daily strengthen my faith in Thee, my love to Thee, and my will to serve Thee! Amen.”

Norman MacLeod D.D.

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