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CHAPTER VIII.

6

LET NO MAN JUDGE YOU IN MEAT, OR IN DRINK, OR IN RESPECT OF AN HOLY DAY, OR OF THE NEW MOON, OR

OF THE SABBATH DAYS: WHICH ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS

TO COME; BUT THE BODY IS OF CHRIST.'-Col. ii. 16.

FOR EVERY CREATURE OF GOD IS GOOD, AND NOTHING TO BE REFUSED, IF IT BE RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING.' 1 Tim. iv. 4.

BEFORE she was called upon for this confession of her opinion, an occurrence happened, which did not tend to weaken it. Next to the room in which they usually sat, was a small apartment fitted up with book-shelves, and here Mary usually spent an hour or two each morning after breakfast. On the day in question, she had remained rather longer than usual ; and looking at her watch, found she was passing the hour she had appointed to visit and read to one of the cottagers, who only could command a certain time of the day free from noise and intrusion. Just as she rose to leave the room she heard voices in the passage, and presuming them to be visitors, waited till they should be settled in the drawing--room before she went out; but on then trying the door she found to her great annoyance that the key had been turned, by the housemaid, on the other side. Not knowing whom the visitors might be, and thinking that if she went in she should be obliged to prolong her stay till too late for her engagement, she thought she would remain quietly where she was, and again seated herself at her book. She had not been many minutes so engaged before she heard a conversation in the adjoining room, the door of which was partly open, and she feared to rise and close it lest she should be heard. " What sort of a person is Mrs. Harding," said a voice which she knew must belong to a gentleman; a female replied, in terms of much commendation, that she was every thing that could be desired in a Christian, so pious, so devoted, so consistent, so humble, we cannot say she is deficient in any one virtue; except, perhaps, that she spends more money on her dress than any of us would think consistent, but she may not see it in the same light. Next followed an inquiry about herself, and Mary felt her cheeks glowing, as she was obliged to listen to what was said, and felt the awkwardness of her situation. The female voice she fancied she recognised. There was a hesitation in the reply, “ I am told,” said the lady, “ that Miss Conroy is a pious young woman, but her manner is not so serious as we like.”

• Is her conversation in a pious strain?” “Yes, certainly, I hear she is very zealous and ready to speak on religion, but as I said before, she has such a lively manner that one cannot help fearing, before one thoroughly knows a person, that where there is any mixture of what we call the language of Canaan, there must be something of a worldly spirit.” “I thought she had been very spiritual,” said the gentleman, “ from what I had heard of her.” “ I don't know, it may be so, but one usually looks for consistency in all things in a very spiritually-minded person; her dress, for instance, is quite unlike what we should call consistent; not that I mean to say she wears glaring colours or expensive ornaments, but there is a style about them that looks particular : for instance, she wears two flounces to her gown, when we should think one, or a few tucks, quite waste enough of money; and she has handsomely worked collars and an expensive shawl; her bonnet, to be sure, is not much trimmed, but it has a fashionable air which we should disapprove; and she wears silk stockings,

though I believe most ladies use them now: then again, she has a large massive gold chain hung round her neck, and a glass suspended to it, she may be near-sighted, I rather think by her eyes that she is, but we dislike ornament of every kind, and think the less one is conformed to the world, in every thing, the better. Perhaps I am doing wrong in saying all this to you, for, in fact, I know so little of Miss Conroy that I ought not to form an opinion.” “True !" said the gentleman, “ but one naturally judges from appearances, and I always like to hear of professing Christians conforming in all things to the habits of experienced and self-denying brethren.” “ I dare say,” replied the lady, who was at heart a well-meaning kind of person, be going too far in expecting every one to fall into our peculiar views; we live so retired, so entirely separate from the world; and, happily for us, so removed from the vanities and temptations of the world, that we can hardly judge for others; indeed we think almost every one who comes amongst us different from ourselves. I do think we enjoy great privileges ! Surely no society of Christians were ever more favoured than we."

As this sentence was concluding, the lady

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of the house appeared, and seemed delighted to see her guests. They talked over the preceding evening's entertainment, and the visitors expressed themselves highly gratified by the sentiments delivered on the subject of the written inquiry; they thought the ideas so scriptural, so humble, so truly apostolic. In all this the hostess fully concurred.

Speaking on the subject of dress,” said she, addressing herself to the female visitor, "you will be pleased to hear that my housemaid, Fanny Bartlett, whom I took from the school, is doing extremely well. I had a little trouble with her at first, for she was inclined to dress more than I liked, but my cook is a very steady serious woman, and talked to her on the impropriety of it; and I took an opportunity one day that I saw her going out with curls in her hair, and smart ribbons on her bonnet, of telling her that such an appearance was not consistent with a woman wishing to profess godliness; ever since then poor Fanny has taken off the ribbons, and I see nothing more of the curls, indeed I have reason to think myself very fortunate in my household. I do hope they are all seriously inclined ; I hear no laughing nor foolish talking -they all go about the house like mice, you wouldn't know that any one was in it. Sarah,

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