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FAMILIAR SCENES,

&c.

CHAP. I.

An Observer's, Remarks.

The character I have assumed, should be assumed by all who wish to pass through life in a manner beneficial to themselves or others. How can they praise God for their creation, if they make no obseryation on the end for which they were created; namely, to glorify his holy name by a life of obedience to his commands ? How can they be grateful for all the blessings of this life, if they are unohservant of the wonderful works of Providence, guarding them from dangers, and pointing out the paths in which they should walk ? And how can they praise him above all for his inestimable love in redemption, if they do not.observe the depravity of nature existing within them, making them averse, to good, and prone to evil? As respects

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their usefulness to all around them, it is necessary they should be observers, for how can the young be advised, the ignorant instructed, and the afflicted comforted, if no friendly observer steps forward for these several important purposes?

These reasons duly approved will ensure respect to my character ; and for my opinions, I entreat my readers to bring them to the test of Scripture, assured that those only can judge of what is truth, who make them their chief study. For my situation in life, I wish them to imagine me residing amongst rural scenes, observing mostly on my surrounding neighbours in the lowest rank of life, and to that description of readers I dedicate the result of my observations.

The first general observation I made on my neighbours was, that the dispensations of Providence, though various, were not so unequal as I once imagined; for I saw the blessings of health imparted where wealth was withheld. I saw peculiar strength given to limbs, which were appointed to works of peculiar labour. I beheld the astonishing effect which constant employment produced on the tempers of the industrious, making them in general cheerful, and adding a relish? to their occasional relaxations, wholly unknown to the idle and dissipated part of society. And I discovered that the gifts of a clear understanding, a sound judgment,

and a retentive memory, were not withheld from the poor and illiterate. True, indeed, I had frequent occasion to lament the abuse of health, strength, and understanding ; but Providence was not answerable for those abuses.

The second gerieral observation I made was, the effect good morals produced on the temporal interest of my poor neighbours. It gained them the respect and assistance of the rich ; insomuch, that after many years of observation, I did not meet with a single instance of virtuous poverty wholly destitute of friends. And lastly, I observed that none of my poor neighbours maintained å regular course of sobriety and honesty, who did not profess to think religion of importance.

So far my general observations. I shall now proceed to prove the truth of them, from examples and occurrences. Soon after my arrival at my village retreat, I paid a visit to the parish workhouse, where I had the satisfaction of hearing several of my rich neighbours had been before, and by their kind attentions to the management of this too often neglected charitable institution, had rendered the situation of its inhabitants more comfortable than they are commonly found. Notwithstanding this I observed an air of dissatisfaction was spread over most of the faces I saw, and I resolved to enter into conversation with a few of

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them, in order to discover the cause, and, if possible, apply a remedy.

I accosted first an old man, who was hobbling along upon crutches.

“ Friend,” said' i, “you are happily provided with a home now you are old and helpless." “ A home, Sir," replied he, “ 'tis a bad sort of a home, I should never have caught the rheumatis, and lost the use of my limbs, if I had'nt comed here." “You forget your age," said another old man standing near, “he's ten years older than I am, and I'm the age of man. What a discontented old soul you be, I've more cause to grumble, for you comed in of your own choosing, and I was forced in by the parish officers.” “Don't reflect so harshly on him," said I, “ if he forgets his age, or mistakes the cause of his infirmities, that's not the way to convince him.” old friend,” resumed I, “ be content with your lot. 'Tis seldom appointed to man to reach the years full of labour and sorrow, and whether they overtake usin a palace or a work-house they need the exercise of patience and resignation." A gleam of satisfaction lighted up his withered countenance, which I hoped was occasioned by the idea I had suggested, but was sadly disappointed to discover it arose merely from the triumph he seemed to feel at my reproof of his acquaintance. “You had need come forwards to talk to gentlefolks,” said he, "who begged their bread and stole gin?" The pointed

"My poor

question, and the silence of the questioned, plainly. told me the truth of the case. It told me also another truth, that this old man, just arrived at the brink of the grave, was a stranger to religion ; for true religion is always practical, and in this case would not have returned railing for railing, nor revenged the injury by the disgrace of apother. "My poor old friend," again repeated I, “ your ease is yet more deplorable than I feared, when I first accosted you, for I find by your talk, you harbour an unchristian spirit. And what do you think will become of you, if you are called hence before you are made a Christian ?" My question imposed a like silence as his had done before, and the old man advanced his crutches in the act of retiring. I followed, saying, “ Yet do not suppose it is too late for you to become a Christian. Blessed be God there is an eleventh hour, and the Saviour waits to be gracious to all the weary and heavy laden, who are willing to come to him.” I have heard a great deal of that sort of talk,” replied the old man,

" and I'm not afraid to die. I'm as good as most in this house for certain." thought I, you are no subject for the sons of consolation. • You have heard religious talk to no purpose,” said I, “if you are not sensible of the awful state of sin in which you are involved, and afraid of the consequences.” " Parson Goodall preaches here every Sunday morning at seven o'clock," he replied, and with a look, which I thought

Alas!

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