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sessed as talents committed to her charge, for which she must one day give a strict account.
The management of a baronial castle in the twelfth century was no mean charge; even the lord himself had often no slight difficulty to reconcile the jarring interests, and keep all in proper subjection to his authority, but the Lady Elfira set herself to the task with cheerful alacrity. She knew not when she parted from her lord—when with tears in her eyes she buckled on his belt, fastened his stirrups, and presented to him the cup ere he set out with his gallant train to join his sovereign, that twenty long years would elapse ere she should again behold that noble form. She knew not, she sought not to know what was in store for her; but when she had kissed the two dear ones, pledges of his love, she retired to her lonely chamber, and there in earnest prayer to that God Who seeth in secret, she besought His help to rule her household prudently, and prayed that none of the souls of those now committed to her charge, of those numerous dependants who filled the castle walls might be lost through her negligence or carelessness. Long did the Lady Elfira continue in earnest supplication before her God; the sun that saw her lord depart had sunk to rest, the household was hushed in quiet slumber, no sound was heard throughout those spacious halls and dreary galleries but the measured tread of the warders and watchers as they guarded the sleeping inmates. Again did the bustle and stir of life begin ; again were pages passing and repassing in the court-yard ; again was all nature awake to lively emotions, and the one light in that now lonely chamber burnt duller and dimmer. It was not till the castle-bell had tolled the hour of morning prayer, that the Lady Elfira rose from her knees, and, hastily arranging her toilet, joined all those who repaired to the chapel to worship their God at the hour of prime. Her clear voice ascended in the song of praise, for joy was then in her heart; she felt renewed strength, and peace and happiness were within her; she had unburdened her mind of all cares and sorrows, she had confided to One, Who would not forsake her, all that oppressed and overwhelmed her ; to His arm she had trusted all her loved ones, and all over whom she was called to watch, and trusting in His guidance, she set about her appointed duties, as those only can fulfil them who feel that in doing them they are led by God, and doing His will.
Her two loved children were her first and fondest care. It was her joy to lead them in the paths of godliness and peace, in which she herself had been trained to walk, and in which only she well knew was rest to be found. Early did she begin to form their tender minds to good and holy wishes, and, with the aid of the holy priest who ministered in the household, to train them in that self-discipline which is the foundation of all that is good and virtuous. Anxious years were those during which she watched the buds developing, and sought to remove all that could injure and hurt their tender growth, but her labours were not unblessed, her calming influence extended to all around, her holy life was an example to all within the
range of her lord's domains, and many sought to imitate those virtues which they could not but love. Years passed on, and wisely did the Lady Elfira fulfil her appointed task, and none wondered that one so tender and delicate should be able to quell the stormy passions of those within her walls, and to fulfil duties which can seldom or never fall to the lot of matrons in these days, none wondered, for all knew what arm it was that supported her; day by day at the hours of prayer was the Lady Elfira in ber place at the chapel, accompanied, as they grew up, by her two lovely daughters, and by all whom the duties of the castle would permit to attend within its walls. But deeply as the Lady Elfira felt the need of prayer, and greatly as she was strengthened by the help bestowed upon her, she knew full well that her life was not to be a life of prayer alone, and when the strength was given, then, directed by that Holy SPIRIT Who is ever the Guide of all who follow His motions in their heart, she set about her duties with an alacrity and activity which those who follow their own ways can scarcely conceive; she did not seek to check or curb the dispositions of her two darling children, but to teach them to improve those talents and tempers to His honour and glory, and to devote to His service whatever He had given them.
And thus in happiness and seclusion they grew up; their thoughts centred on those dear to them, happy themselves, and making happy all those around them, with the bright smile and the cheerful look which health and innocence, and the consciousness of a wish to do right alone can give. But in order that we may trace better the dispositions of the sisters, we will detail a conversation between them and their mother.
“ I would,” said Rhoda, one day after her return from the house of prayer where she had heard, in the lesson for the day, an account of the wonderful deliverance of S. Paul and his companions in travel from shipwreck_“I would I were like that holy Apostle, and could brave dangers, and shipwrecks, and trials in the service of Him Who has given me all.”
“Thy wish will not be unheard, my own child," said her fond mother : “sufferings thou must undergo in His service, and none can tell the portion of trial that may fall to his lot.”
“With joy, dear and honoured mother, would I suffer for His sake. Methinks my honoured sire hath a high and holy calling to accompany those brave and valiant knights to that blessed land where that very blood was shed, and to redeem it from the hands of those who would pollute that earth of which every sod is sacred."
"Nobly and boldly have they fought in a good and righteous
cause," replied the Lady Elfira, “and worthy are they of the renown in arms which they have won under the guidance and conduct of a sovereign who esteems it his greatest glory to promote the glory of his God.” Oh, mother, could I but bear arms and fight beside
noble father, could I but see those holy spots which he has visitedy could I but be one of the band who should rescue that holy city from the hands of merciless invaders !”
“My child,” said the Lady Elfira, “in the Church, as in a household, all have not the same office; and while to some is allotted the blessed task to which you have alluded, others may do the will of God no less acceptably to Him, though in a less known and marked manner.”
“Yes, mother," said the little Mary, who was with them, though she had not yet spoken, “you would say, like that Holy Virgin who, living lowly and unknown, was honoured for her humility above all women, and permitted to be the mother of Him Who saved us from our sins.”
“Yes, my child,” she replied ; “ and mark well that she lived lowly and unnoticed. It is when the heart is given to God, that He accepts us, and nothing less than that will be pleasing to Him. But often, my children, nay, I might say always, He will try those who give Him their heart, that they may yield it wholly and solely and not cling at the same time to the trifles of earth, or seek their own glory while promoting His."
"I know," said Mary, “that He will try us, for so is it said in His holy word; but, mother, He will not cease then to love us.”
“No, my own child,” said the fond parent, whose constant intercourse with her children had knit their hearts to her, and hers to them, more than was perhaps usual in those days when such stern discipline was preserved between parents and their ch en; “No, my child; it is because He loves that He tries. Whom I love, I chasten,' He says; and He tells us that we must be perfected through suffering.
(To be continued.)
The dearest object of a Christian's heart should be the unity of the Church. In the midst of the sad divisions that now unhappily prevail, he cannot but revert to those days of faith, and love, and peace, when the disciples of Christ were of one mind and one heart—he cannot but earnestly pray that those times of rest may yet again return. And when we come to think, there are many reasons why we should endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. When men are embarked in one common enterprise, this circumstance is usually considered and felt as a bond of union. Persons of the same employment or trade, where they do not clash with each other, have usually an especial interest in each other's society. They have common topics of conversation; they talk how this plan has answered their expectation, how and why another has failed. Children who belong to the same school, and who are instructed by the same teacher, if they have any right feeling, are ready to feel an attachment toward each other. The very word schoolfellow shows this, as implying that children of the same school should have a fellow feeling one towards another. Sailors who sail in the same ship, soldiers who belong to the same regiment, are under the influence of the same kind of feeling, especially if they have a common enemy to contend against. We have a remarkable illustration of the force of these observations in the Scriptures. In the eighteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we read that when S. Paul had departed from Athens and come to Corinth, he found there a certain Jew, named Aquila, with his wife Priscilla, and because he was of the same trade he abode with them and wrought, for by their occupation they were tent-makers. It was the circumstance of their being of the same trade that caused this particular union between them. They had a satisfaction in working wbile in the company of each other. Such then are our feelings in things which have reference to the world. We find that to have an object in common is to have a feeling in common. The same trade, the same school, the same ship, the same commander, the same teacher, unite us together, as the case may be. They are bonds of union which we inwardly feel, and which we outwardly acknowledge.
Now when our Blessed SAVIOUR established His Church, it seemed to be the dearest and nearest desire of His heart, that it should be as a city that is at unity with itself. In one part of the Gospels we are told that CHRIST, rising up a long while before day, went into a solitary place, and there prayed. On another occasion we are told that He passed the whole night in prayer. But in neither of these cases are the words of the prayer recorded. But that prayer is recorded, when our Blessed Saviour lifted up. His eyes to heaven, and prayed in a variety of ways that His Apostles and His disciples might be led into the truth, and hold the truth in unity of Spirit. His own impressive words, speaking of His Apostles, are Sanctify them through Thy íruth. And again, Neither pray I for these alone,
but for them also who shall believe on Me through their word. That they all may be one, as Thou, FATHER, art in Me, and I in Thee; that they may be one, even as We are one. And as these words are peculiarly impressive in themselves, so are they also peculiarly impressive as being used shortly before the time when He, Who uttered them, was betrayed by Judas. The words are alsó peculiarly interesting as forming a prominent part of the only prayer (at least, of any length) used by our Blessed SAviour, which the Holy Ghost hath recorded for our instruction. We are therefore warranted in asserting that it was the dearest and nearest desire of our Blessed SAVIOUR, that His disciples should be of one heart, that truth should be the bond of union, and that this bond should be cemented or made fast by charity. Here, then, it will be natural for us to inquire how we may be sanctified by the truth, and become of one heart and one spirit. Perhaps we should mention, in the first place, that there must be zeal for the truth, a real, unfeigned, and sincere love for the truth; and this for the sake of the truth, because it is God's truth, and therefore cannot be held without a blessing, or disregarded without a curse. In the next place, this zeal for the truth must not be contentious, though it must be firm, uncompromising and decided, but it must be gentle, without bitterness, and without ostentation, it must be full of mercy, and ever. attended with lowliness of mind and humility. For in this particular, as well as in all other cases, we must in the words of the Apostle, walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There can be no unity without humility, and there can be no unity unless there be a sincere desire to promote it. Thus much we would observe respecting the qualifications which must exist in men's minds before the Church of Christ can be like Jerusalem, a city which is at unity in itself. But the Apostle, having mentioned these things, proceeds to point out the reasons why the Church there should be at unity with itself. There is one body, and one SPIRIT, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. One LORD, one faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
It seems therefore necessary for us all to remind ourselves of these bonds of union, and that frequently in order that there may be no divisions amongst us, and that we may be at peace amongst ourselves.
We are one body; of that body Christ is the Head, and we are members one of another, bound to assist, and according to our station to obey each other, as the members of the human