Under the care bestowed upon her she fast recruited, and I continued to employ her for three years. I gave her good wages, and, as for years I had induced all my help to do, I persuaded her to deposit in the savings' bank all the money she could spare. Fortunately for poor old Juda, she laid up during these three years a considerable sum.
Before this, she had always been improvident, careless of her earnings, and from a disposition to change often out of place. But as one extreme is apt to follow another, when she found that she had several dollars laid aside, entirely a new thing for her, there was quite a revolution in her feelings and character. She now inclined to covetousness, and could hardly be persuaded to expend a sum sufficient to make herself comfortable in extreme cold weather which sensibly affected her in her old age and feeble health. At length her disposition to hoard up her earnings increased to that degree that she resorted to many unnecessary and imprudent means to avoid expense and to evade my requirements with regard to her apparel. But for this parsimony she might have held out some years longer. She greatly improved in health and strength for the first two years, and was more comfortable and useful than I expected she would be. Always at her post, patient, faithful, economical and obliging, I really felt grateful for the relief she afforded me in the management of a large family; but at length I was obliged to dismiss her from my service. For a few months she found employment in a small family, but soon fell sick, and required the services of a physician. She had to find a place of retirement and take to her bed, and soon her money began to disappear.
Her miserable sister, who had exercised an injurious influence over Juda, and whom I had found it necessary to forbid coming to my house, now came constantly to me for this money, for Juda's use, it is true, but which I had reason to fear was not wisely spent. Under this impression, I broke away from my cares and set out to look after her welfare. I was pained to find her in a miserable hovel, surrounded by a crew of selfish, ignorant, lazy and degraded women, who were ready to filch the last farthing from the poor, helpless invalid.
My first interview with Juda was extremely painful. She hid her head, her great wall eyes rolling fearfully, and cried bitterly, "Oh! I am forever undone. Why did I not listen to your entreaties, and heed the kind advice of my good master, to lay up treasures in heaven as well as in the savings' bank!" I remained silent by her bedside, thinking it better for her to give full vent to her agonized feelings before I should probe her wounded spirit, or try to console her. "Oh," said she, "that I could once more have health, that I might attend to what ought to have been the business of my life—the care of my soul." "Yes, Juda," I replied, "but I see, I think, plainly, how it would be had you ever so much time. You would not be very likely to improve it aright, for even now you are wasting this last fragment of time that remains to you in fruitless regrets; why not rather inquire earnestly, 'Is there still any hope for me? What shall I do to be saved? Lord, save me, or I perish.'" For some time her emotions choked her utterance, at length she seized both my hands so forcibly that it seemed as if she would sever them from my wrists, and exclaimed, "Oh, pray for me!"
Her condition was an awful one. From the nature of her ailment she was a loathsome object. Not one of her old companions would approach her, for to them she was now peculiarly an object of terror. Her entreaties that I would not leave her in the power of such cruel wretches, to perish alone, and without hope, prevailed over my own reluctance and the remonstrances of my husband, and summoning up all my resolution, I remained with her, with but little respite, for three days and nights.
Her bodily sufferings continued to be extreme to the last, but were nothing in comparison to her mental agonies. What a condition of mind and body was hers! Every moment demanding something to cool her parched tongue, or to allay her fears, or to encourage her hopes.
Never shall I forget the last night of painful and protracted suffering. The miserable woman who pretended to assist me in watching, had taken some stupefying potion, and I watched alone, as David expressed it, longing for the first ray of the morning. At length, the day dawned, and I was relieved by good old Mr. Moore. As he entered, I said to him, "Poor Juda is still living, and is a great sufferer; will you not pray for her?" He replied, "I come purpose pray with Juda." Then kneeling, prayed, "Oh Lord, Oh Lord God Almighty, we come to thee for this poor dying creature. Have mercy on her precious soul—Lord God, it will never die. Forgive her sins; oh, Lord God, take the lead of her thoughts to-day, TO-DAY, TO-DAY; Lord God, take the lead of her thoughts to-day, for Christ's sake. Amen."
This was indeed her dying day, and I could not but hope that this humble but pertinent prayer was prevalent with God.
Very many times since then, as I have caught the first glimpse of day, have I said, This may prove my dying day, and prayed, Oh Lord, take the lead of my thoughts to-day.
* * * * *
GOD IS FAITHFUL.
"The fruits of maternal influence, well directed," said a good minister, "are peace, improvement, and often piety, in the nursery; but if the children of faithful mothers are not converted in early life, God is true to his promise and will remember his covenant, perhaps after those mothers sleep with the generations of their ancestors."
"Several years since," that same minister stated, "he was in the Alms-house in Philadelphia, and was attracted to the bedside of a sick man, whom he found to be a happy Christian, having embraced the Gospel after he was brought, a stranger in a strange land, to that infirmary. Though religiously educated by a pious mother, he clandestinely left home at the age of ten years, and since that period—he was now forty, or more—had been wandering over the earth, regardless of the claims of God or the worth of his own soul.
"In Philadelphia he was taken with a dangerous fever, and was brought to the place where I met him. There, on that bed of languishing, the scenes of his early childhood clustered around him, and among them the image of his mother was fairest and brightest, and in memory's vision she seemed to stand, as in former days, exhorting him to become the friend and disciple of the blessed Savior. The honeyed accents were irresistible.
"Through the long lapse of thirty years—though she was now sleeping in the grave—her appeal came with force to break his flinty heart.
"With no living Christian to direct him on that bed of sickness, remembering what his mother had told him one-third of a century before, he yielded to the claims of Jesus."
Here the power and faithfulness of a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God were exhibited. Here was a mother's influence crowned with a glorious conquest.
* * * * *
AN AMERICAN HOME.—The word Home we have obtained from the old Saxon tongue. Transport the word to Africa, China, Persia, Turkey or Russia, and it loses its meaning. Where is it but in our favored land that the father is allowed to pursue his own plan for the good of his family, and with his sons to labor in what profession he chooses and then enjoy the avails of his labor? The American Home is the abode of neatness, thrift and competence, not the wretched hut of the Greenlander or Caffrarian, or under-ground place of Kamschatka. The American Home is the house of intelligence; its inmates can read; they have the Bible; they can transmit thought. The American Home is the resting-place of contentment and peace; there is found mutual respect, untiring love and kindness; there, virtue claiming respect; there, the neighbor is regarded and prized; there, is safety; the daily worship; the principle of religion.
Ten thousand good people noiselessly at work every day, making more firm all good felt at home or abroad, and fixing happiness and good institutions on a basis lasting as heaven.
CHRISTIAN UNION.—In "D'Aubigne's Reformation" we find a short, beautiful sentiment on the subject of Christian Union. He says: "Truth may be compared to the light of the sun. The light comes from heaven colorless and ever the same; and yet it takes different hues on earth, varying according to the objects on which it falls. Thus different formularies may sometimes express the same Christian truth, viewed under different aspects. How dull would be this visible creation if all its boundless variety of shape and color were to give place to one unbroken uniformity? How melancholy would be its aspects, if all created beings did but compose a solitary and vast unity? The unity which comes from heaven, doubtless has its place; but the diversity of human nature has its proper place also. In religion we must neither leave out God nor man. Without unity your religion cannot be of God; without diversity it cannot be the religion of man, and it ought to be of both."
* * * * *
THE MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE.
In the mountainous and wild region which lies around Horeb and Sinai, were found, in the days of that Pharaoh, whose court was the home of Israel's law-giver, many descendants of Abraham, children of one of the sons which Keturah bore him in his old age. We know little of them, but here and there on the sacred page they are mentioned, and we gain brief glimpses of their character and of the estimation in which they were held by Jehovah. Like all the other nations, they were mostly idolaters, against whom He threatened vengeance for their inventions and abominations. But among them were found some families who evidently retained a knowledge of Abraham's God, and who, although they did not offer him a pure worship, "seem, nevertheless, to have been imbued with sentiments of piety, and intended to serve Him so far as they were acquainted with his character and requirements." For these, from time to time, a consecrated priest stood before the altar, offering sacrifices which were doubtless accepted in Heaven, since sincerity prompted, and the spirit of true obedience animated, the worshipers.
In the family of this priest, who was also a prince among his people, a stranger was at one time found, who had suddenly appeared in Midian, and for a slight kindness shown to certain members of the household, had been invited to sojourn with them and make one of the domestic circle. He was an object of daily increasing interest to all around him. Whence had he come? Why was he thus apparently friendless and alone? Wherefore was his countenance sad and thoughtful; and his heart evidently so far away from present scenes? Seven sisters dwell beneath the paternal roof, and we can readily imagine the eagerness with which they discussed these questions and watched the many interviews between him and their father, which seemed of a most important character. The result was not long kept from them. Moses was henceforth to perform what had been their daily task, and as his reward, was to sustain the relation of son, husband, and brother in the little circle. Zipporah, whether willingly or reluctantly we are not told, became the wife of the silent man, nor has he, in the record which he has left, given us any account of those forty years of quiet domestic life, watching his flocks amid the mountain solitudes, and in intercourse with the "priest of Midian," and taught of that God who chose him before all other men. As a familiar friend, he was daily learning lessons of mighty wisdom, and gaining that surpassing excellence of character which has made his name immortal. Was the wife whom he had chosen the worthy daughter of her father, and a fit companion for such a husband? Did they take sweet counsel together, and could she share his noble thoughts? Did she listen with tearful eyes to his account of the woes of his people, and rejoice with him in view of the glorious scenes of deliverance which he anticipated? Did she appreciate the sublime beauties which so captivated and enthralled his soul as he pored over the pages of that wonderful poem which portrays the afflictions of the man of Uz? Did she worship and love the God of their common father with the same humility and faith? We cannot answer one of the many questions which arise in our minds. All we know is, that Zipporah was Moses's wife, and the mother of Moses's sons, and we feel that hers was a favorite lot, and involuntarily yield her the respect which her station would demand.
Silently the appointed years sped. The great historian found in them no event bearing upon the interests of the kingdom of God, worthy of note, and our gleanings are small. At their close he was again found in close consultation with Jethro, and with his consent, and in obedience to the divine mandate, the exile once more turned his steps toward the land of his birth. Zipporah and their sons, with asses and attendants, accompanied him, and their journey was apparently prosperous until near its close, when a strange and startling providence arrested them.[B] An alarming disease seized upon Gershom, the eldest son, and at the same time intimations not to be mistaken convinced his parents that it was sent in token of divine displeasure for long-neglected duty. God's eye is ever on his children, and though He is forbearing, He will not forever spare the chastening rod, if they live on in disobedience to his commands. Both Moses and Zipporah knew what was the appointed seal of God's covenant with Abraham, and we cannot understand why they so long deferred including their children in that covenant. We do not know how many times conscience may have rebuked them, nor what privileges they forfeited, but we are sure they were not blessed as faithful servants are. Now there was no delaying longer. The proof of God's disapprobation was not to be mistaken, and they could not hesitate if they would preserve the life of their child. "There is doubtless something abhorrent to our ideas of propriety in a mother's performing this rite upon an adult son," for Gershom was at this time probably more than thirty years of age, but we must ever bear in mind that she was complying with "a divine requisition," and among a people, and in a state of society whose sentiments and usages were very different from ours. Her duty performed, she solemnly admonished Gershom that he was now espoused to the Lord by this significant rite, and that this bloody seal should ever remind him of the sacred relation. The very moment neglected obligations are cheerfully assumed, that moment does God smile upon his child. He accepts and upbraids not. The frown which but now threatened precious life has fled, and children rejoice in new found peace, and in that peculiar outflowing of tenderness, humility, and love which ever follows upon repentance, reparation and forgiveness.
For some reason, to us wholly inexplicable, Moses seems to have sent his family back to the home which they had just left, before reaching Egypt, and they resided with Jethro until the tribes, having passed through all the tribulations which had been prophesied for them, made their triumphant exodus from the land of bondage and encamped at the foot of Sinai. Jethro, who seems to have taken a deep interest in the mission of Moses, immediately on hearing of their arrival, took his daughter and her sons to rejoin the husband and father from whom they had been long separated. Touching and delightful was the re-union, and we love to linger over the few days which Zipporah's father spent with her in this their last interview on earth. The aged man listened with wonder and joy to the recital of all that Jehovah had wrought. He found his faith confirmed and his soul strengthened, and doubtless felt it a great privilege to leave his child among those who were so evidently under the protection of the Almighty, and before whom he constantly walked in the pillar of fire and cloud. With a father's care and love, he gave such counsel as he saw his son-in-law needed, and after uniting with the elders in solemn sacrifice and worship, in which he assumed his priestly office, he departed to his own land. We seem to see Zipporah, as with tearful eyes she watched his retreating footsteps, and felt that she should see her father's face no more on earth. Not without fearful struggles are the ties which bind a daughter to her parents sundered, though as a wife she cleaves to her husband, and strives for his sake to repress her tears and hide the anguish she cannot subdue. One comfort, however, remained to Zipporah. Soothingly fell on her ear the invitation of her husband to her brother, the companion of her childhood, "We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: Come thou with us and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." Deprecatingly she doubtless looked upon him, as he answered, "I will not go, but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred;" and united in the urgent entreaty, "Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes." With her husband and brother near, on whom to lean, she must have been cheered, and the bitterness of her final separation from home alleviated.
Feelings of personal joy or grief were soon, however, banished from her mind by the mighty wonders which were displayed in the desert, and by the absorbing scenes which transpired while Israel received the law, and were prepared to pursue their way to Canaan. Of her after history we gather little, and the time of her death is not mentioned. One affliction, not uncommon in this evil world, fell to her lot. Her husband's family were unfriendly and unkind to her, and she was the occasion of their reproach and ridicule. But she was happy in being the wife of one meek above all the men upon the earth, and she was vindicated by God himself. What were her hopes in prospect of seeing the promised land, in common with all the nation, or whether she lived to hear the terrible command of God to Moses, "Avenge Israel of the Midianites," we do not know. The slaughter of her people may have caused her many a pang, and she probably went to her rest long before the weary forty years were ended. She has a name and a place on the sacred page,—she was a wife and mother,—and though hers is a brief memorial, yet, if we have been led to study the word of God more earnestly, because we would fain learn more concerning her, that memorial is not useless.
* * * * *
BY REV. MANCIUS S. HUTTON, D.D.
"Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another."
(Continued from page 92.)
I remarked that this precept was important in the heads of families, in regulating their intercourse with each other, as well as that between themselves and their children. I take it for granted that there is in truth no want of real affection and regard between husband and wife, and yet there may be, in their treatment of each other, frequent violations of the duty of kindly affection. The merely outward manner is indeed never as important as the real feeling, but it always will be regarded more or less as the indication of the real feeling, and parents should never forget, that in their children they have most observant and reflecting minds; and you may rest assured that the parental cords are loosed most sadly when the child is led to remark that his parents do not cordially harmonize. Nay, more, if those parents be Christians, such conduct throws a shade of doubt over their Christian character. There were both force and sincerity in the remark of the man who, when the reality of his religion was questioned, replied: "If you doubt whether I am a changed man, go and ask my wife." I fear that many a professing Christian could not stand this test; he could appeal with confidence to the testimony of his church, and receive the most favorable answer, but could he appeal with the same confidence to the testimony of his home, of one who knows him best? Is his intercourse with them whom he truly loves best, always regulated by the law of that kindly affection which religion imperatively demands, nay, which good sense and common humanity require? Many a man will speak at times to his wife in a most unkind and even uncourteous manner, in a manner in which he would not dare to speak to any one else; I know he may not mean unkindness, but is it not a wrong? I say nothing of its unchristianness; is it not a wrong done to her who loves him more than she does all the world, to treat her far more uncourteously than the world would do?
Is it not shameful that she who has borne all the pain, and care, and anxiety, and burden of his children, should ever have an unkind word or look from him? Nay, is it not a meanness, an entirely unchristian meanness, that a husband should presume upon the very loveliness of his wife, upon the very affections of her pure heart, to treat her thus rudely? And is it not as cowardly as it is mean, thus to act towards one whose only defense is in himself? I say cowardly, for were many a husband to speak, and to act towards another woman as he allows himself to do and to speak towards his own wife, he would not always escape the punishment due his ungentlemanly conduct. Let us, who are husbands and wives, endeavor all of us to be on the watch in this thing; and let it be our rule to treat no one in the world more kindly or more politely than we do our own wives and our own husbands. Not long since, at the bedside of a dying wife, I heard a husband, with quivering lip and tearful eye, say, "Beloved wife, forgive me, if I have ever treated you unkindly." If you would be saved from the anguish of ever feeling that you needed forgiveness from the dying lips of your dearest earthly ones, be kindly affectioned, therefore, one to another.
Let us, in the next place, seek to apply this direction to the intercourse of brothers and sisters. No association of beings on earth can be more interesting than that of the family; there are found the tenderest sympathies and the most endearing relations. There the painter seeks for the sweetest scenes by which to exhibit his art, and the poet finds the inspiration which gives melody to his song. The highest praise which we can give to any other association of men, whether in church or state, is to say that they dwell together as a family; and cold and hard indeed must be that heart which does not sympathize and rejoice in family ties. In nothing short of the developments made in the cross of Jesus do the wisdom and love of God towards our race shine more conspicuously than they do in this grouping us in families. The result has been, that society has been preserved, even though the authority of God has been condemned; and even the annals of heathenism afford us very many displays of those kindly feelings, which adorn and beautify human nature. These would not have existed, had not the heart been cultivated in the family; and where religious principle is added as the guiding influence of the circle, the family becomes the nursery of all that is great and good in our nature, it becomes the very type and antepast of heaven. Now, the great development of this religious principle would chiefly show itself in obedience to the apostolic injunction in the precept, "Be kindly affectioned, one to another, with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another." I do not, however, so much seek just now to urge upon the members of the family the existence of kind feelings, for I take it for granted that in obedience to the call of nature, and the ties of blood, these feelings are already in existence; but what I desire to present is the duty of always making these feelings apparent in common intercourse, for just in proportion to the neglect of this, is the family influence on the happiness of its members affected. If you would combine the greatest possible elements of unhappiness you could not imagine any which would surpass that of a family of brothers and sisters, hating each other, yet compelled to live together as a family, where no word of kindness passes from one to the other, where no act of kindness draws out the affections, where the success of one only excites the envy of the others; no smile lights up the countenance; no gladness found in each other's society, the aim of each to thwart and annoy the other. In such dwellings there would be no light, no peace, no joy, no pleasant sounds. Indeed such a picture does not belong to even our fallen world, it is the description of the misery of the lost. A picture, perhaps, of a family in hell. The further, therefore, from this, my friends, that you can remove your own family, the greater will be your own happiness and comfort, and you must remember that the responsibility of this rests upon each one of you individually. Let your brother or sister never receive an unkind, unbrotherly or unsisterly act, never perceive an unaffectionate look, nor experience an uncourteous neglect, and you will do very much towards making your family the abode of as perfect peace as can be enjoyed upon earth, and cause it to present the loveliest and most attractive scene this side of heaven. Now, I will freely acknowledge that in urging this duty upon brothers and sisters, I am setting you upon no easy work; I know that it will require often much self-denial, much restraint in word and deed, but the gain will far more than repay the struggle.
* * * * *
THE FAMILY PROMISE.
BY JOSEPH McCARRELL, D.D.
The promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. From the beginning of the creation God has dealt with man as a social being. He made them a male and a female, and the first institution in innocence and in Eden, was marriage. In his dealings with Adam, God deals with the race. He made with them his covenant when he made it with Him. Hence, by the disobedience of one, many were made sinners; in Adam all die. With Noah he made a covenant never to drown the world again by the waters of a flood. This promise belongs to the children of Noah, the human race.
To Abraham, the father of the faithful, the Almighty God said, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee." (Gen. 17:7.) In token of this covenant, Abraham was circumcised, and his family, and his posterity, at eight days old. This principle of the ecclesiastical unity of the many, this family, is continued under the new dispensation of the covenant, and distinctly announced in the memorable sermon of Peter, on the day of Pentecost: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; for the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:38, 39.) Accordingly, when Lydia believed she was baptized, and her household; and when the jailor believed he was baptized, he and his, straightway. (Acts 16.) And so clearly was this principle established, that it extends to the children of parents of whom one only is in the covenant; "for the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband, else were your children unclean, but now are they holy." (1 Cor. 7:14.) The first mother derived her personal name from this great principle. Under the covenant of works her name is simply the feminine form of the man, [Hebrew: ISHA] the woman, from [Hebrew: ISH] the man. But when, in the awful darkness which followed the fall, the first light broke upon the ruined race, in the grand comprehensive promise, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel," it was promised that she should be the mother of a Savior who should destroy the grand adversary of man, though he himself should suffer in his inferior nature in the eventful conflict. In view of this great honor, that she should be the mother, according to the flesh, of the living Savior, and all that should live by his mediation and grace, Adam called his wife's name Eve, [Hebrew: KHAVA], because she was the mother of all living, [Hebrew: HAY]. (Gen. 3:20.) The family identity, established at the beginning of the dispensation of grace, and continued to the end of divine revelation without the least shadow of change, gives to Christian parents their grand encouragement and constraining motive to seek the salvation of the children whom God hath given them. His former respects, first, themselves, and then their children, as part of themselves. As it is necessary that they should believe the promise to themselves, in order that they may enjoy it; so they must believe the promise respecting their children, in order that the children may enjoy the blessing. And as they must prove the reality of their faith in the promise which respects themselves by their works, so they must prove the reality of their faith in the promise which respects their children by the faithful discharge of the duties which they owe to God in their behalf. Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
A soldier is not trained for the service of his country or the field of battle by a few lectures on the art of war. He must be drilled, practiced, in the very things which he must do upon the field of blood. So the children of believers, who are to take the places of their fathers and mothers in the grand warfare against Satan, the world, and the flesh, must be practiced in these very truths, and graces, and duties which they must labor and do, that they may be saved and be instrumental in extending that kingdom which is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, to the end of the earth and to the end of time. Let Christian parents make full proof of the family promise, use it in their prayers at the Throne of grace, cling to it as the anchor of their hope for those who are as dear to them as their own lives, and prove the sincerity of their prayers by unmeasured diligence in instruction and parental authority and influence, and a holy example. It was a high commendation of Abraham, in whose seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed, that He who is the fountain of honor and blessing should say, "I know Abraham, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham the thing that he hath spoken of him." If you would not that the blood of souls should be found in your skirts at the last day, and that the souls of your own children, plead incessantly the family promise, plead it in faith, approved by diligence and a holy example, not only point the road to heaven, but lead the way. So shall each Christian parent say to the Redeemer, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints and admired in all that believe, Here am I, Lord, and the children which thou hast given me. Let children of Christian parents plead the promise made on their behalf. It has kept the true religion from becoming extinct; it will yet fill the earth with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Plead it for yourselves and show your faith in it by giving yourselves up to Emanuel, the great high priest of our profession, as free-will offerings in the day of his power, as his progeny, whom he will adorn with the beauties of holiness, as the dew from the womb of the morning, when reflecting the light of the sun refracts the prismatic colors. Say with David, "I am thy servant, the son of thine handmaid, and therefore belonging to His household, to serve Him, to glorify Him, to enjoy Him forever." But beware, on the peril of your souls, how you abuse your relation to the family of God. Think not in your hearts we have Abraham to our father; make not the holy promise, nor its holy author, a minister of sin, an apology for unbelief and all ungodliness. Wilt thou not at this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth? Hear, believe, plead and obey the gracious word. "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and upon the dry ground. I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring, and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses; one shall say, I am the Lord's, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel."
* * * * *
THE PROMISE FULFILLED.
"Leave thy fatherless children with me, and I will preserve them alive."
How often has this promise been offered in the prayer of faith at the mercy-seat, and proved a spring of consolation to the heart of a pious widowed mother! In the desolation caused by the death of the husband and father, who was the helper, counselor, and guardian in reference to spiritual as well as temporal interests, and in the deepened sense of parental responsibility in the charge now singly resting upon her, how often and readily does the widow cast herself upon the sure and precious promise of the covenant, "I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee." In the faith of this her heart imbibes comfort, her prayers become enlarged and constant, and her efforts become wisely directed, and steadily exerted, in behalf of the spiritual interests of her children. When we carefully observe such cases, we shall find proof that the blessing of the God of grace peculiarly rests upon the household of the pious and faithful widow. God, in the truth and promises of his Word, takes peculiar notice of the widow and the orphan, and his providence works in harmony with his word. The importance and efficiency of maternal influence in every sphere of its exercise cannot be too highly estimated, but nowhere does it possess such touching interest, or such high promise, as the scene of widowhood. How would faith, laying hold upon the truth of the following promise, and securing its proper influence in all appropriate labors, realize the fulfillment of the blessing: "This is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever." Isaiah 59:21.
These remarks receive a new confirmation in the case of the recent deaths of two young sons of MRS. JANE HUNT, widow of the late Rev. Christopher Hunt, pastor of the Reformed Dutch church in Franklin street, in this city. They died within eight days of each other, the elder, De Witt, in his twentieth year, on the 19th of January, and the younger, Joseph Scudder, in his sixteenth year, on the 11th January, both of pulmonary disease. Their father, the Rev. Mr. Hunt, was a faithful and successful minister of Christ, much beloved by the people of his pastoral charge. The writer of this well remembers a sermon preached by him at the close of a series of services in the visitation of the Reformed Dutch churches of this city, which was solemn and impressive, from the text, "There is but a step between me and death." This was in January, 1839. At this time the seeds of disease (perhaps unconsciously to himself) were springing up within him, and after a few more services in his church, he was confined to his house, and lingered until the following May. His soul was firm in faith and full of peace, on his sick and dying bed. He committed them, again and again, to the care and faithfulness of their covenant God, and felt that therein he left them the best of legacies, whatever they might want of what the world could give. At the time of his decease, they had four children, the youngest of whom was three weeks old. The two oldest were the sons to whose deaths we are now adverting. The two youngest (daughters) are surviving. The elder son was seven years old at his father's death. The responsible trust of rearing these children for Christ and heaven was thus cast upon the widowed mother. Mrs. Hunt is the daughter of the late Joseph Scudder, of Monmouth, N.J., and sister of the venerable, long-tried, and devoted missionary, Rev. Dr. John Scudder, now in India. Brought up under the influences and associations of piety, she was early brought to a saving acquaintance with Christ, and a profession of faith in Him within the church. The consistency and ripeness of her piety has been evinced in the different spheres and relations of life where Providence placed her. With the infant children cast upon her care, at the death of her husband, she plied herself with toilful industry to provide for them, while her soul was ever intent upon their early conversion to Christ. She aimed to give these sons such a course of education as would, under God's sanctifying blessing, prepare them to engage in the work of the ministry, perhaps the missionary service. She had the gratification of seeing them as they grew up evincing thoughtfulness of mind, amiableness of spirit, and correctness of conduct, and by an affectionate spirit, and ready obedience, contributing to her comfort. At the time of his death, De Witt was in the Junior class, and Joseph had just entered the Freshman class, and there had gained a good distinction for study and scholarship, and drawn forth the respect and affection of their instructors and fellow-students. While pursuing his own studies, the elder brother led on the younger brother at home, and it is believed that by his close application he hastened the bringing on of his disease. In addition to this, the mother's heart was yearning for the proofs of their having given their hearts to God. Attentive as they were to divine truth in the sanctuary and Sabbath-school, in the reading of it at home, and careful in forming associations favorable to piety, she yet looked beyond these to their full embrace of, and dedication to, the Savior. How mysterious is that dispensation which, at this interesting period, when these only two sons were moulding their characters for life opening before them; and when they seemed to be preparing to realize a mother's hope, and reward a mother's prayers, and toils, and anxieties, they should, both together, within a few days of each other be removed from time to eternity. But in the circumstances and issues of their sickness and death we find an explanation of this apparent mystery by the satisfactory evidence they afforded of their being prepared by an early death to be translated to the blissful worship and service of heaven.
Previous to a brief sketch of the sick-bed and dying scene of these dear youths, a circumstance may be adverted to, beautifully and strongly illustrative of the value and efficacy of the prayer of faith. Rev. Dr. Scudder, in his appeals, has frequently and ardently pressed upon parents the importance of the duty of seeking the early conversion of their children, and their consecration to the service of the Savior. With his heart intent upon this duty in the spirit of continued believing intercession, God has signally blessed him in his own large family of children in their early conversion to Christ, and in the training of his sons for the foreign missionary service in which he is himself engaged. Two of his sons are now engaged in that service; one training for it some time since entered into the heavenly rest, and others are now in preparation for it. On the 12th of November last, 1851, Dr. S. addressed a letter from Madura, in India, to his nephew, De Witt Hunt. So remarkable is this letter, not only in the matter it contains, and spirit it breathes, but also in the fulfillment of the prayers it refers to, as the end of the two months stipulated found De Witt brought into the hope and liberty of the Gospel, on the very verge of his removal to heaven, that we make the following copious extracts from it:
"My dear Nephew,—My daughter Harriet received your letter by the last steamer. I have not the least evidence from the letter that you love the Savior, for you do not even refer to him. On this account I may perhaps be warranted in coming to the conclusion that he is not much in your thoughts. Be this, however, as it may, I have become so much alarmed about your spiritual condition as to make it a special subject of prayer, or to set you apart for this purpose; and I design, God willing, to pray for you in a special manner until about the time when this shall reach you, that is, about two months. After that I can make no promise that I shall pray for you any further than I may pray for my friends in general. I have now set apart a little season to pray for you and to write to you. Do you wonder at this? Has it never occurred to you as a very strange thing that others should be so much concerned in you, while you are unconcerned for yourself? I can explain the mystery. Your friends have seen you, and your uncle, among the rest, has seen you walking on the pit of destruction, on a rotten covering, as it were, liable at every moment to fall through it, and drop into everlasting burnings. This you have not seen, and therefore you have remained careless and indifferent. Whether this carelessness and indifference will continue I know not. All that I can say is, that I am greatly alarmed for you. It is no small thing for you to trample under foot the blood of Christ for eighteen years. Justly might the Savior say of you, as he said of his people of old, 'Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.' Your treatment of the blessed Savior is what grieves me to the heart. What has He not done to serve you? Were you to fall into a well, and a stranger should run to your help and take you out, that stranger should forever afterwards be esteemed as your chief friend. Nothing could be too much for you to do for him. Of nothing would you be more cautious than of grieving him. And has Christ come down from heaven to save you? Has He died for you? Has He shed his very blood for you that you might be delivered from the worm that dieth not, and the fire which is never quenched? And can you be so wicked as not to love Him? My dear nephew, this will not do; it must not do. You must alter your course. But I will stop writing for a moment and kneel down and entreat God's mercy for you. I will endeavor to present the sacrifice of the Redeemer at the Throne of grace, and see if I cannot, for this sacrifice' sake, call down the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon you."
As a remarkable coincidence evidencing an answer to earnest believing prayer, this letter found both the nephews drawing near to their eternal state. Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit, the end of the two stipulated months for special daily prayer in his behalf, found De Witt brought into the light and liberty of the Gospel, rejoicing in his Savior.
A few incidents occurring in the progress of the sickness, and during the death-bed scene, will now be adverted to; and as the death of JOSEPH took place first, I shall first allude to his case. He was in his fifteenth year, and last fall, in September, entered the Freshman class in the New York University. He had been characterized from childhood for an amiable and docile spirit, filial kindness and obedience, and correctness of deportment. His mind opened to religious instruction in the family and Sabbath-school. He loved the Bible, and it is believed was observant of the habit of prayer. It was the anxious prayer, and assiduous labor of his pious mother that all this might be crowned with the saving knowledge of Christ as his Redeemer. He took a cold soon after entering the University which at first excited no alarm, but it was soon accompanied with hectic fever, which made rapid progress, and gave indications that his death was not remote. In the early part of November, their mother, realizing these indications, and also the precarious state of De Witt's health, who had been afflicted with a cough during the whole of the preceding year, which had been slowly taking root, and now furnished sad forebodings of the issue, plied her labors with greater earnestness for their spiritual welfare. The visits and conversations of Rev. Mr. Carpenter were most acceptable and blessed after this period. I shall here make extracts from some notes and reminiscences furnished me by the mother: "The evening of Sabbath, November 16, was a solemn one to myself and sons. We spent the time alone; I entreating them to yield their hearts unto God, they in listening to the words of their mother as though they felt and understood their import. I begged them not to be wearied with my importunity, and wearied they had been had they not cared for the things belonging to their everlasting peace. I knew not how to part with them that night until they should yield themselves, body, soul and spirit, to Whom they had been invited often to go." After this, Joseph's disease rapidly advanced, and the physicians pronounced his case hopeless. He was throughout meek, quiet, patient. Mrs. Hunt again writes: "Sabbath morning, November 30, I endeavored to entreat God to make this the spiritual birthday of my children. I was with Joseph in the morning, reading and conversing with him. In the afternoon I urged him to go to Christ just as he was, feeling his own nothingness, and casting himself upon His mercy. He replied, in a low, solemn voice, 'I have tried to go many times, but I want faith to believe I shall be accepted.' After a few minutes he said, 'Sometimes I think I shall be, and sometimes that I shall not be.' Again, there was a pause and waiting, and then his gentle voice was heard saying, 'I can give my heart to the Savior.' Truly did I bless God for his loving kindness and tender mercy." It is worthy of observation, that the evening before, Saturday, a small number of pious young men of their acquaintance met for special prayer on behalf of Joseph, De Witt, and another young man very ill. I continue to quote Mrs. H.: "On Friday night, the 2d of January, I asked him in regard to his feelings. He replied, 'I pray that I may give myself away to Christ, and He may be with me when I pass through the valley of the shadow of death.' I remarked, then, Joseph, you want to enter the heavenly Canaan, to praise Him, and cast your crown at his feet. He said, 'Yes, to put on the robe of righteousness.' On Wednesday night, January 7, he was restless. After he awoke on Thursday morning, I said to him, Joseph, try now to compose yourself to prayer; to which he assented and closed his eyes. During the day he remarked to me, 'I prayed for the teachings of God's Holy Spirit that I might be made wise unto salvation; that he would lift upon me the light of his countenance, and uphold me with his free Spirit; give me more light that I may tell around what a precious Savior I have found. I say, Precious Savior, wash me in thine own blood, and make me one of thine own children. I come to thee just as I am, a poor sinner.'" On Wednesday, the day before De Witt received the letter from his uncle, Dr. Scudder, before referred to and quoted. "Joseph wished me to read it to him, which I did. After I had finished, he remarked, 'Before Uncle Scudder prays for me all his prayers will be fulfilled,' but afterwards added, 'he thought his uncle would now be praying for him, and sending a letter to him.'" After this he grew weaker and weaker, and continued peacefully and patiently to wait his coming death, giving expressions of fond attachment to his mother, in acknowledgment of her pious care. On Saturday he was visited, as he lay very low, by Rev. Mr. C., who held a plain and satisfactory conversation with him. Passages of Scripture and hymns were read to him, which gave him pleasure, and to the import of which he responded. He expressed to him the blessed hope of soon reaching heaven. He sank during the night, and died at half-past one o'clock, of the morning of the blessed day of the Lord, January 11, 1852, surrounded by weeping but comforted Christian friends. T.D.W.
TO BE CONTINUED.
* * * * *
John Newton one day called upon a family whose house and goods had been destroyed by fire. He found its pious mistress in tears. Said he, "Madam, I give you joy." Surprised and almost offended, she exclaimed, "What! joy that all my property is consumed?" "I give you joy," he replied, "that you have so much property that no fire can touch."
* * * * *
THE BENEFITS OF BAPTISM.
BY REV. WM. BANNARD.
Son.—Father, how do you reconcile the distinction which the apostle Paul makes in 1 Cor. 7:14, between children as "holy" and "unclean," with the fact that all the descendants of Adam inherit a corrupt nature?
Father.—The distinction is not moral, but federal or ecclesiastical. The apostle is speaking, you perceive, of the children of believers and unbelievers. The one, he says, are "holy," the other "unclean." But he does not mean by this that the children of pious parents are by nature different from others, or that, unlike them, they are not tainted with evil. He means that they stand in a different relation to God and his church. "Holy," in Scripture, means primarily "set apart or consecrated to a sacred use." Thus, the temple at Jerusalem, its altar, vessels and priests, were holy. The Jews themselves, as a people, were in covenant with God. They belonged to him, were set apart to his service, and in this sense "holy." Now, the apostle is to be understood as teaching that children of believing parents, under the Gospel, are allowed to participate in this heritage of God's ancient people, and hence are holy.
Son.—But how can this be?
Father.—I will tell you, briefly, though I cannot now go into detail. In virtue, then, of their parents' faith in God's covenant, into which he entered with Abraham, and through him with all believing parents, their children, also, are brought into covenant with him and entitled to its privileges and blessings. They are set apart and given to him by their parents when they are sealed with the seal of his covenant in baptism. In this manner, and in this sense, they become "holy."
Son.—In what sense are all others "unclean?"
Father.—The children of unbelievers are "unclean" because they sustain no such relation to God. They have not been consecrated to him by their parents' faith in offering them to him in the ordinance of baptism, and are not interested, therefore, in the provisions or benefits of the Abrahamic covenant. They have, moreover, no special relation to the church; no more title to its immunities, deeper interest in its regards, than the children of the heathen. They may, indeed, when they reach a suitable age, hear the Gospel, and upon repentance and faith, be admitted to its ordinances, but they have no special claim upon its care, or right to its prayers and nurture.
Son.—But, after all, is not this relation one of mere name or form? Has it any positive or practical benefits?
Father.—It is, indeed, too often disregarded, yet it is positive in its character and fraught with striking benefits. If you will give me your attention I will state a few of the benefits which accrue to children from this relation. You, then, my son, and all children of believing parents who have been consecrated to God in baptism, are considered as thereby belonging to Him. You are set apart to his service, in a sense that others are not, and consequently are "holy." In this solemn dedication, your parents professed their faith in the triune God, and their desire that you should be his servants. They took him to be your God according to the terms of his covenant; they desired that you might be engrafted into Christ, and claimed for you the promise of the Holy Spirit to regenerate and sanctify you. Now this, in itself, is an unspeakable blessing. On their part it was an act of faith and obedience. In compliance with the divine direction, they claimed for themselves and for you a privilege which has been the birthright of the church in all ages. They commended you in the most solemn manner to God—the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, a covenant-keeping God, who is rich in mercy, infinite in resources, and who has promised "to be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee." It is an unspeakable blessing to be thus placed under his protection, to be brought within the bonds of his covenant, and to be entitled to that pledge of mercy which he has made "unto thousands of them that love him and keep his commandments." If it were a privilege for children to be brought to Christ to receive his blessing while he was on earth, equally is it a privilege to be brought to him now that he is exalted to the majesty on high, and "able," as then, "to save unto the uttermost." Though God has a regard for all his creatures, both his word and providence assure us he has a special interest in his people. His language is, "Jacob have I loved, and Israel have I chosen." His elect are those in whom he delights. Their names are in his book of life. "All things" are overruled for their good. They are regarded with more than maternal tenderness, for though a mother forget her infant child, God will not forget his people. And in this affection their children share. Repeated instances are given in which the offspring of believers, though wicked, were spared for the sake of their parents. The descendants of David were not utterly banished from the throne for generations, for their father's sake. Of Israel it was said, when oppressed for their sins by Hazael, King of Syria, "the Lord had compassion and respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet." Even since they have rejected and crucified their Messiah, there is a remnant of them left, according to the election of grace, who are "beloved for their father's sake." The children of the covenant do unquestionably receive manifold temporal and spiritual mercies, and to this more than anything else on earth, it may be, they are indebted for their present and eternal well-being. They are not forgotten when those who bore them to God's altar, and dedicated them to him in faith, have passed away. When father or mother forsake, or are called from them, the Lord shall take them up. Though they stray from the fold of the good Shepherd, and seem to wander beyond the reach of mercy, often, very often, does His grace reclaim and make them the monuments of his forgiving love. This covenant-relation is indeed one whose benefits we cannot here fully estimate, for they can be known only when the secret dealings of God are revealed, and we are permitted to trace their bearing upon an eternal destiny. They do not secure salvation in every instance, but who shall say they would not obtain even that blessing were they never perverted, and were parent and children alike faithful to the responsibilities they involve?
Son.—These are, indeed, great benefits, but are there any other?
Father.—Yes; besides sustaining this marked and honored relation to God, the baptized sustain a different relation to his church from that of others. They are members of the visible church. Their names are enrolled among God's preferred people. They have a place in the sanctuary of which David sung, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts." Nor is this relation without its benefits. They are brought thereby within the supervision and nurture of the church. They become the subjects of her care, instruction and discipline. In addition to household privileges, to the prayers, examples and labors of pious parents, they have a special claim to the prayers and efforts of the church. They are remembered as "the sons and daughters of Zion." "For them the public prayer is made." They can be interceded for not only as needing the grace of God, but as authorized to expect it in virtue of their covenant with him. With all faith and hope may they be brought to the throne of mercy as those of whom God has said, "I will be their God." They may claim, too, as they ought to receive, a special solicitude on the part of ministers, officers and members of the church, in their instruction, and in the tender interest which those of the same body should feel in each other. They are to be watched over, sought out and cared for in private and in public; to be borne with in their weakness and reclaimed in their wanderings. They are "Lambs" of the flock, dear to the good Shepherd, and to be loved and labored for, therefore, for his sake. Though they become openly wicked it is not beyond the province of the church to rebuke them for their sins, warn them of their danger, and by all the moral means in her power to seek for their reformation. And these considerations are fraught with benefit. It was the lament of one of old, a lament that may be taken up by numbers in our day—"No man careth for my soul." But the church does care for the souls of her baptized children. She recognizes them as within her pale, provides in her standards for their nurture, and though not faultless in her treatment of them, she does seek their improvement, through the influence of her ministers, and by urging upon parents their responsibility.—There is in these facts, moreover, a tendency to draw them to the church, to bring them within hearing of the Gospel and within the scope of its ordinances. They will be attracted to the sanctuary of their fathers and attached to the faith and worship of those among whom they have been solemnly dedicated to God. How often in after years do we in fact see them coming themselves and esteeming it a privilege to bring their own children to receive, as they have received, the seal of the covenant!—The baptized are, further, candidates for all the immunities of Christ's house. They may come to the Lord's table as soon as they have attained to the requisite knowledge and piety. It is a distinguished honor, and exalted privilege, to be a guest at Christ's table, to partake of that feast which is a type of the marriage supper of the Lamb, and to this they are invited whenever they are ready publicly to avow their faith and love as his professed disciples. They are for the present excluded, as children in their minority are forbidden to exercise the rights of citizens; or rather in virtue of their power to discipline, as well as instruct, the officers of the church may exclude them, like other unworthy members, from the communion. But it is the aim and desire of the church that they may speedily acquire the knowledge, faith and godliness that shall qualify them for this delightful service.—Now, all this is happy in its tendency and beneficial in its effects. It is a high honor to sustain a covenant relation to God, and to be favored with the peculiar regard of his people. It is a privilege to stand in a different relation to the church of Christ from that of a mere heathen, and to share in the kind offices and be objects of the prayers of those who are "the excellent of the earth," and whose intercession availeth much. It is a blessing to be under influences adapted to counteract the power of an evil heart and an evil world, and thus be made meet for the glories of Christ's kingdom. And though the baptized may be, in fact often are, insensible to these benefits, they do in themselves constitute their choicest mercies. If valued and improved, they will become effectual for their salvation. And should they be brought ultimately to share in the blessings of this covenant, they will praise God for the agency it exerted, and adore the wisdom and beneficence of its arrangements.
* * * * *
THE WASTED GIFT; OR, "JUST A MINUTE."
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might."—ECCLESIASTES 9:10.
"Dear mother," said little Emily Manvers, as she turned over the leaves of an elegant annual which she had just received, "Is not uncle Albert very kind to send me this beautiful book? I wonder sometimes that he gives me such costly presents, but I suppose it is because he sees me so careful of my gifts."
Mrs. Manvers smiled. "That speech sounds rather egotistic, my dear. Do you really think you are such a very careful little girl?"
"I am sure, mother," replied Emily, coloring slightly, "that I take more care of my things than many other girls I know. There is my wax doll, I have had three years, and she is not even soiled; and that handsome paint-box uncle gave me a year ago this Christmas, is in as good order as ever, though I have used it a great deal; there is not one paint lost or broken, and the brushes and crayons are all safe and perfect."
"That is as it should be, my daughter," returned Mrs. Manvers, "for even in small things, we should use our gifts as not abusing them; but what will you say when I tell you that you possess a treasure of inestimable value, which you often misuse sadly, and neglect most heedlessly,—a gift that properly employed will procure wonderful privileges, but which I sometimes fear you will never learn to value until you are about to lose it forever."
"Why, mother, what can you mean!" exclaimed Emily, in astonishment. "It can't be that costly fan cousin Henry sent me from India, that was broken when I laid it down just a minute, instead of putting it immediately away, or do you mean my pet dove that I sometimes have not a minute's time to feed in the morning; you cannot surely think that I will let it starve."
"No, Emily," answered the mother, "it is something far more precious than either, although by your own admission you have two gifts of which you are not at all careful. But I fear that if I tell you what the treasure is, I shall fail in making you see clearly how much you misuse it; I will therefore keep a little memorandum of your neglect and ill-usage of it for one week, and that I hope will make you more careful in future. I will begin on Monday, as to-morrow, being the Sabbath, I have this gift of yours more under my immediate care."
Emily wondered very much what this wonderful treasure could be that she used so badly, and puzzled her brain the whole evening in guessing, but her mother told her to have patience, and in a week she would find out.
Emily Manvers was a kind, amiable little girl, between ten and eleven years old; she was dutiful and obedient, but had an evil habit of procrastination, which her mother had tried in vain to overcome. It was always "time enough" with Emily to do everything, and consequently her lessons were frequently imperfect, and her wardrobe in a sad state, as Mrs. Manvers insisted upon her daughter sewing on strings, and hooks and eyes, when they were wanting, thus endeavoring to instill early habits of neatness. "Put not off till to-morrow what should be done to-day," was a copy the little girl frequently wrote, but she never allowed its meaning to sink into her heart. It was this truth which her mother hoped now to teach her.
On Monday morning, Emily jumped up as soon as her mother called her, and seated herself on a low stool to put on her shoes and stockings; there was a story book lying upon the table, and as her eyes fell on it, she began to think over all the stories it contained, (some of them quite silly ones, I am sorry to say,) and pulling her night-dress over her feet, sat thinking about worse than nothing, until her mother opened the bed-room door, and exclaimed in surprise,
"What! not dressed yet, Emily! It is full fifteen minutes since I called you."
"I will be dressed directly, mother," said she, jumping up quite ashamed, and she hurriedly put on her clothes, brushed her hair and prepared for breakfast.
After breakfast she had to look over her lessons, but remembering her mother's remarks, she stole a few minutes to feed her doves, and then hurried to school afraid of being late. On her return home in the afternoon, her mother told her to mend her gloves, which she had torn. Emily went to her work-basket, but could not find her thimble.
"Where can my thimble be?" she cried, after looking two or three minutes for it. "Oh, I remember now; I left it on the window sill," and off she ran to get it.
She was gone some time, and on her return her mother asked, "Couldn't you find your thimble, Emily?"
"Yes, mamma, but James and George were flying their kites, so I stopped just a minute to look at them. I will sit down now."
She opened her work-box and took out a needle, then looking about said,
"Why, where is my cotton spool? I left it on the chair a minute ago."
She moved the chairs, turned up the hearth-rug, and tumbled over her work-box in vain; the cotton could not be found. Presently she espied puss, under the sofa, busily employed tossing something about with her paw.
"Oh, you naughty kitty, you have got my spool," cried Emily, as she stooped down and caught hold of the thread which puss had entangled about the sofa legs; but kitty was in a playful mood and would not give up the cotton-spool at once, so Emily amused herself playing with the cat and thread for some time longer. At last, she remembered her gloves, and sitting down mended them in a few moments.
Had Emily's mother told her that she looked at her watch when the little girl first went for the thimble, and that she had passed exactly three-quarters of an hour in idleness, she would not have credited it.
After a while Mrs. Manvers sent Emily up stairs to get something for her. She stayed so long that her mother called, "Emily, what keeps you so?"
"Nothing, mamma; I stopped just a minute to look at my new sash, it is so pretty."
Ten minutes more were added to the wasted time. The next day Emily came home from school without any ticket for punctuality.
"How is this?" asked the mother; "you started from home in good time?"
"Yes, mother," returned the little girl, "but I stopped just a minute to speak to Sarah Randall, and I know our school-clock must be wrong, for it was half-past nine by it when I went in."
Mrs. Manvers took the trouble to walk around to the school and compare her watch with the clock; they agreed exactly, and thus she found her daughter had wasted half an hour that morning.
"Do you know your lessons, Emily?" she asked, after her return, as the little girl had been sitting for more than an hour with her books upon her lap.
"Not quite, mother."
"Have you been studying all the time, my dear?"
"Pretty near; there was a man beating his horse dreadfully, and I just looked out of the window a minute."
Mrs. Manvers smiled, and yet sighed, for she knew that Emily had spent half an hour humming a tune and gazing idly from the window upon the passers by.
TO BE CONTINUED.
* * * * *
A CHILD'S READING.
In this day of books, when so many pens are at work writing for children, and when so many combine instruction with entertainment, every family should be, to some extent, a reading family. Books have become indispensable; they are a kind of daily food; and we take for granted that no parent who reads this Magazine neglects to provide aliment of this nature for his family. How many leisure hours may thus be turned to profitable account! How many useful ideas and salutary impressions may thus be gained which will never be lost! If any family does not know the pleasure and the benefit of such employment of a leisure hour, we advise them to make the experiment forthwith. The district library, the Sabbath-school or village library in almost every town afford the facilities necessary for the experiment. But my object is not so much to induce any to form the taste for reading, for who, now a-days, does not read? nor is it to write a dissertation on the pleasures and advantages of reading; but simply to suggest a few plain hints upon the subject matter and the manner of reading.
And, in the first place, the parent should know what his child reads. The book is the companion or teacher. Parent, would you receive into your family a playmate or a teacher of whose tastes and habits and moral character you were ignorant? Would you admit them for one day in such a capacity without having previously ascertained as far as possible their qualifications for such an intimate relationship to your child? But remember that the book has great influence. It puts a great many thoughts into the mind of the young reader, to form its tastes and make lasting impressions; and how can you be indifferent to this matter, when our land is flooded with so many vicious and contaminating books; when they come, like the frogs of Egypt, into every house and bed-chamber, and even into the houses of the servants! A single book may ruin your child! You yourself may not be proof against evil thoughts and corrupt principles. Look well, then, to the thoughts that come into your child's mind from such a companion or teacher of your child as a printed book, having perhaps all the fascination of a story or a romance. And, besides, there are so many volumes that are tried and proved, and acceptable to all, that there can be no excuse for admitting into your family any which are even of a doubtful character. And do not merely exercise supervision over the books which come to you and ask admission. Avail yourself of the best means of information, and choose the best books; I mean those best adapted to your purpose. Do not get too many, but make a choice selection. Judge whether your child can comprehend what you put into its hand; whether it is fitted to convey instruction, or wholesome entertainment, or right moral impressions. If it can do neither of these, it will be either an idle or a vicious companion for your child, and you should exclude it at once.
But, furthermore, see in what manner the book is read. Draw out the thoughts of your child upon it; ascertain whether it has been read understandingly and is remembered. In this way you will strengthen the power of attention and of memory and judgment, and exercise also the power of language, by drawing out an expression of thought. In this way reading will be doubly interesting, and will be an invigorating exercise without overloading and clogging all the powers of thought.
But, one thing more: Is your child inclined to pore over its books too much? Be careful, lest its mind be over-stimulated at the expense of the body. Many a child is at this hour undermining its physical constitution by reading in the house, when it should be playing out of doors, or using its muscular system in some kind of domestic employment. Beware of any cause which shall induce a sickly precocity or a hotbed mental growth. Let no partiality for mental prodigies induce you to make physical invalids. The sacrifice is too great; seek rather a healthy and complete development of the whole child, watching each power as it unfolds, and training all for the most efficient fulfillment of the practical duties of life.
* * * * *
NOTICES OF BOOKS.
We venture to devote more space than usual to "Notices of Books," as we have a large number on our table deserving a word of commendation. We shall confine ourselves to the class of works of which the topics of consideration come within the scope of this magazine.
MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE AND TRIALS OF A YOUTHFUL CHRISTIAN, in Pursuit of Health, as developed in the Biography of NATHANIEL CHEEVER, M.D. By Rev. HENRY T. CHEEVER. With an Introduction by Rev. GEORGE B. CHEEVER, D.D. New York: Charles Scribner.
We have laid down this book, after attentive perusal, with the feeling that among the many things to be learned from it, one stands prominently forth,—the beauty of family affection in a Christian household. "To our Beloved and Honored MOTHER, these Memorials of her Youngest Son are affectionately Dedicated." Here we stand at the foundation stone, and are not surprised afterward to see taking their place in the fair edifice of family love, "stones polished after the similitude of a palace."
The history presented in this memoir has no startling incidents. The subject of it, a beautiful and promising boy, full of life and happiness, is suddenly smitten with a disease which hangs like an incubus upon his progress through life, and terminates his course just after he has entered successfully on the practice of the medical profession, in the island of Cuba, led, as he had previously been, on repeated voyages across the ocean, by the hope of permanent benefit from change of climate. Scattered through the book are descriptions of scenery, observations on men and manners, and pleasant narratives, which give variety to its pages, but its charm rises in the character of uncommon loveliness which it presents; in the unvarying cheerfulness and patience with which the young sufferer met pain, disappointment of cherished plans of life, defeat and delay in his efforts for intellectual improvement, separation from the friends to whom his sensitive spirit clung with a tenacity of affection which is often developed by suffering, but which seems to have been an original element in his nature; years of banishment from the home circle, and at last, death, away from every friend, on the ocean, which he was struggling to cross once more that he might breathe his last sigh on his mother's bosom. The conscientiousness, the integrity, the simplicity of this young Christian are as beautiful to contemplate as his elasticity of spirit, his cheerful submission, and his resolute determination to be all that, with the shattered materials, he was capable of making himself. His patient efforts, retarded by his severe sufferings, to educate himself, and acquire a profession, are touching and instructive, though few, who have not experienced the slow martyrdom of chronic disease, can fully appreciate his energy, or sympathize with his difficulties. Better than all this is his unwavering trust in God, from his boyhood to the day of his early death. Here was the secret of his joyfulness. His biographer well remarks, "Beyond all doubt the inalienable treasure and guarantee of cheerfulness, being reconciliation to God, was in that heart, whose pulsations are still beating in the leaves of this book. In his sky the star of hope was always in the ascendant. The aspect which life had to him, notwithstanding all his suffering, was green and cheerful. He was wont to view things on the sunny side, or if a cloud intervened to look beyond it."
Such a cheerfulness, so based, is worth more than "silver and gold." We commend the book to the attention of our readers, as a beautiful illustration of early and consistent piety.
* * * * *
POETRY FOR CHILDREN.
Mrs. Whittelsey:—"The influence of poetry," says another, "in forming the moral character, and guiding the thoughts of children, is immense. How often has a simple couplet made an indelible impression on their memories, and been the means of shaping their conduct for life! It cannot be a matter of indifference, then, whether the poetry they read and hear be good or bad, healthful or poisonous. And every parent should see that it be of the former kind; such as not only to cultivate the taste, but such as will form the character and mould the heart to all that is holy and excellent."
These thoughts have come up to my mind with strong interest, since I have lately examined a little work published by Mr. M.W. Dodd of your city, entitled, "Select Poetry for Children and Youth," a book worthy to be in every family, and possessed by every mother in the land. It is full of just the kind of poetry to interest children deeply, and profit them truly; and is such a work as every parent may safely and wisely introduce to his household. As a parent, I have taken it home, and read it to my own family circle, and have found all, from oldest to youngest, absorbed in attention to its choice selections, which are from such writers as Mary Howitt, Jane Taylor, Mrs. Hemans, Cowper, &c., &c., &c. And I am persuaded that if other parents will make the same experiment, they will find it attended with the same result.
And now, in conclusion, as a parent who has always taken your excellent Magazine, and who through it would speak to parents, let me ask, Ought we not to be more careful as to the reading of our children—more careful that the couplets they learn, and the little ballads they hear, and the verses they commit to memory, are such as they ought to be? Lessons from such sources will leave a deep and lasting impression long after we are silent in the grave! The verses which the writer was taught by a pious mother, in early days, are all vividly remembered, and probably will be while life shall last. And if every parent would seek to make verses the vehicle of instruction to the young (for children delight in poetry earlier than in prose), they might easily implant the seeds of virtue and piety that would never be lost, but that in due season would spring up and bear fruit an hundred-fold to eternal life.
* * * * *
THE MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE.
THE MOTHERS OF ISRAEL AT HOREB.
We beg those readers of this Magazine who have had the patience to follow us thus far in our study, now to open their Bibles with an earnest invocation of the aid of that Spirit who indited the sacred pages, and so far from being satisfied with the meager thoughts which we are able to furnish, we entreat that they will bend diligently to the work of ascertaining the real interest which we and all the mothers of earth have in the scenes which transpired at the foot of Horeb's holy mount. To the instructions there uttered, the mighty ones of every age,—the founders of empires, statesmen, law-givers, philanthropists, patriots, and wise men, have sought for their noblest conceptions, and their most beneficent regulations, and it would be impossible to estimate the influence of those instructions upon all the after history of the world. But if the Almighty there revealed himself as the God of kingdoms, the all-wise and infinitely good Ruler of men in a national capacity, not less did He make himself known as the God of the family, and his will there made known regulating the mutual relations of parents and children, has been at once the foundation and bulwark of all that has been excellent or trustworthy in family government from that day to this.
It is impossible, in the brief space allotted to us, that we should begin to give any adequate view of the subject which here opens before us, or follow out fully a single one of the many trains of thought to which it gives rise.
At Horeb, Jehovah, amid fire and smoke, and in that voice which so filled with terror all that heard, first inculcated the duty of filial piety on all the future generations of men. Filial piety! how much it implies. It stands at the head of the duties enjoined from man to man. It comes next in order to those which man owes to his Maker. It inculcates on the part of children toward their parents feelings akin to those which he has required toward Himself, and far surpassing any which he demands toward any other human being. It speaks of reverence, of a love superior to ordinary affection, of unqualified submission and obedience. "Honor thy father and thy mother" is the solemn command, and the comments which infinite wisdom has made on it, scattered up and down on the pages of inspiration, throw light on its length and breadth, and on the heinous nature of the sin which is committed in its infringement. "Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father, and keep my Sabbaths; I am the Lord." In the Jewish law, a man who smote his neighbor must be smitten in return; but "he that smiteth father or mother shall be surely put to death." "He that curseth," or as it more exactly reads, "he that disparages or speaks lightly of his parents, or uses contemptuous language to them, shall surely be put to death." "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who when they have chastised him will not hearken unto them, then shall his father and his mother lay hold of him and bring him to the elders of the city, and unto the gate of his place. And they shall say unto the elders of the city, This, our son, is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones that he die; so shall thou put away evil from among you, that all Israel shall hear and fear."
Still more fearful is the practical commentary upon this solemn command, given in Ezekiel 22:7, when Jehovah, in enumerating the crying sins which demanded his vengeance on the people, and brought upon them the terrible calamities of long captivity says, "In thee have they set light by father and mother."
But some one will say, You profess to be speaking to parents, and this command is given to children. True, friend, but the duty required of children implies a corresponding duty on the part of parents. Who shall teach children to reverence that father and mother in whose character there is nothing to call forth such a sentiment? "Though children are not absolved from the obligation of this commandment by the misconduct of their parents, yet in the nature of things, it is impossible that they should yield the same hearty respect and veneration to the unworthy as to the worthy, nor does God require a child to pay an irrational honor to his parents. If his parents are atheists, he cannot honor them as Christians. If they are prayerless and profane, he cannot honor them as religious. If they are worldly, avaricious, over-reaching, unscrupulous as to veracity and honest dealing, he cannot honor them as exemplary, upright, conscientious and spiritually-minded."
If parents only say, like Eli, in feeble accents, "Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear. Why do ye such things?" they will not only have disobedient and irreverent children, but often, if not always, they will be made to understand that their sin is grievous in the sight of God, and he will say of them also, "I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his sons made themselves vile and he restrained them not." "And therefore have I sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever."
Unto parents God has committed the child, in utter helplessness, and weakness, and ignorance, an unformed being. The power and the knowledge are theirs, and on their side is He, the Almighty and infinitely wise, with his spirit and his laws, and his promises. If they are faithful,—if from the first they realize their responsibility, and the advantages of their position, can the result be doubtful? But they will not be faithful; imperfection is stamped on all earthly character, and they will fail in this as in all other duties. What then? Blessed be God, the Gospel has a provision for erring parents. If Sinai thunders, Calvary whispers peace. For men, as sinners, the righteousness of Christ prevails, and for sinners, as parents, not less shall it be found sufficient. Line and plummet can soon measure the extent of human perfection, but they cannot fathom the merit of that righteousness, and when laid side by side with the most holy law, there is no deficiency. If, then, we find ourselves daily coming short of the terms of that covenant which God has made with us as parents, we need not despair of his fulfilling his part, for we can plead our surety's work, and that is ever acceptable in his eyes, and answers all his demands.
Let not, however, the negligent and willfully-ignorant parent conclude that the spotless robe of the perfect Savior will be thrown as a shield over his deficiencies and deformity. Let not those who have blindly and carelessly entered on parental duties, without endeavoring to ascertain the will of God and the requirements of his law, expect that the blessing of obedient and sanctified children will crown their days. Let not those who suffer their children to grow up around them like weeds, without religious culture or pruning, who demand no obedience, who command no reverence, who offer no earnest, ceaseless prayer, let them not suppose that the blessing of the God who spoke from Horeb will come upon their families. "He is in one mind and who can turn him." Not an iota has he abated from his law since that fearful day. Not less sinful in his eyes is disobedience to parents now, than when he commanded the rebellious son to be "stoned with stones until he died." Yet, how far below His standard are the ideas even of many Christian parents? "How different," says Wilberforce, "nay, in many respects, how contradictory, would be the two systems of mere morals, of which the one should be formed from the commonly-received maxims of the Christian world, and the other from the study of the Holy Scriptures;" and we are never more forcibly impressed with this difference than when we see it exemplified in this solemn subject.
The parents who stood at Horeb learned that God required them to train their children to implicit and uncompromising obedience, and he who closely studies the Word of God can find no other or lighter requisition. How will the received opinions and customs of this age compare with the demand?
We ask our young friends, who may perchance glance over these pages, to pause a moment and consider: If capital punishment should now be inflicted on every disobedient child, how many roods of earth would be planted with the instruments of death? If every city were doomed to destruction in which the majority of sons and daughters "set light by father and mother," how many would remain? To every child living comes a voice, "Know thou that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
* * * * *
BY REV. MANCIUS S. HUTTON, D.D.
Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another.
(Concluded from page 108.)
To aid you in making the effort to comply with the injunction we have been considering, I add the following considerations:
1st. It is right, this you will all acknowledge, no matter how unkindly a brother or sister may treat you, you will acknowledge that it is never right for you, never pleasing to God, that you should treat them unkindly in return. Yes, you will all (except when you are angry) acknowledge that the injunction Be kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love, is right, proper, beautiful; could there be a better reason for trying to obey the injunction?
2d. You have already often disobeyed this injunction. You cannot remember many of the instances, but you can some where you acted unbrotherly or unsisterly. Alas, such are the pride and selfishness of our hearts that we begin very early to sin against our dearest friends. Little boy, did you not get angry the other day, when your little brother or sister took one of your playthings which you wanted yourself, and if you did not speak unkindly or snatch it away roughly, did you not go and complain to mother, and was that very kind and loving? Would it not have been kinder and more brotherly to try to make little brother and sister happy, and not to have troubled mother? Little children, I say this especially for you, I want you all to make it a rule to love everybody, and to try and make everybody around you happy. That is the way to be happy yourselves. But, my young friends, you, who are older, are in equal danger of sinning, and I am afraid that your consciences can also condemn you. Indeed I know not but the danger of violating this law is greater with those more advanced in life. There is a transition period when the childhood is about losing itself in the youth, which is often very trying to brotherly and sisterly affection. The sister is not quite a woman, the brother not quite a young man, and each is sometimes disposed to demand an attention which the other is not quite willing to yield on demand—each would yield, perhaps, if it were asked as a favor—but the spirit of an independent existence is beginning to rise, and that spirit spurns any claim. This spirit is generally the stronger in the brother than in the sister, and he therefore sins most frequently against the law of love, and he will treat his sister as he will allow no other young man to do, and will treat every other young lady with more politeness and courtesy than he does his own noble-hearted and loving sister. Oh, there is many a brother, who, if any young man were to say and do what he says and does to his sister, he would consider him to be no gentleman and a scoundrel. Now, I would ask, does the fact of your being a brother alter the nature of your conduct? You are her brother, and therefore may act ungentlemanly and like a scoundrel! Why, oh, shame, cowardly shame! because there is no one to resent your ill-treatment—there is no one to defend a sister from the unkindness of a brother, or to defend the brother, I may add, from the sister's unkindness; for though I speak to the brother, let each sister who reads this, ask her conscience whether her own sister's heart condemn her not.
Time will not allow me to enter into any great detail, in illustrating the frequency of these violations of the law of family affection, nor indeed is it needed. I can give you a general rule, which your own minds will approve, and which will meet all cases. Let the sister treat no man with more courtesy and politeness than she treats her father and her brothers—treat no woman more kindly and politely than she does her mother and her sisters. Let her not confine all her graces and fascinations to strangers, and make her family to endure all her petulance and unamiability. So let the brother treat his mother and sisters. So let the father and mother treat each other and their children, and you will, my readers, obtain a noble reward in the increasing happiness and comfort of your family circles—in the manliness which will belong to the sons—in the mental and moral graces which will adorn the daughters. The family will thus become the school of virtue and the bulwark of society—the reciprocal influence of brothers and sisters thus trained will be of untold power on each other's character.
One word further, and I close. I have been describing the legitimate influence of religion in a family. True religion will make just such fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. It is in this way that religion develops itself; that religion which is beautiful abroad and has no beauty at home, is of little worth. If, then, you would make your families what I have described, you must yourself come under the power of religion, must give your heart to God, and then you will find the duties of the family becoming comparatively easy. Unless you do so, you will find yourselves constantly failing in your most strenuous efforts, and will be far from reaching the point which I have sought to describe. Natural affection may indeed be much cultivated by this course, and drawn forth in its native simplicity or regulated by the forms of refined education, it will throw an inestimable beauty and charm around the fireside. But it will be, after all, but merely natural affection. It cannot rise so high nor exert such heavenly influence over the family circle as will the power of religion. It sanctifies and exalts natural affections. It not only restrains but actually softens the natural asperities of the temper, harmonizes discordant feelings and interests, and secures that happy co-operation which makes a Christian circle an emblem of heaven. In one word, religion will make you a happy family forever, happy here and happy in yonder world of bliss. Without religion also, allow me to add, the very beauty and enjoyment, arising from the exercise of these domestic virtues, will prove injurious to your eternal interests. They will serve to strew with comforts your path leading away from God to heaven. The powerful influence of a much loved brother is exerted to keep the sister in the path of worldliness; while, in return, the sister's boundless influence, for in such a family the sister's influence may be said to be boundless, will all be added to the snares of an ungodly world, to drive the brother onward in his neglect of God and his own soul. My young friends, seek not only to make those around you happy in this world, but happy forever. Give thine own heart to Jesus, and thou mayest save thy brother and thy sister, and thou shalt meet them on high. Refuse to do so, and thou mayest drag these loved ones down with thee to that cold dark region, where affection is unknown and nothing is heard but blasphemies and curses. Oh, thou kind and loving brother and sister, can ye endure the thought of spending an eternity in cursing each other as the instruments of each other's destruction? Christ alone can deliver you from such a woe.
* * * * *
HABIT.—"I trust everything, under God," said Lord Brougham, "to habit, upon which, in all ages, the lawgiver, as well as the schoolmaster, has mainly placed his reliance; habit, which makes everything easy, and casts all difficulties upon the deviation from a wonted course. Make sobriety a habit, and intemperance will be hateful; make prudence a habit, and reckless profligacy will be as contrary to the nature of the child, grown or adult, as the most atrocious crimes are to any of your lordships."
* * * * *
AN APPEAL TO BAPTIZED CHILDREN.
BY REV. WM. BANNARD.
It is presumed, young friends, that you have reached an age when you are capable of appreciating your obligations, but have hitherto neglected them. It is proposed, therefore, in what follows, briefly to call your attention to your position and responsibilities. If you have considered your privileges as the children of pious parents who have dedicated you to God in baptism, you are now prepared to examine your duties. You have then a name and a place in Christ's visible church; you sustain covenant relations to God, and these, fraught as they are with manifold benefits, cannot be without corresponding responsibilities.
You are not the children of the world but the children of the covenant. Solemn vows have been assumed for you, and these vows are binding upon your consciences. They were taken with the hope and intention that you should assume them for yourselves when you arrived at years of discretion. You were given to God with the expectation that you would grow up to serve him. And this it is your duty to do. You are his property. You are his by sacred engagement, and you cannot violate this engagement; you cannot renounce His service, and devote yourselves to the service of Satan or of the world, without dishonoring your parents, doing injustice to God, and periling your own salvation. You may say this contract was formed without my consent, and when too young to understand its requirements. No matter; this does not release you from obligation to perform it. Ability and responsibility are not always co-extensive. We are bound perfectly to keep God's holy law, and yet no man of himself is able to do it. His inability, however, does not diminish it's binding force. God cannot abate one jot or tittle of the law's demands, for that would be a confession of its imperfection or of his variableness. Or, should he diminish his demands because our wickedness has made us incapable of keeping them, then the more wicked we become, the less binding would be his authority, and if we only grew depraved enough we might escape from all obligation to obedience. Such an idea, cannot, of course, be tolerated. The truth is, that under the government of God, as well as under human government, children are held