Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

thinking what would follow, I began to rally my sister en her new studies, and to ridicule both the books and their owners, she begged me to desist, and told me, with all the artlessness of tiue sincerity, of the happiness she had found in having cast herself as a poor sinner on the mercy d God, and trusted her soul's salvation to him, through the merits of his dear Son.

At first I could scarcely credit my senses. All that Lucy said was so strange and incomprehensible to me, that I really fancied she was intending to amuse me with some exquisite folly or childish romance. But I was soon undeceived by the increasing earnestness with which she besought me to seek for the same joy which she had found, and which made everything around her appear in such a new light, that it was like being in a different world from that which she had before inhabited.

I rose from my seat with scorn and indignation, at the same time throwing from me the books which, till then, J had held in my hands, as though there were contamination in the mere touch

"Very pretty, indeed, miss," I said, angrily, "for you. . who are five years younger than I, to be setting yourself up as my teacher! And you must needs be religious too, must you, like your hypocritical friends at The Grange? I suppose the next thing will be for you to be setting your cap at the dear Alfred they are always talking about; and then—" I scarcely remember what more I said; and if I could remember, it would not be worth while to write it down. I was in such a passion!

Poor Lucy looked at me aghast, and then burst into tears.

"Jane, dear Jane I" she said, very sorrowfully; "you have never before spoken to me like this."

"You have never deserved it like this," I cried.

« Why, what have I done? oh dear! what have I done T she sobbed.

""What have you done! as if you didn't know what you have done!"

"Nothing to offend you so much, so very much, surely," she replied, still weeping; "or if I have, 1 am very, very sorry. But it cannot be that you are angry with me for believing what the Bible says, and for telling you how much \ happiness I have found in believing it."

"Much good may your happiness do you, Lucy," I re- | torted, in no degree appeased by my sister's appealing lookf "But I shall very soon find out whether this Methodism c yours is to be allowed in this house; I can tell you that. And, without giving her time to reply, I picked up th books again, and went out of Lucy's room straight to ou mother's, where, with much exaggeration no doubt, I re peated what had passed.

That evening there was a solemn consultation of th whole family—Lucy only excepted. I shall not repeat th hard and unjust and bitter things that were said of Lucy anc her friends at The Grange; and I shall only briefly recorc the decision at which we arrived. It was this: that ou: acquaintance with our neighbours should be immediately broken off, and that Lucy should be expressly and peremp torily forbidden any further correspondence, either by per sonal intercourse or letters, with Mrs. Wake or her daughters We trusted that if this complete severance were accomplished, Lucy's religious excitement would gradually die away for want of encouragement; and to make this more certain, schemes were to be devised, from time to time, foi bringing her into contact with a different sort of society, and for providing her with seasonable amusements.

I have no doubt that it will seem strange to some of my readers that any persons could act so ungratefully as well as foolishly as we acted. But those who have had experience of the deep-seated enmity of heart which sometimes leads those who consider themselves to be respectable and honourable to behave very unworthily and unjustly towards the followers of Christ, will understand what I have written. "Ye shall be hated of men for my name's sake," said Christ to his disciples; and this prediction was proved to be true in our case; for our dislike towards the Wakes was increased to hatred, when the discovery was made that they had been the means of introducing their religious notions into our own home.

WHAT UNCLE RAINE SAID ABOUT FAMILY PRAYER.

It was a long-promised visit which Mr. Raine, a small farmer in one of the dales of Yorkshire, paid to his nephew, George Atkinson. Atkinson was the eon of Mr. Raine's youngest sister, who had been left a widow somewhat early in life, with a family of three sons and two daughters j dependent upon her. After her husband's death, Mrs. Atkinson continued to farm the few acres of land which had belonged to him; but as the farm was too small to afford a living for all her children, it became necessary that two of her sons should seek some other occupation; and George, who had a mechanical turn, was put apprentice to a smith in the small market town nearest to his mother's farm. When his time was out, his master would gladly have retained his services, but George wanted to see the world. There was at that time no railway in the district, and so, one fine spring morning, he set off on foot to Leeds. He had not a single friend in the town, and the only introduction he had was a good character from his old master; but his well-knit frame, and his steady, intelligent look, told so far in his favour, that the proprietor of a large machine-shop gave him immediate employment. At the end of four years, the situation of foreman was offered him in a similar establishment in Manchester, and at the time of his uncle's visit he had been there six years, and had risen to be the general manager of the working department. He had married before leaving Leeds, and he had now four children.

He had often intreated his uncle to visit him, but, like many of his class, Mr. Baine had a great objection to leaving home; and his unwillingness to do so had increased with advancing years. Indeed, he had never been further from his native dale than the city of York; and his visit of two days to that place had formed quite an event in his life. Now, however, a railway had been opened to a town within seven or eight miles from his house, and by dint of strong persuasion he was induced to go.

Mr. Eaine was a sincere and earnest Christian, thoroughly acquainted with his Bible, and, for his position in life, well read and intelligent. In all the dales there was no man more highly respected, even by those who had no sympathy with his religious principles.

It was on a Saturday afternoon that he arrived in Manchester. His nephew met him at the railway station, and conducted him home, and a very pleasant, tidy home he found it.

They had a great deal to talk about the first evening, and they were all surprised to find how late it was before anybody had thought of retiring to rest. Mr. Eaine sup, posed that might possibly be the reason why there was no family worship; though, glancing his eye round the room, he saw no Bible, such as was likely to be used for such a purpose.

On Sunday morning they were rather later than usual, partly because they had sat up so late the night before; and again there was no family worship. As soon as breakfast was over Mrs. Atkinson left the room, for the purpose of preparing herself and the elder children to go to the morning service, for which they were only just in time.

In the evening a niece of Mr. Eaine's accompanied them borne, along with her husband. They stayed till a little after ten, and again there was no family prayer.

The following morning Atkinson, who had gone out to the works at six o'clock, returned to breakfast at eight. He sat and chatted a few minutes after breakfast was done, looked at the newspaper, and then invited his uncle to go out with him to see the manufactory and some other things which he thought would interest him. Still no family prayer.

It was now quite evident to Mr. Eaine that the institution was altogether unobserved, and be resolved to take the first opportunity of speaking about it.

That night, as the three sat together after supper, Mr. Eaine gradually led the conversation to the subject of the children, and their right training; and after a good deal had been said about it on both sides, he said: "But, George, there is one thing which I am persuaded is essential to the proper training of a household, and that is family prayer. Now, I've been looking, ever since I came, for hthe Bible being brought out, and your children and your servant being assembled for worship; but you have not done it hitherto. You are not letting me interfere with it, I hope." Atkinson coloured deeply. He had already divined what was passing in his uncle's mind. He had caught his inquiring glance round the room on the night of his arrival, at the time when it might have been expected that family prayer would be held, and he saw what it meant. He had thought about it, indeed, before his uncle arrived, knowing how regularly he observed domestic worship at home, and what great importance he attached to it. He had debated in bis mind whether or not it would be well to bring out the Bible, and ask his uncle to read and pray; but several objections occurred, which he thought decisive. For one thing, he was quite sure the children would remark upon it as something new: then, again, his uncle might possibly insist on his sometimes conducting the service himself; but, perhaps, as strong a reason as any which influenced him, was that which found expression in the words,—" No, I'll not try to seem to my uncle any better than I am." So things were allowed to take their usual course.

It may be explained that George Atkinson's mother had not kept up family worship after her husband's death. At first, she felt that she could scarcely command her feelings sufficiently to do it; and afterwards, though she often thought about it, she had felt that it would be at once a confession of neglect and a great trial of nerve to begin again; so the practice was never resumed. During his apprenticeship, also, he had lived in a family where it was altogether neglected. It can scarcely be wondered at that when he set up his own house, he did not think it so important as he might otherwise have done.

"Well, uncle," he replied, "to say the truth, we never got into the habit of it. We did not begin that way, and we never took it up."

"I am sorry to hear that, George," said Mr. Baine; "it is a grievous thing when a man does not pray for himself; and it is scarcely less sad when a father of a family does not pray with his wife and his children. If God has a right to your service, has he not an equal right to that of your household? and who is to teach them that, and who is to conduct their worship, but you? God gives us as families many blessings, for which we ought to thank him; we have common sins to confess and to implore their forgiveness; and there are mercies which we need as households, which we ought to seek together in prayer. I often think of that saying of good Philip Henry, 'Wherever I have a home, God shall have an altar.'"

"I quite admit, uncle," replied Atkinson, "that every man ought to pray, and nobody can read the Bible without being sure that it is God's will we should pray. There is a great deal in it about secret prayer, and a great deal about public worship; but I don't remember ever meeting with any command or direction about family prayer."

Mr. Eaine reflected a moment, and then said, rather slowly, "Well, George, I cannot say that I am able at this moment to recall any express command on the subject; and perhaps there is not one which, in so many words, enjoins upon us to assemble our families morning and evening, and to pray with them. One reason may be, that the necessity

« AnteriorContinuar »