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real happiness. For if any individual of the human race is possessed of true happiness, it will always be found that he derives it from that sacred and unsealed source of joy, which has no connexion with any outward circumstances whatever. And this may serve as a proof that all those writers who hold out any other kind of happiness than that which flows from a real union with Christ, are like persons who hold forth false lights as guides to the traveller, and thereby do all that in them lies to involve him perhaps in irremediable destruction.”
After however several vehement struggles in their defence, Anna was at length persuaded not only to give up her favourite books, but also to restrain herself, for a time, from going into the apartment where they were kept.
After Anna had been enabled to make this sacrifice, she soon found a secret satisfaction arising from it. She was delivered from many vain and foolish imaginations. She became also more capable of receiving amusement from those little events which served to vary the even tenor of her life. The Bible, with the divine blessing, acquired a new degree of interest in her heart; and the books of divinity, once so despised, in the old lady's collection, now became objects of research to her; among which she found many precious volumes abundantly stored with instruction and comfort.
There were in Mr. Mills's parish two little hamlets : one of which, consisting of about six cottages, was situated about a quarter of a mile from the house in which Mr. Williams resided, and the other at about the same distance from the parsonage; these hamlets being a mile and a half from each other. As a ridge of the hill intervened between them, it was impossible, in bad weather, to bring the children of both hamlets together. Mrs. Mills, therefore, proposed to Anna, that she should obtain permission from her father to establish a school on her side of the parish, while she did the same on the other.
Young people are fond of new projects, and Anna's life wanted variety. She accordingly undertook the business recommended to her with alacrity, collected about ten little ignorant creatures in the house of an old woman who had been a servant of her father's, visited
the children with tolerable regularity, and was very particular in making them walk to church in an orderly
In the mean time, her kind friend Mrs. Mills watched her closely, and guarded her against an over warmth and eagerness at first in her new employment, which might, she feared, gradually subside into languor and coldness.
Anna, however, started with amazement, whenever Mrs. Mills hinted that such a thing was possible as that she might become weary of the duties she had imposed on herself; and in that lively manner which was natural to her when not under restraint, she would ask her friend if she thought her insincere in her profession, and not really inclined to fulfil her
engagements ? No, my dear Anna,” Mrs. Mills replied, on one of these occasions, “I have no suspicions of your sincerity. But of this I am convinced, that you do not as yet know your own heart, nor are aware of the
perverseness common nature, nor of the mixed motives by which man is actuated-motives of which he is himself seldom
And thus it happens, that many young persons in these days of religious profession, when charitable actions are admired by the world, and counted of special service to society, are induced to make exertions, apparently in the cause of God, while, in fact, no vital change has taken place in their feelings, and the world is still suffered to reign triumphantly in their hearts. Nothing, my dear Anna,” continued this excellent lady, “nothing is more easy, than to acquire a something like the language of Zion: though, to pursue the metaphor, there are, I fear, comparatively few, who do not betray their foreign origin by the inconsistencies of their speech. Neither is there any difficulty in following, or even taking the lead, in the bustle of works of charity: though I have seen too many, who, after having done all these things, and more also, have betrayed the hollowness of their profession, and manifested the unchanged state of their hearts. Therefore, my dear Anna, I am jealous over all young people; and, where I can be allowed the liberty, I never fail to admonish them of the necessity of looking inwardly on all occasions, of seeking the divine help, and of being cautious about mistaking the effer
vescence of youthful vivacity for feelings of genuine piety."
Anna indeed listened to all this: but few there are who will become wiser by the experience of others. Her mountain stood strong, and she had no fear of any change: religion was a new thing to her, and her school was a delightful amusement, as long as the summer lasted, and she could lead her children in due order to church. But when the east wind began to blow over the hills, and it became necessary to confine herself to the cottage with her little pupils, she began, at first, to feel a slight degree of lassitude, which increased upon her, till strong symptoms at length appeared of that restlessness and discontent which had formerly rendered her life so wretched : and in proportion as these feelings increased, she neglected her duties, both at home and
ad, more and more. And when she happened to read, in the different publications of the day, (to which she had access through Mr. Mills,) concerning the splendid exertions making by the saints of the Lord for the advancement of their Master's glory in different parts of the world, she was again led to lament her own secluded situation, and to regret that her lot had not fallen in a more active scene, where more important duties might have claimed her attention-duties, in the performance of which she might have exhibited I know not what wonders of perseverance and self-denial.
In the mean time, the letters from L became less and less frequent; till, after a while, poor Anna's dear Charlotte seldom wrote more than one short epistle in six months. At length, however, after a longer silence than usual, her father, on his return from market, put a long letter into his daughter's hand, directed in the well-known hand of Miss Parker.
Anna, according to the long established rule among young ladies who form very great intimacies at school, retired to read her friend's letter; and as it was summer time, she very properly chose an arbour of honeysuckle at the bottom of the garden as the most convenient place to retire to on this very affecting occasion. The letter was long, and duly crossed with red ink, and very different in its whole style from any thing Anna had ever before received from Miss Parker.
The letter opened with strong expressions of unabated friendship, which rather surprised Anna, as her friend's affection had evidently been on the wane for some time past. The letter then proceeded to say, that a very great revolution had taken place in L since Anna had made one of the society in that town, and indeed since Miss Parker had enjoyed the pleasure of writing to her friend. “ Those,” said the gentle writer, “who formerly crowded our theatres, filled our ball-rooms, gathered round our card-tables, and frequented our races, have at length discovered that they have interests in life of a more serious nature than the mere pursuit of light and evanescent pleasures. They have discovered, that the longest life must speedily close; that man's applause is but as a summer breeze, and that the breath of calumny is but a passing storm, which this day assails our house, and to-morrow is forgotten. Our old people have ceased to covet the dirty pelf of this world; and our young people, regardless of the bloom of their youth, and despising the admiration of the world, devote themselves to the comfort of the afflicted, the relief of the sick, and the support of the aged. Such is the case, my Anna. And to what is this wonderful change to be attributed, my friend, but to religion? of which we knew nothing formerly, and of which we might all have died in ignorance, had it not been for a circumstance which I shall have the pleasure of relating to you by and by.”
The young lady then went on to inform her friend of the nature of that religion which she had learned; speaking so much and so well on some of its most characteristic doctrines, that she might have led a person far more experienced than Anna to believe, that, if her heart were not touched, it was certainly not because her head was not well stored with knowledge on points of the most vital importance.
But to return to our letter, some passages of which I refrain from repeating on this occasion,
serious reader may think me chargeable with a breach of that commandment which saith -- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Miss Parker, having covered three sides of foolscap with the communications above noticed, had recourse to her red ink,
wherewith to account for these sudden revolutions, which she did by attributing them to the preaching and conversation of a pious clergyman lately come among them. Much was said of the mellifluous eloquence, the wonderful fluency, and peculiar gracefulness, of this excellent man; with much more to the same purpose, which I have not leisure to repeat. She spoke of the moment when his discourses had been brought with power to her own heart; talked of her conversion as a thing which could not be questioned; represented herself as having given up the world, and devoted herself wholly to the duties of religion ; entering into a long description of the delightful religious meetings that had taken place, of those insignificant parties which had formerly engaged every heart; and closing all with an account of the various useful plans then in agitation.
The letter concluded in a manner which again opened the sluices of Anna's eyes; though I doubt whether the sentiments contained in this conclusion will have sufficient genuine pathos to produce the same effect on my tender-hearted reader. The pathetic passage was to this effect-—“And why, my Anna, why are you not here to partake of your Charlotte's happiness? The pleasures I now enjoy are not such as I am ashamed to ask a dear friend to participate. Why are you not here to assist me in my labours? What a sphere of usefulness would open to you, were you now in this place! How would all my duties be sweetened by the presence of my Anna! But no, it cannot be: I must therefore resign myself to the decrees of Providence. This life is a state of suffering; we cannot have all we wish: but my Anna will not forget her Charlotte, and this shall be my consolation under all
trials.” Poor Anna, after a repeated perusal of this letter, was so much affected, and wept so violently, as to prevent her observing two inconsistencies therein, which might, perhaps, have been detected by a less interested reader. The first of these was, Miss Parker's speaking of her very great happiness in the former part of her letter, and of her severe trials and sufferings in the latter: the second was, that while the young lady so bitterly deplored the absence of her Anna, there was nothing like a request throughout the letter, that she