« EelmineJätka »
females. When every domestic duty, however irksome, (and there will be some irksome duties in every situation,) is duly and diligently performed, as in the sight of God, and with a view to his glory, then every spare hour may
be well devoted to such services for the people of God as the party may be qualified to engage in; always, however, remembering, that in every state of life, or line of duty, self-denial must be daily practised and the cross be taken up. The vanity of dress, the vanity of praise, the vanity of pre-eminence, must all be renounced; and these two difficult qualities must, at least, be aimed at-a consciousness of the imperfect manner in which every present duty is performed, with a readiness to undertake new duties, provided that there be sufficient evidence of their being prescribed by the Almighty. But, my good girl," added the pious man, smiling kindly, “there is much inconsistency in a young Christian, like yourself, crying out for a wide field of usefulness, when she has not even as yet attempted to fulfil the duties of her own little domestic circle.”
Anna seemed a little disconcerted by this remark, and asked, with some degree of impatience, by what failure she had deserved so severe a reprimand?
The good man smiled again, and answered, “There are few services less thankfully received or less useful, than that of acquainting people with their faults.”
“To be sure," replied Anna, fretfully, “it is a service that our friends are seldom thanked for: but, at any rate, I should have judged it a useful service.”
“ It is useless, in general, for this reason," replied Mr. Mills, “ because most persons are sensible of their faults before they are told of them.”
“But indeed,” said Anna, “I do not exactly know wherein I have failed in my duty to my parents.”
“Not exactly!” said Mr. Mills: " then you have some indeterminate conjectures on the subject? But, to speak more seriously, use the light you have, my dear Anna, in correcting your faults, and more will undoubtedly be bestowed upon you.”.
Anna now somewhat peevishly requested Mr. Mills to point out some of those faults to which he alluded. But he answered, seriously, that, having given her the hint he thought necessary, he should now leave her to a bet
ter teacher; and so saying, he walked into the house to drink tea with Mr. and Mrs. Williams. Anna soon followed Mr. Mills, and he judged favourably of her, by observing that she had quite regained her good humour, although she still appeared pensive.
According to Mr. Mills's supposition, the hint he had given to Anna by the divine blessing proved sufficient; for she began to consider more deeply, and with prayer, the nature of her past life, with her
short-comings. This soon enabled her to discover, even in her religion, so much error, as to humble and depress her in no ordinary degree. She speedily perceived herself guilty of a breach of that commandment which saith—“ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain:” and this led the way to a painful conviction how greatly her practice had fallen below her professions, and that not in a few solitary instances, but habitually. She had been, of late, continually crying, “ Lord, Lord,” even while she was bringing reproach upon the name of her Saviour, by the inconsistency of her conduct, and that never-ceasing reference to self which marked her every action. Self, she found, had been nearly as much her object, ever since she had professed religion, as before; and she had even gone so far, under the cloak of increasing seriousness, as to desire a removal from the post in which God had placed her, in order to take a part in more splendid employments than she could find at home, and to enjoy the applause which she fancied her virtues could hardly fail to call forth when displayed on a more public theatre.
But without pretending to enter upon any description of the various workings of Anna's mind, I shall satisfy myself by saying, that, after a few days, her duty was made plain to her, and she was enabled to resolve, with God's help, to sacrifice every selfish thought, and to offer her assistance to her mother in all those plain domestic duties which her education at L had naturally led her to despise, and which the gentle entreaties, and sometimes less gentle complaints, of her mother could never yet induce her to attempt.
Mrs. Williams was therefore not a little surprised, when her daughter, one morning, followed her to the dairy, and asked if she could render her
there. It would be no easy matter to describe the feelings which this new mode of address excited in the poor woman, though it may readily be imagined that they were of the most gratifying description.
Anna found herself, at first, rather an awkward dairymaid; and her pride once rose, when the maid whose business it was to assist in the dairy laughed outright at her many uncouth attempts to shape the produce of the churn into a handsome form. Neither did she evidence more skill in the kitchen, whither she followed her mother in order to make herself acquainted with other parts of housewifery. Her poor mother was, however, delighted with these first attempts of her daughter to render herself useful, and could not forbear repeating Anna's exploits to her good man at dinner, Anna made her father equally happy some days afterwards, when she had overcome some of her difficulties in the dairy and kitchen, by asking permission to have the care of the poultry, a service which she had declined ever since she left school, although pressed to it by her father.
We do not in this place pretend to make any remarks on the conduct of Mr. and Mrs. Williams. It had always been weak and injudicious towards their daughter, so that by a want of judgment and an abundance of improper indulgence they undoubtedly made her difficulties greater. But the excessive tenderness of parents is no excuse for the disobedience of children; and it only shews a depraved and ungrateful state of mind where such excuse is ever pleaded.
When Anna found herself capable of accomplishing what she had first undertaken, she proceeded to encounter other difficulties, extending her attention from butter to cheese, and from the poultry to the lambs and calves; and she sanctified her culinary duties by preparing, with her mother's approbation, broths and jellies for the sick. These she carried with her own hand, sometimes to considerable distances over the mountains; and as the sick and dying had souls infinitely more precious than their bodies, she found herself involved, on the occasion of these visits, in duties still more awful, and requiring more self-control, than any she had hitherto undertaken. To the performance of these du
ties she found herself totally unequal in her own strength, and this brought her to the throne of grace, where she received strength sufficient for every exigence-For they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah xl. 31.) Neither can it be supposed, that all this time she remained uninterested in the spiritual state of her parents. But here she was surprised to find her way made so easy; for the old people were ready to fall in with every proposed regulation which she thought might tend to the spiritual good of the family. They consented to establish morning and evening prayers at the first suggestion of their child, now become more dear than ever to them by her late cheerful submission to their will; and they never refused to hear her read on any religious subjects.
Anna now found that she need not look out for a wider sphere of usefulness than that which at present opened to her: she had occupations for every hour, and no time to think of fancied grievances, or rather, she had no grievances to think of. She insensibly became cheerful and animated, manifesting such an interest even in her domestic duties that the busiest times in the farm appeared to be the most pleasant to her.
In this happy manner Anna spent her twentieth year; in the autumn of which year, a gentleman, in whose hands Mr. Williams had placed a large sum of money, suffered great losses which filled the farmer with apprehensions lest he should himself be involved in such pecuniary difficulties as he had never known before : for although he was not a rich man, yet he had never contracted any debts; and he had a very proper dread of being compelled to do so. The state of his affairs had depressed his spirits for some weeks before he could bring himself to open his mind to his wife and daughter. At length, however, on Mrs. Williams making some complaint of her upper servant, (for she had, always been accustomed to keep two,) and saying that she must be obliged to part with her, the farmer thought this a proper occasion to mention his perplexities; adding, that he wished his wife could somehow manage to do with one maid-servant.
I need not in this place trouble my reader with all Mrs. William's ejaculations and outcries, which poured like a torrent from her lips, and might have borne down the more prudent counsels of her husband, had not the good man found out, from long experience, that, after giving vent to her first feelings of indignation, his wife never failed submitting herself to his will. He accordingly remained silent till he found that the good woman was losing her breath; when he quietly brought forward such arguments'as he thought most likely to convince: so that, after a while, he had the pleasure of finding her willing to acquiesce in whatever he might think fit to propose.
But as Mrs. Williams's head had never been fertile in expedients for trying occasions, and as the suddenness of the news she had just heard seemed to have entirely robbed her of the power of reflection, she had no counsel to offer on the present emergency, and, in consequence, remained silent.
In the mean time, the dutiful daughter, having offered up a silent prayer for direction, and having received an immediate answer to this prayer in the illumination of her mind upon the subject in question, hastened to give comfort to her parents: so rising from her place at the table most remote from the fire, she ran round to her father, and, kissing his venerable cheek, “My beloved parents!” she said, I hope you will never want a servant while I have health and power to help you. I will be your willing handmaid, your servant in every respect; and I desire no other reward but to see you happy."
Mr. and Mrs. Williams were so much astonished, that they did not seem for some moments to comprehend the import of their daughter's speech. At length, the poor father, bursting into tears of mingled joy and grief, exclaimed, “O my child! my Anna! this is too much. And would you take the place of a common servant? No; I cannot bear to think of this. I would rather endure any thing than permit it. We must be brought much lower before any thing of this sort can be rendered necessary."
“What!” said the mother, now at length comprehending Anna's proposal, “surely you would not undertake the work of our upper servant! Surely, Anna, after