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THE HOUSE OF GOD.
Tell me, on what holy ground
In a cottage vale she dwells
The tenor of our story has hitherto been almost exclusively of a grave character. We have been led to observe the influence of high religious principle and calm devotion, in relieving the toilsome drudgery of worldly care. But the portrait would be incomplete, if we declined to
follow the Churchman into those scenes of earthly, but not carnal joy, with which a merciful God has brightened the path of life.
A churchman's course, and in some degree his character, is varied by times and circumstances. Days may arrive-yea, they may be even now at hand—when it shall be needful
" to steel thy melting heart To act the martyr's sternest part:"
sternly, yet cheerfully, to forego the comforts of domestic joy, and, like the first Christians, endure the cross of persecution, and despise the shame. Happy those who are prepared for such a day! Happy, if by present self-denial and chastening of the soul, our nerves are strung for whatsoever trials God may send upon his Church! Yet, hitherto, a kind Providence has spared us from suffering. England still enjoys the blessing of domestic peace, and unmolested social worship. Her “pure domestic shrine" is unpolluted by violence, her parochial altar uninvaded. Let us, therefore, while we may, “serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice unto him with reverence.” The scene of our narrative must now shift from the busy courts and squares of Lincoln's Inn to the pleasant village of Welbourne.
Few sounds fall so cheerfully on the good churchman's ear, as the merry peal which ushers in the morning of the Lord's day. His heart is elated with more than usual gladness. Visions of his early days, when first he heard those sounds, and all was hope and happy innocence, float over his mind, and lighten it of many a weary load of care. The Sunday seems to him to form a connecting link between the pure days of innocent childhood and those blessed visions of eternity, when the Church triumphant shall assemble before the throne of God in heaven.
Such were the feelings which gladdened the heart of Arthur Ridley on the morning after his arrival at the house of his friend. The eastern sun gleamed through his window, and it was in harmony with the sunshine of his soul. For all within was bright and hopeful. The cares of his profession were left behind him in the busy city, and only prepared him to enjoy more keenly the calm retirement of the country and the society of his friend.
The scene which presented itself to him from
the window of his bedchamber corresponded well with the train of his feelings. He looked across a neat garden, directly upon the village church, and a cluster of cottages which formed a portion of the village; for there was no care taken to skreen them from the view; there were no high walls, no “spring-guns and man-traps.” A village parsonage ought to be like the heart of its master-free, open, and accessible.
The rector, though unmarried, did not live in secluded bachelorship. His younger sister spent much of her time at his house. Mary Herbert was one of those delightful beings to whom many an English home owes its brightest charm. Beautiful, accomplished, and animated; and, what is far more excellent, kind-hearted, simpleminded, and religious, she not only gladdened her brother's home, but greatly aided him in his usefulness. Mary was the dispenser of kindness throughout the parish; young and old alike loved her: the “ blessings of the fatherless” were upon her, and the 6 widow's heart sang with joy” when she appeared amongst them. Long may England's daughters hold the place which they now so often occupy, as the medium of charitable feelings between the rich and the poor!
her brother'a, eligious, she not safted, simple“ Are you as kind as ever in teaching the Sunday-school children?” said Arthur to Miss Herbert, when breakfast was finished.
"I take as much interest in them as I used to do," answered Mary, and I hope you will again condescend to be my assistant. Do come and see the neat school which George has built.”
This invitation was given with so much warmth, (it might be her anxiety to show a visitor the result of her brother's liberality, or it might be from recollection of the talent for teaching which Arthur had displayed on former occasions,) that he could not for an instant refuse : so they were soon equipped and on their way to the school-house. It happened that they were ten minutes too early, which gave opportunity for a walk round the rectory gardens ; and then they were surprised to find that they were ten minutes too late. Mary's scholars wondered at her want of punctuality, for they had scarcely ever been kept waiting before; and they could not help observing that her manner was unusually distracted. She forgot the verse which they were reading, and asked the same question several times over. But duty, prompting a silent prayer, soon enabled her to recal her scattered thoughts, and she diligently en