« AnteriorContinua »
thought they never would have any. 'Squire Broom was not so rich as 'Squire Blake; and, though a very worthy man, was not of such pleas. ing manners : so that many people did not like him, though in time of distress he was one of the kindest friends in tħe world. 'Squire Broom had a very large family, which he brought up in an orderly, pious manner: but some of the neighbours did not fail to find fault with him, for being too strict with his children.
“ When little Marten was about three years of age, his father was killed, as he was going to Tenterden market, by a fall from his horse. This was so great a grief to his mother, who loved her husband very dearly, that she fell immediately into a bad state of health ; and though she lived as much as two years after her husband, yet she was all that time a dying woman. There was nothing in the thoughts of death which made this poor woman unhappy at any time, excepting when she considered that she must leave her little Marten to strangers; and this grieved her the more, because little Marten was a very tender child, and had always been so from his birth. When these thoughts came into her mind, nothing could give her any comfort but retiring to her own room, and praying, and repeating to herself the promises of God; for there are in the Bible many promises to pious people, that God will take all their concerns into his own hands, and manage their affairs for them. Those people who are enabled by the grace of God to lay hold of these promises, are never deceived ; but whatever affair they trust to God is managed for them better than they could manage it for themselves. This trust in God is called an active and a living faith ; and people who have this living faith obey the commands of God, even when, according to man's judgment, they would seem to be losers by their obedience. There were two promises in the Bible which were particularly comfortable to little Marten's mother: these were, first, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Prov. iii. 5, 6); and the other was, - Leave thy fatherless children; I will preserve them alive : and let thy widows trust in me.' (Jer. xlix. 11.)
“ It happened, a few weeks before her death, as little Marten's mother was lying on her couch, meditating on these promises, that one Mrs. Short, who lived in Tenterden, and spent her time in gossipping from house to house, came bustling into the room-where Marten's mother lay. 'I am come to tell you,' said she, “ that 'Squire Blake's lady will be bere just now.'- - It is some time since I have seen Mrs. Blake,' said Marten's mother; but it is kind of her to visit me in
trouble.' “ Whilst she was speaking, Mr. Blake's carriage came up to the door, and Mrs. Blake stepped out. She came into the parlour in a very free and friendly manner; and, taking Marten's mother by the hand, said she was sorry to see her looking
Indeed;' said the sick woman, 'I am very ill, dear madam; and I think that I cannot live longer than a few weeks: but God's will be done! I have no trouble in leaving this world, but on account of little Marten : yet I know that God will take care of him, and that I ought not to be troubled on his account.'
" Mrs. Blake then answered ; As you have begun to speak upon this subject, I will tell you what particularly brought me here to-day.' She then told her, that, as she and Mr. Blake had a large fortune and no family, they were willing to take little Marten at her death, and provide for
offer-for a very
him as their own. This was a very great and kind offer, and most people would have accepted it with joy: but the pious mother recollected that Mr. Blake was one who declared himself to be without religion; and she could not think of leaving her little boy to such a man. For what is à man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels ; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.' (Matt. xvi. 26, 27.) ACcordingly, she thanked Mrs. Blake for her kind
kind offer it; was; and said that she should feel obliged to her till her dying moment. But,' added she, “I cannot accept of your friendship for my little boy, as I have a very dear Friend who would be disobliged if Ldid so.'
6. Mrs. Blake turned red, and was offended; for she had never once thought it possible that Marten's mother should refuse her offer: and Mrs. Short lifted up her hands and eyes, and looked as if she thought the poor sick woman little better than a fool.
“Well,' said Mrs. Blake, 'I am surprised, I must confess : however, you must know your own affairs best; but this I must say, that I think Marten may live long enough without having such another offer.'
sv. And I must say, that you are standing in the child's way,' said Mrs. Short. Why, Mr. Blake can do ten times more for the child than his father could have done, had he lived a hundred years: and I think it is very ungrateful and foolish in you to make such a return for Mr. and Mrs. Blake's kindness.'
". And pray,' said Mrs. Blake, “who is this dear Friend who would be so much disobliged by your allowing us to take the boy?'
“! suppose it is 'Squire Broom,' said Mrs. Short ; ' for who else can it be?'
«Yes,' said Mrs. Blake ; 'I have no doubt it is; for Mr. Broom never loved my husband. But,' added she, looking at Marten's mother, you do very wrong if you think that Mr. Broom could do as much for the child (even if he were willing) as my husband. Mr. Broom is not rich, and he has a great many children ; whereas Mr. Blake has a very handsome fortune, and no near relation in the world. However, as you have once refused, I do not think I would take the boy now, if you were to ask me.'
“« I am very sorry,' answered Marten's mother, 'to appear unthankful to you; and perhaps, as I am a dying woman, I ought to tell you the true reason of my refusing your offer, though it may make you angry.
I do not doubt but that you would be kind to little Marten, and I know that you have more to give bim than ever his father could have had.' She then, in a very delicate manner, hinted at Mr. Blake's irreligious opinions, and acknowledged that it was on the account of these that she had refused his protection for her
· The Lord Jesus Christ,' added she, is the dear Friend I spoke of, my dear Madam, and the One I am afraid to offend by accepting Mr. Blake's offer. You are welcome to tell Mr. Blake all I say; and add, if you please, that, as long as my life is spared, I shall daily pray that God may turn his heart, and give him faith in that dear Saviour, who is now my only hope and comfort.'
“ Mrs. Blake made no answer: but got up, and, wishing Marten's mother and Mrs. Short a good morning, went away very much offended.
" When Mrs. Short was left with the sick woman, she faited not to speak her mind to her, and that very plainly, by telling her that she considered her little better than a fool for what she had done. Marten's mother answered, “I am willing to be counted a fool for Christ's sake.'
“ The next day Marten's mother sent for 'Squire Broom; and, when she had told him all that had passed between herself and Mrs. Blake, she asked him if he would take charge of poor little Marten when she was dead, and also of what little money she might leave behind her; and see that the child was put to a school in which he might learn his duty towards God.—'Squire Broom promised that he would be a friend to the boy to the best of his power; and Marten's mother was sure that he would do what he promised, for he was a man who feared God. And now, not to make our story too long, I must tell you that Marten's mother grew weaker and weaker; and, about three weeks after she had held this discourse with Mrs. Blake, she was found one morning dead in her bed ; and it was supposed she died without pain, as Susan the maid, who slept in the same room, had not heard her move or utter a sigh. She was buried in Tenterden church-yard ; and 'Squire Broom, as he had promised, took charge of all her affairs.
“ And now, after having done with little Marten's good mother, I shall give you the history of the little boy himself, from the day when he was awoke and found his poor mother dead; and you shall judge whether God heard his mother's prayer, and whether he took care of the poor little orphan.
“ When his mother was in good health, Marten always slept in her arms; but when she became ill, he slept with Susan, in a little bed near his mother. He used every morning, when he awoke, to creep into his mother's bed, to kiss her: the