« AnteriorContinuar »
"That might happen," she replied, "if we seemed to value it highly, or talked about it as a thing of consequence, or ever used it by way of reward or punishment. But we do neither; we simply introduce it as a matter of course, because it is Sunday; they regard it as doing honor to the day; and it seems to mingle itself, in their minds, with the pleasant recollections of the season, and be lost among them."
But I should never cease were I to record all the good hints which were dropped in the course of conversation, or repeat every thing which made an impression on my mind. I must hasten to the end.
When this happy meal was finished, I had an opportunity of witnessing the mode in which the day was closed by these careful parents. First, questions were asked respecting the religious exercises of public worship, and the instructions of the day were recapitulated and enforced in familiar conversation. Then the brief lessons which had been learned were recited, not from memory only, but care was taken that all should be understood, and what the children did not appear to understand was patiently explained to them; and this in so kind and familiar a way, that it excited their interest, and produced no fatigue upon their minds. It was done much more in the way of conversation than of formal recitation. The subject was talked about, and the children seemed to feel that they were partakers in what concerned themselves. When this was over, each was called upon to repeat some hymn; and I never shall forget the feelings which were excited by the manner in which one of them was closed. I had never seen the hymn before; but its simplicity, and beauty, and appropriateness to the circle in which the little lisper recited it, won my heart from the very first verse. And when she came to the
end, and took her brother by the hand, while all the brothers and sisters joined in a circle, and repeated together with her the closing lines, –
"Brothers and sisters, hand in hand,
Our lips together move;
O, smile upon this little band,
And join our hearts in love,"
I cannot describe how affecting it was. I was overcome. I was melted. And I saw that tears stood even in the eyes of the parents, who had heard it repeated a hundred times. I felt as if such a prayer, from such a cherub band, must indeed have a prevailing power; and I could almost fancy that I heard a kind voice whisper, Of such is the kingdom of heaven.
After a minute's pause, the father read from the family Bible, as on the preceding evening;. and then all united in singing an evening hymn, which I found always made a part of the worship at this season. A fervent but brief act of supplication and praise followed. As it closed, the setting sun poured his last rays upon the wainscot, and disappeared beneath the horizon, as if to cast his parting smile upon such a scene, and rejoicing to carry with him the record of a family so employed. And thus the day ended,
- to me a memorable one; to be numbered with those which I contemplate with satisfaction, and on which I never look back without being ready to exclaim, "I have gained a day."
"Sweet is the destiny of all trades, whether of the brows or of the mind. God never allowed any man to do nothing. How miserable is the condition of those men, which spend the time as if it were given them, and not lent; as if hours were waste creatures, and such as never should be accounted for; as if God would take this for a good bill of reckoning: Item, spent upon my pleasures forty years! These men shall once find that no blood can privilege idleness, and that nothing is more precious to God than that which they desire to cast away-time."
HOW TO SPEND A DAY.
THE day never broke more beautifully than on the seventeenth of April. It was one of those bright, delicious mornings, which occasionally take us by surprise in the early months, the more delightful because they stand out from the harsh and grating season, like the beautiful flowers of the cactus from their unsightly trunk. I think there was not a cloud in the whole sky; and as the light cautiously stole up from the eastern horizon, like the gentlest pencilings of the northern aurora, it presently spread into a wide, soft blush, which might remind the reader of Pope's Homer's rosy-fingered Morn. The air was silent and motionless, as if it were watching that fair phenomenon in the east ; and, as yet, but one or two birds had opened their sweet throats to salute it. One of these, a melodious blackbird, was seated on the branch of a tree within a few feet of David Ellington's window; so that that hearty young mechanic, who slept while he slept, but knew when to be awake, somewhat by the rule that his father taught him when a boy, "Work while you work, and play while you play," was broad awake by the time the bird had got half through the first strain of his melody. He turned his sunburnt face to the window, and opened his large eye to the light; and I think the night-angels that had watched by him must