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"THE BAD PENNY."
UNDER this title we wish to introduce to the readers of the LITTLE GLEANER a brief memoir of a valued Christian friend (Mrs. P-), who has entered into that heavenly rest where sorrow and sighing are unknown, and where bereavements and unkindness from the nearest ties have no place. As I cast my eyes on the mantel-piece, they meet a pair of hand-screens prettily painted with flowers, fruit, and birds, executed and pre
sented to me by this friend some years before her death; they form a sad memento of the struggles she then made to obtain a scanty pittance for the support of herself and young family. Although no In memoriam " is required to recall her simple faith and stedfast love to the adorable Friend of sinners, when she was a sojourner in this "Baca," yet the relation of some incidents of her early days, whilst it proves an encouragement to the aged Christian, and an admonition to the young, may, with God's blessing, be made instructive to all; and on these grounds we offer the details of her eventful life, and its peaceful (though sad) termination. The bread cast upon the waters in her youth, was found as the bread of eternal life at her death.
Mary P was the youngest child of Mr. and who, at the period of her birth, resided a short distance from London. The fortune
possessed by Mrs. A on her coming of age, as well as Mr. A's own property, was (partly by expenditure, partly by his neglect of every pursuit save that of fine arts) in time swallowed. The profession of music became his hope and refuge for support. Mary's sister often told her that they must have resided under more than twenty roofs during the first six years of her life. If worldly happiness were to be obtained through a moderate income, Mr. A- might have possessed it, but this he disdained; his desires grew upon each disappointment; he soared higher and higher, but the fatal blow came at last! All was lost; and with the loss of hope, he sank of a broken heart, and expired in a rapid decline at the premature age of fifty years.
Mrs. A, thus left a widow in the middle of life with a large young family mostly dependent on her, laudably endeavoured to provide the elder
children with some means of support. In her exertions she was aided by kind friends, and before Mary (then her mother's sole companion) was ten years of age, the other members were out in the world gaining a competency. At this period Mrs. A was the subject of divine grace; she became a member of the congregation meeting Street chapel, London, and was for many years highly respected, and adorned her Christian profession to the hour of her happy departure to bliss and glory. Her sole care was the education of Mary, the subject of our memoir, who always accompanied her parent to the above place of worship.
After a time, came a pressing request from an aunt at Bath, that the little girl might be allowed to spend a few weeks with her. Mary has often related how her indulgent mother longed to accept the kind invitation; but waited in vain for some friend to take charge of her little one in the stagecoach to Bath; for this once frequented place, celebrated for its mineral waters (gushing hot from the earth in several parts), was less resorted to at the period of our narrative, when the whole of the commercial world was greatly depressed. The French Revolution had scarcely subsided, when Britain was involved in war with her neighbours. Bonaparte had collected an immense flotilla at Boulogne, for the avowed purpose of invading England, but, through the merciful interposition of God's providence, the combined French and Spanish fleet was chased by the brave Admiral Nelson, and finally engaged and defeated at the memorable battle of Trafalgar, when England mourned the loss of one of her most noble naval commanders. Travelling for health or recreation was then almost confined to the nobility and gentry, who could
do so in their private carriages, or " by post;" the few persons who made use of "stage coaches were either commercial men, or occasional visitors to and from the metropolis. And here we must remind our readers, that in the days of which we are writing railroads with their constant trains running day and night, were wonders quite unknown, and a journey which now occupies three hours, was accomplished in little less than nine. But to return to Mary. At the importunity of her aunt, she was taken to the coach office by her mother, and entrusted to the care of a venerable-looking gentleman and lady, who were returning to Bath; the former proved to be an eminent dissenting minister of that town.
As soon as the coach left Piccadilly, the old man, with his silvery hair and a sweet smile on his face, took the child on his knee, and engaged her in conversation. Much that he said she soon forgot; but one memorable question which he put to her, she remembered to the day of her death: "When you pray, my dear, what do you ask God for ?" She coloured, was confused, and could not, or did not, answer. "Now suppose mamma gave you a penny to buy some sweetmeats with, and when you put it down on the counter, the shopman threw it back to you, saying it was such a bad penny that it would not go, what would you do?" "Oh," rejoined Mary, "I should run back to mamma and ask her to give me a good one." "To be sure you would, like a sensible little girl. Well, now God says in His holy word that you have a very bad heart, which will not go into heaven, and you should ask Him to give you a new heart, that is, a good heart, for Jesus Christ's sake, His dear Son." He coaxed her to repeat this short prayer more than once. Her head sank down, and she could
not be induced to say more to her kind companions. The thought of having a bad heart, then the consciousness of possessing a wicked heart, and the certainty of never becoming fit for the kingdom of heaven without a new heart and a new spirit, stole over her mind little by little as week after week, until that travelling prayer, as we may truly call it, became a constant cry to a throne of grace. The first dawn of spiritual life shone into her soul from this period.
She was entering her fifteenth year, when the watchful eye of a Christian parent noticed a gradual, though not less marked, alteration in Mary's conduct. She would sit in an obscure corner of the house reading either the Bible or a book of one of the few good divines that were found on the scanty shelves; and anon she was seen with her face bathed in tears, and her young bosom heaving with deep sighs. Mrs. A could only learn that she felt the sinfulness of her heart, and dreaded the thoughts of death and eternity. Many months of distress of mind passed, ere she was prevailed on to accompany her mother to spend the afternoon with the minister, Mr. L-, of Street Chapel.
After several interviews of a similar kind, Mr. L- was fully satisfied that a work of grace had begun in Mary's heart. She now looked forward with pleasure to the Sabbath days, and enjoyed the society of a few Christian friends who often called and spent an hour with her mother. In short, she was admitted a member of Mr. L's congregation* before she attained her nineteenth year.
*There is no account of Mary's faith in Christ. The sequel shows she had this. Dear reader, you are not in a position to join the Church on earth, and can never enter heaven, without two thingsrepentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.-ED.