Sometimes in a museum you see one of the old prairie schooners on which the pioneers crossed the continent. If they had stopped to contrast each day the distance they had traveled with the vast stretches of the continent before them, they would never have reached their goal. But day by day the oxen plodded on; night by night the wagons were halted, the cattle watered, and the fires lighted. Thus, by going on, day by day, they crossed plains and mountains and reached the lands on the Pacific. It is not doing something brilliant or striking that wins you the victory and brings you to the journey's end, but keeping everlastingly at it, sailing on from port to port, island to island, this day and then the next day. The ministers of the old time used to ask in their prayers that we might be granted an "honorable through-bearing." A fine phrase that, signifying perseverance up to the very end.
In Grecian myth Orpheus, with his lyre, went through the infernal regions in quest of his lost wife, Eurydice. As he passed, Tantalus ceased for a moment from stooping to quench his thirst, Ixion's wheel stood still, the vulture ceased to tear the giant's liver, the daughters of Danaus rested from their futile toil, Sisyphus sat on the rock to listen, and even the cheeks of the Furies were wet with tears, so compelling was the music of Orpheus mourning for his lost companion.
Pluto consented that Orpheus should take his wife with him to the upper air, upon one condition—that he would not look on her until they reached the regions above. All hell held its breath as they passed on their way to the light. One by one the dreadful perils were passed. But just as they were on the verge of the upper world Orpheus looked back, and all his labors were in vain. Eurydice had vanished.
So it was with this man of God who was slain by the lion after his heroic witness against the altar of Jeroboam (I Kings 13:1-30). Almost to the very close of the chapter he is magnificent in his courage, steadfastness, and faithfulness to the word of God. But at the last he looked and was lost.
The Athenians used to have a race in which the runners carried lighted torches. The victors who were crowned were those who arrived at the goal with their torches still burning. May you come to your goal, reach the end, with your torch still burning! The highest tribute, the highest reward, you can ever receive is to have said of you, "He was a true, a consistent, man clear down to the end."
When Abraham Lincoln was a young man he ran for legislature in Illinois, and was badly swamped. He next entered business, failed, and spent seventeen years of his life paying up the debts of a worthless partner. He was in love with a beautiful young woman to whom he became engaged—then she died. Later he married a woman who was a constant burden to him. Entering politics again, he ran for Congress, and again was badly defeated. He then tried to get an appointment in the United States land office, but failed. He became a candidate for the United States Senate, and was badly defeated. In 1856 he became a candidate for the Vice Presidency and was once more defeated. In 1856 he was defeated by Douglass. One failure after another—bad failures—great setbacks. In the face of all this he eventually became one of the greatest men in America, whose memory is honored throughout the world. When you contemplate the effect of a series of setbacks like this, doesn't it make you feel rather small to become discouraged?—Waneta Grimes Holt, in The Junior Class Paper.
A long time ago, Robert Bruce, the king of Scotland, was forced to hide from his enemies. He found refuge in a cave deep in the forest. He was downhearted and discouraged. He had tried to save Scotland from her enemies, but he had lost every battle. His soldiers had been killed or hurt or forced to hide.
"It is of no use to fight any more," he said. "Our enemies are too strong for us."
Just then he saw a spider weaving a web. She was trying to spin the web between two rocks. She had fastened one end of her thread to a rock and was trying to swing herself across, but each time she failed to reach the rock.
Bruce sat watching her for a long time. He wondered how long she would keep on trying. The spider tried and failed seven times. "You are a brave and patient spider," thought the king. "If you try once more and succeed, I, too, will fight again."
The spider swung herself once more on her thin thread. This time she reached the other rocks and fastened her thread.
"Thanks for the lesson you have taught me, little spider," said Bruce. "I will try once more to free Scotland from her enemies."
So King Robert went forth again at the head of his army. He and his men fought as they had never fought before. Bruce won the battle and his country was freed.—Selected.
When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you until it seems you cannot hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time when the tide will turn.—Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Some years ago in a manufacturing town of Scotland, a young lady applied to the superintendent of a Sunday School for a class. At his suggestion she gathered a class of poor boys. The superintendent told them to come to his house during the week, and he would get them each a new suit of clothes. They came and were nicely fitted out.
The worst and most unpromising boy in the class was a lad named Bob. After two or three Sundays he was missing, and the teacher went to hunt him up. She found that his new clothes were torn and dirty, but she invited him back to the school, and he came.
The superintendent gave him a second new suit, but, after attending once or twice, Robert again absented himself. Once more she sought him out, only to find that the second suit had gone the way of the first.
"I am utterly discouraged about Bob," she said, when she reported the case to the superintendent, "and must give him up."
"Please don't do that," the superintendent answered; "I cannot but hope there is something good in Bob. Try him once more. I'll give him a third suit if he'll promise to attend regularly."
Bob did promise and received his third new suit. He attended regularly after that, and got interested in the school. He became an earnest and persevering seeker after Jesus. He found Him. He joined the church. He was made a teacher. He studied for the ministry.
The end of the account is that that discouraged boy—that forlorn, ragged, runaway Bob—became the Rev. Robert Morrison, the great missionary to China, who translated the Bible into the Chinese language, and by so doing opened the Kingdom of Heaven to the teeming millions of that vast country.—Church of Scotland's Children's Review.