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So far there had been no great fault seen in his moral character, and, for a time after their marriage, all went on decently and prosperously as it regarded the things of this world, but Milly did not find her soul prosper. Her husband. often kept her from public worship, never allowed her to speak on religious subjects, and often laughed at her for being too particular about her prayers and reading. At first, Milly was grieved at finding herself declining in her walk with God; then, too, she felt how she had sinned against him; and the more she loved her husband the more bitterly she mourned over his ungodly state ; but by degrees she became less and less concerned at his irreligion, and at her own falling back; and then it almost ceased to trouble her. This was a fearful state of mind; but it pleased her long-suffering God to call her back by heavy chastisement.
About this time, her first child was born; she lay for many weeks in her bed enduring much suffering and illness. At one time, her life was endangered ; and, when the danger was passed, it was very slowly indeed that she began to mend. Her good mother nursed her through her long illness; and, as she seemed near death, how bitterly did she feel that she had forsaken her God; and now he was hiding his countenance from her. How earnestly, how penitently did she supplicate the pardon of her Saviour, and God's renewing grace. She seemed to be walking “in the valley of the shadow of death," with no Good Shepherd near her, no rod and staff to comfort her. It was long before it seemed to her that God heard her prayers; she thought he refused to grant the pardon for which she groaned. At length it pleased Him to speak peace to her soul; and how earnestly did she resolve in his strength, if he raised her up once more, to walk in the safe and narrow way! Nor did she break her resolution ; but her path was set round with many a thorn.
In the beginning of her illness, her husband was all kindness and tenderness; but as, from day to day, and from week to week, she was still laid aside, and could do nothing for him, and could give him none of her company, and his cottage was not to him the pleasant cheerful place that it had been before, he, having no religious principles to restrain him, took to visiting the alehouse and associating with the men who met there. At first, he only went in the evenings; but, as the habit grew upon him, and some of the very worthless men whom he saw there, gained influence over him, they tempted him to come more often and earlier, and, at last, he would go with them whenever they were there ; and the dreadful habit grew so fast upon him that he was scarcely ever sober.
Milly was at this time so very ill that she knew very little about him; and her poor mother, who had done all she could to call her son-in-law to consideration, but in vain, told her of it by slow degrees, as she could best break so sad a fact to her; but indeed as soon as Milly was well enough to learn how things stood, it would have been no easy task to keep it from her ; for, as the habit of drinking grew, his affection for her died away, and he seldom came near her. Money too was now very scarce; and he no longer worked regularly, so that, whilst she much needed comforts, because of her weak state, she could hardly get food.
Once or twice, she tried to bring him to see the evil of his course, and the misery that he was bringing upon himself, and her, and on their child; but he roughly silenced her, and she had nothing left but to betake herself to prayer. Her husband's habit became more and more confirmed, and, at length, his former employers grew so irritated at his frequent neglect of his work, that, even when he had a sober day, he could find nothing to do. Then he took to the wild habits of his drinking companions, and sometimes went with them on poaching expeditions, and sometimes committed thefts with them.
All this was indeed terrible to Milly; how did she now feel the bitterness of having disregarded the will of God in marrying an irreligious man! How did she feel her folly in not taking his holy law for a lamp to her feet and a light to her path! In humility and penitence, she bore her grief, and still sought, so far as she could, to discharge the duty of a wife. It often happened that she had not a bit of food in the house, and no money with which to buy it; and her heartless husband even pawned some of her clothes to supply himself with drink. But, most of all, she grieved to see his hardness of heart, and how very far he seemed from penitence or change. Her only dependence now, for her support, was upon what she was able to obtain by work, which she was glad to take in, when it could be obtained. Then came a second confinement, during which her mother not only nursed her as before, but kept her also ; for now her husband seldom came near his own cottage; and when he did come, it was only to get her little earnings, or to hide himself from the officers of justice, who were looking out for him,
because of some theft in which he was supposed to have been concerned..
When she was up again, after her confinement, she could get less by work than before ; for she had now two young children to support. However, in the midst of all her poverty and all her sorrow, she was living near to God; she was walking with him in faith and humility, and accepting, as from his hand, the deep grief which her folly had brought on her. In her sad state, she felt the preciousness of her Saviour.
She had heard nothing of her husband for six weeks past, when, one morning, a message was brought in to her, that he had been, during the last night, attempting to break into a dwelling house, but had, in the act, received a wound from a gun, which was likely to prove his death ; that, instead of being carried to gaol, he had been taken to the hospital, and that she had better hasten quickly to his side. Poor Milly! how her heart sunk! She knelt for a few moments in prayer; then begged a neighbour to carry her children to her mother, and to tell her the sad tale, and hurried off.
When she arrived, her husband did not know her ; he was not conscious his senses never again returned- no moment was afforded him for thought or prayer in four hours he was a corpse. God has said, “The candle of the wicked shall be put out.” How awfully was his put out! Milly shuddered. We will not attempt to describe her agony. She returned to her home and again lived with her parents. She was now indeed a humble and lowly disciple of the Lord, and he graciously provided for her. She obtained regular work, and with it a comfortable maintenance for herself and her babes ; she was known among the neighbours as a woman of a sorrowful spirit, for how could she look back and not be sorrowful ? but her faith and love grew. She trained up her children to fear and love the Lord, and in every future step in life, she sought to learn and do his will; and his guiding hand was with her, and his blessing rested upon her.
Reader! be not unequally yoked with an unbeliever.
THE HOLY DAY. That holy day, which has God for its author, and the present and eternal happiness of man for its object, cannot be too highly valued, nor too carefully improved. The following remarks on the nature of the sabbath, the obligation to keep
1 it holy, and the great value of this merciful gift of God to man, more especially to the labourer, are so plain, convincing, and practical, that they may be read with general advantage.
" If we had been," - said a malefactor to his guilty companion as they stood together on the platform of the fatal gallows,- If we had been there,” said he, pointing with his finger to a church, “on that guilty Sunday, we should not be here now.” “It is my last advice,” said another malefactor, "and I hope you will always bear it in mind, that you always attend a place of worship. Sabbath-breaking and drinking have been my ruin." · These men had lived as heedless of the Lord's day, as many now do who, if they do not give timely heed to their ways, may have cause to repent it as bitterly at their dying hour. It is a common saying, that you may know a man by the company he keeps ; not less certainly may you know a man by the way he keeps Sunday. If he spend it in buying and selling, in the alehouse, in reading newspapers, in idle, frivolous, sinful conversation, while the house of God is disregarded, the man has no true religion, no solid happiness. He is travelling along the broad road to ruin, with all the company of sabbath-breakers. There are set times for everything. The Lord's day is the appointed time for casting in the precious seed of the word, which, being sown “ to the Spirit," the fruit will be everlasting life. But whoever sows to the flesh on that day, “shall of the flesh reap corruption."
Our sabbaths, as they come and go, seem a small portion of time, yet the man of seventy has lived ten years of sabbaths ; ten years in learning to be wise and holy for eternity, or ten in breaking the commandments of God! Of sabbath-breaking it may be particularly said, that he who is guilty of this offence is guilty of all; for it not only involves the principle of disobedience, but it is the first step to other temptations and sins.
It has been said that the sabbath is the oldest, and a perpetual holy-day. It may be considered as the birth-day of creation ; for, after this vast earth, the sea, and all that in them is, had been called into being, the Almighty Creator ceased from his work on the seventh day, and “blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Therefore, in commemoration of the glorious work of creation, our first parents, and their descendants, were required to keep the sabbath; and the institution was again solemnly confirmed and commanded to be remembered for ever, in the fourth of the ten commandments, which
were written on two tables of stone, by the finger of God. Accordingly the Jews, who kept the Holy Scripture of the Old Testament, and were the peculiar people of God, till they rejected the Saviour, strictly observed the sabbath.
The Christian has an additional motive for keeping the sabbath holy, of which he is reminded by a change of the day on which it is kept, from the last day of the week, to the first, ever since the resurrection of our Saviour. The seventh portion of our time is still hallowed, but as the Lord of the sabbath lay in the dark and silent grave on the last day of the week, it was not a day for his people to rejoice in. On the first day of the week, our Lord arose, and therefore, in memory of his resurrection, the first day has ever been observed as the Christian sabbath; since, by his resurrection, the created world shall be restored from the ruins of the fall, and his faithful people look for a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Thus we read in the Acts of the apostles that the first disciples, after our Lord's resurrection, met repeatedly on the first day of the week, and that our Lord himself then came in the midst of them and blessed them. The first day of the week was the day on which the disciples ever afterwards met for worship. It was called the “ Lord's day.” “ I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day,” says the inspired John in the Revelation. This was the day the Lord had made, they were to rejoice and be glad in it. And after the example of these inspired apostles and early Christians, sanctioned, doubtless, by our Lord himself, the Christian church has always kept the sabbath on the Lord's resurrection day. The wandering Jews still keep the sabbath of creation ; Christians keep the more glorious sabbath of redemption. The infidel, in doctrine and in practice, profanes both.
It is the height of impiety to dispute the will of God in the disposal of the time which he gave, and which he can take away in a moment. What man or what nation, in disobeying this command, can hope to prosper? As God gave to our first parents all the trees in the garden of Eden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of which they were forbidden to eat; so he gave us all the days in the week except the sabbath, which we are required to keep holy. When man ate the forbidden fruit, the ground was cursed, because of man's sin, and brought forth thorns and thistles, and sin and death came upon the transgressors. How can he hope to prosper when he puts forth his hand to profane