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“I shall now conclude," said Mr. Gracelove," the observations I have deemed it profitable to make on the interesting passage I have selected for our contemplation, by referring you, as the last instance I shall adduce, to that faithful patriarch who was emphatically called 'the friend of God.' * For thus it is declared of Abraham by the omniscient Spirit of the Almighty, before the birth of his son Isaac, in whom, and in whose posterity, were to centre the divine promises,—'I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.' † And we perceive, in the subsequent history of this child of promise, on whom rested a heavenly benediction, as also on that of his son Jacob, a fulfilment of the divine prescience thus condescendingly announced.
“Let these holy examples then," said this zealous instructor, closing the Bible, “ of a faithful training up of children in the way they should go,' be treasured up in your hearts. Those whom I address may be called hereafter, in the good providence of God, to fill the important and responsible situations of parents themselves. Would they therefore inherit a blessing, as well as communicate the same to those whose welfare must be the dearest to their affections, they must commence, in early childhood, the education of their offspring on the basis of the Holy Scriptures ; following it up, as they increase to maturity, with that perseverance and patience of hope' which shall have, in the end, a great reward.”
Laura now rose, and having given a couple of hymn books to the servants, opened to a particular page, copies of which she had previously presented to her parents, and to her brothers and sister, proceeded to the piano ; and being, though so young, a very tolerable proficient in sacred music, sang the following beautiful hymn of Wesley, in which the whole family joined
* James ii. 23.
+ Gen. xviii. 19.
Having performed this interesting act of worship, each person knelt down; while Mr. Gracelove put up an extempore prayer, full of that warm and tender piety which the previous service was so well calculated to produce; on the conclusion of which the family shortly afterwards retired to rest.
HAVING, in the foregoing chapter, introduced my reader to the worthy proprietors of Derwent Cottage, under an aspect the most interesting that domestic life can exhibit, I proceed to fill up the sketch with a few personal notices on the various members of the family who were present at the edifying scene so recently described ; as well as to record some traits of individual character with regard to the earlier lives of Mr. and Mrs. Gracelove.
The father of Mr. Gracelove had been, during his life, a successful and conscientious merchant in a large manufacturing town in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Regulated in all his commercial dealings with mankind by the christian principle that “ honesty is the best policy,” he had acquired both respectability and fortune ; and on his death left to his only son, the subject of the present memoir, a flourishing business, and the still better patrimony of a good name ; he himself having “ come to his grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.” *
The dispensations, however, of a righteous Providence are often mysterious, though no doubt intended for the trial of our faith; and forcibly recall to our remembrance that gracious and consolatory declaration of our blessed Saviour, “ What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." +
* Job v. 26.
t John xiii. 7.
The allusion has respect to the severe reverses with which it pleased God to visit the prosperity of the son bequeathed to him by his pious father. For in the fearful panic of 18—, when so many noble fortunes were laid prostrate in the commercial world by the calamitous shock of a sudden and unexpected adversity, his affairs received a blow from which they were unable to recover. There had been, on his part, no reckless and profligate speculation, aiming at large and rapid gains, at the risk of losing all—which is, alas ! so frequently the case-affording but too fatal an illustration of that warning voice of Paul to Timothy,—“They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil : which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. There had been no profuse expenditure grounded on the previous success—no relaxation of that honest perseverance which had originated and afterwards continued the prosperity of his house,-in short, there had been nothing in the management of his mercantile concerns which could superadd the bitterness of self-reproach to the ruin which had fallen upon him. And yet, all was gone ! The Lord had given, and the Lord had taken away, everything except the integrity He had originally vouchsafed to his afflicted servant, and which enabled him still to say, Blessed be the name of the Lord." +
After the first emotions of grief had subsided, so natural to a human heart, however wisely regulated, on seeing its brightest sublunary hopes thus unexpectedly and deeply obscured, the religious principles in which Mr. Gracelove had been so carefully educated by his lamented parent now stood forth in prominent relief. Instead of repining at the decrees of Providence, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10,
+ Job i. 21.