THE SPIRITUAL CUPBOARD. By Rev. Louis Albert Banks, D.

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John vi. 1-40. Bread is the staff of life. Cakes and preserves and ice-cream are good enough in their place, but if any one of us had to choose a steady diet of just -one thing we would not hesitate long before choosing bread. So the great staple of a Christian life is feeding upon Jesus Christ. AVe must get our motive, our spirit, our example, all from him. Only as we feed upon him shall we become strong and muscular Christians. The healthy condition of the body depends largely upon the partaking of wholesome nourishment at regular intervals. One may have good food, and yet if he does not partake of it with sufficient regularity and frequency he will soon find his physical system demoralized. Let any man here try taking two square meals on Sunday and then fasting, with an occasional glass of water or a cooky, until Friday night, and he will be too weak to walk to prayer-meeting. And yet that is 185

186 B 1 ear's ipra^ers/lfteetltiQ ^alks. what some people do, practically, in a spiritual way. I fear t-hat the old-fashioned familj^ altar in every Christian home, with its reading of the Bible and spiritual song and prayer, has been done away with in a great many religious families. It can not be neglected without great spiritual loss; it furnishes an opportunity for taking spiritual food regularly every day. Don't imagine that you are too busy, and excuse j'Ourself that way, for we really have no right to be too busy to feed our spiritual nature. One of the early Methodist preachers in Kentucky was stopping over-night at the house of one of his church members where a certain Judge Cone and his wife, from Nashville, Tenn., had also stopped to jDass the night. When Mr. Bolton, the host, handed the Bible to the minister for family worship in the evening, he said to him in an undertone that he would best make the service short, as the judge was probably not accustomed to such things. The old man said, " Yery well, very well, " but

he looked pained. He read only two verses of Scripture and then knelt down. "O Lord," he prayed, "we are very poor and needy creatures, and we know thou art able and willing to supply all our wants; but Mr. Bolton says that Judge Cone and his wife from Nashville, who are with us, are not used to family worship, and however needy

XLbc Spfrftual Cupboard. 187 we are, there is no time to spare in telling thee our wants. Amen." The judge was greatly taken aback, and so was his host. Between them they persuaded the faithful old preacher to continue his prayer, which he did with great earnestness and spiritual fervor. The wise Christian will take time to eat the spiritual food which is necessary to build up the inner and by far the more important man. It is idle to think that one may store up enough at one time to make up for days and weeks of spiritual starvation. Spiritual dyspepsia, if not so apparent, is far more common than its physical type of disease. Some people will go to a special service for a week or two and stuff themselves with highly wrought spiritual food, arousing the emotions, and then seem to feel that because they have overgorged the spiritual stomach they may excuse themselves from both food or service for the next month or two. I have heard of a very stout woman who resolved to consult a physician about her corpulence. The doctor drew up a careful dietary for her. She was to eat dry toast, plain boiled beef, and a few other things of the same lean sort, and in a month return and report the result. At the end of the time the woman came, and was

188 B lOiear's ipragers^ccting tialfta. so stout she could hardly get through the door. The doctor was aghast. "Did YOU eat what I told you? " he asked. " Keligiously, " she answered. His brow wrinkled in perplexity. Suddenly he

had a flash of inspiration. "Did you eat anything else? " he asked. "Why, my ordinary meals ! " said the woman. Some people seem to have no more sense of propriety than that, concerning the spiritual cupboard. The Sunday services and the prayer-meeting, with their sermons and exhortations and songs, are intended only to instruct us and inspire us, and teach us how we may feed upon Christ, the living bread that came down from heaven. To be spiritually fed, we must daily meditate upon him. By Bible reading and prayer and special times of thought upon Jesus we must so feed upon him as to obtain spiritual nourishment. When Arnold was writing the life of Frederick W. Eobertson, the saintly preacher of Brighton, he went one day into a bookseller's shop, and found that the proprietor had been used to attend on Robertson's ministry, and had in his possession a portrait. He said: "Do you see that picture? Whenever I am tempted to be mean I run into this back parlor and look at it; whenever I feel afraid of meeting a difficulty I come and look into

Zhe Spiritual Cupboar&. 189 his eyes, and they put new force into me." If a picture of Ti-obertson in a bookseller's back room will do that for the bookseller, what may we not expect when we have the picture of Jesas Christ in our souls ! Yea, more than that, when we have his spirit brooding over our spirit, feeding our inmost self, nourishing our fainting purpose, and strengthening us for every trial of life !

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