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Sure there was ne'er a heart so base,
So false, as mine has been ;
So prone to every sin!
Are hos, jost, and trie;
Is his most righteous due.
And all her words approve ;
And harder yet to love.
These struggles in my breast?
And give my conscience rest!
And set thy captive free!
And haste to rescue me.
ON THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT ;
OR, A SUNDAY AT MR. FAIRCHILD'S. The fourth commandment is this: “Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day ; six days shalt thou labour, and do all thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work; thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, thy man-servant and thy maid-servant, thy cattle and the stranger that is within thy gate; For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day and hallowed it."
Though we are bidden to remember the Sabbath-day, yet how few are there, among people who call themselves Christians, who rightly observe this command of God, to keep the Sabbath holy! You will, perhaps, like to hear how Sunday was kept in Mr. Fairchild's family.
On Saturday, Betty always made a fruit-pie and baked it, and roasted a fowl or a joint of meat, to be cold the next day; so that she might have nothing to do when she came from church on the Sunday but to boil a few pota. toes. On the Saturday evening also she cleaned the house. And Emily and Lucy used to rub the chairs and tables, and do such other little things as they could, to help Betty. They next looked out their own clothes and Henry's for the next day, and laid them on chairs near their beds. Their mamma then gave them a complete washing and combing ; after which they packed up in their little baskets their Bibles and Prayer-books, and such little presents as they might have been able to prepare during the week for the children of the schools. Lucy and Emily sometimes would have a little cap, or a tippet, to take to some good little girl; or a pair of mittens, or a pincushion, or a little needle-book : for whenever their mamma threw away any little bits of silk or cloth, or an old card, or any thing else which could be turned to use, Emily and Lucy used to pick it up and contrive something or other of it: and if it was but a shabby thing which they were able to make, yet it pleased the poor children. Henry, too, was also always contriving something for the little boys in the school; so that their baskets on a Sunday were never empty.
On the Sunday morning, the family generally rose a little earlier than usual, in order that every thing which was necessary might be finished before breakfast such things, I mean, as feeding the pigs, milking the cow, getting parsley for the hare, and giving corn to the fowls and pigeons. The children were always allowed bread and butter and tea for breakfast on a Sunday. And after breakfast all the family made haste to dress themselves; and having made up the fire and locked the doors, they used to set off to the village : for the schools and the church were in the village. Many pleasant walks had Mr. Fairchild and his family, on a summer's morning, to the village church ; Henry, Lucy, and Emily walked quietly first (for they were not allowed to run on a Sunday), Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild coming next, and Betty and John behind. Mrs. Baker's neat little house was just at the entrance of the village ; the very first house after John Trueman's; and, unless something very particular happened, Mrs. Baker was always ready to come out, and go with Mrs. Fairchild to the school.
When they came to the schools, Mr. Fairchild and Henry went to the boys' school, and Mrs. Fairchild and, her little girls, with Mrs. Baker, went into the girls'
school: there they heard the children say the Catechism and heard them read, and gave them religious instruction. Lucy and Emily had each six little girls less than themselves, and Henry as many little boys to hear. They generally contrived to be two hours at school, before it was time to go to church. When they knew by the church bell that it was time to leave the schools, the children were all placed two and two, and taken to church: Henry walked by his little boys, and sat with them at church, to find their places in their Psalters, and to see that they behaved well; and Emily and Lucy kept by their litile girls for the same purpose.
After the divine service was over, Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild and their family came home ; and the children, if they pleased, had a piece of bread as soon as they came in. But there was one thing which Mr. Fairchild would not allow his family to do-a thing which many people are very much in the practice of—that is, when they have been at church, hearing the good Word of God, to come home and chatter together about foolish things, till they have quite forgotten all the holy words they have heard in the church. “ You might j st as well,” Mr. Fairchild would say, “ sow good seeds in your fields, and then turn in a flock of birds to pick them all up, as go to church, and afterward meet and talk and chatter till you have forgotten every thing you have heard." So Mrs. Fairchild ordered her children, when they came in from church, while they were waiting for their dinner, to go into a place apart by themselves, where they might think of what they had been hearing. Sometimes they would walk alone in the garden, or in a path which was in the coppiee just by, if it was a fine day ; or go into their own little rooms, to pray, and sing a hymn, and think of God. Henry, in particular, had a little favourite shady path in the coppice, where scarcely any person ever came, excepting two old women whose cottages were on that side of the coppice; and there you might see him walking up and down, praying, or singing his hymns, till he was called to dinner by the dinner-bell, which John always rang out of the house door.
At dinner Mr. Fairchild would not allow his family to speak of the business of the week-days, or even to talk of their neighbours : they found enough pleasant discourse in speaking of what they had heard in the church, or of what had happened in the school; which of the children were improved, and who said the Catechism best, and who got rewards, and such things.
After dinner, in the long days, they all went again to church; but in the winter they could not go in the afternoon, because there was no service. So when they could not go to church, Mr. Fairchild was the clergyman, and Henry the clerk; and Mrs. Fairchild, and Lucy and Emily, and John and Betty, and the two old women who lived in the coppice, who generally drank tea with Betty on a Sunday evening, made up the congregation. After evening service came tea; and when tea was over, the children were allowed to read any pretty Sunday book they had; and among them they had a great many. Before they went to bed, Mr. Fairchild heard them read a few chapters in the Bible, and repeat the Church Catechism. Then they all sang some hymns together, and prayed; and when they had had their baked apples (or, if it was summer time, perhaps some strawberries and cream, or raspberries and cream) the children went to bed.
Now, of all the days in the week, Sunday was the day the children loved best; for on this day there was no worldly business-no care about money, or clothes, or cooking dinner; no work to be done but God's work, the sweetest of all works, the work which angels delight to do. And God blessed Mr. Fairchild's family in all things, because he kept the Sunday holy, making out the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “ If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable ; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isa. lviii. 13–14.
I shall finish this chapter by adding a prayer for Sunday, which Mr. Fairchild's children used, with the very hymn which Henry so often sang in his favourite woodwalk. You may use this prayer any time in the day, and in any place; if you have a retired walk in your papa's garden, or in any field near your house, you cannot do better than withdraw to it to pray and sing on a fine summer's day, after you have been at church; or
before it, if it should suit you better. Many good people have liked to pray in the open air, where they can look up to the heavens, and around them upon the fairest of God's works-trees, and shrubs, and brooks, green hills, and meadows, and flowery fields.
A Prayer for Assistance in keeping the Sabbath day holy.
O holy Father, who hast ordered us to keep the seventh day holy, I pray thee to give me grace to keep this Sunday holy; that I may do no manner of worldly work in it, nor talk about business in it, nor spend the day in visiting, or foolish play, or idleness; but that I may spend this holy day in reading my Bible and other holy books, and singing hymns, and praying, both at church and by myself at home. And 0, my Father, send thy Holy Spirit into my heart, that when I pray and read, Í may mind what I am about, and not think of foolish things while I am repeating the words of God. And 0, fill my heart this day with love for that dear Saviour who died for me : that I may serve him with joy and delight, and not be tired when I am hearing his blessed words, or thinking of vain or foolish things when I am in his holy house. And when I have fulfilled my number of Sundays in this world, remove me, 0 dear Lord God, for my dear Saviour's sake, to that happy place where we shall enjoy an eternal Sabbath at thy right hand for ever and ever. Amen.
“Our Father,” &c. &c.