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my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must de

crease!"

To conclude, the loss of friends, that bitterest of all sorrows, may be, if rightly used, an instrument of incalculable power in bringing souls to God. But it should be skilfully employed, and managed with a dexterous hand. The great thing is, when the heart is softened, to make some definite impression on it. If the deep emotions which such bereavements raise, tend no farther than to the object lost, all the benefit is thrown away. It is but a sorrow of this world, that worketh death. Afflictions may, indeed, be important aids to him who would win a soul to God. They still are but props which the skilful builder knows how to use. While he has these temporary supports he will take care to turn his arch, that, when the scaffolding is removed, the solid edifice of true religion may securely rest upon it.

H. W.

"I PRESS TOWARDS THE MARK."

TO HAVE an object; to see your way clearly to it; and to resolve, with full purpose of heart, to reach it;-such are necessary conditions of progress and success in all undertakings. From the child's first journey across the floor, to the last and highest honours that crown the grey head, these conditions are indispensable. No moral truth, as far as I remember, is more clearly stated by Aristotle-that "Master of the wise"-than this: that we must, first of all, have a distinct view of our end or mark; that we must deliberately examine the chain of means by which it may be reached, till we bring them down to something practicable, something on which we can set to work; that then our desire for the attainment of the object will set us in motion, and carry us right forward, over the way already explored, to the mark always in sight.

And I believe that if we look closely at the men who have been most successful in the world, we shall see here the real cause of their success. For one man who "wins the race of glory," we may find a hundred of greater intellectual powers, and another hundred of equal or even greater industry. But it is the combination above described, that alone produces great and decided results: the clear, definite apprehension of the end; a positive knowledge that it may be reached, and that you can reach it; and a determination to follow on, like a stanch hound, and to let no cross purpose distract your attention, or paralyze your energy.

Perhaps the first of these qualifications for success is the rarest. In truth there are not many men about us, even of those whose prospects are bounded by this short life, who could give a very definite account of their object in life. The world is full of mere loungers,-of drones in the hives of men-whose existence

may fairly be called aimless, because they have no one great end, to which all their actions, and all their lesser ends, are subservient. And consequently their lives are made up of a multitude of acts, without arrangement or connection; each terminating in itself, promising nothing, and leading to nothing. And though this class of beings is of very large extent, yet even in the world's ethics they are set down as useless idlers, burdens of the earth; simply because, however busy and active in their way, their life is without an object.

But show me a man who has set up his mark before him and has it well in view, and I will without hesitation predict that he shall succeed, or that if he fails, he shall at least win the admiration and respect of all men of similar pursuits, by the consistency of his conduct. Such men are sometimes not popular in their life-time; they must often cross the paths of their neighbours; they are apt to jostle against prejudices, and fashions, and scruples; their pursuit is perhaps contemptuously spoken of as a crotchet or a hobby. Yet, in proportion to the dignity of the pursuit, and among their own fellows, they maintain a dignity of character, earned by this decision and singleness of purpose. Their object may be, like Buxton's, to emancipate the slaves; or, like Lord to have the very best ox at the Agricultural Show: it may range from the highest objects of science, to the most trifling ambition of the most ordinary minds: whatever it is, the mere possession and pursuit of a definite object, confers superiority, and generally promises success.

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In confirmation of this principle, history tells of Robert Bruce and Peter the Great; and our modern philosophers point to Hutton of Birmingham. For there is a class of writers who regard money as the great end of life, who diligently instruct the people of the land that their summum bonum is in the Savings Bank, and who have many a glorious instance to produce of a competence saved in the smallest possible number of years by the wisdom and resolution of a man like themselves.

I remember an incident still more to the purpose. I had a friend much devoted to the study of entomology-a very keen hunter of all the tribe of insects. He was one day walking in one of the most crowded streets of London at midday. His eye was caught by a beetle on the wing-which his practised sight announced at once as one rarest among the rare. He had long desired to possess it, and had assigned a place to it in his cabinet. Although as calm a man as any in that crowded street, he had an object, and here was the opportunity of making one step towards it. He took off his hat, and started in chase. The creature was floating on, a yard or two before him, and only a few inches above his reach; but he kept his eye upon it, and pursued steadily. He told me that he heard, as he well might, many exclamations of surprise, and some of impatience, as he rushed through the ranks of men and women, with his eyes fixed, as they deemed on vacancy-his hand stretched out, and his hat

off. But he was not a man much to regard what people said or thought. He secured his prize, and the beetle is at this day in his cabinet.

I always thought this a singularly apt illustration of the Christian's course and the Christian's mark. Robert Bruce learned a lesson from a spider; St. Paul, from the runner at the games. Let Christians learn, as they may, from the children of this world, how success is to be ensured. "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown,"-let us show at least equal wisdom and energy in pursuit of the "incorruptible."

It seems, then, that if we are to succeed as a Christian, we must set out with a clear apprehension of what our object as a Christian is. A great amount of idle professions, of wavering actions, of desultory effort, even among those who really love the Lord Jesus Christ, might be avoided if this rule were regarded; if every man were cognizant of his own object; if he would rigidly rule and direct his doings with a view to this, and make every other end subservient and subordinate to it.

But, in addition to a clear apprehension of our mark, and of its paramount importance, we should be able to see our way to it. We must believe that it is to be reached; that we are able to reach it; that we have the means and the directions for obtaining it. And we must exercise our judgment in all matters of practice, so as to discern whether each action, and every day's employment, are bearing in the right direction, or are carrying us away from our mark. This will give a dignity and consistency to our conduct and carriage, rarely to be found under other circumstances. Even they who regard our pursuit as visionary, whose blinded eyes cannot discern the object on which our upturned sight is fixed, will still bear witness to a vigour and a reality which they cannot but admire.

And it is no presumptuous interference with the work of the Holy Spirit, to lay down such rules for the maintenance within us of the spiritual life. We are to be "fellow-workers with Him" in all His work of grace; and if we labour and pray to work systematically, wisely, and in accordance with the structure and wants of our nature, we shall be more likely to work effectually. There never lived a man who more fully carried out this principle than St. Paul himself, who has more than once laid it down for the guidance of the Church. He had the most complete apprehension of his purpose and aim. It was never out of his sight: "This one thing I do." And he did all things with a view to it. And hence, though Festus, and perhaps others, thought him "mad," he was enabled in the end to say, "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown;"—the crown on which his eye had been steadfastly fixed through all his life of toil and battle, and which was now almost within his grasp.

It is each man's business to settle for himself what his mark as a Christian is. It might be variously stated; and is variously

expressed in Scripture. Perhaps the most comprehensive end and object, the final result of the whole Christian dispensation, and of each Christian's successful course, is, "the glory of God;' to "glorify God in our body and in our spirit ;" to glorify God by the offering of a purified heart, and by a blameless life; to glorify God in serving His Church, and in edifying our neighbours. Let this be our aim as long as we live on earth; and, when it shall please God to give us our place among the spirits of the blest, be it still our ambition for ever to glorify God with a service worthy of the object to which it is rendered.

And all this is not a mere speculation; but is a rule of conduct eminently practical, and of daily application. When you, my reader, set out on your day's work, you have one distinct definite mark before you-the glory of God. And in that infinite variety of circumstances which affects your daily conduct, there is no one action, or word, or thought, that may not fairly be regarded as bearing on your great object. Either in the discipline of your own soul, or in the influence you exercise on others, you are every moment either furthering the glory of God, or you are working against it. And one main reason why you, who love your gracious Lord and Master, suffer so much time to run by without doing anything for His glory, is that you do not keep your mark in view; your eyes are not fixed upon it; your hand is not stretched out to lay hold on the mark, and, thus, you are not doing all to the glory of God.

And here, surely, you have an admirable rule for self-examination. Think over the past year, or month, or week; and if you find you have not made the progress you hoped, in spirituality, in holiness, in Christian health and vigour,—see whether this be not in part the cause, that your sight of the mark has been dim and indefinite. Sometimes you have lost it altogether. Your eye has been caught by this or that object which has crossed your path and led you out of the track, and you have found it not so easy to regain your sight of the one true object.

If you wish for the energy, the consistency, the glorious career, and the final success of an apostle, you must have, first, the spiritual apprehension of an apostle; you must have your mark clearly before you. You must have, secondly, the faith of an apostle, that you may see your way to this end, and be fully persuaded that you shall finally attain it. And, lastly, you must have the love of an apostle-a love that cannot rest till its object is reached and enjoyed. Cherish these gifts, and you will need no exhortation or remonstrance; your posture will be, as St. Paul's, a reaching out, a pressing forward towards the mark. And these are the gifts of the Holy Spirit; but they may be cultivated-they may be more carnestly prayed for.

Thus much for the importance of this principle, in the regulation and general conduct of our general life. I must add a few words to show its bearing practically and closely on the employ

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ments of every day and every hour. If it is essential to have a definite aim and purpose in our whole life, it is equally necessary to have a definite aim and purpose in every day's work. The great end of all can only be attained through an infinite series of lesser ends as the steps that lead to it. And these lesser ends must be pursued with vigour and with consistency, or there will be no real progress.

It is possible for a Christian to have a clear view of the Christian's object in the main, and a sincere desire to follow after it and obtain it; and yet his course may be unsteady, and his efforts fruitless and desultory, for want of distinctness in his particular purposes, and a consequent absence of concentration in his work. It is very well, as we enter upon a new year, or rise in the morning, to make a strong resolution in general, to cultivate our souls, and to edify the Church upon any opportunity that may arise. And it is surely far better to begin the day and the year with an express and well-defined aim and object. On the one hand, the cultivation of some particular grace or habit, in which we have fallen short, or the eradication of some evil temper or tendency. And on the other, some one definite work, for the good of our neighbours and the edification of the Church. And let it always be the work that lies nearest to us. If, I say, we are content to lay down for ourselves thus a single aim and object, we shall be more likely, with the blessing of God, to have success, than if we suffer our sympathies to be distracted, and our energies wasted upon the varied throng of schemes, and plans, and purposes, that cry to us every day for help.

As far, then, as the great end, the glory of God, may be attained through self-improvement, let there be a plan and a method in our work. Take the largest thorn-most of us know what it is—and pluck that out first; take the weakest flower of grace, and cultivate it tenderly and diligently. This has been the method of the most eminent saints and servants of God; their prayers, their watchfulness, their self-denial, have been directed to a particular purpose. They have been pointed and concentrated. Still more manifestly is this the case in every successful attempt to glorify God by the edification of his Church. The greatest men have ever been the men of one object, or at least of one object at a time. It was thus with Wilberforce, with Buxton, with Howard, and Mrs. Fry. It is the case of all those and there are such in every parish in the land-who are contented to give themselves to the work that the Lord points out to them, and give themselves wholly to it. They will have their reward, and their work will live after them. P.

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