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A Father's Gift.
435 such a dark and vicious world, amongst men of degenerate minds, who have an aversion to all that is holy and heavenly. We would fain be always in the mode, and are afraid to be looked at in the dress of piety among thousands whose neglect of God, have stamped the fashion. Are there not several such Christians amongst us, who dare not open their lips in the language of Paradise, nor let the world know they belong to heaven, till death and the invisible state are brought near them, and set in full view by some sickness or some terrible accident which threatens their removal hence? 'Tis a near view of the grave and eternity, that subdues all other passions into devotion, that makes them begin to speak and act publicly like the Children of God, and gives them a sacred fortitude, a blessed superiority of soul over their foolish fears, and all the reproaches of sinful men. (From Watts's private thoughts.)
Sent by M. D.
A FATHER'S GIFT. MARY WILLIAMS was the eldest, of seven children, and was from her childhood trained to humility, obedience, and industry by her parents, who were poor in circumstances, but very rich in worth—they feared, and loved, and tried to serve their Creator, and were much respected by all who knew them. Mary had for some time, been one of the best scholars of the Village School, which had for many years been established by a lady who attended much to it herself, and had chosen for its mistress, a clever, active woman; a sincere Christian, who humbly walked with God and daily prayed for His Almighty strength, that by it, she might be enabled to teach her young scholars “the way, the truth, and the life.”—Mary was deservedly very dear to this excellent woman, who could not help grieving to lose her, when at the age of fifteen, the Lady of the Village, as she was called, recommended her as under nursemaid to Mrs. Tarlton, whom she knew to be of a character likely to make a truly good mistress to her young favourite. The day was fixed for Mary's departure to her place, and when, in the evening before, the church clock struck five, the children had put up their work, and the usual prayer for the Divine blessing had been asked for them by their pious school mistress, she dismissed them all but Mary, and, taking her by the hand, she said, as the tear started to her eye, “May the best blessings of our Heavenly Father rest on you, my dear child; remember always to seek Him, to trust in Him, to pray to Him,--and then He will be faithful to His promise and will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” Poor Mary had intended to thank this excellent friend for all the pains she had taken, and all the kindness she had so long shewn her, but this solemn charge and farewell so overpowered her resolution, that she could only return her kiss, and express, by her tears, and her looks, how deeply she felt all that had been done for her; her heart was quite full, and she hurried home as fast as her school-fellows, who had lingered by the way to bid her good bye, would let her.
Mary's was not the only sad heart in her father's cottage, that evening; her care and her kindness to her brothers and sisters had so endeared her to them, that all were in trouble at the thought of losing her early next morning : each little one recollected some particular in which they should feel her loss; "who will contrive nice games for us?” said one; "who teach me to mend my clothes, and to be tidy ?” said another, and “who shew me how to learn my lessons ?" said a third, and “what, added a fourth, will father do without her to help him in the garden, or mother to help her in the house ?" Oh you must all try to A Father's Gift.
437 be of use to them, said the good girl, wiping her eyes, and kissing them, every one of you must do your best. Remember, dears, how much they have done for us, how hard my father works, and how ill my poor mother often is,--and do all you can to help them. We cannot always live together, for we must all try to get our own living in the world, but we will always love each other; and besides, I can write you a letter sometimes, and you who can write, will send me one, to tell me how you get on;-and think what pleasure there will be in reading them said she, kindly and wisely trying to overcome her
own sorrow for the parting, in order to lessen theirs. The thought of these letters cheered the little ones who charged her to be sure and call them early, that they might see her before she set off the next morning. When Mary was left alone with her parents, she began to thank them for all the care they had taken of, and all the love they had shewn her, but her tears would come and she could not say much :--they however, understood her meaning. She had always indeed proved by her actions, and by her obedience to them, how thankful she was for all their goodness to her, and they had a strong hope that she would never cease to make them the best return for all their care. Before he bade her good night, her father took from his neat little cupboard, a new and very neatly bound Bible, which with one hand he put into her's, and with the other drew her towards him :--take this, my dear girl, said he, your father's parting gift. I have worked hard to buy for you this best of books. If I was a king and had millions I could not make you a richer present; if I was a learned man, I could give you no learning like what this book contains, for its wisdom is the wisdom of God, which is able to make you “wise unto salvation." Study it therefore daily and diligently; consult it in all times of temptation and difficulty ; pray for grace to enable you steadily to practice the precepts it contains, and to increase
your faith in all the glorious promises it gives: then will your Heavenly Father pour upon your head those blessings, for which your poor earthly father can only pray. The good man could say no more, he wiped away a tear, and again blessed and kissed his child ; the mother pressed her to her heart, and they all went to rest. It need hardly be observed, that these Christian parents had taken pains to be satisfied that the service to which their child was going, was with religious people. The Lady of the Village would not indeed have recommended, nor, poor as they were, would they have accepted, any other. They had often had cause to wonder, as all who think rightly must have, that parents should be so eager to get fine places, and great wages for their children, caring not for the many temptations to evil, by which their young minds may be surrounded, and appearing to think only of the present good, though falsely is it so called, of their bodies, forgetful of their everlasting happiness or misery. Surely such parents can never have read, or if they have read or heard, cannot believe, in the awful account, which the Bible tells us, they will one day have to render up to God, for the children He has given to their care. But to return to Mary :-her new master and mistress were excellent people; their wish was to make every servant in their house comfortable. Mrs. Tarlton, though she was a very rich lady, knew that it was her duty to be active and industrious; she attended to every thing as much as possible, and was very particular in trying to keep every one to his duty; but, as there were many servants, this was not always in her power, and Mary had several trials, under which, her father's gift was her best support. She was placed under Mrs. Smith, the head nurse, upon whom she was to wait, and whose orders, she was told by her mistress she was always to obey; but these orders were given very shortly, and as Mary was quite new to the business of a
A Father's Gift.
439 nursery, she did not always understand them : this often made Mrs. Smith very angry, and her poor little maid, was sometimes greatly cast down, and was tempted to fear that she could never succeed ; but she remembered her father's parting words; she studied her Bible daily, and in that she was encouraged " in patience to possess her soul.” From that she learnt of her Saviour, to be meek and lowly in heart She had indeed but little time for reading, for her duty called her to labour, but she made the best use of the time she had; and she read her Bible. She had been, from a child, accustomed to get by heart a short portion of Scripture every morning ; this excellent practice she continued, and it is not possible for those who have not tried it, to think of how great use it was to her. “Servants obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service as mèn pleasers, but in singleness (that is honesty) of heart, fearing God." And “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ." These and other Scripture texts constantly reminded Mary of her duty : and, besides the duty of religion Mary felt the happiness of it, she found that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Mary Williams was as diligent in her work, as strictly honest in all her actions, and as obedient to the orders of her mistress and Mrs. Smith when she was alone, as when she was in their sight, and in course of time the latter, who was not really unfeeling, became as kind to her, as at first she was cross and impatient. A circumstance occurred, soon after Mary's arrival in the family, of which Mrs. Tarlton was accidentally informed, and which gave her so high an opinion of her honesty, as made her ever after willing to trust her. She had promised her mother, as well as her brothers and sisters, that she would write as soon as she could judge how she liked