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poisoned arrows from concealed foes, even for you? that the world is not a resting place or a home? that you will need a lamp for your feet and a light for your path as you travel on towards eternity ?
“Accept my new year's gift, then, Lucy; and believe me that my earnest, sincere prayer is that you may come to know its exceeding worth, as the revelation of that glorious gospel of the Son of God, which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.
“I may never see you again : probably this will be my last gift : I know it to be the best and richest of all I have ever been privileged to place in your hands.
Perhaps you will not, I fear you will not value it now; for, dear Lucy, those words, almost the last words I heard you speak, betrayed, nay, avowed, your determination to put from you the hope of salvation. Lucy, do I pain you by saying this ? Bear with me, for I love you; and I dare not injure your soul by saying, “Peace, peace,' where there is no peace; and you, so far from God and happiness. But, though you may now put my gift aside, I know you will not so far despise it as to part with it: you will keep it for my sake ; and, should troublous days ever come, when you feel your need of help and friendship, then, for my sake and your own, seek for that help and friendship there. Dear Lucy, I am
" ARCHIBALD SEATON.” Ah! yes, it was quite true that Lucy Huntley was wilfully and willingly ignorant of Christ and his gospel. Her old friend had not overstated the truth, that she was avowedly determined to put from her the things which made for her everlasting peace. Accomplished, amiable in the eyes of the world, and self-sufficient, she had yet to
learn, if the teaching should ever be embraced, to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
And this had been her training. Lucy's father was, distinctly, an unbeliever; he ridiculed the Bible: her mother was a woman of the world, and neglected the Bible; and Lucy, with her mother's love of pleasure, had imbibed her father's infidelity. Poor human moth! she fluttered round the flame which dazzled and delighted her. Poor deceived soul! she thought she could do without the hope which is full of immortality and eternal life. She thought she was rich and increased in goods, and had need of nothing; and did not know that she was spiritually poor and wretched and blind and naked.
" What a dear, doting, ridiculous old man Mr. Seaton is," said Lucy to herself, when she had read his note. She liked her aged friend in her heart, though she despised him for his religion, for he was kind, and gentle, and loving; but as to his new year's gift-well, well, it was put aside, thrust into her book-case, where its sombre binding served as a foil to the purple, and crimson, and gold of her richer bound albums, and souvenirs, and keepsakes, and books of beauty. But she soon got tired of seeing it there ; and Mr. Seaton's new year's gift was eventually put out of sight.
A Bible! What did she want with a Bible? She had a handsomer one than that (which she never opened); and she had her Church Service, carried before her to the family pew by a liveried footman, when she went to church, which was very seldom ; and what did Lucy want with another Bible ?
Married! The ceremony was over : cards were dispersed far and wide : the bride and bridegroom were far away on their wedding tour. This was six months after new year's day; and the hand which had penned that new year's epistle, and sealed up and directed that despised new year's gift, was cold and lifeless and buried.
Archibald Seaton was kindly remembered ; and a shade of sorrow had overspread Lucy's countenance when the intelligence of his death reached her. As a child she had loved him, and as she grew older she respected him, in spite of his “ ridiculous notions about religion.” Still he was old, and his death had long been expected; and, moreover, Lucy was in the high bustle of preparation for her espousals: so her sorrow was not very lasting.
In due time Lucy and her husband returned from their travels, and settled down in their new home. It was a delightful home, so all her friends said; and they said also what a good match their dear Lucy had made. And so she had, doubtless, measuring her lot in life by the common standard of human felicity. Her husband was one of the partners in a large firm; and the young wife had no wish
ungratified which money could purchase. No wonder then that Lucy's luxurious home, her large establishment, her brilliant display of rich and rare jewels, her expensive robes, her pretty equipage, were at the same time admired and envied by those who exclaimed, “How fortunate she has been !”
And what hope was there now that the despised Bible would be unclasped and read ? that the “fortunate, happy” woman, in the midst of her chase after the gratifications of time, would give one serious thought to the realities of eternity which in her choosing days " she had neglected ? Truly the hope was faint. “How hardly,” said Christ, who needed not that any should testify of man, for ho knew what was in man—“how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God !"
Twenty years passed away.
If it be true that we know not what shall be on the morrow, that we cannot tell what a day may bring forth, who shall dare to calculate on the strange and unexpected changes to be wrought in the history of any personyours, reader, or mine-in the course of twenty years ?
Twenty years ago, yonder man who holds his head so high, whose name is good for thousands of gold and silver, to whom men bow down as heathens to their idol god, that man, twenty years ago, was poor and despised.
Twenty years ago, that aged mendicant, ragged and forlorn and wretched, whom you, may be, hurried past, and into whose hand you, perhaps, moved by compassion, slipped a penny, though you doubted the true benevolence of the act, that same man, twenty years ago, was rolling in wealth.
Twenty years! what may not come to pass in twenty years ? What had come to pass in her history whose name was once Lucy Huntley ?
Through the later five of those twenty years she had tasted, nay, drunk deep of the bitter cup of affliction and poverty. Her riches ? they had taken to themselves wings, and flown away. Her husband ? he was a dishonoured and banished man, of whom none cared to speak. Her parents ? they were dead, and the money the father had heaped up for his only child was dispersed into a thousand channels; it had been scattered in the general wreck of a series of dishonest speculations. Her friends those friends of her prosperous days, who had heaped costly gifts upon the young heiress, and courted her smileswhere were they? Why, it is an old, old story :
“The friends who in her sunshine lived,
When winter came, had flown ;
Had shed those tears alone.
Dwelling in a poor lodging, the poor desolate deserted wife earned a precarious subsistence as a daily teacher. For five years she had supported herself and her three fatherless children thus. She had sternly and proudly turned her back upon that world which had turned its back upon her, rather than follow after it with a suppliant plea for charity. Perhaps she was right in doing this; and yet the spirit in which she carried out her resolution might be wrong. She had not taken
her cross lovingly, meekly, hopefully, prayerfully. How, indeed, could she do this, when the secret source of love, meekness, and hope, and the object of prayer, were unknown to her? when she did not, could not feel that,
“Sorrow touched by God, grows bright
With more than summer ray ;
We could not see by day." It was new year's day. Lucy's day's work was over, and, with her little Ellen by her side, she sat down by her poor, cheerless hearth. Her elder daughter-her Lucy-had not yet returned from her weary apprenticeship work in a dress-making establishment; nor had her son, from his employment in a house of business in the city.
Depressed in mind, harassed by many cares, with health and strength failing and heart sinking, it did not need old remembrances to stir up deeper sorrows than were already endured; but these, too, came unbidden. Oh that she could forget-forget the prosperity of her earlier years, her envied, but short-lived brilliant course, her faithless friends!
But Lucy thought of all these things; thought till eyes were dim with tears, her heart heavier and yet heavier with grief.
“Mamma! poor mamma!” The voice of her child recalled her to herself. The
mother drew the little one to her bosom, and held her there. But still her thoughts were busy.
She thought of that new year's day, twenty years before ; and of the rich gifts, the mere cost of which would now be a welcome addition to her exhausted resources. Where were these treasures, those gifts ? Alas! they too (all but the least valuable) had shared in the wreck of her husband's fortune; and those which remained with her had since been parted with, one by one, to meet some pressing emergency.
All but one: old Mr. Seaton's new year's gift remained. Some strange superstition, she might have said, or some latent feeling of regard for her old friend's memory, had once and again held Lucy back from disposing of that souvenir. Besides, it was not of much value of much
But now the poor woman was sorely tempted. She had the rent of her rooms to pay, and her purse was nearly empty; and of what use was the Bible to her? Had she ever had recourse to it in her sorest afflictions ? Never. Poor, poor Lucy! she did not know how accurately her character and condition were described in that despised volume, as “having no hope, and without God in the world.” She neither knew, nor cared to know ; her thoughts had made her desperate.
“ It shall go," she said to herself, as she disengaged herself from little Ellen : "why do I befool myself with these fancies?”
In another moment she had passed into her chamber; and the book, taken from its resting place at the bottom of one of her drawers, was in her hand.
“May I not look at it, mamma, before you take it away?" asked little Ellen, timidly.
“ It will do you no good to look at it, Ellen; there are no pictures in it,” said the mother: but yet she yielded it for a moment into the child's hands. There was little that she could give which Lucy had ever refused to her youngest and favourite daughter. So the child turned it round and round in her hands, then examined the clasps.
“ How does it open ? Oh, I see! look, mamma ; I press it together so, and then the locks fly back.” And suiting the action to the words, the book opened, and a paper dropped out.