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of history; beginning with that of the ancients, as it is found in Scripture, and proceeding downwards to the present day, according to the plan traced in the tenth chapter of Genesis: and you will then discover, that these records of ancient and modern times contain little more than the results of multitudes of experiments, made amidst a great variety of circumstances, by kings, heroes, philosophers, and more ordinary men, for securing happiness to themselves, and in their own way inducing others to embrace it: and you will also be convinced of the total failure of all these experiments; and, if the divine blessing attends your studies, you will
wiser by these multitudes of examples, and will learn to be content in that situation in which God has placed you, satisfied to see yourselves excelled by others, and having no other wish than to be found standing in your lot at the end of your days.
“ And now," said the lady of the manor, “as I have kept your attention for some time on what I should call a somewhat dry discussion, I will, if you will permit me, read a little narrative which I happen to have by me, and which I select from any other I could choose on this subject, because it does not affect the ordinary cases of the destruction of the body—a crime which is looked upon with a just abhorrence in civilized society-but relates to that more refined sort of destruction which consists in allowing selfish and ambitious feelings to interfere with the spiritual good of others, and by these means inflicts spiritual death, as far as it lies in the power of man so to do, upon our fellow-creatures; a species of murder supposed by some to be described in the Psalms, under the term of blood-guiltiness, from which the royal psalmist entreats the Lord to preserve himRestore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit: then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. (Psalm li. 12–14.)
• From the time when I first had the honour of becoming your instructress," proceeded the lady, “I have endeavoured to draw your attention to the defects of persons in polished life, and in religious society, where gross vices are seldom tolerated, and where sin must assume a decent garment in order to be endured; and it is with this view that I am about to treat of this subject of murder in its more recondite, but, probably, scarcely less fatal, form.”
The lady of the manor then took out a little manuscript, and read
The Story of the two Ministers. In a large manufacturing town in the north of England there formerly resided a certain tradesman, who, with his wife, obtained good employment, and lived in great credit, in the hope of long enjoying these advantages ; when the worthy couple were both suddenly cut off by a contagious fever which at that time raged in the town. By their deaths, their only son Edmund was left an orphan at the tender age of two years; and, as little property remained after all the affairs were settled, the child would bave been reduced to a very destitute situation, had not an aunt of his father, a single woman, of very excellent character, received him into her house with the intention of adopting him as her own child.
This lady, by name Mrs. Mary Stephens, had, through divine grace, been enabled to devote herself, for some years past, to the service of God. Her fortune was easy, and her wants few; and in order to have but little worldly care, and more time and money to devote to the service of her neighbours, she lodged and boarded in a worthy, though humble, family, and thus was disencumbered from the charge of providing her own table.
Mrs. Stephens, though not brought up in polished life, yet, having been early led by divine grace into a knowledge of that which is right, had been enabled to cast away those petty and unimportant cares and employments which too often fill the female mind, and had occupied herself for many years in reading such books, and performing such works, as rendered her best fit to administer spiritual and temporal help to those around her. She had become fond of reading. She took particular delight in Scripture, and also in profane history, because it threw light on certain obscure parts of Scrip. ture. She loved sacred music and sacred poetry, and
cultivated her taste for both. And thus, though plain in her outward appearance, and reserved in her general manner, there were at that time few women whose society was so delightful in private as that of Mrs. Mary Stephens.
The first recollection which little Edmund Stephens had of his infancy, was that of finding himself drinking tea at a small round table with the lady above described. The room in which they sat was very long and wide, though low. It was wainscoted with oak, and a large casement window at one end stood in a bow, raised from the rest of the apartment by a single step. It was winter time, and a fire blazed on the hearth. The chimneypiece was adorned with a set of blue Dutch'tiles, all in perfect preservation, each of them presenting some scene from Scripture history; and a plate of toast-and-butter stood before the fire on a stand of bright black ebony tipped with silver.
This scene of the tea-table no doubt often recurred during the first winter of Edmund's residence with his aunt; but he recollected it as if it had only happened once: and he remembered also, that, after tea, his aunt took him on her lap, and gave him his first ideas of the immortality of his soul, of what his Saviour had done for him, and of the happiness of heaven and misery of hell.
The next thing he remembered, was a course of little lectures, which his kind protectress gave him on the subjects depictured upon the tiles; and no doubt these lectures were repeated over and over again, as, even in after life, he carried in his mind's eye the various groups represented on each blue varnished picture of the chimney-piece, from the representation of Adam and Eve in Paradise, to that of the Day of Pentecost and the cloven tongues, which finished the series. Nor was it historical information merely which this excellent woman gave her little nephew on the subjects suggested by the painted chimney-piece. She knew that the scheme of salvation by Christ runs like a golden thread through the whole tissue of Scripture, and she failed not to point out this golden clew to her little boy, and caused him, as much as she could, to seize it every where, and hold it fast on every occasion. Thus, of Edmund Stephens, as of Timothy, it might truly have been said, that from a child
he was made to know the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Thus the good aunt adopted the first easy mode which suggested itself of conveying spiritual instruction to the mind of her little pupil; neither did she fail to follow up, by every other means which she could think of, that which she had so happily commenced. This sweet passage from the Prophet Isaiah was continually present with her, and afforded a perpetual motive of actionWhom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. (Isaiah xxviii. 9, 10.)
It was Mrs. Mary Stephens's wish that her nephew should become a minister of the Church of England; and as she was aware that, in order to his acquisition of that knowledge of the learned languages which is thought necessary for those who are to be admitted to ordination, he must, after a while, be in a great measure removed from under her eye, she was particularly anxious to make the best of those nursery years so precious to every tender mother or teacher, in which the beloved nursling is altogether her own. To lose po opportunity of inspiring her little boy with pious sentiments, to make him acquainted with the word of God in all particulars, was therefore her chief and constant object; and, during this interval, it was wonderful to observe the various points of view in which this excellent aunt caused him to search and examine the Scriptures. To trace the Saviour under his various types and emblems, was one of the favourite exercises in which she delighted to occupy her nephew.
At one time, she would point out to bim the first appearance in Scripture of the second Person of the Holy Trinity, under the type of light, which, at the command of the Creator, poured itself on the dark face of the earth; and then she shewed him how this light was embodied, on the fourth day of the creation, in the substance of the sun, that heavenly luminary thus becoming the image of the God incarnate, who in the fifth millennial was revealed to man in human flesh in the
person of Christ. Hence she led him to trace this emblem through Scripture, in all its various bearings, until she brought him to the completion of all things, when the man Christ, having finished his office, and delivered up all things unto the Father, it shall be said, The city hath no need of the sun to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Rev. xxi. 23.)
Another time she would point out to him the signification of the six days appointed for labour, and of the seventh set apart from the beginning of the world for a holy rest, and explain to him the typical meaning of the Sabbath; thus opening to his young mind such fields of beauty and scenes of glory in the latter days, as would fill his imagination for hours, and give him a subject for divine study and contemplation for days together.
Frequently, also, would she make him trace the notices of our blessed Saviour under the type of the lamb, from the period in which he first appeared under that emblem on the altar of Abel till he shall shine triumphantly in the New Jerusalem, having accomplished the mighty work of man's redemption. And, as the mind of the little boy expanded, she again drew his attention to the Saviour, not in his state of the victim only, but in that of the Conqueror and the King.
But there was no character of our Lord throughout the Holy Scriptures which she caused her little pupil to study with greater attention than that of the Shepherd; pointing out the disinterestedness and the devotedness of the True Shepherd for his flock, and continually holding up this example to his love and admiration. And then she would again lead him to those views of future blessedness held forth under the type of the Sabbath, when the promises shall be fulfilled; and the Lord will save his flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and he will set up one shepherd over them, even his servant David, and he will feed them, and be their shepherd; and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.