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master, I do," replied the woman, “and I would not have Humphrey Preach know it for a crown. I put the ragged leaves on the top shelf for fear he should spy them out one day, when he chanced to call.” “ Then perhaps you would take care of another," said I, " and if so, I can help you to a way of getting one ; for these great folks you
find so much fault with, have almost one and all agreed to send Bibles abroad and at home in every direction, and by that means the scripture prophecy will be fulfilled, that the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea."
“Do master then try to get us a new Bible," said she, “ for we can both read a little. For my part," added she, turning to her husband, « I think we are much beholden to the gentlefolks for having us taught in their charity schools, and then clothing and putting us out in the world, and if they do make some mistakes in governing the nation, we should be the last to bewray them."
The Mason proved that he had for the present lost all interest in politics, for he was nodding in his. seat, and with some difficulty was roused to shew me to my loft, the cleanliness of which was its only recommendation. I threw myself for the first time in my life upon a bed of straw, but I would not have exchanged feelings with the majority of those reclined on beds of down: for I had this evening
essay to do
essay to do good," and had reason to hope it would prove a successful one.
After a long meditation on the character of Him who went about doing good, and thus encouraging his followers to imitate his example, I fell asleep; but was awaked early in the morning by the industrious pursuits of my host and hostess, the former taking possession of his sawing-box,and the latter rumbling about what I found afterwards to be washing-tubs. To these disturbing sounds, were soon added the softer ones of infant prattle, equally at war with repose, and I rose with the intention of reaching my own peaceful mansion by breakfast-time. Inclination, however, gave place to my further “ good,” for on my appearance the Stone-mason and his wife pressed me so earnestly to mess with them, that I judged they would suffer more words of exhortation. The messes provided for myself and the family consisted of well onioned broth and milk pottage. Seeing my portion like that allotted me the preceding evening diminish but slowly, the Mason observed I messed more like a gentleman than a poor working man, and began to enquire into the nature of my employments. As a reply to these enquiries must have proved embarrassing, and unedifying, I said, “ Being in haste to depart now, he should know if I called again, and hoped he would have no objection to my reading another chapter." My hostess instantly handed me the tattered remains of the best of books, while the
three little ones opened their mouths and eyes in eager curiosity to see what I was going to do with it.
Happily there was one chapter escaped from their destructive pawings, more favourable to the doctrines I particularly wished to inculcate than almost any other : this was the second chapter of the first epistle of Peter. I read it with the strongest emphasis, on the five verses which treated of the duty of all Christians to obey rulers : this was observed by my hostess, who interrupted me by a remark to her husband. “There's no gain-saying that." “And mark,” said I, ". what follows, an exhortation to patience and humility, according to the example of our Divine Master.” Then having finished the chapter, I observed, “this is addressed only to real believers, who are supposed by St. Peter to have come to Christ as to a living stone, by him as lively stones to be built up a spiritual house to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by him. How condescending is the Spirit of God, to explain in his word these glorious truths in such a familiar man
In some places our Lord is represented as a Shepherd, in another as a Vine, nourishing his people, who are compared to the branches. Then he calls himself the Door, by which we must enter the kingdom of heaven. In another place he is. called the Tree of Life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. He is the Rose of Sharon,
more beautiful and fragrant than we can conceive. He is a Sun giving light and heat to his people ; and a Star with milder heams reflecting on the dawning of the morning. In short there is scarcely any thing useful and beautiful with which we are acquainted, but our Lord in some sense or another is compared to it. Here he is likened to a Stone, and perhaps you may enter more into the sense of this comparison than I can."
I paused for the Stone-mason's reply, and was well pleased to see him apparently musing on the subject. “Why, master,” he at length observed,
they may talk of one thing and another for a foundation, but there's nothing so good as a stone; and I would not trust myself on a weather-beaten spot in any house built on any other."
« Then,” replied I, “let us seek to be built up a spiritual house on this foundation.' What is the first step to the preparation of a stone for building ?" Why to be sure," returned the Mason, “the first thing to be done is to dig it out of the quarry, but after that there's a main deal of trouble in rounding and fashioning of it before 'tis fit for use, and then the builder must take good heed to fit it to its proper place in the building, or the stone-cutter gets no credit.” “ I see then," returned I, “ the comparison holds good every way; for our hearts are like these stones lying useless in a quarry, till sought out by him who has promised to turn our
bearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Then what pains does he take to mould and fashion our wayward dispositions, subduing our evil passions one after another, as the work-man strikes off the sharp edges of the stones; and after all, by his providence he places us in that part of his building which we are best qualified to fill. You and I then, my kind friends (rising to depart) have only to come daily by the prayer of faith to this sure foundation-stone laid in Sion, and when as lively stones we are made part of the glorious house, to abound in grateful praise to him who has called us out of the quarry of the sinful world, a state of darkness, into his marvellous light.
I put my hand into my pocket and drew out a few
pence, but before I could offer them to my host, éss, she laid hold of my arm, exclaiming, “Master put up your money, blessings on you. Don't never come this way without calling.". The Mason shook: me heartily by the hand, and seconded her invita. tion. I left their hospitable cottage with the hope of having dropped there a few hints, which I should through the medium of Humphrey Preach hear were rendered useful to them; and after calling at the Turk’s-head to defray the small debt I had contracted, I pursued my solitary walk home, musing upon an important subject, which will be submitted also to my readers' attention in my next chapter.