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certainly cure us of the foolish habit of looking on the stations and advantages of others, and saying or thinking, ' If I were you, what great things I would do and enjoy !'
“ It may sometimes be very useful to reverse the sentiment, and looking at our own circumstances and duties, with a sincere desire to discharge them aright, to bring before us one of the best models of wisdom, diligence, perseverance, and piety, that have been placed within our knowledge, and say, 'If he were in my place, how would he act ? This, of course, must be done in subordination to the express rule of duty given us in Scripture. When we have explicit directions given us there, we need no human standard to teach us what is right; but we may safely derive from well-selected examples that which corroborates and illustrates the principles we derive from Scripture, and teaches us the practicability and pleasurableness of obedience to its dictates, as exemplified by sinful and imperfect creatures like ourselves.
“ And what would Jesus have done in our circumstances ? He is the only infallible and perfect model. He passed through scenes of duty and trial like our own, that He might both sympathize with our difficulties, and leave us an example that we should follow in his steps."
“IT WAS NOT ALWAYS SO."
Ho!” said Frank, “a new stile to farmer White's rickyard! I suppose it is intended to keep the cattle from trespassing; but, as the people have been saying to you, this morning, uncle, it was not always so.'
“No," I observed, “I remember, when it was quite open, being frightened by a wild bull. I am glad this fence is put up; for though I am so much taller and stouter than I was then, it is not exactly pleasant to meet a vicious animal. Do you not think it a very great improvement, uncle ?”
Yes, Samuel, I do ; but it seems all the parish is not just of our mind; the alteration was very violently opposed by some of the people, and the stile, as fast as it was put up by day, was pulled down at night."
“But why did they object to it, uncle ? Did it do them any harm? It is a good safe stile, that any body may easily get over.
Oh, yes, they can get over it easily enough, if they choose to do so, the only objection I ever heard against it, was, that “it was not always so.' I took some pains, at the request of the farmer and some of the neighbours, to reason with the opponents of the measure, and to convince them that it was a public good, and could not be in any way injurious : but my endeavours were fruitless, they
would yield to no conviction but that of necessity ; and only permitted the stile to remain when they found that they exposed themselves to legal punishment by pulling it down. The affair has at length blown over; and if the farmer should now attempt to throw it open again, it is likely that the very same people would be the first to complain of injury, and say, ' It was not always so.'
«« What is there,” said Frank, “ that always was as it is at present ? The world is continually changing."
" True,” said my uncle ; “ the varying dispensations of Providence, and the vicissitudes of the children of men, render it impossible that outward things should be unchangeable. Besides, while it is so possible for improvements to be adopted, it would be very undesirable, even if it were possible, for things to remain stationary.”
“ It seems to be quite a favourite phrase in this neighbourhood, “It was not always so.' I think we have heard it used this morning by at least five different persons; and yet, from their manner of speaking, as well as from your replies to them, I do not think they all attached the same meaning to it.”
Nothing could be more opposite than their several meanings; I could not help smiling to think of the difference, and do not wonder at your noticing it. It would have been still more striking if you had known more of the parties, and their real circumstances.' My uncle then proceeded, as far as he thought proper, in sketching to us the characters and circumstances of the several individuals who had used the expression. The first, he doubted not, had uttered the words while struggling to exer
cise a spirit of Christian resignation. He was a widower, who had recently lost a most amiable and excellent wife. He appeared much gratified by my uncle's visit, and pressed him to remain to dinner. This was declined ; however, as we stayed some time, I suppose the servants expected we should dine there, and the housekeeper requested to speak to Mr. Lee. On his return, he apologized for leaving us ; and said, with tears in his eyes, that it was quite new to him to be consulted about domestic arrangements.
“ It was not always so,” said the bereaved husband ; “till now I knew not the value of that dear presiding spirit who arranged all these—not trifling matters, for that which occurs daily cannot be a trifle—without confusion and without bustle; yet always seemed at leisure to join in intellectual, social, or benevolent engagements.” My uncle encouraged Mr. Lee to speak of the virtues of his excellent lady. I have heard him say that he thought it one of the most silly pieces of modern etiquette, when visiting a mourner, to avoid, if possible, or to check, all allusion to the object of his loss. He thought it both soothing and improving to cherish recollections of departed worth ; and though they might seem to aggravate the bereavement, he considered that they had a direct tendency to reconcile the Christian to the temporary separation.
The conversation was again interrupted by an application for a ticket of admission to the county hospital. A call to alleviate the woes of others is one of the most effectual anodynes to the sorrowful spirit. The pensive features of Mr. Lee almost relaxed into a smile ; and with a tone of gratified benevolence, approaching even to cheerfulness, he
expressed his willingness to comply with the request, and rose, as if to lay his hand upon the necessary form. He advanced to the door-returnedopened an escritoire-closed it again—discovered perplexity and agitation, which he strove to hiderang the bell, and desired to speak to Morris, the personal attendant of his late lady. * Morris,” he inquired, can you tell me where your-can you tell me where the infirmary tickets are kept ? ” “ Yes, sir ; they are in my mis—they are in the portable desk, sir.” With a strong effort to subdue his feelings, he took from the escritoire a bunch of keys with which he was evidently not familiar; for he tried several before one would turn the wards of an elegantly inlaid desk, which at length he opened with an expression of melancholy reverence. He soon discovered the necessary paper, and signed it with a trembling hand. As he presented it to the servant, he kindly desired that the applicant might be offered some refreshment, adding, “ I am sorry he should have been so long detained.” The servant left the room, and Mr. Lee continued, addressing himself to my uncle, “It was not always so; but I have lost my right hand. There is not an engagement or occurrence in which I do not miss her–O my friend, I am bereaved; but the Lord has done it, and it must be right. What he does I know not now, but I shall know hereafter,” John xiii. 7. My uncle silently pressed the hand of the mourner. derstood too well the sacredness of grief to oppress the broken spirit even with topics of consolation which it was as yet scarcely able to bear. Something about a book which was mislaid, again awakened tender reminiscences, and occasioned a repeti