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sons, and knew that they were just come from heaven, to teach her the way, that leads to it.
She thinks that trying herself every day by the doctrines of Scripture is the only possible way to be ready for her trial at the last day. She is sometimes afraid, that she lays out too much money in books ; because she cannot forbear buying all practical books of any note; especially such, as enter into the heart of religion, and describe the inward holiness of the Christian. But of all human writings the lives of pious persons, of eminent saints, are her greatest delight. In these she searches, as for hidden treasure ; hoping to find some secret of holy living ; some uncommon degree of piety, which she may make her own. By this mean Miranda has her head and heart stored with all the principles of wisdom and holiness : she is so full of the one main business of life, that she finds it difficult, to converse on any other subject; and, if you are in her company, when she thinks proper to talk, you must be made wiser and better.
To relate her charity would be to relate the history of every day for twenty years; for so long has all her fortune been spent that way.
She has set up twenty poor tradesmen, who had failed in their business; and saved as many from failing. She has educated several poor children, that were picked up in the streets, and put them in a way of an honest employment. As soon, as any laboror is confined at home with sickness, she sends him, till he recovers, twice the value of his wages, that he may have one part, to give his family, as usual, and the other to provide things convenient for his sickness.
If a family seem too large, to be supported by the labor of those, that can work in it; she pays their rent, and gives them something yearly toward their clothing. By this mean there are many poor families, tbat live in a comfortable manner, and are from year to year blessing her in their
prayers. If there be any poor man or woman, that is more than ordinarily wicked, Miranda has her eye upon them;
she watches their time of need; and, if she can discover that they are in any great strait or affliction, she gives them speedy relief. She has this care for this sort of people, because she once saved a very profligate person from being carried to prison, who immediately became a true penitent.
There is nothing in the character of Miranda, more to be admired, than this temper. For this tenderness of affection toward the most abandoned sinners is the highest instance of a godlike soul.
Miranda once passed by a house, where the man and his wife were cursing and swearing at one another in a most dreadful manner, and three children crying about them ; this sight so much affected her compassionate mind, that she went the next day, and bought the three children, that they might not be ruined by living with such wicked parents; they now live with Miranda, are blessed with her care and prayers, and all the good works, which she can do for them. They hear her talk, they see her live, they join with her in psalms and prayers. The eldest of them bas already converted his parents from their wicked life, and shows a turn of-mind so remarkably pious, that Miranda intends him for holy orders; that, being thus saved himself, he may be zealous in the salvation of souls, and do to other miserable objects, as she has done to him.
Miranda is a constant relief to poor people in their misfortunes; there are sometimes little misfortunes, that happen to them, which of themselves they could never be able to overcome. The death of a cow, or a horse, or some little robbery, would keep them in distress all their lives. She does not suffer them to grieve under such accidents, as these. She immediately gives them the full value of their loss, and makes use of it, as a mean of raising their minds toward God.
She has a great tenderness for old people, that are grown past their labor. The parish allowance to such people is seldom a comfortable maintenance. For this reason they are the constant objects of her care ; she adds so much to their allowance, as somewhat exceeds
the wages, they they got, when young. This she does, to comfort the infirmities of their age; that, being free from trouble and distress, they may serve God in peace, and tranquillity of mind. She has generally a large number of this kind, who by her charities and exhortations to holiness, spend their last days in great piety and devotion.
Miranda never wants compassion, even to common beggars ; especially toward those, that are old or sick, or full of sores, that want eyes or limbs. She hears their complaints with tenderness, gives them some proof of her kindness, and never rejects them with hard, or reproachful langnage, for fear of adding affliction to her fellow creatures.
If a poor traveller tell her that he has neither strength, nor food, nor money left; she relieves him because he is a stranger. For it is the most noble part of charity, to be kind to those, whom we never saw before. I was a stranger, and ye took me in, saith our Saviour; but who can perform this daty, that will not relieve persons, that are unknown to him ?
Miranda considers, that Lazarus was a beggar; that he was the care of angels, and carried into Abraham's bosom. She considers, that our Saviour and his apostles were kind to beggars; that they spoke comfortably to them, healed their diseases, and restored eyes and limbs to the lame and blind. That Peter said to the beggar, that wanted alms from him, Silver and gold have I none; but such, as I have, give I thee ; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up, and walk. Miranda therefore never treats beggars with disregard ; but she imitates the kindness of our Saviour and his apostles toward them; and, though she cannot, like them, work miracles for their relief; yet she relieves them with the power she hath ; and may say with the apostle, Such, as I have, give I thee ; in the name of Jesus Christ.
It may be, says Miranda, that I may often give to those, who do not deserve it. But what then ? Is not this the very method of divine goodness ? Does not God make his sun to rise on the evil and on the good ? Shall I withhold a little money or food from my fellow creature, for fear he should not be good enough, to receive it of me ? Do I beg of God to deal with me, not according to my merit, but according to his own great goodness; and shall I be so absurd, as to withhold my charity from a poor brother, because he may perhaps not deserve it? Beside, where has the Scriptures made merit the rule or measure of charity? On the contrary, the Scriptures say, If thy enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink. Now this plainly teaches us, that the merit of persons is no rule of our charity, but that we are to do acts of kindness to those, that least deserve it.
When you at any time turn away the poor, the old, the sick and helpless traveller, the lame or the blind; ask yourself this question. Do I sincerely wish these poor creatures may be as happy, as Lazarus, who was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom? It is impossible for anyone heartily to wish a poor creature so great a happiness, and not have a heart to give him small alms. For this reason, says Miranda, as far as I can, I give to all, because I pray to God to forgive all; and I cannot refuse alms to those, whom I pray God to bless ; but am glad to show some degree of love to such, as, I hope, will be objects of the infinite love of God. If, it be more blessed to give than to receive ; we ought to look on those, that ask our alms, as so many friends and benefactors, that come to do us a greater good, than they can receive ; that come to exalt our virtue, to be witnesses of our charity, to be monuments of our love, to be our advocates with God, to be to us in Christ's stead, to appear for us at the day of judgment, and to help us to a blessedness greater than our alms can bestow on them.
This is the spirit, and this is the life of the devout Miranda ; and, if she live ten years longer, she will have spent sixty thousand pounds in charity ; for that which she allows herself may fairly be reckoned among her alms,
When she dies she must shine among apostles, and
saints, and martyrs; she must stand among the first ser, vants of God; and be glorious among those, that have fought the good fight, and finished their course with joy.
Containing some reflections on the life of Miranda, and
showing how it ought to be imitated by all her sex.
Now this life of Miranda, which I heartily recommend to the imitation of her sex, however contrary it may seem to the way of the world, is yet suitable to the true spirit, and founded upon the plainest doctrines, of Christianity. To live, as she does, is as truly suitable to the Gospel of Christ, as to be baptized or receive the sacrament. Her spirit is that, which animated the saints of former ages ; and it is because they lived, as she does, that we now celebrate their memories, and praise God for their examples. There is nothing whimsical, or unreasonable in her character; but every thing there described, is a proper instance of solid and real piety.
It is as easy to show that it is whimsical to go to church, as that it is whimsical to observe any of these rules of life ; for all Miranda's rules of living to God, of spending her time and fortune, of eating, working, dressing and conversing, are as substantial parts of a reasonable and holy life, as devotion and prayer.
For there is nothing to be said for the wisdom of sobriety, of devotion, of charity, or humility, but what is as good an argument for the wise and reasonable use of apparel.
Neither can any thing be said against the folly of luxury, of sensnality, of extravagance, of prodigality, of ambition, of idleness, or indulgence, but what must be