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dictates, even when they seem most to run counter to worldly interests. Those who, for the sake of worldly gain, adhere to practices which their consciences testify against, can have no real peace of mind, and often find even their worldly purposes unaccountably crossed. “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it,” Prov. x. 22. What is the sure road to happiness? To deny ourselves, and take up our cross, and follow our Lord daily. Whatever we may lose for obedience, we shall lose nothing by it; but every sacrifice shall be abundantly made up (as Matthew Henry expresses it) either in kind or kindness.
I AM sorry to speak of No. 7, as a nuisance to the row, especially as one head of the family is a person who has made some profession of religion; for, sad as it is to see persons who are utterly ignorant and ungodly go wrong, it is yet more sad to see professors of religion disgracing instead of adorning it. I have already had occasion to disclaim an unkind, censorious, mischiefmaking spirit; and in the present instance, though truth compels me to mention circumstances which are disgraceful to the parties, I do it not from feelings of ill-will to them, but with an earnest wish, that my readers and myself may be led strictly to examine our motives and principles in taking up a religious profession, and constantly to walk consistently with it.
In the days of her youth, Mrs. Șims lived servant in the family of Mr. Robinson, the lawyer. Mr. and Mrs. Robinson were religious people ; and Mrs. R., in particular, was very zealous in her endeavours to promote religion among her
children and servants. I have no doubt she always meant well, but I am afraid her zeal was not always according to knowledge. There are two particulars in which I think she erred; and I fear her errors are not singular: Love to the house of God has been an invariable characteristic of his people in all ages; but even this requires to be regulated, and brought into harmonious completeness with the due discharge of every other duty. Hannah, of old, knew and valued the privilege of public ordinances; but there were seasons when, without any thing like declension of spirituality and zeal," she went not up,” 1 Sam. i. 22, because maternal duties required her presence at home. David, than whom no man ever manifested greater attachment to the sanctuary, neglected not in due time to return to bless his household, 2 Sam. vi. 20. The good woman to whom I have referred, presented one of these features in full prominence, but somewhat failed in the others. She was a great hearer of sermons —at least three on the sabbath; besides which, almost every evening in the week was devoted to some religious meeting or other. Now, had she been an unconnected individual, with her time at her own disposal, and had she found this the most profitable way of spending it, there would have been no room for censure; but, considering her as the mother of seven or eight children, and the mistress of three or four servants, who on these occasions were left without control, perhaps an enlightened conscience would sometimes have suggested the appeal, “ Who hath required this at your hand ?” Isa. i. 12. But conscience is not unfrequently bewildered by a partial or disproportionate view of duty; and perhaps the good woman, while conscientiously seeking to embrace every opportunity for her own spiritual gratification and profit, in some degree overlooked the corresponding duty of letting her profiting appear unto all, especially to those of her own house. Let it not, however, be supposed, that either she or her husband were regardless of the welfare of those committed to their charge. The family was always—it cannot be said regularly, for late evening engagements, committee meetings, etc. have a strong tendency to break in upon domestic regularity; and an especial degree of good management is requisite to harmonize the various public, social, and domestic claims on the attention of heads of families. However, whether early or late, the family was daily assembled for reading and prayer; the children were required to learn catechisms, and the servants were furnished with books, perhaps not always the most judiciously selected. Besides this, when indisposition, unfavourable weather, or any other circumstance, occasioned a break in Mrs. Robinson's out-of-door engagements, she generally took the opportunity of giving an address to her children and servants. This was of such a strain as to act upon the feelings rather than upon the judgment or conscience. Death-bed conversions and joyful experiences were among her favourite topics. These narrations excited her own feelings, and perhaps awakened a momentary sympathy in the feelings of her audience, which she too hastily construed into evidences of piety; and, congratulating
herself on the happy result of her endeavours, encouraged the parties to make a profession of religion. In several instances, these persuasions have been yielded to, it is to be feared, without due consideration. A public avowal of regard to religion was the sure way to favour and indulgence from Mrs. Robinson; it tended rather to put the person upon better terms with herself, and it did not neces
cessarily involve any very inconvenient degree of strictness and self-denial, especially in a house where the frequent absence of the mistress left the servants pretty much at liberty to pursue their own inclinations. A set of religious phrases is easily acquired and adopted; and the aptitude with which they were used by the young people in Mrs. Robinson's family, seemed fully to satisfy herself, and to call forth the applause of her friends, on account of her excellent and successful religious instructions, though they were unaccompanied by any substantial evidences of piety. The expressions of a dying child were detailed with great compla. cency; confident expectations were cherished of living children, that, despite of bad tempers and deceit, they would rise up eminent Christians; and servants were enumerated who had entered the family totally ignorant of religion, but in the course of a few months had become eminently pious. Alas! a few years have proved the worth. lessness of this superficial kind of religion : the sons of the family, on leaving the parental roof, have every one cast off the form of godliness, and plunged into dissipation and scepticism; the daughter has been a grief to her parents by her