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then, and heard her crying, approached her and said gently, "What has happened, my child? What is the cause of this great grief? Where is your mother; is she in the house ?" "Oh no,
Anne's sobs redoubled at this question. aunt, mother is gone out with my sister. They are gone to take a walk, and I am left at home with the servant."
"My poor child," replied her aunt, "your mother must have been sorry not to take you out; but she surely had a good reason for thus punishing you ?”
Anne hesitated a moment, and then repeated sadly, Aunt, I cannot be good."
"How! you say that you cannot be good? Are you sure that you have a sincere desire, and do what would help you to become so ?"
"Yes, I am sure I try, aunt; I wish to be good, for it is very sad to be always getting punished. Last night they sent me to bed an hour before my brothers and sisters went, and I said to myself, 'I will try tomorrow, and not do anything to deserve punishment.' But this morning, when getting up, I spoke in a naughty manner to the servant; I gave a slap to my brother, who was teasing me; and when my sister Henrietta spoke to me about my faults, I answered her that it was no business of hers. I came to breakfast very cross, fought with every one, and said my lessons very badly; so mother has deprived me of my pleasant walk this fine summer day. And, aunt, it is always the same. I am sorry for being wicked: I know that I should be happier if I was better, but I cannot." And the poor child began again to weep bitterly.
Mrs. Grey looked at her with pity, and said, "Don't you think, my child, that there are other reasons for wishing not to be wicked as well as the fear of punishment ?"
"Yes, I know that there are, aunt. I griève dear mother when I am bad, and she is pleased when her children are good. I tell myself of this also, and yet I am no better."
"And can you not think of any other reason for being good?" said her aunt.
Anne reflected a moment, and then said, "Yes, it is right to obey God."
'Without doubt, my dear child, this is the motive above all others that ought to induce you to enter upon a better life. Try to obey God; he who loves you better than even your father or mother can; he who has given you such kind parents, and who never ceases to bestow his good gifts upon you. Try and obey that blessed Saviour who has been a little child like yourself, and who has left to little children, as well as to grown persons, an example that they should follow. We read in his word that he obeyed his parents in the days of his childhood; and this word says also that he was 'meek and lowly of heart,' and so my Anne must also become meek and lowly of heart if she obey God."
"But, aunt, it is impossible; it seems as if there is something in me that prevents me from being good.”
"This something, my child, is your bad heart, and while that remains unchanged all must be bad. You know the Bible says, 'A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.' But the Lord can change it, and he has
promised to do so for all those who ask him in sincerity. You are fond of stories; would you like me to tell you one ?"
Oh, yes, aunt;" and the smile reappeared upon the lips of Anne, who placed herself against her aunt's knee.
"You have not forgotten your cousin Theresa ?" said Mrs. Grey, her eyes filling with tears, and her voice low and sad, for Theresa was her only child, and she had died of scarlet fever at the age of sixteen.
"Oh no, aunt. Though I was very young when my dear cousin died, I remember well how kind she always was to us, and how well she knew how to amuse us. We often tormented her, but she was never impatient; every one loved Theresa. Oh, dear aunt, if I could be like her!" And the child put her arms round Mrs. Grey's neck, and kissed the poor mother, who was now weeping at the remembrance of her lost darling.
After a few moments of silence she began: "When Theresa was a very little girl she had some faults which troubled me greatly; she was violent, disobedient and passionate.”
Aunt, it is impossible !"
"No, my child, it is quite true; Theresa, whom you knew so sweet, so gentle, so amiable to all, was, until she was six years old, one of the most troublesome children I ever knew. I often spoke to her of her sins; she would weep, promise to improve, make good resolutions, and, like you, fall soon again into the same faults. I read with her the word of God, I spoke to her of the Saviour, and she often seemed to take pleasure in listening. Sometimes I thought I saw in
her some serious impressions; then would come a temptation, the least difficulty in her lessons, and my poor Theresa would give way again to all her impatience and passion. I was very sad at seeing the faults of my dear child, and I ceased not to ask God to have pity on her, and change her heart. All at once I noticed a difference in Theresa's conduct, which delighted me.
"Many days passed without my having any fault to find with her. She was sweet-tempered, quiet, and seemed very anxious to please me. I, however, knew my child, and I dared not give myself up to the joy that filled my heart, for I feared this change would not last. One day Theresa came to me and said, 'Mamma, have you not been pleased with me for some days ?'
'Yes, my child, I have had every reason to be so, and I bless God for it, and pray to him to help you to persevere.'
'Mamma,' said she, ' do you know how I try to be good ?'
"No, my child,' said I.
"When I feel inclined to be bold, I go into a corner, and I pray to God with all my heart to help me to be good, and then I can be.'*
"My dear Anne, the course of my Theresa's life proved the excellency of this way for being good. From that time she was what the word of God calls
a new creature.' She never had a fit of passion, or disobedience; she was truly another child. I could not
*This account of the conversion of a child of six years old is true.
say all she became to her father and to me; I possessed in her at the same time a daughter and a friend. God has taken her from us very young, but we bless him for having given her to us, and we know that we have returned her to him.
“Dear child, would you not wish to do as Theresa did? would you not wish to seek with all your heart from the Lord the strength to conquer all your faults, and resist the sins which beset you ? Ask, as Theresa did, and he will give to you as he did to her." Anne was much touched: she said little, but her aunt saw that she had received a good impression.
Mrs. Grey knelt with the child and asked God to bless Anne, and give her the new heart which she needed. When they rose, Anne threw herself on Mrs. Grey's neck and said to her in a trembling voice, "My dear aunt, if the Lord make me good, as you have asked of him, perhaps I may be able to fill, in some degree, the place of your Theresa."
Jesus, Saviour, pity me:
Though I cannot cease from guilt,