Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

6 Why, my dear," answered Mrs. Fairchild, was far as I can judge, they believed that there is but one God, who made all things; and that this God hates sin, and loves goodness.”

“That was right, mamma,” said Henry.

“So far it was, my dear,” answered Mrs. Fairchild “ but people cannot be called Christians who know no more than this.”

“ Did not our aunts know any thing about our Lord Jesus Christ ?" said Henry.

“ They knew that there is such a person, and that he is called the Son of God," answered Mrs. Fairchild; " and that he taught men to be good; and died upon the cross; but they did not seem to have much notion that he is God, and that he has power to save all those who come to him in faith-at least, they never taught me any thing of the kind : neither did they explain to me that my heart was so bad as it is, or that I needed the help of the Spirit of God to change my vile nature.”

"Then what did they teach you, mamma?” said Henry.

Why, my dear,” answered Mrs. Fairchild; “ almost the first things they taught me were the Ten Commandments; and they told me that they were the words of God; and that, if I did not keep these words, I should go to hell, and be burnt in everlasting fire, with the devil and his angels ; but that, if I did keep these commandments, I should go to heaven, and live with God and the holy angels for ever."

Why, my aunts could not keep the commandments themselves," said Lucy; “ because nobody can, without the help of the Holy Spirit: and how could they expect you to do it, mamma, when you were a little girl ?"

“My aunts,” said Mrs. Fairchild,“ could not keep the commandments any more than I did, my dear; that is true enough: but people who have not true religion, often live for years, and even die, without knowing that they are sinners. The beginning of true religion, my dear, is to know that we are sinners.".

“ Are my aunts dead ?" said Henry.
“ Yes, my dear,” said Mrs. Fairchild.

« Then I am afraid that they are not gone to heaven," said Henry.

“ You must hear my story to the end,” said Mrs. Fairchild. “Some people receive the Holy Spirit of

God when they are young, and some when they are older, and some even when they are dying, therefore we cannot judge any person. I only tell you what my aunts were when I lived with them. But now to go back to my story

“I was but a very little girl when I came to live with my aunts, and they kept me under their care till I was married. As far as they knew what was right, they took great pains with me. Mrs. Grace taught me to sew, and Mrs. Penelope taught me to read; I had a writing and a music master, who came from Reading to teach me twice a-week: and I was taught all kinds of household work by my aunts' maid. We spent one day exactly like another. I was made to rise early, and to dress myself very neatly, to breakfast with my aunts. At breakfast I was not allowed to speak one word. After breakfast, I worked two hours with my aunt Grace, and read an hour with my aunt Penelope : we then, if it was fine weather, took a walk; or, if not, an airing in the coach-I and my aunts, and little Shock, the lap-dog, together. At dinner, I was not allowed to speak; and, after dinner, I attended my masters, or learned my tasks. The only time I had to play was while my aunts were dressing to go out; for they went out every evening to play at cards. When they went out my supper was given to me, and I was put to bed in a closet in my aunts' room."

“ But why did they not stay at home, and take care of you, mamma,” said Lucy. “Is it right to be going out every day, and dressing fine, and playing at cards ?

“When people really love God," said Mrs. Fairchild, “they no longer take pleasure in this kind of things; but I told you before, my dear children, that when I lived with my aunts, they were not truly religious: it is therefore of no use to be reasoning about their actions.

“Now, although my aunts took so much pains with me in their way," continued Mrs. Fairchild, “ I was a very naughty girl: I had no good principles.".

“Mamma, what do you mean by good principles ?" said Lucy.

“A person of good principles, my dear,” said Mrs. Fairchild, “is one who does not do well from fear of the people he lives with, but from the fear of God. A child who has good principles will behave just the same when his mamma is out of the room, as when she is looking at him at least he will wish to do so: and if he is, by his own wicked heart, at any time tempted to sin, he will be grieved, although no person knows his sin. But when I lived with my aunts, if I could but escape punishment, I did not care what naughty things I did.

“My aunt Grace was very fond of Shock: she used to give me skim-milk at breakfast, but she gave Shock cream ; and she often made me carry him when I went out walking. For this reason I hated him; and when we were out of my aunt's hearing, I used to prick him, and pull his tail and his ears, and make the poor little thing howl sadly. My aunt Penelope had a large tabby cat, which I also hated and used ill. I remember once being sent out of the dining-room to carry Shock his dinner; Shock being ill, and laid on a cushion in my aunts' bed-room. As I was going up stairs I was so unfortunate as to break the plate, which was fine blue china: 1 gathered up the pieces, and running up into. the room, set them before Shock: after which I fetched the cat, and shut her up in the room with Shock. When my aunts came up after dinner and found the broken plate, they were much surprised; and Mrs. Bridget, the favourite maid, was called to beat the cat for breaking the plate. I was in my closet, and heard all that was said; and instead of being sorry, I was glad that puss was beaten instead of me.

“Besides those things which I have told you, I did many other naughty things. Whenever I was sent into the store-room, where the sugar and sweetmeats were kept, I always stole some. I used very often, at night, when my aunts were gone out, and Mrs. Bridget also (for Mrs. Bridget generally went out when her mistresses did, to see some of her acquaintances in the town), to get up, and go down into the kitchen, where I used to sit upon the house'maid's knee, and eat toasted cheese, and bread sopped in beer. Whenever my aunts found out any of my naughty tricks they used to talk to me of my wickedness, and to tell me that if I went on in this manner, I certainly should make God very angry, and should go to hell when I died. When I heard them talk of God's anger, and of death and the grave, and of hell, I used to be frightened, and resolved to do better; but I seldom kept any of my good resolutions. From day to day I went on in the same wicked way; getting

worse, I think, instead of better; until I was twelve years of age.

" About this time, it happened that a lady came to visit my aunts, who had a little daughter younger than myself. This child was in a very bad state of health. While the lady remained with my aunts, the little girl died. I was with this poor child when the breath left her body; and I saw her corpse laid in the coffin, and carried to the. grave. I had neyer seen death so near before: and I must say that I really was frightened, and began from that time to wish that I could be good; and I made promises to my aunts that I would be a better girl ; but I neither kept my promises nor my good resolutions.

• One Saturday morning, in the middle of summer, my aunts called me to them, and said—My dear, we are going from home, and shall not return till Monday morning. We cannot take you with us, as we could wish, because you have not been invited. Bridget will go with us, therefore there will be no person to keep you in order; but we hope, as you are not now a little child, that you may be trusted a few days by yourself.'

" My aunt Grace then bade me remember, that, although she and her sister would not be present to watch me, yet there was a great and powerful "God, whose eye would be always upon me, and who would certainly take an account of every thing I did, and would bring me, sooner or later, to judgment for every evil action.

“My aunt Penelope then reminded me of the poor little girl who had died in the house ; and told me, though I was in good health, yet that I might, if God pleased, die like that little girl, in my youth, and never live to be a woman.

“ They then talked to me of the commandments of God, and explained them to me, and spoke of the very great sin and danger of breaking them; and they talked to me till I really felt frightened, and determined that I would be good all the while they were from home.

“ When the coach was ready, my aunts set out: and I took my books, and went to sit in the arbour with Shock, who was left under my care. I staid in the arbour till evening, when one of the maid-servants brought me my supper: I gave part of it to Shock, and, when I had eaten the rest, went to bed. As I lay in my

bed, I felt very glad that I had got through that evening without doing any thing I thought naughty, and was sure I should do as well the next day.

“ The next morning I was awakened by the bells ringing for church: I got up, ate my breakfast, and when I was dressed, went with the maid to church. When we came home, my dinner was given me. All this while I had kept my aunts' words pretty well in my memory; but they now began to wear a little from my mind. When I had done my dinner, I went to play in the garden.

“ Behind the garden, on the hill, was a little field, full of cherry-trees : cherries were now quite ripe. My aunts had given me leave every day to pick up a few cherries, if there were any fallen from the trees; but I was not allowed to gather any. Accordingly I went to look if there were any cherries fallen; I found a few, and was eating them when I heard somebody call me. "Miss, miss!' and, looking up, saw a little girl who was employed about the house, in weeding the garden, and running errands. My aunts had often forbidden me to play, or hold any discourse with this little girl ; which was certainly very proper, as the education of this child was very different from that which had been given me. I was heedless of this command, and answered her by saying, 'What are you doing here, Nanny ?'

* There is a ladder, miss,' she replied, against a tree at the upper end of the orchard: if you please I will get up into it and throw you down some cherries.' At first I said · No,' and then I said · Yes.' So Nanny and I repaired to the tree in question, and Nanny mounted into the tree.

"O, miss, miss!' said she, as soon as she had reached the top of the ladder, “I can see, from where I am, all the town, and both the churches--and here is such plenty of cherries !-do come up--only just step on the ladder; and then you can sit on this bough, and eat as many cherries as you please.'”

“ And did you get into the tree, mamma?” said Lucy.

“ Yes, my dear, I did," said Mrs. Fairchild," and sat down on one of the branches, to eat cherries and look about me.”

“0, mamma!” said Emily, “ suppose your aunts had come home then!”

“You shall hear, my dear," continued Mrs. Fairchild.

« ZurückWeiter »