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St. Paul's Church Clock, 1871

by Charlotte Maria Tucker

The hand of the diligent maketh rich. Proverbs 10:4

Little Charley Mayne stood at his crossing, and a better crossing there was not in London. Many passed him by and few regarded him—the pale boy, who stood with his broom in his hand, who touched his cap, but never asked for a penny, which made passers-by more inclined to bestow one. But perhaps there was not in all the vast city a happier boy than Charley. He had set his affections on things above and that sweetened all things below. He knew that life is but a passing scene and that he was journeying on to a heavenly home, a heavenly crown, a heavenly Father! How could he fret at poverty here, who had so vast a treasure awaiting him? So, with a light and happy heart, Charley stood at his crossing, with his eyes fixed upon the large round clock of St. Paul's, which was straight before him.

The clock was a companion to the little sweeper. Its sound was like the voice of a friend. Shall I tell you why? It had long been the custom of Charley, whenever he heard the hour strike, to lift up his heart in silent prayer. No one knew what was passing in his mind. The prayer might be short, but it came from the heart and God heard it in heaven. It was the prayer of faith and ascended up on high. Such prayers are never in vain.

I will write down for you, reader, some short prayers of the little sweeper. Perhaps some among them may suit you and enable you more easily to raise your heart to God.

When Charley had risen up early in the morning, he had knelt down and said the Lord's Prayer. Then he carefully took his Bible from the shelf and before he read his morning chapter, this was his humble prayer, "Lord, bless my reading of Thy Word and teach my heart by Thy Holy Spirit, for the sake of Jesus, my Savior.".

Before eight, Charley was at his crossing, which then looked like a river of mud, for the night had been very rainy. Before he began his work, the striking of the hour gave him his signal for prayer.

THE CLOCK STRUCK EIGHT.

Heavenly Father, bless my labor and keep me from sin, through Christ Thy Son.

Busily and cheerfully, little Charley pursued his work. He was earning an honest livelihood, "not slothful in business, serving the Lord" (Rom 12:11).

As he was plying his broom, a stout man in a drab great-coat pushed roughly past him and knocked it out of his hand. The sweeper raised his eyes and saw that the passenger was Ben Carker, the man of all others whom he was most inclined to hate. It was Carker whose slander had lost Charley's father a good place. It was he who had set his fierce dog to worry Charley's poor little kitten. It was he who, worst of all, when Charley's mother lay ill and dying, with his rude noise broke the sleep which was her last chance of life and only shouted louder when entreated to be quiet. A fierce angry feeling rose in the heart of the boy as he picked up his broom and looked after his enemy, but just then a well-known sound broke on his ear, like a warning voice from above.

THE CLOCK STRUCK NINE.

Lord Jesus, preserve me from hatred and malice, and teach me to forgive as I would be forgiven. Oh! turn the heart of mine enemy and grant to him pardon and peace.

Many had now passed by, but none had remembered the poor little sweeper. He did not ask from man, but he knew that he might ask from God.

THE CLOCK STRUCK TEN.

Father in heaven, relieve my wants, give food to both body and soul, I humbly pray Thee, in the name of my Savior.

Still no help came and the child grew disheartened and weary. A splendid carriage, drawn by four fine horses, dashed rapidly past. Not so rapidly, however, but that Charley could see in it the faces of bright, happy children. They seemed bound for some party of pleasure, decked out in costly array, full of life and spirits.

"They are not obliged to work for their bread and perhaps go without it after all," thought Charley. "There is no danger of their wanting their dinners. Why should their lot be so different from mine?"

Then Charley remembered that the King of Glory had not where on earth to lay His head; that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor (2Co 8:9), and Charley blushed to think that he could ever have repined.

THE CLOCK STRUCK ELEVEN.

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon me, a miserable sinner. Lord Jesus, let me follow the example of Thy patience and in all things submit to the holy will of my Father which is in heaven. Amen.

A lady drew near with a little girl beside her. Her gentle looks gave new hope to poor Charley as he stood in silent expectation. She glanced at him and walked on. It was a moment of disappointment—but a moment—for the child ran back and with a kind, bright smile, placed a penny and a tract in his hand. Scarcely had Charley thanked the little lady, when an elderly gentleman drew from his waistcoat pocket a shining fourpenny-piece, and gave it to the young sweeper. Charley felt himself quite rich!

THE CLOCK STRUCK TWELVE.

Lord, I thank Thee for all my blessings. Let me show forth Thy praise not only with my lips, but in my life, by giving myself up to Thy service. Hear me, O Lord, for the sake of my Redeemer.

When Charley partook of his noonday meal, he partook not of it alone. A poor old blind beggar was welcome to a share, nor was even the beggar's dog forgotten.

"The Almighty reward you. I can give you nothing but prayers!" said the poor old man as he parted from the sweeper.

A thought flashed across the mind of Charley, "Are there none for whom I should have prayed? Even in addressing God, I should not think only of self."

THE CLOCK STRUCK ONE.

Lord, bless my father and all whom I love. Comfort the sad, have pity on the sick, and on those who are sinning, have mercy, O God, through Jesus our heavenly King.

The clouds were gathering dark above and suddenly a loud peal of thunder was heard, and down fell the rattling rain. Charley was obliged to seek shelter under an archway. Two or three men were standing there, swearing, disputing, and taking God's name in vain, even while His thunder was rolling above them. It was painful to Charley to hear them, so he tried to turn away his attention and silently spend the moments in prayer.

THE CLOCK STRUCK TWO.

In the hour of death and in the day of judgment, good Lord, deliver us.

Now the clouds rolled away and the blue sky appeared and the sunbeams streamed down upon the wet pavement. Charley left the archway and worked again at his crossing. And as the glorious light burst around him, thought of the heavenly home where clouds and sorrow are unknown.

THE CLOCK STRUCK THREE.

Lord, guide me to that bright land where all is holiness, peace, and joy.

A mournful party now came in sight. A little coffin was being carried to the grave. The black pall above it was edged with white. Weeping parents followed the remains of their beloved child. Charley's heart was full of pity. "Yet why should they mourn for the little one?" thought he. "Safe in the arms of the Savior. How soon may my hour come! May it find me ready!"

THE CLOCK STRUCK FOUR.

My God! Oh, make me love Thee more and more and live to Thee and die to Thee and with Thee rejoice forever.

Dear reader! Do you ever pray? Is your answer, "I do not know how to pray"? Keep this little story in your memory and when you hear the church clock strike, offer up one of Charley's simple prayers to your heavenly Father. But the preparation of the heart is from the Lord (Psa 10:17), and the wisest man, as well as the youngest child, has much need to say, "LORD, TEACH US HOW TO PRAY."

Edited by Pam Takahashi


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