« السابقةمتابعة »
SCHOOL-GIRL IN FRANCE.
Lead us not into temptation.-MATTHEW vi. 13.
Ir was a beautiful morning, in the early part of summer. The trees and fields were clothed with the loveliest verdure; the feathered songsters of the grove were warbling a hymn of gratitude to their beneficent Creator; the flowers seemed to breathe their sweetest incense to his praise; and every feature of the surrounding landscape wore the aspect of peace and joy.
This sweet serenity of nature diffused its calming influence over the minds of two young friends, as, with arms fondly linked, they slowly walked along a pleasant country-road, that led from their native village, within sight of the deep blue waters that roll through the British channel. Their thoughts were intent on subjects of deep importance to both; yet, for some time, neither had spoken a word.
"Dear Caroline," at length observed the elder, a pensive-looking girl of seventeen, whose dark eyes and hair gave additional interest to the paleness of her cheek, "how lovely, how very lovely is this scene! but, oh, how long it may be ere we again behold it !"
A smile of cheerful hope illumined the sweet countenance of her blue-eyed companion, as she replied, "My dear, drooping Emily, you must not yield to these foreboding fancies. A year or two will soon pass away, and I trust we shall then return to this beloved spot, with minds improved by instruction, and hearts expanded, but not corrupted. Our education will then be finished, and our principles more firmly fixed, by the experience we shall have had, of the superiority of truth over error."
"God grant it may be so!" exclaimed Emily, clasping her hands, in the energy of her feelings, "but I cannot altogether divest myself of a fearful apprehension, which makes me wish that our parents had not thought it necessary to send us to France, for that fashionable polish to our education, which is, after all, of so very little real value."
Well," replied Caroline, "I cannot enter into your view of the subject. I am quite delighted with the prospect of the new scenes, characters, and manners we shall witness, and the various sources of knowledge that will be open to us; and I can fear no attraction in those empty, worldly pleasures, which we have already renounced, nor any danger in a religion, with the errors of which we are so thoroughly acquainted"
Perhaps I am wrong," said Emily, after a pause; "perhaps there is too much unbelief and distrust in my present fears; but oh! Caroline, when I reflect on my own weakness and insufficiency; when I think how 'averse to good and prone to ill' my treacherous heart continually proves itself, and remember, at the same time, that I am soon to be exposed to those snares into which so many others have fallen,-I shrink back with involuntary alarm from the contemplation."
A deep sigh attested the sincerity of her fears, and she pressed her hand to her forehead in thoughtful dejection.
"Dear Emily," said Caroline, affectionately pressing her hand, "do not thus distrust the power and faithfulness of God; you know 'he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.' Remember how often dear Mr. Somerville has told us, that we could do nothing of ourselves, but that we must look to Christ, and there we should find help.” "You are right, Caroline," replied Emily, her countenance resuming somewhat of its usual mild, yet thoughtful serenity. "You know," continued she, smiling, "that I am a foolish creature; but I trust my Saviour's strength will be made perfect in my weakness.'"
The two friends had now reached a turning in the road, from whence they perceived a servant approaching, with a letter in his hand. He presented it to Emily, who received it with an expression of delight, which was re-echoed by her companion.
"Let us take the road through the fields, that we may be able to read it," exclaimed Caroline. "Dear, dear Mr. Somerville! was it not just like him to write immediately?—was it not just like a father?"
"He has, indeed, been a father to us," observed Emily, "and I am sure this kind letter is worthy of his exalted character, as well as of his sacred office."
It was, as she expected, an epistle full of pastoral admonition, and expressing the most friendly solicitude for their spiritual wel
fare. Mr. Somerville wrote in answer to a request they had made, that he would favor them with directions for their guidance in the land of strangers.
66 As you tell me," said this excellent friend, "that your parents have permitted you to choose, for your school-residence, one of those favored spots in that spiritual wilderness, where the blessings of a scriptural ministry, and Christian fellowship, may be enjoyed, I feel much less concerned at your temporary exile than I otherwise should; at the same time that there is much less occasion for counsel, either from me or any other person. The directions you will find in your Bible, and in the other religious books that you will take over with you, joined to the instructions of the pastor under whose ministry you will sit, and the promised and implored guidance of the Holy Spirit, will, I am persuaded, render any body of rules, to be drawn up by me, altogether unne
"If, however, it will afford you any satisfaction, that I should express my sentiments on the occasion, I will tell you, that the chief danger I should apprehend for you, in any case, would not be from the religion, but rather from the irreligion of the country; and it is against the latter, especially, that I would entreat you to be tremblingly on your guard. No one ought, indeed, to feel secure from the seductive influence of false principles, in situations where those principles are daily presented to the mind, and where there is not that protection against them, which is afforded by a frequent intercourse with the professors of the truth, and a regular attendance on the simple and faithful preaching of the una dulterated gospel. But, with the knowledge you possess, of what the religion of Jesus is, and what the tenets of popery are: and taking, as I am persuaded you will do, from the first, a decided part for the one against the other, I do not anticipate that you will be in much danger, during your residence on the continent, of becoming Roman Catholics. There is something in every doctrine, in every circumstance connected with that religion, so contrary to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, so different from its spiritual nature and soul-humbling influence; and so discordant to the feelings of a renewed heart, which has deeply felt the necessity of a free and full salvation in him, that I trust you will be in no great peril from its otherwise fascinating power.
"I cannot say, however, that I am quite so easy with regard to the power of godliness, as I am in reference to the form of it. You will find it difficult, when living in the midst of ungodly society,-dwelling, as you most probably will, in an establishment where, with a superstitious regard to some externals, there prevails, notwithstanding, an habitual neglect of the life of religion; you will find it difficult, I say, when mixing continually with light, frivolous, and worldly-minded persons, however moral and
upright their character in other respects, to avoid losing that taste, that relish for spiritual things, which is, after all, the grand essen tial. Guard, then, chiefly against this snare; and ever keep in mind, of how little avail it would be that you should return to your country, Protestants in name and profession, and with an undiminished attachment to that form of sound words' in which you have been brought up, if, at the same time, you should no longer be devoted in heart to the service of him who now appears in our eyes the chiefest among ten thousand,' and the altogether lovely. Such a conviction as this, joined with the use of the means to which it will naturally prompt, will form your best safeguard, and most effectual protection, under him whose grace and detence I most sincerely implore on your behalf."
Keep near, I beseech you, my dear young friends, to that Almighty Saviour. Walk humbly and consistently with your God, and endeavor, above all things, by fervent prayer and diligent Bible-reading, to cultivate an uninterrupted communion with him, and a spiritual and watchful frame of mind. Oh! cling to Jesus with the ardor of faith, and you need not fear all the powers of hell combined. He will cover you with his wings, and under his feathers you will be safe; his faithfulness and truth shall be your shield and buckler.' I recommend the whole of that beautiful ninety-first Psalm to your frequent and attentive perusal.
"I pray that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ.' To his merciful guidance I commit you both. May he not only 'keep you from falling,' but bless you with a very abundant measure of the influences of his Holy Spirit. May he 'shed his love abroad in your hearts,' enrich you with all the 'fruits of the Spirit,' and enable you ever to rejoice in your Saviour, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.' Mrs. Somerville presents her most affectionate regards, and joins in every prayer for your spiritual prosperity, with Your very sincere friend,
THE FAREWELL VISIT.
I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.-JOSHUA i. 5.
AFTER the conversation related in the foregoing chapter, it is unnecessary to say much of the previous history of Caroline Howard and Emily Mortimer. They were cousins, and had, from their infancy, been so much together, that the most sisterly affection and confidence subsisted between them. Their characters, indeed, were essentially different; but the contrast they presented only served to endear them more fondly to each other.
Čaroline had been nursed in the lap of parental indulgence, and the sunny brightness of her disposition had scarcely been obscured by a single cloud. She possessed a softness and pliability of temper, which made her truly amiable; but her character was principally marked by an extreme susceptibility of feeling, which, in after life, might prove a dangerous snare.
Emily had lost her mother in early childhood, and this severe loss had been but ill supplied by a mother-in-law, who considered it a duty to thwart her every inclination, and to bring her up under a system of continual restraint and coercion. The perpetual vexations, and trials of temper, arising from this circumstance, had saddened a disposition naturally buoyant, and thrown a deep shade of thoughtfulness over the native enthusiasm of her character. The cousins had been sent to the same school, in a neighboring town, and remained there three years. During that time they were brought under the faithful preaching of the gospel; a privilege they had never enjoyed before. The labors of Mr. Somerville had been greatly blessed to them; and through the influence of that Divine Spirit, who alone can make His own word effectual, they were enabled to devote themselves to the service of their God. The effects of this happy change were visible in the character and conduct of both. It regulated, without lessening, the extreme sensibility of the one, while it elevated and sanctified the ardent imagination and enthusiastic feelings of the other.
On returning to their paternal homes, they carefully treasured the many excellent counsels of their faithful and beloved pastor. They did not shrink from avowing their attachment to the principles of the gospel; but though they met with some opposition, and many petty persecutions, in the shape of temptation, ridicule, and vexatious annoyances, they endeavored, by an humble and consistent walk, to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things." They were, however, young and inexperienced, and felt that they greatly needed an Almighty arm to uphold them.