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asylum was provided for want and age; and blessed God that it was to the Christian dispensation alone that such pious institutions owed their birth.
One fine evening, as she was sitting reading her Bible on the little bench shaded with honeysuckles, just before her door, who should come and sit down by her but Mrs. Betty, who had formerly been lady's maid at the nobleman's house in the village of which Mrs. Simpson's father had been minister. Betty, after a life of vanity, was, by a train of misfortunes, brought to this very alms-house; and though she had taken no care, by frugality and prudence, to avoid it, she thought it a hardship and disgrace, instead of being thankful, as she ought to have been, for such a retreat. At first, she did not know Mrs. Simpson; her large bonnet, cloak, and brown stuff gown (for she always made her appearance conform to her circumstances), being very different from the dress she had been used to wear when Mrs. Betty had seen her dining at the great house; and time and sorrow had much altered her countenance. But when Mrs. Simpson kindly addressed her as an old acquaintance, she screamed with surprise-" What! you, madam ?” cried she; “ you in an alms-house, living on charity; you, who used to be so charitable yourself, that you never suffered any distress in the parish, which you could prevent?” “That may be one reason, Betty,” replied Mrs. Simpson, “why Providence has provided this refuge for my old age. And my heart overflows with gratitude, when I look back on his goodness.” “No such great goodness, methinks,” said Betty ; “ why, you were born and bred a lady, and are now reduced to live in an alms-house.” “Betty, I was born and bred a sinner, undeserving of the mercies I have received.” “No such great mercies,” said Betty. “Why, I heard that you had been turned out of doors; that your husband had broke; and that you had been in danger of starving, though I did not know what was become of you.” “It is all true, Betty ; glory be to God! it is all true.”
“Well,” said Betty, “ you are an odd sort of a gentlewoman. If, from a prosperous condition, I had been made a bankrupt, a widow, and a beggar, I should have thought it no such mighty matter to be thankful for ; but there is no accounting for taste. The neighbors used to say that all your troubles must needs be a judgment upon you; but I, who knew how good you were, thought it very hard you should suffer so much; but now I see you reduced to an alms-house, I beg your pardon, madam, but I am afraid the neighbors were in the right, and that so many misfortunes could never
have happened to you without you had committed a great many sins to deserve them; for I always thought that God is So just, that he punishes us for all our bad actions, and rewards us for all our good ones.” “So he does, Betty; but he does it in his own way, and at his own time, and not according to our notions of good and evil; for his ways are not as our ways. God, indeed, punishes the bad, and rewards the good; but he does not do it fully and finally in this world. Indeed, he does not set such a value on outward things as to make riches, and rank, and beauty, and health, the rewards of piety; that would be acting like weak and erring men, and not like a just and holy God. Our belief in a future state of rewards and punishments is not always so strong as it ought to be, even now; but how totally would our faith fail, if we regularly saw every thing made even in this world! We shall lose nothing by having pay-day put off. The longest voyages make the best returns. So far am I from thinking that God is less just, and future happiness less certain, because I see the wicked sometimes prosper, and the righteous suffer in this world, that I am rather led to believe that God is more just, and heaven more certain; for, in the first place, God will not put off his favorite children with so poor a lot as the good things of this world; and next, seeing that the best men here below do not often attain to the best things, why, it only serves to strengthen my belief that they are not the best things in his eye; and he has most assuredly reserved for those that love him such good things as eye hath not seen nor ear heard.' God, by keeping man in Paradise while he was innocent, and turning him into this world as soon as he had sinned, gave a plain proof that he never intended this world, even in its happiest state, as a place of reward. My father gave me good principles and useful knowledge; and while he taught me, by a habit of constant employment, to be, if I may so say, independent on the world, yet he led me to a constant sense of dependence on God.” “I do not see, however," interrupted Mrs. Betty," that your religion has been of any use to you. It has been so far from preserving you from trouble, that I think you have had more than the usual share."
“No," said Mrs. Simpson; “nor did Christianity ever pretend to exempt its followers from trouble; this is no part, of the promise. Nay, the contrary is rather stipulated ; in the world ye shall have tribulation. But if it has not taught me to escape sorrow, I humbly hope it has taught me how to bear it. If it has not taught me not to feel, it has taught me not to murmur.-I will tell you a little of my story. As my
father could save little or nothing for me, he was very desirous of seeing me married to a young gentleman in the neighborhood, who expressed a regard for me. But while he was anxiously engaged in bringing this about, my good father died.”
“How very unlucky!” interrupted Betty.
“No, Betty," replied Mrs. Simpson, “it was very providential ; this man, though he maintained a decent character, had a good fortune, and lived soberly, yet he would not have made me happy.” “Why, what could you want more of a man?” said Betty. “Religion,” returned Mrs. Simpson. “ As my father made a creditable appearance, and was very charitable, and as I was an only child, this gentleman concluded that he could give me a considerable fortune; for he did not know that all the poor in his parish are the children of every pious clergyman. Finding I had little or nothing left me, he withdrew his attentions.” “What a sad thing !" cried Betty. “No, it was all for the best; Providence overruled his covetousness to my good. I could not have been happy with a man whose soul was set on the perishable things of this world; nor did I esteem him, though I labored to submit my own inclinations to those of my kind father. The very circumstance of being left penniless produced the direct contrary effect on Mr. Simpson: he was a sensible young man, engaged in a prosperous business : we had long highly valued each other ; but while my father lived, he thought me above his hopes. We were married ; I found him an amiable, industrious, good-tempered man; he respected religion and religious people; but, with excellent dispositions, I had the grief to find him less pious than I had hoped. He was ambitious, and a little too much immersed in worldly schemes; and though I knew it was all done for my sakė, yet that did not blind me so far as to make me think it right. He attached himself so eagerly to business, that he thought every hour lost in which he was not doing something that would tend to raise me to what he called my proper rank. The more prosperous he grew, the less religious he became; and I began to find that one might be unhappy with a husband one tenderly loved. One day, as he was standing on some steps to reach down a parcel of goods, he fell from the top, and broke his leg in two places.”
“What a dreadful misfortune!” said Mrs. Betty. “What a signal blessing !” said Mrs. Simpson. “Here I am sure I had reason to say all was for the best; from that very hour in which my outward troubles began, I date the beginning of my happiness. Severe suffering, a near prospect of death,
absence from the world, silence, reflection, and, above all, the divine blessing on the prayers and scriptures I read to him, were the means used by our merciful Father to turn my husband's heart. During this confinement, he was awakened to a deep sense of his own sinfulness, of the vanity of all this world has to bestow, and of his great need of a Savior. It was many months before he could leave his bed ; during which time his business was neglected ; his principal clerk took advantage of his absence, to receive large sums of money in his name, and absconded. On hearing of this great loss, our creditors came faster upon us than we could answer their demands; they grew more impatient, as we were less able to satisfy them; one misfortune followed another, till at length Mr. Simpson became a bankrupt.”
« What an evil !” exclaimed Mrs. Betty. “ Yet it led in. the end to much good,” resumed Mrs. Simpson. “We were forced to leave the town in which we had lived with so much credit and comfort, and to betake ourselves to a mean lodging in a neighboring village, till my husband's strength should be recruited, and till we could have time to look about us, and see what was to be done. The first night we got to this poor dwelling, my husband felt very sorrowful, not for his own sake, but that he had brought so much poverty on me, whom he had so dearly loved : I, on the contrary, was unusually cheerful ; for the blessed change in his mind had more than reconciled me to the sad change in his circumstances. I was contented to live with him in a poor cottage for a few years on earth, if it might contribute to our spending a blessed eternity together in heaven. I said to him, 'Instead of lamenting that we are now reduced to want all the comforts of life, I have sometimes been almost ashamed to live in the full enjoyment of them, when I have reflected that my Savior not only chose to deny himself all these enjoy. ments, but even to live a life of hardship for my sake : not one of his numerous miracles tended to his own comfort ; and though we read, at different times, that he both hungered and thirsted, yet it was not for his own gratification that he once changed water into wine ; and I have often been struck with the near position of that chapter in which this miracle is recorded, to that in which he thirsted for a draught of water at the well of Samaria.* It was for others, not himself, that even the humble sustenance of barley bread was multiplied. See here, we have a bed left us ; I had, indeed, nothing but straw to stuff it with, but the Savior of the world
* See John, chap. ii.-—and Jolin, chap. iv.
“had not where to lay his head."' My husband smiled through his tears, and we sat down to supper. It consisted of a roll and a bit of cheese which I had brought with me, and we ate it thankfully. Seeing Mr. Simpson beginning to relapse into distrust, the following conversation, as nearly as I can remember, took place between us. He began by remarking, that it was a mysterious providence that he had been less prosperous since he had been less attached to the world, and that his endeavors had not been followed by that success which usually attends industry.--I took the liberty to reply : 'Your heavenly Father sees on which side your danger lies, and is mercifully bringing you, by these disappointments, to trust less in the world, and more in himself. My dear Mr. Simpson,' add
ed I, we trust every body but God. As children, we obey our • parents implicitly, because we are taught to believe all is for our
good which they command or forbid. If we undertake a voyage, we trust entirely to the skill and conduct of the pilot; we never torment ourselves with thinking that he will carry us east when he has promised to carry us west. If a dear and tried friend makes us a promise, we depend on him for the performance, and do not wound his feelings by our suspicions. When you used to go your annual journey to London in the mailcoach, you confided yourself to the care of the coachman, that he would carry you where he had engaged to do so; you were not anxiously watching him, and distrusting and in
quiring at every turning. When the doctor sends home your medicine, don't you so fully trust in his ability and good will, that you swallow it down in full confidence? You never think of inquiring what are the ingredients, why they are mixed in that particular way, why there is more of one and less of another, and why they are bitter instead of sweet? If one dose does not cure you, he orders another, and changes the medicine when he sees the first does you no good, or that, by long use, the same medicine has lost its effect; if a weaker fails, he prescribes a stronger; you swallow all, you submit to all, never questioning the skill or the kindness of the physician.—God is the only being whom we do not trust, though he is the only one who is fully competent, both in will and power, to fulfil all his promises; and who has solemnly and repeatedly pledged himself to fulfil them, in those Scriptures which we receive as his revealed will.'
“ Mr. Simpson thanked me for my little sermon, as he called it; but said, at the same time, that what made my exhortations produce a powerful effect on his mind was, the patient cheerfulness with which he was pleased to say I bore my share in our misfortunes. A submissive behavior, he