by Legh Richmond
As I journeyed late on a summer evening, meditating on
the beauties of the prospect around me, while they gradually faded from my
sight, through the approach of darkness—it grew suddenly quite gloomy, and a
black cloud hanging over my head threatened a heavy shower of rain. The big
drops began to fall, and an open shed, adjoining to a laborer's cottage,
offering me a seasonable shelter.
The circumstance reminded me of the happy privilege of
the believing sinner, who finds a refuge from the storm, and the blast of
the terrible ones, in the love of his Redeemer, which prepares him "a covert
from storm and from rain." I went in unperceived; the door of the cottage
was half open, and I heard the voices of a poor man, his wife, and some
I was hesitating whether to go into the house and make
myself known, or to enjoy in solitude a meditation on the foregoing
comparison, which my situation had brought to my mind, when these words,
spoken in a calm and affectionate tone, struck me with mingled pleasure and
surprise, and determined not to interrupt the conversation, which was as
"Indeed, wife, you are in the wrong. Riches would never
make us happier—so long as the Lord sees it good that we should be poor."
"Well," replied the wife, "I can see no harm in wishing
for more money and better living, than we have at present. Other people have
risen in the world; and why should not we? There's neighbor Sharp,
who has done well for his family, and, for anything I can see, will be one
of the richest farmers in the parish, if he lives. And every body knows, he
was once as poor as we are—while you and I are laboring and toiling from
morning to night, and can but just get enough to fill our children's mouths,
and keep ourselves coarsely clothed, and hardly that."
"Wife," answered the man, "having food and clothing—let
us therewith be content. And, if it pleases God that even these things
should fall short, let us submit ourselves to God in patience and
well-doing, for he gives us more than we deserve."
"There, now you have begun preaching again," said the
woman; "you never give me an answer, but you must always go to your Bible to
help you out!"
"And where can I go so well?" replied the husband. "Is it
not God's own Word for our instruction?"
"Well, that may be, but I do not like so much of it,"
"And I do not like so little of it, as I see and hear
from you," returned the man.
"Why that book has taught me, that it is an honor and
comfort to be a poor man; and by the blessing of the Spirit of God, I
believe and feel it to be true. I have, through mercy, always been enabled
to get the bread of honest industry, and so have you; and though our
children feed upon brown bread, and we cannot afford to buy them fine
clothes, like some of our vain neighbors, to pamper their pride with; yet,
bless the Lord, they are as healthy and clean as any in the parish. Why then
should you complain? Godliness with contentment is great gain."
"An honor and a comfort to be a poor man, indeed! What
nonsense you talk! What sort of honor and comfort can that be? I am out of
patience with you, man!" the wife sharply cried out.
"I can prove it," replied he.
"How?" returned his partner, in no very pleasant tone of
"My dear," said the good man, "hear me quietly, and I
will tell you. I think it an honor, and I feel it a comfort—to be in that
very station of life which my Savior Jesus Christ was in before me. He did
not come into the world as one who was rich and great—but as a poor man, who
had nowhere to lay his head. I feel a blessing in my poverty, because
Jesus, like me, was poor. Had I been a rich man, perhaps I would never have
known nor loved him. 'For not many mighty, not many noble are called.' God's
people are chiefly found among the poor ones of the world, and those who are
despised. This makes my poverty—to be my comfort.
"Besides, has not God chosen the poor of this world—to be
rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who
love him? This thought makes my poverty also to be my honor.
"Moreover, to the poor the gospel was and is preached,
and to my heart's delight I find it to be true, every Sunday of my life. And
is it not plain, all the neighborhood through, that while so many of our
rich tradesmen and nobles are quite careless of their soul's salvation, or
set their faces against the ways of God, and are dead to everything that is
gracious and holy—that a great number of the poorest people are converted
and live forever in heaven? I honor the rich for their station, but I
do not envy them for their possessions. I cannot forget what Christ
once said, 'How hard it is for those who have riches—to enter into the
kingdom of God!'
"Oh! my dear wife, if you did but know how to set a right
value upon the precious promises which God has made to the poor—how
thankful would I be!
"The expectation of the poor shall not perish. He
delivers the poor and needy. He has prepared of his goodness for the poor.
The poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One. For he became poor, that
we, through his poverty, might be made rich—not in gold, but in grace.
"These promises comfort my soul, and would make me
happy—even if I were deprived of that which I now enjoy. I can trust my
Savior for this world, as well as for the next. He who spared not his own
Son, but delivered him up for us all—how shall he not with him also freely
give us all things?
"May the Lord in his mercy bless you, my dear Sarah, with
the grace of a contented mind!"
Here the gracious man stopped—and whether affected by her
husband's discourse, or by any other cause, I know not—but she made no
reply. He then said, "Come, children, it is our time for rest; shut the
door, and let us go to prayer."
"Forgive me," said I, laying hold of the door, as the
child was obeying her father's orders, "if I ask permission to make one in
your family devotions, before I travel homeward. I have heard you, my
friend, when you knew it not, and bless God for the sermon which you have
this night preached to my heart."
The honest laborer blushed for a moment at this
unexpected intrusion and declaration, but immediately said, "Sir, you are
welcome to a poor man's dwelling, if you come in the name of the Lord."
I just looked around at the wife, who seemed to be
startled at my sudden appearance, and the six fine children who sat near
her, and then said, "You were going to pray; I must beg of you, without
regarding me, to go on, as if I were not here."
The man, whom I could not but love and reverence with a
simple, unaffected, modest, and devout demeanor, did as I requested him. His
prayer was full of tender affection and sincerity, expressed with great
scriptural propriety, and was in all respects such as suited the preacher of
those sentiments which I had overheard him deliver to his wife just before.
When he had finished, each of his children, according to
the good old patriarchal custom of better days, kneeled down before him in
turn to receive a father's blessing.
It was now late, and the rain was over. I gave the poor
man my blessing, and received his in return. I wished them good night, and
went onward to my own home, reflecting with much self-abasement of heart,
what an honor and comfort it is, to be a poor man—and rich in the faith!