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the past two years, with that of her present experience, which was one of doubt and darkness ; occasionally employing, however, such light modes of expression in order to conceal the depth of her feelings, that unless Clara had in some measure understood her sister's character, she might have doubted whether she were really in earnest.

“ I had no idea you had ever thought and felt as you describe, Fanny,” she said, after a pause of some moments.

“I daresay not,” replied Fanny, rather impatiently, you have never tried to find out whether any of us did think more of those things than we may have appeared to do; you have always seemed as if you thought us all heathens; but perhaps we're none of us so indifferent to what is good as you suppose; for my own part,” she continued, sadly and seriously, “I only wish I knew more about such things, and understood them better. But you understand, and I want you now to talk to me and tell me what to do.”

For though Clara never spoke upon the subject of religion, her diligent attendance upon all the means of grace, her regular and attentive perusal of the Scriptures, her steadfastness in resisting the temptations of a worldly home, and her usually consistent conduct in daily life, had proved, even to those who least understood her principles, that her religion was a reality.

“How did you feel, Clara, when first you became a Christian ?” asked Fanny, with some hesitation. needn't talk of yourself if you don't like to,” she added, hastily, observing the cloud that had gathered over her sister's brow, and her evident unwillingness to speak; "only tell me if real Christians ever feel as I do ; for it seems as if I had made some great mistake in some way, and had all to begin over again. But I know you could explain everything, and set me right if you would.

Still Clara remained silent. Her sister's experience was not an uncommon one; though, to Fanny, who had scarcely entered upon the path which Clara had trodden for many years, it seemed that "some strange thing” had happened to

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her. And she spoke truly when she said her sister could explain her difficulties, and set her right if she would.

Clara could not bring herself to speak, even in general terms, upon a subject which awakened, as it was brought before her, so many responsive and thrilling chords in her own bosom, with memories of past thoughts and feelings communicated to no earthly being; for her heart had indeed known “its own bitterness,” and a stranger” had not intermeddled with its joy.

And now it seemed impossible to break through the barrier of reserve which natural diffidence and pride of character combined had planted so firmly around her. Though neither opposed nor ridiculed, Clara had always felt that she was not understood; and taking little pains to draw the hearts of those who were most closely related to her by the ties of nature into closer union with her own, that strongest of all bonds, the bond of Christian sympathy, had never been formed between herself and any member of her family, and Clara lived emphatically alone.

Besides this, between her sister Fanny and herself there had always appeared to exist a kind of natural antagonism, not indeed openly manifested, but mutually felt, and tacitly acknowledged. There was a certain similarity in their dispositions in some respects, which rendered each especially sensitive to the peculiarities and infirmities of the other ; but neither possessed that tender love which would have made this similarity a bond of union. And Clara's Christianity was as yet in many respects very imperfect. Pride, her besetting sin, had still much power over her; and though she had discovered the secret of true happiness, her heart was not yet enlarged to communicate that blessed secret to others.

And must she now unveil the sacred treasures of her heart to one who least of all around her had hitherto appeared to appreciate any high and holy subject, and who could even now, when speaking upon such subjects, express herself in terms so unsuitable ?


Clara felt, moreover, the truth of her ycung sister's words when she reproached her for her indifference as a Christian to the spiritual state of those around her; pride added its powerful influence, and again poor Fanny vainly waited for some word of tender counsel and encouragement.

I cannot talk to you, Fanny,” she said, at length; "and I do not believe, if I were to attempt to do so, it would benefit you in any way. Study your Bible, my dear Fanny, and pray before you read for light from above to enable you to understand it. I can give you no better advice; it is seldom well to talk much upon these subjects, and indeed I do not feel that I could do so."

Yet Clara's heart smote her as she spoke, and she uttered every word with difficulty. · The Spirit of God whispered loudly within her heart that here was a duty plainly marked out before her; that in this unexpected meeting between herself and her sister, at an hour which afforded them the most favourable opportunity for undisturbed conversation, the hand of that Divine Providence which orders all events might be clearly traced; and that her own past experience, which had been very similar in many respects to that of her sister at the present time, together with its joyous issue, might have been permitted in order to prepare her for guiding and comforting one who should in after years be called to pass through the same conflict.

Yet now again she paused, and waited for her sister to make some final reply.

I have read and prayed a great deal," said Fanny, gloomily,“ but it has not seemed to be of any use; and now I feel as if I didn't care to do either any more

--as if I had got quite indifferent about everything."

" Then, my dear Fanny, there must either be something very wrong, or else you are misjudging and condemning yourself without cause. I need not tell you that God will hear and accept the poorest, weakest prayer, if offered in sincerity; but that if you altogether neglect to pray because


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you find a difficulty in doing so, you are placing yourself in a most perilous position, and are creating your own unhappiness.”

"Is this all you have to say to me?" asked Fanny, coldly.

Yes, all I have to say, Fanny," answered Clara, hastily, and colouring deeply; "but take this book, dear Fanny"--and she drew from her pocket a small volume ; "it will explain to you all you want to understand far better than I can, and you will find more comfort in reading that than in listening to anything I could say to you; and I hope and pray, my dear Fanny, that you may soon be happier.”

Alas! poor Fanny ! weary and sick at heart under the pressure of a long-continued temptation, young in years, and ill-accustomed to the exercise of self-control, she could bear her sister's cold reserve no longer.

"No !" she exclaimed, bitterly, and bursting into tears as she rose hastily from her seat; “I don't want the book! I thought when I had actually asked you to do so—and I'm sure it cost me an effort to do that you would have talked to me, and asked me questions, and tried yourself to make me happier ; but if you had ever cared what became of any of us, you would have tried without being asked to teach us what was good. Now you needn't say any more, Clara ; if what you

know and believe has made you happy, you can enjoy your happiness alone, as you always have, but I will never ask you to talk to me again ; if I lose my way to heaven I will never ask you to help me to find it !"

This passionate outburst of feeling from the usually gay and careless Fanny so much startled Clara, that though she did wish now to speak, she could not recover herself sufficiently to do so before Fanny, flushed and excited, had hurried away through the trees and bushes, and was out of sight.

And now left alone, she had leisure to reflect upon the unfaithfulness and unkindness of her conduct ; and in the new light that seemed suddenly to burst over her soul, Clara was shocked and pained to see that her religion had hitherto


been a selfish one, and that now she had incurred the guilt of one who, finding a fellow-creature wounded by the way, lookedupon her, “and passed by on the other side.” Had not Fanny spoken truly when she exclaimed, in the bitter heat of a disappointed and wounded spirit, “ You have never tried to teach any of us what is good !"

Alas ! those words were only too true. Even had she prayed with earnestness and frequency for the souls of those around her-even had she hoped or sought by a lowly Christian conversation to "win” those souls “ without the Word”-and alas ! her conscience reproached her with neglect in both these matters--Clara felt that, in her case at least, more was required; that she had been unfaithful to her Saviour's cause, and coldly indifferent to those whose eternal interests should have been as dear to her as her own.

Yet for a long half-hour Clara fought against conviction. The advice she had given Fanny to persevere in prayer and in the study of the Scriptures was “the best she could have given. What were any human counsels worth in comparison with the blessed teaching of the Word of God ?” What indeed, Clara ? Your advice was excellent, but you should have sought, with the help of the Divine Spirit, to unfold those Scriptures to your sister's comprehension ; you should have directed her to such passages of the Word as were most suited to her need, and you should have encouraged her, by a reference to the experience of believers generally, if not by the relation of your own, still to “hope,” and “quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” “ The book which Fanny had refused to take would have taught her that.” “ Yes,” said Clara's conscience, “doubtless it would have done so, but it could not have supplied the place of that which you so coldly denied--the kindly voice of Christian sympathy, the tender counsel of a living friend, the liberty of unburdening the heart of its doubts and fears and restless questionings. No, Clara,” said her conscience, “ you have no excuse ; you are fully persuaded of your error, and that had you only acknowledged with sorrow the truth of your

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