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delight? Oh! do not trifle with your soul; do not slight the day of visitation: now mercy is waiting : but mercy will not always wait. Ere the year closes, give yourself to God; leave the ranks of sin and the world, and repair to the standard of the Cross. Fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life!
R. C. Penryn.
CHRISTMAS AMUSEMENTS. “ She cannot be right," was the indignant exclamation of the sprightly Julia N , as she bounded into her dressing-room to make preparations for a party which had for days afforded her pleasurable anticipations,—“it is quite impossible.”
Julia had just received a letter from a much-beloved friend, who having heard of the numerous gay parties which she was frequenting, had taken a friend's licence of plainly warning her of the consequences which might be feared if she continued this giddy round of pleasure. Julia had once had misgivings on this point herself, but now she felt, and perhaps justly, that Harriet had been unnecessarily severe, and tried to dismiss the whole subject from her thoughts by the words with which our story commenced. Let it not be supposed that either Julia or her friends were mere people of the world—this was by no means the case ; she, as well as they, made a profession of christianity, and many of them had often proved that they were sincere followers of the Lamb. But they lived in one of the large and populous cities of our land, where so many temptations assail the christian, unknown to those whose path is more retired. The circle of their acquaintance was large, and the custom amongst them of maintaining very frequent intercourse had grown into a habit. At Christmas, the only time when many a happy family party was complete, this custom naturally led to large assemblings of the young and gay, with all the mirth and levity which must be attendant upon them. Balls and routs were things unthought of by Julia's parents ; but as they mingled in life with those who were withheld by no principles from attending them, was it surprising that their child should often be invíted to parties differing from them only in the name? But still these large fashionable meetings, at which
dancing, or other festivities, was often continued until a very late hour, were not considered in the least to interfere with the maintenance of the truest religion. Harriet G , we have heard, differed from this opinion. She had been brought up in a lone country village where one or two families formed the extent of her visiting acquaintance, and these were too far separated from each other to allow of great intimacy. The cottages of the poor had been better known to her, but this of course was the result of circumstances; and education naturally taught her that which it would have required much high independence of spirit to have enabled Julia to perceive. But each shall soon speak for herself.
We left Julia preparing for one of the large and merry Christmas “gatherings," probably well known to most of our young readers. She went to it with a light heart, and joined heartily in all the glee and merriment which prevailed; indeed, her natural brilliancy of wit, and generous-hearted frankness, had made her one of the main springs of all the sports of her young friends. As the house at which she was visiting was at some distance from her parents' home, it was past midnight when she returned to them, and later still when she once more sought her chamber. Her head and heart were still gaily running on the scene she had left--the crowded drawing room--the blazing fire--the merry Christmas games--the sharp wit and sprightly raillery which ran blithely round the room.--all in turn returned to her mind's eye, and it was long ere her aching eyelids closed in sleep. It was late, very late. the next morning when she awoke, but this was no unusual thing for Julia. She rose hastily, and was summoned by her anxious mother to her breakfast ere she had time to open her little Bible, or bend her knee in prayer. At breakfast the scenes of the past evening were again discussed, and the cheerful party sat long over their social meal. When they separated, Julia again sought her chamber to pour out her young heart to God. She loved prayer generally, but this morning her thoughts seemed to spurn her efforts seriously to collect them, and she rose sorrowfully from her knees, with the bitter reflection that her's had been but lip-service. She took her Bible, but before she had time to open it, the cards of morning callers were brought to her, and a succession of visitors occupied
her time for the whole of the morning. Julia chatted of the evening's sports; she spoke of coming pleasures, and her brilliant eye and flushed cheek made many say, as they left the house, that certainly she was happy. But her heart was ill at ease, the excitement of the previous evening's entertainment was beginning to die away ; and though her countenance was dressed in smiles, they only left “her flagging spirits doubly weak.” Let not any imagine this picture exaggerated, or that such a quick reversion of spirits is unnatural but for the determined votaries of fashionable pleasure : such a description doubtless would in general be rather ascribed to them, but it appears to us erroneous; the foolish idolaters of a foolish world soon lose this sensitiveness : but to you, dear young friends, to you who are possessed of Julia's mental excitability, and of Julia's conscience, we appeal to you to tell us if we have too strongly painted the feelings of such a character, conscious that in the pursuit of giddy pleasure, duty had been lost sight of. If, at this moment, when she was but beginning to recover from the intoxication into which her spirits had been thrown, you had asked her what she felt, she could not have told you; she would have been as far from admitting that the previous night's engagements could be injurious as before she joined in them, but she would have known that within her inmost spirit was a void, a dreariness, which no thought of that brilliant assemblage could satisfy. The sun of those short winter days had set, when at length Julia wandered slowly and mournfully to her room, and the first object which there caught her eye was her Bible lying in the place where, hours before, she had laid it, unopened. The tears rose to her eyes, and were accompanied by a quick blush, as, on moving it, her last letter from Harriet fell from it. She took it up, and long and bitterly did she weep over it. She felt that since she had received it, all had not been right with her; but still her sense of wrong was undefined and vague. At length she rose and locked the door, and solemnly resolved that, with her Bible in her hand, she would test the truth of the sentiments she had so prematurely condemned, and falling on her knees she besought that He who giveth wisdom liberally and upbraideth not, would graciously direct her decisions.
She then opened the letter and read as follows :
.." YouTons of the way the de
-“Your letters, my dearest Julia, have of late been filled with descriptions of the gay and brilliant parties to which you are constantly invited, and of the delight you find in their enjoyment. But oh! I pray that this unholy joy may not too late be turned into unavailing sorrow-that you may not too late find that your heart has turned from the living and true God to idols-that, having been often reproved, your neck may not become hardened until you are suddenly cut off, and that without remedy, and that God, in his mercy, may not give you up to this reprobate mind. Forgive these plain words, and, my beloved Julia, suffer your Harriet to ask you, how one who has named the name of Jesus can still go on sharing in all the idle and wicked frivolities of a vain and sinful world. I think you might find it well to ask yourself when going to any of the gay and worldly scenes you speak of with such rapture, whether you could bear to meet your Saviour there-whether you might speak of Him, without feeling that you were approaching a subject inappropriate to the time and place. You know that you could not even think of him in your gay haunts without shame at feeling the disgrace you were bringing upon his name; or perhaps worse, shame that you bore that holy name. You are mingling with the children of this world in their giddy dissipations, so that none can discover the mark of the Cross upon your forehead-beware-oh! beware, lest the Judge himself, when at the last great day you plead your profession of faith in his name, should say I never knew you."
We hinted before, and must now plainly repeat that Harriet did not, in the spirit of Christ, counsel her friend. She reproved, and that not in a spirit of meekness considering herself lest she also might be tempted : she loudly protested against the mote in her friend's eye, but thought not of taking the beam of spiritual pride from her own. She did not remember and gratefully acknowledge that her path in life had made it impossible for her to share in the festivities she condemned-that her earlier and more advanced years had alike been guarded from those influences I which from childhood had been acting on Julia's mind. Alas! poor Harriet! she might have been led much farther astray. Still she loved her friend ardently, and had doubtless sincerely mourned over what appeared to her such inexcusable sin : but let the harshness of her censures warn our young readers against the dictatorial tones which we are all too apt to assume when blaming those errors from which, by circumstances, or rather by Providence, we have been peculiarly shielded a harshness by which we alike fall into the sin of judging our brother, who, before God only, will stand or fall; and entirely frustrate our own purpose--for vehement declamation will seldom convince. Let us think on Him whom we are told to resemble, and of whom it is said not only that he giveth wisdom liberally, but also “ He upbraideth not."
Julia again took up her Bible, and her burning cheek and throbbing brow bore ample evidence that she had keenly felt the full force and bitterness of her friend's remarks. She knew that Harriet loved her, and she confidingly trusted her love ; but though she would have been unwilling to admit it, she felt that she had been severely judged : and as she pressed her little treasured Bible to her heart, she burst into tears at the thought that there she would find sure counsel, and consolation too, from the good Shepherd, Had Julia come to the examination of this point at the same hour of the previous day, she would shortly have dismissed the subject, by declaring that it was impossible that God should forbid happiness to any of his creatures'; but now, though equally convinced of the certainty of this too often misapplied truth, she began to question whether such means could promote or maintain any degree of that peace which the world cannot give, and the world cannot take away. An hour after this time, and Julia was pouring out the fulness of her young heart's gratitude to that Heavenly Father who had shown her the error of her inexperienced youth ; and she then and there solemnly renewed her bounden obligation thenceforth to live entirely for Him. She rejoined the family circle in the evening calm and happy; for her head was at rest. That night she retired early, and the next morning placed in her beloved mother's hands the following interesting letter ; whilst with tearful eyes." she prayed that if any sentiment or expression in it should appear inconsistent with her duty as a child, her dear parents would believe that not one word had been written without earnest prayer that she might ever remember that first commandment with promise-" Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land.”