These papers, written in the intervals of parish work, have appeared in the pages of the Leisure Hour and the Sunday at Home. Their publication in a collected form having been decided upon by others, it only remained for me, by careful revision and excision, to render them as little unworthy as might be of starting for themselves in the wide world.
I shall not say that I am sorry that they are thus sent forth on their humble mission. Indeed, I am glad. “Brief life is here our portion”:—and surely the wish is one natural to all earnest hearts, that our work for our Master in this sad and sinful world should not have its term together with thex quick ending of our short day's labour here:—and a book has the possibility of a longer life than that of a man. The Night cometh, when none can work; how sweet, if it might be, that when the day is ended, when the warfare, for us, is over, we may have left some strong watchwords, or some comfortable and cheering utterances, still ringing in the ears of those who stepped into our place in the unbroken ranks.
Yes, the evening soon falls on the field; the day is brief, nor fully employed; inanimate things seem to have an advantage over us; streams flow on, and mountains stand;
«While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
We men, who, in our morn of youth, defied
The elements, must vanish:—be it so!
Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour.»
And I may be permitted to hope that possibly these meditations may have such power and perform such, service in their modest way. They have but the ambition of a flower that looks up to cheer, or a bird's note that tranquilly, amid storms, continues a simple melody from the heart of its tree. They will, like these, be easily passed by, but, like these, may have a message for hearts that will look and listen.