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´╗┐Title: Aunt Harding's Keepsakes - The Two Bibles
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.


*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Aunt Harding's Keepsakes - The Two Bibles" ***


AUNT HARDING'S KEEPSAKES:
OR, THE TWO BIBLES

REVISED BY DANIEL P. KIDDER.


1851.



[Illustration A: Frontispiece]



CONTENTS.

I. GUESSING

II. THE PRESENTS

III. USE OF THE KEEPSAKES

IV. TWO CHARACTERS

V. LETTERS FROM INDIA

VI. TROUBLE BETWEEN SISTERS

VII. AUNT HARDING'S LETTER

VIII. USE OF MONEY

IX. AUNT HARDING'S RETURN



AUNT HARDING'S KEEPSAKES.


CHAPTER I.


GUESSING.

"Can you guess," said Louisa to her sister, as they sat at their work
in the summer-house, "can you guess what aunt Harding will give us, as
a keepsake, before she goes away?"

"No, I have not thought about it," said Emma; "and aunt has lately
given us so many pretty things, that we can scarcely expect any more
for a long time to come. There is my doll and its cradle, you know,
and your baby-house and furniture, how much money they cost! No, I do
not think aunt intends to give us anything else."

"But I am quite sure she will," replied Louisa; "for I was going past
mamma's dressing-room this morning, when the door was a little way
open, and I heard aunt Harding say, 'I should like to give the dear
girls something really useful, which they may value as they grow
older.' I did not hear anymore, because mamma has always told us it is
not right to listen, and so I came away as fast as I could."

"Well, I wonder what the present will be?" said Emma, now quite
convinced.

"What should you think of two handsome work-boxes--or, perhaps, as I
am the eldest, of a work-box for yourself, and writing-desk for me?"

"That would be charming!" said Emma; "and I would let you use my
work-box, and you could lend me your writing-desk sometimes."

"I will not make any promises," said Louisa; "you know you are very
careless, and I should not like my nice new desk to be stained with
ink, or, perhaps, scratched with the point of a pin."

"But mamma says I am growing more careful," said her sister; "and I do
not think I am so heedless about other people's things, though I often
spoil my own."

"Remember my wax doll," said Louisa, "which you left in the garden
through that heavy shower of rain, so that I could never play with it
again."

"O, that was such a very long time ago!" said Emma, looking a little
vexed.

"Perhaps it will not be a writing-desk nor a work-box that aunt
Harding will give us," said Louisa; "there are many other things which
we should like. I wish she would ask us to choose."

"So do I," added Emma; "but there is nothing that I should like better
than a work-box."

Louisa thought of many other things which she should be glad to have;
for she was apt to indulge in a foolish habit of wishing for what she
was not likely to possess. It is a bad thing to give way to this
failing; for by doing so we may often make ourselves unhappy, without
any good or real cause. People who do so should think of the words of
St. Paul: "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be
content." Philip. iv, 11. And children, who have kind parents or
friends to provide for all their wants, should learn that it is very
sinful to let the thoughts be often dwelling upon things that they
cannot have, and do not really need. Pray for a grateful heart, that
you may rejoice in the blessings that surround you, and be thankful to
your heavenly Father, who gives you all things richly to enjoy.



CHAPTER II.


THE PRESENTS.

Mrs. Harding, the aunt of these little girls, had been paying a
farewell visit to their mamma, before going with Mr. Harding to India,
where it was likely that they would remain for some years. She had
kindly given many little presents to her nieces during her stay with
them; but they were such as Louisa and Emma would cease to value when
they became old enough to "put away childish things;" and being a
person of piety and judgment, she wished her last gift to be one which
might be worthy of their regard in youth and in age, and through all
the changes of life. It did not take any long time to determine what
this parting gift should be.

The evening before she went away, she called Louisa and Emma into the
room. They both looked round upon the table and chests of drawers, but
no sign of a present was to be seen; no parcel neatly wrapped up in
brown paper, nor anything like a work-box or a desk. But, to do them
justice, the thought of what they might receive was not then uppermost
in their mind; for their heart was full of grief at the prospect of
parting with their aunt, whom they dearly loved, and who was going so
very far away.

"Sit down beside me, dear children," said their aunt Harding, "and let
us have a little talk together, quietly by ourselves. I wish to give
you a few parting words of advice. I am sure that you will not forget
me when I am gone; and when you think of me, I hope that the good
things which I have tried to teach you will also come into your mind."

Both Louisa and Emma said, again and again, that they could never
forget her, and they promised to remember her advice.

"Your mamma will often write to me concerning you," said aunt Harding,
"and I cannot express the joy that it will afford me to hear that you
are learning to hate sin more and more, and to live like children of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I shall be glad to find that you
are improving in your studies, and I hope that every letter will bring
me an account of your progress in useful knowledge; but I shall be far
more anxious to hear of your being good and dutiful to your parents;
and, above all, I shall long to know if you seek in earnest for the
pardon of your sins, through the blood of Christ, and whether there is
any proof in your conduct that your evil hearts have been changed by
the grace of the Holy Spirit."

"If mamma sends you a good account of us," said Louisa, "please to
remember, aunt, that you promised to write to us when that was the
case. And you will write to me first, because I am the eldest, you
know."

"Since you claim to be thought of first," replied her aunt, "because
you are a year older then your sister, I hope you intend to take the
lead by setting before her a good example, that it may be well for her
to imitate you in every respect."

Louisa blushed, and was silent. "We will try our very best, dear
aunt," said Emma, "that mamma may send you good news, and then you
will write to us both. And, perhaps, before you come back, we shall be
grown such good girls, that you will not be able to find fault with
either of us."

"I am afraid that is not very likely," said Louisa; "for it seems as
if we could not help being naughty sometimes. I am sure I have often
said to myself, 'Mamma shall not have to reprove me once to-day,' and
yet, directly after, something has been amiss."

"O! that is quite true," said Emma, with a sigh.

"The reason is this," their aunt replied; "you were born with an evil
nature, which loves sin and leads you to do wrong, so that you cannot
be good and dutiful of yourselves. When you have made such resolves,
it has been in your own strength, without your having asked for help
from God; and this being the case, it was not possible that you should
keep from sin. The only way to lead a holy life is to put no trust in
ourselves, to have a constant sense of our need of divine grace, and
to pray earnestly that it may be given to us for Christ's sake."

"But you talk of my return," added she, "as if it were certain that we
should meet again; yet how many things may happen to prevent it!
Nothing can be more uncertain than the future, though young people are
apt to think that all will fall out just as they wish. I may not live
to come back; or if I should be spared to do so, who can tell that you
will be here to meet me? Long before that time you may be laid low in
the narrow grave. 'For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that
appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.' James iv, 14."

Before their aunt Harding had done speaking, both the children were in
tears; for the thought that they might never see her again was more
than they could bear. Seeing that their hearts were softened to
receive the word of instruction, she went on to talk to them in a kind
and earnest manner on the great importance of preparing for another
world, showing them their awful state without the Saviour, and urging
them to seek him at once by faith and prayer; then, further to impress
her advice upon their minds, she unlocked a little cabinet which stood
near her, and taking out two handsome Bibles,[A] gave one to each of
her nieces, telling them that as it was the best present she could
give them, so she hoped they would value it, not only for her sake,
but because it was the word of God, and taught the way of eternal
life. After this, she desired them to kneel down with her, while she
offered a fervent prayer that God would bless them, and that they
might be led by the Holy Spirit into the fold of Christ, who died to
take away their sins. And she also prayed, that if they should never
more see each other in this world, they and all whom they loved might
meet again and be happy for ever in heaven.

[Footnote A: See frontispiece.]

Now I will not say that when the sisters were alone together, and
looked at their handsome Bibles, a thought of the work-box and the
writing-desk never crossed their minds; but it is certain that there
was not a word said upon the subject, and each seemed to be greatly
pleased with her present, admiring the rich purple binding, and
opening the book with care, to look at the name which had been nicely
written by their aunt on one of the blank leaves at the beginning. In
Louisa's Bible, just under her name, was the text, "Open thou mine
eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law," Psa. cxix,
18; and in Emma's, in the same place, was written, "I love them that
love me; and those that seek me early shall find me." Prov. viii, 17.



CHAPTER III.


USE OF THE KEEPSAKES.

The next day was a sorrowful one, both to the friends who went away,
and to those who were left behind. The children could talk of little
else than their uncle and aunt Harding. They asked their mother many
questions about the journey they had begun, and the country to which
they were going. When Louisa and Emma saw that their mamma was very
sad, and not so ready as usual to join in their talk, they did not
tease her, as some thoughtless children would have done, but each
chose for herself a pleasant and quiet employment. Louisa began to
arrange the furniture in her baby-house, and Emma brought a piece of
brown silk from her drawer of treasures, and set about making a cover
for her new Bible.

"Why, Emma, what are you about?" cried Louisa, after watching her
sister for a moment; "surely you are not going to use that beautiful
book?"

"Yes, I am," said Emma, quietly; "I mean to read a little in it every
day. Ah! I see that you think it will soon be torn and soiled; but I
assure you I intend to be very careful; and look, what a nice cover
this will make!"

"I am afraid," said Louisa, laughing, "you will never be careful as
long as you live. To think of so soon beginning to use that handsome
book! I have made up my mind to read a chapter every day, but not out
of my new Bible. I think the old one, that lies in the school-room,
will do just as well."

"So it would," returned Emma; "and I thought of that myself last
night, when aunt Harding told us how much she wished us to be good,
and to love the Scriptures: but then the school-room Bible is not
always in its place, and that might sometimes hinder me from reading
at all. Now I shall keep this book in my little drawer in our room,
where I can find it in a minute."

"You must please yourself, I suppose," said Louisa; "but I will ask
mamma whether it is better to use aunt Harding's Bible or the old
one."

Mrs. Western heard what her little girl had to say, but did not give
just the answer that Louisa expected. "You are right," she said, "in
supposing that it does not signify whether you read in an old Bible or
a new one. It is from the divine blessing upon what we read, and not
from the book itself, that we must look for benefit to our souls. If
you pray for this blessing with all your heart, you will find the way
of salvation as plainly declared in the worn-out school-room Bible as
in your aunt Harding's keepsake, with its purple binding and shining
gilt leaves. But yet I approve of Emma's wish to use her new Bible
from this time, and advise you to follow her example. For though it
ought to be our great delight to read the Scriptures, yet we have such
sinful hearts, so ready to put off doing what is right for any poor
excuse, that even such a little thing as having to look for the Bible,
when it happens to be mislaid, will be likely to prevent you from
reading it so constantly as you intend."

To this Louisa made no reply. She had wrapped up her beautiful book in
silver paper, and laid it carefully in a box, under lock and key, and
she did not mean to disturb it, except perhaps now and then for a few
moments, that it might be looked at and admired. As for Emma, she went
on fitting the brown silk cover as neatly as she could; and hoping
that, if she prayed for the divine blessing, as her mother and aunt
had told her, she might learn from her precious Bible the way to be
good and happy.



CHAPTER IV.


TWO CHARACTERS.

It is time that I should tell you the age of these two little girls.
Louisa was just turned of ten, and Emma was one year younger. I have
no doubt that although you know so little about them, you already like
Emma better than her sister; and the reason of this is plain. No one
could be long with Louisa without finding out that she was a selfish
child; while Emma, though she had many faults, of which carelessness
was the chief, was of a kind, good-natured disposition, always ready
to oblige. Louisa, too, was often willful, and would not give up her
own way; while Emma was humble-minded, knowing that she had much to
learn, and thankful to be taught. Both of these children were sinners,
like all who are born into this sinful world: but Louisa cared little
about the concerns of her soul; while Emma had begun to pray in secret
for pardon through Christ her Saviour, and for the new heart which is
the gift of his Holy Spirit.

Reader, you too are a sinner, and by nature far from God. Do you ever
consider what is your present state? Have you been brought near to him
by the blood of Christ, the new and living way? You may have heard of
these things before, but without giving heed to the salvation of your
own soul, or seeking to prepare for the world to come. If this has
been the case, pause now, and ask yourself whither you are going, and
what must be the end, if you do not repent and turn from sin. There
are many awful texts in the Bible concerning those who trifle with the
offers of divine mercy, and harden their hearts against the Saviour's
gracious call. O! pray that you may not be one of this unhappy number.
Seek the Lord while he may be found, before the day of grace is past.
God has said that his "Spirit shall not always strive with man," Gen.
vi, 3; and if you will not repent to-day, to-morrow may be too late.

Emma's Bible was nicely covered, and laid in her own little drawer;
and every morning she read a chapter before she went down stairs. She
prayed that God would teach her by his Holy Spirit to understand what
she read; and though her prayers were very simple, and she scarcely
knew what words to use, yet she felt sure that he would hear her,
because he has promised to do so, for the sake of his dear Son. And by
degrees, as she began to love her Bible more and more, she learned a
habit of going to their little room alone, once in each day, to read a
few verses in private, and to offer a short prayer to her "Father who
seeth in secret." Matt, vi, 6. She found a great blessing in this; and
it often happened that the thought of a text of Scripture which she
had been reading in her room alone would come into her mind when she
was afterward tempted to say or do something wrong, and thus help to
keep her from sin.

It was not so with Louisa. The Bible was often wanted in the
schoolroom--for the children had a governess who came to teach them
every day; and Louisa soon found it too much trouble to take the book
up stairs at night, and to carry it down again the next morning.
Besides this, she did not always rise from her bed in time to read a
chapter, so that it was often put off till after breakfast, and then
it commonly happened that she had other things to do, and did not read
it at all. Emma would sometimes gently remind her that her Bible
reading had been forgotten; but this made Louisa so cross that she
left off doing so at last. The truth was, that this poor child had no
real love for the Scriptures; and as she did not seek for grace to
help her, the good resolves that she had made passed away quickly from
her mind.

The difference between the sisters was seen in their outward conduct;
for Emma's reading of the Bible would have been in vain if the effects
had not been shown in her temper and daily life. I do not mean to say
that she never went wrong; for Emma had still an evil nature, and a
sinful heart, often leading her to forget the commands of God. But she
was truly sorry when this had been the case, and would ask to be
forgiven with many tears; and she also prayed for divine grace, that
she might try to be more watchful for the time to come. Louisa, on the
other hand, thought too highly of herself to be easily convinced of a
fault; and as she seldom received reproof in an humble and proper
manner, she made but little progress toward improvement.



CHAPTER V.


LETTERS FROM INDIA.

Some months passed before there came a letter from Mrs. Harding; for
India, as you know, is many thousands of miles from here, and it takes
a long time for a ship to sail over the wide sea which lies between.
But great was the joy of the children and their mother when at last
the good tidings came that, through the mercy of God, their friends
had reached that distant country, safe and well. Louisa danced and
clapped her hands; and Emma felt very happy, sitting beside her
mother, and looking up in her face, while she read the letter through
tears of pleasure.

Mrs. Harding had written a few lines to the children, which their
mother read aloud to them, and then allowed them to look at for
themselves. The words were these: "I often think of you, dear Louisa
and Emma, and pray for divine blessings upon you both; and I hope to
hear that you are giving yourselves to the Saviour, who died upon the
cross for you. You know the love of Jesus for the young; his kindness
to them when he was upon earth; and the tender way in which he still
invites them to come to him. Go, then, to Christ without delay: ask
him to be your friend, and you will be happy for evermore."

A few weeks after this letter had been received, Mrs. Western's
birthday arrived, when it was usual for her children to have a holiday
and a little treat. On the morning of this day, as Emma was running up
stairs, her mamma called to her from her dressing-room, and desired
her to come in, and to shut the door. Emma did as she was bid; and
then Mrs. Western, with a smile on her face, told her to look round,
and try if she could discover anything in the room that she had not
seen before.

Almost before her mother had done speaking, the little girl fixed her
eyes upon a handsome work-box, standing upon the table with the lid
open, and showing a lining of pale blue silk, edged with silver; while
within were scissors and thimble, an abundance of needles and cotton,
everything, in short, that Emma had long been wishing for in vain.

"It is yours, my dear," said her mamma; "it is a present from your
aunt Harding, who, in her letter, requested me to choose for you on my
birthday something that you would like, if your conduct should have
been such as to deserve a token of our approval. I am happy to see
that you strive to amend your faults, and I trust that you will still
go on trying to improve."

"O, mamma, how beautiful! and how kind in aunt Harding! Indeed I will
try to deserve it." And the little girl went close to the box, and
looked at its contents, but without venturing to touch them; then
gently closing the lid, she stood gazing upon it with silent delight.

"But, mamma," said Emma, looking up with a sudden thought, and casting
her eyes round the room as if in search of something which was not to
be seen, "where is Louisa's present? She would like a writing-desk, I
know; for the old work-box which she has had so long is not yet worn
out, because she is so very careful."

"I am sorry to say," returned Mrs. Western, "that Louisa is not
deserving of any present, and therefore it would have been wrong to
provide one for her."

At hearing this, Emma changed color, and looked almost ready to cry.
"Dear mamma," said she, "do pray have pity on poor Louisa. I cannot
bear to show her my beautiful box, if she is not to have a present
too. She would be so much grieved."

"My dear," said Mrs. Western, "do you not perceive that it would be
unjust and contrary to your aunt's wish, if, while Louisa gives way to
her faults, I were to treat her as though she were seeking to overcome
them? It is quite as painful to me as to yourself to make this needful
difference between you; but in all our actions we must think of what
is _right_, and not of what it would be _pleasant_ to do. When I see
any sign of improvement in your sister, I shall gladly provide her
with a writing-desk; but not till then."

Emma paused for a moment; her eyes filled with tears, and the color
rose to her face. "Then mamma," said she, "I will wait, if you please,
for my work-box, until you think proper to give Louisa her desk.
Please to put it away in some safe place, and I will not say anything
about it. I can do very well without the box a little while longer,
you know."

When Mrs. Western found that Emma was willing to deny herself a
pleasure rather than give pain to her sister, she consented to her
wish, because she desired to encourage kind and tender feelings
between them; and she knew it would be easy to find some other way of
showing Louisa that her friends were grieved and displeased by her
conduct. So the work-box was safely put away for the present; though
Emma had her hopes that the time would soon come when, with the
promised writing-desk, it might be again brought forward.



CHAPTER VI.


TROUBLE BETWEEN SISTERS.

I have told you that Emma was not without her faults; and whether she
was a little lifted up by her mother's approval, so that she became
less watchful over herself, and felt less her need of the grace of
God, I cannot say: but so it was, that on the very same evening of
their mother's birthday, the sisters had a quarrel, which would
certainly have been worse, if Mrs. Western had not been sitting by.
Louisa was the first to blame; but, on the other hand, Emma did not
behave like a meek and Christian child.

It was about Louisa's old work-box that this quarrel took place. Emma
wished to have the use of it for a short time, as Louisa did not want
it herself: but Louisa, as you have seen, was not very willing to
lend; and some sharp and unkind words passed between them, such as
children too often use when they give way to angry and sinful
passions. No doubt the thought of her own work-box was in Emma's mind
when she said, "You are selfish and ill-natured, Louisa, and do not
deserve that people should give up any pleasure for you."

While she was speaking, she saw her mother's eyes turned toward her
with a look of surprise and sorrow; and at the same moment the words
of Scripture, "Be kindly affectioned one toward another," came into
her mind. She blushed and looked down while Mrs. Western reproved them
both, and told them of the grief which, she felt on account of their
sinful conduct, reminding them also of the example of the meek and
lowly Jesus, who has commanded us to live in love. Emma was soon
brought to tears, and went out of the room to weep alone, and ask
forgiveness, for her Saviour's sake, from the holy God whom she had
displeased by her sin: but Louisa, as usual, was inclined to be
sullen, and did not think that she had been at all in the wrong. Upon
this, her mother pointed out to her the unkindness of refusing so
small a favor to her sister; and in the hope of bringing her to a
sense of her fault, she told her what had passed in the morning, and
made known to her the whole affair of the work-box. Louisa was so much
struck by this proof of Emma's love, that her heart was quite
softened, and she not only owned that she had done amiss, but ran to
seek her sister, and asked her to forget their quarrel and be friends.

Emma was very glad to agree to this, and was also ready to take her
share of blame, saying that she had been very wrong in speaking so
unkindly, and she hoped never to be so naughty again. It was pleasant
after this, to see Louisa's desire that her sister should use the old
work-box, and what care Emma showed in keeping all its contents nicely
in their place.

The loss of the birthday present had a great effect upon Louisa, so
that she became more watchful over her temper and conduct. In a few
months she had improved so much, that though she was still far from
being all that could be wished, yet her mother thought she might
safely buy her the writing-desk, according to the desire of her aunt
Harding. Emma had still waited for her work-box with hope and
patience; and you may imagine the joy of both when they at last
received these long wished-for gifts. And as Emma was now not so
careless as formerly, and Louisa had grown more kind, the work-box and
the writing-desk were often lent in exchange; while the sisters soon
found out the truth of what their mother told them, that such little
frequent acts of mutual kindness do more to increase love than those
greater deeds which children sometimes talk about, but seldom have the
power to perform.

The second packet from aunt Harding was received with not less joy
than the first; for there was in it a letter for Louisa and Emma; and
that she might show no favor to one above the other, she had directed
it to both. Louisa, however, claimed and was allowed the privilege of
breaking the seal. I wish you could have seen their happy faces, as
Emma leaned upon her sister's shoulder to read the welcome letter
which had been sent to them from a country so distant, and by a friend
whom they loved so well.



CHAPTER VII.


AUNT HARDING'S LETTER.

Would you like to know what aunt Harding Wrote to her nieces? Here
then is the letter, word for word:--


"MY DEAR CHILDREN, LOUISA AND EMMA,--It is with great pleasure that I
read in your mamma's letter the account of your improvement, and I am
glad to fulfill the promise which I made of writing to you when that
should be the case. I hope that you will go on trying to grow better
and better; and for this end you should pray daily for the grace of
God to help you every moment of your lives. Without his grace the evil
desires of your sinful hearts will lead you from the right way; and as
one sin always brings on others, you would, if left to yourselves,
wander further and further from that which is good, until you lost all
love for your Saviour and his commands.

"I often think of you, and wish that you could see the poor little
Hindoo children, who have never heard of the true God, but are taught
by their heathen parents to kneel down, and pray to idols of wood and
stone. There is a river in this country, the river Ganges, which the
people believe to be a goddess, and they think that its waters can
wash away their sins. Mothers often bring their little infants and
bathe them in this river, because they believe it will make them holy.
Do you not pity these poor people, whose souls are perishing for want
of knowledge? Do you not wish that some one would go among them, and
tell them about Jesus the Son of God, who gave himself to die for
sinners, and whose blood alone can wash away sin? If so, you will be
glad to know that there are some good men here who have left their own
dear home and friends to live in this heathen country, and to teach
the poor Hindoos the true and only way to heaven. Christians in other
places, who love the Saviour, and wish that the heathen should learn
to love him too, give money to send these good men here, and to pay
for Bibles, and for other books which have been written on purpose to
show how sinners may be saved. All may help to do this who will spare
a little money from their own wishes and wants. _You_ may help, if you
love the Saviour enough to deny yourselves some little pleasure now
and then. I think you would resolve to do so, if you could go with me
sometimes to the missionary school, and see the little children
sitting in rows, learning to read about Jesus, and hear them asking
for more books to take home, that they may tell the tidings of
salvation to their heathen parents. O yes! I am sure you would want to
help them then; for you would remember that heathen children, like
yourselves, have souls which must live for ever and ever; and you
would long that they should come to the knowledge of the Saviour, who
died for them as well as for you.

"It is now time that I should finish this long letter; so farewell,
dear Louisa and Emma. Your uncle sends his love to you. We often talk
of you, and pray that you may be the children of God, through faith in
his dear Son. Your ever affectionate,

"AUNT HARDING."



CHAPTER VIII.


USE OF MONEY.

Emma found a great deal to think about in this letter, and it led to
frequent talk with her mother about the heathen, for whom she began to
feel much concern. When she heard how Christian people were trying to
help them, and had read some accounts which her mother lent to her,
telling of the happy change that, through the blessing of God, had
been brought about in many cases by the preaching of the gospel, she
wished that Louisa and herself could join in doing something, though
ever so little, for this good cause. The love of Christ was in her
heart: when this is the case, it will be sure to show itself in love
for the souls of others.

But Louisa, when spoken to on the subject, said that she had not
anything to give. "I am very sorry, though, that the poor Hindoos
should worship idols," she said; "and when I grow older, and have more
money, I will do a great deal for them, depend upon it."

"But why not help them a little _now_?" said Emma.

"Because I have no money," replied Louisa; "no money I mean except
what is in my little savings bank, and I should not like to part with
that. As for you, Emma, you never can save up a shilling; so that I am
sure you have not anything to spare."

"Ah," said Emma, "that is true, to be sure; I never can save my money,
and so I will tell you what I mean to do. Mamma gives us threepence a
week, to spend as we please, you know; but I will only take twopence
for the time to come, and I shall ask her to give the other pennies to
the Tract Society at the end of the year. Four shillings and fourpence
is not much, indeed, yet it will buy some nice little books for the
Hindoo children in the schools; and if you will also give a penny a
week, that will buy just as many more."

It was of no use. Louisa would not be persuaded to do anything for the
heathen _yet_. Emma gave her penny a week, and felt happy in giving
it; while Louisa only talked of doing so by and by. If Louisa had
loved her Saviour and her Bible, she would have felt it a delight to
assist in sending the glad tidings of the gospel to heathen lands; but
when the heart has not been changed by the Holy Spirit, we feel but
little concern for our own souls, and do not care for the salvation of
others.

Emma was not led away by the example of her sister; but as she grew
older she seemed to grow in grace, and in the knowledge and love of
Christ. This will always be the case with those who believe the
promises of God, and seek for divine assistance to enable them to obey
his word. We can do nothing of ourselves, for we are poor, guilty,
helpless sinners: but God, who has given his only Son to die for our
sins, has also promised to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask it.
Therefore, though we feel ourselves ever so weak and sinful, we need
not despair of growing better, if we also feel our need of Christ, and
go to him for help and pardon.

Louisa and Emma had often heard that life is short and uncertain; but
it is not easy for young people to feel the truth of this while they
are healthy and strong. When Emma was about twelve years old she was
taken very ill, so that there was from the first but little hope that
she would recover. Then she felt that it is an awful thing to die; and
the thought of the soul, which cannot die, and of heaven and hell,
were far more solemn than they had ever seemed to her before. At first
she was greatly afraid of death, for she knew she was a sinner, and
deserving of the anger of God; but by degrees, as she lay on her sick
bed, there came into her mind many sweet verses of the Bible, which
she had learned in her days of health, and which gave her comfort, by
telling her of the love of Jesus the Lamb of God, who taketh away the
sins of the world. Do you think she was sorry, now, that she had spent
so many hours in reading that holy and blessed book? No; for the
promises of mercy and salvation which it held out to her was her only
support through many hours of pain and suffering, when death seemed
near, and eternity close at hand. Though too ill to read, or even to
listen to the words of life, she could remember many of them in her
heart, and think of them to her comfort in this season of trial.
Sometimes she was able to talk to her mother for a few minutes, when
it was plain that her mind was chiefly filled with thoughts of Christ
and things divine. And she often said that, if it should be the will
of God to restore her to health, she hoped for grace to devote herself
to his service, and to live more to his glory than she had ever done
before. She also spoke oftener to her sister, begging her to think of
her soul, to read her Bible more, and to seek for the pardon of her
sins; and Louisa, who was in great distress at the thought of losing
her, was ready to promise anything that she asked. But it did not
appear that she was under any concern for her own state; and this was
a great trouble to poor Emma, who now felt more than ever the need of
preparing for the world to come.

It pleased God to spare her life, though she grew better very slowly,
and it was many weeks before she could leave her room. When her long
and painful illness was over, she was again able to share with Louisa
in her lessons and her pleasures, so that in time those weeks of grief
and suffering seemed to be forgotten; but they were not forgotten by
Emma: she did not forget the mercies she had received, and the resolve
which she had made of leading a holy life: she daily prayed for an
humble and watchful mind, and for grace to keep her from falling into
sin; and, as you may suppose, she loved her Bible more and more for
the comfort which it had given her in the time of trouble. She still
took pleasure in reading it alone, and prayed that she might have
grace to obey its commands, so that it might be a lamp unto her feet
and a light unto her path. Psa. cxix, 105.



CHAPTER IX.


AUNT HARDING'S RETURN.

And now two more years had passed away, and the time when their aunt
Harding's return was looked for had come. They had talked of it all
through the winter; and when spring was over, and summer begun, the
happy tidings came that the ship had arrived in safety, and their
uncle and aunt Harding were on their way to visit them once more. I
will leave you to guess the joy that was felt by all; and you must
picture to yourself the pleasure of their meeting soon afterward: how
thankful all were that they were spared to behold each other again;
with uncle Harding's surprise at seeing two great girls instead of
little Louisa and Emma; and aunt Harding's smiles, and her hopes that
there would be found an equal improvement in matters of more
importance.

The morning after she came, when Mrs. Harding began to unpack her
boxes, Louisa and Emma caught sight of many pretty and curious things
which she told them were intended as presents for themselves. "But
before we proceed any further," said she, as the girls were beginning
to express their thanks and pleasure, "I wish to inquire about the
parting keepsake which I gave to you; and I should be glad to see how
each book has been treated, that I may know the real value which you
set upon the gift."

Louisa and Emma both ran to fulfill their aunt's desire. To speak the
truth, Louisa was now in hopes of having all the praise. She quickly
brought in her handsome Bible, still wrapped in the soft white paper,
and in all the gloss of newness: not a mark upon the rich purple
binding, not a speck upon the bright gilt leaves. Emma, too, brought
hers, but with a more timid look; the neat brown silk cover was faded
and worn--she had thought of making a new one only the day before--and
the brightness was gone from the leaves, and the binding seemed rather
loose, for the book opened easily, and there were some pages, less
white than others, which looked as if they had been often read. To
Louisa's surprise, Mrs. Harding laid down her book without saying a
word, while, as soon as she took Emma's Bible into her hand, she
smiled with pleasure, although tears came into her eyes. "_This_ book
has been valued as it ought to be," said she; "it has been used with
care, but often used, so that I trust it has been found a guide and a
help to heaven. But yours, Louisa"--and she pointed to the beautiful
Bible which lay upon the table--"yours has been laid aside, like the
talent which was buried in the earth. It has been of no benefit to
your soul, for you seem hardly ever to have looked to it for
instruction; as if its real worth consisted in outside ornament, you
have been careful to keep that from injury, but have never sought or
cared for the treasure that is within. But dry your tears, my dear
Louisa," added aunt Harding kindly. "I am not angry, for I know that
your mistaken care was in some measure caused by your love for me.
I am only sorry that my parting present has not been of the use which
I intended. But it is not yet too late for you to learn that, while
your Bible should be kept with proper care--for it is the word of
God--yet it was given for our daily study, that we might read it, pray
over it, and practice it; and thus, by the divine blessing, become
'wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.'" 2 Tim.
iii, 15.

"I trust," said the kind aunt, looking at her two nieces with much
affection; "I trust that my dear Emma knows and loves her Saviour, and
takes delight in the Scriptures, because they testify of him. May you
both have grace to love him above all things, to do his will, and to
put your trust in him for evermore; and then the heartfelt desire of
your aunt Harding will be fulfilled."

Reader, beware how you neglect the word of God. But remember it is not
by merely reading it that you are to look for a blessing to your soul.
You must pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, who alone can open
your understanding, and incline your heart to heavenly wisdom, that
you may not read in vain.

       *       *       *       *       *

PRAYER FOR DIVINE GUIDANCE.

O that the Lord would guide my ways
  To keep his statutes still!
O that my God would grant me grace
  To know and do his will!

O send thy Spirit down to write
  Thy law upon my heart!
Nor let my tongue indulge deceit,
  Nor act the liar's part.

From vanity turn off mine eyes;
  Let no corrupt design,
Nor covetous desires, arise
  Within this soul of mine.

Order my footsteps by thy word,
  And make my heart sincere:
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
  But keep my conscience clear.

My soul hath gone too far astray,
  My feet too often slip;
Yet, since I've not forgot thy way,
  Restore thy wand'ring sheep.

Make me to walk in thy commands,
  'Tis a delightful road;
Nor let my head, or heart, or hands,
  Offend against my God.

       *       *       *       *       *

VALUE OF THE SCRIPTURES TO THE YOUNG

How shall the young secure their hearts,
  And guard their lives from sin?
Thy word the choicest rules imparts
  To keep the conscience clean.

When once it enters to the mind,
  It spreads such light abroad,
The meanest souls instruction find,
  And raise their thoughts to God.

'Tis like the sun, a heavenly light
  That guides us all the day;
And through the dangers of the night,
  A lamp to lead our way.

Thy precepts make me truly wise;
  I hate the sinner's road:
I hate my own vain thoughts that rise,
  But love thy law, my God.

Thy word is everlasting truth;
  How pure is every page!
That holy book shall guide our youth,
  And well support our age.


THE END.

       *       *       *       *       *

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