More than half a century ago a faithful minister coming early to the kirk, met one of his deacons, whose face wore a very resolute expression.
“I came early to meet you,” he said. “I have something on my conscience to say to you. Pastor, there must be something radically wrong in your preaching and work; there has been only one person added to the church in a whole year, and he is only a boy.”
The old minister listened. His eyes moistened, and his thin hand trembled on his broad-headed cane.
“I feel it all,” he said; “I feel it, but God knows that I have tried to do my duty, and I can trust him for the results.”
“Yes, yes,” said the deacon, “but ‘by their fruits ye shall know them,’ and one new member, and he, too, only a boy, seems to me rather a slight evidence of true faith and zeal. I don’t want to be hard, but I have this matter on my conscience, and I have done but my duty in speaking plainly.”
“True,” said the old man; “but ‘charity suffereth long and is kind; beareth all things, hopeth all things.’ Ay, there you have it; ‘hopeth all things’! I have great hopes of that one boy, Robert. Some seed that we sow bears fruit late, but that fruit is generally the most precious of all.”
The old minister went to the pulpit that day with a grieved and heavy heart. He closed his discourse with dim and tearful eyes. He wished that his work was done forever, and that he was at rest among the graves under the blossoming trees in the old kirkyard. He lingered in the dear old kirk after the rest were gone. He wished to be alone. The place was sacred and inexpressibly dear to him. It had been his spiritual home from his youth. Before this altar he had prayed over the dead forms of a bygone generation, and had welcomed the children of a new generation; and here, yes, here, he had been told at last that his work was no longer owned and blessed!
No one remained—no one?—”Only a boy.”
The boy was Robert Moffat. He watched the trembling old man. His soul was filled with loving sympathy. He went to him, and laid his hand on his black gown.
“Well, Robert?” said the minister.
“Do you think if I were willing to work hard for an education, I could ever become a preacher?”
“Perhaps a missionary.”
There was a long pause. Tears filled the eyes of the old minister. At length he said: “This heals the ache in my heart, Robert. I see the divine hand now. May God bless you, my boy. Yes, I think you will become a preacher.”
Some few years ago there returned to London from Africa an aged missionary. His name was spoken with reverence. When he went into an assembly, the people rose. When he spoke in public, there was a deep silence. Priests stood uncovered before him; nobles invited him to their homes.
He had added a province to the church of Christ on earth; had brought under the gospel influence the most savage of African chiefs; had given the translated Bible to strange tribes; had enriched with valuable knowledge the Royal Geographical Society; and had honored the humble place of his birth, the Scottish kirk, the United Kingdom, and the universal missionary cause.
It is hard to trust when no evidence of fruit appears. But the harvests of right intentions are sure. The old minister sleeps beneath the trees in the humble place of his labors, but men remember his work because of what he was to one boy, and what that one boy was to the world.
“Do thou thy work: it shall succeed
In thine or in another’s day;
And if denied the victor’s meed,
Thou shalt not miss the toiler’s pay.”
When Some One’s Late
Some one is late,
And so I wait
A minute, two, or ten;
To me the cost
Is good time lost
That never comes again.
He does not care
How I shall fare,
Or what my loss shall be;
And basely rude to me.
My boys, be spry,
The moments fly;
Meet every date you make.
Be weather fair
Or foul, be there
In time your place to take.
And girls, take heed,
And work with speed;
Each task on time begin;
On time begun,
And work well done,
The highest praise will win.