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Come, Saviour, in Thee have I trusted ; let me never be confounded. Oh, for the judgment seat of Christ !”
Again, I stood in a brilliant room, full of luxuries. Three or four fair women were standing, pensively talking with each other. Their apartment was bestrewn with jewellery, laces, silks, velvets, and every fanciful elegance of fashion ; but they looked troubled.
“This seems to me really awful,” said one, with a suppressed sigh. “What troubles me is, I know so little about it.”
“ Yes," said another, "and it puts a stop so to everything! Of what use will these be to-morrow?” There was a poor seamstress in the corner of the room,
who now spoke. “We shall be ever with the Lord,” she said.
“I'm sure I don't know what that can mean,” said the first speaker, with a kind of shudder; “it seems rather fearful.”
“Well,” said the other," it seems so sudden—when one never dreamed of any such thing—to change all at once from this to that other life.
“It is enough to be with Him," said the poor woman. I have so longed for it !” “The great gulf again," said the angel.
Then again, we stood on the steps of a church. A band of clergymen were together—Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Old School and New School, all stood hand in hand.
“It's no matter now about these old issues,” they said. is coming ; He will settle all. Ordinations and ordinances, sacraments, creeds, are but the scaffolding of the edifice. They are the shadows—the substance is Christ! And, hand in hand, they turned their faces when the Christmas morning light began faintly glowing, and I heard them saying together, with one heart and one voice, “Come, LORD JESUS, come quickly!
THE WORD OF GOD.
Before God's host unfurl'd;
It shineth like a beacon
Above the darkling world :
It is the chart and compass,
That o'er life's surging sea,
'Mid mists, and rocks, and quickA lantern to our footsteps,
sands, Shines on from age to age.
Still guide, O Christ, to Thee. The Church from her dear Master O make Thy Church, dear Saviour, Received the gift divine,
A lamp of burnish'd gold,
To bear before the nations
Thy true light, as of old :
O teach Thy wandering pilgrims, Where gems of truth are stored ; By this their path to trace, It is the heaven-drawn picture
Till, clouds and darkness ended, Of Christ, the living Word.
They see Thee face to face !
MATERNAL ASSOCIATIONS. HE idea of a maternal association, or stated meeting of mothers for the sake of mutual conference, combined with prayer, originated first in the United States. Like many other devices of pious wisdom, adapted for and destined to obtain a wide-spread imitation, it was little
imagined by those who first conceived the plan, “whereunto it would grow.” It is remarkable, too, how in many instances it was adopted, not as the result of any theory or preconceived design, but from a deeply felt necessity. Some time after such associations had been organized in some of the cities and larger towns of America, a lady in the State of Massachusetts wrote as follows:
“We were told the other day of an afternoon visit in one of our western forests, where a number of mothers met for social and Christian intercourse, each coming by a different path through the woods. They had not been long together before the subject of special prayer and effort for children was brought forward (maternal societies were unknown to them), when it proved that each mother, without a single exception, had been so impressed with the importance of devising some method for the religious instruction of her children, that she had not only sought to have it pointed out to her by prayer, but determined to confer with the first Christian mother she should meet, and get her views upon the subject; so that, you see, they were thus moved by the power of God to the adoption of those very means which are so earnestly recommended by those who have had better advantages of carrying their pious resolutions into effect.”
Take another instance, found in circumstances very different from those of the isolated forest mothers—the lady who furnished it being at the time the centre of one of the most pious and intelligent circles in London. In 1838 she thus wrote:
“Many years ago my attention was drawn to these meetings by reading the interesting memoirs of Mrs. Susan Huntington, of America, who seems to have derived much aid, as a mother, from an association to which she belonged. From that time I frequently wished we could have something of the kind in our own country. I was then surrounded with a little family ; and feeling deeply the weight of maternal responsibility, my sins of ignorance and infirmity were continually before me, and most thankful and happy was I when I met with those on whose judgment and piety I could depend. Their intercourse was always felt a great privilege, so that the desire to renew and extend it naturally increased. After one of these interviews, we agreed to set apart a short time once a-week to pray in secret for our respective families, and this agreement was long and punctually observed; but frequent and
regular conference on the subject nearest our hearts was still wanting. At this juncture, several communications were received from America, which led to the formation of an association at Reading, and two or three smaller ones of the most simple kind. A few pious mothers assembled at stated times to read the Scriptures, inite in social prayer, and converse together on the means they should employ to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The restraint and timidity natural at the commencement soon wore off, and in a short time those who were thus connected felt a growing interest in the object that first brought them together; a deeper concern for past negligence and error ; an increasing solicitude to know the way of duty, and to walk therein more perfectly. I cannot tell you what satisfaction some have expressed on finding, for the first time, that their sorrows and difficulties were understood and reciprocated. At these meetings, the word in season has frequently affected our hearts with
power. We met, perhaps weary and discouraged; we have retired, disburdened of our cares, fortified in our determinations, and exclaiming, 'It was good for us to be here.'»
Many such exclamations have been uttered with reference to this class of social exercises. “I always seem to love my children more when I come from one of these meetings,” said one young mother. “I never leave that room without feeling humbled and quickened in duty," said another. A third, who had changed her residence, remarked, “I am so glad to find a maternal association here. I would have still gone to the meetings in — Street, rather than be without such a privilege, only the distance would have prevented my going regularly."
Maternal associations have now multiplied and been extended into almost every part of the United Kingdom, in the British Colonies, and at very many missionary stations among the heathen. But the pious and intelligent class who commenced these associations, did not long continue to confine all the advantage of them to themselves. Very soon it became obvious to them how the principle of these associations might, with some needful modification, be made to extend its benefits to mothers far beneath them, both in social position and in religious impression. Juvenile vice and misery forcing themselves on their attention on every hand, they were led to trace these corrupt streams to their legitimate fountain, in godless and undisciplined homes, and to feel that gratitude for their own privileges should be manifested in some efforts for those outcasts, for whose souls not even their own mothers cared. Repulsive indeed and discouraging was the soil in which many of these unpretending "training schools for mothers” were planted. But we have not heard of a single instance in which perseverance has not been rewarded, first by gaining respect and confidence from many who had long been unaccustomed to hear the voice of kindness, and next by witnessing the fruit of their
labours—the manifest improvement wrought both on the mothers themselves, and through them on their families and homes-an improvement extending, in cases not a few, to most hopeful evidences of conversion to God. One lady, who has been remarkably favoured by such tokens of success, began the work among a circle of women who, with few exceptions, earned whatever they could earn in the streets. Having announced a class for teaching the elder girls of a ragged-school to sew, some of their mothers came, begging permission to attend. Most gladly she received them ; and so important was the field of usefulness she saw thus opening before her, that the class was speedily transformed into a maternal meeting. In one association, the following simple subjects were first discussed.
“ What is said in the Bible on parental duties?
“What are the duties of a child as pourtrayed in the Word of God ?”
“What instances of maternal excellence do the Scriptures supply?”
“What instances of parental failure are recorded ?”
“What evidence have we that our children inherit a depraved nature ?"
“How are we to bring our children to Christ ? ”
In course of time the circle of subjects will be continually widening, embracing many that are purely practical, and these again diversified by the changing aspect of society and of the times.
“It is necessary, in conducting our meetings, to consult variety; to be furnished with incidents, anecdotes, and illustrations ; to make use of observation and experience; to read occasional extracts from books, etc.; and sometimes to offer freely those suggestions which occur on the spot. As soon as conversation flags, the book should be resumed, but chiefly for the sake of reviving conversation. It is a great desideratum to preserve order, without running into formality; but a little stiffness is unavoidable till the members of an association are well known to each other, and in most cases they soon become so. A similarity of feeling and interest will imperceptibly knit them together, like travellers after a long and diversified journey, who, having started as strangers, not unfrequently complete their career as friends."
In that which may be called the third class of maternal associations—those which are most commonly formed in connection with ragged schools, or town mission stations—the mode of management is of course adapted to the circumstances. Many of the mothers must of necessity bring their babes, and all of them are encouraged to bring some needlework. Shoe-binding, parasoltrimming, etc., can thus be carried on at the meeting, so as to obviate the complaint of having no time to attend. Such as pursue no such branch of industry are invited to bring garments to make or to mend; for the latter purpose, tapes, cottons, patches
of flannel, calico, etc., are provided by the friends who are interested in the object, who also, when needful, cut out or fix work for the poor women. In some localities this has assumed the character of a clothing club, the mothers, by weekly payments, purchasing at a cheap rate materials which, being made up at the meetings, are ready for use as soon as paid for. Good feeling is often expressed by their helping each other to finish an article that is wanted. In many cases, payments are received for penny banks.
But whatever amount of secular employment may go on at the meetings, they should always be opened with prayer and reading the Scriptures, the president then giving a simple exposition or practical exhortation, founded on the chapter read. These exercises over, the needles begin to move ; and when all are fairly set to work, some useful and interesting narrative is read, the president interspersing judicious hints and kindly inquiries.* A little singing, when practicable, is introduced; but in and through all, she endeavours to impress upon the minds of all around her that she is their sympathising friend. The time of these meetings is always so adjusted as neither to interfere with the comfort of the husband's meals, nor with proper attention to the children out of school hours.
An excellent minister thus writes :-" As there is no human power so durable and so valuable as well-directed maternal influence, so no part of our labours in the ministry can be more important than calling forth and directing this influence,-making mothers to feel their privileges and responsibilities, and leading them so to cultivate the minds and hearts of their children, and so to restrain and govern them, that they may be prepared when the truths of the Gospel may be broughtto bear upon them, to yield to its teaching and its restraints. How can these objects be most effectually secured? I answer, the surest method is through Maternal Associations. Nowhere can a minister be placed with greater hope of being kindly listened to than in such an assembly, --especially by those who are young, and just entering on the solemn duties of family government. These associations will aid in securing uniformity of domestic education and moral culture; they will also cultivate a taste for reading and instruction on this important subject and others which are akin to it. Having long seen the salutary influence of these meetings on mothers themselves, on their families, and on the ministrations of the Gospel, I would urge each one of my brethen in the ministry to secure, as speedily as possible, the formation of a Maternal Association. among the people of his charge, and to aid it in every way he can.'
* For readings at Mothers' Meetings, selections from the following may be found useful :—Words for Women (Seeley). - The Mother's Manual (Jarrold).—The Shepherdess Tending her Lambs (Partridge).---Our Mothers (Hodder & Stoughton).