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Insincere Confessions ...... 116 ) The Drunkard ......
Nominal Christians .......
James and Margaret ........ 24
Clean Washing ............ 82 Little Tommy and his Shilling
Clerical Interference with Dis.
82, 93, 104, 117, 129 137
JOHN PRICE AND HIS DAUGHTER HANNAH.
HANNAH, John's daughter, had been instructed in a sabbath school. The serious impressions made upon her mind were soon visible, and led to her saving conversion to God. This was an important event as it regards herself; but the beneficial influence of her introduction to the sabbath school did not stop here. Her father, though in his earlier years he had received a better education than the most respectable of the poor can usually boast, had become the companion of the most profligate men in his native village, and, by insensible degrees, the worst of them all.' The alebouse at night received the earnings of the day; and if any remained after the guilty revels of the week, they were spent on the Lord's-day in the same haunt of vice. His wife never reproached him, and only endeavoured to lure him from such society, and such practices, by the comforts of home. But his home was the scene of his greatest misery: for there he had time to reflect, and there he was surrounded by the wife and children whom he was daily injuring.
He had long pursued this wicked course, when one sabbath evening, after drinking and gambling all the day, and having lost all the earnings of the week, he returned from his companions, and, scarcely knowing what he did, took the road homewards. One of them called on him to return, entreating him to have one more game, and added, “ Why, you will be sure to win it all back, you know."
He stopped—“Why, if I could get it back," said he to himself.
“Come, come,” said his companion, “ one more game, only one."
"No," said Price, “ I've lost all my money, and so I can't, if I would.”—But at that moment it occurred to him, that all his quarter's rent, except what was to be made up out of his last week's work, had been put up in a cupboard, in the kitchen at home; and if he could get that, he should be sure to win back all he had lost. The money was to be paid the next day, and hardened as he was, he trembled at what he was going to do, and was terrified lest his wife and children should see him.
He approached the house, then ventured to look in at the window, and perceiving no one, be entered the kitchen, and went hastily up to the cupboard. It was locked—and he felt a
JOHN PRICE AND HIS DAUGHTER HANNAH.
momentary relief in the thought that he could not get the money. But again he said to himself, I shall be sure to win; and hastened softly up stairs to look for the key, thinking he knew where his wife had put it. As he passed the room in which the children slept, he thought he heard a slight noise, and listening, he heard several sobs-and then a voice. It was poor little Hannah, praying that her father might see the error of his ways, that God would change his heart, and make him a comfort to her mother, and to them all. Her sighs and tears seemed almost to impede her utterance; and when he heard her call him her dear father, and felt how ill he had deserved such a name, he could scarcely forbear groaning aloud, in the anguish of his feelings. He forgot the key, crept to his bed room, and fell on his knees. He uttered not one word, but the language of the heart is audible in the ears of Mercy; and that evening, for the first time, it might be said of him, “Behold, he prayeth."
After some time, he went down stairs, where Hannah was rocking her little sister Betsy to sleep. She started with astonishment. For many months, nor even for years, did she remember seeing her father at home on a Sabbath evening. He went up to the children, and kissed them both. This was a mark of affection they did not often receive, and Hannah was as much pleased as she was surprised.
“Dear father, she said, “mother will be so glad to see you at home, and we shall be so comfortable! You will not go out again to night, will you, father?"
“No dear," he replied. And as she went to put Betsy into bed, he heard her say to herself, “ Father called me dear.”
The return of his wife and boys from public worship, Price had been dreading. He knew not how to endure their looks of amazement; but it was soon over. The children at first looked fearfully at each other, as though their usual sabbath evening's pleasure was over, for they always sat up later, and told their mother all that happened at the sabbath-school, and what they could remember of the sermons they had heard during the day. Hannah had prepared supper, and there was a nice fire and a clean hearth. Price felt at that moment, that if he were innocent, he should indeed be happy.
“Father,” said Hannah, as she entered the room, “here is a nice new-laid egg. It is my very own. Mother gave me a pretty little hen, and this is the first of its eggs that ever has been eat; and you shall have it, father.”
JOHN PRICE AND HIS DAUGHTER HANNAH, Price could not speak, but he kissed his child, and he saw the tears in her eyes. He thought it was the nicest egg he had ever tasted. When supper was over, Hannah said, “Father, you have not heard me read a long time.”
“ Well,” said he, “ will you read something to me out of your reward book at the sabbath-school?" He knew that this was the Bible: but had not courage to say so.
Hannah was almost perplexed. She looked first at her father then at her mother. Two hours ago, the sight of a Bible in her hands would have ensured oaths, which she shuddered to hear.
“Come dear,” said her father, “why don't you fetch it ?”
Hannah obeyed, though not without trembling. She read the 51st Psalm. Price hid his face and wept. The first part seemed made on purpose for him. He restrained his feelings sufficiently to say, “Thank you, dear, you are very much improved. Read something else.”
She turned to the 103rd psalm. “Surely God made her choose those two," thought Price. His wife beheld with astonishment the conduct of her husband, and the emotions which appeared to agitate him.
“ Hannah, my dear,” said she, “you had better be taking the boys to bed.”
Their mother kissed them, and told them they had been good boys; and then they turned to Hannah as if to ask if they should go to their father.
“Come, dears," said she, “wish father good night, and be quick into bed.” He kissed them, and they left the room.
“You'll have a glass of our gooseberry wine, John ?” said his wife, “ you've had no beer to-night!”
“Oh,” said he, “I hope I shall never taste beer again.”
With unutterable joy she started from her seat, and throwing her arms around his neck, burst into tears. For some minutes they wept together. Price tried to speak, but could not; but at length, recovering some degree of composure, he seated his wife on his knee, and hiding his face, he told her all the occurrences of the evening.
"Can you ever forgive such a wretch ?" said he, “O! Hannah, can you!
“Forgive you, my dear husband,” she replied, “I never loved you half so well, nor ever was half so happy before. Don't ask me to forgive you, ask God to forgive you, and he
JOHN PRICE AND HIS DAUGHTER HANNAH.
will.” And then she talked to him of the infinite mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, and again begged him not to ask pardon of her, but of Him.
“I have; I have,” said he, “but till I heard what our dear child read, I did not think he could ever forgive such a wicked sinner as I am."
" It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief,” said his wife.
“Does the Bible say all that? Does it say the chief ?” he asked. “Indeed it does,” she answered. “Then that must mean me,' said he.
“Let us kneel down together, my dear John,” said his wife, “and ask God to fulfil his promise to you.” “I cannot pray,” said he.
She took his hand, and made him kneel down beside her ; and in the language of sympathy, and faith, and affection, she recommended him to the mercy of that God, who had long been her Father and Friend. After this engagement the mind of her husband became more composed; and expressing his hope that he should never lose the remembrance of this evening, he began to think what was to be done about the rent, for almost a guinea was wanted to make up the sum.
“Don't be uneasy about that,” said his wife, “I know I can borrow it.” “ That comes of having a good character,” said he, “nobody would trust me.”
The next evening nothing was talked of in the village, but that John Price had been at his work all day, and had hardly spoken, and had not used a single oath, and at night went home instead of going to the alehouse. . And at first came one neighbour, and then another, to his house, to see if he were really there. What was their surprise to find him reading a religious Tract to his wife and children, which had been given the day before to one of his little boys at the sabbath school !
The change was as permanent as it had been remarkable. From this time his old companions were forsaken, and the alehouse abandoned. To the former he only spoke, to entreat them to turn from their wickedness : and the latter he never entered but once, with his wife, to pay the landlord a debt he had contracted, for some broken windows in an affray with one ofhis depraved associates, in a state of intoxication.