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Letter from a Father to his Son, an Apprentice Boy.
MY DEAR BOY, In my last letter i gave you some account of the life of Edward the First, we now come to Edward the Second. This young prince was twenty-three years of age when he began to reign. He was born, as I said, at Caernarvon, in Wales, and was therefore called Edward Caernarvon. This young king was received with great joy by the people. He had a fine manly form, and a kind and gentle disposition. But it was soon found that he had neither abilities nor spirit enough to manage the great affairs of a kingdom.
His father, you remember, had told him, with his dying breath, never to be at peace till he had completely conquered the Scotch." This seemed a barbarous request, especially for a dying man, -and, for my own part, I think that a king who delights in peace is much wiser than one who would seek for war :-at the same time, if a king does go to war, he ought to do it with spirit, and as if he were determined to conquer.
Edward, however, engaged in a war against the Scotch, but he managed it so ill, that he was como pletely beaten by Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, in the battle of Bannockburn; and thus Edward lost all the power in Scotland that his fighting father had gained.
But, besides his bad success in war, bis affairs at home seemed to be constantly going wrong: Ina stead of carefully considering in his own mind what Was best for his people, or of consulting his parliament, or of taking the advice of wise and learned counsellors, he was always guided by some silly favourite, who had nothing to recommend him but a pleasing outside appearance. At one time Piers Gaveston was the favourite, at another time Hugh
Spencer. You may be sure that this would greatly offend all ranks of his subjects ; so that there were constant quarrels and disputes between this king and his people. In the days we are speaking of, the great noblemen could arm their tenants and dependants, and bring them out against any body that they bad quarrelled with :-and several of these nobles joined their powers together, and raised a great army against the king. In one of their battles they took Gavestone prisoner, and cut off his head. Some time afterwards they took Spencer, and him they hanged. At length they made the king himself prisoner; and it would be a very long story to tell you of, all the cruel ways in which they abused and tormented him. He was confined in Berkley castle, where he was to be taken care of by lords Berkley, Montravers, and Gournay, who were each to guard him a month at a time. Lord Berkley, was a tender-hearted man, and was disposed to treat him.kindly; but the other two were ready for every kind of cruelty. They wished, if they could, to break his heart by their savage treatment. Besides, many other cruelties, they shaved him in the open fields, using the dirty water from a neighbouring ditch. This insalt is said to have greatly affected the king, and he burst into tears, and said that the time might come when he should be better waited on. This, however, never happened'; for, when Lord Berkley was confined by sickness, the other two keepers went into the prison, and murdered the king in the most cruel manner. They tried to kill him in such a way, that his body might show no marks of violence. But his shrieks rung through all Berkley castle, and thus the murder was discovered, -as murder generally is. Gournay was, some time afterwards, taken and beheaded; but Montravers lived to be tormented in his conscience, for this foul deed. This murder was committed on the 21st of September, 1327. No. 25. VOL. III.
I hope you try to remember the dates which I mark for you,-for if you do not remember your chronology (or the time when things happened) you are pretty sure to forget your history.
I am, &c.
LECTURE ON PSALM I. This Psalm, forms a kind of introduction to the rest, and is a very beautiful and instructive one. Our great aim is to be happy, and God bimself wishes us to be so; but, as we are too apt, from our ignorance and corrupt passions, to seek for bappiness where it is not to be found, God bas been pleased, in his great goodness, to direct us by the mouth of his inspired writers to the proper means of obtaining it.
Accordingly. the author of this Psalm begins by telling us who is to be accounted blessed ;-who is the really happy man. You, perhaps, think that they are the happy persons who are rich, and great, and powerful, who can indulge themselves in doing and in having what they like. But the Psalmist teaches you a very different lesson, which is briefly this ; that the true, the only way to be happy, is to be good.-But let us consider what he says, in a more particular manner.
In the first verse then you read, “ Blessed is the man that bath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful.”
Now, from this, you learn that, if you would be happy, you must avoid all society with the wicked. You must not walk in their counsel ; that is, you must not listen to their advice, or you will be led in the way of sinners, or to persist and continue in sin, and will thence proceed, at last, to sit in the seat of the scornful, becoming so hardened as to be
amongst the number of those who make a mock at sin," Beware then of bad company-beware of the beginnings of sin. If you give way at first. to evil solicitations or suggestions, you know not whither you may be led. Have you never heard of persons who have began their career of evil by neglecting the Sabbath, and ended it at length on the gallows?
Bat, in order to be happy we must not only avoid evil, but we must do good. Hence the Psalmist proceeds to tell us, in v. 2. that he who would be: bappy must “delight in the law of the Lord, and exercise himself in it day and night." Now let me ask, is your delight in the holy Scriptures, and do you make them your study day and night? I will venture to say, that if you neglect them, you do not know what true happiness is in this world-and, most certain it is, that, if you continue in such neglect, you will never come to happiness in the next for it is the Scriptures alone that can make us wise unto salvation, through Jesus Christ. If, then, you would be happy either here or hereafter, you must " read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest thein." Moreover, when you read, or bear them read, you must bear in mind that it is to no purpose for you to do either the one or the other, if
do not obey the commands, and diligently endeavour to imitate the example of your blessed Redeemer, there set before you.' Remember, upon this subject, the excel- .. lent advice of the Apostle James," Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your.own selves."
And now let us consider the next verse. In it the Psalmist very beautifully compares the good man to a tree planted by the water's side, which gives its fruit in due season;
"o his leaf .also (says he) shall not wither, and look whatsoever he. doth, it shall prosper." Now, in order properly to understand the force of this comparison, you must
know that it was customary amongst the people of the East to have sluices, or trenches, cut through their gardens, along which streams of water were conveyed in different directions, so as to afford continual nourishment to the trees planted near them, and thus preserve their freshness and beauty, and prevent their leaf from withering. The comparison, therefore, made use of by the Psalmist, is an allusion to this custom, and it is to this effect: “ As the tree planted by these streams of water is ever green and flourishing, and never fails to reward the gardener's trouble, by bringing forth its fruit in due season, so shall the pious man be ever prosperous in his undertakings, and reap without fail the expected fruit of his labours.” Accordingly, among the Israelites, piety was for the most part recompensed with great temporal prosperity. We are not, however to expect that under the Christian dispensation the good man will be always prosperous; for the Gospel does not tell us that he will be, and experience shews that he is not. Yet, I think I
affirm that, generally speaking, the good Christian thrives in the world ;-for, to be a good Christian, it is absolutely necessary that a man be diligent, honest, sober, and industrious; and whoever is so seldom fails of success. Should he however fail, he is not cast down, but still continues to do his best, in unshaken dependence upon God: wbo, he is sure, will make every thing 'work for good to them that love him. He thinks it no disgrace, no misfortune, to be poor-since bis Saviour chose to be so, and he knows that, however he may be disappointed of success in this world, he cannot, if he perseveres in faith and obedience unto the end, be disappointed of the blessed hope of everlasting life in the next. He is sure that in due time he shall reap, if he faint not.
Ohserve now what the Psalmist says of the un. godly: As for the ungodly it is not so with them, (their fate shall be very different from that of the