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would take the trouble of visiting the town of LBut, be this as it may, the letter met with so kind a reception, that, to use the proper language on this occasion, the gentle Anna failed not to blister the paper in many places with her tears: and she was still thus tenderly engaged, when, looking up, she saw her good friend Mr. Mills standing before her.
“My dear little damsel,” said the good man, lifting up his hands and eyes in amazement, these floods of tears? Your father and mother are well, I know; for I am but this moment come from them. Has any mischance befallen the Guinea fowls or the pea-hen? or am I to understand that the paper you hold in your hand contains some very affecting intelli
66 what mean
Anna, ashamed to be found in tears, yet too sincere
conceal the cause, after having shewn her friend's letter, told Mr. Mills, that she had long ceased to regret the worldly pleasures of L as being objects utterly unworthy the attention of a Christian; but that the representation her dear Charlotte had made of the improved society in that place, of her own many delightful occupations, and the wide sphere of usefulness which had opened to her —had indeed once more revived her feelings of regret at being shut up in a place where she had no Christian society of her own age, and little which she could do to advance the cause in which her heart, she trusted, was so deeply engaged. Mr. Mills smiled, but it was with an expression of
Then shaking his head, and beginning to pace up and down the little area which spread itself before the arbour, “What!” said he, angrily, cannot those who cry, “Lord, Lord,' without doing any thing else, let us alone in this our lodge in the wilderness ?”
“Sir!” said Anna, looking up with astonishment.
Mr. Mills immediately recollected himself, and instantly altered his tone.
dear Anna,” he added, “ if I have spoken with unusual warmth: however, permit me, at least, to say, that I knew Miss Parker before I came here, though I have never happened to visit L-; and I must confess, that I should not think her precisely the proper person to become your spiritual directress. And now," added he,
- Excuse me,
can give me a little of your time, I should wish to open your mind on certain points which do not appear to me to have been duly considered by many excellent Christians.”
Anna was silent, and looked down while Mr. Mills pursued his discourse. " When was a boy,” said this excellent man,
6. there were, no doubt, many pious persons in this country: God forbid I should think otherwise: but religion was, nevertheless, little understood, and as little respected ; while those who made open profession of being more serious than their neighbours, were liable to considerable ridicule. The case is, at present, reversed: religion is now become creditable, and, in many instances, it is a step to honour. There are now few large or even small communities, in which there may not be found a number of persons who are counted pious. Among these, no doubt, there are multitudes of the true servants of the Lord; yet it is to be feared, that there are also mingled with them many hollow professors-persons whose religion consists only in words and outward forms, and who are seldom found adorning their profession by a consistent conduct-persons who may be generally known by their noisy declamation, their constant reference to self in all their discourse, their idolatry of human teachers, and a certain restlessness, whereby they are induced to forsake their own especial duties and peculiar posts in society, in order to strike out something new, which new plan is probably no sooner proposed than forsaken.
« I do not,” continued Mr. Mills, “ presume to say, that there may not be restless and injudicious characters among the real children of God: but I will venture to say, that in the degree in which a real servant of God is restless and injudicious, he is proportionably deficient in the Christian character. True religion has a peculiar tendency to procure peace, to make a man contented with his actual situation in life, and to lead him to do his duty in that state in which it has pleased God to place him.
“ Your friend Miss Parker, my good girl," proceeded Mr. Mills, “ did she rightly comprehend the nature of that religion which she professes, if she felt herself call
ed upon to give you her opinions at all, ought to have advised you to stay at home, to read your Bible, to comfort and assist your poor neighbours, and do your duty as a daughter, rather than lead you to fancy that you are out of your place at home, and that you might do better, and be happier, in another situation. They who know themselves, my good Anna, and are aware of their own peculiar imperfections, are more anxious to bring their one talent to profit, than to receive ten talents, which they might, perchance, wrap in a napkin, and bury in the dust.”
Mr. Mills proceeded to remark, that the posts of most persons in this world are so fixed and determined, and their duties so decidedly indicated by Providence, that no one can well be mistaken with regard to them. “ And though an individual,” said this good man,
may now and then, as it were, for a moment, find himself thrown into perplexity concerning some particular step to be taken; yet I feel assured, that, if the way is not made clear before it is necessary to act, he that trusteth in the Lord, will, though blind, be brought by a way he knew not of, and be led into paths that he had not known, till darkness shall be made light before him, and the crooked places straight. (Isaiah xlii. 16.) “ But in your case, my dear Anna,” proceeded Mr.
" and in that of most young women with regard to their parents, and of most wives with regard to their husbands, the duties which are required of you are so strongly marked, and so exactly defined, that they cannot be mistaken but by those who mistake them wilfully. In every situation, there may, and must be, many unpleasant circumstances, many things which we fancy might be altered for the better. But if our religion be substantial, and not merely consisting of words ; if, when we call ourselves by the name of the Lord, we do not use that sacred name altogether in vain; we must consider ourselves bound to fulfil unpalatable duties, as well as those which are altogether agreeable, that is, if we desire to pay any regard to that memorable declaration of the Saviour - He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (Matt. x. 38.)
Now,” continued Mr. Mills, “I have always been in the habit of considering a patient performance of the
simple duties belonging to the station of any individual, as the most decided, the most rare, the most valuable, and the most acceptable proof of the excellency of piety, which can be possibly given by any faithful follower of Christ; and I feel my esteem for such a person very little affected by the circumstance of his being called to act in a wide or narrow sphere. He or she who endeavours to do every thing to the glory of God, is, doubtless, equally precious in his sight, whether inhabiting a cottage or a palace, whether stationed in a crowded city, or fixed on the side of a Welsh mountain.”
Mr. Mills here stopped a moment, expecting Anna to speak; but as she did not seem inclined to interrupt him, he went on.
“ Your duties lie first, my good girl, in your own family, and you owe to God a more decided fulfilment of these; but you cannot expect to derive any pleasure from the performance of them, till your heart is more deeply interested in their success, and they become, as it were, a part of your religious exercises. Till you are made a real partaker of that grace which marks all the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, I shall never hope to
you such a daughter at home as I could wish: and if you find your
filial duties not sufficient to fill your time, and occupy your mind, your poor cottages and little school present you with further occasions of service. In short, the Almighty has, even in your
little sphere, confined as you may think it, given you that to perform for which no man of himself is sufficient.”
Anna replied, that she thanked Mr. Mills for his reproof, and hoped that she should have grace to consider her own duties more seriously, and to perform them, by the divine help, in a more exemplary manner. She confessed that she had always been inclined to indulge a dissatisfied spirit ever since her return from school; and that, even in her religion, she had hitherto considered herself more than the glory of God, or the good of her fellow-creatures.
hereafter see reason,” continued Mr. Mills, " to thank God for the retirement in which he has placed you, and to be grateful for his having kept you out of that professing circle which Miss Parker describes as a state so truly desirable. In those societies, unless very
judiciously conducted, young people are taught to use the language of religion before the spirit of it has touched their hearts, and to make a parade of their Christian virtues, while, in fact, they have nothing more than the semblance of them. The name of Jesus is put into their mouths, but in other respects they differ not from the rest of the world. Thus are they drawn into a state of self-deception, in consequence of which they believe themselves to be far advanced towards Mount Zion, when, in the language of Bunyan, they are still in the Valley of Destruction.'
In those societies, moreover, young women are frequently led into other dangerous errors. They are taught to suppose that they have given up the world, because they no longer frequent the playhouse and assemblyroom, and because cards are interdicted in their families; at the same time that they are so frequently called abroad by popular preachers and speakers, religious societies, and different kinds of meetings, that the young Christiap (if such an expression may be permitted) is lost in one continued round of religious dissipation. And thus it often happens that those domestic and retired duties which ought to be considered as the peculiar glory of women, are thought only secondary objects of attention: whereas it admits of no question, that in the fulfilment of these quiet and humble duties the female character chiefly discovers its appropriate excellency and loveliness.”
Anna here interrupted Mr. Mills, to ask him, whether he disapproved of females being engaged in the promotion of those public charities and great undertakings now in hand for the conversion of the heathen, which she understood to have called forth an extraordinary degree of female exertion?
Mr. Mills answered, that he should not consider himself a Christian, if such an idea could ever enter his head. “I oppose not,” said he, “the doing of the thing, but I object to the manner of doing it. The time, the place, and the temper, in which it is done, make it commendable or otherwise. There is, as I before suggested," continued this good man, "a certain post appointed to every
Christian on earth. The parental abode is assuredly the station assigned to most unmarried Christian