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I am glad you have been a successful messen. ger; we will make instant arrangements for our visit. Accordingly at the appointed hour we were all there.
The lady received us with friendly courtesy, and entirely prevented any apologies by her immediate accommodation of the party with chairs. She was surrounded by about thirty girls, who were all engaged in repeating texts of Scripture in answer to questions proposed. We begged we might not interrupt the business of the school.
If you will excuse it, I will finish this examination, which is near its conclusion, and then they will sit down to their writing, which will leave me at liberty.
The manner of the children was very pleasing; their faces expressed a love for their teacher, and at the same time they behaved with respect and attention. We felt quite at ease, and as soon as the writing commenced, adverted to our object by saying,
We are pressing an inquiry at present into the influences of a consistent religious education over the conduct of children to parents, and it is always an advantage to have living examples; but I find the prevalence of disobedience so great, that I am sorry to say, it is not easy to find many proofs to exhibit, in order to illustrate the power of an education which is directed by God's law.
I can bear testimony to its power by some examples, which, though in humble classes, will perhaps answer the end you have in view ; for wherever the religious instruction has its due influence, there we see a manifest effect on the life and conduct, in the private scenes of home ; especially of children to parents; and many severe trials is principle put to, by the ignorance and ungodliness of the parents. I have many cases of difficulty to direct; and others which bring a delightful acknowledgement of the peace and happiness diffused through a cottage by the example and lovely obedience of a Christian child.
Do you find these instances prevail where there is most knowledge of the Word of God?
Knowledge and grace are distinct gifts : knowledge alone does not effect a change of conduct; knowledge without grace is like a faith without works, dead, being alone.” In some cases where there is a readiness to acquire knowledge, there is not a disposition to receive grace; then they are high-minded, and under a pretext of religion, assume a dictatorial manner, often despising their parents, and taking the liberty to throw off restraint. And yet in many other cases, knowledge is of a constraining nature, for they find a condemning sentence against sin, and an encouraging promise to an upright walk; whilst grace without much knowledge will govern the conduct of the child in an obedient submission. But
grace with knowledge is the state in which we see the most minute attention to the duties of their station, and the honor due from a child to a parent.
It would be instructive to these young people if you could favor us with some account of some such instances.
She smiled, and said, There is a girl of the last description who has stood in a remarkable situation. Her mother died when she was young; her elder sister married; and she was left to be the housekeeper, and servant, and child, and friend, all in one, of her father. And her father was a man without a sense of religion, of bad conduct, and morose temper, wasteful of his little property, and objecting to work, except when compelled by absolute necessity. The girl, whose name is Bella, soon felt the' heavy weight and responsibility of her arduous situation, and the necessity of applying for her direction all the precepts of the Word of God. Many friends advised her to leave her father, and to let him feel her loss, that he might be induced to promise better conduct; but to this she could never yield, except when tempted to think of it by the bad company he sometimes brought into the house. She worked hard at a little trade which she had learned, and often through her own earnings has supported both of them and the respectability of their station for months together without any aid from her father. She not only felt her responsibility for his bodily cornforts, and her duty to conceal his infirmities and sins as much as possible from observation, but she felt his soul to be her charge, and she watched over him with exhortation, remonstrance, persuasion, and precept; and sometimes her own soul has been enlivened with hope, when she has seen a tear of conviction in his eye, or heard a word of promise from his lips.
From time to time she has been sustained by these little rays of comfort, and when he has afterwards returned into his usual bad habits, she has chided herself for being cast down, yet hoping in God; and from year to year has gone on in this way, desiring to honor her father, loving his soul, and succoring him in every way in her power, praying for him earnestly that he might be converted and live.
Besides this his health broke, and he became sickly and diseased; he required nursing night and day, and she redoubled her exertions to meet the increased claims upon her duty. Every time there was a little amendment, he threw himself back by some act of intemperate indulgence ; and though her trouble was thus always renewed, she with unwearied patience resumed the duty which was again called for.
At length her father thought by taking lodgers into the house, he might gain a little income without personal exertion; she submitted, and fulfilled the increased duties this plan brought upon her without a complaint; until he became so inattentive to her comforts, and to the conduct due from a parent to a daughter, that, regardless of character or consequences, he received into his house a set of people which rendered it not only distasteful to her pious mind, but also dan
gerous to her character. She now paused upon the step proper for her to pursué. Here was a breach which interrupted her duty to God, and rendered her liable to the painful circumstance of being made to administer to sin, even of the most flagrant kind. She therefore first affectionately and solemnly warned her father, laid before him all the consequences, acquainted him with the necessity it would lay upon her to leave him, and with tears intreated him to change his conduct, and make it possible for her to remain in the situation of taking care of him; and if not, stating her determination to accept the offer of a situation, which for his sake she had declined for many years.
He was outrageous at this remonstrance, and at the impending consequences to himself, as he knew the loss he should sustain; but as he determined to make no change, she in her duty to God and her own soul, took her resolution : she left her father. The wages she earned she saved up, sending from time to time such assistance to him in small sums as helped to support him. In a few months his health again failed, his lodgers forsook him, he had no friends, and he lay destitute : then the dutiful Bella resigned her happy situation, hastened to her father's sick bed, and in unremitting attention nursed and supported him night and day, until she closed his eyes. And this for a long time without the cheering hope of his soul's conversion, and without the grateful accents of parental love. But at length