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when you have got twelve of these little books toge ther, at the year's end, and have read them all, I'll engage to say you'll not repent of your bargain in giving up the beer for the book.
I think I see, too, some pious person taking up this little book, and, after turning over a few pages, lamenting that it is not, all in all, on the subject of religion. Such a person will perhaps say, that Religion is every thing, that all besides is vanity, and that it is a waste of time to write, or to read, about any thing else. Now, my worthy friend, I know your anxiety for what is good, and you are the last person in the world that I would willingly disagree with yet I hope you will not condemn me at first sight, but consider that some subject which may be nothing to you, will be both amusing and instructive, to others. Remember that there was a time when' you yourself were not so fond of religious books as you are now, but that you first became fond of reading by taking up little amusing, and instructive stories; and then, having got a habit of reading, you found your greatest pleasure in it; and it was afterwards that you found out the superior value of books of religion. Now there may be many persons just in the state in which you were formerly, and who may be led on to what is really excellent by first beginning with what is more suited to their understandings. Besides, the reading of religious books is not, of itself, religion. We may learn, indeed, from them, the blessed doctrines of the Gospel, and the duties of which these doctrines are the foundation. But, as it is the belief of these doctrines which makes the Christian, so it is the godly observance of these duties which adorns him, and prepares him for his heavenly home. Any study, then, which may afford rational employment for the mind, and thus draw it from foolish and sinful pursuits, may be the means of warding off much danger, and of preparing the way for better things.
There is another sort of person who, I know, will despise me, from my small and trifling appearance. Such a one will 66 say, I don't want this little book. I have plenty of books; I took in a great Bible in numbers, and I have got it well bound; and there is a large Prayer Book too on the shelf with it, and many handsome books besides ;-I don't see what can be learnt from such a bit of a book as this."Well, neighbour, you say very true; I am but a small sort of a personage to be sure, and I see you have a handsome large Bible on the shelf, well bound; I should like better to see it well worn. The book is excellent; but, if it lies there on the shelf, I doubt you will not be much the better for it. Take it down and read it; it will do you good. And, when you have got it down, turn to the 5th chapter of the 2nd Book of Kings, and there you will read, that a poor little captive girl, who waited on the wife of Naaman the Syrian, was made the means of shewing her master that there was a prophet in Israel. This prophet cured him of a distressing complaint, and restored him to his health;-and so this little book, which you so despise, may perhaps be made the instrument of good to you.
I see too that this little book may fall into the hands of some persons of a higher station than those whom it particularly professes to visit. They may, perhaps, think it vulgar, may perhaps say that it has little that is new to boast of, that they have seen, in other books, the same things that are brought forward in this. At the same time I cannot help feeling perfectly confident that such readers will excuse our endeavours to be very humble, if we may thus stand a greater chance of being useful. We know what benevolent persons are to be found among the rich, and we know what pains they are taking to benefit and instruct the poor; and we plainly forsesee that some of them will look kindly upon this little work, will recommend it to their poor neighbours.
or lend it, or give it, according as they see best and we are in great hopes that they will sometimes favour us with a little intelligence which they pick up in their benevolent rambles, which may be of use to some; and may thus give a value to the pages of the Cottager's Monthly Visitor.
ON SAVINGS BANKS.
Dialogue between a Minister and his Parishioner.
P. Pray, Sir, will you give me leave to ask you a question?
M. To be sure.
P. Well then, pray, Sir, what do you think of these Savings Banks? I see a many poor people put in a trifle every week; and, when it comes to a good deal, they take it out again; and then, what with the principal and what with the interest, it makes a mighty clever sum, to pay the rent with, or any thing of that sort. Or, mayhap they leave it aff in against they grow old, and can't work. This seems to me a capital good way: but pray, Sir, what do you think of it? I know, Sir, you always advise us for the best, and I should like to put in a shilling, or two, every week; but I should be glad to know first, Sir, what you think of it.
M. Why, you know, neighbour, I have always wished to encourage these Savings Banks. I think them excellent things. There is nothing I so much delight in as seeing poor people happy and comfortable; and nothing, in a worldly way, is more likely to make them so, than having a little money to go to when they stand in need of it. What a wonderful deal of distress we do often see among poor people that have large families! Now, if these people had but saved a few pounds before they had a family, it
would have kept them from a great deal of misery, and have been a real comfort to them.
P. Why it certainly is very true, Sir. I think I see it just as you do. But then, Sir, I think I have heard you sometimes preach against covetousness, and there is a great deal in Scripture against covetousness, and some people say, that, by putting our money into these Saving Banks, we shall learn to be covetous. Now if this should be so; if we should, in this way, encourage a disposition contrary to the Christian religion, then we should get more harm than good by our Savings Banks.
M. You say very truly; covetousness is a great sin, and greatly to be guarded against. But I should hope you might keep a little money in a Savings Bank without growing covetous. I call a covetous man one who hoards his money, and loves it so, that he has not a heart to give a farthing to any poor creature who is in distress. Besides this, a man may be selfish and covetous, though he spends all his money, because he spends it all on himself: perhaps he spends it all in drink for himself, instead of considering the wants of his poor wife and family; and then, he has never a farthing left for any poor creature who is worse off than himself. Now, if a man regularly saves a trifle every week, and puts it into the Savings Bank, he gets habits of care and prudence; he finds the comfort of paying every one his own; he gets into no debts; and he tries to earn all he can by his industry. Then he will be able to go always neat and tidy; he need have no distressing thoughts about money; but he has always enough for his own wants, and sometimes a trifle to spare to assist a distressed neighbour. Having money should teach a man to be generous, not to be covetous: but, if a man has nothing, he cannot be generous. I have observed that, when there is a charity sermon at Church, either for some religious society, or some hospital, or any thing that is good,
always a trifle in their pockets ready to put into the plate. They are, in a manner, above the world. They are, in one sense, rich, because they have more than they spend; but the man who spends more than he has got, and so runs into debt, will be poor, though he should have thousands a year. And he can then neither be happy himself, nor do any thing to make others so. I would not, I say again, have you learn to be covetous; that is to be greatly guarded against; but, as you have asked my opinion, I have given it you; and I truly think, that, if used with a proper disposition, Savings Banks may do great things for the poor. One of the great evils of covetousness is, that the mind gets harassed, and cumbered, with cares and anxieties, so that it is seldom in a state to think calmly and quietly of what is good; but a man's mind may be harassed and cumbered by poverty too; he may be so distressed, and so filled with cares, about providing for the needful things of this world, that his mind is never at ease for calm reflection on what belongs to the next. Now from such anxious cares a little money in a Savings Bank might set him free: and thus you see, speaking to you as your Minister, it is my opinion, that, even in a religious view, a Savings Bank is a good thing, or I am sure I would not give you the advice I do.
P. I am much obliged to you, Sir, and, as I am a single man, and earn as much as many married men that have families, I surely may put in three or four shillings every week, and then in a very few years this will mount to a hundred pounds or so, and it will be high time for me to think of marrying when I have got something to keep a wife decently and comfortably upon. But, if a poor man spends all he earns when he is single, how can he get on comfortably when he has a wife and family to maintain? It's a chance if he has not presently to go a begging to the parish; and I can't bear the thoughts of that, as long as my name's Thomas Tidy. Thank you,