Imatges de pÓgina

and John were dishing the dinner to take into the parlour.

As soon as Mrs. Fairchild and the children and Mrs. Barker (for Mrs. Barker was at Mrs. Fairchild's that day) heard that Mary Bush was come, they came into the kitchen to welcome her, and to inquire after Charles's health, and to give him the present they had got ready for him. When Charles received his coat and shoes and stockings, he first thanked God and then his friends, and then, looking at his grandmother, he said, “I shall be warm now, grandmother.” “ God is good, my child !” said Mary Bush : “I have always found him so.

These were the very things my little lad wanted. Kind ladies," (she added, looking at Mrs. Fairchild and Mrs. Barker,) “ I and his father had begun to put a little money together to buy these things for him ; but the goodness of. God, through your means, has provided us with them already, making out St. Peter's words : • Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you.'

(1 Pet. v. 7.) After dinner, as there was no evening service in the church, Mr. Fairchild read the Evening Service, in his kitchen, to all the family; after which, Mrs. Barker and Mrs. Fairchild sat talking a while to Mary Bush, and Henry took Charles up into his little room to talk with him.

“Charles,” said Henry, "since I met you that day in the coppice, I have thought a great deal about you. I am sorry you are so ill, and I don't like to think of your dying. I hope you won't die.”

“Master Henry," answered Charles, " to be sure God only knows what is to be ; but I certainly think that I am not long for this world. Since I saw you, I have at times become very full of pain just about my heart, and the pain is sometimes so bad that I cannot help crying out; and my grandmother


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told my father that she thought I never should get quit of that pain till death.”

Is the pain very bad ?”_said Henry.

“Oh, very bad, Master Henry, very bad indeed! it pulls me, as it were, quite double," said Charles. “God give me grace to bear it with patience, and to cry, 'Thy will be done,' till the happy time comes, when, through my blessed Saviour's death, I hope to be set free from all pain.”

“Then you really wish to die ?” said Henry.

“ Yes, Master Henry, I do," answered Charles : “and for this reason, because I know myself to be a grievous sinner, and one that cannot live a day without doing that which is evil: therefore why should I grieve, because God is pleased to take me so soon from this state of sin and sorrow ?

“ But still,” said Henry, “it is sad to feel so much pain as you say you do.”

“ Pain is hard to bear, Master Henry, to be sure," answered Charles ; “ but, then, my father tells me that whatever is God's will, it is our duty to bear; and, more than that, he will help us to bear it : for he will not tempt us above what we are able to bear.”

“I do not quite understand you,” said Henry.

“What I mean is this,” answered Charles: "God made you and

me, and therefore he has a right to do what he will with us. If it is his will that I should die very soon, and you live a long time, we ought to be content with what he orders. Our business is to look which way God leads, and follow on as closely and quietly as we can, being sure that ' our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, will work for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' (2 Cor. iv. 17.)

“ Charles," said Henry, “I should like to see you very often ; and if my papa will give me leave, I will

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meet you in the coppice every day, after I have done my lesson. I like to hear you talk.'

“ It is not much good that I can say, Master Henry," answered Charles ; " for I am a poor sinful child :

: yet I shall be always happy to meet you in the coppice, for you have been kind to me, and so have good madam and master.”

In the evening little Charles and his grandmother went home; and from that time Henry used to go every day, when he had learnt his lessons, and the weather would allow him, to see little Charles. Sometimes, when it was not very cold, they met and walked in the coppice ; but as the winter came on, and little Charles grew weaker, they oftener met and sat by Mrs. Bush's fire. As the time of Charles's death drew near, and the pains of his body became greater, his faith and trust in his Redeemer grew more lively ; his thoughts of himself, in like manner, became more lowly and humble. One morning, not long before he died, Mrs. Bush was cutting some apples to make a pie ; and one of the apples was quite rotten all through, although the outside was quite smooth and looked well. “ That apple,” said Charles, speaking to Henry, “is like my heart by nature—all bad to the very core-not one bit of good in it; and yet I remember the time when I thought myself a good boy."

Why, even now," said Henry, “I don't like to be thought a sinner, although I know that I am one ; but you are not ashamed to be thought a sinner, Charles : you do not seem to wish to hide your faults from anybody.”

“Why, Master Henry," answered Charles, “it is no time for me to be playing the hypocrite when I am going to die. I feel that I have not many days to live: this world is departing fast from me, and the next coming nearer my view : the grave is before me, and heaven and hell beyond, as it were but a

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step: and though I might deceive my father and mother and other people, and pretend to be better than I am, yet I cannot deceive God. No! I am a miserable sinner, Master Henry ; one in whose heart sin has lived and ruled, abiding continually, growing and flourishing, and that from the time of my birth, till God humbled me, and opposed it by his Holy Spirit.”

“What do you mean by sin abiding and flourishing in your heart always ?” said Henry.

“Why, Master Henry,” answered Charles, “I don't know how to make you understand what I mean; but I will try to explain myself. When I was a little child, the first thoughts I had about good and bad people were, that some men were good, and would go to heaven, and that some were bad. I thought my father was good, and my mother, and my grandmother, and Mrs. Fairchild, and Mrs. Somers, and Mrs. Barker, and such ; and I thought that Farmer Freeman and 'Squire Collins, and he that was hanged on the gibbet at Blackwood, and such folks, were bad men. As to myself I thought that I was a very good little boy; and my brothers and sisters not quite so good, to be sure—bu idea of their sinful natures, or of my own. older, I became sensible that I had some faults : and then my father taught me about Adam eating the forbidden fruit, and I got some kind of notion that there was evil in my heart; but I thought there was good in my heart too, as well as evil, and a great deal of good too : but since God has been pleased to touch my heart, particularly since my sickness, I have become sensible that by nature there is no manner of good at all in any man's heart : nay, that sin is so strong in us, that we can no more stop from sinning than we can from breathing." Charles," said Henry,.“ I know that you

understand these things better than I do, yet I do not

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quite understand what you mean when you say we cannot stop from sinning. Now, here have I been sitting this half-hour talking to you-I don't think I have said anything bad - how then håve I been sinning ?”

“Master Henry," answered Charles, “I trust and hope that your heart is not altogether in its natural state, but that the Spirit of God has already begun to work a change in it; so that you are not altogether under the power and dominion of sin : yet I know that sin is not dead in you, nor ever will be, until that blessed time, when in the morning of the resurrection, your sinful body will awake in the likeness of your Redeemer.”

“But,” said Henry,“ how have I sinned since I came here! Explain to me, Charles." Why," answered Charles,

- there is one way

in which we all sin continually; and that is in loving and pleasing ourselves more than God. In all our thoughts we ourselves come foremost, and God (if he come at all) afterwards, and this with the best of people. The love of ourselves is always present with us, always mixing itself with every thought; so that we may be said to worship ourselves in the place of God: and from this sin, Master Henry, we never


“When you are dead, Charles,” said Henry, “I shall often think of you, and go to see your grave. You have taught me many things which I never knew before.

God bless you, my dear little boys,” said Mary Bush ; “living or dying, God bless you both!”

A few days before Christmas the weather became very cold, and a great change at the same time took place in little Charles. Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild, and Mrs. Somers, notwithstanding the hard frost, often went to see him as he drew nearer his end, and were much pleased with the happy state of mind in which

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