« AnteriorContinuar »
with fear of that sort. "There may be cleverer workmen than I," he would say, " that I don't deny; but I ain't afraid of my work being examined. I know it's honest work."
There is one more aspect of this noble quality, integrity, and if we really possess that we may hope that we have the foundation for integrity everywhere and in everything. There is a kind of integrity which relates only to outward actions, those which are likely to come under the notice of others. But there is a higher kind of integrity necessary to the full perfection of that quality—I mean integrity before God. Man looketh to the outward appearance, God looketh to the heart."* Not only should our acts and words be true, straightforward, above-board, honest and open as the day; but our thoughts also. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,"f was the wise man's exhortation. And yet more significantly did the psalmist say at the close of that wonderful Psalm, the 139th, "Search me, 0 God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be anywicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." If we are true before him, we cannot be false before men. If we do our work, fulfil our calling as in his sight and to obtain his approval, we shall so do it as not to fear man's scrutiny. If we can say with regard to any duty, in the spirit of humble and thankful sincerity, "I have, done my best in the sight of God," it will be a small matter to us to be judged by man's judgment. Only let us take heed that our appeal to his heart-searching eye be genuine; let us beware lest even this be an act of self-deception. There is the possibility of appealing to him to vindicate what we dare not submit to the investigation of our fellowmen. We must beware of this. And in order to do so, we must live in the habit of bringing our lives, our thoughts, our words, our actions, into the clear light of his presence, that we may judge of them according to his truth, and not according to our own wishes. May He who knows the heart, and from whom no secret thoughts can be hid, help us thus to search and try our ways and turn to the Lord! It is a searching prayer, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults."
* 1 Sam. svi. 7. t Prov. iv. 23.
COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE.
On these subjects much advice is given, and very little taken. If asked at all, it is generally not until the mind is made up, the affections engaged, and perhaps the honour pledged. Good Mr. and Mrs. Sutton were very often consulted on this business by the prudent youDg people in our neighbourhood. The first question they generally asked was, "Have you consulted your parents, and what do they think of it? for you cannot expect happiness if you marry without the full consent of your parents, and the parents of your intended partner." Very often the answer was, "I have spoken to my parents, and they advised me to consult you." Most of the parents had a high opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Sutton's judgment; and somehow they had such a way of making young people themselves see and own if there was anything imprudent or wrong, as induced them to give up the matter of their own accord, which was easier than for the parents directly to forbid it .
My brother Richard, I remember, was in a terrible hurry to get married before he was out of his apprenticeship. Father and mother did all they could to persuade him to wait awhile, and it was well for him that they succeeded. Mr. Sutton, too, talked kindly to him on the subject. "Don't be too hasty, young man; 'tis easy to marry in haste, and repent at leisure. I would advise you not to think of marrying till you are settled in a fair way of getting a living. You don't wish to be a burden to your parents, but to be able to provide for yourself, and those dependent on you; and for some years to come it will be much better for you to have one plough going than two cradles. You may think that love and a little will be quite enough, but let me tell you, love and nothing will be but sorry fare. If you and your lass really love one another, you will find it easy and pleasant to work and save, that you may have something about you to make your home comfortable, when it is prudent for you to marry."
My brother promised to wait a year or two. He set about in good earnest, every leisure hour he had, to work and save for future comfort. But in less than three months' time he came again to Mr. Sutton in great trouble, and told him that Fanny was getting very shy of him, and had been seen walking with the squire's groom; and now what was to be done?
"By all means let her go," replied Mr. Sutton, "and reckon it a very good miss for you. If she is tired of waiting, let her go on without you; and when she is gone, comfort yourself with remembering that there are as good fish left in the sea as ever were caught out of it."
This seemed hard doctrine at the time, and Dick was half inclined to break his promise, and go after Fanny with an offer to marry directly; but prudence prevailed.
After flirting about with three or four different young men, Fanny at last married William Stephens the sawyer, and a poor dressy dawdle of a wife she made him. As for Eichard, he soon found that he could do vastly well without her, and, I believe, he forgot all about marrying for four or five years, until he met with a steady, respectable young woman, whom all his friends approved, and who turned out an excellent partner to him and a good mother to his children.
A second question our friends used to ask the young people who came to consult them, was this: "What is it in the person of whom you speak, that makes you think you should love him (or her) better than all the world beside? You ought to be able to do this; for it is a very foolish action either to marry without love, or to love without reason. Is it beauty? Beauty is only skin deep, and sometimes covers a heart deformed by vice and ill temper. Beauty is a poor thing, unless it accompanies something far better than itself, and that will long outlive it. To marry only for beauty, would be like buying a house for the nosegays in the windows. 'Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord she shall he praised,' and chosen too by the wise man who seeks a helpmate. Would you marry for money?' In seeking after a comfortable yoke-fellow, good conditions are more to be sought for than a great dowry.' 'Better have a fortune in a wife than a fortune with a wife.' Is it for genteel attractive manners, and polite accomplishments? Don't be imposed upon: 'all is not gold that glitters.' Beauty, and property, and pleasing manners, and polite accomplishments, are all very good make-weights to a bargain that is good independently of them, but would make a wretchedly bad bargain of themselves. In marrying you want not only what will look well, and excite admiration when all goes on smoothly, but you want what will afford real comfort and support in the time of adversity."
Then they would ask, "How does the person behave in present relations? Is he (or the) remarked as a dutiful, affectionate, attentive child; a kind brother or sister? for never yet was it found that the disobedient, rebellious son, or the pert, undutiful daughter, was fitted to make an affectionate, faithful, valuable husband or wife."
Then again, " Is the intended party of age, temper, and habits suitable to your own? for people may be very good in themselves who are not suitable to each other; and two people who have been used to different ways of living, must have an uncommon share of good temper and forbearance if ever they make each other happy in the married life. Bemember, 'Marriage with peace and piety is this world's paradise; with strife and disagreement, it is this world's purgatory.'
"And then, how is it as to the one thing needful? Whatever you do, do not let this be overlooked. Without true religion you Jose the best sweetness and relish of pronperity, and you have no provision whatever for meeting trials and afflictions: besides, if you could live together a century in the tenderest affection, and the most unmingled comfort, what a dreadful thing to think of death coming and separating you for ever! Be sure then you remember the Scripture rule, 'only in the Lord;' and expect not the blessing of God if you violate it. Ask the blessing of God on all your engagements. 'A prudent wife is of the Lord.' 'In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.'
"When all these matters are satisfactorily settled, and your choice is fixed, be steady and faithful. Never act with levity, or say or do anything that would give each other pain. Be very prudent and circumspect in your intercourse with each other. In this respect your future comfort and confidence are at stake, as well as your fair character in the world. Let nothing that occurs now furnish matter for reproach or regret at any future time."
To young mariied people our friends would say, " Let your conduct be such as to render easy the duties of the other party. A wife is commanded to reverence her husband. Let his conduct be wise and holy, and then it will command reverence. 'Husbands, love your wives;' then wives should be truly amiable; a man can hardly love a vixen or a slattern. If a wife wishes to keep her husband at home, she must make home comfortable to him: in order to do this she must be, as the apostle says, 'discreet, chaste, a keeper at home.' A giddy, gadding wife is sure to make a dissatisfied, if not a dissolute husband. Seek to promote each other's comforts, so will you best secure your own.
"Let there be no secrets, and no separate interests. Do nothing that requires concealment, and never act in such a way as to provoke it. Many a partner, of a generous and open disposition, has been driven to practise concealment, by the extravagance or unkindness of the associate."
To husbands they said—" Treat your wife always with respect. It will procure respect to you not only from her, but from all who observe it. Never use a slighting expression to her, even in jest; for slights in jest, after frequent bandyings, are apt to end in angry earnest." To both:—" Remember the design of your union—to promote each other's honour, comfort, and usefulness in this life, and preparation for a better. You are to walk together as fellow-travellers through the paths of time, whether smooth or rugged; and, as fellow-heirs of the grace of life, helping each other by prayer, counsel, sympathy, and forbearance."
It was no uncommon thing for persons to carry to our good friends complaints against bad husbands or bad wives. Such complainants generally met the reply: "Go back, then, and be yourself a better wife, (or husband,) and see if that do not prevail with him (or her) to be a better husband (or wife)." Another sound piece of advice often given them was this: "Whenever differences arise, endeavour to persuade yourself that they must have arisen from some mistake or misunderstanding of your own; never suppose the other party in fault, or that anything unkind could have been intended, but charge all the blame on yourself, and make it your business to promote reconciliation and preserve peace. This will at once mellow your own spirit, and win the other party to reconciliation and love."
Another good rule is this :—Let husband and wife never be angry at the same time: by this means family fouds ana discord will neither come often, nor continue long.
I may add, that by the counsels of these judicious friends, many connexions were prevented which were likely only to end in sorrow and ruin; many were formed to the satisfaction and real enjoyment of the parties; and many persons were brought to a more correct and faithful discharge of their duties, and, consequently, to a higher degree of happiness in the conjugal relation.