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"You flee with winges of after change at random where you please; But that in time will breed in you some foul and fell disease."

SOMB men live at random. They go by no system, and they aim at no end. They are not idle, but are always doing something; yet they do one thing without any concern as to how it shall connect with other things. What comes in their way they do, and when nothing presents itself they are just as content to do nothing. This we call living at random. Such persons may be found in any community. It would be strange indeed if such random livers should make any progress. They may indeed happen to move forward in a straight line, and thus get away from their starting point, but just as like as not they will, after years of random moving, be found just at the place where they started.

Some men talk at random. Who has not heard a random talker? You may talk with him an hour, and when you think back over the conversation you will find yourself entirely unable to say what the subject has been. Still greater is your misfortune if you get into an argument with a random talker. You will soon give up the argument from pure weariness in following him. The only way you can conquer him is to lead him off, by one of his tangent movements, till he forgets the subject. The more you endeavor to keep to the subject, the more hopelessly do you prolong the discussion. Play the ruse, like a bird-lead him away as far as you can, and then make your escape.

There are also random readers. They read whatever comes in their way. They read much-enough to make them wise, but wise at random. They can pick up any anything, read anything, and

op any time. They never read a whole book, never master a whole subject. Whatever falls into their hands occupies them for a whole sitting, long or short. If it is a dictionary, they will read words and definitions. If it is a newspaper, they will read advertisements, if their eye falls first on that side. If it is a child's primmer they are equally interested. If it is an almanac, they will read over the weather tables, and the sittings of the courts for the year. A genuine random reader would not even stop if he should open a book in the midst of a table of logarithms!

Our young readers will permit us to warn them against forming random habits. No one that either lives, talks, or reads at random, will ever become either an agreeable, useful, or successful man. If we would make progress, we must aim at an end, and then proceed by some kind of system. One year's advance by system will accomplish more than a life-time spent at random.




IN our last article we delineated the Christian character of Mary Magdalene as it was exhibited in her ministering unto her Saviour. We have seen that for this purpose she attended him from the day she became his disciple to the end of his life. Where do we find her next? The sacred writers shall answer. John says: "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." John 19, 25. Mark says: "And when the centurion which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this was the son of God. There were also women looking on afar off, among whom was Mary Magdalene."

Here is a scene for the painter. There are few sights more beautiful and more moving than this.


In order fully to feel its sublimity we must contrast her present with her previous condition. Think of her former deep degradation and ruin-think of her as the habitation of seven foul and fierce spirits think of her spirit as the embodiment of every evil passion-think of her banquetings, her revellings and riotings, her hatred of all that is holy and good-and then see her again!—is that the same Magdalene who now stands at the cross! Those eyes, which were once bleared with the vaporings of passion and lust, now beaming with the radiance of more than angelic love upon the cross! Those ears, which once drank in with satanic delight the most daring curses and blasphemies, are now intent upon catching the softest sounds of complaint that might proceed from the lips of the divine sufferer upon the cross. That countenance, once so fearfully dark with the shadows of sin, now lit up with the beauty of holiness. What a change! What a contrast!

But look also at Magdalene as she stands in contrast with others who are gathered around the cross. There were many on Calvary to witness the crucifixion of Christ. We see them-some separate and alone, others in small groups-some nearer, and some farther off-some sitting and some standing. Some seem engaged in silent meditation upon the scene, while others are conversing with each other about the sufferer. Some are wagging their heads, and some are reviling him. Some countenances are clouded with anger, others are burning with revenge, and upon others is seen the smile of ridicule and the sneer of contempt. Some are deriding him, some are

mocking him, and one is directing a spear towards his side! In what lovely contrast with all these stands the faithful, devoted and sympathising Magdalene!

In what company is she? Who are they which compose the interesting group of which Magdalene is one? There is Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom the angel had once hailed as blessed among women: there is the other Mary who once sat and learned at his feet, the Mary who had chosen that good part, the Mary of the family of Bethany to which the Saviour so often retired from the noise and bustle of Jerusalem-there was also that "disciple standing by whom Jesus loved." Besides these, also "many women were there which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him." What a leveler is grace. The vilest become the companions of the purest, under its moulding power. She who was once at home among devils, now forms one of the loveliest and holiest groups which the earth ever bore upon its bosom. Once she would have appeared among those who are now wagging their heads at the immaculate sufferer-once she would have cried with the rest in derision, If thou be the son of God come down from the cross. Once she would have smiled approval to him who put the spear into his sacred side, but now she feels herself every pang, and her heart echoes every groan. Now she looks upon his enemies with deep pity, and is ready to join the Saviour's prayer, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

"With such, I own, I once appeared,

But now I know how great their loss,
For sweeter sounds were never heard
Than mercy utters from the cross.

But let me not forget to own,

That if I differ aught from those, "Tis due to sovereign grace alone,

That oft selects its proudest foes."

Let us endeavor to fathom the feelings of Mary Magdalene, and ascertain why she stands at the cross. Now, more than at any time previous, does she manifest the deep feelings which have moved her heart ever since she became a follower of Jesus. We may learn something that shall be of importance to our own piety by beholding Mary Magdalene at the cross.


There is a faith which rests merely on a selfish ground, which is actuated only by selfish motives, and which therefore only lasts till some inconvenience or difficulty rises in the way. Such was the faith of those who followed him, not because of the mighty works which he did, but because they did eat of the loaves and were filled. These cried out with the rest, He is a prophet, as long as his cause was popular and apparently prosperous; but when the

day of trial came they turned back and walked no more with him. This is a faith founded like the house of which the Saviour speaks, which a certain man built upon the sand, which the winds and the tide soon levelled with the earth. It is a faith like the seed upon the rock, which springs up suddenly out of a shallow soil, but in time of temptation dies away. Such was not the faith of Magdalene.

There are also different degrees of good faith; some weak and wavering, and some strong and firm. Weak faith is subject to ebbs and flows. Sometimes, as by a spasm, it seems to exceed its native strength; and then again by reaction it becomes so powerless as to put itself and its cause to shame. Such was the faith of Peter. When there was no danger in sight, and when a zealous mood was upon him, he could say, "Lord I am ready to go with thee both to prison and to death;" and, "Though all should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended!"—and yet, when the trial came, Peter denies thrice that he knows him; and does it even with the awful emphasis of an oath!

Even the faith of all the disciples, except John, had more or less of this weakness about it; for when they saw that he was indeed taken fast by his enemies, "then all the disciples forsook him and fled." No one but John "went in with Jesus into the palace of the High Priest." When they led Jesus away to the cross, where are the other disciples?-where is Peter, so forward and bold in his professions? There is none there but the quiet and modest John, who is too diffident to write his own name, but calls himself "that disciple," or "that other disciple." The rest had all fled for fear, like timid lambs when the wolf approaches. John is the only representative of the twelve at the cross! and by his side is Mary Magdalene! How strikingly does her faith contrast with the other disciples. She followed him, not by loud professions but by silent deeds of faith; and now she follows him to the cross in the face of danger. She knows in whom she has believed; and therefore she believes on against all appearances. Her faith rested not upon the outward fortunes of Christ and his cause, but upon an inward union of life with him. Though she did not profess in words that she would do so, yet she really did carry out what Peter said he would do-go with him into prison and death. Such was the faith of Mary Magdalene.

We need not understand that Peter and those disciples who fled when Christ was apprehended and led to the cross, had had no true faith at all. As already said, there are different degrees of faith. They did believe; yet for a season they were overwhelmed with fear. Although the Saviour had been preparing them for it by his instructions, yet they were slow to believe that he who had all power in heaven and in earth, would suffer himself to be led away as a lamb to the slaughter. They did not fully apprehend the truth that Christ must needs suffer these things in order to redeem man, and

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