The Heart That Can Feel for Another
James Smith, 1859
This motto commends itself to every one at once, and each would speak approvingly of it. The holy law of God requires it. The gospel and the grace of Christ produces it. Every Christian is supposed to have such a heart, and is required to manifest it, in all the walks of life. "See that you love one another," is a divine injunction. "Love one another—as I have loved you," is the Savior's new commandment.
Love is full of sympathy. It endeavors to relieve pain—to soothe sorrow—to supply needs—and to prevent danger. It will stoop—it will bend—it will suffer, if it may but serve. In every class of society, we have many pleasing and affecting proofs of the power of love; but among what are called the lower classes, we often meet with the most striking manifestations of the heart that can feel for another.
Old Mary Tomlin is very poor, and her bones are full of pain—but she has such a heart. Her neighbor, Martha Sims, is very unwell, and that poor creature will go and tidy up her room, smooth her pillow, and speak kind and loving words about Jesus to her; and if ever she has anything nice sent her, which she thinks Martha could like, she is sure to save her a part. Many an hour's suffering has Mary prevented, and many a suffering hour has she beguiled away, by her Christian conversation. She loves dearly to talk of Jesus, and tell a bit of her own experience; and a very rich experience she has to tell. She will first do all she can for her suffering neighbor, and will then sit down by her, wishing she was a good scholar, that she might read to her; but as she cannot read, out of a well stored memory, she brings many a precious promise, and many a sweet verse of a hymn, so much so that Martha wonders where she can get them from. Mary has not got a long purse, or a learned head—but she has a heart that can feel for another.
Little Betsy Smith is poor—but the grace of God has early taken possession of her soul, and as is always the case then, she wishes to be useful. She is not old enough to take a class in the Sunday school, she wishes she was. She cannot do so much that may be called Christian work, to help the aged or the sick—but she is always ready to run on an errand for them; or do any little thing to add to their comfort. She may often be seen too with her little new testament, or some favorite book, sitting and reading beside poor widow Williams, who cannot read herself, nor often get out to a place of worship to hear the gospel. She also reads slowly and impressively, and does not mind going back and reading a passage over again, when the old lady has not caught the meaning, or does not exactly understand it. There are a great many things that Betsy Smith has not—but let her be short of what she may, she has a heart that can feel for another.
James Webb, poor lad, has a heavy, hard place, and has to work a great many hours. He always goes to bed thoroughly tired out on Saturday night—but he is almost sure to be at the early prayer meeting on Lord's day morning, and never misses meeting his Sunday school class, unless unwell or out of town. It grieves him to see lads growing up without being able to read the Bible. Often has he during the week, put the question to lads he has met with, "Do you go to a Sunday school?" and if they say they do not, he at once begins to persuade them to go. Many a youth has he induced to enter the Sunday school. Nor is he satisfied with seeing them at school, or reading the Bible, he longs and endeavors to lead them to Jesus. He knows more than one or two whom he has reason to believe has fled for refuge to the Savior, through his instrumentality. His eye often passes over the faces of the different classes, while the address is being delivered, to see if any impression is made, and if he sees any evidence of this, he is sure to find an opportunity to follow it up with an affectionate exhortation in private. James Webb is not wealthy, he is not very gifted—but he has a heart that can feel for another.
Henry Rogers knows and loves the Savior, and he heartily wishes that every one also did—but he is not satisfied with merely wishing. He is a mechanic, and works hard all the week. Something often whispers to him, that he ought to stay at home and rest on the Lord's day, and he loves rest, and enjoys it too, as much as most men. But Henry can manage to talk for half an hour about the Lord Jesus Christ, because he knows and loves him; and he can speak very well of the sinner's state and danger, because he has been taught of God to know himself and his own natural condition. He has no great gifts, he often wishes he had—but then he says, perhaps he is better without them, for they might puff him up and make him proud.
Well, there are several dark villages near the town in which Henry dwells, and on Lord's day evenings he visits these villages, and in the cottages of the poor tells of a Savior's love. Many discouragements has he met with, much ingratitude has been shown him, often has he been tempted to give up, and stay at home and enjoy him self as others do—but he cannot bear to think of souls perishing in ignorance and sin, without making an effort to save them, and therefore he perseveres. He has been useful, and he is more useful now than he thinks he is; for God always honors such simple self-denying labors. Henry Rogers has little learning, small talents, and has but few advantages—but one thing everyone that knows him will allow that he has, and that is a heart that can feel for another.
How many illustrations one might give of this motto—but enough they say—is as good as a feast. And a friend of mine used to say, "Better send the people away longing, than loathing." Few books are too short—but very many are too long; and as with books, so it is sometimes with pieces, of which books are made up, therefore I will close this—but not before I have kindly put the question,
Reader, have you a heart that can feel for another? Can you feel for your fellow creatures in need—and try to supply them? In pain and suffering—and try to soothe them? In poverty and privation—and try to relieve them? Can you? Do you? Can you feel for your fellow sinners, who are in danger, and try to alarm them? who are in ignorance, and try to instruct them? who are careless, and solemnly warn them? Can you see sinners all round you, going to hell—and not pity them? Or, pity, and not wish to save them? Or, wish to save them, and not exert yourself to do so?
Ought you not to deny yourself ease, pleasure, and gratification, in order to save souls from death? If you can go to your own place of worship time after time, and pass your neighbors and acquaintances, who neglect God's great salvation, and despise their own souls, and not invite them, and try to induce them to go with you—can you possess a heart that can feel for another?
This, this is what we need in our churches, to influence and stimulate every member, that so each may use his own individual influence, and personally exert himself, to crowd the house of prayer, lead sinners to the Savior, and snatch souls from the pit. In vain we write, preach, or profess—unless we have a heart that can feel for another. In vain we long for a revival, boast of our orthodoxy, pride ourselves in our form of church government, or glory in our various societies; the thing we need, the thing we wish for, the thing we must have, before anything remarkable is done, is for every individual member to possess, and know that he possesses, a heart that can feel for another!