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COTTAGE PIETY ON A SUNDAY.
FARMER LITTLEWORTH AND THOMAS NEWMAN..
Thomas is engaged in clearing ground. Farmer. WELL, Thomas, you are going on with
the job apace. T'ho. See master, what a deal of weeds, and rubbish, we have got together within these few days. All this puts me in mind of the natural heart of man, that there can be nothing done in it till the weeds and filth of sin are got out of it; and sin has taken deeper root in our hearts, than these briers and weeds have in this ground : and when we have got them all on a heap, we shall burn them out of the way. May the Lord do the same in all our hearts !
Far. Why, Thomas, I think Mr. Lovegood will make a parson of you.
Tho.' Thank the Lord for his mercy! I hope he has made a christian of me; and that is all I want. But, master, I hope all is well at home, as you was not here yesterday, according as you said.
Far. O yes, but I could not get away from the parish meeting time enough: and there came in Dick Heedless, for relief, because his wife was brought to-bed, and though he had but two children before, he declared they were all starving. So I thought I would go and see; and to be sure such ragged children, such a dirty house and bed; such broken windows, and heaps of filth in every corner, I never saw before in all my born days. So I told the vestry,
that he had better wages than you, as I always gave him task work, otherwise he would not work at all; and he is a strong hearty fellow, and can do a deal of work if he likes it: And when I told him to come to your house, and you would put him in a better way of living, he swore a great oath, and said he would never be of your religion, for he was not bred up to your way of thinking.
Tho. Ah! when poor labouring men must run away to every idle wake, horse-race, boxing-match, and cock-fight, no wonder that there is nothing left for the family. I am very glad 'squire Worthy is determined to put them all down in our parish, for our minister preached a trimming sermon against them all; and the 'squire thanked him for it in the church yard, before all the people, and promised him there should be no such doings in that parish. I promise you, master, we never were so well off before ; what between the minister and the squire, there is not half the wickedness in our parish that there was a few years ago.
Far. There are not many such 'squires as 'squire Worthy in our parts.
Tho. The Lord send more of them, master! for it is wonderful the good our 'squire does in setting such a good example. Hail, rain, or shine, let who will be away from the church, the 'squire and his worthy family are sure to be there. It does
heart good to see them all come in ; especially, when I consider, how many poor people are relieved by them : and it is wonderful, how he takes to our minister, and says all manner of good of him wherever
Far. But, Thomas, I hear from my wife and daughters, how desperately 'squire Bluster of RevelHall, has quarrelled with your 'squire, because he has turned out so religious; and how Madam Blus
ter will not even speak to Madam Worthy, because when they went to see them, instead of having cards after tea, they had Mr. Lovegood there to preach, and say prayers to them, and after that they sung psalms.
Tho. Why, master, was there any harm in that? why when the wind sits that way, I hear the bell ring for family prayers every night; and when Mr. Lovegood is not there, it is to admiration how the squire himself can exhort and go to prayer with his family.
Far. But you know, Thomas, ihere are none of the ministers round the country come to sce your parson on account of his religion.
Tho. Why, it is an odd story, if religion keeps other parsons away from Mr. Lovegood; but this is a mistake, master, for there are Mr. Meek and Mr. Godly man, and other good ministers besides, that come to see our minister ; and then we are sure to hear the bells calling us all to a sermon in the church after we have done our labour. I love to hear the sound of our church bells to my heart, for whenever they ring we are sure some good is going forward.
Far. But, Thomas, you must remember your promise, and tell us how you live on the Sunday.
Tho. Weil then, master, you must know, my wife always contrives on the Siurday to get our clean linen ready for us, and somewhat a little more decent than our common working dress, to go to church in on a Sunday; the house is always done up quite neat and cican, and all our clothes got ready against the Smday morning : then on the Sunday morning we get ourselves ready, and begin the Sabbath with a chapter out of the bible, a hymn, or psalm, and a prayer; then we all eat our breakfast, and afterwards send the four eldest of our children to the Sunday school, which our minister and 'squire Vor
they have lately set up; after this we all go to church, if we can, unless my wife is obliged to stay at home to nurse the little ones, and then we take it by turns! and I must confess, master, I sometimes feel a little proud to see such a nice young growing family, and how neat and decent my wife makes us all look, and how orderly my children behave !
Far. Why, to be sure, Thomas, your wife is a wonderful notable woman.
Tho. Ah, master, and she is so loving and good, and kind, I would not part with her for the best duchess in the land. Well, and after church we all come home: then I ask the children, one by one, where the text was, and what they can remember of the minister's sermon, and talk with them of the good things we have been hearing. After we have had such a dinner as the mercy of God provides for us, we have another prayer: then the children go again to the Sunday school, and we all meet again at church in the afternoon; and I think it would do your heart good to hear what pains our dear minister takes with us, how nicely he expounds the chapters, and how he tries from the pulpit to make known to us the way of salvation. Whenever he tells us of our evil ways and evil natures, he seems to pity us to the very heart; and tears, again and again, have I seen drop down his dear cheeks, while he has warned us of these things: but when he tells us of the love of our lord Jesus Christ to us poor sinners, and what grace and mercy he can shew in changing our hearts, he is all alive, and seems to feel every word he says.
Far. Why, the people say, he has it all off by rote, and that he has no book, but the Bible, with him in the pulpit. He must have a wonderful memory!
Tho. By rote, master! he has it all in his heart; and by the grace of God, he has enough in his heart Vol. I,
for a thousand sermons; and as it comes from the heart, so it goes to the heart. Blessed be God, it comes to
heart! I am sure of that. Well, after sermon we all go home, and then we treat ourselves, for once in the week, with a dish of tea, and again talk over the good things we heard at church. At seven o'clock, we go down to the vicarage; and to see how lovingly Madam Lovegood shews it towards us all when we come into the house, would do any one good; how she helps to bring out the forms and chairs, and seats us all comfortably in the kitchen and hall; and when we are ready, our dear minister comes in and repeats to us what he had been preach. ing before, and exhorts us, and prays, and șings to us, so charmingly, that there comes such a blessing with it, as makes it feel like a little heaven upon earth,
Far. Ah! but master Thomas, our rector speaks and preaches desperately against these private meet. ings, and says your parson keeps a 'Venticle; but what he means by it I can't say; I suppose it was some hard word he brought with him from Oxford.
Tho. Mr. Lovegood is not the first man that has had all “ manner of evil spoken against him, but we are sure it is “ falsely, for Christ's name sake ;" so that we can all “rejoice and be exceeding glad.”
Far. Well, Thomas, it is to be hoped you have had enough of religion after all this.
Tho. Enough, master! why we are obliged to very sharp labour through the six days, it would be a thou. sand pities to lose any part of the only one day given us to seek after our heavenly rest : for what is the body to the soul! Blessed be God, we have a little more, after all this: we have some more good talk at supper, a chapter, a psalm, or hymn, and a prayer; and then we throw ourselves into the arms