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her happiness, it would half introduce another subject, in which he felt he had a higher interest.
A prudent reserve made her at first rather silent on so delicate a subject ; but the natural ease and sweetness with which Charles urged it, at length convinced her she had nothing to fear ; but might speak with that freedom which a growing friendship required. She accordingly wenton to say
It is but a few years since I might, with propriety, think or speak on a point, which I deem of vital importance to the happiness of individuals and of society. During this period, I have made my observations on the condition of those with whom I am acquainted; some of whom have augmented their enjoyments by marrying, and others have lessened them. After all my observations, I am certainly no enemy to matrimony ; nor am I a friend to indiscriminate marriages. If some are miserable in that state, the fault is not to be charged on the state itself, but on the improprieties of the persons who enter upon it. Could I be certain that a negligent or vicious husband would fall to my lot, should I hereafter marry, or that we should live in a state of contention, I should much rather take the vow of perpetual celibacy. For peace, with all the inconveniencies of a single life, is much to be preferred, to sour tempers and the strife of words.
Yet there are many reasons for believing, if persons come under these bonds from right motives, and execute the duties of this state with diligence and delight, there must, on the whole, be a balance of enjoyment in their favor. No state of life is without its trials, and there are some peculiar to the married state; and there are enjoyments also equally peculiar. It may, perhaps, be objected, that my state of life will pot allow me to judge correctly ; yet it seems a dictate of reason, as well as of scripture, that it is not good for man to be alone. The human heart is made capable of sympathy; and where can the sympathetic powers act with so much refinement and freedom, and meet such a full and satisfactory return, as in a married state ?
Your views, said Charles, appear to be just, and there is but one thing which will hinder me from the future reality. What is that ? said Prudentia. The only person who now possesses my heart, and to whom I could willingly give my hand, may refuse the offer, replied Charles. The confusion they both felt, would have put an end to the conversation,
had it not been necessary to end it, on account of having come to the house where the sick person lay.
They entered, and found him extremely ill. It was but an inferior habitation, and but poorly furnished with the comforts of life. The look of compassion was evidently depicted in Prudentia's countenance. Frequent visitations anong the distressed, had taught her to administer to their bodies and souls. She readily assisted the afflicted wife in adjusting the affairs of the house, which had been neglected through her intense care of her sick husband.
Charles eyed the whole with a pleasure he was incapable of describing. He felt no less than Prudentia ; but his situation in life had afforded him less opportunity to display the feelings of a compassionate heart, which in her appeared so natural and easy.
When she had so adjusted things as to render it proper to speak of the concerns of his soul, she entered on that part of her duty, with the ease and cheerfulness of an adult Christian. The concerns of his soul were not omitted, till those of his body were attended to, because the former was judged of subordinate worth ; but she knew in some instances it is necessary to open the way to the mind, by beginning with secondary kindness, that admonitions may not lose their beneficial efects. She had learned that haste and imprudence, sometimes defeat the end of all charitable labors; and it be. ing her wish to do all possible good, she had studied to adapt her endeavors to times and circumstances.
Prudentia first enquired into the state of his mind, and desired to know whether, amidst outward afflictions, he felt Christ within. He could not answer in the affirmative; but expressed some concern for his soul. She spoke to him with angelic sweetness of temper, but with words as piercing as a drawn sword.
You must be sensible, said Prudentia, that you are fallen and depraved by nature, and by practice a sinner against God. And you have great need to feel your condition, and to repent at the feet of sovereign mercy. Adopt the language of the publican, and let it be your constant prayer « God be merciful to me a sinner;" till the gracious Saviour shall speak, your sins forgiven, and renew you in the spirit of your mind.
If you approach God as a penitent, perishing, guilty offender, you have every encouragement from the mouth of God
you can ask. His language is, “ Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, aņd I will give you rest.” “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your soul.”.
“ He that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."
Such is the language of inspiration for your encouragement, and I hope you will not hear it in vain. Religion isof the last importance to you, whether you live or die. There is no real happiness in time nor eternity, without it. Should God be so good as to raise you up to health again; it is to be hoped you will not forget this admonition ; for God afflicts you, that you may be made a partaker of his holiness. Let nothing, therefore, hinder his gracious design. Were you now in the enjoyment of divine consolation through faith, it would greatly alleviate your sufferings, and enable you to look forward on the grave, with calmness and resignation.
It need not be told, that the poor man wept, and expressed a resolution to give himself up to God for salvation. When Prudentia heard this, joy sparkled in her eyes, and she added other words of encouragement. When she ceased speaking, Charles seconded her endeavors, and the poor sick man was. almost brought to realize Christian hope.
Charles was so affected with his condition, he asked leave to pray, which he did with a fervor and aptitude suited to the circumstance. Til now, the sick man had never heartily prayed to God; but he united with such warmth and sincerity, it was evident he could not long remain unblest. And so it was, for that very night he was brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
Prudentia, on leaving them, slipped into the hands of his wife a little money, to serve their present necessities, which Charles observing, cheerfully added to the scanty fund. They then left the afflicted family, with that kind of satisfaction. which all good people feel, when they have done the like duties with an eye single to the glory of God.
They were hardly beyond the gate, when Charles, re. marked-It is more blessed to give than to receive. This I have often realized, said Prudentia. My father has several poor tenants, and there are other poor about us, to whom I administer. My father often gives me money for this purpose, and I usually save a part of what he allows me for personal expenditures, for the purposes of charity; and I earn something now and then by my needle, which also increases, my little fund. for the poor.,
Were I blest with the means, said Charles, and could I be united with a person of my own disposition, surely the poor should bless me, and the blessing of those ready to perish, should come upon me. He was just going to say, I know of no person so well answering this description, as Prudentia Philanthropos. But that moment they were interrupted with a cry of distress from a neighboring field. Compassion triumphed over all other considerations, and they hastened to the spot without uttering another word. They found the son of a tenant, who had incautiously climbed into a tree in quest of birds eggs, fallen to the ground, and lay groaning and weltering in blood. It was a moving spectacle ; they both wept. My dear little creature, said Prudentia, with a heart full of pity, and a tone of the tenderest concern, how could you hurt you so ? He had fainted with loss of blood; he could not speak. Charles raised his head, while Prudentia held to his nose her smelling bottle. He revived. They began to examine the bleeding wound, and made preparation to stop the blood. They closed it together in the best manner they could, and Prudentia, making a bandage of her handkerchief, bound it up. Taking him in their arms, and carrying him to his parents, they assisted in dressing his wound anew, gave him some restoratives, and left him, to go home.
It was very providential, said Prudentia, that we were within hearing of the poor child, or I think he must have died without help. I think it very providential also, said Charles, that I have so fair an opportunity to witness the good effects of religion and a good education, in one of the most amiable females in the world. Prudentia was so confounded at this unexpected commendation, she lost the power of utterance for some minutes. During which time, Charles silently feared he had gone too far, and had given offence.
At length, she said, I think this is too fattering, and may prove a temptation to pride. I would not, replied he, give any occasion to pride, for I am ready with you, to trace all good back to its origin, the grace of God; but pardon me, if I say I am still of the same opinion; and the opinion is not the creature of fancy, or the “ hectic of a moment;" but a growing principle of the heart, which is always fed by your presence and conversation. Prudentia blushed, but made no reply. Charles continued, I have always detested those sudden sallies of the fancy, which, like Jonah's gourd, grow and wither in a night;
Butikat' well grounded esteem, which lays hold, not on a mere shadow of human form, but of substantial virtues, and commanding dispositions, is a state of soul, which can make two intimately one. He would have gone on, and declared directly the chaste emotions of a virtuous soul, but they just then arrived at her father's gate, hence he broke off the conversation with a reluctant heart.
It may not be improper to say, Prudentia was no stranger to the feelings and affections hinted by Charles. Her affections had acknowledged a predilection, from her first acquaintance, with him. But she had been taught to keep her passions within due bounds, and neither to yield to their merciless power, nor expose herself to ridicule and dislike, by a hasty and indecent declaration. But what Charles had hinted, so well accorded with her own sentiments and feelings, that she readily guessed his meaning. She went therefore immediately to her chamber, and left Charles to his own thoughts.
When lest alone, he began to think there was reason to hope for success ; but yet feared it might be merely illusive, one moment he blamed himself for not speakiug out at once, so as to be relieved from the uncertainty and anxiety he felt,the next, feared he had already gone too far, and that. Pruer dentia had retired from him in disgust.
When called to tea, they labored to conceal their emotions, but still they were visible to all, who should have the least suspicions of them. Her parents, however, observed nothing , unusual, and had they seen it, would have had no objection to the final issue; though both would have been thought worthy of blaine, if their passions were not kept under. the: control of a sober judgment and a sound piety. At table, Mr. P. said, Charles, I have been thinking ofi
' making the offer of my house for your home, at least for the: present. And as I hate idleness, I will give you the charge of my farm, and you may take an account of the out-goes and incomes, and render the whole to me. I am by no means disposed to make a servant of you, yet if there be time beside your other avocations, it will be highly gratifying to me, ta) see you in the garden or in the field occasionally.
The season is too far advanced, to accept of your propos sal the present year, said Charles ;. especially as I intend, to; travel further, after my return from the Geusto. I must therec