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power ameliorate their hapless condition. Nor was their spiritual welfare the last thing that was attended to. Often would the pious Mrs. Gracelove, zealous for her Master's cause, with the Bible in her hand, and the love of God in her heart, repair to these lowly tenements, and explain to their ignorant inmates those blessed Scriptures which are able to make wise unto salvation. On these occasions she would dwell with edifying zeal and persuasiveness on the great doctrine of the atonement. She would address them in the winning and affectionate language of the great apostle of the Gentiles, while imbued with the same tender spirit ;—“ For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." *
Such a mode of exposition, accompanied by such a graciousness of manner, was calculated to gain the confidence of her humble auditors; and the listening ear with which they first attended to her instruction was at length followed by the willing and believing heart.
Nor could it be otherwise. When informed by their benevolent teacher that the mighty God himself, “ the Creator of the ends of the earth,” had descended from the glories of heaven to invest himself with a much deeper poverty than even their own, in order to accomplish their salvation, these poor people could not but feel a double consolation under their afflictions. The more pious among them felt there was a grace thrown around their indigence, since it was the honoured garb of their Saviour's humiliation ; while the still more solid comfort of believing that Christ's poverty was their riches, silenced every murmur, enabled them to support with cheerfulness their various degrees of distress, and raised their hopes to a better inheritance hereafter.
2 Cor. viii. 9.
On these errands of mercy and christian usefulness, Mrs. Gracelove was generally accompanied by her interesting daughter Laura, who was growing up under that anxious tuition which had watched over her from infancy, to be all that a mother's fond heart could wish. She was exemplifying daily, as before observed, the truth of the divine declaration; “ Those that seek me early shall find me ;" * and was reaping from it the divine blessing connected with it—the love of God. She was remembering her Creator in the days of her youth ; and, like Mary, had “ chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” +
To give my gentle reader an instructive example of the edifying character of these cottage visitations, worthy of universal imitation, I select the following as a favourable specimen-ex uno disce omnes. Mrs. Gracelove had visited, on various occasions, in the circuit of her missionary labours, the cottage of a peasant and his wife, who were, in some degree, in better circumstances than the poorer people around them, in consequence of the husband having more permanent employment, and somewhat higher wages. Her object, in this instance, therefore, was the improvement of their moral rather than that of their temporal condition. And great need there was for her spiritual charity in their behalf; for though a gracious Providence had blessed them with health and strength, and a sufficiency of work, and had given them a son, now six years of age, of an amiable and kindly temper, and very obedient to his parents, yet their return for these mercies to the compassionate Being who had bestowed them was-ingratitude.
In vain had their kind visitor admonished them on the due observance of the Sabbath day, the sanctity of which they so often violated; and on the duty of attending a place * Prov. viii, 17.
+ Luke x. 42.
of worship, in a spirit of thanksgiving to God for what He had bestowed upon them. Once or twice, indeed, the influence of moral force, and, still more, of the respect felt for herself, had induced them to go to church ; but their reluctance to do so was most painfully evident, and was imme. diately followed by a relapse into their infidel habits.
One morning, on presenting herself at their door, Mrs. Gracelove found them in great distress of mind, caused by the loss of their only child, whom death had unexpectedly carried off by scarlet fever. But the anguish they exhibited was so mingled with murmurs and repinings at the afflictive dispensation that had fallen upon them,—daring even to reproach the goodness of God in thus cutting off their only and cherished hope,—that our worthy friend felt called upon, beyond what she had ever felt before, to speak in a firmer tonė of expostulation, and to " vindicate the ways of God to man.”
After addressing to them some very apposite truths; recalling to their memory the rebellious and ungrateful conduct which they had manifested towards Him who had so blessed them beyond their neighbours, she stated it plainly as her opinion, that the loss they had sustained was the greatest mercy that could have happened to them, and was, indeed, graciously intended as such.
This remark drew from the obdurate couple an exclamation of astonishment, accompanied by the observation, that " they could not have believed that so gentle and kind a lady could have expressed a sentiment so wounding to their feelings.”
“ Believe me most sincere when I assure you,” replied the latter," that I do not wish, for a single moment, to wound your feelings, or insult your misfortunes. I wish you, from my very heart, the truest and most enduring happiness. Listen to the following story, which I am going to relate to you, and you will then think that I was justified in using the terms which at present you believe to be so cruel.
“ On a wide and desolate moor, far distant from human habitation, a shepherd was in the daily occupation of tending and pasturing his flock. One afternoon, while the sheep were scattered and quietly feeding around him, he perceived the sky becoming rapidly obscured. Large masses of black dense clouds were ascending from the horizon with a most threatening aspect; and a partial whirlwind, which is not unfrequently seen on large plains to precede a storm, gave warning of its near approach.
The good shepherd, perceiving these ominous signs, hastened immediately to collect his flock, and to drive them to the fold, which was erected on a certain part of the moor, and afforded secure shelter. No sooner, however, had he brought them to the gate of the fold, than they refused to enter. Some of the sheep turned round and ran back again. Others dispersed themselves to the right, and the rest to the left. In short, they fled in all directions.
“ With untiring efforts, seeing the imminency of the danger, did the good shepherd again and again collect his perverse sheep, and direct them towards the place of refuge ; but with equally unsuccessful results. On each attempt they were so wilful and obstinate,” said the fair missionary, looking significantly at her auditors, “ that they would not pass through the gate into their safe retreat, either by gentle or rough
At length, his long-enduring patience began to fail, as well it might; especially as large drops of rain began now to fall, and a vivid flash of lightning, succeeded by a loud clap of thunder, betokened the nearness of the danger. Not a moment was to be lost, —a happy thought struck him on the instant, which he as instantaneously put in execution.
He rushed at once into the midst of the flock, and seizing a lamb, wrapped his arms around it, and carried it off to the fold. The triumph was complete The refractory animals hesitated no longer. They saw a little one of their flock taken from them, and they now prepared immediately to follow it. Without further delay they hurried after the shepherdentered the gate-pursued him to the shelter of a large shed, where the little lamb was again placed on the ground, and where their preservation was secured.
“And now,” said Mrs. Gracelove, “I will apply the moral in strict illustration of your own case. The good Shepherd is God; you are his refractory flock; and the fold is the King, dom of Heaven. The Almighty has, for a length of time, graciously dealt with you as a tender father dealeth with his children. He gave you his Holy Word, as you will remember, two years ago, through the humble medium of myself, for the purpose of instructing and guiding you in the right way. He has given you advice, and warning, and exhortation, through private individuals and visitors who were anxious for your everlasting welfare. He has given you the public instruction of his sacred temple--the ministry of reconciliation-in the persons of his ordained servants. God has finally striven with you, by the operations of his Holy Spirit upon your obdurate hearts. And now let me ask," said their faithful monitor, " what have all these beneficent tokens of God's love and compassion towards you produced ?-ingratitude! and that towards your best and Almighty Friend !-a murmuring heart-wanton disobedience-a rebellious mind !
“The long-suffering patience of God was at length wearied with your awful perverseness ; and in order to bring you to a repentant sense of your violated duty towards Him, by a rougher course of dealing with you as you resisted the smoother course—He has taken away your child! And, now, if you