Page images

fixing the principles of piety and holiness more deeply in our own hearts. Here we see a man, who, with respect to profaneness and immorality, was not greatly distinguished from the generality of mankind, hurried, by a train of unfortunate circumstances, to the commission of a crime, at the bare mention of which human nature shudders. With this striking warning, then, before our eyes, it were surely the height of folly to remain unmoved, and glory in our innocence and security! Let us only for a single moment place ourselves in his situation, and then ask our hearts whether or not the Christian principles we profess, would have been strong enough to raise us above despondency, or to preserve the integrity of our minds? The question may be highly useful in forming an estimate of our religious attainments.-" Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

We attempt not, at present, to decide the question of a death-bed repentance. Smith bore many striking marks of a sincere penitent; and it would be impious to limit the mercy of God; but still it must be remembered that he was repenting at the foot of the gallows, and had no opportunity of trying the extent of his Christian graces in an intercourse with the

world. We have somewhere met with a sentiment, which the procrastinating sinner would do well to impress on his mind. “In the pardon of the thief upon the cross, there is one instance given of the efficacy of a death-bed repentance, that nobody might despair; and there is but one, that nobody might presume."



JANE MORTON was the daughter of a very graceless and wicked man, who, being led astray by bad company, had gone on, step by step, from occasional transgression to habitual sin, till at length he became utterly depraved. Her mother had been, until the time she married, in good service, and had always borne an excellent character in every place she lived. But alas! when she connected herself with a bad man, she trusted too much to her own strength. She did not learn to swear as he did, nor did she, like him, forsake the house of God; nor go into riots, nor fight, nor quarrel; but she became accustomed to these things, and by degrees lost that strong sense of religion, which can alone preserve one from the effects of bad example. Whenever her husband behaved ill to her, she now no longer retired, as she was wont to do, within the chamber of her own breast, to call up the powers of her soul, to implore from Heaven the spirit of peace and pa

tience; but let strife engender strife, and when tired out with contention, drank strong liquors to recruit her strength. Jane was the only child of this unhappy pair. Fortunately for her, she was put, when very young, for some hours every day, to a good old woman in the neighbourhood who taught a little school, and from whom she was to learn to read, and knit stockings. She learned, in addition, what was far more useful to her than all the other learning in the world would have been for the good schoolmistress took pains to instruct her in her duty to God and man. The nature of her instructions was seen in their effects: for though Jane could not but grieve at the conduct of her parents, she behaved to them with respect, and was mild, gentle, and obedient. She remembered, that when God commanded to honour father and mother, he made the rule absolute and universal; and did not make any allowance on account of the parent's want of worth. She therefore never disputed their will; nor, when found fault with, even though unreasonably, did she ever murmur, or return a saucy answer. But though she, at all times, treated them with marked respect, she was on her guard against being corrupted by their. example, and therefore did not even permit herself to

palliate or excuse the vices to which they were most liable. She, on the contrary, earnestly, and with great humility, prayed to be preserved from temptation, and to be enabled to perform her duty to her parents, without failing in her duty to her God.

Her father, who was a house-painter, had good wages, and might have had constant employment, conld people have depended on him for finishing the jobs he took in hand; but whenever drink fell in his way, he forgot every engagement; and when he had reduced his understanding beneath the level of the beasts, he became furious and unmanageable, so that people were afraid to encounter him. Hence it happened, that though he was the best workman in the country, he was often out of employment, and saw a preference given to inferior hands. This he could not bear. For, though drinking impairs or destroys all the best faculties of the human soul, it does not destroy pride; and pride is the mother of hatred, anger, peevishness, and contention.

Jane, though a great favourite of her father's, did not, at these seasons, escape the effects of his bad temper. He would often pour upon her a torrent of unprovoked abuse; but she either bore it in silence, or, if called on to speak, spoke

« PreviousContinue »