By Louisa Lane Clarke
There are some hearts to which the day of adversity is far less trying than the hour of prosperity; some who walk humbly and strongly under the pressure of affliction, whilst in their rejoicing they often appear inconsistent and unsteady. The parson's wife has this to watch over, and, knowing how many are the pitfalls on the right hand and on the left, she keeps her eye fixed on him who has trodden the path of life unblameably before her. Her hours of joy are chastened by a holy fear lest an unguarded word or action should bring a reproach upon her christian profession. That she is, and must be, happier than any other woman, except when under the pressure of immediate affliction, is as certain as that peace with God though Jesus Christ, peace with man in the constant exercise of love, and peace with herself in the performance of her Master's will, is a more sure and blessed happiness than any mere worldly prosperity. But this is therefore a christian joy. The smile on her countenance is from the light of heaven in her soul; the blithe words and light step are from the elasticity of a spirit whose bur den is cast upon the Lord in very deed and truth. The parson's wife is happy; and one of her duties is to "rejoice with them that do rejoice," as well as to "weep with them that weep." Nevertheless, though she enters into such society as her husband chooses, and especially into that of his parish, she does not participate in any amusement that does or may lead into sin.
She does not so far forget her dignity as a christian wife and mother as to join in the dance. Nor has she so little reverence for her husband's character and office as to encourage these at home. Neither does she frequent the theatre, or make one at the card- table. Of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of these things there is no question here; nor how closely they may be linked with the "lust of the flesh, the lust o the eye, and, the pride of life," which, the child of God is required to renounce, as being "not of the Father, but of the world." To her, though all, things might be. lawful, they are certainly not all expedient., She has stand before her servants and, the poor without reproach; and how could she warn them from scenes of revelry and gambling, from the fair, the tavern and the merry-making, if they saw her dancing and card-playing? They see but the act, and cannot discern the delicate shades of difference, by which the cunning world slopes gently downward from harmless mirth to deadly riot. She remembers the apostle's holy resolve, that "if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth," and debars herself from many more innocent things for the sake of weaker Christians, and to preserve a greater consistency of conduct. In her own private amusements, whether of music, or painting, or fancy work, the same principle leads her throughout. She may not dispose of one half hour of her time or one farthing of her master's property without a motive, a reason, without doing good in some way. Very often this constant self-denial may be grievous, and Satan may whisper, "There is no harm in this." But is it expedient? will be his rebuff. And the trial is far less than it appears, because beneath the outward struggle there is an incoming of strength and peace in the consciousness of doing what is right, for which the joy of the whole world would be but a poor exchange.