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the little that she has must be assiduously cultivated to answer even the little that is required; but she must not aspire to be more than God has made her. If we might choose for our children, we should be wise, perhaps; but why do I talk of choosing, when God has determined ? To be ambitious for them of talent or intellect, is no other than to be ambitious of wealth, or rank, or other sublunary good; and to make any undue expenditure of time, or care, or money, or, still worse, any compromise of principle, for the attainment of it, is to give to vanity what is due elsewhere : for he who tried wisdom as well as folly, determined of the one as of the other, “ This also is vanity.” The excessive attempts at this, I do believe, in some cases, to amount almost to sin: certainly to an over-estimate of what is so dearly purchased. But on the other hand, as wealth, and rank, and every other earthly distinction, is given of God, and must be used and answered for, so I must believe also that the faculties of the mind are not to be accepted or rejected at our pleasure, as if our task of life were left for us to choose; but to be cultivated, appropriated, and respected, in others and ourselves, as pertaining to our Master, and holden for his service till his coming.
When a fine, decisive spirit is recognised, it is curious to see how the space clears around a man, and leaves him room and freedom. A man without decision can never be said to belong to himself.
I DARE say it has happened to you often, to pause upon some eminence attained, and, looking back on the space you have gone over, to perceive you have not reached it by the nearest road. You have climbed hedges where the gates stood open; torn yourself, perhaps, with brambles, where the way was cleared, and, though your object is attained at last, you have sat down, wearied, and exhausted, by a walk that might have been easy, had you found the shortest and the plainest path. If it has thus happened to you, and if looking from that eminence upon
way you came, you beheld other walkers wearying and wasting themselves with like mistakes ; scrambling over obstacles that are not really in the way, embarrassed only because themselves or out of it; would you not try to make a signal to them, and point out, if possible, what you see, but they cannot, of the ground before you? Exactly such is my position in existence. I want to tell my story, but no one will listen to it. I have made signals in vain: the walkers are too busy with their scramble to observe me. Unless you will listen to me, of which, from your profession, I have conceived a hope, I have little chance of being
heard. You, perhaps, may find the means of making known my story, and will be more attended to than I can hope to be.
I was born between the Thames and the Tweed, and had parents; a father and a mother, and many relatives besides. Not foreseeing that I should ever write my story, I kept no memorandum of my days. Journals were less in fashion then than they are now ; few, therefore, are the incidents of childhood I can remember. The most vivid traces are of feelings and impressions rather than of events, and these are most important to my purpose. The first, the
very first thing I remember to have heard, was, that God was the disposer of all things; the object of obedience and love ; the guide, the end, and aim of my existence; in comparison with whose word, and the eternal things with which his name stands connected, the interests of this world were but as the light dust upon the balance, and the opinions of men but as the babbling of ignorance and folly. It was so explained to me in the books from which I lisped my earliest lesson ; it was told me so of my
mother as I sat upon her knee, listening to the tales of Jesus' love, and dropping my first tears at the story of Jesus' sufferings. That the kingdom of God was
one thing needful,” to which all else was to be added as subservient, however little I understood the position, was to the best of my recollection, the first thing I knew, the first that I believed.
As years advanced, I heard it repeated everywhere ; I repeated it daily in my prayers, wrote it in my themes, learned it in my lessons, and from my fond and anxious parents, had it pressed upon my mind in every form their pious interest in my welfare could devise. And now, in looking back upon my bygone years, I can remember no period at
which I doubted the truth of this earliest lesson, that religion was every thing, and the world was nothing. What my childish disposition was, I cannot well remember. Children seldom look inward on themselves; if they examine anything, it is their actions, not the motives and principles from which they spring. But perfectly well I recollect, there came one day to our house what I now understand, though I did not then, to be a professor of phrenology; and that having duly scanned the proportions of my head, he pronounced, among many phrases too hard for my retention, that I had large Benevolence, an extraordinary developement of Love, of Approbation, and considerable manifestation of Cautiousness. I remember to have wondered much what this might mean: and not understanding this occult science, I cannot say I know any better now than I did then ; but I was comforted by hearing it said they were excellent qualities, particularly for
My parents-need I say it after what has been already written ?-were what is called religious people; and though they were numbered with the dead before I was capable of forming an adequate opinion of the state of their hearts, I have every reason to suppose they were what they professed to be, children of God and followers of Christ. Most of the people about us were of the same character; and the conversation I was habitually a party to, tended to confirm my early impression of the supreme and exclusive importance of divine things. Exceptions, however, there must have been : for I remember the first time that the family retired without the customary prayers, my mother explained to me that some elderly relations being present, who were not used to such things, it was expedient
to omit the form that evening, lest it should disgust them with religion. I have a vague recollection also of certain Sundays, when our customary place of worship was changed, with remarks which I could not then appreciate, about exciting prejudice in the
persons who were staying with us. Some memory I have, besides, of childish wonder at things done upon occasions which were habitually prohibited: and things omitted under circumstances to which the greatest importance was used to be attached. But these things were not explained to me; the childish wonder at a first occurrence wore away; and without receiving actual instruction to that purpose, I became old enough and wise enough to perceive, that however necessary any thing may be, there are times when it becomes expedient to omit it; and however wrong a thing may be, there will come occasions by which it may
To the things which immediately concerned myself, I was a more attentive listener; and
vivid in my memory still are the impressions made by what I heard. Upon the smaller matters, whether I was to be taught this thing or that thing, whether this person or that was to be admitted to my companionship, whether I was to go to this place, or to that place, a thousand arguments were held in my presence; and having usually an inclination to one side of every question, it was with no uninterested curiosity I learned, that books objectionable in a religious point of view, might be given me to improve my mind; companions decidedly disapproved, might be admitted to improve my connexions; and that a multitude of things against which many a Scripture was quoted, and many a pious argument advanced, and many an anxious aspiration breathed