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The idea of being a spectator for others, rather than a hearer for himself, was a more persuasive plea ; and Mary, seeing her father's countenance relax, and his strong eyebrows rise, ventured to come close to me, and said,
I should like to be one of the party, papa, with my companions.
Well, well, we will agree, and provided I find nothing happen tending to weaken my authority, we will be regular in our attendance.
Very well, I answered, I wish for no more. Now, may Mary accompany me to Isabella's mamma, and we will ask the same of her.
This request being granted, we went out, and on our way, Mary asked,
What do you mean to do; are we to say our Catechism?
The Catechism may be found useful to us; but we will draw our instructions from the fountain of wisdom,--the word of God, and I trust you will find it pleasant and improving.
Is it to teach us to obey our parents, that you mean?
Yes, and to honor them and to love them.
I am glad to see so much obedience; but why do you obey ?
Oh! because I dare not do otherwise. Indeed, I cannot, for my papa and mamma would soon oblige me to do it. I know it is for my good, though sometimes I feel it painful; but you know I ought to obey; and once when I was crying in my room, about something I did not like to do, mamma's maid Hannah came so kindly to me, and showed me a verse in the Bible, “ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right :" I have never forgotten it, and then I was happier, and never cried any more about that thing.
Then if all your obedience were put upon that ground, you would find but little occasion to cry for any thing that it was your duty to do.
We were now at Mrs. Dennis's door, and Isabella, who had seen our approach, flew down stairs to receive us : she took my hand, saying,
How glad I am that you are come : mamma and brother William are up stairs. Come in.
Mrs. Dennis was listening to the conversation of William as we entered. She rose to receive us with an attempt to smile a welcome, but the sorrow of her heart refused to enable her. The extreme sensibility of her feelings were expressed in her pale countenance, and her languid eyes, which were suffused with tears that could not flow. In her widow's garments, and her two children with her, she at once formed an object peculiarly interesting, as respected especially the right training of her darling treasures, the constant mementos of the father they had lost. I felt some difficulty in intruding upon her my design, but Isabella's interest and her own happi ness were so intimately involved in it, that I took courage to make the proposal.
She paused a few moments for reflection, and at length said,
For my personal attendance I must beg to be excused; I have neither spirits nor health at present; and for my children, I do not know what to say. I certainly should not like any new ideas to be presented to them that would weaken their attachment to me.
I should hope you have nothing to fear on that head, but rather perhaps to hope for an increase of filial love and duty.
She sighed deeply, and answered, It was my first ambition to fix their chief love on their now departed father. It used to give him pleasure when they expressed that their strongest love was for him. When their friends used to ask them which they loved best, papa or mamma, I delighted in teaching them to answer, " Papa, to
, But now he is gone, and I love to hear them bemoan his loss in accents of complaint; but I must confess, I now chiefly desire to draw their love over to myself; they make now my only solace, but I fear I have myself weaned them from me too much, so that I shall scarcely possess the fervor of their affection.
Mamma, dear mamma! said Isabella; he taught me a lesson yesterday that makes me love you more than ever I did.
And she was going to throw her arms on her mother's neck, when a conscious recollection of the entwining woodbine stopped the impulse.
I was much affected ; and going to her, raised her arm, and laid it over the shoulder on which she longed to lean.
This action gave unexpected confidence to her mother, and she said,
I think, then, I must not refuse the request; and, at least for a while, I will permit them to attend ; begging you not to consider me pledged to an unrestricted grant.
The manner in which my request was granted did not affect re; gaining the concession at the first, I took it as an earnest that I should be allowed to prevail for the future. Isabella thanked her mamma, and said, I am very glad William is to be one of the party.
There was still another family in the neighborhood which I was anxious to gain ; but their life was so completely spent in the gaieties of this world, that I feared obtaining any influence there would be difficult, as my known habits of enforcing Bible consistency upon every one called Christian, had excited the repugnance so constantly exhibited by the lovers of pleasure towards the disciples of the cross. I was sorely tempted not to make a trial, but the word, " Whatsoever ask in
my name I will give it you," directed me first to apply by supplication to Him who gave the promise, and then to determine upon making my request at once, in that name, to the parents of the children so greatly needing to be instructed in the will and way of the Lord.
Having returned Mary safely to her parents, I proceeded, and found a ready admittance. I was ushered into a room where was already assembled a party of young people, who, by an
extraordinary imitation of the manners of their seniors, were engaged with all the formality of a grown-up party of the world. Refreshments of cake, and fruit, and wine were handing round, and I was pressed to partake with them.
With pleasure, I replied, as I accepted the offer ; and what will you say to me, if I make a request that you may be allowed to join a little weekly party at my house ? At
your house ! exclaimed a boy about fourteen years old ; that is something new ; you have never before made a party for us.
If the circumstance is new, I must not conceal that the object also is new. It is simply this, to invite young people, denominated Christians from their baptism, to meet together for Christian conversation and instruction.
There was a general gaze from all the young people, and the smile of pleasure gradually changed into an expression of disappointment.
Mrs. Evans, the lady of the house, said, Oh! I understand you; you have a longing desire to increase the number of Methodists ; but the proposal from you on any motive is so unexpected, that for the novelty's sake, I am inclined to give my permission, if the young people think it will be any pleasure to them.
Silence from them indicated, that they would rather have been helped to an apology.
I will not press my suit: I have freely made my request, and freely say it is for Christ's sake; and those among you, my dear young friends,