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EPHRAIM HOLDING ; OR, THE FAMILY VISITOR.
EPHRAIM HOLDING TO SERVANTS. For me to enter a family circle, to talk with the aged people, to converse with the master and mistress, to have something to say with the younger branches, and altogether to neglect the servants, would never do at all. I would render " to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour ;" but, in doing this, I must bear in mind, that a faithful conscientious servant is deserving of great respect.
It has fallen to my lot, in moving about in the wide world, to be ministered to by many an upright servant, from my very youth up to this day; and, therefore, if any man breathing is bound, in common honesty, to speak well of good servants, that man is Ephraim Holding. Yes, from the gold-laced liveried footman to the country lad that runs on errands, and cleans the boots and shoes ; from the lady's maid to the scullion, who scours the pots and kettles,-show me a faithful servant, and that servant shall have my respect : but mind you, my eyes are wide open to the failings of servants for all this. In speaking of their bad as well as their good qualities, I shall do it with a kindly spirit.
We should all do well to remember, that the best and wisest of mankind have acknowledged themselves to be servants. Indeed, to be a faithful servant of God, is to enjoy the highest honour that can be put upon man. If we thought of this more, perhaps we should be more disposed to respect a good servant than we are. But servants should also consider how great the reproach is, to be unfaithful. What a pleasant thing would it be, if men, instead of giving themselves the trouble they do, to trace their relationship to the high and mighty of the earth, would endeavour to trace back their genealogy to some faithful servant of God, that they might tread in his steps, and imitate his holy example!
Throughout the holy Scripture, the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles, are continually called “servants of the Lord;" and even of our gracious Redeemer it is said, that He who “ thought it not robbery to be equal with God," "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” See, then, how the character of a servant has been honoured! and see also what all ought to be who sustain that character ; honest in all things, and faithful even unto death.
It may be that some powdered lackey, whose garments are stiff with gold or silver lace, may glance over these remarks of Ephraim Holding; and, if so, to him I say with affection,-are you the servant of God ? for, if you are not, there is much reason to fear that you are not faithful to your earthly master. Feel not offended at my remark, unless you are satisfied it is unjust. He who can be unfaithful to God, may well be suspected of unfaithfulness to man.
And if some simple-minded house-maid, or cook, or nurse-girl, as she sits in her clean swept kitchen, or upper chamber, on the afternoon or evening of the Sabbath-day, should take up these observations of Ephraim Holding-—if she be walking heavenward, a sincere, however lowly, disciple of the Redeemer, let her be encouraged ; let her know that there are many, above her situation in life, who do not look down on servants with pride, but, on the contrary, highly respect them, and feel interested in their temporal and spiritual welfare. I would willingly speak only in praise of servants, but that would not be acting uprightly. There are many failings among them, sad failings; let me glance over a few of them
A man servant, whose life had been mostly passed in service, told me, that if he were to describe one half of the deceit and roguery practised by servants in high life, I should not give credit to his assertions ; folly, extravagance, waste, and robbery, are recklessly persevered in.
“I have known,” said he, “men servants, after leaving their master at a ball, drive round in his carriage to pick up their own company; return home, dress themselves in his clothes, and drink his wine with their dissolute companions, as freely as water."
A respectable servant, on whose word I can rely, once told me the following facts :
" At a place in which I once lived,” said he," a certain sum was deducted, from what I otherwise should have received for wages, in consequence of my being supplied with tea and sugar. My fellow-servant called me a fool for making such an agreement, as I might have saved myself the sum very well, by helping myself, as she had always been
in the habit of doing, from the china-closet, whenever an opportunity occurred.”
A servant told me, that for some time she had not been allowed meat for supper, “but," said she, " I will tell you how I manage the matter. I cut off more meat at dinner time than I can eat, and put by as much as I want for supper, so that no one knows any thing of the matter." The same girl, on taking away the cloth from such of her puddings as were boiled in a basin, frequently cut off the pudding level with the basin for herself, before she turned it in the dish for the diningroom, affecting all the time to care but very little about pudding.
“Once I had occasion to call on a married woman, who asked me if she could do any needle-work of any kind for me. Not exactly understanding her meaning, she showed me a large packet of green tea, telling me that she had it from some servants in the neighbourhood, whose needle-work she did in return. Ever since her marriage she had, in this manner, been regularly supplied with tea.”
“A servant girl felt offended at hearing her master express himself proudly about servants drinking out of the same vessel as himself; a fear was entertained that this sometimes occurred when the drink was drawn in the cellar. After this, it was the regular custom with the girl, whenever she drew drink for her master, to breathe with all her might into the glass or cup, in order that her proud master might be spited."
Now these are sad instances of dishonesty and bad conduct on the part of servants. Look at them for a moment, and ask yourself whether these are actions of which an upright and conscientious servant can be guilty ?
I well remember once uncorking a bottle of wine myself, when, being called away, a glass-full had disappeared on my return. Marking the bottle, I again put it in the cupboard, and soon after found another glass-full gone. In this way I went on putting a mark, level with the wine in the bottle, without ever pouring out a drop. In a few days the bottle was quite empty.
A friend of mine found a pot of currant jam grow less and less very rapidly ; when he spread very freely over the top some ipecacuhana. A servant who was suspected, very shortly after, by her sudden and violent sickness, made it very apparent in what way the currant jam had been disposed of.
It is not more than a few weeks ago, that a man was taken before the magistrate, who had in his wheelbarrow more than a hundred-weight of wax. This had been obtained from servants in houses where wax
candles were used ; and every one, who is accustomed to glance over the newspapers, must have been struck with the frequent robberies of plate by servants; but enough, and more than enough, on this shadowy side of my subject. Ephraim Holding grieves that servants should so far stand in their own light, as to consider a few miserable bits and drops, a few candle-ends and scraps of tea, a sufficient return for the loss of their character, and the absence of their peace of mind.
Servants servants ! you are better known than you think for ; your little pilferings, your pitiful deceits, your treacherous talebearings, do you much more mischief than those you serve. Do justice to yourselves, by doing justice to your masters and mistresses, for a curse clings to the wages of dishonesty and falsehood.
But I have known servants who would blush at a mean action, who could not have been bribed to deceive those they served, and who would not have been dishonest for all the wealth of the Bank of England.
More than one instance have come to my knowledge, of servants, who, after devoting their best days to the families they were attached to, administered to their wants in the season of calamity, and died, leaving them every penny of the property they had saved in their service. Such servants are among those whom Ephraim Holding delighteth to honour.
Often have I read, in a country church-yard, a stone raised “ to the memory of a faithful servant ;" and, while reading it, I have felt as kindly towards the poor perishing dust beneath it, as though it had been that of a brother or a sister.
Servants, let me urge upon you the service of God, that you may be better and happier servants in your places on earth, living a life of faith in Jesus Christ, and of obedience to his gospel ; that when the time shall arrive that the servant shall be equal with his master, you may hear the welcome words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things ; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
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THE CHRISTIAN RULE OF MARRIAGE.
(Concluded from page 331.) VII. The marriages of Christians with unbelievers are expressly prohibited in the New Testament.
The preceding arguments are not based on mere expediency or pro
bable theory. They are founded wholly on Scripture, experience, and necessity. But the best argument may be disputed, or may fail to convince. The humble Christian may yet want to know whether there be a distinct thus saith the Lord, on this subject; whether the New Testament contain any express law, rule, precept, or example, by which we may assure ourselves of the mind of our heavenly Father. Let me ask, can we conceive that the New Testament should be silent on this subject ? May we not, with that sacred directory in our hands, be confident before opening it, that it must contain instruction on this, the most important point which concerns our earthly condition ? If not, then it fails in an essential point to be " a lamp to our feet.” It is not a complete and competent guide. It leaves us uncertain where we especially need decision, and turns us to passion or philosophy for direction, in a part of our journey where they are especially likely to lead us astray; and this on a subject which is made conspicuous in every part of the sacred writings. How prominent is the history of its institution, its nature, its purposes, its duties, and its benediction. How solemnly is “ forbidding to marry," pronounced a diabolical doctrine ! How often is it made to illustrate the ineffable union between Christ and his church! But we are not left uncertain. Our directory is explicit. Let us with candour and docility examine and obey.
1. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ? for ye are the temple of the living God.” 2 Corinthians vi. 14.
There is no passage in the word of God more express and positive than this. Some, I am aware, consider it as applying primarily to the admittance of church members. But the great mass of commentators refer it to marriage. This seems to be rendered at least most probable, by the succession of interrogations, which immediately follows the prohibition. That the Corinthian church should have so far swerved from the faith and practice of the apostles, as to admit unrighteous, infidel, and idolatrous members, knowing them to be such, is not to be supposed for a moment. There is certainly no evidence either on the face of this epistle, or in any history, that this absurdity was ever chargeable on this, or any other church. · Nor can this prohibition, by any fair interpretation, be so restricted as only to forbid the marriage of professed Christians with idolaters or infidels. The epithets used, apply equally to Jews as well as pagans, to nominal believers as well as the openly profane. Let the reader cast his eye again over the text, and notice the number and variety of the terms used. There are no less than six ; and these all comprehensive. They cannot be restricted to open and professed disbelievers in revelation. And, unless they can, the passage remains not a particular rule for treating one class of those who are in “ darkness,” but the general rule of the New Testament relative to yoking ourselves in the intimacies of life with such as are not brought out of darkness into light, and have no concord with Christ.