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gate of John Trueman's cottage, the children stopped to take the cake out of Betty's basket, and to cut shares of it for John's little ones. Whilst they were doing this, their papa and mamma had reached the cottage, and were sitting down at the door when they came up.
I promised to make my reader acquainted with John Trueman. He was a poor working man, and had a wife and six children. But I should not call him poor: I should rather call him rich; for he had cause to hope that his wife and all his children (that is, all who were old enough to inspire such hopes) had been brought to the knowledge of God; and as for John himself, there was reason to think that he was one of the most faithful servants of God in all the country round.
John Trueman's cottage was a neat little place, standing in a garden, adorned with pinks, and rosemary, and southernwood. John himself was gone out to his daily work when Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild came to his house; but his wife Mary was at home, and was just giving a crust of bread and a bit of cheese to a very poor woman, who had stopped at the gate with a baby in her arms.
"Why, Mary," said Mr. Fairchild, "I hope it is a sign that you are getting rich, as you have bread and cheese to spare."
"Sir," she answered, "this poor woman is in want, and my children will never miss what I have given her."
"You are very right," answered Mrs. Fairchild, "be that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord,' and the Lord will pay it again;" and at the same time, she slipped a shilling into the poor woman's hand.
John and Mary Trueman had six children: the eldest, Thomas, was working in the garden; and little Billy, his youngest brother, who was but three
years old, was carrying out the weeds as his brother plucked them up. Mary, the eldest daughter, was taking care of the baby; and Kitty, the second, sat sewing, whilst her brother Charles, a little boy of seven years of age, read the Bible aloud to her. They were all neat and clean, though dressed in very coarse clothes.
When Lucy and Emily and Henry divided the cake amongst the poor children, they looked very much pleased; but they said that they would not eat any of it till their father came in at night. that is the case," said Mrs. Fairchild," you shall have a little tea and sugar, to give your father with your cake:" so she gave them some out of the basket. Mary Trueman first thanked God, and then Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild, for these good things; and she, with all her children, followed Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild with courteseys and bows to the corner of the lane.
As Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild and their children passed through the village, they stopped at the schools, and found every thing as they could wish; -the children all clean, neat, cheerful, and busy; and the master and mistress very attentive. They were much pleased to see every thing in such good order in the schools; and having passed this part of the village, they turned aside into a large meadow, through which was the path to Nurse's cottage. Many sheep, with their lambs, were feeding in this meadow and here, also, were abundance of primroses, cowslips, daisies, and buttercups; and the songs of the birds which were in the hedge-rows was exceedingly delightful.
As soon as the children came in sight of Nurse's little cottage, they ran on before, to kiss Nurse, and to tell her that they were come to spend the day with her. The poor woman was very glad, because she loved Mr. Fairchild's children very
dearly; she therefore kissed them, and took them to see her little grandson Tommy, who was asleep in the cradle. By this time Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild and Betty were come up; and whilst Betty prepared the dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild sat talking with her at the door of the cottage,
Their discourse ran upon the mercy and goodness of God to his people, and poor Nurse especially was full of gratitude for what had been lately done for her son; for this young man had for a short time past given evidence of a great change of heart, insomuch that he made his mother and wife extremely happy, whereas he had formerly given them great uneasiness. "These are blessings," said Mr. Fairchild to Nurse, "for which you cannot be too thankful."
Betty and Joan laid the cloth upon the fresh grass before the cottage door; and when Joan had boiled some potatoes, Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild sat down to dinner, with the children; after which, the children went to play in the meadow, by the brook-side, till it was time for them to be going home. But before they parted from Nurse, I should tell you that Mr. Fairchild read a chapter in, the Bible aloud; and afterwards they all prayed together, that God would bless them until they should meet again and Mrs. Fairchild having given Nurse the tea and sugar, the good old woman kissed the dear children, and they returned home with their papa and mamma,
"What a happy day we have had!" said Lucy, as she walked home between her papa and mamma: every thing has gone well with us since we set out; and every one we have seen has been kind and good to us; and the weather has been so fine, and every thing looks so pretty all around us!" "It is very true," said Mr. Fairchild, that we have had a happy day, my dear; for we have conversed with no persons to-day but those who live
in the fear of God. If every body in this world feared God, the world would again become nearly such as it was before Adam sinned; but by reason of sin, all lands mourn.'
"Was the world very pretty, Papa," said Emily, "before wickedness came into it?"
"It is written in the first chapter of Genesis," said Mr. Fairchild, that, when God had made all things, he looked on them, and, behold, they were very good. Adam and Eve were made in
the image of God: they were no doubt most lovely to look upon; and they had no angry, wicked passions to disturb them. They were placed in a garden watered by four streams, and in which was every kind of tree pleasant to the sight or good for food. There were no evil beasts then in the world; no sickness or sorrow, no pain, no death; but when Adam sinned, all these evils came into the world."
If men were to leave off being wicked, Papa," said Lucy, "would pain and sorrow leave them?"
"Men can never leave off sinning, my dear," said Mr. Fairchild," because sin is in our hearts, and will continue to trouble us to our dying day; but in proportion as the people of any town, or village, or house, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and love him, they will become more and more happy; and in proportion as people give way to sin, they become more miserable. In those heathen countries, where God is not known at all, the people are poor, miserable, cruel, and dirty: they do not know what it is to be happy: the fields look barren and desolate, and the very beasts share their misery. I remember a time when Nurse and her son did not love God; and then they were not happy, but were always quarrelling and miserable: their little cottage did not look clean, and orderly, and pleasant, as it now does, but was always in uproar and confusion: but, now that God has given them
clean hearts, you see how happy they are. We must have clean hearts, before we could be happy even in heaven: without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.' (Heb. xii. 14.)"
By this time Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild, with their children, were got home; and they were very much tired, for they had walked a long way that day. Before they went to bed, however, Mr. Fairchild taught his children a very pretty prayer, which I shall put down here for your use.
A Prayer for the Restoration of the Image of God, in which Man was first made.
O, Lord God Almighty, blessed Three in One! it is written in the first chapter of Genesis that thou didst make man in thine own image-that is, without sin in him-with a clean and innocent heart: but we are fallen from the innocence in which God first made our father Adam: our hearts are not good now; no, they are very wicked. When Adam and Eve had no sin, they lived in the Garden of Eden, and were never unhappy: then they loved thee, O Lord God, and loved each other with all their hearts but, when sin came into them, they hid themselves from God, and were angry with each other. O Lord God, give us clean and holy hearts, that we may love thee and live in peace with each other: without new hearts we cannot be happy: we should not be happy even in heaven, without clean hearts. O Lord, we ask for clean hearts, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, thy beloved Son, who for our sakes was nailed upon the cross, and there gave up his life for us. O Lord, hear the prayers of us poor wicked children, and give us clean and holy hearts.