Go and stand on the hill yonder, and look round. What do you see? Gold here覧gold there覧gold everywhere!
All so busy覧so earnest.
"How is Mr. Sharp's barley?" says one. "How will Mr. Bell's wheat turn out, think you?" says another. "Oh," cries a third, "if the fine weather does but hold we shall do well. It was a very good change of the moon, and I hope to get in my bit in safety."
The trouble is to get labourers. When there is no work about there is plenty of grumbling among labourers; and no wonder, for if they don't work, how can they eat? and when there is abundance of work there is plenty of grumbling among employers; and no wonder, for if hands are so scarce, and wages run so high, that it is almost impossible to house the grain and seed in time, where is the rent to come from? Well, this is a world where grumbling is to be looked for, but there is a harvest coming at the close of it when all murmurs, all cares, will be done away; when the reapers, who will be the holy angels, will be enough for their work, and when no fear that a single grain of good seed will perish, but all will be safely gathered into the heavenly garner.
Now, here is a true story, though the names of the people are not given, because they are yet alive; very likely they may see this, and if they do, they will exclaim, "Oh, yes; this is true indeed!"
There was a great revival of religion in a certain parish; many persons who had lived in utter deadness as to God and a world to come were awakened out of their sleep, and wept and prayed earnestly for faith to the saving of their souls. The picture of the great Harvest Home was brought before them with such power that they felt nothing was of consequence compared with the question of their being among the tares or the wheat.
A lady, who was staying there on a visit, was much touched by what she saw around her, and especially interested in one woman, who gave proof that her repentance was sincere, and her faith a living faith.
She often thought of this poor woman覧for she was very poor覧after her return home; and having met with a book which she thought would give comfort and encouragement, she put it by, determining to send it some time. But "some time" did not satisfy her, she had so strong a desire to do it at once, that she folded it up to post it. Still, she was not satisfied覧what more had she to do? It came into her mind, "Put in half-a-crown; she is very poor, and it will be a help to her." So she put in the half-crown, directed the parcel plainly and fully, and put it in the post. The postman next day duly delivered the packet to the woman. "Oh," she said, not opening it, "this must be a mistake, I don't know anybody that would send a book to me. You had best inquire who expected one" (perhaps there were others of her name in the place, but this I do not know). The postman recommended her to open it and see if she could make out that it was hers, he would inquire on his return if she still said it was not.
With the parcel in her hand she met a neighbour who, like herself, now feared the Lord and lived in prayer. "What have you there?" she said. "Oh, it's a parcel that must have come by mistake," she replied. "I know nobody away from home覧and look!" she exclaimed as she untied the paper and the half-crown dropped out. They consulted together, and wondered much who it could be that had sent it; but guessed wrong altogether, and made sure they had done so. At length the neighbour said, "Have you been asking the Lord for anything lately?" "No, nothing particular, except it was for the money to pay my club that is due to-day, and if I don't pay in I am forfeit, you know!" "Good, now," said the neighbour; "don't you see who has sent it? Why, the Lord, to be sure. He heard your prayer, and knew it was just what you wanted; so He put it into some Christian heart to send it. Go and pay it in (it was just the money), and give Him the thanks."
Now, see what it is to be one of the grains of wheat that are to be gathered into His garner! When the harvest comes the angels will look after the very smallest, and not only so, but till then the very smallest and meanest will be kept and cared for and ministering spirits, either of their fellow Christians (like this lady) or those blessed creatures who, we are told, "are sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation," will be employed by their Saviour to help them in every need.
"Ah! but I have seen Christians left a long time in great trouble," says one. "So have I," says another. Have you? Well, be sure of this, while God's word stands true it must have been that they neglected fervent prayer to be helped out of it; or else their remaining in trouble was for their good in the end; for it is written, "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive," and it is written also, "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly."
A gentleman who farmed his own land and was known to treat his labourers well had a company of Irishmen every year覧year after year, who came to work all through the harvest. They were very sober, clean, hard-working, and well conducted; so that they were allowed to sleep in a barn, and had the use of a fire in the back kitchen to boil their milk (which was given them) and their potatoes. They felt quite at home when they got to this estate, and had as much confidence in the kindness of their employers as they had in them.
One day one of them, Paddy Brady, asked to see the lady of the house. She was a most benevolent woman, and took a lively interest in these Irish reapers. Paddy, making his most genteel bow (she used to say they were quite gentlemen in their manners), asked her if she would be so obliging as to direct a letter for him.
"Surely, Paddy, I will," she answered, "but if you can write a whole letter yourself, why can't you direct it?"
"Sure, it's another thing quite," said Paddy. "Biddy Brady, my wife, knows me so well she can read the inside as plain as if I was speaking; but there's never a one of the men as'll carry it across the water as has got the least bit of notion of me, and how can they read my writing, so strong of the brogue?"
The lady couldn't see the wisdom of this reason, but she didn't like to interfere with Paddy's view, and he was satisfied with it. So, though she laughed to herself, the letter was directed according to his desire.
"And now, my lady, if you'd just do me the favour to give me one of them things to put in the corner, I'll pay you for it and thank you all the same as if you gave it out of your free generosity," said Paddy, who looked with admiration at the direction, which, however, would have given him more trouble to read than his own writing覧"so strong of the brogue" within.
The lady took a Queen's head and put it on the letter, refusing the penny. "Put by the penny," she said, "you will have that much more to carry home to your wife."
"God bless you, my lady! I hope I'll have to work for you many years yet; and beyant all and everything I hope we'll both get good luck in the grand harvest that's to come at the end!"
His eyes were full of grateful feeling as he spoke, and she was, as you will believe, much touched with his simple earnestness.
There was everything in Paddy's wish. Whether he knew anything of the Lord of the harvest, and, in spite of ignorance and the false teaching of his priest, looked for His coming with hope and love, I cannot say; but certain it is, to be under the care of the angel reapers there, instead of being left to the winds of destruction, should be every one's chief concern.