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MY DEAR CHILDREN, —
This work was originally begun, first, as an employment for my own satisfaction, and secondly, as a little treatise intended for you ; but this is so long since that my original idea has seemed lost in the onerous labour imposed upon me. Nevertheless, I can conscientiously dedicate this, which will be the first volume in the series, to you: there is nothing in them that you will not later be able to appreciate, and to see the importance of.
The work has to some extent drawn me away from that daily and hourly social family communion, which it is the happiness of most mothers to enjoy--not so much from the time it has occupied, as the anxious thought it has cost me; this I have deplored, but I am sure God will accept the spiritual sacrifice I have offered to Him, and perhaps bless it to your good when my voice shall be silent in the grave. The voice of God is always the same, “What I do thou knowest not now;
but thou shalt know hereafter.” If I have seemingly given more time to this work than I should have done, it has not interfered with my communion with you in spirit; on the contrary, as I have myself, from deeper and deeper study, been brought to take stronger hold upon truth, to feel the importance of spiritual and eternal things, so my concern for your spiritual progress has risen in proportion, and eternity will witness both to my sincerity and spiritual travail in your
behalf. St. Paul could not say more truly than myself, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” God has been faithful in answering my soul's desire ; I have seen the inner life spring up, gifts and preserving grace given, so that I do believe you all to be “lively stones, built up a spiritual house,” and that you can look back to your mother as the root of your
faith and principle, as your spiritual guide ; very unfaithful, unworthy, and shortcoming though she be. I have to bless God for the right tone and good disposition of my children.
But I know that "the righteous are scarcely saved,” and therefore I must here impress upon you the importance of your position as responsible agents. I have brought you to a certain point; you must now stand or fall for yourselves. The younger ones will be what the elder ones are ; therefore, the elder ones must be what their mother was to them— a pattern of inflexible principle, a godly example. The world with its ten thousand fascinations, seductions, plausible temptations, lies on the one hand; heaven on the other. Choose with decision, do not vacillate, compromise, it is the most dangerous thing in the world; be honest, and pray heartily, Wash us, o God, from worldliness. Your short day of probation is for heaven, or hell. “To be carnally minded is death;" this descent to hell is so easy, so almost imperceptible, that I say, beware! It is almost impossible to pass through the world without contracting guilt. The slightest departure from God is a grievous thing, and a very perilous one: while the loss of a soul is the most awful thing that can happen upon this earth. The words of our blessed Saviour are so time-worn that they do not make the impression upon 118 that they ought, but they are as stable as His throne, and as stringent as His laws; may the Spirit of life with which He has endued them speak to you from the few passages I shall leave with you in His name ! “No man can serve two masters : for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” “Enter ye in at the strait gate : for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat : because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Which leadeth unto life,-who can understand that expression ? I do believe that way to be very strait; we are departing from it, missing it every moment; something is always taking possession of the human mind, instead of the single pursuit of spiritual life; none can arrive at manhood therein without great decision of character, separation from the