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A STORY OF SYSTEMATIO GIVING. 59
Meanwhile, out of her own little store, she carefully laid aside one-eighth. “Cause if dem ole Israelites was tol’ to give one-tenth, I’d jist like to frow in a little more, for good measure. Talk 'bout it's bein’ like a tax to put some away for such things 1 °Clare I get studyin' what each dollar mus' do, till I get ’em so loadened up wid prayin's an' thinkin's dat I mos' b'lieve dey weigh double when dey does go. “‘Oh, de Lamb I de loving Lamb . De Lamb of Calvaryl
De Lamb dat was slain, an’ lives again,
And now another call had come. “Come, unfortunately, at a time when we were rather short,” Mrs. Allyn said regretfully. “However, we gave what we could,” she added. “I hope it will do good, and I wish it were five times as much.” Old Thanksgiving shook her head over that cheerful dismissal of the subject. She shook it many times that morning, and seemed intensely thoughtful, as she moved slowly about her work. “S'pose I needn't fret 'bout other folks' duty—dat ain't none o' my business; yas 'tis, too, cause dey's good to me, an' I loves 'em. "Taint like's if dey didn't call dareselves His, neither.” Mr. Allyn brought in a basket of beautiful peaches, the first of the season, and placed them on the table by her side. “Aren't those fine, Thanksgiving? Let the children have a few, if you think best; but give them to us for dinner.” “Sartain, I’ll give you all dare is,” she responded, surveying the fruit. Presently came the pattering of several pairs of small feet; bright eyes espied the basket, and immediately arose a cry: “Oh, how nice Thanksgiving Ann, may I have one?” “And I ?” And I, too?” “Help yourselves, dearies,” answered the old woman composedly, never turning to see how often or to what extent her injunction was obeyed. She was seated in the doorway again, busily sewing on a calico apron. She still sat there when, near the dinner hour, Mrs. Allyn passed through the kitchen, and, a little surprised at its coolness and quietness at that hour, asked wonderingly: “What has happened, Thanksgiving 7 Haven't decided upon a fast, have you?” “No, honey; thought I'd give ye what I happened to have when de time come,” said Thanksgiving Ann coolly, holding up her apron to measure its length. It seemed a little odd, Mrs. Allyn thought. But then old Thanksgiving needed no oversight; she liked her little surprises now and then, too, and doubtless she had something all planned and in course of preparation; so the lady went her way, more than half expecting an especially tempting board because of her cook's apparent carelessness that day. But when the dinner-hour arrived, both master and mistress scanned the table with wide-open eyes of astonishment, so plain and meagre were its contents, so unlike any dinner that had ever before been served in that house. h “What has happened, my dear?” asked the gentleman, turning to is wife.
60 “THANKSGIVING ANN;”
“I do not know,” she replied, with a questioning glance at Thanksgiving. “Dat's all de col’ meat dar was—sorry I didn't have no more,” she said half apologetically. “But I sent home a choice roast this morning,” began Mr. Allyn wonderingly; “and you have no potatoes either—nor vegetables of any kind.” “Laws, yes! but den a body has to think 'bout it a good while aforehand to get a roast cooked, an’ jist the same wid’taters; an' I thought I'd give ye what I happened to have when de time comes, an' I didn't happen to have much of nuffin'. Clare I forgot de bread l’” and, trotting away, she returned with a plate of cold corn-cake. “No bread l’ murmured Mrs. Allyn. “No, honey; used it all up for toast dis mornin'. Might have made biscuit or muffins, if I had planned for 'em long enough, but that kind o' makes a body feel 's if dey had to do it, an’ I wanted to get dinner for yer all out o' my warm feelin's when de time come.” “When a man has provided bountifully for his household, it seems as if he might expect to enjoy a small share of it himself, even if the preparation does require a little trouble,” remarked Mr. Allyn impatiently, but still too bewildered at such an unprecedented state of affairs to be thoroughly indignant. “Cur’us how things make a body think of Bible verses,” said Thanksgiving musingly. “Dar's dat one, 'bout 'who giveth us all things richly to enjoy,' an' 'what shall I render to de Lord for all his benefits to'ards me?’ Dar ! I didn't put on dem peaches 1’’ “Has Thanksgiving suddenly lost her senses?” questioned the gentleman, as the door closed after her. “I suspect there is a ‘method in her madness, faint smile crossing her lips. The old woman returned with the basket, sadly despoiled of its morning's contents, but she composedly bestowed the remainder in a fruit-dish. “Dat's all. The childern's eat a good many, an’ dey was used up one way an' 'nother. I'se sorry dar ain't no more, but I hopes ye’ll 'joy what dar is, an' I wishes 'twas five times as much.” A look of sudden intelligence flashed into Mr. Allyn's eyes; he bit his lip for a moment, and then asked quietly: “Couldn't you have laid aside some for us, Thanksgiving?” “Well, dar now s'pose I could,” said the old servant, relenting at the tone. “B'lieve I will next time. Allers kind o' thought de folks things belonged to had de best right to 'em ; but I’d heard givin' whatever happened was so much freer an' lovin'er way o' servin’ dem ye love best, dat I thought I'd try it. But it does 'pear ’s if dey fared slim, an’ I’spects I'll go back to de ole plan o' systematics.” l “Do you see, George 7” questioned the wife, when they were again alone. “Yes, I see. An object-lesson with a vengeance l’” “And if she should be right, and our careless giving seem anything like this?” pursued Mrs. Allyn, with troubled face. “She is right, Fanny; it doesn't take much argument to show that. We call Christ our King and Master; believe that every blessing we have in this world is His direct gift, and all our hopes for the world to come are in Him. We profess to be not our own, but His; to be
replied his wife, a
A STORY OF SYSTEMATIO GIVING. 61
journeying towards His royal city, and that His service is our chief business here; and yet, strangely enough, we provide lavishly for our own apparelling, entertainment and ease, and apportion nothing for the interests of His kingdom, or the forwarding of #. work, but leave that to any chance pence that may happen to beleft after all our wants and fancies are gratified. It doesn't seem like very faithful or loving service,” Mr. Allyn answered gravely. “I have been thinking in that direction occasionally lately, but have been too indolent, careless, or selfish, to come to a decision and make any change.” There was a long talk over that dinner-table—indeed, it did not furnish opportunity for much other employment; and that afternoon the husband and wife together examined into their expenses and income, and set apart a certain portion as sacred unto their Lord—doing it somewhat after Thanksgiving's plan of “good measure.” To do this they found required the giving up of some needless indulgences—a few accustomed luxuries. But a cause never grows less dear on account of the sacrifice we make for it, and as these two scanned the various fields of labour in deciding what to bestow here and what there, they awoke to a new appreciation of the magnitude and glory of the work, and a new interest in its success—the beginning of that blessing pronounced upon those who “sow beside all waters.” “Mrs. Allyn told Thanksgiving of their new arrangement, and concluded laughingly, though the tears stood in her eyes: “So you see we have adopted the ‘systematic’ plan too; and you needn't starve us for supper, Thanksgiving Ann, you dear, faithful old Soul | * Silas heard of the change in that mysterious way in which he contrived to hear of everything that happened anywhere within a circuit of ten miles of him, and coming to the old coloured woman that evening, as, with face of content, she occuped once more her favourite seat in the doorway, he launched forth on the subject at once: “An' now I spose you're satisfied.” “I’se 'mazin' glad,” said Thanksgiving, looking up brightly; “but satisfied—dat's a long, deep word, an’ de Bible says it'll be when we “wake in His likeness.’” “Wa-ll now, I don't perfess none of these kind of things,” said Silas, standing on one foot and swinging the other, “but I don't mind tellin' ye that I think your way's right, and I don't blieve nobody ever lost nothin' by what they give to God; 'cause He's pretty certain to pay it back with compound interest to them, you see.” “Mebbe so; but don't ye think, Silas Ridglow, dat it's a dresful mean way to offer a little gift to yer best an’ dearest Friend—a calk'latin’ dat He'll pay back more?” “Wa-ll, ye see, folks don't always feel right,” observed Silas, dropping dexterously on the other foot. “No, dey don't. When ebery body feels right, an’ does right, dat'll be de millennium. Does yer know dar's a prophecy 'bout de time when even de bells of the hosses shall hab ‘Holiness to de Lord' on 'em 2 Don't know what that means, 'less 'tis dat de rich folks' carr'ages behind de hosses shall be goin' on His arrands, an’ carryin' part of de time, ‘de least of dese, His brederin.” “Well, I'se glad of de faint streak of dat day dat's come to dis house!” KATE W. HAMILTON.
Is there not a common danger of becoming effeminate instead of gentle, or austere instead of manly 7 Human nature tends toward excesses, and nowhere more so than in young men. To be a truly agreeable member of society need not involve us in the surrender of any manly quality whatever. We may safely recognize and cultivate a kind manner in a robust character, and in doing so actually come to deserve the name of “gentleman.” That is no mean attainment. Indeed Christianity itself suggests no higher aim. The Life that “was manifested” is remarkable for this—its perfect balance between personal integrity and world-wide sympathy. In Him were both the “strength” of an indwelling excellence, and the “beauty” of human tenderness. He was “the first true gentleman that ever breathed.” There are two or three ways in which we may exhibit a bearing at once gentle and manly, with advantage to ourselves and our associates. We cannot bring anything of more importance to the true reading of character than a quiet, considerate spirit. Calmness and deliberation are essentials to all successful study. This, however, is not always noted when we set ourselves to learn what is in some character that Providence has led into our path. We too often “make an attack” upon our new acquaintance with cold questioning or dry argument, as if manliness could only exert itself in the application of intellectual force 1 The cold light of a December day leaves our world sheeted in snow, but the genial warmth of an April morning compels Nature to reveal herself. What is the difference 7 It is atmospheric. The same sun, giving forth light and heat, has, in this case, transmitted his vitalizing glow to the air, with the effect of calling life-forces into play, and life itself into form. In the former instance, the surrounding element was ungenial, and woke no response in dormant nature. So young men, in order to get at each other and rightly understand one another's purpose, must take pains to place themselves in each other's surroundings. This cannot be done by any method of “attack.” It is possible only by the exercise of agentleness, skilful, and yet manly, sympathetic, and yet strong, patient, and yet practical. So treated the most self-contained character will at length succumb, and the most “retiring disposition” unfold itself in real fellowship and helpful friendship. By gentleness we shall awaken their trust in us, and by our manliness that confidence will be justified. Then, too, in the rendering of help, what scope there is for the qualities of the real gentle-man The true young man hates patronage, but welcomes brotherly assistance. The same thing done by two different people may have directly opposite effects, and all because of the way in which it is done. We cannot use too much tact in undertaking to bear one another's burdens. There must not be great talk about the effort, or there will be little chance of good result. Cautious movement is necessary when we attempt to share the doubts, sorrows, and responsibilities of any human soul... “The stricken deer” will leave the herd, and must be followed warily if to any purpose. Nor will the “rough and ready” method of soothing the troubled, and assuring the anxious spirit, avail much. Generous consideration of the circumstance, training, and temperament of those whose case calls for our assistance should
ON GENTLE-MAN LINESS, 68
be followed by a delicate adaptation of means to the end in view. If we are manly, our mode of treatment will be so gentle as not to weaken in others the manliness by which they may be characterized. Hence, real help will always take the form of encouragement. Half the men in this world who plead for assistance need only to know themselves more fully, and the possibilities that are within them. The best way, therefore, of helping them is to enlighten them with regard to their own capabilities. To bear their burden is rather an inspiriting than a substitutionary act on our part. “God helps those that help themselves,” and it is simply reversing the divine order of things, undermining the vital principle of manhood, and putting ourselves in an unthankful position, when we offer to do for any young man what he can and ought to do for himself. Fill his place for him, and you will leave him dissatisfied; but put him into his place, and show him how to rightly occupy it, and the grace of your interposition will nurture in him better thoughts of his own powers. It is wiser and kinder to be his prompter than his patron. Again, the true gentle-man is better known by what he does than by what he has-hence his quality will come out in the passing of criticism. The infraction of the golden rule must always endanger one's right to be regarded as a gentleman; and yet how often is that rule violated in the act of speaking to, and of, others as we would not that they should speak concerning ourselves? We should try to remember that in most wrong acts there is an admixture of frailty and fault. Toward the fault we should direct a manly outspokenness; but in the presence of frailty nothing will avail like gentle forbearance. “Looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted,” is a “fruit of the Spirit” worth cultivating. As we get older, most of us feel criticism less, whilst we criticise more. If, then, we would attain to “ripeness” of manhood, let us turn all the experience we ever had of being “put right” to the putting right of others. The sensitive and timid will thus recognize in our presence a grace and sweetness that will impart confidence, inspire hope, and stimulate effort within them. With the mental microscope we shall succeed not only in detecting flaws, but also in revealing traces of latent excellence. The former may have a disheartening effect, but the latter will prove a beneficent ministry. Jesus Christ “knew what was in man.” He was man's greatest helper, and unto Him was “all judgment given.” If, then, we would show manliness and gentleness in beautifully blended exercise, let us take Him for our model, and our knowledge of men, our mutual helpfulness, and our capability of just discrimination, will show to what “society” we belong. When John Mackintosh was dying, Norman Macleod wrote, “Never have I known his equal, never ! So pure, so true and genuine, so heavenly-minded and serene, so young and joyous, yet so old and sober; so loving and utterly unselfish, a beautiful, beautiful character; the modesty and tenderness of a gentle girl, with the manly courage of a matured Christian; knowing the world, yet not of it; mingling in it with a great broad-heartedness, yet unstained by a single spot; warm, refreshing, and life-giving as the sun, yet uncontaminated by all it shone on.” We sometimes hear a man described as “one of Nature's gentlemen.” Far worthier will be our aim if, like John Mackintosh, we come to rank at last amongst Christ's gentlemen—the aristocracy of the heavenly kingdom. W. J. AVERY.