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quire it of you. If you give any one plain work to do, give them a just and reasonable price for their work. God teaches us both from His Word and works that we are not to oppress our neighbour, so that we are without excuse if we do. I am sure the excellent woman in our text was very kind to those who worked for her.
Rachel. Yes, that she was, and spared no pains to be kind to them: our text says, "She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens." And she is a good example of early rising, too: that was the subject we had at school to-day for our exercise.
M. A capital exercise, and I hope you will put it into practice.
Catharine. I think it would be a very good plan for each of us to get up one hour earlier, and keep that hour for one particular work, and at the end of a year reckon up how much we have been able to do in those extra hours.
M. It would, and if you persevere you will be astonished to find how much can be done. Now we shall return to the flax; we never think of it without at the same time thinking of something beautiful, useful, and valuable. When we think of the nettle, we generally think of the sluggard's garden, and waste places where it is always found. It teaches how valuable a useless weed becomes by cultivation and industry. And how valuable the sluggard might become, if he would only lay aside his idleness. But we never think of the flax along with the sluggard; it is never found in his garden, on the contrary, it seems to like to grow where industry is, being found in its
native state in corn fields, more frequently than anywhere else. You can tell me some of the useful things the flax makes us think about?
Georgina. Yes; we think of whole webs of beautiful white linen, and cambric, and lace, some kinds of which cost several guineas a yard, and then the great number of people the manufacturing of these gives employment to. And we think of beautiful fine paper of all kinds, some for printing Bibles on, some for writing letters on, some for drawing on, some made into hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of banknotes, and many other uses.
M. There are some more uses besides these; the seeds yield a valuable oil which is used medicinally for burns, mixed with lime water; it has the property of drying and hardening into an elastic varnish, on exposure to the air. After expressing the oil, a cake remains called oil-cake, which is used for fattening cattle; the powdered cake receives the name of linseed meal, and is used for poultices. The seeds when boiled yield a large quantity of mucilaginous matter which is very valuable in complaints of the chest, both for man and cattle.
Helen. Well, I am sure the flax really does deserve to be called beautiful, useful, and valuable: I think it should be called the emblem of the excellent woman in our text.
M. I think so too, because we never think of an excellent woman without thinking of a great deal of good. When we think of Lois and Eunice, what good thing in particular do we think of?
Wilhelmina. Lois was a good mother and brought up her daughter Eunice in the fear of God, and Eunice
profited by her mother's instructions, and brought up her son Timothy in the same way, and God blessed their labours, and chose Timothy to be a minister of the Gospel. I should like to be like them.
Annie. And I would like to be one of those who brought little children to Jesus that He might bless them.
Jessie. I should like to be Mary, with the meek and quiet spirit, who sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
Charlotte. And I wish to be like Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened, so that she attended to the things which were spoken by Paul, and who was very kind to him and the other Apostles.
Frances Jane. I choose Dorcas, whom Peter raised from the dead: the Bible says, she was full of alms and good deeds which she did.
Catharine. And I choose the excellent woman in our text, "Who openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children rise up, and call her
M. You have chosen an admirable list of excellent women, and it is my earnest prayer that each one of you may be added to the number; but remember it is very easy to write or say what an excellent woman ought to be, but it is very difficult to be one; it is impossible, without the grace of God in your hearts. The surest way to be like any one of those you have mentioned is to begin now; be like Eunice, attend to and profit by the instructions you receive from your parents and teachers. If you live, you will all have something to do with the training of the young, either as
parents, teachers, or friends; you will be very useless women, indeed, if you do not take an interest in them in some way or other. It is the command of God that children should be diligently instructed in the things concerning Him. He says, "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children," Deut. vi. 7. John Knox and our other Reformers saw how good and necessary it was that every child should be brought up in the fear of God. And the first thing they did, after they had sown the good seed, was to make provision that every man, woman, and child, should be taught to read the Word of God. To this end, whereever they built a Church they also built a school, and made a law that the Bible was to be taught in every one of these schools; it was to be made the foundation of all their teaching.
Georgina. That was a very wise thing indeed of the Reformers. I hope the people made good use of the schools, and sent their children to be taught.
M. Yes, they did send them; and so faithful were both parents and teachers, and so diligent the children, and God gave so rich a blessing, that there arose up a generation such as was never seen in Scotland before, but which I sincerely hope will again be seen, when you all grow up. At that time Scotland was looked upon as, and was, the most moral country in the world, a distinction she still continues to hold, although sadly fallen off from what she once was. Every blessing accompanied the faithful teaching of the young; although a very poor country, a Scottish beggar was as great a rarity as a Scotsman who could not read his Bible.
Mary. That was very good; I should like to see
Scotland without a beggar, and a man or woman who cannot read the Bible.
M. I hope you will all live to see it. But remember a very great deal depends on the women everywhere, whatever be their rank in life. You have heard very lately from the missionaries of India, that the chief obstacle to the spread of the Gospel there is the women; their influence is so very great, especially the mothers; and were these women Christians, their influence would be equally great, but in the right direction,-and it is the same at home. I think
you cannot do better than employ your extra hour in the morning, by working in some way or other for the good of the young. Three hours a week I should like you to work for the benefit of the young in our own country-the more good you do at home, the more you will be able to do abroad; and the other three hours I am very anxious you should give to the young native girls of India. You have learned that God does not require more from any man than he is able to perform; but we require it sometimes, and here is another instance of it. There are many
millions of idolaters in India, and we do so little, and send so few missionaries, and they see so much to do, that they cannot refrain from working from morning till night, notwithstanding the great heat, and many hours of the night are often given up to the work— the consequence is, their lives are greatly shortened. If we require from them so much, we cannot expect a blessing on our work at home; and the best way to help them is, to do all we can for the young girls, and then by and bye, by the blessing of God, there will be a generation of mothers and teachers, who,