THE LORD WILL PROVIDE
God has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith and “heirs of the kingdom.”
The following sketch which is an instance of this, presents an illustration of the fulfilment of Christ’s gracious words, “the hairs of your head are numbered;” and also the words of the Psalmist, “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.”
Above a century ago, in a sequestered part of Scotland, a hard-working couple were struggling through life, and frequently found it difficult to gain a bare subsistence and provide even necessaries for their young family. They lived in a thinly-peopled neighbourhood, remote from town or village, and indeed at a considerable distance from any habitation whatever.
From circumstances with which we are not acquainted, those
poor people were reduced to the greatest extremity of want; all their resources having failed, their little store of provisions gradually diminished till they were exhausted. Ann had always been frugal and a good manager of her husband’s earnings; but, with all her economy, she could not make her means last longer. Unlike the widow of Zarephath, she saw the barrel of meal wasted away without any prospect of its being replenished. Her children had received the last morsel she could furnish, yet she was not cast down, for Ann Young was a godly woman. She “knew whom she had believed”; and having found by experience that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, therefore she did not despond. The day, however, passed over, and no prospect of succour appeared. Night came, and still no relief was vouchsafed to them. The children were crying for their supper, and because there was none to give them, their mother undressed them and put them to bed, where they soon cried themselves to sleep. Their father was much dejected, and likewise went to bed, leaving Ann in solitary possession of the room. And yet she felt not alone; many sweet hours she had spent in that little cottage, apart from the world, with her Bible and her God. Often had she here enjoyed communion with Him, whom her soul loved, seen by His all-seeing eye. Precious had these seasons ever been to her. The present, therefore, was not to be suffered to escape unimproved; nor the opportunity neglected of pouring out her soul to God, of spreading out her sorrows, her trials, all before Him, and giving vent to a full, and now, alas! a heavy heart.
But ere she began, that she might not afterwards be disturbed, she made up the peat fire on the hearth. She trimmed and lit the cruisy (a small iron vessel which served as a lamp), and hung it upon its accustomed place on the wall. She moved the clean oaken table near it, and taking the large family Bible from among the six or eight well read, well worn volumes on the bookshelf, deposited it upon the table. She paused, however, before opening the sacred volume to implore a blessing on its contents, when the following text involuntarily came to her mind: “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” She knelt down and committed her case to the Hearer and Answerer of prayer, and then tried to recall former experiences to bring to remembrance the promises of God, and those portions of Scripture which used to come home with power to her heart, but without now feeling that lively pleasure and satisfaction she was wont to find in the Word of God, the text, “For every beast,” etc., etc., seemed fastened to her memory, and despite of every effort, she could not banish it from her mind. And yet, thought Ann, it is God’s own Word, and she read the Psalm in which that text is contained. It was, she thought, a beautiful Psalm, but many verses appeared to her more suited to her condition than the one already quoted. Again she prayed, hoping that while presenting her supplications before a throne of grace she might have enlarged views of the sweet portion she had read, and earnest petitions that the Lord
would appear on her behalf.
Early dawn found her engaged at the same employment, and at length daylight appeared through the little casement, when a loud, impatient rap was heard at the door. “Who’s there?” said Ann. A voice from without answered, “A friend.” “But who is a friend?” replied she; “what are you?” “I’m a drover; and quick, mistress, and open the door, and come out and help me, and if there’s a man in the house, tell him also to come out with all speed, for one of my cattle has fallen down just here, and broken its leg, and it is lying near your door!” On opening the door, what was the first object that met the astonished gaze of Ann? A large drove of cattle from the Highlands of Scotland, as far as the eye could reach, in either direction, the road was black with the moving mass, which the man was driving on to a market in the south. And there lay the disabled beast, its leg broken. The poor drover standing by, looking ruefully over it; his faithful collie dog by his side, gazing up, as if in sympathy with his master, and as if he understood his dilemma, and knew also that his services could now be of no avail. The worthy couple were concerned for the poor drover and evinced every willingness to assist him in his misfortune, had it been in their power. He, in his turn, felt at a loss to know how he should dispose of the animal, and paused to consider what course to pursue. But the more he thought over the catastrophe, the more his perplexity increased. To drive on the maimed beast was obviously impossible. To sell it there seemed equally so. At a distance from a market it would not be easy to find a purchaser, and by remaining in a place long enough to do so he must likewise detain the whole herd of cattle, which would incur more expense than the animal was worth. What was to be done? The drover drew his Highland plaid tighter round him. He shifted and replaced his bonnet from one side of his head to the other. He at length exclaimed, “I never was more completely brought to my wits’ end in my life;” and then turning to Ann, he added, ” ‘Deed, mistress, I must just make you a present of the beast, for in truth I don’t know what else I can do with it; so kill it, and take care of it, for it is a principal beast. I’ll answer for it, a mart like that has never come within your door.” And without waiting for thanks, he whistled to his dog, and joined the herd, which was soon seen moving slowly on its weary journey.
The poor cottagers were lost in wonder at this unexpected deliverance from famine by so signal an interposition of Providence. And after they had in some measure recovered from the surprise that such an incident was calculated to excite, the father assembled his little family around him, to unite in prayer and render thanks to the “Giver of all good” for this new proof of His condescending kindness towards them. Thus their prayer was now turned into praise. He then proceeded to follow the advice of the drover, and found his gift, as he had told them, to be “a principal beast.” All was then rejoicing, preparation and gladness with the inmates of the cottage. They had meat sufficient to serve them for
many months to come, and in their first joy they totally forgot they had no bread. But He who commanded the ravens to bring to the prophet bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening, “did not forget it. God does not work by halves.”
The narrative then proceeds to state that a sack of meal was received by the worthy couple about six o’clock the same morning as a present from Lady Kilmarnock. Ann Young now found out the meaning of that text, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.”