Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

cap? Come to-morrow, and I will shew you some of the best in Rouen. Your wife shall not repent of the preference she gives to the pucelle d'Orleans.”

Very good,” said the peasant: " and so I am to return to my cabin, at I know not how many leagues distance, and give myself the trouble of walking over here to-morrow, because you do not choose to unbar your doors?

“ But, perhaps,” said the first speaker, “our neighbour here would rather wish us to save him that trouble. It will be no difficult matter, my friends,” he added, turning to the multitude, “ to give the good man Nicolet here full access to the shop. I warrant these bars and shutters are not so powerful, but that they might be easily broken.” And so saying, he struck the door with a short stick he held in his hand with such force as sounded through the whole house, and even up into the dark and deserted apartments before spoken of in the high roof.

The multitude shouted, but the action was not followed up; for it being the early part of the day, when persons are, generally speaking, sober and cool, no one seemed inclined to begin a disturbance from which neither pleasure nor profit was like to accrue.

Gaspard de Foix, in the mean time, stood considering what was proper to be done; and being persuaded that the plainest and simplest mode of conduct was always the best, he waited till the shout of the multitude had ceased, and a comparative stillness had succeeded; when he calmly, but shortly, stated to the people his resolution of keeping his doors shut on the seventh day, in order that he and his family might devote the hours thus obtained from business to the purposes of religion.

After ceasing to speak, Gaspard doubted for a moment what effect this declaration would have upon the people. But he was considerably relieved on finding that the worst he had to fear was ridicule, and that only from some of the most evil-disposed among the crowd, who, after amusing themselves a while with his overstrained sanctity, and predicting that it would not long be necessary for him to shut his door against customers either on the seventh or any other day of the week, walked off, and dispersed themselves into whatever

woman

quarter their pleasure or business invited them, leaving Gaspard and his family full of gratitude for the easy manner in which this commotion had subsided.

From that period, the honest merchant and his family enjoyed their Sabbath-days without interruption, and were thence enabled to obtain such a knowledge of Scripture as was entirely impossible while every day of the week was devoted to secular business.

The family of Gaspard de Foix consisted of a son by a former wife, and two daughters by his present wife. These daughters were considerably younger than their brother, and possessed a larger share of beauty than commonly falls to the lot of

young persons

bred

up

in humble and ordinary life. Rosalie, the eldest, was tall and graceful, uniting in her carriage much simplicity and dignity, which, no doubt, proceeded from a mind under the influence of grace; for the religious instruction of this

young had been much attended to by her father, and the blessing of Heaven had been vouchsafed upon the pious instructions of this worthy parent. Annette, the younger daughter of Gaspard de Foix, was not less pleasing in her external appearance than her sister, but her mind was of a more ordinary cast; neither had she ever discovered that interest in heavenly things which was so remarkable in the character of Rosalie. She had, however, been brought up in habits of modesty and submission to her parents; and the retirement in which these young people were made to pass the Lord's-day tended not a little to the preservation of these habits.

When Gaspard de Foix shut his doors on the seventh day, he had made up his mind to lose a considerable part of his custom, and, for a short time, it appeared that this would actually be the case; but, after a while, those customers who at first forsook the shop, returned to it again: so that at the end of the year, when the good merchant made up his accounts, he found very

little difference in his gains during the present and last twelve months.

This was an occasion on which Gaspard de Foix failed not to expatiate in the fulness of his heart, while he pointed out to his family the profitableness of a godly conduct: neither did he omit to give glory to God, from whom he had received power to resist the corrupt habits

which so generally prevailed in his country. For it was not only in the single act of shutting up his shop that Gaspard de Foix evidenced his resolution to keep holy the Sabbath-day; but he totally restrained his family from joining the public amusements of the Sabbath, solemnly insisting that so sacred a day should be wholly devoted to the service of God and the study of his holy word.

In bringing this to pass, the good merchant had little trouble with his wife and eldest daughter, who were internally convinced that his views of the Sabbath were in full accordance with the Scriptures: neither did his son or younger daughter openly oppose him, although they felt not the necessity of a degree of strictness so utterly contrary to the general habits of the country.

Gaspard de Foix had persisted in the mode of life above described for more than two years, when he was suddenly called from that state of imperfect rest which he had endeavoured to obtain for himself and his family on earth, into that state of eternal repose, which knows no disturbance, and which is prepared for the whole company of the redeemed in the presence of their glorified Saviour.

The illness of this holy man was short; notwithstanding which, sufficient time was allowed him to make such a profession of his faith, and to give such an account of the foundation of his hopes, as not a little tended to edify and strengthen some of those who had the privilege of hearing him on that occasion. This excellent man thus stated his case to his family.

“I am,” said he, “on the point of resigning this frail body, and of bidding an eternal farewell to all that I count dear on earth. I know that I must presently experience the pains of death, and enter upon a new and untried state of being. But, praised be the Almighty, although under circumstances of a nature so trying to flesh and blood, I am without fear-For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though, after_my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another. (Job xix. 25--27.) I know that my salvation was appointed by God the Father

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

before the foundation of the world, and that my ransom was paid by God the Son upon the cross, ere yet I had entered into existence; and I also know, that the third Person of the glorious Trinity has not ceased, from the moment of my birth, to exert his all-prevailing influence in rendering me an object worthy of the everlasting blessings prepared for me. And although, through the power of my inbred corruptions, the glorious effect of his internal operations in me does not yet wholly appear, nevertheless, I am convinced that He who began this work will complete it, and that I shall be rendered for ever blessed."

The merchant then remarked how greatly he had been favoured above his neighbours in possessing a copy of the Holy Scriptures; and he failed not also to point out the innumerable advantages which had accrued to him from a reverent observance of the Lord's-day; concluding with an earnest entreaty to his family, to live, after his departure, according to the same holy regulations.

“I have often,” said the dying man, “ made this reflection on the Sabbath--that such is the wisdom of this ordinance, by which one day out of seven is set apart as an interval of rest, that, if it were properly attended to, nothing further would be wanting, under the divine blessing, to bring about the civilization of the whole human race. For, let us enquire, what are the privileges of this day? Does not the Sabbath withdraw us from the constantly recurring cares and concerns of this vain world, and furnish an opportunity to every individual for acquiring the knowledge of God, and for securing the welfare of his immortal soul? It is the Sabbath which places the poor labourer and handicraftsman on a par with his master, and gives him leisure for the acquirement of knowledge of the noblest sort, as well as for the cultivation of those faculties which he possesses in common with the most exalted individuals of his race.

“In the Sabbath also," continued Gaspard de Foix, " the faithful follower of Christ sees the earnest and type not only of heavenly blessedness, but of that glorious kingdom of Christ upon earth which is referred to in numerous passages both of the Old and New Tes

tament; when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it; (Isaiah ii. 2.)- when their swords shall be beaten into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks ; when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; (Isaiah ii. 4.)and when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah xi. 9.) For the time will come, my beloved children, yes, the time will

come, I am persuaded,” added the dying man, lifting himself up in his bed, “I see it, but not near, I behold it, though not present, when the earth will enjoy one universal Sabbath; when every

hill and every valley will resound with the praises of the Lord; when the Spirit shall be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.” (Isaiah xxxii. 15.)

In this manner did the old man express himself while stretched on his death-bed; and at such periods as these he appeared to be so full of joy and hope, that those who looked upon him considered him rather as an object of envy than of commiseration. At length, however, he expired, and was followed to his peaceful grave by his sorrowful family.

When the last testament of the deceased merchant was opened, it was found that he had left his house and property in Rouen to his son; and a little estate which he possessed at Tostes (a small village about six leagues and a half from Rouen) to his wife and daughters.

As the wife of Gaspard de Foix was a native of that beautiful village, she was perfectly satisfied with this arrangement, by which a very equitable division of her husband's property had been made: so within a month of her husband's decease she was prepared to remove, with her two daughters, to her little estate.

It was a beautiful autumnal evening when Madame de Foix, her blooming daughters, and a little peasant girl whom they employed as a servant, arrived at the simple dwelling in which the old lady expected to finish her days, and which her step-son had taken care to supply with suitable furniture before the arrival of his mother and sisters.

« EelmineJätka »