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several articles of value removed, together with a considerable sum of money from a desk in a small back room entirely appropriated to business transactions. The police who inspected the premises thought the robbery must have been committed by some one well acquainted with them, as well as with the habits of the family. Suspicion consequently fell on a female servant who had recently been dismissed ; but ere steps were taken for her apprehension, information was received from the authorities of the county town, that property answering to the description of that advertised as stolen, had been offered for sale by a young man, and might be examined under certain restrictions. Robert Archer hastened thither, and immediately identified articles of plate bearing his own initials. He also recovered a portion of the money that had been concealed on the person of the thief, and which, being in notes of his own provincial bank, he could bring witnesses to prove he had received in payment on the very evening of the robbery. Before taking his departure, he asked to see the culprit, alleging his suspicion that the theft had been committed by some one formerly in his employ.
Little indeed did poor Archer think, when prompted by mere curiosity to make this request, as he listened to the withdrawal of the heavy bolts, and saw the ponderous door swing back on its creaking hinges, what sight a look into that cell would reveal. The hardest heart might have pitied the unhappy father, as in the crouching felon, wearing the prison dress, he recognised his son. Remorse darkly seated on his brow, the stamp of vice on every feature, none but his parent could have traced any resemblance to Henry Archer as he once was. But one glance sufficed to carry conviction to that wretched father's heart, and he sank unconscious on the floor. Henry was motionless,—his countenance underwent a change expressive of still deeper misery; but he seemed powerless alike to move or speak. Archer was removed from the cell, and a severe illness of some weeks followed the shock he had experienced, preventing, for the time, any further interview with his son. How gladly would he now have stopped proceedings against the culprit; but it was impossible; Henry was fairly within the grasp of the law he had offended, and its judgment and penalty were inevitable. The time of trial came- it is needless to dwell on the evidence. He was most clearly proved guilty, and sentenced to fourteen years' transportation. Archer had several interviews with his son ere he was removed from prison, during which, the heart of the poor youth seemed melted, both by the sight of his father's grief, and by the contemplation of his own fearful position. In the bloom of youth (for he was now but nineteen), he had, as it were, hurled himself from happiness to misery,—from his father's house to a dungeon, and from thence to banishment. He made a full confession of his guilt, and one that might well prove a warning to others, as he acknowledged himself hurried on through the rapid stages of progressive wickedness by that unseen but ever active enemy, Satan. He described himself as having walked to and fro before his father's house in the dusk of the evening, to see if all seemed going on as usual; lights were brought into the sitting room, which plainly revealed his step-mother walking about, apparently soothing her infant. This sight, he said, exasperated him almost to madness. He involuntarily grasped a loaded pistol he had in his pocket, and but for a restraining Providence, might have aimed at the life of the unconscious child. That very night he forced an entrance, armed, and determined, should he meet with opposition, to take the life of any who came in his way; but mercifully, the family slept undisturbed, and thus was he spared the commission of deeds of blood. In due time, Henry was removed with other convicts from the jail. His parting from his father was very affecting ; for, under God's blessing, the instruction of the chaplain appeared to have melted his feelings, and opened his heart towards his parent. It was even hoped, that repentance for sin had comm
menced, and that he showed a desire, by submission to his fate and willing obedience to every requirement of prison discipline, to subdue that strong self-will which, alas ! had been hitherto fostered. How different might have been the fate of this unhappy youth, had he, like Timothy, “known the scriptures from a child;" but like too many others, while acquiring the wisdom of this world, that blessed volume, whose truths might have made him “ wise unto salvation," was as a sealed book unto him.
And now, having traced poor Henry Archer through a course of unchecked folly, till it hurried him into crime and banishment, it may be supposed we must of necessity leave him, but owing to a singular circumstance (and as true as it is singular), we can follow him still further, though after an interval of some years.
The lapse of sixteen years had almost effaced the recollection of the scenes we have been recounting from the minds of those who, at the time of their occurrence, had felt more or less interested in the family. The general impression was, that Henry Archer had been transported to Botany Bay, and that no tidings of him had ever been received.
In the summer of 18—, a gentleman passing some weeks in the Isle of Wight, amongst other excursions, crossed over to Gosport, with the intention of visiting its famous naval hospital. An entire stranger to the neighbourhood, he was walking slowly, regarding every object with curiosity, when his eye was suddenly arrested by a figure which, though almost perfectly disguised, at once called Henry Archer to his remembrance. The man in question was dressed as one of the labouring class, and his hat slouched over his face ; yet, as he quickly passed, wheeling a barrow of fresh vegetables, he was recognised by the peculiar, though handsome outline of his features. The close curling hair, prematurely sprinkled with silver, and his look of almost advanced age, seemed to suggest the idea of laborious employment, rather than the years he had really numbered. So strong was the impression made on the mind of the gentleman, that, giving up other pursuits for the moment, he followed the man through two or three streets, till he saw him stop at a small fruiterer`s, or rather greengrocer's shop, and there commence depositing the vegetables, &c., which he appeared to have been purchasing. The name over the door rather corroborated the impression, it having been the maiden name of Henry's mother, and given to him at baptism. Fearful of attracting attention, the gentleman passed on, determining, however, not only to make inquiries, but to call and purchase something at the shop. He soon learned that the man had been indeed a convict, who had passed twelve years on board the hulks off Portsmouth, and who, on account of uniform good conduct, had been released two years before the expiration of the term to which he had been sentenced. On gaining his liberty, he sought employment, and entered the service of a greengrocer at Gosport, to whom he proved faithful, and at whose death he not only succeeded to the business, but married his daughter.
In the course of the day, the gentleman repaired to the shop, and felt certain that in the proprietor he identified Henry Archer, who, without his hat, struck him as less altered than as he had at first seen him. He asked several questions respecting the town and neighbourhood, while making his purchases, and thought there was something in the man's manner that betrayed uneasiness, as if the recognition were mutual. At length he ordered the fruit he had bought to the hotel where he was staying, putting down his card as his address, having previously added in pencil, the name of the town from whence he came. No sooner did the man see this, than, under pretence of seeking change, he left the shop, sending his wife
to complete the transaction, and leaving the gentleman perfectly satisfied as to his identity.
As I said before, this story is no fiction, but the details of real life, affording a striking instance of the awful consequences that arise from the want of early religious training.
Had Robert Archer's sons been reared according to Bible precepts, there are indications in the character of each to lead to the conclusion that they would have followed a very different course to that through which we have traced them, even had we not God's word of promise that children, “trained in the way they should go, when old shall not depart from it.” How great, then, the responsibility of parents! How great, also, their guilt, if they lose sight of this their first duty. May they not indeed be said to " sow the wind,” and how surely do they “reap the whirlwind ?” Hosea viii. 7.
Pause then, thoughtless, careless parent, if such should read these pages. Pause, and ask, Whither tends the path by which your children are passing to an unseen world ? endeavouring to guide them in that “narrow way,” beset, indeed, with difficulties, but surely leading unto life eternal ; or, are they heedlessly following you on the broad alluring road of this world's pleasures, which, with equal certainty, will bring them to destruction ?-Remember that the natural tendency of every human heart is towards that which is evilthat nothing but a simple reliance on the power of the Redeemer who was called Jesus, that He might save His people from their sins, Matt. i. 21; nothing but a change of heart effected by the Holy Spirit and described in the word of God as being born again, John iii. 3, can secure the present and eternal salvation of men.
And now, dear young reader, one word to you. Let me entreat you to follow in all things the example of the holy “ child Jesus," who, we read, was subject" unto his parents, and then, like him, you will grow “in favour with God and man.” Whereas, if you allow your own will to be your guide, and listen not to the wishes and admonitions of your parents, you will prove, as did the unhappy subjects of this history, that even in this world, “ the way of transgressors is hard.”
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON: AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
AND THE RELIGION OF MAN.
As light is made more discernible by shade upon
the painter's canvass, we may be able more clearly to comprehend the truth of God, if we place it in contrast with the errors of man. It cannot be denied that the false peace of thousands is prolonged, and their sorrows multiplied, by erroneous and defective views of the gospel of peace, or rather, of the contents of Scripture. Plain as its declarations are, whether “for doctrine, or reproof, or correction, or instruction in righteousness,” men are often perversely ingenious in devising an erroneous construction; yet He who has the residue of the Spirit may bless an attempt to exhibit his own truth in its simplicity, in contrast with these inventions of men.
And, first, perhaps the basis of all error among those who profess to believe the word of God, is found in the latent opinion that he will not be so holy, so strict, or rigid, as the scriptures declare. God's religion proclaims that he will “ by no means clear the guilty.” Man's theory, on the contrary, asserts that he cannot be so rigorous as to punish our infirmities, and that
says, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Man says—his heart whispers, and he believes it—"Is it not a little one ?” “ He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten : he hideth his face: he will never see it.” God
says in his word, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all.” Man rejoins that he shall have peace, though he walk after the devices of his own heart.
God tells us to be sure that our sins will find us out.” Man thinks Him altogether such an one as himself; a Being ready to connive at sin, and smile indulgence on transgressors; too indulgent to punish ; too benevolent, in short, to be truthful.
God says—and He says it in love to warn us, lest we rush recklessly into ruin—“ The wicked shall be turned into hell.” Man, on the other hand, would persuade himself that he shall escape, even though conscience tells him that he is living in sin. Or, if he cannot continue to cherish that delusion, then he questions whether there be a hell at all. That he may sin with less restraint, he ventures to deny that either chains or darkness, either the worm which never dies, or the fire which is never quenched, awaits the guilty one.
Now, where the opposition between the mind of God and the mind of man is so obvious, who, but the sinner himself, does not see the peril to which sin exposes him ? He would make