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DIALOGUE BETWEEN A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER UPON PEACE OF MIND.
[Concluded from page 71.]
D. 'And are there any other means, besides prayer, and studying the scriptures, which we may use to gain this sweet peace?'
M. 'As peace is the gift of the Holy Spirit, so whatever grieves Him must tend to remove or diminish it. How often are his sweet influences lost by our careless and idle conversation, our vain thoughts, our indulgence in the formation of those fairy schemes of temporal happiness, which are calculated to excite strong or warm emotions.'
D. 'Oh, mamma, I understand this; I know the mischief of ungoverned thoughts.'
M. I have often regretted the tone of conversation amongst many excellent persons. How little do they sympathize with the feelings of those to whom they are speaking-how carelessly do they canvass the characters of the absent; and how often, too, do they allow themselves, at home, in peevish and discontented language, with few expressions of cheerfulness and thankfulness! And peace, alas! is more frequently disturbed, instead of being promoted, by the meeting together of Christians; each seeming anxious to bring forward his own peculiar opinions, while the universally interesting and most
inviting topics of a Saviour's love, the goodness of God, and the delights of our happy home, might fill our hearts and tongues with joy and peace, and stir us up to unite together in plans of benevolence to our fellow creatures. How often do we find persons coming from a place of worship, full only of complaints of the preacher, and as if they had not plucked one olive-leaf of peace from sweet prayer and praise, or the holy solace of psalms and hymns, or any profit from the instruction of faithful histories,-as if it were our duty to be pleased with nothing short of perfection.'
D. I recollect many instances, mamma, of what you have now mentioned.'
M. 'Silence and meditation were once exalted too highly by religious people; these advantages are now perhaps too much despised. To be little and unknown, is not now the fashion; to be great in some way or other, and to be known and talked of, is the usual object of ambition; and some persons are fearful of being regarded as worldly characters, unless they dispute, controvert, and find fault aloud. But can their habits befriend peace?' 'No, I should think not.'
M. 'There are other, lesser matters, which apparently are more connected with temporal than eternal things, and yet have much to do with true peace, and I should like to point them out to you; for it is a great thing if we can teach the body to serve the soul, and time to wait on eternity. And in this view we may call in every temporal help which can forward our great end.'
Do, dear mamma, explain yourself.'
M. Of these temporal means I would mention
principally two; the first is prudence in money matters, so as not to occasion needless anxiety, by extravagance, thoughtlessness, and waste; and the second respects the ordering of our time, which will principally interest you. Good Mr. Fletcher always cautioned his people against hurry, as a great enemy to peace of mind.’
D. But, dear mamma, how can we avoid hurry? we cannot foresee events, and things must often be done suddenly.'
M. Very true, and when this does not happen through our own fault, we shall not find the difficulty of composure, on such occasions, so very great. But the most common and numerous causes of hurry proceed from ourselves.'
D. 'How so, mamma?'
M. To speak now of such things as generally affect persons of your age, my love; and there is a similarity in the common causes of hurry with all people. Why are you often in a hurry, when you are going a journey? Because you do not properly calculate the time you ought to take in preparing for it; or because your clothes, or books, or papers, are in disorder. And what is the cause of this disorder? Irregularity and want of punctuality, an ill-arranged mind, a habit of putting off what you do not like to do, instead of performing it at the right season, time, and place, a reference to fancy and inclination, more than to duty. Take the instance even of a child, who, if he reads a story-book, when he ought to be learning his lesson, must at last learn that lesson with distraction of mind; and thus it is with children of a larger growth.' Bishop Andrewes, whose very words distil peace, was or
derly, peaceable, industrious, and pious, from his childhood.'
D. I never considered the great importance of order and punctuality before, and have often wondered why so much stress was laid upon them.'
M. 6 Fancy, for one moment, if there were irregularity, hurry, and confusion, in the ordinary works of creation, what would be the consequence? The flowers and herbs would sometimes break forth from the ground with the concussion of an earthquake, the coming of the new leaves would be like the rushing of the wind, the descent of dew would be like a thunder-shower, and sunshine like lightning. The tendency of all the natural works of God is to produce harmony, peace, and beauty. It is equally his object in his spiritual works. Let us follow him, and tread in his steps, and work with him. And we are encouraged to do so, because it is his will that we should do so, and because he worketh in us to will and to do.'
D. 'Do, dear mamma, tell me more about this sweet peace of mind, and the ways of obtaining it.'
M. 'Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things and do them. See that you do not spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not. Unite, in the psalmist's words, "there be many that say unto us, who will show us any good: but, Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us," and that shall give us
peace and joy more than they have whose corn, and wine, and oil increaseth.'
D. 'I have many more questions I should like to ask you?'
M. 'What I have now said to you is altogether of a desultory nature. I shall hope to put some books into your hands, which may give you a far deeper insight into true peace of mind, than any thing I have told you. Yet, as my remarks have been the result of experience and observation, I hope they will not be unprofitable. I shall close them with repeating to you the excellent advice once given to me by an old lady, on her death-bed. She was an ancient scholar in the school of Christ. I think you may remember her. It was this: whenever you become sensible that you have fallen into any sin, be it small or great, carry that sin immediately to the foot of the cross, and seek to have that sin washed away. If you cannot retire to your chamber, then there is a holy of holies within the soul, into which you may withdraw, in any place and in any company; and let not guilt remain a moment upon you, after you are made conscious of it. It is many years since she gave me the advice, and I have found by experience its amazing benefit; for sin, even the smallest sin, when unrepented of, produces alienation of heart from God, and the work of faith and obedience stands still, and peace spreads her wings and flies away. Do we not often feel this sort of distance with our fellow-creatures, when we think we have given them offence; and as long as we continue to avoid them, it is hard to cultivate a friendly feeling towards them.
D. Mamma, I guess who the old lady was who